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SECOND DIVISION

[A. C. No. 5305. March 17, 2003]

MARCIANO P. BRION, JR., petitioner, vs. FRANCISCO F. BRILLANTES,


JR., respondent.

D E C I S I O N
QUISUMBING, J.:

In this petition for disbarment, complainant Marciano Brion, Jr., charges the
respondent, Atty. Francisco Brillantes, Jr., of having willfully violated a lawful order of this
Court in A.M. No. MTJ-92-706, entitled Lupo Almodiel Atienza v. Judge Francisco F.
Brillantes, Jr.  The decretal portion of our resolution in Atienza reads:
[1]

WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all leave and
retirement benefits and with prejudice to reappointment in any branch, instrumentality or agency of
the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations. This decision is
immediately executory.

SO ORDERED. [2]

Respondents dismissal in the aforesaid case was ordered after he was found guilty of
Gross Immorality and Appearance of Impropriety during his incumbency as presiding
judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 20, Manila.
Petitioner now avers that respondent violated our decree of perpetual disqualification
imposed upon him from assuming any post in government service, including any posts in
government-owned and controlled corporations, when he accepted a legal consultancy
post at the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), from 1998 to 2000. Said
consultancy included an appointment by LWUA as 6th member of the Board of Directors of
the Urdaneta (Pangasinan) Water District. Upon expiration of the legal consultancy
agreement, this was subsequently renewed as a Special Consultancy Agreement.
Petitioner contends that while both consultancy agreements contained a proviso to the
effect that nothing therein should be construed as establishing an employer-employee
relationship between LWUA and respondent, the inclusion of this proviso was only a ploy
to circumvent our order barring respondent from appointment to a government agency.
Petitioner points out in reality, respondent enjoys the same rights and privileges as a
regular employee, to wit: [3]

1. Issuance of LWUA properties such as a cellular phone with accessories, as


evidenced by the covering Property Issue Slips with respondent signing as Accountable
Employee; [4]
2. Official travel to various places in the country as shown by Reports of Authorized
Travel kept by LWUAs General Services Division  and Report of Travel accomplished by
[5]

respondent himself; [6]

3. Designation as supervising officer over other LWUA employees as brought to light


by written instructions personally signed by respondent; [7]

4. Attendance in water district conventions and meetings held in various provinces; [8]

5. Membership in several sensitive LWUA committees such as the Prequalification,


Bids, and Awards Committee (PBAC), Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Committee, among
others, with receipt of corresponding honoraria as borne out by various Disbursement
Vouchers; [9]

6. Sitting at meetings of the LWUA Board of Trustees as evidenced by the minutes of


such meetings;  and
[10]

7. Receipt of Productivity Incentive Bonus in 1999.


Petitioner submits that all of the foregoing constitute deceitful conduct, gross
misconduct, and willful disobedience to a decree of this Court, and show that respondent
is unfit to be a member of the Bar.
In his comment,  respondent admits the existence of the Legal Consultancy Contract
[11]

as well as the Special Consultancy Contract. However, he raises the affirmative defense


that under Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 27, Series of 1993,
services rendered pursuant to a consultancy contract shall not be considered government
services, and therefore, are not covered by Civil Service Law, rules and regulations.
Further, says respondent, according to the same Memorandum Circular issued by the
Commission, consultancy contracts do not have to be submitted to the Commission for
approval.With respect to his designation as the 6th Member of the Board of Directors of the
Urdaneta Water District, respondent reasons out that the same is not a reappointment,
which is prohibited by our ruling in Atienza, as said designation is not an organic
appointment to a LWUA plantilla position. Hence, according to respondent, the CSC need
not pass approval upon his temporary designation.
Respondent also argues that all the members of the Urdaneta Water District Board,
especially the 6th Member, who comes from the LWUA, assumed such functions merely by
virtue of a designation and only in addition to their regular duties. In any event, says
respondent, his designation as 6th Member was revoked in April 2000 and the Special
Consultancy Contract was pre-terminated on April 30, 2000. It has never been renewed
since then. With respect to his use of LWUA properties, respondent admits receiving the
cellular phone unit but insists that he merely borrowed it from one Solomon Badoy, a
former LWUA Board of Trustees Member.
In our Resolution of February 19, 2001, we referred this case to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. The IBP Commission
on Bar Discipline found that respondent willfully violated a lawful order of this Court and
recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year and
fined ten thousand (P10,000) pesos.
There is no question that the LWUA is a government-owned and controlled
corporation, created by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 198.  As such, our ruling in
[12]

the Atienza case, A.M. No. MTJ-92-706, which categorically prohibits respondents


appointment to any position in any government-owned and controlled corporation, clearly
encompasses and extends to LWUA positions.
In the instant case the respondent does not deny the petitioners allegations.  Instead,
[13]

he offers the existence of Memorandum Circular No. 27, Series of 1993 (MC No. 27, s.
1993) to exculpate himself from the charge against him. However, it does not escape our
attention that the very Memorandum Circular that respondent cites before this Court
provides that the duties enumerated in the consultancy contract are mainly advisory
in nature.[14]

Without belaboring the definition of advisory,  it appears obvious to us that the tasks
[15]

and duties that respondent performed pursuant to the consultancy contract cannot, by any
stretch of imagination, be deemed merely advisory in nature.
An adviser does not exercise supervisory powers over LWUA employees nor does he
issue written instructions to them. An adviser is not entitled to a seat in such vital LWUA
committees like PBAC and the BOT Committee. Also, respondents continuous receipt of
honoraria for sitting as a member of certain LWUA Committees, particularly the BOT
Committee, belies his claim that he is a mere consultant for the LWUA. The evidence on
record clearly shows that the LWUA Office Order implementing National Compensation
Circular No. 75-95 refers to payments of honoraria to officials/employees in consideration
[16]

of services rendered.
Most telling, in our view, is respondents acceptance of his 1998 Productivity Incentive
Bonus (PIB). The Board of Trustees Resolution No. 26, Series of 1999, of the LWUA,
 which governed the release of the PIB, limited the entitlement to said bonus only to
[17]

officials and employees (permanent, temporary, casual, or contractual) of LWUA.


In sum, we find that for all intents and purposes, respondent performed duties and
functions of a non-advisory nature, which pertain to a contractual employee of LWUA. As
stated by petitioner in his reply,  there is a difference between a consultant hired on a
[18]

contractual basis (which is governed by CSC M.C. No. 27, s. 1993) and a contractual
employee (whose appointment is governed, among others, by the CSC Omnibus Rules on
Appointment and other Personnel Actions). By performing duties and functions, which
clearly pertain to a contractual employee, albeit in the guise of an advisor or consultant,
respondent has transgressed both letter and spirit of this Courts decree in Atienza.
The lawyers primary duty as enunciated in the Attorneys Oath is to uphold the
Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respect for law and legal processes.
 That duty in its irreducible minimum entails obedience to the legal orders of the
[19]

courts. Respondents disobedience to this Courts order prohibiting his reappointment to


any branch, instrumentality, or agency of government, including government owned and
controlled corporations, cannot be camouflaged by a legal consultancy or a special
consultancy contract. By performing duties and functions of a contractual employee of
LWUA, by way of a consultancy, and receiving compensation and perquisites as such, he
displayed acts of open defiance of the Courts authority, and a  deliberate rejection of
his oath as an officer of the court. It is also destructive of the harmonious relations that
should prevail between Bench and Bar, a harmony necessary for the proper
administration of justice. Such defiance not only erodes respect for the Court but also
corrodes public confidence in the rule of law.
What aggravates respondents offense is the fact that respondent is no ordinary
lawyer. Having served in the judiciary for eight (8) years, he is very well aware of the
standards of moral fitness for membership in the legal profession. His propensity to try to
get away with an indiscretion becomes apparent and inexcusable when he entered into a
legal consultancy contract with the LWUA. Perhaps realizing its own mistake, LWUA
terminated said contract with respondent, but then proceeded to give him a special
consultancy. This travesty could not be long hidden from public awareness, hence the
instant complaint for disbarment filed by petitioner. Given the factual circumstances found
by Commission on Bar Discipline, we have no hesitance in accepting the recommendation
of the Board of Governors, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, that respondent be fined and
suspended from the practice of law. The Code of Professional Responsibility, Rule 1.01,
provides that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct. For violating the Code as well as transgressing his oath as an officer of the court,
his suspension for one (1) year and a fine of ten thousand (P10,000) pesos are in order.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco Brillantes, Jr., is found liable for having
willfully violated a lawful order of this Court in our  decision of March 29, 1995
rendered in A.M. No. MTJ-92-706, entitled Lupo Almodiel Atienza vs. Judge Francisco F.
Brillantes, Jr. He is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year and
ordered to pay a FINE of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos, with a STERN WARNING
that a repetition of the same or similar conduct shall be dealt with more severely. Let a
copy of this Decision be furnished to the Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and spread on the personal records of respondent as well as circulated to all
courts in the Philippines. This decision is immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Austria-Martinez, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-9152        December 28, 1956

JOSEFINA MORTEL, plaintiff-appellant, 
vs.
ANACLETO F. ASPIRAS, and CESAR ASPIRAS, defendants-appelle.

Concepcion Zacarias for appellant. 


Anacleto F. Aspiras in his own behalf and for his co-appellee.

BENGZON, J.:

In October 1954 Josefina Mortel filed in the Manila court of first instance a complaint against Anacleto F. Aspiras
and Cesar Aspiras (Civil Case No. 24414) alleging substantially:

That posing as a bachelor Anacleto courted her in 1952 in Romblon province, and persuaded her to come to manila
for their wedding; that for such purposes he arrived in the city, and stayed in the house of her sister in Pasay, where
Anacleto, repeating his assurances of marriage lived with her as her husband; that subsequently, heeding plaintiff's
insistence on the wedding, Anacleto accompanied her to the City Hall to obtain a marriage license; that there he
introduced her son Cesar to her as a nephew, and then left them both in the building, after saying that Cesar
already knew what to do; that with the help of Atty. Moises Espino both obtained a marriage license; that several
days later plaintiff was made to marry Cesar Aspiras in the presence of Anacleto, who led her to believe she was
really marrying him thru Cesar Aspiras as a proxy; that after such marriage ceremony she continued to live with
Anacleto as his wife — never with Cesar, with whom she never had amorous relations; and that she had a baby
born January 24, 1954 of defendant Anacleto Aspiras, who turned out to be married to another woman.

She asked annulment of her marriage to Cesar Aspiras, and for judgment requiring defendants to pay her, jointly
and severally, a monthly allowance of P150.00 and damages in the total sum of P72,580.00.

On November 9, 1954 defendants filed a motion to dismiss on two grounds: no cause of action, and prior judgment
in Civil Case No. 19115 of the same court. .

On February 11, 1955, the court issued an order saying,

Upon motion of the defendants this case is dismissed it being a repetition of civil Case No. 19115 (Josefina
Mortel vs. Anacleto Aspiras and Cesar Aspiras) which was dismissed upon separate motions of the parties
in the order of this Court of April 11, 1953.

The plaintiff moved for reconsideration, but her motion was denied in a court resolution explaining that this case "is
a reiteration substantially of the old case No. 19115" . . . which was "dismissed upon separate motions of both
parties" and such "dismissal operates as an adjudication on the merits in accordance with the provisions of Sec. 4,
Rule 30 of the Rules of Court".

Consequently the plaintiff appealed to this Court alleging error in the application of Rule 30 section 4, inasmuch as
the matter was governed by sec. 1 of same Rule 30.
Civil Case No. 19115 was admittedly filed March 1953. The allegations of the complaint therein were practically the
same as those in the present litigation; before filing of the answer, plaintiff Josefina Mortel submitted on April 9,
1953 a motion to dismiss her complaint "stating that she was in fact and in truth married to the defendant Cesar
Aspiras and Anacleto F. Aspiras participated in the solemnization of the marriage as the father of Cesar Aspiras,
and that she filed her said complaint at the height of anger and thus the contents thereof did not represent her true
sentiments" (29 Record on Appeal). It is also admitted that on April 1, 1953 the defendants in said Civil Case No.
19115 presented a motion to dismiss, asserting the plaintiff had no cause of action because she "was a school
teacher, knew that she contracted the marriage with Cesar Aspiras and that there were no misrepresentation or
fraud perpetrated against her." (15, 29 Record on Appeal.)

There is no question that on April 11, 1953 the court issued, in said civil case, an order stating, "upon separate
motions of both parties the complaint is hereby dismissed".

For the sake of clearness the rules cited by both sides are quoted:

SECTION 1. Dismissal by the plaintiff . — An action may be dismissed by the plaintiff without order of court
by filing a notice of dismissal at any time before service of the answer. Unless otherwise stated in the notice,
the dismissal is without prejudice, except that. . . .

SEC. 4. Effect of dismissal on the grounds. — Unless otherwise ordered by the court, any dismissal not
provided for in this rule, other than a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, operates an adjudication upon the
merits. (Rule 30, Rules of Court.)

There is another reason that may be pertinent:

SEC. 2. By order of the court. — Except as provided in the preceeding section, an action shall not be
dismissed at the plaintiff's instance save upon order of the court and upon such terms and conditions as the
court deems proper. . . . Unless otherwise specified in the order, a dismissal under this paragraph shall be
without prejudice. . . .

In the light of the above provisions, let us examine what transpired in Civil Case No. 19115. Before the answer was
made, plaintiff filed a "Motion to Withdraw and/or Dismiss"; and she asked the court "that the complaint . . . be
withdrawn and/or dismissed". At first glance her pleading does not fall exactly within the letter of the "notice"
contemplated by section 1. In addition it asked for a court order of dismissal.

But if it does not fall under section 1, it may be considered as a motion which the court could dispose of under
section 2. When acting under such section to court could consult the wishes of the defendant. The defendant
may object; but the court may order dismissal, and such order is without prejudice. Wherefore if the
defendant agrees, the order is a fortiori also without prejudice. Unless otherwise expressly stated, of course. 1awphil.net

Now then, the defendant's motion to dismiss in April 1953 could in legal contemplation be deemed a conformity to
plaintiff's motion to withdraw. Therefore, the court's order upon both motions should be without prejudice, under
section 2.

On the other hand, viewing the pleading with liberality a and seeing thru the form to the substance, the plaintiff's
"motion to withdraw or dismiss" of April 9 amounted practically to a "notice" of dismissal, before service of the
answer, because it advised the defendants of plaintiff's desire to withdraw. Its caption did not alter nor disguise its
nature as plaintiff's statement of her determination to drop the matter. It contemplated, it is true, a court order of
dismissal; but it was not thereby taken out of the purview of section 1, since even after a "notice" given under said
section, a court's order of dismissal would not be incongrous. Defendant's conformity, if openly given, would be
surplusage, and would not modify the ensuing juridical situation.

As we see section 1, when the plaintiff files the notice, the matter is dismissed without the necessity of a court order;
but a court order may subsequently be entered definitely taking cognizance of the withdrawal and shelving
the expediente, without thereby throwing the matter out of the scope of said section 1 (b).
Being then of the opinion that the proceedings in Civil Case No. 19115 could be classified either under section 1 or
under section 2, we cannot but declare section 4 to the inapplicable. In other words, we hold the dismissal to be
without prejudice. At most, defendants may contend that the order of April 11, 1953 was also an order sustaining
their motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action, such order barring subsequent litigation. In fact such was their
contention in the court below. (p. 27 Record on Appeal.) However, we do not believe that the court's order meant to
declare that plaintiff had no cause of action. It did not say, "For the reasons stated in defendant's motion" the case is
dismissed. It merely stated "upon separate motions of both parties the complaint is dismissed" — which ordinarily
could mean "since both parties ask for dismissal, the case is dismissed". In all probability the court did not stop to
consider the merits of the controversy. Indeed it would be a debatable point whether the court could still properly
delve into the merits of the case after plaintiff had withdrawn. b

Anyway, even granting that the court's order also held that no cause of action existed, the situation would be one
wherein the order was both provisional and final in character (if that is legally possible). Then it would not be fair to
apply such finality to plaintiff, since she would thereby be forever barred from submitting her claim to the courts,
although she had reasons to believe the order was a provisional dismissal. On the other hand, considering the order
as provisional, defendants would not be unduly prejudiced nor definitely harmed, because they are not deprived of
the opportunity to defend themselves. Defendants should have insisted either that the court make a specific ruling
upon their motion or that the dismissal be expressly made with prejudice. lawphil.net

It may be stated that in this connection that we are all the more inclined to permit this new litigation, because in
another expediente we have just decided, (of which we may take judicial notice) (Adm. Case No. 154,
Mortel vs.Aspiras), evidence has been introduced indicating that the plaintiff's motion for dismissal had been
prepared at the request of defendant Anacleto Aspiras who promised plaintiff full support, — and that there is prima
facie merit to her claims for annulment and damages.

This is verily one instance requiring liberal construction of the Rules for the purpose of assisting the parties to obtain
just, speedy and inexpensive determination of their controversies — without regard to technical objections that do
not square with the ends of justice.

The appealed order is hereby reversed and the case remanded to the lower court for further proceedings.

Paras, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Endencia and Felix, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

a Pleadings to be liberally construed. Sec. 17 Rule 15.

b It might be argued that under section 1 of the notice automatically dismissed the case "without prejudice"
and the order of the court was a surplusage, in no way construable as implying dismissal with prejudice.
EN BANC
 
ATTY. RODOLFO D. PACTOLIN, G.R. No. 161455
Petitioner,
Present:
 
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
- versus - CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,*
CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
THE HONORABLE FOURTH NACHURA,
DIVISION OF THE REYES,
SANDIGANBAYAN, THE HON. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
SIMEON V. MARCELO, in his BRION, JJ.
official capacity as the Ombudsman,
and MARIO R. FERRAREN, Promulgated:
Respondents.
May 20, 2008
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
 
DECISION
 
VELASCO, JR., J.:
 
Petitioner Atty. Rodolfo P. Pactolin was a former member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
Misamis Occidental. During Pactolins term, sometime in May 1996, the mayor of Ozamis City,
Benjamin A. Fuentes, received a letter dated May 3, 1996 from Elmer Abastillas, the playing
coach and team captain of the Ozamis City volleyball team, requesting financial assistance for
the citys volleyball team. Mayor Fuentes immediately approved the request and then forwarded
Abastillas letter to the City Treasurers Office for processing. Mayor Fuentes at that time
designated Mario R. Ferraren, a member of the city council, as OIC (Officer-in-Charge)-Mayor
for the duration of his trip to Cagayan de Oro City starting May 5, 1996. Abastillas received the
check for PhP 10,000 on behalf of the volleyball team on May 8, 1996.
 
While Ferraren was OIC-Mayor, Pactolin went to the Ozamis City Treasurers Office and asked
to photocopy Abastillas letter. Assistant City Treasurer Alma Y. Toledo lent the letter to
Pactolin, having known him as a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Besides, he was
accompanied by Solomon Villaueran, a city employee. Pactolin returned the letter to the City
Treasurers Office immediately after photocopying it.
 
Thereafter, on June 24, 1996, Pactolin filed a complaint, docketed as OMB-MIN-96-0416,
against Mario with the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman-Mindanao, alleging that Mario
illegally disbursed public funds worth PhP 10,000 in connivance with then City Accountant
Cynthia Ferraren. Attached as Annex A to the complaint was the alleged falsified version of the
Abastillas letter. The purported falsified letter showed that it was Mario and not Mayor Fuentes
who approved the request for financial assistance. Aggrieved, Mario instituted a criminal
complaint against Pactolin. Pactolin was charged with falsification of a public document under
Article 171(2)[1] of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) in an Amended Information filed on January
31, 2000, as follows:
 
That on or about June 24, 1996, or some time prior or subsequent thereto, in
Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the accused RODOLFO D. PACTOLIN, a high ranking public
officer, being a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Misamis Occidental,
committing the felony herein charged in relation to his office, and taking advantage of
his official position as Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member and head of the athletic
delegation of Misamis Occidental, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, falsify a document dated May 3, 1998 requesting from the city mayor of
Ozamis City financial assistance, by intercalating thereon the printed name of Mario
R. Ferraren, and the latters position as OIC Mayor, and by imitating the latters
signature on top of the intercalated name Mario R. Ferraren, thereby making it appear
that OIC Mayor Mario R. Ferraren approved the request for financial assistance, when
in truth and in fact, Mario R. Ferraren neither signed the subject letter nor approved
the said request for financial assistance.
 
 
After arraignment in which Pactolin appeared on his own behalf and pleaded not guilty, and
after trial on the merits in which Pactolin repeatedly failed to appear, the Sandiganbayan issued
a Decision[2] on November 12, 2003, disposing, thus:
 
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding
accused Rodolfo D. Pactolin, guilty of Falsification under Article 172 of the Revised
Penal Code, and in the absence of any aggravating or mitigating circumstances, he is
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of 2 years and 4
months of prision correccional as minimum to 4 years, 9 months and 10 days
of prision correccional as maximum, to suffer all the accessory penalties of prision
correccional, and to pay a fine of P5,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency to pay the fine.
 
SO ORDERED.
 
On the stated premise that the falsified document was not in the official custody of
Pactolin, nor was there evidence presented showing that the falsification was committed by him
while in the performance of his duties, the Sandiganbayan found him liable for falsification
under the first paragraph of Art. 172, penalizing any private individual who shall commit any of
the falsifications enumerated in the next preceding article in any public or official document or
letter of exchange or any other kind of commercial document.
 
Pactolins motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, he filed this petition, raising the
following issues:
 
 
I. WHETHER OR NOT FALSIFICATION UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE
IS WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE JURISDICTION OF THE
SANDIGANBAYAN? [sic]
 
II. WHETHER RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO ACTING WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN
CONVICTING PETITIONER WHEN BY ITS OWN FINDINGS OF FACTS THE
FALSIFIED DOCUMENT WAS NOT IN THE OFFICIAL CUSTODY OF THE
ACCUSED NOR WAS THERE ANY EVIDENCE PRESENTED THAT THE
FALSIFICATION WAS COMMITTED BY ACCUSED WHILE IN THE
PERFORMANCE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES? [sic]
 
Simply, the issues are: Did the Sandiganbayan have jurisdiction over the case? If so, did
it gravely abuse its discretion when by its own findings the falsified document was not in the
custody of Pactolin, and he falsified the document while in the performance of his duties?
 
Pactolin claims that the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the crime of falsification. First,
according to Pactolin, even as Republic Act No. (RA) 8249, known as An Act Further Defining
the Jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, amending for the Purpose P.D. 1606, as Amended,
Providing Funds therefor and for Other Purposes, vests the Sandiganbayan with exclusive
jurisdictional authority over certain offenses, the following requisites must concur before that
court can exercise such jurisdiction: (1) the offense is committed in violation of (a) RA 3019, as
amended, known as The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, (b) RA 1379 or The Law on Ill-
gotten Wealth, (c) Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the RPC, (d) Executive Order
Nos. 1, 2, 14, and 14-A, or (e) other offenses or felonies whether simple or complex with other
crimes; (2) the offender committing the offenses in items (a), (b), (c), and (e) is a public official
or employee holding any of the positions enumerated in Section 4, par. (a) of RA 8249; and (3)
the offense committed is in relation to the office. [3] Pactolin argues that these requisites show
that the crime of falsification as defined under Arts. 171 and 172 of the RPC is not within the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. He also points out that nowhere under Sec. 4 of Presidential
Decree No. 1606, RA 3019, RA 1379, or in Title VII, Book II of the RPC is falsification of
official document mentioned. He relies on Bartolome v. People[4] as a case in point.
 
Our Ruling: The Sandiganbayan Has Jurisdiction
Falsification of public document under the RPC is within the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan. This conclusion finds support from Sec. 4 of RA 8249, which enumerates the
cases in which the Sandiganbayan has exclusive jurisdiction, as follows:
 
Section 4. x x x
a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-
graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2,
Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are
officials occupying the following positions in the government whether in a permanent,
acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense:
(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director
and higher, otherwise classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation
and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically
including:
(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers and other
provincial department heads;

xxxx

(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher under
the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes
committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a. of
this section in relation to their office. (Emphasis supplied.)
 
Going to another point, Pactolin, in his Memorandum, contends that the Sandiganbayan
gravely abused its discretion when it convicted him as a private individual under an information
charging him as a public official, thus violating his right to be informed of the nature and cause
of the accusation against him and his right to due process of law. He claims that the information
filed against him charged him with violation of Art. 171 of the RPC in his capacity as Board
Member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, but the Sandiganbayan convicted him of violation
of Art. 172 as a private individual. Thus, he avers, he had not been given a chance to defend
himself from a criminal charge of which he had been convicted.
 
Again, Pactolin errs. It is true that the Amended Information did not at all mention any
statutory designation of the crime he is charged with. But, it is all too evident that the body of
the information against him contains averments that unmistakably constitute falsification under
Art. 171 and also Art. 172 of the RPC, which, for reference, are quoted below:
Art.171. Falsification by public officer, employee; or notary or ecclesiastical
minister.x x x
 
xxxx
 
2. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding
when they did not in fact so participate [as testified to by witnesses].
 
xxxx
 
Art. 172. Falsification by private individual and use of falsified documents.The
penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not
more than 5,000 shall be imposed upon:
 
1. Any private individual who shall commit any of the falsification enumerated
in the next preceeding article in any public or official document or letter of exchange
or any other kind of commercial document;
xxxx
 
Any person who shall knowingly introduce in evidence in any judicial
proceedings or to the damage of another or who, with the intent to cause such damage,
shall use any of the false documents embraced in the next preceeding article or in
any of the foregoing subdivisions of this article shall be punished by the penalty next
lower in degree. (Emphasis supplied.)
 
 
 
Note that the last paragraph of Art. 172 does not specify that the offending person is a
public or private individual as does its par. 1. Note also that the last paragraph of Art. 172
alludes to the use of the false document embraced in par. 2 of Art. 171 where it was made to
appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact
participate. Patently, even a public officer may be convicted under Art. 172. The crime in Art.
171 is absorbed by the last paragraph of Art. 172. Thus, Pactolins argument about being
deprived of his right to be informed of the charges against him when the Sandiganbayan
convicted him as a private person under Art. 172, is baseless. The headings in italics of the two
articles are not controlling. What is controlling is not the title of the complaint, or the
designation of the offense charged or the particular law or part thereof allegedly violated, but
the description of the crime charged and the particular facts therein recited. [5] The character of
the crime is not determined by the caption or the preamble of the information or by the
specification of the provision of law alleged to have been violated, but by the recital of the
ultimate facts and circumstances in the complaint or information. [6] In this case, the Amended
Information encompasses the acts of Pactolin constitutive of a violation of Art. 172 in relation
to par. 2 of Art. 171 of the RPC.
 
Pactolin also misapplied Bartolome.[7] In Bartolome, there was no showing that the
accused committed acts of falsification while they were discharging official functions, and the
information in Bartolome did not allege there was an intimate connection between the discharge
of official duties and the commission of the offense. In this case, the State, in no uncertain
words, alleged in the Amended Information and proved that Pactolin was a member of
the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and took advantage of his position when he committed the
falsification.
 
 
The Sandiganbayan Is Correct in Convicting Petitioner
 
As to the second issue, Pactolin avers that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its
discretion when it convicted him despite its own findings that the falsified document was not in
his official custody and that there was no evidence he committed the falsification in the
performance of his official duties.
 
Pactolin distorts the statement of the Sandiganbayan.
 
The Sandiganbayans conviction of Pactolin was based on its factual findings after the
prosecution presented both documentary and testimonial pieces of evidence. We are not a trier
of facts so we defer to the factual findings of the lower court that had more opportunities and
facilities to examine the evidence presented.
 
The Sandiganbayan had established the following undisputed facts: (1) the request for financial
assistance of the volleyball players, represented by Abastillas, was approved by Mayor Fuentes
and not by OIC-Mayor Mario; (2) the original Abastillas letter was in the custody of Toledo in
her official capacity and she testified that the approving authority was Mayor Fuentes and no
other; (3) Pactolin borrowed the Abastillas letter for photocopying upon oral request, and Toledo
granted the said request because she knew him as a member of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan of their province; and (4) Pactolin filed a complaint against Mario with the
Ombudsman for illegal disbursement of public funds, and the principal document he attached to
show the alleged illegal disbursement was the Abastillas letter on which was superimposed
Marios signature, thus making it appear that Mario approved the financial assistance to the
volleyball players, and not Mayor Fuentes. In short, the Sandiganbayan clearly established that
the copy of the Abastillas letter that Pactolin attached to his complaint was spurious. Given the
clear absence of a satisfactory explanation regarding Pactolins possession and use of the falsified
Abastillas letter, the Sandiganbayan did not err in concluding that it was Pactolin who falsified
the letter. The settled rule is that in the absence of satisfactory explanation, one found in
possession of and who used a forged document is the forger and therefore guilty of falsification.
[8]

 
Neither do we agree with Pactolin that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction. Grave abuse of discretion implies a capricious and whimsical
exercise of judgment tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. [9] The rule in this jurisdiction is that
once a complaint or information is filed in court, any disposition of the case, be it dismissal,
conviction, or acquittal of the accused, rests on the sound discretion of the court. [10] The only
qualification to this exercise of judicial prerogative is that the substantial rights of the accused
must not be impaired nor the People be deprived of the right to due process. As we have
discoursed, no substantial right of Pactolin has been impaired nor has there been any violation
of his right to due process. He had been adequately informed by the detailed litany of the
charges leveled against him in the information. He had the occasion to confront witnesses
against him and the opportunity to question documents presented by the prosecution. Under no
circumstance in this case has his right to due process been violated.
 
Lastly, Pactolin is a member of the Philippine bar. As a lawyer, he is bound by the
professions strict code of ethics. His conviction means he has not met the high ethical standard
demanded by his profession. He must be dealt with accordingly.
 
 
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Sandiganbayans Decision
dated November 12, 2003 in Criminal Case No. 25665 and its Resolution dated January 7,
2004are AFFIRMED in their entirety. This Decision shall be treated as an administrative
complaint against petitioner Atty. Rodolfo D. Pactolin under Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court
and is referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for appropriate action.
 
The Clerk of Court is directed to furnish private complainant Mario R. Ferraren with a
copy of this Decision.
 
Costs against petitioner.
 
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

B.M. No. 2713               June 10, 2014

ATTY. AILEEN R. MAGLANA, Complainant, 


vs.
ATTY. JOSE VICENTE R. OPINION, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

BRION, J.:

Before the Court is the Appeal dated June 11, 2013  (with Urgent Motion to Prohibit Protestant-Appellee to
1

Participate in the Election for Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines [IBP] Set on June 15,
2013) filed by Atty. Aileen R. Maglana, President of IBP Samar Chapter, assailing the June 7, 2013 decision of the
IBP Board of Governors (BOG). 2

This BOG decision granted the election protest of Atty. Jose Vicente R. Opinion; declared Atty. Opinion as eligible to
run for Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015 term; annulled the proclamation of Atty. Maglana as
Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas; and proclaimed Atty. Opinion as the duly elected Governor of IBP Eastern
Visayas for the 2013-2015 term. 3

The Antecedents

On May 25, 2013, thirteen (13) delegates of the IBP Eastern Visayas Region gathered at the Session Hall of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 24, Bulwagan ng Katarungan, Capitol Site, Maasin, Leyte, to elect the Governor
of their region for the 2013-2015 term. Also present during the meeting were the Court’s designated observer,
Judge Bethany G. Kapili (Executive Judge of the RTC, Branch 24, Maasin, Leyte), other lawyers of the Southern
Leyte Chapter and outgoing Governor Manuel Enage, Jr. Governor Enage presided over the election. He then
called the election to order and opened the nominations for the position of Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas for the
2013-2015 term. 4

Upon a motion duly seconded, Atty. Maglana - the incumbent President of IBP Samar Chapter - was nominated for
the position of Governor. Atty. Maglana then moved that Governor Enage declare that only IBP Samar Chapter was
qualified to be voted upon for the position of Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas, to the exclusion of all the other eight
(8) chapters. Atty. Maglana cited the rotation rule under Bar Matter No. 491 and argued that since 1989 or the start
of the implementation of the rotation rule, only IBP Samar Chapter had not served as Governor for IBP Eastern
Visayas. 5

Atty. Opinion, the candidate of the IBP Eastern Samar Chapter, thereafter, took the floor and manifested that before
he decided to run for Governor, he sought the opinion of the IBP if he was still qualified to run considering that he
also ran for Governor and lost in the immediately preceding term. Atty. Opinion stated that he received an opinion
dated April 2, 2013 from Governor Vicente M. Joyas, Chairman of the IBP Executive Committee, that pertinently
stated:6

This has reference to your Letter dated March 15, 2013 addressed to former IBP President Roan I. Libarios seeking
clarification on your Chapter’s qualification to field a candidate for Governor on May 25, 2013.

Please be informed that your having lost the Governorship elections for Eastern Visayas in 2011 does not disqualify
your Chapter from seeking an election for Governorship of Eastern Visayas Region. Thus, under the present set up,
the IBP Chapters of Eastern Samar, Samar, and Biliran are qualified to field their respective candidate for the
scheduled Regional Elections on May 25, 2013. 7
Atty. Opinion also manifested that in the 2011 Regional Elections for IBP Eastern Visayas, the representative of IBP
Samar Chapter, Judge Amanzar, waived "the votes as he cannot pursue an election at that time." Instead, Atty.
Opinion was "asked to run."  The Chapter President of Samar in 2011, however, categorically denied the waiver and
8

said, "I did not pursue my intentions, although I had one at that time to run for governor, because I was financially
handicapped... but I did not categorically waive our right to the governorship, because I believe that waiver should
be, - should not be implied. I categorically say that I did not waive my right, or the right of the chapter to run for
governor." 9

Atty. Jose Aguilar Grapilon, the delegate from Biliran, meanwhile pointed out that Governor Joyas as Chairman of
the IBP Executive Committee had no authority to make the above-cited pronouncement; it is only the Supreme
Court that has the authority to determine the qualified chapters in the region. 10

After heated debates on the proper interpretation of the rotation rule to the present case, Governor Enage
eventually ruled that Atty. Opinion was disqualified from running for the position of Governor of IBP Eastern
Visayas. Thereafter, some delegates protested the decision of Governor Enage which prompted him to call a
11

recess. When the session resumed, Atty. Malig-on, Vice President of IBP Cebu Chapter, moved that the election be
suspended and the issue of Atty. Opinion’s objection to Governor Enage’s ruling be resolved by the IBP BOG.
Governor Enage, however, denied this motion and, thereafter, ordered the distribution of the ballots. 12

The counting of the ballots revealed that only ten (10) out of the eleven (11) ballots cast were filled up. Governor
Enage counted the votes, with six (6) votes in favor of Atty. Opinion considered as stray votes and four (4) votes in
favor of Atty. Maglana. He then proceeded to proclaim Atty. Maglana as the duly elected Governor of IBP Eastern
Visayas in view of the disqualification of the other nominee, Atty. Opinion.
13

The Protest

On May 27, 2013, Atty. Opinion filed an election protest with the IBP BOG.  In support of his election protest, Atty.
14

Opinion raised two points.

First, he noted that since its introduction in 1990, the rotation rule had not been followed in the elections for
Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas since Cebu Province, Cebu City, Bohol and Northern Samar have had two elected
governors each, as opposed to other chapters which only had one governor elected. Since the rotation rule was not
followed, IBP Eastern Samar Chapter cannot be disqualified to run since it was merely exercising its right to run for
the second time in the same manner as that of the other chapters that had elected two governors. 15

Second, he emphasized that IBP Samar Chapter had waived its turn in the rotation when it did not field a candidate
for Governor in the 2007, 2009 and 2011 elections. He notes that IBP Samar Chapter should not be allowed to
assert its turn in the rotation at anytime; otherwise, it would disrupt the sequence considering it "follows Cebu City
sequence wise." Thus, for the 2013 regional elections, both Eastern Samar and Samar should have been declared
eligible to run for Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas.16

In her Comment,  Atty. Maglana argued three points.


17

First, IBP Samar Chapter did not waive its turn in the rotation. In fact, the former IBP Samar Chapter President, Atty.
Cesar Mabansag, categorically denied, during the May 25,2013 regional elections, that he had waived the right of
IBP Samar Chapter to the governorship. Even if there was a waiver during the 2011 election, IBP Samar Chapter
can reclaim its right to the governorship before the rotation is completed, pursuant to Section 39, Article VI, as
amended, of the IBP By-Laws. Thus, for the 2013-2015 term, IBP Samar Chapter, which remains to be the only
chapter that did not have its turn in the rotation, should be allowed to reclaim its right to the governorship.
18

Second, she noted that since Bar Matter No. 586, dated May 14, 1991, mandated the strict implementation of the
rotation rule, and based on IBP records, all chapters in the region, except IBP Samar Chapter, have already had
their turn in the rotation. Thus, she argued that in order for the rotation cycle in the region to be completed, IBP
Samar Chapter, which had not yet had its turn in the rotation, should be deemed the only qualified chapter to field its
candidate for governor in the May 25, 2013 regional elections. 19
Third, she contended that even if the rotation cycle is reckoned from 1973, it is still IBP Samar Chapter’s turn in the
rotation, pursuant to the rotation rule under Section 39,Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws. She notes that
with the election of Governor Enage in the 2011-2013 term, the remaining chapters that have not served as
governor are Samar, Biliran and Eastern Samar Chapters. Thus, pursuant to Section 39, IBP Samar Chapter should
be able to field its candidate for governor first, ahead of Biliran and Eastern Samar Chapters. 20

The IBP BOG Decision

In its June 7, 2013 decision, the IBP BOG granted the election protest of Atty. Opinion and declared him the duly
elected Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015 term.

First, the IBP BOG held that IBP Samar waived its turn in the first rotation cycle, from 1989 to 2007. It noted that
under the rotation rule, the governorship of a region shall rotate once in as many as the number of chapters there
are in the region, to give every chapter a chance to represent the region in the IBP BOG. In the case of IBP Eastern
Visayas, the region consists of nine (9) chapters, thus the cycle consists of nine governorship terms (from 1989 to
2007). Based on the records, it is clear that four chapters have been represented twice; IBP Eastern Samar was
represented once while IBP Samar was never represented at all.

Based on these considerations, the IBP BOG concluded that IBP Samar Chapter effectively waived its turn in the
rotation order when it did not field any candidate from 1989 to 2007,as well as when it did not invoke the rotation
rule to challenge the nominations of those candidates whose chapters had already been previously represented in
the rotation cycle. 21

Second, the IBP BOG ruled that the first rotation cycle had already terminated with the 2005 to 2007 term despite
the lack of representation from Eastern Samar as it has effectively waived its turn in the first rotation cycle. It
emphasized that the rotation rule is not absolute and is subject to waiver, such as when the chapters, in the order of
rotation, opt not to file or nominate their own candidates for governor during the election regularly done for that
purpose. It also held that Atty. Maglana’s contentions that IBP Eastern Samar can reclaim the governorship at any
time and that the first rotation cycle cannot be completed unless IBP Eastern Samar has had its turn are completely
anathema to the concept of the rotation cycle; the rotation cycle should run its course and the rotation in the region
cannot be held hostage by any one chapter. 22

Third, the IBP BOG found that based on the rotation by exclusion rule (i.e., once a member of the chapter is elected
as governor, his or her chapter would be excluded in the next turn until all have taken turns in the rotation cycle), the
six (6) remaining chapters in the region were actually qualified to field a candidate for governor in the May 25, 2013
regional elections. It also noted that the IBP Eastern Visayas region is actually already in its second rotation cycle
with governors from Leyte (2007-2009), Bohol (2009-2011) and Southern Leyte (2011-2013) already having served
the region. In the present case, both IBP Eastern Samar and IBP Samar were actually qualified to field their
candidates for Governor, alongside IBP Cebu City, IBP Cebu Province, IBP Biliran and IBP Northern Samar
Chapters. 23

Fourth, the IBP BOG concluded that Atty. Opinion, who was actually a qualified candidate for Governor of IBP
Eastern Visayas, should be declared the duly elected Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015 term,
considering that he garnered the majority six (6) votes, as opposed to the minority four (4) votes garnered by Atty.
Maglana. 24

The Appeal

On June 11, 2013, Atty. Maglana filed the present Appeal (With Urgent Motion to Prohibit Protestant-Appellee to
Participate in the Election for Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Set on June 15,
2013). In support of her Appeal, Atty. Maglana submits the following arguments:

First, IBP Samar Chapter is the only qualified chapter to field a candidate for governor for the 2013-2015 term, to the
exclusion of all other chapters in the IBP Eastern Visayas region. She emphasizes that based on the records, IBP
Samar Chapter clearly had never served as governor for IBP Eastern Visayas since the introduction of Bar Matter
No. 491 in 1989. 25
Second, IBP Samar Chapter never waived its turn in the rotation cycle because under the rotation by exclusion
scheme, it does not know when its turn to serve as governor would be. Even assuming that there had been a
waiver, Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws allows the chapter that waived its turn in the rotation
order to reclaim its right at any time before the rotation is completed.
26

Third, the rotation cycle in the IBP Eastern Visayas region can only be completed once a nominee from IBP Samar
Chapter had served as Governor for the 2013-2015 term. The rotation cycle cannot simply be deemed complete by
just equating the number of terms with the number of chapters in the region. Atty. Maglana contends that the
situation of IBP Samar Chapter is the same as that of Romblon Chapter in 2009 when the Court, in In the Matter of
the Brewing Controversies in the Election in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,  affirmed IBP Romblon Chapter’s
27

right to the 2009-2011 term despite the fact that there were other chapters in the Western Visayas region that had
served more than one term. 28

On July 2, 2013, the Court issued a Resolution denying Atty. Maglana’s prayer to restrain Atty. Opinion from voting
in the election on June 15, 2013, the same having become moot and academic. In the same Resolution, the Court
also required Atty. Maglana to furnish the Court, within five (5) days from notice, a certified true copy of the IBP
BOG decision dated June 7, 2013. 29

On August 3, 2013, Atty. Maglana submitted her Compliance with the Court’s directive in its July 2, 2013
Resolution.30

The Issues for Resolution

The core issues raised by the present Appeal are the following:

1. Whether the first rotation cycle in IBP Eastern Visayas, since the implementation of Bar Matter No. 491,
has been completed;

2. Whether IBP Samar Chapter waived its turn in the rotation order so that it can no longer claim its right to
the governorship position for the 2013-2015 term;

3. Whether IBP Samar Chapter is the only qualified chapter to field a candidate for governor in IBP Eastern
Visayas for the 2013-2015 term; and

4. Whether Atty. Opinion should be declared the duly elected Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas for the
2013-2015 term.

Our Ruling

We affirm the IBP BOG decision dated June 7, 2013 and declare Atty. Opinion the duly elected Governor of IBP
Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015 term.

We begin with a brief background on the organizational structure of the IBP. The IBP is divided into nine (9)
geographic regions, namely: Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicolandia, Greater Manila, Western
Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao and Eastern Mindanao. 31

Each of these regions is subdivided into chapters and is represented by a Governor elected by delegates from
among the member-chapters of each region.  In the case of IBP Eastern Visayas, the region is composed of nine
32

(9) chapters, namely:33

1. Biliran

2. Bohol

3. Cebu Province
4. Cebu City

5. Eastern Samar

6. Leyte

7. Northern Samar

8. Samar

9. Southern Leyte

At least one (1) month before the national convention, the delegates from each region shall elect the Governor for
their region, who shall be chosen by rotation. 34

These nine (9) Governors constitute the IBP BOG which governs and has general charge of the IBP’s affairs and
activities. Aside from the Governors, the other national officers of the IBP are: the IBP President, the EVP, the
National Secretary, the National Treasurer, and the heads of the National Committees. 35

The Rotation Rule

The logical starting point in resolving the present matter before us is Section 39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws, as
amended by Bar Matter No. 491. This provision established the rotation rule in the IBP. The provision states:

SEC. 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. – At least one (1) month before the national convention the
delegates from each region shall elect the governor for their region, the choice of which shall as much as possible
be rotated among the chapters in the region.

In its Resolution in Bar Matter No. 586 dated May 16, 1991, the Court decreed without amending Section 39, Article
VI of the IBP By-Laws that the rotation rule under Sections 37 and 39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws should be
strictly implemented "so that all prior elections for governor in the region shall be reckoned with or considered in
determining who should be the governor to be selected from the different chapters to represent the region in the
Board of Governors." 36

Despite the call for strict implementation of the rotation rule under Bar Matter No. 586 in 1991, the Court amended
Section 39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws only in 2010 in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election in
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,  by mandating the mandatory and strict implementation of the rotation rule, as
37

well as recognizing that the rotation rule is subject to waivers by the chapters of the regions. The provision, as
further amended, now reads:

Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. – At least one (1) month before the national convention the
delegates from each region shall elect the Governor for their region, who shall be chosen by rotation which is
mandatory and shall be strictly implemented among the Chapters in the region. When a Chapter waives its turn in
the rotation order, its place shall redound to the next Chapter in the line. Nevertheless, the former may reclaim its
right to the Governorship at any time before the rotation is completed; otherwise, it will have to wait for its turn in the
next round, in the same place that it had in the round completed. 38

Broken down into its components, Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws contains the following
elements:

(a) Delegates from each region shall elect the governor for their region who shall be chosen by rotation;

(b) Rotation of the governorship of each region shall be mandatory and to be strictly implemented;

(c) A chapter may waive its turn in the rotation order which shall redound to the next chapter in the line; and
(d) The chapter that waived its turn may reclaim its right to the governorship at any time before the rotation
is completed; otherwise, it will have to wait for its turn in the next round, in the same place that it had in the
round completed.

Elements a, c and d are key elements that are decisive in resolving the present controversy. As far as element (a) is
concerned, the problem relates to the element of rotation where the manner of implementation is the disputed issue.
Elements (c) and (d) also assume significance because of the assertion of waiver on the part of IBP Samar Chapter
of its right to the governorship.

As has been interpreted and applied by the Court in the past, the rotation rule under Section 39, Article VI, as
amended, of the IBP By-Laws actually consists of two underlying directives.

First is the directive for the mandatory and strict implementation of the rotation rule. The rule mandates that the
governorship of a region shall rotate once in as many terms as there may be chapters in the region. This serves the
purpose of giving every chapter a chance to represent the region in the IBP BOG.

Second is the exception from the mandatory and strict implementation of the rotation rule. This exception would
allow a chapter to waive its turn in the rotation order, subject to its right to reclaim the governorship at any time
before the rotation is completed. Thus, as the Court held in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the
Election in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, "[t]he rotation rule is not absolute but subject to waiver as when the
chapters in the order of rotation opted not to field or nominate their own candidates for Governor during the election
regularly done for that purpose." 39

The Operation of the Rotation System in IBP Eastern Visayas

Pursuant to Bar Matter No. 491, the delegates for the 1989-1991 term elected Atty. Benedict H. Alo of Cebu
Province as Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas. This development ushered in the implementation of the rotation
system for the governorship of IBP Eastern Visayas. Thus, the rotational cycle should be counted from the time of
Bar Matter No. 491, when the Court provided for the rotation system. This term (1989-1991) constituted the first
"turn" in the cycle and should be considered the starting point for consideration in resolving the various aspects of
the present controversy. Note, however, that part of this term was under a caretaker that served as a preliminary
and preparatory measure under the developments that initiated Bar Matter No. 491.

The tabulation below shows the election developments for the position of Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas from the
1989-1991 term up to the present, viz.:

Term Elected Governors Chapter


1989-1990 Caretaker Board N/A
1990-1991 Benedicto H. Alo Cebu Province
1991-1993 Baldomero C. Estenzo Cebu City
1993-1995 Agustinus V. Gonzaga Bohol
1995-1997 Jose Aguila Grapilon Biliran
1997-1999 Kenny A.H. Tantuico Northern Samar
1999-2001 Celestino B. Sabate Eastern Samar
2001-2003 Emil L. Ong Northern Samar
2003-2005 Manuel M. Monzon Cebu Province
2005-2007 Manuel P. Legaspi Cebu City
2007-2009 Evergisto S. Escalon Leyte
2009-2011 Roland B. Inting Bohol
2011-2013 Manuel L. Enage, Jr. Southern Leyte
2013-2015 Disputed Disputed

a. The First rotation cycle has been completed in 2007.

Counting from the governorship of Atty. Benedicto H. Alo of IBP Cebu Province Chapter, the first rotation cycle of
governors, consisting of nine (9) governorship terms from 1989 to 2007, followed the following pattern and
succession:

1. Cebu Province - Benedicto H. Alo, 1990-1991

2. Cebu City - Baldomero C. Estenzo, 1991-1993

3. Bohol - Agustinus V. Gonzaga, 1993-1995

4. Biliran - Jose Aguila Grapilon, 1995-1997

5. Northern Samar - Kenny A.H. Tantuico, 1997-1999

6. Eastern Samar - Celestino B. Sabate, 1999-2001

7. Northern Samar - Emil L. Ong, 2001-2003

8. Cebu Province - Manuel M. Monzon, 2003-2005

9. Cebu City - Manuel P.Legaspi, 2005-2007

leaving three chapters – Samar, Leyte and Southern Leyte – with no governor elected to represent the chapter’s slot
in the rotation. Pursuant to the rotational rule, the governorship of a region shall rotate once in as many terms as
there may be chapters in the region, to give every chapter a chance to represent the region in the IBP BOG.
However, not every chapter was represented in the first rotational cycle. As the IBP BOG noted, there were
instances when the Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas came from the same chapter, such as Northern Samar (1997-
1999 and 2001-2003), Cebu Province (1990-1991 and 2003-2005)and Cebu City (1991-1993 and 2005-2007).

These "aberrant" developments, strictly speaking, sidetracked the smooth and proper implementation of the rotation
rule in the first rotational cycle that started with the 1990-1991 term of IBP Cebu Province and which should have
ended in the 2005-2007 term with all the chapters, including Samar, Leyte and Southern Leyte, given the chance to
be governor. Stated otherwise, had the chapters strictly and mandatorily followed the rotation rule, the first rotational
cycle should have been completed in 2007.

We cannot sustain Atty. Maglana’s arguments, that: (1) the first rotation cycle in IBP Eastern Visayas region had not
been completed in 2007; and (2) that the rotation cycle can only be completed once a nominee from IBP Samar
Chapter had served as governor for the 2013-2015 term, for two reasons.

First, as the IBP BOG established, the primary reason why some chapters, such as Northern Samar, Cebu Province
and Cebu City, were represented twice (in the first rotation cycle) was because Samar either did not field any
candidate from 1989 to 2007 or it failed to invoke the rotation rule to challenge the nominations of those candidates
whose chapters had already been represented in the rotation cycle. We agree with the IBP BOG that Samar
Chapter effectively waived its turn in the rotation order, as will be further explained below. Because of this waiver of
its turn in the first rotation cycle, we conclude that the first rotation cycle had been completed in 2007.

Second, Atty. Maglana cannot simply reclaim IBP Samar Chapter’s right to the governorship in the 2013-2015 term
because it is contrary to Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws. This provision states that the
chapter which has waived its turn in the rotation cycle may reclaim its right to the governorship at any time before
the rotation is completed. Having been established that the first rotational cycle had been completed in the 2005-
2007 term, IBP Samar Chapter can no longer belatedly reclaim its right to the governorship in the 2013-2015 term
as it should have exercised its claim on or before the completion of the first rotation cycle in 2007. In this regard, we
quote with approval the disquisition of the IBP BOG:

Moreover, protestee’s view that the Samar chapter, by virtue of its being the only chapter that has yet to have its
turn as governor in the rotation rule era, can reclaim the governorship at any time it opts to and that the rotation
cycle cannot be deemed completed until it does is anathema to the very concept of the rotation rule. The region
cannot be held hostage indefinitely by one chapter. The rotation has to run its course. Indeed the flaw of protestee’s
reasoning would be even more apparent if the issue of the election of the Executive Vice President would come into
play inasmuch as the Samar Chapter could then invoke its perceived right to the governorship when it is the turn of
Eastern Visayas Region to have an EVP elected from its ranks, thus, giving it an undue advantage over the other
chapters in the region.40

The dissent, however, emphasizes that the preferred policy as mandated in Section 39, Article VI, as amended of
the IBP By-Laws, is the mandatory and strict implementation of the rotation by exclusion rule. The dissent posits that
unless and until IBP Samar Chapter had actually been given the opportunity to seat as Governor of IBP Eastern
Visayas, the first rotation cycle for the position of IBP Eastern Visayas cannot be considered complete. 41

The dissent’s reliance on the mandatory and strict implementation of the rotation by exclusion rule, as mandated by
Section 39, as amended, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws, is inaccurate. Despite the amendment of Section 39, Article
VI of the IBP By-Laws mandating the strict implementation of the rotation by exclusion rule, the Court cannot ignore
the reality that prior to the present amendment (i.e., from the 1989-1991 term until December 2010), the prevailing
rotation rule was not mandatory; the choice of governor should only be rotated as much as possible among the
chapters of the region.

Note that this rule even prevailed after the first rotation cycle of governors, consisting of nine governorship terms
from 1989 to 2007. Thus, the dissent cannot simply apply Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws in
the present case because this amendment calling for the strict implementation of the rotation rule cannot be
interpreted retroactively, but only prospectively, so that it would only take effect in the 2011-2013 term.

As previously emphasized, not every chapter was represented in the first rotation cycle; there were three instances
when the Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas came from the same Chapter, such as the case of Northern Samar,
Cebu Province and Cebu City. These aberrant developments can only be justified under the "as much as possible"
qualifier cited above. Based on these considerations and from a practical perspective, we can reasonably conclude
that the first rotation cycle has been completed in 2007 despite the non-participation of Samar, Leyte and Southern
Leyte, after considering the following premises:

i. Bar Matter No. 491 lays down the starting point of the IBP's rotation system that called for the election of a
governor for a region to be rotated as much as possible among the chapters of the region;

ii. This rule on rotation prevailed until the amendment of Section 39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws on
December 14, 2010 decreeing the mandatory and strict implementation of the rotation rule; and

iii. The recent amendment of Section 39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws should be interpreted prospectively
so that it would only take effect from the 2011-2013 term.

b. IBP Samar Chapter waived its turn in the first rotation cycle.

As mentioned, the rotation rule under Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws is not absolute as it is
subject to a waiver, as when a chapter in the order of rotation opts not to field or nominate its candidate for governor
during the election regularly called for the purpose. The dissent, however, posits that IBP Samar Chapter did not
waive its turn in the rotation cycle because there was no clear or unequivocal waiver on its part. 42

First, the dissent notes that no express waiver was executed by the IBP Samar Chapter to forego its turn in the
rotation cycle. Second, the second and third elements of a valid waiver were not proven. The dissent argues only
during the election for governor for 2013-2015 that IBP Samar Chapter could have been aware of its right to be the
sole and only remaining Chapter that should vie for the position of Governor because it is only during that time that it
becomes clear that it is the only remaining Chapter of IBP Eastern Visayas which remains unrepresented in the IBP
BOG. Lastly, the IBP By-Laws is silent on how and when the waiver should be made and whether or not the Chapter
President or the Board of Directors is clothed with authority to waive the turn of the Chapter in the rotation cycle on
behalf of its members. Thus, the dissent concludes that it remains unclear that there was a clear and unequivocal
intention on the part of IBP Samar Chapter and its members to waive its right to the governorship. 43

The dissent’s citation of Article 6 of the Civil Code and its application of the elements of a valid waiver of a right
under civil law is misplaced.

Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution mandates the Court’s power of supervision over the IBP. In Garcia v. De
Vera,  the Court held that implicit in the constitutional grant to the Supreme Court of the power to promulgate rules
44

affecting the IBP (under Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution) is the power to supervise all the activities of the
IBP, including the election of its officers. In administrative matters concerning the IBP, the Court can supervise the
IBP by ensuring the legality and correctness of the exercise of its powers as to means and manner, and by
interpreting for it the constitutional provisions, laws and regulations affecting the means and manner of the exercise
of its powers. For this reason, the IBP By-Laws mandates that the Court has the plenary power to amend, modify or
repeal the IBP By-Laws in accordance with policies it deems, not only consistent with the Constitution, laws and
regulations, but also as may be necessary, practicable and appropriate in light of prevailing circumstances. 45

Pursuant to the Court's power of supervision over the IBP, the Court already spoke decisively on the issue of waiver
under Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the
Election in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.  As mentioned, the Court ruled that the rotation rule under Section
46

39 is not absolute, but is subject to a waiver, as when a chapter in the order of the rotation opts not to field or
nominate a candidate for governor during the election regularly called for that purpose. Notably, the Court in that
case also established the standards by which a chapter may be deemed to have waived its turn in the rotation cycle
under Section 39, Article VI, as amended, of the IBP By-Laws. Thus, the dissent's reliance on the standards of
waiver of rights under civil law cannot simply prevail over the standards set by the Court in the Brewing
Controversies case.

In the Brewing Controversies case, the Court held that the six chapters in the region that should strictly take
precedence in the rotation rule over Lanao del Sur Chapter (i.e., IBP Sarangani Chapter and the other five chapters)
waived their turn in the rotation order by not fielding a candidate for governor and by failing to invoke the rotation
rule to challenge the nominations from the latter. In ruling that Atty. Marohomsalic of Lanao del Sur Chapter was
qualified to run for governor in the 2009 elections, the Court noted that there were instances when the governor of
Western Mindanao Region came from the same chapter and that the other chapters opted not to field or nominate
their own candidates, thus:

In the regular election of April 25, 2009, there is no dispute that the voting delegates of IBP Western Mindanao
Region voted into office Atty. Marohomsalic of Lanao del Sur Chapter as Governor for the 2009-2011 term. During
the said election, his only rival was Atty. Benjamin Lanto who also belongs to the same Lanao del Sur Chapter. A
third candidate, Atty. Escobar from the Sarangani Chapter, was nominated but he declined the nomination.

While the Committee points out that six (6) chapters in the region, including Sarangani, are entitled to precedence
over the Lanao del Sur chapter in the order of rotation, the fact remains that not one of them nominated or fielded a
candidate from their respective ranks during the April 25, 2009 election. Neither did any one of them challenge the
nominations of the Lanao del Sur Chapter based on the order of rotation.

By not fielding a candidate for Governor and by declining the nomination raised in favor of its Chapter President
(Atty. Escobar), the IBP Sarangani Chapter is deemed to have waived its turn in the rotation order. The same can
be said of the remaining chapters.  They too are deemed to have waived their turn in the rotation as they opted not
1âwphi1

to field or nominate a candidate from among their respective members. Neither did they invoke the rotation rule to
challenge the nominations from the Lanao del Sur Chapter. On the contrary, they fully expressed their concurrence
to the cited nominations, which may be interpreted as a waiver of their right to take their turn to represent the region
in the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term.

It need not be stressed that, as cited by the Committee itself, there were instances when the Governor of the
Western Mindanao Region came from the same chapter such as ZAMBASULTA (1997-1999 & 1999-2001) and
Sultan Kudarat (2003-2005 & 2007-2009). Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic could not be faulted if the other chapters opted
not to field or nominate their own candidates. Having been validly nominated and duly proclaimed as the duly
elected Governor of Western Mindanao, Atty. Marohomsalic therefore deserves to assume his position during the
remainder of the term.

It would have been a different story if another Chapter in the order of rotation fielded its own candidate or invoked
the rotation rule to challenge Atty. Marohomsalic’s nomination. But the record is bereft of any showing that his
nomination and subsequent election was challenged on that basis. If there was any challenge at all, it merely
referred to his nomination by Atty. Macalawi which the Committee itself has found to be in order. Thus, no
compelling reason exists to disregard the electoral mandate and nullify the will of the voting delegates as expressed
through the ballot.

The "rotation rule" is not absolute but subject to waiver as when the chapters in the order of rotation opted not to
field or nominate their own candidates for Governor during the election regularly done for that purpose. If a validly
nominated candidate obtains the highest number of votes in the election conducted, his electoral mandate deserves
to be respected unless obtained through fraud as established by evidence. Such is not the case here.

Suffice it to say, the "rotation rule" should be applied in harmony with, and not in derogation of, the sovereign will of
the electorate as expressed through the ballot. Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic cannot be divested and deprived of his
electoral mandate and victory. The order of rotation is not a rigid and inflexible rule as to bar its relaxation in
exceptional and compelling circumstances. 47

The same facts obtain in the present case. As the IBP BOG noted, not all the nine (9) chapters of Eastern Visayas
were able to field a governor for the first rotation cycle from 1989 to 2007 since three chapters were represented
twice. IBP Eastern Samar Chapter, to which Atty. Opinion belongs, was represented once while IBP Samar Chapter,
which Atty. Maglana represents, was not represented at all. The IBP BOG also established that some chapters were
represented twice during the first rotation cycle because Samar Chapter either did not field any candidate for
governor from 1989 to 2007 or it did not invoke the rotation rule to challenge the nominations of those candidates
whose chapters had already been previously represented in the rotation cycle. Based on these considerations and
pursuant to the Court’s December 14, 2010 ruling, we conclude that IBP Eastern Samar effectively waived its turn in
the first rotation cycle.

To justify its position that it is the sole Chapter qualified to field a candidate in the 2013-2015 term, Atty. Maglana
cites the December 14, 2010 Resolution of the Court in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election in
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines  where it upheld the turn of IBP Romblon Chapter which then completed the
48

rotation cycle in IBP Western Visayas region.

The citation is also misplaced. In this case, the Court upheld the election of Atty. Fortunato as Governor of IBP
Western Visayas since he obtained the highest number of votes and also because under the rotation rule, it was the
turn of the Romblon Chapter to represent IBP Western Visayas Region in the IBP BOG. Contrary to Atty. Maglana’s
contentions, the Court in that case never made a finding that there were also chapters that had two governors in
one cycle and that these second terms were considered as "aberrations." Furthermore, unlike the case of IBP
Samar Chapter, the Court did not make any finding regarding the waiver of the right to the governorship in IBP
Romblon Chapter’s case.

c. IBP Samar Chapter is not the only qualified chapter to field a candidate for governor for the 2013-2015 term.

With the end of the first rotation cycle in 2007 during the term of Atty. Manuel P. Legaspi of IBP Cebu City Chapter,
the election of Atty. Evergisto S. Escalon of IBP Leyte Chapter in that same year effectively ushered in a fresh
second rotation cycle in the IBP Eastern Visayas region.

Thus, the second rotation cycle for governor in the IBP Eastern Visayas region now follows the following pattern and
succession:

1. Leyte - Evergisto S.Escalon, 2007-2009

2. Bohol - Roland B. Inting, 2009-2011


3. Southern Leyte - Manuel L.Enage, Jr., 2011-2013

With the IBP Eastern Visayas region already in the second rotation cycle and with governors from Leyte, Bohol and
Southern Leyte Chapters having served the region as starting points, Atty. Maglana’s position that IBP Samar
Chapter is the only remaining chapter qualified to field a candidate for governor in the 2013 -2015 term clearly fails.
The rotation by exclusion rule provides that "once a member of [a] chapter is elected as Governor, his [or her]
chapter would be excluded in the next turn until all have taken their turns in the rotation cycle. Once a full rotation
cycle ends and a fresh cycle commences, all the chapters in the region are once again entitled to vie but subject
again to the rule on rotation by exclusion." 49

Under this rule, considering that Leyte, Bohol and Southern Leyte Chapters already served in the second rotation
cycle, the six remaining chapters are qualified to field their candidates for governor in the 2013-2015 term. Applied
in the present case, it is clear that both IBP Eastern Samar and IBP Samar, along with Cebu Province, Cebu City,
Biliran and Northern Samar Chapters, are qualified to field their candidates in the May 25, 2013 regional elections in
the IBP Eastern Visayas region.

d. Atty. Opinion is the duly elected Governor for IBP Eastern Visayas for the 2013-2015 term.

Based on the above considerations, we agree with the IBP BOG that Governor Enage seriously erred in
disqualifying Atty. Opinion as a candidate and in declaring the six (6) votes he garnered as stray.

The election of Atty. Opinion is well-settled. He did not only come from the chapter which is entitled to be elected for
the position but also got the majority of six (6) votes, as opposed to the four (4) votes garnered by Atty. Maglana in
the May 25, 2013 elections.

As the Court held in its December 14, 2010 Resolution in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election
in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,  "[i]f a validly nominated candidate obtains the highest number of votes in
50

the election conducted, his electoral mandate deserves to be respected unless obtained through fraud as
established by evidence." 51

Similarly, such is not the case here and thus, Atty. Opinion should be declared the duly elected Governor for IBP
Eastern Visayas in the 2013-2015 term.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves that:

1. Atty. Jose Vicente R. Opinion is qualified to run for Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas region for the 2013-
2015 term;

2. The six (6) votes cast in favor of Atty. Jose Vicente R. Opinion are valid votes and should be counted in
his favor;

3. The proclamation of Atty. Aileen R. Maglana by Governor Manuel Enage, Jr. be annulled since she failed
to obtain the majority of the votes cast in the May 25, 2013 elections; and

4. Atty. Jose Vicente R. Opinion be declared the duly elected Governor of IBP Eastern Visayas region for
the 2013-2015 term, having garnered the highest number of votes cast in the May 25, 2013 elections.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

A.M. No. 547 January 29, 1975

EMERENCIANA V. REYES,petitioner, 
vs.
FELIPE C. WONG, respondent.

MAKASIAR, J.:

Felipe C. Wong, duly admitted in 1962 to the Bar, is sought to be disbarred for grave immorality by Emerenciana V.
Reyes, who filed her sworn complaint on October 26, 1962 (pp. 1-4, rec.).

In his answer filed on December 17, 1962, respondent completely denied the charge, claiming that he and petitioner
were merely friends (pp. 5-7, rec.)..

On January 21, 1963, petitioner filed her reply to the answer of respondent, attaching thereto xerox copies of two
letters written by respondent to her dated October 20, 1960 and December 14, 1960 (pp. 30-34, rec.) for
comparison with the penmanship of the respondent in his answer sheets to the Bar questions in 1961 to disprove
respondent's claim that he never wrote letters to petitioner. The aforesaid reply was forwarded to the Solicitor
General, to whom the case was referred on December 28, 1962 for investigation, report and recommendation (pp.
10, 15, rec.).

After the submission of petitioner's evidence, respondent filed a motion to dismiss dated July 31, 1963, contending
that in the light of the ruling of this Court in Soberano vs. Villanueva (Dec. 29, 1962, 6 SCRA 891-896), the evidence
presented by the petitioner does not make out a case against him (pp. 67-70, 85-90, rec.). Respondent likewise filed
on August 1, 1963 a motion for the cancellation of all scheduled hearings of the case until after the Court has
resolved the said motion to dismiss (p. 85, rec.).

Petitioner in turn filed an opposition dated August 17, 1963 to the motion to dismiss, arguing that the Soberano
ruling does not apply to her situation, because, unlike the complainant in said case petitioner never doubted her
marriage with respondent; and that respondent in fact wrote her numerous letters and sent her telegrams, all
addressing her either as "E.R. Wong" or "Emerenciana R. Wong" (pp. 91-95, rec.)..

To this opposition, respondent filed a reply dated August 28, 1963, substantially reiterating the same arguments
contained in his motion to dismiss (pp. 96-100, rec.).

On June 9, 1972, then Assistant Solicitor General Jaime M. Lantin, now CFI Judge, issued an order resetting the
case for hearing on June 20, 1972 (p. 58, rec.). The June 20, 1972 hearing was however postponed, and it was only
on September 6, 1972 that the hearing of the case was continued but was again reset to October 18, 1972, upon
motion of respondent so as to give him time to file a motion with this Court in connection with his 1963 motion to
dismiss (pp. 61, 66-74, 82, rec.).

On September 13, 1972, respondent thus filed with this Court a motion reiterating his still unresolved 1963 motion to
dismiss the case, adding that the Solicitor General had already reset the case for hearing; that subsequent to the
filing of the present administrative case, petitioner herein filed with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of
Manila a civil action against herein respondent, entitled "Emerenciana V. Reyes, plaintiff, versus Felipe C. Wong,
defendant," Civil Case No. E-00454, For Recognition of Natural Children and Support; and that in the compromise
agreement dated October 28, 1966 submitted in said case, respondent acknowledged that he is the father of the
two daughters of petitioner and that he agreed to support these children, while petitioner in turn agreed to withdraw
this administrative case against respondent, which compromise agreement was approved by the Juvenile and
Domestic Relations Court on November 14, 1966 (pp. 105-108, rec.; p. 4, Report and Recommendation of the
Solicitor General, p. 118, rec.).

On September 18, 1972, petitioner filed another pleading reiterating her opposition to the motion to dismiss of
respondent (p. 109, rec.) .

The aforesaid pleadings were referred to the Solicitor General (p. 110, rec.) .

Before the Solicitor General could resolve the motion to dismiss, petitioner Emerenciana V. Reyes filed on
November 21, 1972 an affidavit of desistance, requesting permission to withdraw the administrative complaint
against respondent. Her affidavit, which was subscribed and sworn to before City Fiscal Manuel R. Maza of San
Jose City, Nueva Ecija, stated that it would be for the good of her children that the administrative case against
respondent be dismissed and terminated (p. 114, rec.; pp. 4-5, Report and Recommendation of the Solicitor
General; p. 118, rec.).

Since withdrawal by a complainant in an administrative case does not ipso facto exonerate a respondent (Co vs.
Candoy, 21 SCRA 438, 442 [1967]; Mortel vs. Aspiras, 100 Phil. 586; Bolivar vs. Simbol, 16 SCRA 623, 628 [1966])
-especially so in this instant case where the withdrawal of the complainant came after she had rested her case - the
Solicitor General did not act upon petitioner's motion to withdraw; but instead proceeded to take up respondent's
motion to dismiss.

With petitioner's desistance at this stage of the proceeding, and considering respondent's motion to dismiss, the
question left for resolution is whether in the light of the evidence presented by petitioner, there is a prima facie case
against respondent to warrant requiring respondent to present his evidence.

In his report and recommendation, the Solicitor General recommended that the present administrative case be
dismissed in the light of the Soberano case (p. 118, rec.).

We sustain the said recommendation of the Solicitor General, on the force of the Soberano ruling and on the fact
that the evidence presented by the petitioner failed to disclose a case against respondent warranting disciplinary
action.

As contained in the report and recommendation of the Solicitor General (pp. 1-3, 118, rec.), the evidence adduced
by petitioner reveals that:

Petitioner is a holder of the degree of Bachelor of Laws, graduating from the MLQ University in 1960
(pp. 21-22, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); in 1958 petitioner and respondent were classmates at the same
university (p. 2, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); respondent began courting petitioner and finally won her love
(p. 6, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); sometime in the first week of February, 1960, petitioner was requested to
fill up and sign an application for marriage license (p. 4, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); later on, upon the
request of respondent, petitioner also filled up and signed a marriage contract (pp. 4-5, t.s.n., May
28, 1963; pp. 38-39, t.s.n., May 31, 1963); thereafter, petitioner was shown by respondent the
marriage contract, dated February 15, 1960, now allegedly signed by witnesses and the Honorable
Arsenio Dizon as the solemnizing minister (pp. 4-5, t.s.n., May 28, 1963; p. 46, t.s.n., May 31, 1963);
believing that petitioner was married to respondent, she went with him in hotels and had carnal
knowledge with him (pp. 5-6, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); they lived together in an apartment at 1236 Isaac
Peral, Manila, but moved out after some 4 months when respondent went to Zamboanga City to
work at the Bank of P.I. (pp. 6-7, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); while respondent was in Zamboanga City,
petitioner gave birth to her first child on November 28, 1960 (p. 7, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); in July 1961,
respondent was in Manila reviewing for the Bar Examinations which was to be held in August of that
year (pp. 11-12, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); petitioner who was then in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, was called by
respondent to Manila (p. 11, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); petitioner stayed at her sister's house in
Pandacan where respondent used to visit her (pp. 11-13, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); after respondent
took the Bar examinations, he left for Mindoro to help candidate Cesar Climaco in his senatorial
campaign (pp. 13-14, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); on May 25, 1962, petitioner gave birth to her second
child (p. 14, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); petitioner thereafter received news from her cousin in Zamboanga
City that respondent had married someone else (p. 20, t.s.n., May 28, 1963); petitioner found out
from the Local Civil Registrars of Manila and Bacoor, Cavite, that their alleged marriage was not
registered (pp. 18-20. t.s.n., May 28, 1963).

Quite clearly petitioner's evidence disclosed that petitioner voluntarily yielded to the carnal desire of respondent,
with whom thereafter she freely lived as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage — an illegitimate
cohabitation that stemmed from love and mutual desire. In fact, in his letters to Petitioner (Exhibits A, C, G, H, I, J,
K, M, O, Q, R, T, U, V, W and AA), respondent manifested much concern for the health and well-being of petitioner
and their Baby Sheila (p. 8, Report and Recommendation of the Solicitor General; p. 118, rec.). And in the
compromise agreement embodied in the decision of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in C.C. No. E-
00454, respondent acknowledged that he is the father of the two natural children, Sheila Reyes Wong and Florinda
(Thelma) Reyes Wong, and agreed to support them (p. 8, Report and Recommendation of the Solicitor General; p.
118, rec.). It was indeed a relationship that was devoid of deceit on the part of the respondent and a happy one until
his sudden turnabout and marriage to another woman that compelled him to abandon petitioner and their children.

Petitioner's claim that she consented to live with respondent as husband and wife because she was made to believe
by respondent that she was legally married to him — as she was made to sign by respondent an application for a
marriage license and afterwards a marriage contract which later was shown to her complete with the alleged
signatures of supposed witnesses and of a solemnizing officer allegedly in the person of no less than a member of
the Supreme Court — is belied by the contents of her letter dated December 18, 1961 (Exhibit 2-H) to respondent,
from which letter We can readily infer that she had knowledge of the legal infirmities of the said marriage contract.
Said letter reads:

Another thing that worry me so much is about our relationship at present. My family is in good faith
about the legality of our marriage. If they'll discover the truth I don't know if what shall happen to both
of us. I'm sure that they'll take some drastic action against you and I don't want this thing to happen.

As I observed you even doubt the paternity of our children. I swear before God and before all that
this children are yours. But if you don't like to recognize them as yours, nobody else can force you.

In this situation of ours now, nobody can be blamed for it except the two of us.

How can you expect me not to worry when in spite of our present situation we'll have another child?

Have we not gone to the extent of committing this mistake, both of us will be happy. But now, its too
late for us to repent.

In spite of everything we can still remedy our situation if you'll only grant my request. All I want you to
do is to come here or on before January in order to settle down everything smoothly." (Pp. 6-7,
Report and Recommendation of the Solicitor-General; p. 118, rec.).

The above-quoted portions of petitioner's letter to respondent show that petitioner was aware all the time of the
nature of her relationship with respondent, foreclosing all doubts that the petitioner knowingly and freely lived with
respondent without the benefit of marriage (Soberano vs. Villanueva, 6 SCRA 893-894).

Furthermore, complainant was then in the fourth year in the School of Law, MLQ University. In the first year of the
law course, she already knew the requisites and formalities of a valid marriage, which she took up again in Civil Law
review in her senior year. Complainant could not have been so naive as to be easily deceived to believe that she
was legally married to respondent, knowing fully well that no marriage ceremony was performed publicly, in the
presence of witnesses and solemnizing minister, before whom the parties to the marriage are to declare that they
take each other as husband and wife (Articles 55 & 57, New Civil Code). Petitioner should have realized that an
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court would not have consented to taking part in the execution of a simulated or
fictitious marriage contract. This circumstance alone should have put her on her guard and should have provoked
her into further inquiry before submitting herself to the sexual passions of respondent, if she valued her honor and
virtue as she now pretends.
Undoubtedly, the cohabitation of respondent with petitioner is immoral for lack of a valid marriage. But to be the
basis of a disciplinary action, the act must not merely be immoral; it must be "grossly immoral" — "it must be so
corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree" (Section
27, Rule 138. New Rules of Court; Soberano vs. Villanueva, 6 SCRA 893, 895; Mortel vs. Aspiras, December 28,
1956, 100 Phil. 587, 591-593; Royong vs. Oblena, April 30, 1963, 7 SCRA 869-870; Bolivar vs. Simbol, April 29,
1966, 16 SCRA 623, 630; and Quingwa vs. Puno, February 28, 1967, 19 SCRA 439-440, 444-445). And the same
must be established by clear and convincing proof, disclosing a case that is free from doubt as to compel the
exercise by the Court of its disciplinary power (Co vs. Candoy, October 23, 1967, 21 SCRA 439, 442). Likewise, the
dubious character of the act done as well as the motivation thereof must be clearly demonstrated (Co vs.
Candoy, supra). The evidence adduced by petitioner lacks the quantity and quality required by the foregoing criteria.

All told, because of petitioner's active and voluntary participation in her illicit relationship with respondent, the latter's
acts are not grossly immoral nor highly reprehensible. For as We have declared in Soberano:

Intimacy between a man and a woman who are not married, ... is neither so corrupt as to constitute
a criminal act nor so unprincipled as to warrant disbarment or disciplinary action against the man as
a member of the Bar. ." (p. 895)

It should be added that the decision of the Judge of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court embodied the
compromise agreement between the parties herein under which respondent expressly acknowledged their two
children and committed himself to support them.

WHEREFORE, THIS DISBARMENT PROCEEDING AGAINST RESPONDENT FELIPE C. WONG IS HEREBY


DISMISSED.

Castro, Teehankee, Esguerra and Munoz Palma, concur.


FIRST DIVISION

A.C. No. 10451, February 04, 2015

SPOUSES WILLIE AND AMELIA UMAGUING, Complainants, v. ATTY. WALLEN R. DE VERA, Respondents.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

This administrative case stemmed from a Complaint1 for the alleged betrayal of trust, incompetence, and gross misconduct of
respondent Atty. Wallen R. De Vera (Atty. De Vera) in his handling of the election protest case involving the candidacy of
MariecrisUmaguing (Umaguing), daughter of Sps. Willie and Amelia Umaguing (complainants), for the SangguniangKabataan
(SK) Elections, instituted before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 36 (MeTC), docketed as ELEC. CASE No.
07-1279.2 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The Facts

As alleged in the Complaint, Umaguing ran for the position of SK Chairman in the SK Elections for the year 2007 but lost to
her rival Jose Gabriel Bungag by one (1) vote.3 Because of this, complainants lodged an election protest and enlisted the
services of Atty. De Vera. On November 7, 2007, complainants were asked by Atty. De Vera to pay his acceptance fee of
P30,000.00, plus various court appearance fees and miscellaneous expenses in the amount of P30,000.00.4 According to the
complainants, Atty. De Vera had more than enough time to prepare and file the case but the former moved at a glacial pace
and only took action when the November 8, 2008 deadline was looming.5 Atty. De Vera then rushed the preparation of the
necessary documents and attachments for the election protest. Two (2) of these attachments are the Affidavits6 of material
witnesses Mark Anthony Lachica (Lachica) and Angela Almera (Almera), which was personally prepared by Atty. De Vera. At
the time that the aforesaid affidavits were needed to be signed by Lachica and Almera, they were unfortunately unavailable.
To remedy this, Atty. De Vera allegedly instructed AbethLalong-Isip (Lalong-Isip) and Hendricson Fielding (Fielding) to look
for the nearest kin or relatives of Lachica and Almera and ask them to sign over the names.7 The signing over of Lachica’s
and Almera’s names were done by Christina Papin (Papin) and Elsa Almera-Almacen, respectively. Atty. De Vera then had all
the documents notarized before one Atty. DonatoManguiat (Atty. Manguiat).8 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Later, however, Lachica discovered the falsification and immediately disowned the signature affixed in the affidavit and
submitted his own Affidavit,9 declaring that he did not authorize Papin to sign the document on his behalf. Lachica’s affidavit
was presented to the MeTC and drew the ire of Presiding Judge Edgardo Belosillo (Judge Belosillo), who ruled that the
affidavits filed by Atty. De Vera were falsified. Judge Belosillo pointed out that while Atty. De Vera filed a pleading to rectify
this error (i.e., an Answer to Counterclaim with Omnibus Motion,10 seeking, among others, the withdrawal of Lachica’s and
Almera’s affidavits), it was observed that such was a mere flimsy excuse since Atty. De Vera had ample amount of time to
have the affidavits personally signed by the affiants but still hastily filed the election protest with full knowledge that the
affidavits at hand were falsified.11 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In further breach of his oath as a lawyer, the complainants pointed out that Atty. De Vera did not appear before the MeTC,
although promptly notified, for a certain December 11, 2007 hearing; and did not offer any explanation as to why he was not
able to attend.12 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The complainants then confronted Atty. De Vera and asked for an explanation regarding his non-appearance in the court.
Atty. De Vera explained that he was hesitant in handling the particular case because of the alleged favoritism of Judge
Belosillo. According to Atty. De Vera, Judge Belosillo received P60,000.00 from the defense counsel, Atty. Carmelo Culvera,
in order to acquire a favorable decision for his client. Atty. De Vera averred that he would only appear for the case if the
complainants would give him P80,000.00, which he would in turn, give to Judge Belosillo to secure a favorable decision for
Umaguing.13 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

On December 12, 2007, for lack of trust and confidence in the integrity and competency of Atty. De Vera, as well as his
breach of fiduciary relations, the complainants asked the former to withdraw as their counsel and to reimburse them the
P60,000.00 in excessive fees he collected from them, considering that he only appeared twice for the case.14 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In view of the foregoing, complainants sought Atty. De Vera’s disbarment.15 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In his Counter-Affidavit, 16 Atty. De Vera vehemently denied all the accusations lodged against him by complainants. He
averred that he merely prepared the essential documents for election protest based on the statements of his clients.17 Atty.
De Vera then explained that the signing of Lachica’s falsified Affidavit was done without his knowledge and likewise stated
that it was Christina Papin who should be indicted and charged with the corresponding criminal offense. He added that he
actually sought to rectify his mistakes by filing the aforementioned Answer to Counterclaim with Omnibus Motion in order to
withdraw the affidavits of Lachica and Almera. As he supposedly felt that he could no longer serve complainants with his
loyalty and devotion in view of the aforementioned signing incident, Atty. De Vera then withdrew from the case.18 To add, he
pointed out that along with his Formal Notice of Withdrawal of Counsel, complainants executed a document entitled “Release
Waiver & Discharge,”19 which, to him, discharges him and his law firm from all causes of action that complainants may have
against him, including the instant administrative case.

After the conduct of the mandatory conference/hearing before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar
Discipline, the matter was submitted for report and recommendation.

The Report and Recommendation of the IBP

In a Report and Recommendation20 dated December 5, 2009, the IBP Commissioner found the administrative action to be
impressed with merit, and thus recommended that Atty. De Vera be suspended from the practice of law for a period of two
(2) months.21 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

While no sufficient evidence was found to support the allegation that Atty. De Vera participated in the falsification of Lachica’s
affidavit, the IBP Commissioner ruled oppositely with respect to the falsification of Almera’s affidavit, to which issue Atty. De
Vera deliberately omitted to comment on. The Investigating Commissioner pointed out that the testimony of Elsa Almera-
Almacen, Almera’s sister – attesting that Lalong-Isip approached her and asked if she could sign the affidavit, and her vivid
recollection that Atty. De Vera was present during its signing, and that Lalong-Isip declared to Atty. De Vera that she was not
Almera – was found to be credible as it was too straightforward and hard to ignore.22 It was also observed that the backdrop
in which the allegations were made, i.e., that the signing of the affidavits was done on November 7, 2007, or one day before
the deadline for the filing of the election protest, showed that Atty. De Vera was really pressed for time and, hence, his
resort to the odious act of advising his client’s campaigners Lalong-Isip and Fielding to look for kin and relatives of the
affiants for and in their behalf in his earnest desire to beat the deadline set for the filing of the election protest.23 To this, the
IBP Investigating Commissioner remarked that the lawyer’s first duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice,
and therefore, his conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of the law and ethics of the profession.24 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In a Resolution25 dated December 14, 2012, the Board of Governors of the IBP resolved to adopt the findings of the IBP
Commissioner. Hence, for knowingly submitting a falsified document in court, a two (2) month suspension was imposed
against Atty. De Vera.

On reconsideration,26 however, the IBP Board of Governors issued a Resolution27 dated February 11, 2014, affirming with
modification their December 14, 2012 Resolution, decreasing the period of suspension from two (2) months to one (1)
month.

The Issue Before the Court

The sole issue in this case is whether or not Atty. De Vera should be held administratively liable.

The Court’s Ruling

The Court adopts and approves the findings of the IBP, as the same were duly substantiated by the records. However, the
Court finds it apt to increase the period of suspension to six (6) months.

Fundamental is the rule that in his dealings with his client and with the courts, every lawyer is expected to be honest,
imbued with integrity, and trustworthy. These expectations, though high and demanding, are the professional and ethical
burdens of every member of the Philippine Bar, for they have been given full expression in the Lawyer’s Oath that every
lawyer of this country has taken upon admission as a bona fide member of the Law Profession, thus:28
I, ___________________, do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; I will support
its Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no
falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false
or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same. I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a
lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I
impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me
God.29 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The Lawyer’s Oath enjoins every lawyer not only to obey the laws of the land but also to refrain from doing any falsehood in
or out of court or from consenting to the doing of any in court, and to conduct himself according to the best of his knowledge
and discretion with all good fidelity to the courts as well as to his clients. Every lawyer is a servant of the law, and has to
observe and maintain the rule of law as well as be an exemplar worthy of emulation by others. It is by no means a
coincidence, therefore, that the core values of honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness are emphatically reiterated by the
Code of Professional Responsibility.30 In this light, Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides
that “[a] lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court
to be misled by any artifice.”

After an assiduous examination of the records, the Court finds itself in complete agreement with the IBP Investigating
Commissioner, who was affirmed by the IBP Board of Governors, in holding that Atty. De Vera sanctioned the submission of
a falsified affidavit, i.e.,Almera’s affidavit, before the court in his desire to beat the November 8, 2008 deadline for filing the
election protest of Umaguing. To this, the Court is wont to sustain the IBP Investigating Commissioner’s appreciation of Elsa
Almera-Almacen’s credibility as a witness given that nothing appears on record to seriously belie the same, and in
recognition too of the fact that the IBP and its officers are in the best position to assess the witness’s credibility during
disciplinary proceedings, as they – similar to trial courts – are given the opportunity to first-hand observe their demeanor
and comportment. The assertion that Atty. De Vera authorized the falsification of Almera’s affidavit is rendered more
believable by the absence of Atty. De Vera’s comment on the same. In fact, in his Motion for Reconsideration of the IBP
Board of Governors’ Resolution dated December 14, 2012, no specific denial was proffered by Atty. De Vera on this score.
Instead, he only asserted that he was not the one who notarized the subject affidavits but another notary public, who he
does not even know or has seen in his entire life,31 and that he had no knowledge of the falsification of the impugned
documents, much less of the participation in using the same.32 Unfortunately for Atty. De Vera, the Court views the same to
be a mere general denial which cannot overcome Elsa Almera-Almacen’s positive testimony that he indeed participated in the
procurement of her signature and the signing of the affidavit, all in support of the claim of falsification.

The final lining to it all – for which the IBP Board of Governors rendered its recommendation – is that Almera’s affidavit was
submitted to the MeTC in the election protest case. The belated retraction of the questioned affidavits, through the Answer to
Counterclaim with Omnibus Motion, does not, for this Court, merit significant consideration as its submission appears to be a
mere afterthought, prompted only by the discovery of the falsification. Truth be told, it is highly improbable for Atty. De Vera
to have remained in the dark about the authenticity of the documents he himself submitted to the court when his
professional duty requires him to represent his client with zeal and within the bounds of the law.33Likewise, he is prohibited
from handling any legal matter without adequate preparation34 or allow his client to dictate the procedure in handling the
case.35
chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

On a related point, the Court deems it apt to clarify that the document captioned “Release Waiver & Discharge” which Atty.
De Vera, in his Counter-Affidavit, claimed to have discharged him from all causes of action that complainants may have
against him, such as the present case, would not deny the Court its power to sanction him administratively. It was held
in Ylaya v. Gacott36 that: chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or lack of interest of the complainant. What matters
is whether, on the basis of the facts borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been
proven. This rule is premised on the nature of disciplinary proceedings. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not a
civil action where the complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no
private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public
welfare. They are undertaken for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official administration of persons unfit
to practice in them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court. The complainant
or the person who called the attention of the court to the attorney’s alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has
generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice.37
All told, Atty. De Vera is found guilty of violating the Lawyer’s Oath and Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility by submitting a falsified document before a court.

As for the penalty, the Court, in the case of Samonte v. Atty. Abellana38 (Samonte), suspended the lawyer therein from the
practice of law for six (6) months for filing a spurious document in court. In view of the antecedents in this case, the Court
finds it appropriate to impose the same here.

Likewise, the Court grants the prayer for reimbursement39 for the return of the amount of P60,000.00,40comprised of Atty. De
Vera’s acceptance fee and other legal expenses intrinsically related to his professional engagement,41 for he had actually
admitted his receipt thereof in his Answer before the IBP.42 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

As a final word, the Court echoes its unwavering exhortation in Samonte: chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are designed to ensure that whoever is granted the privilege to practice law in this
country should remain faithful to the Lawyer’s Oath. Only thereby can lawyers preserve their fitness to remain as members
of the Law Profession. Any resort to falsehood or deception, including adopting artifices to cover up one’s misdeeds
committed against clients and the rest of the trusting public, evinces an unworthiness to continue enjoying the privilege to
practice law and highlights the unfitness to remain a member of the Law Profession. It deserves for the guilty lawyer stern
disciplinary sanctions.43
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Wallen R. De Vera (respondent) is found GUILTY of violating the Lawyer’s Oath and Rule
10.01, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is SUSPENDED for six (6) months from the
practice of law, effective upon receipt of this Decision, with a stern warning that any repetition of the same or similar acts
will be punished more severely.

Moreover, respondent is ORDERED to return to complainants Spouses Willie and Amelia Umaguing the amount of
P60,000.00 which he admittedly received from the latter as fees intrinsically linked to his professional engagement within
ninety (90) days from the finality of this Decision. Failure to comply with the foregoing directive will warrant the imposition of
further administrative penalties.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondent’s personal record as
attorney. Further, let copies of this Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court
Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all courts in the country for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C. J., (Chairperson), Leonardo-De Castro, Bersamin, and Perez, JJ., concur. cralawlawli
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

A.C. No. 8103               December 3, 2014

ATTY. AURELIO C. ANGELES, JR., PROVINCIAL LEGAL OFFICER, BATAAN CAPITOL, BALANGA CITY,
BATAAN, Complainant, 
vs.
ATTY. RENATO C. BAGAY, Respondent.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

Subject of this disposition is the September 28, 2013 Resolution  or the IBP Board of Governors which reads:
1

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner xxx and finding the recommendation fully supported by the
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules and considering the Respondent guilty of negligence in the
performance of his notarial duty, Atty. Renato C. Bagay's Notarial Commission is hereby immediately REVOKED.
Further, he is DISQUALIFIED from reappointment as Notary Public for two (2) years.

It appears from the records that this case stemmed from the letter,  dated June 11, 2008, submitted by Atty. Aurelio
2

C. Angeles, Jr. (Atty. Angeles, Jr.),the Provincial Legal Officer of Bataan, to Hon. Remigio M. Escalada, Jr.
(Executive Judge), Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Bataan against Atty. Renato C. Bagay
(respondent), for his alleged notarization of 18 documents at the time he was out of the country from March 13,
2008 to April 8, 2008. The notarized documents were as follows:

1. Deed of Donation executed by and between Renato Macalinao and Loida C. Macalinao and Trisha
Katrina Macalinao, notarized on April 3, 2008;

2. Deed of Donation executed by and between Renato S. Sese and Sandy Margaret L. Sese, notarized on
March 25, 2008;

3. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Josefina A. Castro married to Eduardo Samson and
Thelma Medina and Gina Medina notarized on April 3, 2008;

4. Deed of Absolute Sale executedby Rowena Berja, notarized on March 17, 2008;

5. Deed of Donation executed by and between Crispulo Rodriguez and Luisa Rodriguez Jorgensen,
notarized on April 8, 2008;

6. Extra Judicial Settlement of Estate with Waiver of Rights executed by the wife and sons of Rodrigo Dy
Jongco, notarized March 19, 2008;

7. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Sps. Rolando and Nelia Francisco and Violeta
Hernandez, notarized on April 3, 2008;

8. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Josefina Baluyot and Carmelita Padlan, notarized on
April 3, 2008;
9. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Gregorio Limcumpao and Simeona Limcumpao, notarized on March
27, 2008;

10. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Sps. Eusebio and Libertad Bacricio and Carlos
Tamayo married to Teresa Tamayo notarized on March 18, 2008;

11. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Natividad S. Consengco and Sps. Gilvert and Johanna
Gervacio, notarized March 18, 2008;

12. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between the Rural Bank of Pilar and Mila Gatdula, notarized on
April 2, 2008;

13. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Natividad Cosengco and Sps. Jay and Helen Zulueta,
notarized on March 18, 2008;

14. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Cipriano and Salvacion Violago, notarized on April 1, 2008;

15. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Sahara Management and Development Corporation, notarized on
March 26, 2008;

16. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Danilo Arellano, Luzviminda Ramos and Sps.
Fernando and Agnes Silva, notarized on March 18, 2008;

17. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Vicente Banzon married to Elizabeth Banzon and Sps.
Dommel and Crystal Lima, notarized on April 2, 2008; and

18. Deed of Absolute Sale executed by and between Marilyn T. Casupanan and Dominador M. Manalansan
notarized on March 14, 2008.

These documents were endorsed to the Provincial Legal Office by the Provincial Treasurer who had information that
they were notarized while respondent was outside the country attending the Prayer and Life Workshop in Mexico.
The letter contained the affidavits of the persons who caused the documents to be notarized which showed a
common statement that they did not see respondent sign the documents himself and it was either the secretary who
signed them or the documents cameout of the office already signed. Upon verification with the Bureau of
Immigration, it was found out that a certain Renato C. Bagay departed from the country on March 13, 2008 and
returned on April 8, 2008. The copy of the Certification issued by the Bureau of Immigration was also attached to the
letter.
3

The Executive Judge referred the matter to the IBP, Bataan Chapter, and the latter endorsed the same to the IBP
National Office for appropriate action. The latter endorsed it to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD).

When CBD Director Alicia Risos-Vidal (Atty. Risos-Vidal) required Atty. Angeles, Jr. to formalize the complaint, the
latter replied on September 30, 2008 stating, among others, that his June 11, 2008 Letter was not intended to be a
formal complaint but rather "a report on, and endorsement of, public documents by Atty. Bagay while he was out of
the country,"  and that any advice on how to consider or treat the documents concerned would be welcome.
4

On December 3, 2008, Atty. Risos-Vidal opted to endorse the matter to the Office of the Bar Confidant for
appropriate action.5

This Court, in its Resolution,  dated February 2, 2009, resolved to note the letter of Atty. Angeles, Jr., dated
6

September 30,2008, and require respondent to comment on the said letter. In his comment,  dated 27 March 2009,
7

respondent claimed that he was not aware that those were documents notarized using his name while he was out of
the country. Upon his own inquiry, he found out that the notarizations were done by his secretary and without his
knowledge and authority. The said secretary notarized the documents without realizing the import of the notarization
act. Respondent apologized to the Court for his lapses and averred that he had terminated the employment of his
secretary from his office.
The Court then referred the case tothe IBP for investigation, report and recommendation. When the case was called
for mandatory conference on September 16, 2009, only respondent appeared. Atty. Angeles filed a manifestation
reiterating his original position and requesting that his attendance be excused.  The mandatory conference was
8

terminated and the parties were directed to file their respective position papers. Only respondent submitted a
position paper,  to which he added that for 21 years that he had been practicing law, he acted as a notary public
9

without any blemish on record dutifully minding the rules of the law profession and notarial practice.

The Report and Recommendation  of Atty. Felimon C. Abelita III (Atty. Abelita III)as Investigating Commissioner
10

found that the letter of Atty. Angeles, Jr., dated June11, 2008, was not verified, that most of the attachments were
not authenticated photocopies and that the comment of respondent was likewise not verified. Atty. Abelita III,
however, observed that respondent’s signature on his comment appeared to be strikingly similar to the signatures in
most of the attached documents which he admitted were notarized in his absence by his office secretary.He
admitted the fact that there were documents that were notarized while he was abroad and his signature was affixed
by his office secretary who was not aware of the import of the act. Thus, by his own admission, it was established
that by his negligence in employing an office secretary who had access to his office, his notarial seal and records
especially pertaining to his notarial documents without the proper training, respondent failed to live up to the
standard required by the Rules on Notarial Practice.

Finding respondent guilty of negligence in the performance of his notarial duty which gave his office secretary the
opportunity to abuse his prerogative authority as notary public, the Investigating Commissioner recommended the
immediate revocation of respondent’s commission as notary public and his disqualification to be commissioned as
such for a period of two (2) years.

The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the said recommendation in its Resolution,  dated September
11

28, 2013.

Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration  of the said resolution of the IBP. He contended that by admitting and
12

owning up to what had happened, but without any wrongful intention, he should be merited with leniency. Moreover,
he claimed that he only committed simple negligence which did not warrant such harsh penalty.

On May 4, 2014, the IBP Board of Governors denied the motion for reconsideration of respondent stating:

RESOLVED to DENY Respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration, there being no cogent reason to reverse the
findings of the Commission and the resolution subject of the motion, it being a mere reiteration of the matters which
had already been threshed out and taken into consideration. Thus, Resolution No. XX-2013-85 dated September
28, 2013 is hereby affirmed.13

On August 1, 2014, the Director for Bar Discipline endorsed the May 4, 2014 Resolution of the IBP Board of
Governors to the Office of the Chief Justice for appropriate action.

The sole issue to resolve in this case is whether the notarization of documents by the secretary of respondent while
he was out of the country constituted negligence.

The Court answers in the affirmative.

Respondent admitted in his commentand motion for reconsideration that the 18 documents were notarized under
his notarial seal by his office secretary while he was out of the country. This clearly constitutes negligence
considering that respondent is responsible for the acts of his secretary. Section 9 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial
Practice provides that a "Notary Public" refers to any person commissioned to perform official acts under these
Rules. A notary public’s secretary is obviously not commissioned to perform the official acts of a notary public.
Respondent cannot take refuge in his claim that it was his secretary’s act which he did not authorize. He is
responsible for the acts of the secretary which he employed. He left his office open to the public while leaving his
secretary in charge. He kept his notarial seal and register within the reach of his secretary, fully aware that his
secretary could use these items to notarize documents and copy his signature. Such blatant negligence cannot be
countenanced by this Court and it is far from being a simple negligence. There is an inescapable likelihood that
respondent’s flimsy excuse was a mere afterthought and such carelessness exhibited by him could be a conscious
act of what his secretary did.
Respondent must fully bear the consequence of his negligence. A person who is commissioned as a notary public
takes full responsibility for all the entries in his notarial register.  He cannot relieve himself of this responsibility by
14

passing the buck to his secretary.

As to his plea of leniency, the Court cannot consider it. Respondent claims that for the 21 years that he has been
practicing law, he acted as a notary public without any blemish and this was his first and only infraction. His
experience, however, should have placed him on guard and could have prevented possible violations of his notarial
duty. By his sheer negligence, 18 documents were notarized by an unauthorized person and the public was
deceived. Such prejudicial act towards the public cannot be tolerated by this Court. Thus, the penalty of revocation
of notarial commission and disqualification from reappointment as Notary Public for two (2) years is appropriate.

Because of the negligence of respondent, the Court also holds him liable for violation of the Code of Professional
Responsibility (CPR).His failure to solemnly perform his duty as a notary public not only damaged those directly
affected by the notarized documents but also undermined the integrity of a notary public and degraded the function
of notarization. He should, thus, be held liable for such negligence not only as a notary public but also as a
lawyer. Where the notary public is a lawyer, a graver responsibility is placed upon his shoulder by reason of his
15

solemn oath to obey the laws and to do no falsehood or consent to the doing of any.  Respondent violated Canon 9
16

of the CPR which requires lawyers not to directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice of law. Due to his
negligence that allowed his secretary to sign on his behalf as notary public, he allowed an unauthorized person to
practice law. By leaving his office open despite his absence in the country and with his secretary in charge, he
virtually allowed his secretary to notarize documents without any restraint.

Respondent also violated his obligation under Canon 7 of the CPR, which directs every lawyer to uphold at all times
the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. The people who came into his office while he was away, were
clueless as to the illegality of the activity being conducted therein. They expected that their documents would be
converted into public documents. Instead, they later found out that the notarization of their documents was a mere
sham and without any force and effect. By prejudicing the persons whose documents were notarized by an
unauthorized person, their faith in the integrity and dignity of the legal profession was eroded.

Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, an additional penalty of suspension from the practice of law for
three (3) months is in order.

Respondent should remember that a notarial commission is a privilege and a significant responsibility. It is a
privilege granted only to those who are qualified to perform duties imbued with public interest. As we have declared
on several occasions, notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is invested with substantive public
interest, such that only those who are qualified or authorized may act as notary public. The protection of that interest
necessarily requires that those not qualified or authorized to act must be prevented from imposing upon the public,
the courts, and the administrative offices in general. 17

It must be underscored that notarization by a notary public converts a private document into a public document,
making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of its authenticity. Thus, notaries pub! ic must
observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, the confidence of the
public in the integrity of pub! ic instruments would be undermined. 18

Let this serve as a reminder to the members of the legal profession that the Court will not take lightly complaints of
unauthorized acts of notarization, especially when the trust and confidence reposed by the public in our legal
system hang in the balance.

WHEREFORE, the recommendation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is ADOPTED with
MODIFICATION. Finding Atty. Renato C. Bagay grossly negligent in his duty as a notary public, the Court
1âwphi1

REVOKES his notarial commission and DISQUALIFIES him from being commissioned as notary public for a period
of two (2) years. The Court also SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for three (3) months effective immediately,
with a WARNING that the repetition of a similar violation will be dealt with even more severely.

The respondent is DIRECTED to report the date of his receipt of this Decision to enable this Court to determine
when his suspension shall take effect.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished to Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to Atty. Renato C. Bagay's
personal record; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and all courts in the country for their information and
guidance.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

A.M. No. SDC-97-2-P February 24, 1997

SOPHIA ALAWI, complainant, 
vs.
ASHARY M. ALAUYA, Clerk of Court VI, Shari'a District Court, Marawi City, respondent.

NARVASA, C.J.:

Sophia Alawi was (and presumably still is) a sales representative (or coordinator) of E.B. Villarosa & Partners Co.,
Ltd. of Davao City, a real estate and housing company. Ashari M. Alauya is the incumbent executive clerk of court of
the 4th Judicial Shari'a District in Marawi City, They were classmates, and used to be friends.

It appears that through Alawi's agency, a contract was executed for the purchase on installments by Alauya of one
of the housing units belonging to the above mentioned firm (hereafter, simply Villarosa & Co.); and in connection
therewith, a housing loan was also granted to Alauya by the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation
(NHMFC).

Not long afterwards, or more precisely on December 15, 1995, Alauya addressed a letter to the President of
Villarosa & Co. advising of the termination of his contract with the company. He wrote:

. . I am formally and officially withdrawing from and notifying you of my intent to terminate the
Contract/Agreement entered into between me and your company, as represented by your Sales
Agent/Coordinator, SOPHIA ALAWI, of your company's branch office here in Cagayan de Oro City,
on the grounds that my consent was vitiated by gross misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, dishonesty
and abuse of confidence by the aforesaid sales agent which made said contract void ab initio. Said
sales agent acting in bad faith perpetrated such illegal and unauthorized acts which made said
contract an Onerous Contract prejudicial to my rights and interests. He then proceeded to expound
in considerable detail and quite acerbic language on the "grounds which could evidence the bad
faith. deceit, fraud, misrepresentation, dishonesty and abuse of confidence by the unscrupulous
sales agent . . .;" and closed with the plea that Villarosa & Co. "agree for the mutual rescission of our
contract, even as I inform you that I categorically state on record that I am terminating the contract . .
. I hope I do not have to resort to any legal action before said onerous and manipulated contract
against my interest be annulled. I was actually fooled by your sales agent, hence the need to annul
the controversial contract."

Alauya sent a copy of the letter to the Vice-President of Villarosa & Co. at San Pedro, Gusa,
Cagayan de Oro City. The envelope containing it, and which actually went through the post, bore no
stamps. Instead at the right hand corner above the description of the addressee, the words, "Free
Postage - PD 26," had been typed.
On the same date, December 15, 1995, Alauya also wrote to Mr. Fermin T. Arzaga, Vice-President,
Credit & Collection Group of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) at Salcedo
Village, Makati City, repudiating as fraudulent and void his contract with Villarosa & Co.; and asking
for cancellation of his housing loan in connection therewith, which was payable from salary
deductions at the rate of P4,338.00 a month. Among other things, he said:

. . . (T)hrough this written notice, I am terminating, as I hereby annul, cancel, rescind


and voided, the "manipulated contract" entered into between me and the E.B.
Villarosa & Partner Co., Ltd., as represented by its sales agent/coordinator, SOPHIA
ALAWI, who maliciously and fraudulently manipulated said contract and unlawfully
secured and pursued the housing loan without my authority and against my will.
Thus, the contract itself is deemed to be void ab initio in view of the attending
circumstances, that my consent was vitiated by misrepresentation, fraud, deceit,
dishonesty, and abuse of confidence; and that there was no meeting of the minds
between me and the swindling sales agent who concealed the real facts from me.

And, as in his letter to Villarosa & Co., he narrated in some detail what he took to be the anomalous
actuations of Sophia Alawi.

Alauya wrote three other letters to Mr. Arzaga of the NHMFC, dated February 21, 1996, April 15, 1996, and May 3,
1996, in all of which, for the same reasons already cited, he insisted on the cancellation of his housing loan and
discontinuance of deductions from his salary on account thereof.  a He also wrote on January 18, 1996 to Ms. Corazon M. Ordoñez,
Head of the Fiscal Management & Budget Office, and to the Chief, Finance Division, both of this Court, to stop deductions from his salary in relation to the loan in
question, again asserting the anomalous manner by which he was allegedly duped into entering into the contracts by "the scheming sales agent." b

The upshot was that in May, 1996, the NHMFC wrote to the Supreme Court requesting it to stop deductions on Alauya's UHLP loan "effective May 1996." and
began negotiating with Villarosa & Co. " for the buy-back of . . . (Alauya's) mortgage. and . . the refund of . . (his) payments." c

On learning of Alauya's letter to Villarosa & Co. of December 15, 1995, Sophia Alawi filed with this Court a verified complaint dated January 25, 1996 — to which
she appended a copy of the letter, and of the above mentioned envelope bearing the typewritten words, "Free Postage - PD 26."1 In that complaint, she accused
Alauya of:

1. "Imputation of malicious and libelous charges with no solid grounds through manifest ignorance
and evident bad faith;"

2. "Causing undue injury to, and blemishing her honor and established reputation;"

3. "Unauthorized enjoyment of the privilege of free postage . . .;" and

4. Usurpation of the title of "attorney," which only regular members of the Philippine Bar may
properly use.

She deplored Alauya's references to her as "unscrupulous swindler, forger, manipulator, etc." without "even a bit of
evidence to cloth (sic) his allegations with the essence of truth," denouncing his imputations as irresponsible, "all
concoctions, lies, baseless and coupled with manifest ignorance and evident bad faith," and asserting that all her
dealings with Alauya had been regular and completely transparent. She closed with the plea that Alauya "be
dismissed from the senice, or be appropriately desciplined (sic) . . ."

The Court resolved to order Alauya to comment on the complaint, Conformably with established usage that notices
of resolutions emanate from the corresponding Office of the Clerk of Court, the notice of resolution in this case was
signed by Atty. Alfredo P. Marasigan, Assistant Division Clerk of Court. 2

Alauya first submitted a "Preliminary Comment"  in which he questioned the authority of Atty. Marasigan to require
3

an explanation of him, this power pertaining, according to him, not to "a mere Asst. Div. Clerk of Court investigating
an Executive Clerk of Court." but only to the District Judge, the Court Administrator or the Chief Justice, and voiced
the suspicion that the Resolution was the result of a "strong link" between Ms. Alawi and Atty. Marasigan's office. He
also averred that the complaint had no factual basis; Alawi was envious of him for being not only "the Executive
Clerk of Court and ex-officio Provincial Sheriff and District Registrar." but also "a scion of a Royal Family . . ." 4
In a subsequent letter to Atty. Marasigan, but this time in much less aggressive, even obsequious tones,  Alauya 5

requested the former to give him a copy of the complaint in order that he might comment thereon.  He stated that his
6

acts as clerk of court were done in good faith and within the confines of the law; and that Sophia Alawi, as sales
agent of Villarosa & Co. had, by falsifying his signature, fraudulently bound him to a housing loan contract entailing
monthly deductions of P4,333.10 from his salary.

And in his comment thereafter submitted under date of June 5, 1996, Alauya contended that it was he who had
suffered "undue injury, mental anguish, sleepless nights, wounded feelings and untold financial suffering,"
considering that in six months, a total of P26,028.60 had been deducted from his salary.  He declared that there was
7

no basis for the complaint; in communicating with Villarosa & Co. he had merely acted in defense of his rights. He
denied any abuse of the franking privilege, saying that he gave P20.00 plus transportation fare to a subordinate
whom he entrusted with the mailing of certain letters; that the words: "Free Postage - PD 26," were typewritten on
the envelope by some other person, an averment corroborated by the affidavit of Absamen C. Domocao, Clerk IV
(subscribed and sworn to before respondent himself, and attached to the comment as Annex J);  and as far as he
8

knew, his subordinate mailed the letters with the use of the money he had given for postage, and if those letters
were indeed mixed with the official mail of the court, this had occurred inadvertently and because of an honest
mistake. 9

Alauya justified his use of the title, "attorney," by the assertion that it is "lexically synonymous" with "Counsellors-at-
law." a title to which Shari'a lawyers have a rightful claim, adding that he prefers the title of "attorney" because
"counsellor" is often mistaken for "councilor," "konsehal" or the Maranao term "consial," connoting a local legislator
beholden to the mayor. Withal, he does not consider himself a lawyer.

He pleads for the Court's compassion, alleging that what he did "is expected of any man unduly prejudiced and
injured."   He claims he was manipulated into reposing his trust in Alawi, a classmate and friend.   He was induced
10 11

to sign a blank contract on Alawi's assurance that she would show the completed document to him later for
correction, but she had since avoided him; despite "numerous letters and follow-ups" he still does not know where
the property — subject of his supposed agreement with Alawi's principal, Villarosa & Co. — is situated;   He says12

Alawi somehow got his GSIS policy from his wife, and although she promised to return it the next day, she did not
do so until after several months. He also claims that in connection with his contract with Villarosa & Co., Alawi
forged his signature on such pertinent documents as those regarding the down payment, clearance, lay-out, receipt
of the key of the house, salary deduction, none of which he ever saw.  13

Averring in fine that his acts in question were done without malice, Alauya prays for the dismissal of the complaint
for lack of merit, it consisting of "fallacious, malicious and baseless allegations." and complainant Alawi having come
to the Court with unclean hands, her complicity in the fraudulent housing loan being apparent and demonstrable.

It may be mentioned that in contrast to his two (2) letters to Assistant Clerk of Court Marasigan (dated April 19, 1996
and April 22, 1996), and his two (2) earlier letters both dated December 15, 1996 — all of which he signed as "Atty.
Ashary M. Alauya" — in his Comment of June 5, 1996, he does not use the title but refers to himself as
"DATU ASHARY M. ALAUYA."

The Court referred the case to the Office of the Court Administrator for evaluation, report and recommendation.  14

The first accusation against Alauya is that in his aforesaid letters, he made "malicious and libelous charges (against
Alawi) with no solid grounds through manifest ignorance and evident bad faith, resulting in "undue injury to (her) and
blemishing her honor and established reputation." In those letters, Alauya had written inter alia that:

1) Alawi obtained his consent to the contracts in question "by gross misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, dishonesty and
abuse of confidence;"

2) Alawi acted in bad faith and perpetrated . . . illegal and unauthorized acts . . . prejudicial to . . (his) rights and
interests;"

3) Alawi was an "unscrupulous (and "swindling") sales agent" who had fooled him by "deceit, fraud,
misrepresentation, dishonesty and abuse of confidence;" and
4) Alawi had maliciously and fraudulently manipulated the contract with Villarosa & Co., and unlawfully secured and
pursued the housing loan without . . (his) authority and against . . (his) will," and "concealed the real facts . . ."

Alauya's defense essentially is that in making these statements, he was merely acting in defense of his rights, and
doing only what "is expected of any man unduly prejudiced and injured," who had suffered "mental anguish,
sleepless nights, wounded feelings and untold financial suffering, considering that in six months, a total of
P26,028.60 had been deducted from his salary.  15

The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713) inter alia enunciates the
State policy of promoting a high standard of ethics and utmost responsibility in the public service.   Section 4 of the
16

Code commands that "(p)ublic officials and employees . . at all times respect the rights of others, and . . refrain from
doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public
interest."   More than once has this Court emphasized that "the conduct and behavior of every official and employee
17

of an agency involved in the administration of justice, from the presiding judge to the most junior clerk, should be
circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. Their conduct must at all times be characterized by, among
others, strict propriety and decorum so as to earn and keep the respect of the public for the judiciary."  18

Now, it does not appear to the Court consistent with good morals, good customs or public policy, or respect for the
rights of others, to couch denunciations of acts believed — however sincerely — to be deceitful, fraudulent or
malicious, in excessively intemperate, insulting or virulent language. Alauya is evidently convinced that he has a
right of action against Sophia Alawi. The law requires that he exercise that right with propriety, without malice or
vindictiveness, or undue harm to anyone; in a manner consistent with good morals, good customs, public policy,
public order, supra; or otherwise stated, that he "act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and
good
faith."   Righteous indignation, or vindication of right cannot justify resort to vituperative language, or downright
19

name-calling. As a member of the Shari'a Bar and an officer of a Court, Alawi is subject to a standard of conduct
more stringent than for most other government workers. As a man of the law, he may not use language which is
abusive, offensive, scandalous, menacing, or otherwise improper.   As a judicial employee, it is expected that he
20

accord respect for the person and the rights of others at all times, and that his every act and word should be
characterized by prudence, restraint, courtesy, dignity. His radical deviation from these salutary norms might
perhaps be mitigated, but cannot be excused, by his strongly held conviction that he had been grievously wronged.

As regards Alauya's use of the title of "Attorney," this Court has already had occasion to declare that persons who
pass the Shari'a Bar are not full-fledged members of the Philippine Bar, hence may only practice law before Shari'a
courts.   While one who has been admitted to the Shari'a Bar, and one who has been admitted to the Philippine Bar,
21

may both be considered "counsellors," in the sense that they give counsel or advice in a professional capacity, only
the latter is an "attorney." The title of "attorney" is reserved to those who, having obtained the necessary degree in
the study of law and successfully taken the Bar Examinations, have been admitted to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and remain members thereof in good standing; and it is they only who are authorized to practice law in
this jurisdiction.

Alauya says he does not wish to use the title, "counsellor" or "counsellor-at-law, " because in his region, there are
pejorative connotations to the term, or it is confusingly similar to that given to local legislators. The ratiocination,
valid or not, is of no moment. His disinclination to use the title of "counsellor" does not warrant his use of the title of
attorney.

Finally, respecting Alauya's alleged unauthorized use of the franking privilege,   the record contains no evidence
22

adequately establishing the accusation.

WHEREFORE, respondent Ashari M. Alauya is hereby REPRIMANDED for the use of excessively intemperate,
insulting or virulent language, i.e., language unbecoming a judicial officer, and for usurping the title of attorney; and
he is warned that any similar or other impropriety or misconduct in the future will be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., Melo, Francisco and Panganiban, Jr., JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-36800 October 21, 1974

JORGE MONTECILLO and QUIRICO DEL MAR, petitioners, 


vs.
FRANCISCO M. GICA, MAGNO S. GATMAITAN, JOSE N. LEUTERIO, and RAMON G. GAVIOLA, Justices of
the Court of Appeals, respondents. In Re Quirico del Mar, For Disciplinary action as member of the
Philippine Bar, respondent.

ESGUERRA, J.:p

Petitioner Atty. Quirico del Mar of Cebu City in G. R. No. L-36800, and as respondent in contempt proceedings both in the Court of Appeals and in this Court,
virtually focused the limelight on himself and relegated to insignificance the limelight on himself and relegated to insignificance the principal issue raised in the
petition for certiorari to review the entitled "Francisco M. Gica vs. Hon. Santiago O. Tañada, et al" which was denied due course by this Court's resolution dated
May 14, 1973, for lack of merit.

Although the petition for certiorari has been denied, it becomes imperatively necessary to elucidate upon the
antecedents of this case even if Our only justification in so doing is to seek a reason or motive for the acts of
contempt perpetrated by respondent Quirico del Mar that might serve to lighten the enormity of his wrongdoing as a
member of the Bar.

As a result of an alleged slander committed by Jorge Montecillo on Francisco M. Gica (the former allegedly calling
the latter "stupid" or a "fool'), Mr. Gica filed a criminal complaint for oral defamation against Montecillo (Criminal
Case No. R-28782 in Branch VII of the Cebu City Court) and a case for damages arising from the same incident
(Civil Case No. R-13075 in Branch VI of the Cebu City Court). Montecillo was acquitted in Criminal Case No. R-
28782, and in Civil Case No. R-13075, the Cebu City Court found that Montecillo did not call Gica "stupid". Finding
the counter-claim of Montecillo meritorious, the City Court rendered judgment against Gica for him to pay Montecillo
five hundred pesos as moral damages, two hundred pesos as compensatory damages and three hundred pesos as
attorney's fees, plus costs.

Francisco Gica appealed from the decision of the City Court of Cebu in Civil Case No. R-13075 to the Court of First
Instance of Cebu presided by Hon. Santiago O. Tañada but the Court of First Instance upheld the decision of the
City Court. The case was then elevated to the Court of Appeals by petition for review by petitioner Francisco M.
Gica and it was docketed therein as CA-G.R. No. 46504-R.

The Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals in a decision penned by the Hon. Magno S. Gatmaitan and concurred in
by Associate Justices Jose N. Leuterio and Ramon G. Gaviola, Jr. (promulgated on Sept. 27, 1972), reversed the
decision of the Court of First Instance of Cebu; ruled in favor of petitioner Gica on the ground that the
preponderance of evidence favored petitioner Francisco M. Gica on the principle that positive must prevail over the
negative evidence, and that "some words must have come from Montecillo's lips that were insulting to Gica". The
appellate court concluded that its decision is a vindication of Gica and instead, awarded him five hundred pesos as
damages.

It is from this point that trouble began for respondent Atty. Quirico del Mar when, as counsel for Montecillo, he
moved for a reconsideration of the Appellate Court's decision with a veiled threat by mentioning the provisions of the
Revised Penal Code on "Knowingly rendering unjust judgment" and "judgment rendered through negligence", and
the innuendo that the Court of Appeals allowed itself to be deceived. When the Appellate Court denied the motion
for reconsideration in its Resolution of October 24, 1972, it observed that the terminology of the motion insinuated
that the Appellate Court rendered an unjust judgment, that it abetted a falsification and it permitted itself to be
deceived. It admonished Atty. del Mar to remember that threats and abusive language cannot compel any court of
justice to grant reconsideration. Respondent del Mar persisted and in his second motion for reconsideration, filed
without leave of court, made another threat by stating that "with almost all penal violations placed under the
jurisdiction of the President of the Philippines, particularly Articles 171, 204 and 205 of the Revised Penal Code, as
Commander in Chief of the AFP, by virtue of the proclamation of martial law, the next appeal that will he interposed,
will be to His Excellency, the President of the Philippines."

The Appellate Court in its resolution of Nov. 27, 1972, noticed that notwithstanding its admonition in its resolution of
Oct. 24, 1972, for Atty. del Mar to refrain from abusive language and threats, he reiterated his threats, and that the
Appellate Court, impelled to assert its authority, ordered respondent del Mar to explain within 10 days (and to
appear on January 10, 1973) why he should not be punished for contempt of court.

On December 5, 1972, respondent del Mar made a written explanation wherein he said that the Appellate Court
could not be threatened and he was not making any threat but only informing the Appellate Court of the course of
action he would follow. On the same date, respondent sent a letter to the Justices of the 4th Division of the Court of
Appeals informing them that he sent a letter to the President of the Philippines, furnishing them a copy thereof, and
requesting the Justices to take into consideration the contents of said letter during the hearing of the case
scheduled for January 10, 1973. Not content with that move, on December 8, 1972, respondent sent another letter
to the same Justices of the Court of Appeals wherein he reminded them of a civil case he instituted against Justices
of the Supreme Court for damages in the amount of P200,000 for a decision rendered not in accordance with law
and justice, stating that he would not like to do it again but would do so if provoked. We pause here to observe that
respondent del Mar seems to be of that frame of mind whereby he considers as in accordance with law and justice
whatever he believes to be right in his own opinion and as contrary to law and justice whatever does not accord with
his views. In other words, he would like to assume the role of this Court, personally and individually, in the
interpretation and construction of the laws, evaluation of evidence and determination of what is in accordance with
law and justice.

The documented incidents as narrated in the Appellate Court's Resolution of March 5, 1973, cannot more eloquently
depict the very manifest and repeated threats of respondent del Mar to bludgeon the Justices of the Fourth Davison
into reconsidering its decision which happened to be adverse to respondent's client. Respondent del Mar, instead of
presenting lucid and forceful arguments on the merits of his plea for a reconsideration to convince the Justices of
the Fourth Division of the alleged error in their decision, resorted to innuendos and veiled threats, even casting
downright aspersion on the Justices concerned by insinuating that for their decision they could be criminally and
civilly liable for knowingly rendering unjust judgment, or doing it through ignorance.

We quote with approval this portion of the Appellate Court's Resolution (March 5, 1973):

A just man can never be threatened, p. 145, rollo, is not at all true; any man, just or unjust, can be
threatened; if he is unjust, he will succumb, if he is just, he will not, but the offense is committed,
whether the threats do or do not succeed. As to his (respondent del Mar's reference to the New
Society, p. 150, in his letter to his Excellency, complaining against those justices, let it be said that
precisely it was under the Former Society that there had been so much disrespect for the constituted
authorities, there was abuse, worse than abuse, there was arrogant abuse, of the so-called civil
liberties, against the authorities, including the courts, not excluding even the President; it is this
anarchy that is the program to cure in the New.

This Resolution of the Appellate Court of March 5, 1973, fittingly concluded that "counsel del Mar is found guilty of
contempt and condemned to pay a fine of P200.00 and ordered suspended from the practice of law and pursuant to
Sec. 9 of Rule 139, let certified copies of these papers be elevated to the Honorable Supreme Court". We upheld
the Court of Appeals and gave full force and effect to this order of suspension from the practice of law when in Our
resolution dated Nov. 19, 1973, the Judicial Consultant of this Court was directed to circularize all courts about the
order of the Court of Appeals suspending Atty. Quirico del Mar from the practice of law.

Not satisfied with the wrong that he had already done against Associate Justices Magno S. Gatmaitan, Jose N.
Leuterio and Ramon Gaviola, Jr., respondent del Mar sued the three Justices for damages in Civil Case No. R-
13277 of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, trying to hold them liable for their decision in CA-G.R. No. 46504-R;
that the case for damages (R-13277)was terminated by compromise agreement after Mr. del Mar himself moved for
the dismissal of his complaint apologized to the Court of Appeals and the Justices concerned, and agreed to pay
nominal moral damages in favor of the defendants-justices. This is the undeniable indication that respondent del
Mar did not only threaten the three Justices of the Appellate Court but he actually carried out his threat, although he
did not succeed in making them change their minds in the case they decided in accordance with the exercise of
their judicial discretion emanating from pure conviction.

To add insult to injury, respondent del Mar had the temerity to file his motion on October 10, 1973, before Us, asking
that his suspension from the practice of law imposed by the Court of Appeals be ignored because of the amicable
settlement reached in Civil Case No. R-13277 of the Court of First Instance of Cebu which was the action for
damages filed against the three Justices of the Appellate Court.

Respondent del Mar's ire at the Appellate Court, fanned by the wind of frustration, turned against Us when We
denied on May 14, 1973, his petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Appellate Court, G. R. No. L-
36800, for on May 25, 1973, he filed his motion for reconsideration and wrote a letter addressed to the Clerk of this
Court requesting the names of the Justices of this Court who supported the resolution denying his petition, together
with the names of the Justices favoring his motion for reconsideration. This motion for reconsideration We denied for
lack of merit in Our resolution dated June 15, 1973. He, then, filed a manifestation dated July 1, 1973, before Us,
stating brazenly, among other things, "I can at this time reveal to you that, had your Clerk of Court furnished me with
certified true copies of the last two Resolutions of the Supreme Court confirming the decision of the Court of
Appeals in the case entitled Francisco M. Gica vs. Jorge Montecillo, I would have filed against the Justices
supporting the same, civil and criminal suit as I did to the Justices of the Court of Appeals who, rewarding the
abhorent falsification committed by Mr. Gica, reversed for him the decisions of the City Court and the Court of First
Instance of Cebu, not with a view to obtaining a favorable judgment therein but for the purpose of exposing to the
people the corroding evils extant in our Government, so that they may well know them and work for their
extermination" (Emphasis supplied. In one breath and in a language certainly not complimentary to the Appellate
Court and to Us, respondent del Mar again made his veiled threat of retribution aimed at the Appellate Court and at
Us for Our judicial acts in CA-G. R. No. 46504-R and G. R. No. L-36800.

Our immediate reaction to this manifestation, dictated by the impulse of placing on a pedestal beyond suspicion the
integrity and honor of this Court and that of any of our other courts of justice, was to require by Resolution of July
16, 1973, respondent del Mar to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for the
contemptuous statements contained in his manifestation.

At this juncture, We pause to reexamine the act of the Appellate Court in CA-G. R. No. 46504-R and our own in G.
R. No. L-36800 to determine what error we might have committed to generate such a vengeful wrath of respondent
del Mar which drove him to make his contemptuous statements.

The crucial issue in the case of oral defamation filed by Francisco M. Gica against Jorge Montecillo is as to what
was the statement really uttered by Montecillo on the occasion in question — "binuang man gud na" (That act is
senseless or done without thinking) or "buang man gud na siya" (He is foolish or stupid). If the statement uttered
was the former, Montecillo should be exonerated; if the latter, he would be liable. The Appellate Court on evaluating
the evidence ruled that the preponderance thereof favored Gica "on the principle that the positive evidence must
prevail over the negative" and, therefore, what was really uttered by Montecillo on that occasion was "buang man
gud na siya" (He is foolish or stupid), thus making him liable for oral defamation. When We denied in G. R. No. L-
36800 the petition for review on certiorari of the Appellate Court's decision in CA-G. R. No. 46504-R, We did so
because We could find no reason for disturbing the Appellate Court's finding and conclusion on the aforementioned
lone question of fact which would warrant overturning its decision.

On July 13, 1973, Our resolution of May 14, 1973, denying the petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the
Appellate Court in CA-G. R. No. 46504-R, became final and executory and the Court of Appeals was so informed.

To Our resolution of July 16, 1973, requiring respondent del Mar to show cause why he should not be disciplined for
his statements contained in his manifestation of July 1, 1973, he submitted an explanation dated August 1, 1973,
wherein he stated that "..., he is attaching hereto the criminal case he filed with the President of the Philippines
(copy marked as Annex "A") and the civil case he instituted in the Court of First Instance of Cebu (copy marked as
Annex "B") against Justices Magno S. Gatmaitan, Jose N. Leuterio and Ramon G. Gaviola, Jr., which embody the
corroding evils he complained of as extant in the Government needing correction. He would have followed suit were
it not for the fact that he is firmly convinced that human efforts in this direction will be fruitless. As manifested, he,
therefore, decided to retire from a life of militancy to a life of seclusion leaving to God the filling-up of human
deficiencies" (Emphasis supplied).

This so-called explanation is more, in its tenor, of a defiant justification of his contemptuous statements contained in
the manifestation of July 1, 1973. Its contents reveal a continued veiled threat against the Justices of this Court who
voted to deny del Mar's petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Court Appeals in CA-G R. No.
46504-R.

Our resolution of September 4, 1973, required respondent Atty. Quirico del Mar to appear personally at the hearing
of his explanation on November 5, 1973. On September 26, 1973, respondent filed an additional explanation with
this Court, wherein he stated, among other things: "Graft, corruption and injustice are rampant in and outside of the
Government. It is this state of things that convinced me that all human efforts to correct and/or reform the said evils
will be fruitless and, as stated in my manifestation to you, I have already decided to retire from a life of militancy to a
life of seclusion, leaving to God the filling-up of human deficiencies."

Again We noticed that the tenor of this additional explanation is a toned-down justification(as compared to his
explanation of August 1, 1973) of his previous contemptuous statements without even a hint of apology or regret.
Respondent is utilizing what exists in his mind as state of graft, corruption and injustice allegedly rampant in and
outside of the government as justification for his contemptuous statements. In other words, he already assumed by
his own contemptuous utterances that because there is an alleged existence of rampant corruption, graft, and
injustice in and out of the government, We, by Our act in G. R. No. L-36800, are among the corrupt, the grafters and
those allegedly committing injustice. We are at a complete loss to follow respondent del Mar's logic and We certainly
should, with understanding condescension, commiserate in the pitiable state of mind of a brother in the legal
profession who seems to have his reasoning and sense of proportion blurred or warped by an all-consuming
obsession emanating from a one-track mind that only his views are absolutely correct and those of others are all
wrong.

When this Court in the resolution dated November 19, 1973, directed the Judicial Consultant to circularize to all
courts concerning the order of the Court of Appeals suspending Atty. Quirico del Mar from the practice of law,
respondent del Mar filed a motion for reconsideration on December 12, 1973, requesting Us to reconsider said
directive. In Our resolution dated December 17, 1973, respondent del Mar, after he had been interpellated by the
Court, was given a period of five days to submit a memorandum in support of his explanation. In view of
respondent's manifestation that there was no need for further investigation of the facts involved, in accordance with
Section 29 of Rule 138, We resolved that the matter be deemed submitted for decision.

In the memorandum entitled "Explanation" dated December 20, 1973, respondent del Mar stated that he suffered
repeated strokes of high blood pressure which rendered him dizzy and unstable mentally and physically; that his
sight is blurred and his reasoning is faulty; he easily forgets things and cannot readily correlate them; that for any
and all mistakes he might have committed he asked for forgiveness; he reiterated that "blunders" were committed by
the Court of Appeals in its decision and that the Justices thereof knowingly rendered the same in violation of Article
204 of the Penal Code; he persisted in his view that the Court of Appeals committed an error in its decision; justified
his act of invoking Article 204 of the Penal Code in trying to make the Appellate Justices liable; that he was high in
his academic and scholastic standing during his school days; that "with all the confusion prevailing nowadays, the
undersigned has decided for reasons of sickness and old age to retire from the practice of law. He hopes and
expects that, with the approval thereof by the Supreme Court, he could have himself released from the obligation he
has contracted with his clients as regards all his pending cases."

It is Our observation that the tenor of this explanation although pleading mental and physical ailment as a mitigation
of the contemptuous acts, is still that of arrogant justification for respondent's previous statements. We quote:

The undersigned was asked if he had not filed against the Justices of the Supreme Court a case for
damages against them. He answered in the affirmative, but the case was dismissed by Judge
Villasor, of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, because of an American ruling that a justice of the
Supreme Court of the Philippines cannot be civilly held liable. The ruling cited was rendered during
the American regime in the Philippines which was still subject to the jurisdiction of the American
laws. But the Philippines is now independent and Article 204 of the Penal Code still remains
incorporated therein for observance and fulfillment. Up to now, there is not yet any definite ruling of
the Supreme Court thereon
While still persistently justifying his contemptuous statements and at the same time pleading that his physical and
mental ailment be considered so that We may forgive respondent del Mar he shrewdly stated at the end of his
explanation that he has decided for reasons of sickness and old age to retire from the practice of law, in practical
anticipation of whatever penalty We may decide to impose on him and thus making it appear that he has voluntarily
done so with honor and in complete evasion of whatever this Court may decide to do in this case.

With full realization that a practicing lawyer and officer of the court facing contempt proceedings cannot just be
allowed to voluntarily retire from the practice of law, an act which would negate the inherent power of the court to
punish him for contempt in defense of its integrity and honor, We resolve, by resolution of January 10, 1974, to deny
said prayer of Atty. del Mar without prejudice to his making arrangement directly with his clients.

To aged brethren of the bar it may appear belated to remind them that second only to the duty of maintaining
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the Philippines, is
the duty of all attorneys to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers (Sec. 20
(b) Rule 138, Rules of Court). But We do remind them of said duty to emphasize to their younger brethren its
paramount importance. A lawyer must always remember that he is an officer of the court exercising a high privilege
and serving in the noble mission of administering justice.

It is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude (People vs. Carillo, 77 Phil. 572). As
an officer of the court, it is his duty to uphold the dignity and authority of the court to which he owes fidelity,
according to the oath he has taken. Respect for the courts guarantees the stability of our democratic institutions
which, without such respect, would be resting on a very shaky foundation. (In re Sotto 82 Phil. 595).

As We stated before:

We concede that a lawyer may think highly of his intellectual endowment. That is his privilege. And,
he may suffer frustration at what he feels is others' lack of it. This is his misfortune. Some such
frame of mind, however, should not be allowed to harden into a belief that he may attack a court's
decision in words calculated to jettison the time-honored aphorism that courts are the temples of
right. He should give due allowance to the fact that judges are but men; and men are encompassed
by error, fettered by fallibility.

... To be sure, lawyers may come up with various methods, perhaps much more effective, in calling
the Court's attention to the issues involved. The language vehicle does not run short of expressions,
emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive (Rheem of the
Philippines vs. Ferrer G. R. No. L-22979, June 26, 1967; 20 SCRA 441, 444-445)

Criminal contempt has been defined as a conduct that is directed against the dignity and authority of the court or a
judge acting judicially. It is an act obstructing the administration of justice which tends to bring the court into
disrepute or disrespect (17 C. J. S. 7).

We have held that statements contained in a motion to disqualify a judge, imputing to the latter conspiracy or
connivance with the prosecutors or concocting a plan with a view to securing the conviction of the accused, and
implicating said judge in a supposed attempt to extort money from the accused on a promise or assurance of the
latter's acquittal, all without basis, were highly derogatory and serve nothing but to discredit the judge presiding the
court in an attempt to secure his disqualification. Statements of that nature have no place in a court pleading and if
uttered by a member of the bar, constitute a serious disrespect. We said:

As an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not
destroy unnecessarily the high esteem and regard towards the court so essential to the proper
administration of justice(Emphasis supplied). (People vs. Carillo, 43 O.G. No. 12, p. 5021; De Joya
et al vs. C. F. I. of Rizal and Rilloraza 52 0. G. 6150).

As already stated, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. No. 46504-R was based on its evaluation of the
evidence on only one specific issue. We in turn denied in G. R. No. L-36800 the petition for review on certiorari of
the decision because We found no reason for disturbing the appellate court's finding and conclusion. In both
instances, both the Court of Appeals and this Court exercised judicial discretion in a case under their respective
jurisdiction. The intemperate and imprudent act of respondent del Mar in resorting to veiled threats to make both
Courts reconsider their respective stand in the decision and the resolution that spelled disaster for his client cannot
be anything but pure contumely for said tribunals.

It is manifest that respondent del Mar has scant respect for the two highest Courts of the land when on the flimsy
ground of alleged error in deciding a case, he proceeded to challenge the integrity of both Courts by claiming that
they knowingly rendered unjust judgment. In short, his allegation is that they acted with intent and malice, if not with
gross ignorance of the law, in disposing of the case of his client.

We note with wonder and amazement the brazen effrontery of respondent in assuming that his personal knowledge
of the law and his concept of justice are superior to that of both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. His
pretense cannot but tend to erode the people's faith in the integrity of the courts of justice and in the administration
of justice. He repeatedly invoked his supposed quest for law and justice as justification for his contemptuous
statements without realizing that, in seeking both abstract elusive terms, he is merely pursuing his own personal
concept of law and justice. He seems not to comprehend that what to him may be lawful or just may not be so in the
minds of others. He could not accept that what to him may appear to be right or correct may be wrong or erroneous
from the viewpoint of another. We understand that respondent's mind delves into the absolute without considering
the universal law of change. It is with deep concern that We view such a state of mind of a practicing lawyer since
what We expect as a paramount qualification for those in the practice of law is broadmindedness and tolerance,
coupled with keen perception and a sound sense of proportion in evaluating events and circumstances.

For a lawyer in the twilight of his life, with supposed physical and mental ailments at that, who dares to challenge the
integrity and honor of both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, We have nothing but commiseration and
sympathy for his choosing to close the book of his long years of law practice not by voluntary retirement with honor
but in disciplinary action with ignominy and dishonor. To those who are in the practice of law and those who in the
future will choose to enter this profession, We wish to point to this case as a reminder for them to imprint in their
hearts and minds that an attorney owes it to himself to respect the courts of justice and its officers as a fealty for the
stability of our democratic institutions.

WHEREFORE, the resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 46504-R, dated March 5, 1973, suspending
Atty. Quirico del Mar from the practice of law, as implemented by Our resolution of November 19, 1973, is hereby
affirmed.

Respondent Atty. Quirico del Mar for his misconduct towards the Supreme Court, shall be, as he is hereby,
suspended from the practice of law until further orders of this Court, such suspension to take effect immediately. (In
re Almacen, No. L-27654, Feb. 18, 1970, 31 SCRA, p. 562.)

The Judicial Consultant of this Court is directed to circularize all courts and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
regarding the indefinite suspension of Atty. Quirico del Mar from the practice of law.

SO ORDERED.

Makalintal, C.J., Castro, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Fernandez, Muñoz Palma and Aquino, JJ.,
concur.

Fernando, J., took no part.