Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 38

Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. L-1117

March 20, 1944

THE DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS, complainant,


vs.
ESTANISLAO R. BAYOT, respondent.
Office of the Solicitor General De la Costa and Solicitor Feria for complainant.
Francisco Claravall for respondent.
OZAETA, J.:
The respondent, who is an attorney-at-law, is charged with malpractice for having published an advertisement
in the Sunday Tribune of June 13, 1943, which reads as follows:
Marriage
license promptly secured thru our assistance & the annoyance of delay or publicity avoided if desired,
and marriage arranged to wishes of parties. Consultation on any matter free for the poor. Everything
confidential.
Legal assistance service
12 Escolta, Manila, Room, 105
Tel. 2-41-60.
Appearing in his own behalf, respondent at first denied having published the said advertisement; but
subsequently, thru his attorney, he admitted having caused its publication and prayed for "the indulgence and
mercy" of the Court, promising "not to repeat such professional misconduct in the future and to abide himself to
the strict ethical rules of the law profession." In further mitigation he alleged that the said advertisement was
published only once in the Tribune and that he never had any case at law by reason thereof.
Upon that plea the case was submitted to the Court for decision.
It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics of his
profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides
among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru
paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or
skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and
his profession who stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering
them to the public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the
money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worth and effective advertisement possible,
even for a young lawyer, . . . is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and
fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of
Ethics.)
In In re Tagorda, 53 Phil., the respondent attorney was suspended from the practice of law for the period of
one month for advertising his services and soliciting work from the public by writing circular letters. That case,
however, was more serious than this because there the solicitations were repeatedly made and were more
elaborate and insistent.

Considering his plea for leniency and his promise not to repeat the misconduct, the Court is of the opinion and
so decided that the respondent should be, as he hereby is, reprimanded.
Yulo, C.J., Moran, Horrilleno, Paras and Bocobo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-23815 June 28, 1974


ADELINO H. LEDESMA, petitioner,
vs.
HON. RAFAEL C. CLIMACO, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental,
Branch I, Silay City, respondent.
Adelino H. Ledesma in his own behalf.
Hon. Rafael C. Climaco in his own behalf.

FERNANDO, J.:p
What is assailed in this certiorari proceeding is an order of respondent Judge denying a motion filed by
petitioner to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. 1 One of the grounds for such a motion was his
allegation that with his appointment as Election Registrar by the Commission on Elections, he was not in a
position to devote full time to the defense of the two accused. The denial by respondent Judge of such a plea,
notwithstanding the conformity of the defendants, was due "its principal effect [being] to delay this case." 2 It
was likewise noted that the prosecution had already rested and that petitioner was previously counsel de parte,
his designation in the former category being precisely to protect him in his new position without prejudicing the
accused. It cannot be plausibly asserted that such failure to allow withdrawal of de oficio counsel could
ordinarily be characterized as a grave abuse of discretion correctible by certiorari. There is, however, the
overriding concern for the right to counsel of the accused that must be taken seriously into consideration. In
appropriate cases, it should tilt the balance. This is not one of them. What is easily discernible was the obvious
reluctance of petitioner to comply with the responsibilities incumbent on the counsel de oficio. Then, too, even
on the assumption that he continues in his position, his volume of work is likely to be very much less at
present. There is not now the slightest pretext for him to shirk an obligation a member of the bar, who expects
to remain in good standing, should fulfill. The petition is clearly without merit.
According to the undisputed facts, petitioner, on October 13, 1964, was appointed Election Registrar for the
Municipality of Cadiz, Province of Negros Occidental. Then and there, he commenced to discharge its duties.
As he was counsel de parte for one of the accused in a case pending in the sala of respondent Judge, he filed
a motion to withdraw as such. Not only did respondent Judge deny such motion, but he also appointed him
counselde oficio for the two defendants. Subsequently, on November 3, 1964, petitioner filed an urgent motion
to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio, premised on the policy of the Commission on Elections to
require full time service as well as on the volume or pressure of work of petitioner, which could prevent him
from handling adequately the defense. Respondent Judge, in the challenged order of November 6, 1964,
denied said motion. A motion for reconsideration having proved futile, he instituted this certiorari proceeding. 3
As noted at the outset, the petition must fail.
1. The assailed order of November 6, 1964 denying the urgent motion of petitioner to withdraw as counsel de
oficio speaks for itself. It began with a reminder that a crime was allegedly committed on February 17, 1962,
with the proceedings having started in the municipal court of Cadiz on July 11, 1962. Then respondent Judge
spoke of his order of October 16, 1964 which reads thus: "In view of the objection of the prosecution to the

motion for postponement of October 15, 1964 (alleging that counsel for the accused cannot continue appearing
in this case without the express authority of the Commission on Elections); and since according to the
prosecution there are two witnesses who are ready to take the stand, after which the government would rest,
the motion for postponement is denied. When counsel for the accused assumed office as Election Registrar on
October 13, 1964, he knew since October 2, 1964 that the trial would be resumed today. Nevertheless, in order
not to prejudice the civil service status of counsel for the accused, he is hereby designated counsel de
oficio for the accused. The defense obtained postponements on May 17, 1963, June 13, 1963, June 14, 1963,
October 28, 1963, November 27, 1963, February 11, 1964, March 9, 1964, June 8, 1964 July 26, 1964, and
September 7, 1964." 4 Reference was then made to another order of February 11, 1964: "Upon petition of Atty.
Adelino H. Ledesma, alleging indisposition, the continuation of the trial of this case is hereby transferred to
March 9, 1964 at 8:30 in the morning. The defense is reminded that at its instance, this case has been
postponed at least eight (8) times, and that the government witnesses have to come all the way from
Manapala." 5 After which, it was noted in such order that there was no incompatibility between the duty of
petitioner to the accused and to the court and the performance of his task as an election registrar of the
Commission on Elections and that the ends of justice "would be served by allowing and requiring Mr. Ledesma
to continue as counsel de oficio, since the prosecution has already rested its case." 6
2. What is readily apparent therefore, is that petitioner was less than duly mindful of his obligation as
counsel de oficio. He ought to have known that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions.
It could be that for some lawyers, especially the neophytes in the profession, being appointed counsel de
oficio is an irksome chore. For those holding such belief, it may come as a surprise that counsel of repute and
of eminence welcome such an opportunity. It makes even more manifest that law is indeed a profession
dedicated to the ideal of service and not a mere trade. It is understandable then why a high degree of fidelity to
duty is required of one so designated. A recent statement of the doctrine is found in People v. Daban: 7 "There
is need anew in this disciplinary proceeding to lay stress on the fundamental postulate that membership in the
bar carries with it a responsibility to live up to its exacting standard. The law is a profession, not a trade or a
craft. Those enrolled in its ranks are called upon to aid in the performance of one of the basic purposes of the
State, the administration of justice. To avoid any frustration thereof, especially in the case of an indigent
defendant, a lawyer may be required to act as counsel de oficio. The fact that his services are rendered without
remuneration should not occasion a diminution in his zeal. Rather the contrary. This is not, of course, to ignore
that other pressing matters do compete for his attention. After all, he has his practice to attend to. That
circumstance possesses a high degree of relevance since a lawyer has to live; certainly he cannot afford either
to neglect his paying cases. Nonetheless, what is incumbent upon him as counsel de oficio must be fulfilled." 8
So it has been from the 1905 decision of In re Robles Lahesa, 9 where respondent was de oficio counsel, the
opinion penned by Justice Carson making clear: "This Court should exact from its officers and subordinates
the most scrupulous performance of their official duties, especially when negligence in the performance of
those duties necessarily results in delays in the prosecution of criminal cases ...." 10 Justice Sanchez in People
v. Estebia11 reiterated such a view in these words: "It is true that he is a court-appointed counsel. But we do
say that as such counsel de oficio, he has as high a duty to the accused as one employed and paid by
defendant himself. Because, as in the case of the latter, he must exercise his best efforts and professional
ability in behalf of the person assigned to his care. He is to render effective assistance. The accused-defendant
expects of him due diligence, not mere perfunctory representation. For, indeed a lawyer who is a vanguard in
the bastion of justice is expected to have a bigger dose of social conscience and a little less of self -interest." 12
The weakness of the petition is thus quite evident.
3. If respondent Judge were required to answer the petition, it was only due to the apprehension that
considering the frame of mind of a counsel loath and reluctant to fulfill his obligation, the welfare of the accused
could be prejudiced. His right to counsel could in effect be rendered nugatory. Its importance was rightfully
stressed by Chief Justice Moran in People v. Holgado in these words: "In criminal cases there can be no fair
hearing unless the accused be given an opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right to be heard would be of
little avail if it does not include the right to be heard by counsel. Even the most intelligent or educated man may
have no skill in the science of law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and; without counsel, he may be
convicted not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to establish his innocence. And this can
happen more easily to persons who are ignorant or uneducated. It is for this reason that the right to be assisted

by counsel is deemed so important that it has become a constitutional right and it is so implemented that under
rules of procedure it is not enough for the Court to apprise an accused of his right to have an attorney, it is not
enough to ask him whether he desires the aid of an attorney, but it is essential that the court should assign
one de oficio for him if he so desires and he is poor or grant him a reasonable time to procure an attorney of
his
own." 13 So it was under the previous Organic Acts. 14 The present Constitution is even more emphatic. For, in
addition to reiterating that the accused "shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel," 15 there is this
new provision: "Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to remain
silent and to counsel, and to be informed of such right. No force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other
means which vitiates the free will shall be used against him. Any confession obtained in violation of this section
shall be inadmissible in evidence." 16
Thus is made manifest the indispensable role of a member of the Bar in the defense of an accused. Such a
consideration could have sufficed for petitioner not being allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. For he did
betray by his moves his lack of enthusiasm for the task entrusted to him, to put matters mildly. He did point
though to his responsibility as an election registrar. Assuming his good faith, no such excuse could be availed
now. There is not likely at present, and in the immediate future, an exorbitant demand on his time. It may
likewise be assumed, considering what has been set forth above, that petitioner would exert himself sufficiently
to perform his task as defense counsel with competence, if not with zeal, if only to erase doubts as to his
fitness to remain a member of the profession in good standing. The admonition is ever timely for those enrolled
in the ranks of legal practitioners that there are times, and this is one of them, when duty to court and to client
takes precedence over the promptings of self-interest.
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is dismissed. Costs against petitioner.
Zaldivar (Chairman), Antonio, Fernandez and Aquino, JJ., concur.
Barredo, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-12817

April 29, 1960

JULIO D. ENRIQUEZ, SR., representing the law firm of ENRIQUEZ and ENRIQUEZ, petitioner,
vs.
HON. PEDRO M. GIMENEZ in his capacity as AUDITOR GENERAL OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
Julio D. Enriquez, Sr. for petitioner.
Assistant Solicitor General Florencio Villamor and Solicitor Jorge R. Coquia for respondent.
PADILLA, J.:
This is a petition filed under the provisions of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court and section 2 (c) of Commonwealth
Act No. 327 for a review of a decision of the Auditor General dated 24 June 1957.
On 18 June 1955 Republic Act No. 1383 creating the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority as a public
corporation and vesting in it the ownership, jurisdiction, supervision and control over all territory embraced by
the Metropolitan Water District as well as all areas served by existing government-owned waterworks and
sewerage and drainage systems within the boundaries of cities, municipalities, and municipal districts in the
Philippines, and those served by the Waterworks and Wells and Drills Section of the Bureau of Public Works,
was passed. On 19 September 1955 the President of the Philippines promulgated Executive Order No. 127
providing, among others, for the transfer to the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority of all the records,
properties, machinery, equipment, appropriations, assets, choses in actions, liabilities, obligations, notes,
bonds and all indebtedness of all government-owned waterworks and sewerage systems in the provinces,
cities, municipalities and municipal districts (51 Off. Gaz. 4415-4417). On 31 March 1956 the municipal council
of Bauan, Batangas, adopted and passed Resolution No. 152 stating "that it is the desire of this municipality in
this present administration not to submit our local Waterworks to the provisions of the said Republic Act No.
1383." (Annex A.) On 20 April 1956 the municipal mayor transmitted a copy of Resolution No. 152 to the
Provincial Fiscal through the Provincial Board requesting him to render an opinion on the matter treated therein
and to inform the municipal council whether he would handle and prosecute its case in court should the council
decide to question and test judicially the legality of Republic Act No. 1383 and to prevent the National
Waterworks and Sewerage Authority from exercising its authority over the waterworks system of the
municipality, (Annex B). On 2 May 1956 the provincial fiscal rendered an opinion holding that Republic Act No.
1383 is valid and constitutional and declined to represent the municipality of Bauan in an action to be brought
against the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority to test the validity and constitutionality of the Act
creating it (Annex C). On 26 May 1956 the municipal council adopted and passed Resolution No. 201
authorizing the municipal mayor to take steps to commence an action or proceedings in court to challenge the
constitutionality of Republic Act No. 1383 and to engage the services of a special counsel, and appropriating
the sum of P2,000 to defray the expenses of litigation and attorney's fees (Annex D). On 2 June 1956 the
municipal mayor wrote a letter to the petitioner engaging his services as counsel for the municipality in its
contemplated action against the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority (Annex F.) On 27 June 1956
the Provincial Board of Batangas adopted and passed Resolution No. 1829 approving Resolution No. 201 of
the municipal council of Bauan (Annex E). On 28 June 1956 the petitioner wrote to the municipal mayor
accepting his offer in behalf of the municipality under the following terms and conditions: that his professional
services shall commence from the filing of the complaint up to and including the appeal, if any, to the appellate
courts; that his professional fee shall be P1,500 and payable as follows: P500 upon the filing of the complaint,
P500 upon the termination of the hearing of the case in the Court of First Instance, and P500 after judgment
shall have become final or, should the judgment be appealed, after the appeal shall have been submitted for
judgment to the appellate court; and that the municipality shall defray all reasonable and necessary expenses
for the prosecution of the case in the trial and appellate courts including court and sheriff fees, transportation
and subsistence of counsel and witnesses and cost of transcripts of stenographic notes and other documents

(Annex G). On the same date, 28 June 1956, the petitioner filed the necessary complaint in the Court of First
Instance of Batangas (civil No. 542, Annex I). On 9 July 1956 the municipal mayor wrote to the petitioner
agreeing to the terms and conditions set forth in his (the petitioner's) letter of 28 June 1956 (Annex H). On 16
July 1956 the defendant filed its answer to the complaint (Annex J). On 24 July 1956 the petitioner wrote a
letter to the municipal treasurer requesting reimbursement of the sum of P40 paid by him to the Court as
docket fee and payment of the sum of P500 as initial attorney's fee. Attached to the letter were the pertinent
supporting papers (Annex K). The municipal treasurer forwarded the petitioner's claim letter and enclosures to
the Auditor General through channels for pre-audit. On 24 June 1957 the Auditor General disallowed in audit
the petitioner's claim for initial attorney's fees in the sum of P500, based upon an opinion rendered on 10 May
1957 by the Secretary of Justice who held that the Provincial Fiscal was not disqualified to handle and
prosecute in court the case of the municipality of Bauan and that its municipal council had no authority to
engage the services of a special counsel (Annex L), but offered no objection to the refund to the petitioner of
the sum of P40 paid by him to the Court as docket fee (Annex M). On 15 August 1957 the petitioner received
notice of the decision of the Auditor General and on 11 September 1957 he filed with the Auditor General a
notice of appeal from his decision under section 4, Rule 45, of the Rules of Court Annex N). On 13 September
1957 the petitioner filed this petition for review in this Court.
The Revised Administrative Code provides:
SEC. 2241. Submission of questions to provincial fiscal. When the council is desirous of securing a
legal opinion upon any question relative to its own powers or the constitution or attributes of the
municipal government, it shall frame such question in writing and submit the same to the provincial
fiscal for decision.
SEC. 1682. Duty of fiscal as legal adviser of province and provincial subdivisions. The provincial
fiscal shall be the legal adviser of the provincial government and its officers, including district health
officers, and of the mayor and council of the various municipalities and municipal districts of the
province. As such he shall, when so requested, submit his opinion in writing upon any legal question
submitted to him by any such officer or body pertinent to the duties thereof.
SEC. 1683. Duty of fiscal to represent provinces and provincial subdivisions in litigation. The
provincial fiscal shall represent the province and any municipality or municipal district thereof in any
court, except in cases whereof original jurisdiction is vested in the Supreme Court or in cases where the
municipality or municipal district in question is a party adverse to the provincial government or to some
other municipality or municipal district in the same province. When the interests of a provincial
government and of any political division thereof are opposed, the provincial fiscal shall act on behalf of
the province.
When the provincial fiscal is disqualified to serve any municipality or other political subdivision of a
province, a special attorney may be employed by its council.
Under the foregoing provisions of law, the Provincial Fiscal is the legal adviser of the mayor and counsel of the
various municipalities of a province and it is his duty to represent the municipality in any court except when he
is disqualified by law. When he is disqualified to represent the municipality, the municipal council may engage
the services of a special attorney. The Provincial Fiscal is disqualified to represent in court the municipality if
and when original jurisdiction of the case involving the municipality is vested in the Supreme Court; when the
municipality is a party adverse to the provincial government or to some other municipality in the same
province;1and when in the case involving the municipality, he, or his wife, or child, is pecuniarily involved as
heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise. 2 The fact that the Provincial Fiscal in the case at bar was of the opinion that
Republic Act No. 1383 was valid and constitutional, and, therefore, would not be in a position to prosecute the
case of the municipality with earnestness and vigor, could not justify the act of the municipal council in
engaging the services of a special counsel. Bias or prejudice and animosity or hostility on the part of a fiscal
not based on any of the conditions enumerated in the law and the Rules of Court do not constitute a legal and
valid excuse for inhibition or disqualification. 3 And unlike a practising lawyer who has the right to decline
employment,4 a fiscal cannot refuse the performance of his functions on grounds not provided for by law
without violating his oath of office, where he swore, among others, "that he will well and faithfully discharge to

the best of his ability the duties of the office or position upon which he is about to enter. . . ." 5 Instead of
engaging the services of a special attorney, the municipal council should have requested the Secretary of
Justice to appoint an acting provincial fiscal in place of the provincial fiscal who had declined to handle and
prosecute its case in court, pursuant to section 1679 of the Revised Administrative Code. The petitioner claims
that the municipal council could not do this because the Secretary of Justice, who has executive
supervision over the Government Corporate Counsel, who represented the National Waterworks and
Sewerage Authority in the case filed against it by the municipality of Bauan (civil No. 542, Annex J) and
direct supervision and control over the Provincial Fiscal, would be placed in an awkward and absurd position of
having control of both sides of the controversy. The petitioner's contention is untenable. Section 83 of the
Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Executive Order No. 94, series of 1947 and further amended by
Executive Order No. 392, series of 1950, 46 Off. Gaz., 5913, 5917, provides that the Secretary of Justice shall
have executive supervision over the Government Corporate Counsel and supervision and control over
Provincial Fiscals. In Mondano vs. Silvosa, 97 Phil., 143; 51 Off. Gaz., 2884, 2888, this Court distinguished
supervision from control as follows:
. . . In administrative law supervision means overseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see
that subordinate officers perform their duties. If the latter fail or neglect to fulfill them the former may
take such action or step as prescribed by law to make them perform their duties. Control, on the other
hand, means the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer
had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the
latter. . . .
The fact that the Secretary of Justice had, on several occasions, upheld the validity and constitutionality of
Republic Act No. 1383 does not exempt the municipal council of Bauan from requesting the Secretary of
Justice to detail a provincial fiscal to prosecute its case.
The services of the petitioner having been engaged by the municipal council and mayor without authority of
law, the Auditor General was correct in disallowing in audit the petitioner's claim for payment of attorney's fees.
The decision under review is affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs.
Bengzon, Montemayor, Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Barrera and Gutierrez David, JJ., concur.

EN BANC
DECISION
August 8, 1935
G.R. No. L-42992
FELIPE SALCEDO, petitioner-appellant,
vs.
FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ, respondent-appellee. In re contempt proceedings against Attorney VICENTE
J.
In re contempt proceedings against Attorney VICENTE J. FRANCISCO.

Vicente J. Francisco in his own behalf.


Diaz, J.:
In a motion filed in this case, which is pending resolution because the second motion for reconsideration of
Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, who represents the herein petitioner, has not been acted upon to date, for
the reason that the question whether or not the decision which has already been promulgated should be
reconsidered by virtue of the first assignment of error relied upon in said petitioners brief, has not yet
been determined, for which purpose the case was set for hearing on August 5, 1935, said attorney
inserted a paragraph the translation of which reads as follows:

We should like frankly and respectfully to make it of record that the resolution of this court, denying our motion for
reconsideration, is absolutely erroneous and constitutes an outrage to the rights of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery
of the popular will expressed at the polls in the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas. We wish to exhaust all the means within out
power in order that this error may be corrected by the very court which has committed it, because we should not want that some
citizen, particularly some voter of the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, resort to the press publicly to denounce, as he has a
right to do, the judicial outrage of which the herein petitioner has been the victim, and because it is our utmost desire to
safeguard the prestige of this honorable court and of each and every member thereof in the eyes of the public. But, at the same
time we wish to state sincerely that erroneous decisions like these, which the affected party and his thousands of voters will
necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes of sakdalism and make the public lose confidence in the administration of
justice.
When the courts attention was called to said paragraph, it required Attorney Vicente J. Francisco to show
cause, if any, why he should not be found guilty of contempt, giving him a period of ten days for that
purpose. In this answer attorney Vicente J. Francisco, far from regretting having employed the phrases
contained in said paragraph in his motion, reiterated them several times contending that they did not
constitute contempt because, according to him it is not contempt to tell the truth.
The phrases:

. . . and constitutes an outrage to the rights of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of the popular will expressed at the
polls . . . .
. . . because we should not want that some citizen, particularly some voter of the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, resort to the
press publicly to denounce, as he has a right to do, the judicial outrage . . . .
and we wish to state sincerely that erroneous decisions like these, which the affected party and his thousands of voters will
necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes of sakdalism and make the public lose confidence in the administration of
justice, disclose, in the opinion of this court, an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the court and an intentional
contempt of its dignity, because the court is thereby charged with no less than having proceed in utter disregard of the laws, the

rights of the parties, and of the untoward consequences, or with having abused its power and mocked and flouted the rights of
Attorney Vicente J. Franciscos client, because the acts of outraging and mocking from which the words outrage and
mockery used therein are derived, mean exactly the same as all these, according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Language
published by the Spanish Academy (Dictionary of the Spanish Language, 15th ed., pages 132 and 513).
The insertion of the phrases in question in said motion of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, for many years a
member of the Philippine bar, was neither justified nor in the least necessary, because in order to call the
attention of the court in a special way to the essential points relied upon in his argument and to
emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons stated in his said motion were sufficient and the phrases in
question were superfluous. In order to appeal to reason and justice, it is highly improper and amiss to
make trouble and resort to threats, as Attorney Vicente J. Francisco has done, because both means are
annoying and good practice can never sanction them by reason of their natural tendency to disturb and
hinder the free exercise of a serene and impartial judgment, particularly in judicial matters, in the
consideration of questions submitted for resolution.
There is no question that said paragraph of Attorney Vicente J. Franciscos motion contains a more or less
veiled threat to the court because it is insinuated therein, after the author shows the course which the
voters of Tiaong should follow in case he fails in his attempt, that they will resort to the press for the
purpose of denouncing, what he claims to be a judicial outrage of which his client has been the victim;
and because he states in a threatening manner with the intention of predisposing the mind of the reader
against the court, thus creating an atmosphere of prejudices against it in order to make it odious in the
public eye, that decisions of the nature of that referred to in his motion promote distrust in the
administration of justice and increase the proselytes of sakdalism, a movement with seditious and
revolutionary tendencies the activities of which, as is of public knowledge, occurred in this country a few
days ago. This cannot mean otherwise than contempt of the dignity of the court and disrespect of the
authority thereof on the part of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, because he presumes that the court is so
devoid of the sense of justice that, if he did not resort to intimidation, it would maintain its error
notwithstanding the fact that it may be proven, with good reasons, that it has acted erroneously.
As a member of the bar and an officer of this court, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, as any attorney, is in
duty bound to uphold its dignity and authority and to defend its integrity, not only because it has
conferred upon him the high privilege, not right (Malcolm, Legal Ethics, 158 and 160), of being what he
now is : a priest of justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio St. Rep., 492, 669), but also because in so doing, he
neither creates nor promotes distrust in the administration of justice, and prevents anybody from
harboring and encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is the source of disorder, thus undermining
the foundation upon which rests that bulwark called judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn
for protection and relief.
It is right and plausible that an attorney, in defending the cause and rights of his client, should do so with
all the fervor and energy of which he is capable, but it is not, and never will be so for him to exercise said
right by resorting to intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and respect which the dignity of the
courts require. The reason for this is that respect of the courts guarantees the stability of their institution.
Without such guaranty, said institution would be resting on a very shaky foundation.
At this juncture, it is not amiss to invite attention to the provisions of rule 1 of Chapter 2 of Legal Ethics,
which reads as follows:

It is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of
the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its importance. Judges, not being wholly free to defend themselves, are peculiarly

entitled to receive the support of the bar against unjust criticism and clamor. Whenever there is proper ground for serious
complaint of a judicial officer, it is the right and duty of the lawyer to submit his grievances to the proper authorities. In such
cases but not otherwise, such charges should be encouraged and the person making them should be protected.
In his defense, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco states that it was not his intention to offend the court or to
be recreant to the respect thereto but, unfortunately, there are his phrases which need no further
comment. Furthermore, it is a well settled rule in all places where the same conditions and practice as
those in this jurisdiction obtain, that want of intention is no excuse from liability (13 C.J., 45). Neither is
the fact that the phrases employed are justified by the facts a valid defense:

Where the matter is abusive or insulting, evidence that the language used was justified by the facts is not admissible as a
defense. Respect for the judicial office should always be observed and enforced. (In re Stewart, 118 La., 827; 43 S., 455.) Said
lack or want of intention constitutes at most an extenuation of liability in this case, taking into consideration Attorney Vicente J.
Franciscos state of mind, according to him when he prepared said motion. This court is disposed to make such concession.
However, in order to avoid a recurrence thereof and to prevent others by following the bad example, from taking the same
course, this court considers it imperative to treat the case of said attorney with the justice it deserves.
Briefly, this court is of the opinion and so holds that the act committed by Attorney Vicente J. Francisco
constitutes a contempt in the face of the court (in facie curiae) and, reiterating what this court said on
another occasion that the power to punish for contempt is inherent in the courts in order that there be due
administration of justice (In re Kelly, 35 Phil. 944), and so that the institution of the courts of justice may
be stable and said courts may not fail in their mission, said attorney is ordered to pay a fine of P200
within the period of ten days, and to be reprimanded, and he is hereby reprimanded; and it is ordered
that the entire paragraph of his motion containing the phrases which as has been stated, constitute
contempt of court be stricken from the record de oficio. So ordered.

Avancea, C.J., Villa-Real, Abad Santos, Hull Imperial, Butte, and Goddard, JJ., concur.
Malcolm, J., dissents.

THIRD DIVISION

[A.M. 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.
DECISION
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. Ordoez, 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 service, or be appropriately disciplined (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"[3] in which he questioned the authority of Atty. Marasigan
to require 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,[5] Alauya requested the former to give him a copy of the complaint in order that he might comment
thereon.[6] He stated that his 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. [7] He declared that
there was 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);[8] and as far as he 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."[10] He claims he was manipulated into reposing his trust in Alawi, a classmate and friend. [11] He was
induced 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;[12] He says 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.[16] Section 4 of the 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." [17] More than once has this Court emphasized that "the
conduct and behavior of every official and employee 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." [19] Righteous indignation, or vindication of right cannot justify
resort to vituperative language, or downright 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.[20] As a judicial employee, it is expected that he 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.[21] While one who has been admitted to the Shari'a Bar, and one who has been
admitted to the Philippine Bar, 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 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, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
A.M. No. 1053 September 7, 1979
SANTA PANGAN, complainant
vs.
ATTY. DIONISIO RAMOS, respondent,
RESOLUTION

ANTONIO, J.:
This has reference to the motion of complainant, Santa Pangan, to cite respondent Dionisio Ramos for
contempt. It appears from the record that on September 7, 1978 and March 13, 1979, the hearings in this
administrative case were postponed on the basis of respondent's motions for postponement. These motions
were predicated on respondent's allegations that on said dates he had a case set for hearing before Branch
VII, Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled People v. Marieta M. Isip (Criminal Case No. 35906). Upon
verification, the attorney of record of the accused in said case is one "Atty. Pedro D.D. Ramos, 306 Dona
Salud Bldg., Dasmarinas Manila." Respondent admits that he used the name of "Pedro D.D. Ramos" before
said court in connection with Criminal Case No. 35906, but avers that he had a right to do so because in his
Birth Certificate (Annex "A"), his name is "Pedro Dionisio Ramos", and -his parents are Pedro Ramos and
Carmen Dayaw, and that the D.D. in "Pedro D.D. Ramos" is but an abbreviation of "Dionisio Dayaw his other
given name and maternal surname.
This explanation of respondent is untenable. The name appearing in the "Roll of Attorneys" is "Dionisio D.
Ramos". The attorney's roll or register is the official record containing the names and signatures of those who
are authorized to practice law. A lawyer is not authorized to use a name other than the one inscribed in the Roll
of Attorneys in his practice of law.
The official oath obliges the attorney solemnly to swear that he will do no falsehood". As an officer in the
temple of justice, an attorney has irrefragable obligations of "truthfulness, candor and frankness". 1 Indeed,
candor and frankness should characterize the conduct of the lawyer at every stage. This has to be so because
the court has the right to rely upon him in ascertaining the truth. In representing himself to the court as "Pedro
D.D. Ramos" instead of "Dionisio D. Ramos", respondent has violated his solemn oath.
The duty of an attorney to the courts to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him,
such means as are consistent with truth and honor cannot be overempahisized. These injunctions circumscribe
the general duty of entire devotion of the attorney to the client. As stated in a case, his I nigh vocation is to
correctly inform the court upon the law and the facts of the case, and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at
correct conclusions. He violates Ms oath of office ,when he resorts to deception or permits his client to do so." 2
In using the name of' Pedro D.D. Ramos" before the courts instead of the name by which he was authorized to
practice law - Dionisio D. Ramos - respondent in effect resorted to deception. The demonstrated lack of candor
in dealing with the courts. The circumstance that this is his first aberration in this regard precludes Us from
imposing a more severe penalty.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Dionisio D. Ramos is severely REPRIMANDED and
warned that a repetition of the same overt act may warrant his suspencion or disbarment from the practice of
law.

It appearing that the hearing of this case has been unduly delayed, the Investigator of this Court is directed
forthwith to proceed with the hearing to terminate it as soon as possible. The request of complainant to appear
in the afore-mentioned hearing, assisted by her counsel, Atty. Jose U. Lontoc, is hereby granted.
SO ORDERED
Barredo, (Chairman), Concepcion Jr. and Abad Santos, JJ., concur.
Aquino, J., concur in the result.
Santos, is on leave.

SECOND DIVISION
[A.C. No. 3319. June 8, 2000]
LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent.
DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:
Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris Bonifacio for allegedly carrying on an
immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, husband of complainant, Leslie Ui.
The relevant facts are:
On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon
City[1] and as a result of their marital union, they had four (4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and Carl
Cavin, all surnamed Ui. Sometime in December 1987, however, complainant found out that her husband,
Carlos Ui, was carrying on an illicit relationship with respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot a
daughter sometime in 1986, and that they had been living together at No. 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala
Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a graduate of the College of Law of the University of
the Philippines was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1982.
Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent. Complainant then visited respondent at
her office in the later part of June 1988 and introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon,
respondent admitted to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged, however, that everything was over
between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant believed the representations of respondent and thought things would
turn out well from then on and that the illicit relationship between her husband and respondent would come to
an end.
However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her husband and respondent
continued, and that sometime in December 1988, respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child.
Complainant then met again with respondent sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with respondent to
discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail. The illicit relationship persisted and complainant
even came to know later on that respondent had been employed by her husband in his company.
A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed on August 11, 1989 by the
complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, more particularly, for carrying on
an illicit relationship with the complainants husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer,[2]respondent averred that she
met Carlos Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to be a bachelor, with the knowledge, however,
that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese woman in Amoy, China, from whom he had long been estranged. She
stated that during one of their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry her and they in fact got
married in Hawaii, USA in 1985 [3]. Upon their return to Manila, respondent did not live with Carlos Ui. The latter
continued to live with his children in their Greenhills residence because respondent and Carlos Ui wanted to let
the children gradually to know and accept the fact of his second marriage before they would live together. [4]
In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she would only return occasionally to
the Philippines to update her law practice and renew legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime in
June 1988, respondent was surprised when she was confronted by a woman who insisted that she was the
lawful wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon her discovery of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, respondent
then left for Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July 1988 and returned only in March 1989 with her two (2) children.
On March 20, 1989, a few days after she reported to work with the law firm [5] she was connected with, the
woman who represented herself to be the wife of Carlos Ui again came to her office, demanding to know if
Carlos Ui has been communicating with her.

It is respondents contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit because they were married abroad
and that after June 1988 when respondent discovered Carlos Uis true civil status, she cut off all her ties with
him. Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never lived with her in Alabang, and that he resided at 26 Potsdam
Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. It was respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which belonged
to her mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said house was built exclusively from her parents
funds.[6] By way of counterclaim, respondent sought moral damages in the amount of Ten Million Pesos
(Php10,000,000.00) against complainant for having filed the present allegedly malicious and groundless
disbarment case against respondent.
In her Reply[7] dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that respondent knew perfectly well that
Carlos Ui was married to complainant and had children with her even at the start of her relationship with Carlos
Ui, and that the reason respondent went abroad was to give birth to her two (2) children with Carlos Ui.
During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, complainant also charged her husband,
Carlos Ui, and respondent with the crime of Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal,
docketed as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence to establish probable
cause for the offense charged. The resolution dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent reads:
Complainants evidence had prima facie established the existence of the "illicit relationship"
between the respondents allegedly discovered by the complainant in December 1987. The
same evidence however show that respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to
the latter part of 1988 and/or the early part of 1989.
It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of respondents started and
was discovered by complainant sometime in 1987 when she and respondent Carlos were still
living at No. 26 Potsdam Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, MetroManila and they,
admittedly, continued to live together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 or later
1988, when respondent Carlos left the same.
From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the relationship, illicit as
complainant puts it, had been prima facie established by complainants evidence, this same
evidence had failed to even prima facie establish the "fact of respondents cohabitation in the
concept of husband and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of which is
necessary and indispensable to at least create probable cause for the offense charged. The
statement alone of complainant, worse, a statement only of a conclusion respecting the fact of
cohabitation does not make the complainants evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs.
Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178).
It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support of their respective
positions on the matter support and bolster the foregoing conclusion/recommendation.
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant complaint be dismissed for
want of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.[8]
Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to the Secretary of Justice, but the
same was dismissed [9] on the ground of insufficiency of evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and
Carlos Ui lived together as husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro
Manila.
In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant filed a Motion to Cite
Respondent in Contempt of the Commission [10] wherein she charged respondent with making false allegations
in her Answer and for submitting a supporting document which was altered and intercalated. She alleged that
in the Answer of respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, respondent averred, among others, that she was

married to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of Marriage to substantiate her averment.
However, the Certificate of Marriage [11] duly certified by the State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file
in the Hawaii State Department of Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of marriage between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris
Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and not October 22, 1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer.
According to complainant, the reason for that false allegation was because respondent wanted to impress
upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child by Carlos Ui was within the wedlock.[12] It is the contention of
complainant that such act constitutes a violation of Articles 183 [13] and 184[14] of the Revised Penal Code, and
also contempt of the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false allegations in her Answer and
submitting an altered/intercalated document are indicative of her moral perversity and lack of integrity which
make her unworthy to be a member of the Philippine Bar.
In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt),[15] respondent averred that she did not have
the original copy of the marriage certificate because the same was in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she
annexed such copy because she relied in good faith on what appeared on the copy of the marriage certificate
in her possession.
Respondent filed her Memorandum [16] on February 22, 1995 and raised the lone issue of whether or not she
has conducted herself in an immoral manner for which she deserves to be barred from the practice of law.
Respondent averred that the complaint should be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely:
(i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the requirement of good
moral character for the practice of the legal profession; and
(ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent conducted herself in an
immoral manner.[17]
In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was the victim in this case and not
Leslie Ui because she did not know that Carlos Ui was already married, and that upon learning of this fact,
respondent immediately cut-off all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no reason for her to doubt
at that time that the civil status of Carlos Ui was that of a bachelor because he spent so much time with her,
and he was so open in his courtship.[18]
On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it was highly incredible for her to have
knowingly attached such marriage certificate to her Answer had she known that the same was altered.
Respondent reiterated that there was no compelling reason for her to make it appear that her marriage to
Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987, because the fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got
married before complainant confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier marriage to Carlos Ui
in June 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui who testified and admitted that he was the
person responsible for changing the date of the marriage certificate from 1987 to 1985, and complainant did
not present evidence to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on this matter.
Respondent posits that complainants evidence, consisting of the pictures of respondent with a child, pictures
of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS
313, a picture of the same car, and portion of the house and ground, and another picture of the same car
bearing Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture of the house and the garage, [19] does not prove that she acted in an
immoral manner. They have no evidentiary value according to her. The pictures were taken by a photographer
from a private security agency and who was not presented during the hearings. Further, the respondent
presented the Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint
filed by Leslie Ui against respondent for lack of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense
charged [20] and the dismissal of the appeal by the Department of Justice [21] to bolster her argument that she
was not guilty of any immoral or illegal act because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, respondent
claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui in good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered
as willful, flagrant, or shameless, nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Ui whom
she believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true civil status, she parted ways with him.

In the Memorandum [22] filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she prayed for the disbarment of
Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent committed immorality by having intimate relations with a
married man which resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant testified that respondents mother,
Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and her husband since the late 1970s because they were
clients of the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch Manager. [23] It was thus highly improbable that
respondent, who was living with her parents as of 1986, would not have been informed by her own mother that
Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards the
Commission for submitting a photocopy of a document containing an intercalated date.
In her Reply to Complainants Memorandum [24], respondent stated that complainant miserably failed to show
sufficient proof to warrant her disbarment. Respondent insists that contrary to the allegations of complainant,
there is no showing that respondent had knowledge of the fact of marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The
allegation that her mother knew Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that such information was made
known to respondent.
Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline submitted its Report and
Recommendation, finding that:
In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted by Carlos Ui, the latter
represented himself to be single. The Commission does not find said claim too difficult to
believe in the light of contemporary human experience.
Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he represents himself to be single,
separated, or without any firm commitment to another woman. The reason therefor is not hard
to fathom. By their very nature, single women prefer single men.
The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true civil status of Carlos
Ui, she left for the United States (in July of 1988). She broke off all contacts with him. When she
returned to the Philippines in March of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio,
Jr. Carlos Ui and respondent only talked to each other because of the children whom he was
allowed to visit. At no time did they live together.
Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act on the part of
respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a
high degree. To be sure, she was more of a victim that (sic) anything else and should deserve
compassion rather than condemnation. Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of
having a normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by every single girl.
x..........................x..........................x"
Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a Notice of Resolution dated
December 13, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report
and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein
made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, the complaint for Gross
Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is
REPRIMANDED for knowingly and willfully attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of
Marriage with a stern warning that a repetition of the same will merit a more severe penalty."
We agree with the findings aforequoted.
The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy the practice of the legal
profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate

of due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics. The requisites for admission to
the practice of law are:
a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines;
b. a resident thereof;
c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
d. a person of good moral character;
e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude, are filed or
pending in court;
f. possess the required educational qualifications; and
g. pass the bar examinations.[25] (Italics supplied)
Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must
possess good moral character. More importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a
requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the
revocation of such privilege. It has been held If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the continued
possession of good moral character is also a requisite for retaining membership in the legal
profession. Membership in the bar may be terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good
moral character. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).
A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a
crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should have moral integrity in addition to
professional probity.
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is "grossly immoral
conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of
continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what appears to be unconventional
behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.
Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and
which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the
community." (7 C.J.S. 959).[26]
In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she met Carlos Ui, she knew and
believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love with him and they got married and as a result of such
marriage, she gave birth to two (2) children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left
him.
Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of respondent are not only far from
simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined.
Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before. This permissiveness
notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility
and thus must handle their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts of this case lead us to believe that
perhaps respondent would not have found herself in such a compromising situation had she exercised
prudence and been more vigilant in finding out more about Carlos Uis personal background prior to her
intimate involvement with him.

Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused respondents suspicion that something was
amiss in her relationship with Carlos Ui, and moved her to ask probing questions. For instance, respondent
admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with a woman from Amoy, China, yet it appeared that she
never exerted the slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also, despite
their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first child, a circumstance that is simply
incomprehensible considering respondents allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her.
All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent was imprudent in managing her
personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what
respondent believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality connotes conduct
that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and respectable members of the
community.[27] Moreover, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly immoral,"
that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible
to a high degree.[28]
We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous
relationships x x x but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief
that he is flouting those moral standards."[29] Respondents act of immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui
upon discovering his true civil status belies just that alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no
intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession. Complainants bare
assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the
Court will exercise its disciplinary powers only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory
evidence.[30] This, herein complainant miserably failed to do.
On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to her Answer, we find improbable
to believe the averment of respondent that she merely relied on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate
which was provided her by Carlos Ui. For an event as significant as a marriage ceremony, any normal bride
would verily recall the date and year of her marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a lawyer as
in the case at bar, can forget the year when she got married. Simply stated, it is contrary to human experience
and highly improbable.
Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an attachment to her pleading,
especially so when she has personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching
such Marriage Certificate with an intercalated date, the defense of good faith of respondent on that point
cannot stand.
It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality. The legal
profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar,
free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand
no less than the highest degree of morality.
WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L. Bonifacio, for alleged immorality,
is hereby DISMISSED.
However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer a photocopy of her Marriage
Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date thereof, with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction
will be imposed on her for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman and Acting C.J.), Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. 598

March 28, 1969

AURORA SORIANO DELES, complainant,


vs.
VICENTE E. ARAGONA, JR., respondent.
Vicente E. Aragona, Jr. in his own behalf.
Office of the Solicitor General for the Government.
CASTRO, J.:
This is a disbarment proceeding against Vicente E. Aragona, Jr. 1 upon a verified letter-complaint of
Aurora Soriano Deles filed with this Court on November 6, 19637 charging the former with having made, under
oath, false and unfounded allegations against her in a motion filed in Court of Agrarian Relations cases 1254
and 1255 Iloilo, which allegedly caused her great mental, torture and moral suffering.
On November 13, 1963 this Court required the respondent to answer the complaint. On December 10,
1963 the respondent filed his answer, affirming the truth of the allegations in the questioned motion, but
claiming in his defense that in preparing it, he relied not only upon information received but also upon other
matters of public record. He also averred that the complainant had made a similar charge against him in a
counter-motion to declare him in contempt of court filed in the same C.A.R. case which was however
dismissed together with the complainant's counterclaims when the main cases were dismissed; that the
complainant failed to move for the reconsideration of the said dismissal or to appeal therefrom; and that during
the few years that he has been a member of the bar, he has always comforted himself correctly, and has
adhered steadfastly to his conviction that the practice of law is a sacred trust in the interest of truth.
This Court, on December 14, 1963, referred the case to the Solicitor General for investigation, report,
and recommendation. Because both parties reside in Iloilo City, the Solicitor General in turn referred the case
to the City Fiscal of Iloilo for investigation and reception of evidence. Both the petitioner and the respondent
adduced evidence in the investigation which was conducted. Thereafter, the City Fiscal forwarded to the
Solicitor General the record of the investigation, including the recommendation of the assistant city fiscal who
personally conducted the investigation that the petition for disbarment be dismissed. The Solicitor General
thereafter filed with this Court his report, concurring in the recommendation of the assistant city fiscal.
Aurora Soriano Deles (hereinafter referred to as the complainant) is the administratrix of the intestate
estate of the late Joaquina Ganzon (the deceased mother of Aurora and Enrique Soriano, Sr. who are heirs of
the estate concurrently with other forced heirs) in special proceeding 128 of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo.
On July 26, 1961, upon motion of Enrique Soriano, Sr. and over and above the opposition of the
complainant, the intestate court issued an order denying a proposed lease of ten hectares of the estate by the
complainant to one Carlos Fuentes and sustaining the possession of Enrique as lessee of the said land. In
effect, the order likewise sustained the possession by the brothers Federico and Carlos Aglinao of a portion of
the said land being tenanted by them upon authority of the lessee, Enrique Soriano, Sr.
In disregard of the abovementioned order, the complainant attempted to take possession of the
landholdings by placing thereon her own tenants. Predictably, the Aglinao brothers, to protect their rights,
countered by filing against a the complainant two petitions with the Court of Agrarian relations in Iloilo
(hereinafter referred to as the agrarian court), docketed therein as C.A.R. cases 1254 and 1255 (hereinafter
referred to as the C.A.R. cases). They alleged in their respective petitions that they have been tenants of

Enrique Soriano, Sr. since 1960 on a parcel of riceland located in barrio Malapoc, Balasan Iloilo, held by the
complainant as administratrix of the intestate estate of the deceased Joaquina Ganzon; and that they had
started to plow their leaseholds consisting of two hectares each at the start of the agricultural year 1962-63
when "on March 7, 1962, the respondent [complainant herein] ordered one Bonifacio Margarejo to harrow the
plowed land without the knowledge and consent" of the petitioners. Consequently, they prayed for the issuance
of an interlocutory order enjoining the complainant and her representatives from interfering with their peaceful
cultivation of the lands in question pending determination of the merits of their petitions. However,
consideration of the petitioners' prayer for the issuance of an interlocutory order of injunction pendente lite was
considerably delayed not only by reason of several postponements granted at the behest of the complainant
but also because of the assurance made by her through counsel in open court at the hearing of June 16, 1962,
that neither she nor any of her men would disturb or interfere with the petitioner's possession of their
leaseholds until their petitions shall have been finally resolved.
But on June 18, 1962, barely two days after the abovementioned hearing, the complainant's men again
entered the land in question and planted rice thereon. This unauthorized entry prompted the Aglinao brothers,
through their counsel, the herein respondent Atty. Vicente Aragona, Jr. (hereinafter referred to as the
respondent), to file on June 20, 1962 an "Urgent Motion for Issuance of Interlocutory Order." There being no
objection by the complainant against the said motion, and finding the same meritorious, the agrarian court
issued on June 21, 1962 the interlocutory order prayed for, directing "the respondent, her agent, or any person
acting for and in her behalf to refrain from molesting or in any way interfering with the work of the petitioners in
their respective landholdings."
On June 24, 1962, upon the agrarian court's direction, the PC detachment stationed in Sara, Iloilo,
served copies of the order on the complainant's men, Bonifacio Margarejo and Carlos Fuentes, and restored
the Aglinao brothers to the possession of their landholdings. On the same day, Margarejo and Fuentes
informed their landlord, the complainant, about the said order. lawphi1.et
For several months thereafter nothing of significance happened in the C.A.R. cases until the palay
planted on the land in question became ripe and ready for harvest.
Then on October 2, 1962 Enrique Soriano, Sr. showed to the respondent in Iloilo City a
telegram 2 which reads as follows:
BALASAN OCT 2 62
GILDA ACOLADO
ILOILO AMERICAN SCHOOL MARIA CLARA AVENUE ILOILO CITY
TELL DADDY COMMUNICATE ARAGONA IMMEDIATELY ALBERT HARVEST TODAY....
MAMANG
The sender of the telegram was Mrs. Isabel Soriano, wife of Enrique, the addressee Gilda Acolado,
their daughter.
After reading the telegram, the respondent asked Soriano whether his wife (Mrs. Soriano) was coming
to Iloilo City; when informed that she was arriving, he decided to wait for her. Mrs. Soriano arrived from
Balasan in the afternoon of that same day, October 2, 1962. She went to see the respondent, and informed the
latter that it was she who had sent the telegram upon request of the Aglinao brothers; that she was personally
present when one Albert, a tenant of the complainant, accompanied by many armed men, went to the land in
question and harvested the palay thereon over the protests of the Aglinao brothers; that upon inquiring why the
said Albert and his armed companions harvested the palay, she was told that they were acting upon orders of
the complainant; and that instead of filing a complaint with the chief of police as she originally planned, she
decided instead to see the respondent without delay.

Possessed of the above information, the respondent promptly prepared and filed with the agrarian
court, on October 3, 1962, a verified "Urgent Motion to Declare Respondent in Contempt of Court" (hereinafter
referred to as motion for contempt), praying that the complainant and "her armed goons" be declared in, and
punished for, contempt of court for violating the interlocutory order of June 21, 1962. This motion for contempt
elicited, on the very same day it was filed, an instant reply from the complainant who moved to strike it out from
the, records claiming that the allegations therein libeled her, and that it was the respondent who should be
punished for contempt for deliberately misleading the agrarian court. Moreover, not content with this reply and
countermotion for contempt the complainant also lodged on October 4, 1962 a criminal complaint for libel
against the respondent with the City Fiscal of Iloilo, based on the same allegedly libelous allegations made
against her by the respondent in the latter's motion for contempt filed in the C.A.R. cases. However, after
preliminarily investigating the said complaint, the assistant city fiscal to whom it was assigned dismissed the
same on the ground that the allegations of the motion for contempt were privileged communications. The
complainant did not appeal from the, said dismissal to the city fiscal; neither did she elevate the same for
review to the Department of Justice.
Meanwhile, no action was taken by the agrarian court in the C.A.R. cases on the motion for contempt
filed by the respondent against the complainant, as well as on the latter's countermotion, also for contempt,
against the formal instead, by order dated October 24, 1963, the agrarian court dismissed C.A.R. cases 1254
and 1255, including the complainant's counterclaims therein, for lack of interest to prosecute on the part of the
petitioners, the Aglinao brothers. As a matter of course, the dismissal of the main cases carried with it the
dismissed of all incidents therein, including the motion for contempt and counter-motion for contempt. Again,
the complainant did not ask for reconsideration of the order of dismissal, nor did she appeal therefrom. She
filed instead the present administrative complaint against the respondent.
The only issue raised in the present disbarment proceeding is whether the respondent, Atty. Vicente E.
Aragona, Jr., should be disciplined or disbarred for having prepared and filed under oath the "Urgent Motion to
Declare Respondent in Contempt of Court" in C.A.R. cases 1254 and 1255-Iloilo, which allegedly contains
false and libelous imputations injurious to the honor of the complainant.
For easy reference, the motion for contempt is hereunder reproduced in toto.
COMES NOW the undersigned, in behalf of the petitioners in each of the above-entitled cases,
and to this Honorable Court respectfully states that:
1. Upon urgent and verified motion of the undersigned dated June 20, 1962, this Honorable Court
issued an interlocutory order dated June 21, 1962, the dispositive part of which is as follows:
WHEREFORE, finding the motion meritorious, an interlocutory order is hereby issued
ordering the respondent, her agent, or any person acting for and in her behalf, to refrain from
molesting or in any way interfering with the work of the petitioners in their respective
landholdings, situated at Barrio Malapoc Balasan Iloilo, with an area of 2 hectares for each of
them, in these two cases, pending the bearing of these cases on the merits.
The Commanding Officer of the Constabulary Detachment of the 56th PC Company
stationed at Sara, Iloilo, or his duly authorized representative, is hereby ordered to implement
this order and to report to this Court his proceedings in this particular within a week from the
date of his implementation of this order.
SO ORDERED.
Iloilo City, June 21, 1962.
(SGD.) JUAN C. TERUEL
Commissioner
2. Pursuant to the above-quoted order, the Commanding Officer of the 56th PC Company stationed at
Sara, Iloilo, ordered the respondent and her men not to enter the landholdings in question and to refrain

from molesting or in any way interfering with the work of petitioners in their respective landholdings; the
report of said Commanding Officer is now on file with the records of the above-entitled cases;
3. On this date, the undersigned was just surprised when he received a telegram from the petitioners,
through Mrs. Isabel Soriano, copy of which is thereto attached as Annex "A" and made part hereof,
informing the undersigned that respondent, thru a certain Albert, with the aid of armed goons,
harvested the palay of the petitioners yesterday despite the vehement opposition of the petitioners not
to enter their landholdings;
4. The said acts of respondents and her men in harvesting the palay of the petitioners, knowing fully
well the existence and implementation of the interlocutory order of this Court dated June 21, 1962, is a
gross and open defiance and disobedience of said order and a challenge to the legal processes and
authority of this Court in the peaceful administration of justice;
5. This rebellious and seditious conduct of the respondent and her men against the authority of this
Court constitutes wanton resistance and contumacious contempt of court;
6. Unless the respondent and her armed goons are declared in contempt of Court and duly punished,
the lawful orders, processes and authority of this Court would be a mockery and rendered useless by
the stubborn resistance and defiance of the respondent.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that
respondent and her armed goons be declared and punished for contempt of Court until such time that
she turns over the produce of the landholdings in question which she harvested illegally and until such
time that she fully complies with the interlocutory order of this Court.
Petitioners pray for such other relief and remedies just and equitable under the premises.
Iloilo City, October 3, 1962.
E. I. Soriano Jr. and V. E. Aragona
Counsel for the Petitioners
Lopez Bros. Bldg., Iznart Street
Iloilo City
By:
(sgd.) VICENTE E. ARAGONA JR.
The complainant's testimony is to the effect that (1) on October 2, 1962 she was not in Balasan but in
Iloilo City where she testified at the trial of C.A.R. cases 1254 and 1255 after which she left for her home which
is situated also in Iloilo City; (2) the distance between Balasan and Iloilo City is 135 kilometers, and to reach
Balasan from Iloilo City one has to travel four hours by car or six hours by bus; (3) although she knows that the
person Albert, mentioned in the motion, is Alberto Boneta, a helper of Carlos Fuentes, one of the tenants she
had placed on the lands involved in the C.A.R. cases she never met or saw Boneta or Fuentes from the time
she was informed of the interlocutory order dated June 21, 1962 in the aforesaid cases, until October 2, 1962
when the said Alberto Boneta and several armed men allegedly harvested the crops on the lands in question;
(4) she did not order Boneta to harvest the said crops; and (5) she never visited the aforesaid lands in 1962.
Her uncontradicted testimony lends credence to her claim that she did not order Alberto Boneta to harvest,
with the aid of armed men, the crops on the Aglinao brothers' landholdings.
Nonetheless, this Court is loath to uphold the view that the preparation and the filing of the questioned
motion for contempt, furnish sufficient basis for disciplinary action against the respondent.
In People vs. Aquino 3 this Court laid down the decisional authority that

[S]tatement made in the course of judicial proceedings are absolutely privileged that is, privileged
regardless of defamatory tenor and of the presence of malice if the same are relevant, pertinent or
material to the cause in hand or subject of the inquiry. And that, in view of this, the person who makes
them such as a judge, lawyer, or witness does not thereby incur the risk of being found liable
thereon in a criminal prosecution or an action for the recovery of damages. (emphasis supplied)
Since there is no doubt that the allegations made by the respondent in the questioned motion for
contempt are statements made in the course of a judicial proceeding i.e., in C.A.R. cases 1254 and 1255
besides being relevant, pertinent or material to the subject-matter of the said cases, they are absolutely
privileged, thereby precluding any liability on the part of the respondent.
To be sure, the charges levelled by the respondent against the complainant in the questioned pleading
lack sufficient factual basis. But even this circumstance will not strengthen the complainant's position. "The
privilege is not affected by factual or legal inaccuracies in the utterances made in the course of judicial
proceedings." 4 In fact, "Even when the statements are found to be false, if there is probable cause for belief in
their truthfulness and the charge is made in good faith, the mantle of privilege may still cover the mistake of the
individual .... The privilege is not defeated by the mere fact that the communication is made in intemperate
terms .... A privileged communication should not be subjected to microscopic examination to discover grounds
of malice or falsity. Such excessive scrutiny would defeat the protection which the law throws over privileged
communications. The ultimate test is that of bona fides." 5
Indeed, the actuations of the respondent were motivated by the legitimate desire to serve the interests
of his clients. For, contrary to the complainant's claim, the respondent did not rely merely on Mrs. Soriano's
telegram (exh. 5) when he prepared the motion for contempt. According to his unrebutted testimony, when Mr.
Soriano brought to him the said telegram on October 2, 1962, he asked the former whether his wife, the sender
of the telegram, was coming to Iloilo City, and, when informed that she was arriving, he waited for her. True
enough Mrs. Soriano saw the respondent in the afternoon of that same day and informed him that she was
personally present when one Albert, a tenant of the complainant, accompanied by several armed men, went to
the landholdings of the Aglinao brothers and, against the objections of the latter, harvested the palay crop
thereon, and that upon her inquiry, she was informed that they were acting upon orders of the complainant.
Considering that the foregoing information which impelled the respondent to file the questioned motion
for contempt, was obtained by him first-hand from someone who claimed to have actually witnessed the
incident in question, coupled with the complainants own admission that the Albert referred to by Mrs. Soriano
was indeed a helper of Carlos Fuentes, one of the tenants whom she had illegally placed once on the
landholdings of the Aglinao brothers, it was not unseemly for the respondent to assume that Albert did act at
the behest of the complainant. After all, the complainant had, in the past, committed the same forcible act of
entering the said landholdings on June 18, 1963, only two days after she had assured the agrarian court that
she would not disturb or interfere with the Aglinao brothers' possession, pending final resolution of the petitions
filed by them against her. In truth it is precisely such forcible entry into the said lands that precipitated the
issuance of the very interlocutory order dated June 21, 1962 which the respondent accused her of disobeying
in his motion for contempt. Unquestionably, the aforenarrated circumstances provided the respondent a
probable cause for belief in the truthfulness of the allegations which he couched in rather intemperate
language in his motion for contempt. He had merely acted in righteous indignation over the wrong supposedly
done to his aggrieved clients believing as he did in the truth of his charges without deliberate intention
whatsoever to malign and villify the complainant.
The doctrine of privileged communication is not an idle and empty principle. It has been distilled from
wisdom and experience. "The privilege is not intended so much for the protection of those engaged in the
public service and in the enactment and administration of law, as for the promotion of the public welfare, the
purpose being that members of the legislature, judges of courts, jurors, lawyers, and witnesses may speak
their minds freely and exercise their respective functions without incurring the risk of a criminal prosecution or
an action for the recovery of damages." 6 Lawyers, most especially, should be allowed a great latitude of
pertinent comment in the furtherance of the causes they uphold, and for felicity of their clients they may be
pardoned some infelicities of language. 7

The object of a disbarment proceeding is not so much to punish the individual attorney himself, as to
safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the court and the public from the misconduct of officers of
the court, and to remove from the profession of law persons whose disregard for their oath of office have
proved them unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar. 8 Thus, the power
to disbar attorneys ought always to be exercised with great caution, and only in clear cases of misconduct
which seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the
bar. 9
In this case, there is no evidence whatsoever tending to prove unfitness of the respondent to continue
in the practice of law and remain an officer of the court.
ACCORDINGLY, the administrative complaint against the respondent is hereby dismissed.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Fernando, Capistrano, Teehankee and
Barredo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 492

September 5, 1967

OLEGARIA BLANZA and MARIA PASION, complainants,


vs.
ATTY. AGUSTIN ARCANGEL, respondent.

BENGZON, J.P., J.:


Complainants Olegaria Blanza and Maria Pasion ask this Court to take disciplinary action against
respondent Atty. Agustin Arcangel for professional non-feasance. They complain that way back in April, 1955,
respondent volunteered to help them in their respective pension claims in connection with the deaths of their
husbands, both P.C. soldiers, and for this purpose, they handed over to him the pertinent documents and also
affixed their signatures on blank papers. But subsequently, they noticed that since then, respondent had lost
interest in the progress of their claims and when they finally asked for the return of their papers six years later,
respondent refused to surrender them.
Respondent answered these accusations before Fiscal Raa to whom this case was referred by the
Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation. He admitted having received the documents
from complainants but explainer that it was for photostating purposes only. His failure to immediately return
them, he said, was due to complainants' refusal to hand him the money to pay for the photostating costs which
prevented him from withdrawing said documents from the photostat service. Anyway, he had already advanced
the expenses himself and turned over, on December 13, 1961, the documents, their respective photostats and
the photostat service receipt to the fiscal.
Finding respondent's explanation satisfactory and considering that he charged complainants nothing for
his services, Fiscal Raa recommended the former's exoneration, or at most, that he be reprimanded only. The
Solicitor General, however, feels that respondent deserves at least a severe reprimand considering (1) his
failure to attend to complainants' pension claims for six years; (2) his failure to immediately return the
documents despite repeated demands upon him, and (3) his failure to return to complainant Pasion, allegedly,
all of her documents.
At the hearing of the case before this Court on October 21, 1963, only respondent, thru counsel,
appeared. In lieu of oral arguments, therefore, respondent submitted his memorandum, annexing therewith an
affidavit executed by Olegaria Blanza asking for the dismissal of the administrative case. 1
Respondent first submits that he was not obliged to follow up complainants' pension claims since there
was no agreement for his compensation as their counsel. Respondent, however, overlooks the fact that
he volunteeredhis professional services and thus was not legally entitled to recover fees. 2 But having
established the attorney-client relationship voluntarily, he was bound to attend to complainants' claims with all
due diligence.
Nevertheless, We find the evidence adduced insufficient to warrant the taking of disciplinary action
against respondent attorney. There is no clear preponderance of evidence substantiating the accusations
against him.3
Respondent's explanation for the delay in filing the claims and in returning the documents has not been
controverted by complainants. On the contrary, they admitted 4 that respondent asked them to shoulder the

photostating expenses but they did not give him any money therefor. Moreover, the documents and their
photostats were actually returned by respondent during the fiscal's investigation with him paying for the
photostating costs himself. And the condition of the photostats themselves they appear to have been in
existence for quite some time5 supports respondent's allegation that they remained in possession of the
photostat service for the failure of the owners (respondents and/or complainants), to withdraw the same upon
payment of the corresponding costs. Hence, complainants themselves are partly to blame for the delay in filing
their respective claims.1awphl.nt
As for the alleged failure of respondent to return all her documents to complainant Pasion, the former
denies this. Fiscal Raa made no findings on the matter. The affidavit of Mrs. Blanza pardoning respondent
cannot prejudice complainant Pasion because res inter alios acta alteri nocere non debet. Still, there is
equiponderance of evidence which must necessarily redound to respondent's benefit. Complainant Pasion had
another opportunity to substantiate her charges in the hearing set for October 21, 1963 but she let it go.
Neither she nor her counsel of record appeared.
But while We are constrained to dismiss the charges against respondent for being legally insufficient, yet
We cannot but counsel against his actuations as a member of the bar. A lawyer has a more dynamic and
positive role in the community than merely complying with the minimal technicalities of the statute. As a man of
law, he is necessarily a leader of the community, looked up to as a model citizen. His conduct must, perforce,
be par excellence, especially so when, as in this case, he volunteers his professional services. Respondent
here has not lived up to that ideal standard. It was unnecessary to have complainants wait, and hope, for six
long years on their pension claims. Upon their refusal to co-operate, respondent should have forthwith
terminated their professional relationship instead of keeping them hanging indefinitely. And altho We voted that
he not be reprimanded, in a legal sense, let this be a reminder to Atty. Arcangel of what the high standards of
his chosen profession require of him.
Accordingly, the case against respondent is dismissed. So ordered.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro, Angeles and Fernando, JJ.,
concur.

EN BANC

[A.C. No. 6492. November 18, 2004]

MELANIO L. ZORETA, complainant, vs. ATTY. HEHERSON ALNOR G. SIMPLICIANO, respondent.


DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
This is a complaint for disbarment filed against Atty. Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano for allegedly notarizing
several documents during the year 2002 after his commission as notary public had expired.
Complainant Melanio L. Zoreta alleged that on 02 August 2001, he filed before Branch 4 of the Regional
Trial Court of Antipolo City, a complaint for Breach of Contract and Damages against Security Pacific
Assurance Corporation (SPAC) dated 22 June 2001 due to the latters failure to honor SPACs Commercial
Vehicle Policy No. 94286, where respondent Atty. Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano was the latters counsel. In
said cases, respondent who was not a duly commissioned Notary Public in 2002 per Certifications [1] issued by
the Clerk of Court of Quezon City Mercedes S. Gatmaytan, performed acts of notarization, as evidenced by the
following documents, viz:
1.

Verification[2] executed by Aurora C. Galvez, President of defendant SPAC, subscribed and sworn to
before Atty. Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano on February 18, 2002 as alleged notary public, in Quezon
City and attached to defendants Very Urgent Motion (1) To Lift the Order of Default; and (2) To defer
Plaintiffs Presentation of Evidence Ex-Parte dated February 18, 2002;

2.

Affidavits of Merit[3] signed by Aurora Galvez attached to the pleading mentioned in par. 1 hereof,
likewise notarized by Atty. Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano as alleged Notary Public in Quezon City,
on February 18, 2002;

3.

The Affidavit of Service[4] signed by a certain Renee L. Ramos, a Legal Assistant in Simpliciano and
Capela Law Office, and subscribed and sworn to before Atty. Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano on
February 19, 2002 as alleged Notary Public in Quezon City. Said Affidavit of Service was attached to
the pleading mentioned in Par. 1 hereof;

4.

The Affidavit of Service[5] of one Nestor Abayon, another Legal Assistant of Simpliciano and Capela Law
Office, subscribed and sworn to before Atty. Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano on 01 April 2002 at Quezon
City, as Notary Public. This Affidavit of Service was attached to defendants Motion (1) For
Reconsideration of the Order dated 05 March 2002; and (2) To allow defendants to Present Defensive
Evidence dated 27 March 2002.

5.

The Verification and Certification Against Forum Shopping[6] signed this time by a certain Celso N. Sarto,
as affiant, notarized on 16 August 2002 by Atty. Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano. This Verification and
Certification Against Forum Shopping was attached to defendants Motion For Extension of Time To File
Petition Under Rule 65 before the Court of Appeals;

6.

The Affidavit of Service[7] signed by a certain Joseph B. Aganan, another Legal Assistant in Simpliciano
and Capela Law Office subscribed and sworn to before Atty. Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano as Notary
Public on 16 August 2002. This Affidavit of Service signed by Aganan was also attached to that Motion
For Extension of Time To File Petition under Rule 65 before the Court of Appeals;

7.

Verification and Certification Against Forum Shopping[8] executed by one Celso N. Sarto, alleged
Executive Vice President and Claims Manager of defendant SPAC and notarized by Atty. Heherson

Alnor G. Simpliciano on 19 August 2002, attached to the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, etc.,
filed before the Court of Appeals; and
8.

Affidavit of Service[9] signed by a certain Joseph B. Aganan, Legal Assistant of Simpliciano and Capela
Law Office, subscribed and sworn to before Atty. Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano on 19 August 2002, as
alleged Notary Public for Quezon City with notarized commission to expire by December 31, 2002.

On 23 April 2003, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) of Pasig required respondent Atty.
Simpliciano to submit his answer within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the Order. [10]
On 26 May 2003, counsel of respondent filed an ex-parte motion[11] for extension of time to file answer.
On 30 June 2003, petitioner filed a motion [12] to resolve the complaint after the extension requested by
respondent ended on 30 May 2003, and almost a month had lapsed from 30 May 2003, with no comment or
pleading filed by respondent.
On 17 July 2003, Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro issued an order, [13] giving respondent a last chance to
file his answer, otherwise the case shall be deemed submitted for resolution. Respondent failed to do so.
Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro submitted her report and recommendation [14] dated 12 February 2004,
pertinent portions of which read:
A careful examination and evaluation of the evidence submitted by the petitioner showed that respondent notarized up to
Document No. 590, Page 118, Book No. II, Series of 2002 and his commission expires December 31, 2002 which referred
to the Affidavit of Service signed and executed by Joseph B. Aganan Legal Assistant of Simpliciano and Capela Law
Office subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Heherson Alnor G. Simpliciano whose commission expires
December 31, 2002.
All the other documents aforementioned were entered in Book II of respondents alleged notarial book which reflected
that his commission expires on December 31, 2002 as notary public.
However, the Clerk of Court of Quezon City in her certification dated October 4, 2002 stated that as per records on file
with their office respondent was not duly commissioned notary public for and in Quezon City for the year 2002.
Another certification issued by the Clerk of Court of RTC Quezon City dated April 15, 2003 showed that as per records
on file with their office respondent was commissioned notary public for and in Quezon City from January 14, 2000 to
December 31, 2001 and for the year 2002 and 2003 he did not apply for notarial commission for Quezon City.
It is evident from the foregoing that when respondent notarized the aforementioned documents, he was not commissioned
as notary public, which was in violation of the Notarial Law; for having notarized the 590 documents after the expiration
of his commission as notary public without having renewed said commission amounting to gross misconduct as a member
of the legal profession.
Wherefore, in view of the foregoing the Undersigned respectfully recommends the revocation of respondents commission
as notary public permanently if he is commissioned as such at present and his suspension from the practice of law for a
period of three (3) months from receipt hereof furnishing the IBP Chapter where he is a registered member a copy hereof
for implementation should this recommendation be approved by the Honorable members of the Board of Governors. [15]
Per Resolution No. XVI-2004-236 dated 16 April 2004, the Board of Governors modified the report and
recommendation of Commissioner Navarro of suspension of three (3) months to a suspension of six (6)
months.[16]
We concur in the finding of the Investigating Commissioner that respondent Atty. Simpliciano did not have
a commission as notary public in 2002 when he notarized the assailed documents as evidenced by the two (2)
certifications issued by the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City dated 04 October
2002.[17] Records also show, and as confirmed by IBP Commissioner Navarro, that as of 02 August 2002,
respondent had already notarized a total of 590 documents. [18] The evidence presented by complainant
conclusively establishes the misconduct imputed to respondent.

The eight (8) notarized documents for the year 2002 submitted by complainant, consisting of affidavits of
merit, certifications and verifications against non-forum shopping, and affidavits of service, were used and
presented in the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, Branch 74, in Civil Case No. 01-6240, and in
respondents petition for certiorari filed in the Court of Appeals.
Against the evidence presented by complainant, respondent did not even attempt to present any
evidence. His counsel filed an ex-parte motion for extension to file answer, which was granted, but no answer
was forthcoming. Still, Hearing Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro gave respondent a last chance to file his
answer; which was again unheeded. Thus, respondent was unable to rebut complainants evidence that he
was not so commissioned for the year in question. His lack of interest and indifference in presenting his
defense to the charge and the evidence against him can only mean he has no strong and valid defense to
offer. Conclusively, respondent Atty. Simpliciano is not a duly commissioned Notary Public for and in Quezon
City for the year 2002.
At the threshold, it is worth stressing that the practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the
State on those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications required by law for the
conferment of such privilege.[19] Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. A lawyer has
the privilege and right to practice law only during good behavior and can only be deprived of it for misconduct
ascertained and declared by judgment of the court after opportunity to be heard has been afforded him.
Without invading any constitutional privilege or right, an attorneys right to practice law may be resolved by a
proceeding to suspend him, based on conduct rendering him unfit to hold a license or to exercise the duties
and responsibilities of an attorney. It must be understood that the purpose of suspending or disbarring him as
an attorney is to remove from the profession a person whose misconduct has proved him unfit to be entrusted
with the duties and responsibilities belonging to an office of attorney, and thus to protect the public and those
charged with the administration of justice, rather than to punish an attorney. [20] Elaborating on this, we said
in Maligsa v. Cabanting[21] that [t]he bar should maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of
honesty and fair dealing. A lawyer brings honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to
society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. To this end a member of the legal fraternity should refrain
from doing any act which might lessen in any degree the confidence and trust reposed by the public in the
fidelity, honesty and integrity of the legal profession. [22] Towards this end, an attorney may be disbarred, or
suspended for any violation of his oath or of his duties as an attorney and counselor, which include statutory
grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, all of these being broad enough to cover
practically any misconduct of a lawyer in his professional or private capacity. [23]
Apropos to the case at bar, it has been emphatically stressed that 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 notaries 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. It must be underscored that the notarization by a notary public converts a
private document into a public document making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of
authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. For this reason,
notaries public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of their duties. [24]
The requirements for the issuance of a commission as notary public must not be treated as a mere casual
formality. The Court has characterized a lawyers act of notarizing documents without the requisite
commission therefore as reprehensible, constituting as it does not only malpractice but also x x x the crime of
falsification of public documents.[25] For such reprehensible conduct, the Court has sanctioned erring lawyers
by suspension from the practice of law, revocation of the notarial commission and disqualification from acting
as such, and even disbarment.[26]
In the case of Nunga v. Viray,[27] the Court had occasion to state that where the notarization of a document
is done by a member of the Philippine Bar at a time when he has no authorization or commission to do so, the
offender may be subjected to disciplinary action. For one, performing a notarial without such commission is a
violation of the lawyers oath to obey the laws, more specifically, the Notarial Law. Then, too, by making it
appear that he is duly commissioned when he is not, he is, for all legal intents and purposes, indulging in
deliberate falsehood, which the lawyers oath similarly proscribes. These violations fall squarely within the
prohibition of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides: A lawyer shall
not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

By such misconduct as a notary public, the lawyer likewise violates Canon 7 of the same Code, which
directs every lawyer to uphold at all times the integrity and dignity of the legal profession.
On different occasions, this Court had disbarred or suspended lawyers for notarizing documents with an
expired commission:
1.

In Flores v. Lozada,[28] the court disbarred a lawyer who notarized six documents such as the extrajudicial
partition of an estate, deed of sale with right of repurchase, and four (4) deeds of absolute sale - all involving
unregistered lands, after his commission as Notary Public expired;

2.

In Joson v. Baltazar,[29] the court suspended the lawyer for three (3) months since only one (1) instance of
unauthorized notarization of a deed of sale was involved.

3.

In Nunga v. Viray,[30] the court suspended the lawyer for three (3) years when he notarized an absolute deed of
sale of the buyer minor, who was his son and, at the same time, he was a stockholder and legal counsel of the
vendor bank, and when he entered in his notarial registry an annotation of the cancellation of the loan in favor
of a certain bank, at a time when he was not commissioned as a Notary Public. What aggravated respondents
unlawful notarization was the fact that the transaction involved was in favor of his son, who was then only
eighteen years old and, therefore, a minor.

4.

In Buensuceso v. Barrera,[31] the lawyer was suspended for one (1) year when he notarized five (5) documents
such as a complaint for ejectment, affidavit, supplemental affidavit, a deed of sale and a contract to sell, after
his commission as Notary Public expired.

Needless to state, respondent cannot escape from disciplinary action in his capacity as a notary public
and as a member of the Philippine Bar. However, the penalty recommended by the Board of Governors of the
IBP must be increased. Respondent must be barred from being commissioned as a notary public permanently
and suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years.
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby adopts the findings of Investigating Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro,
which the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines adopted and approved, but hereby
MODIFIES the penalty recommended by the Board of Governors. As modified, respondent ATTY. HEHERSON
ALNOR G. SIMPLICIANO is hereby BARRED PERMANENTLY from being commissioned as Notary Public.
He is furthermore SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2) years, effective upon receipt of a copy of
this Decision.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished all the courts of the land through the Court Administrator as well
as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant, and recorded in the personal files of
respondent himself.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, AustriaMartinez, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
Corona, J., on leave.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

EN BANC
A-1
INC.,

FINANCIAL

SERVICES,
Complainant,

A.C. No. 8390


[Formerly CBD 06-1641]
Present:

- versus -

ATTY. LAARNI N. VALERIO,


Respondent.

CORONA, C.J.,
CARPIO,
CARPIO-MORALES,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,*
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA, JJ.
Promulgated:
July 2, 2010

x --------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
Before us is a Complaint[1] dated January 18, 2006 for disciplinary action against respondent Atty. Laarni N.
Valerio filed by A-1 Financial Services, Inc., represented by Diego S. Reunilla, its account officer, with the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), docketed as CBD Case No. 06-1642, now A.C. No. 8390,
for violation ofBatas Pambansa Blg. 22 (B.P. 22) and non-payment of debt.
On November 13, 2001, A-1 Financial Services, Inc., a financing corporation, granted the loan application of
Atty. Valerio amounting to P50,000.00. To secure the payment of the loan obligation, Atty. Valerio issued a postdated
check, to wit: Check No. 0000012725; dated April 1, 2002, in the amount: P50,000.00.[2] However, upon presentation at
the bank for payment on its maturity date, the check was dishonored due to insufficient funds. As of the filing of the
instant case, despite repeated demands to pay her obligation, Atty. Valerio failed to pay the whole amount of her
obligation.

Thus, on November 10, 2003, complainant filed a B.P. 22 case against Atty. Valerio, docketed as Criminal Case
No. 124779. Atty. Valerios arraignment was scheduled for August 31, 2004; however, she failed to appear despite due
notice.[3] Subsequently, a Warrant of Arrest[4] was issued but Atty. Valerio posted no bail. On November 22, 2004,
complainant sent a letter[5] to Atty. Valerio calling her attention to the issuance of the Warrant of Arrest against her and
requested her to submit to the jurisdiction of the court by posting bail. The said letter was received by Atty. Valerio, as
evidenced by the postal registry return cards. [6] Despite court orders and notices, Atty. Valerio refused to abide.
On January 18, 2006, complainant filed an administrative complaint against Atty. Valerio before the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP). On January 26, 2006, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) required Atty.
Valerio to file an answer, but she did not file any responsive pleading at all. However, in a letter[7] dated March 16, 2006,
respondents mother, Gorgonia N. Valerio (Mrs. Valerio), explained that her daughter had been diagnosed
with schizophrenia; thus, could not properly respond to the complaint against her. Futhermore, Mrs. Valerio undertook to
personally settle her daughters obligation.
On September 13, 2007, the IBP-CBD directed Atty. Valerio to appear before the mandatory conference. Atty.
Valerio, again, failed to attend the conference. Subsequently, in an Order dated November 15, 2007, the IBP ordered the
parties to submit their position papers. No position paper was submitted by Atty. Valerio.
Thus, in its Report and Recommendation dated September 16, 2008, the IBP-CBD recommended that Atty.
Valerio be suspended from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years, having found her guilty of gross misconduct.
The IBP-CBD gave no credence to the medical certificate submitted by Atty. Valerios mother, in view of the
latters failure to appear before the IBP-CBD hearings to affirm the truthfulness thereof or present the physician who
issued the same. The IBP-CBD, further, pointed out that Atty. Valerios failure to obey court processes, more particularly
her failure to appear at her arraignment despite due notice and to surrender to the Court despite the issuance of a warrant
of arrest, showed her lack of respect for authority and, thus, rendered her morally unfit to be a member of the bar. [8]
On December 11, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved with modification the report and
recommendation of the IBP-CBD. Atty. Valerio was instead ordered suspended from the practice of law for a period of
one (1) year.
Nevertheless, to provide Atty. Valerio further opportunity to explain her side, the Court, in a Resolution dated
December 15, 2010, directed Atty. Valerio and/or her mother, to submit a duly notarized medical certificate issued by a
duly licensed physician and/or certified copies of medical records to support the claim of schizophrenia on the part of
Atty. Valerio within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from receipt hereof.
However, despite the lapse of considerable time after the receipt of notice [9] to comply with the said Resolution, no
medical certificate or medical records were submitted to this Court by either respondent and/or her mother. Thus, this
resolution.
We sustain the findings and recommendations of the IBP-CBD.
In Barrientos v. Libiran-Meteoro,[10] we held that:
x x x [the] deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless checks constitute gross
misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of law. Lawyers are
instruments for the administration of justice and vanguards of our legal system. They are expected to
maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing
so that the peoples faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured. They must at all times
faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, the courts and to their clients, which include prompt
payment of financial obligations. They must conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values and
norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. Canon 1 and Rule
1.01 explicitly states that:

Canon 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote
respect for law and for legal processes.
Rule 1.01A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.
In the instant case, there is no denial of the existence of the loan obligation despite respondents failure to cooperate
before any proceedings in relation to the complaint. Prior to the filing of the complaint against her, Atty. Valerios act of
making partial payments of the loan and interest suffices as proof that indeed there is an obligation to pay on her part.
Respondents mother, Mrs. Valerio, likewise, acknowledged her daughters obligation.
The Court, likewise, finds unmeritorious Mrs. Valerios justification that her daughter, Atty. Valerio, is suffering
from a health condition, i.e. schizophrenia, which has prevented her from properly answering the complaint against her.
Indeed, we cannot take the medical certificate on its face, considering Mrs. Valerios failure to prove the contents of the
certificate or present the physician who issued it.
Atty. Valerios conduct in the course of the IBP and court proceedings is also a matter of serious concern. She
failed to answer the complaint against her. Despite due notice, she failed to attend the disciplinary hearings set by the IBP.
She also ignored the proceedings before the court as she likewise failed to both answer the complaint against her and
appear during her arraignment, despite orders and notices from the court. Clearly, this conduct runs counter to the precepts
of the Code of Professional Responsibility and violates the lawyers oath which imposes upon every member of the Bar
the duty to delay no man for money or malice. Atty. Valerio has failed to live up to the values and norms of the legal
profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.
In Ngayan v. Tugade,[11] we ruled that [a lawyers] failure to answer the complaint against him and his failure to
appear at the investigation are evidence of his flouting resistance to lawful orders of the court and illustrate his
despiciency for his oath of office in violation of Section 3, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
We come to the penalty imposable in this case.
In Lao v. Medel,[12] we held that the deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless checks
constitute gross misconduct for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with one-year suspension from the practice of law. The
same sanction was imposed on the respondent-lawyer in Rangwani v. Dino,[13] having found guilty of gross misconduct
for issuing bad checks in payment of a piece of property, the title to which was only entrusted to him by the complainant.
However, in this case, we deem it reasonable to affirm the sanction imposed by the IBP-CBD, i.e., Atty. Valerio
was ordered suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years, [14] because, aside from issuing worthless checks and
failing to pay her debts, she has also shown wanton disregard of the IBPs and Court Orders in the course of the
proceedings.
WHEREFORE, Resolution No. XVIII-2008-647 dated December 11, 2008 of the IBP, which found respondent
Atty. Laarni N. Valerio guilty of gross misconduct and violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. She is hereby SUSPENDED for two (2) years from the practice of law,
effective upon the receipt of this Decision. She is warned that a repetition of the same or a similar act will be dealt with
more severely.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to the personal record of
Atty. Valerio as a member of the Bar; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and the Office of the Court Administrator for
circulation to all courts in the country for their information and guidance.
This Decision shall be immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.