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v Fojas AC 4103
TOPIC: Legal Ethics, Canon 14 CPR

An expulsion case was faced by the complainants contending that they have illegally removed from the union (FEUFA)
membership Mr. Paulino Salvador. The lower court resolved in favor of Salvador and ordered the complainants to
pay, jointly and severally, Mr. Salvador. The case was then elevated to the Court of Appeals. The complainants lost in
their petition at the Court of Appeals due to abandonment, failure to act accordingly, or serious neglect of their
counsel, Atty. Fojas to answer the civil complaint on an expulsion case. Atty. Fojas assured them that everything was
in order and he had already answered the complaint. However, the appellants soon discovered that he never
answered it after all because, according to him, he was a very busy man. Atty. Fojas admitted his mistake in failing
to file an answer for the expulsion case, but he alleges that it was cured by his filing of a motion for reconsideration.
However, such motion for reconsideration was denied. Atty. Fojas defended his negligence with the reason that the
case was a losing cause after all. Atty. Fojas also asserts that he was about to appeal the said decision to this Court,
but his services as counsel for the complainants and for the union were illegally and unilaterally terminated by
complainant. Complainants then filed for a disbarment case.

Whether the respondent committed culpable negligence, as would warrant disciplinary action, in failing to file for the
complainants an answer

Yes. The Supreme Court upheld Canon 14 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Once he agrees to take up the
cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed in him. This means that his client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is
authorized by the law of the land and he may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. In his motion
for reconsideration of the default order, the respondent explained his non-filing of the required answer by impliedly
invoking forgetfulness occasioned by a large volume and pressure of legal work, while in his Comment in this case he
attributes it to honest mistake and excusable neglect due to his overzealousness to question the denial order of the
trial court. Whether it be the first or the second ground, the fact remains that the respondent did not comply with his
duty to file an answer.

Pressure and large volume of legal work provide no excuse for the respondents inability to exercise due diligence in
the performance of his duty to file an answer. Every case a lawyer accepts deserves his full attention, diligence, skill,
and competence, regardless of its importance and whether he accepts it for a fee or for free. Furthermore, a breach
of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which requires him to serve his clients, the complainants
herein, with diligence and, more specifically, Rule 18.03 thereof which provides: A lawyer shall not neglect a legal
matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Atty. Fojass negligence is not excused by his claim that Civil Case No. 3526-V-91 was in fact a losing cause. The
Supreme Court held that he should have seasonably informed the complainants thereof. Rule 15.05, Canon 15 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility expressly provides: A lawyer, when advising his client, shall give a candid and
honest opinion on the merits and probable results of the clients case, neither overstating nor understanding the
prospects of the case.


Alisbo vs. Jalandoon

Jalandoon was former counsel for Alisbo spouses

o to recover his share of the estate of the deceased spouses Catalina Sales and Restituto Gozuma
which had been adjudicated to him
o complaint was dismissed but it was discovered that Jalandoon was former legal counsel of Carlito
Sales, adversary in the probate proceedings

Decision: suspension for 2 years

betrayed his client Ramon Alisbo's trust and did not champion his cause with that wholehearted fidelity,
care and devotion that a lawyer is obligated to give to every case that he accepts from a client

1. He did not verify the real status of Ramon Alisbo before filing the case. Otherwise, his lack of capacity to sue would
not have been at issue.
2. He postponed the motion to revive judgment and gave way instead to a motion to resolve pending incidents in Civil
Case 4963. In doing so, he frittered away precious time.
3. He dropped Ramon Alisbo's co-plaintiffs and impleaded them as defendants. Otherwise, the complaint would have
been defective only in part.

used his position as Alisbo's counsel precisely to favor his other client, Carlito Sales, by delaying Alisbo's
action to revive the judgment in his favor and thereby deprive him of the fruits of his judgment which
Attorney Jalandoon, as Sales' counsel, had vigorously opposed
did not immediately take action regarding Ramons insanity

A.M. No. 1311 July 18, 1991


A verified complaint for disbarment was filed with then Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile on January 2,
1974, by Ramona L. Vda. de Alisbo and Norberto S. Alisbo against their former counsel, Attorney Benito Jalandoon,
Sr., charging him with deceit, malpractice, and professional infidelity. The complaint was referred to this Court on
February 5, 1974.

After the complainants had submitted the required number of copies of their complaint, the respondent was ordered
to file his answer thereto which he did on June 5, 1974.
On August 20, 1974, the complainants filed a reply.

On August 28, 1974, the Court referred the complaint to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and
recommendation. On February 2, 1990, or after sixteen (16) years, the Solicitor General submitted his report to the
Court, together with the transcripts of stenographic notes taken at the investigation and folders of exhibits submitted
by the parties.

The facts of the case, as found by the Solicitor General, are the following:

On March 16, 1970, Ramon Alisbo engaged respondent Attorney Benito Jalandoon, Sr., as his counsel to commence
an action to recover his share of the estate of the deceased spouses Catalina Sales and Restituto Gozuma which had
been adjudicated to him under the judgment dated April 29, 1961 of the Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental in
Civil Case No. 4963, because Alisbo failed to file a motion for execution of the judgment in his favor within the
reglementary five-year period (Sec. 6, Rule, 39, Rules of Court). The salient provisions of the Contract for Professional
Services (Exhibit A) between Alisbo and Attorney Jalandoon were the following:

1. That respondent will decide whether or not to file a suit for the recovery of Ramon Alisbo's share or claim;
2. That respondent will shoulder all expenses of litigation; and
3. As attorney's fees, respondent will be paid fifty per cent (50%) of the value of the property recovered.

On April 18, 1970, respondent prepared a complaint for revival of the judgment in Civil Case No. 4963 but filed it only
on September 12, 1970 on five (5) months later. It was docketed as Civil Case No. 9559, entitled: "Ramon S. Alisbo,
Teotimo S. Alisbo and Pacifico S. Alisbo vs. Carlito Sales, in his own capacity and as Judicial Administrator of the

deceased Pedro Sales." The complaint was signed by respondent alone. However, no sooner had he filed the
complaint than he withdrew it and filed in its stead (on the same day and in the same case) a second complaint dated
August 31, 1970, with Ramon S. Alisbo as the lone plaintiff, praying for the same relief. Teotimo S. Alisbo and Pacifico
S. Alisbo were excluded as plaintiffs and were impleaded as defendants instead. Attorneys Bernardo B. Pablo and
Benito Jalandoon, Sr. (herein respondent) signed as counsel.

On December 8, 1971, an amended complaint was filed wherein the plaintiffs were: Ramon S. Alisbo, assisted by his
judicial guardian, Norberto S. Alisbo, and eight (8) others, namely: Pacifico S. Alisbo, Ramona Vda. de Alisbo and
Ildefonso, Evangeline, Teotimo, Jr., Reynaldo, Elizabeth and Teresita, all surnamed Alisbo. The amended complaint
was signed by Attorney Bernardo B. Pablo alone as counsel of the plaintiffs.

On August 21, 1973, defendant Carlito Sales filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint on the ground that the action for
revival of judgment in Civil Case No. 4963 had already prescribed (Exh. 21). Plaintiffs filed an Opposition to the Motion
to Dismiss (Exh. 22).

On October 3, 1973, the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental dismissed the complaint on the ground of
prescription as the judgment in Civil Case No. 4963 became final on May 30, 1961 yet, and, although a complaint for
revival of said judgment was filed by Ramon Alisbo on September 12, 1970, before the ten-year prescriptive period
expired, that complaint was null and void for Ramon Alisbo was insane, hence, incompetent and without legal
capacity to sue when he instituted the action. The subsequent filing of an Amended Complaint on December 8, 1972,
after the statutory limitation period had expired, was too late to save the plaintiffs right of action. Thereafter, nothing
more was done by any of the parties in the case.

On January 2, 1974, the complainants charged respondent Attorney Benito Jalandoon, Sr. with having deliberately
caused the dismissal of Civil Case No. 9559 and with having concealed from them the material fact that he had been
the former legal counsel of Carlito Sales, their adversary in the probate proceedings. The respondent filed a general
denial of the charges against him.

When Ramon S. Alisbo engaged the services of Attorney Jalandoon to enforce the decision in Civil Case No. 4963, that
decision was already nine (9) years old, hence, it could no longer be executed by mere motion (Sec. 6, Rule 39, Rules
of Court). Complainants had only about a year left within which to enforce the judgment by an independent action.
Ramon Alisbo was already insane or incompetent when he hired Attorney Jalandoon to file Civil Case No. 9559 for
him. Attorney Jalandoon concealed from Alisbo the fact that he (Atty. Jalandoon) had been the former counsel of
Carlito Sales in the probate proceedings where Alisbo and Sales had litigated over their shares of the inheritance.
However, according to Attorney Jalandoon, it was only on October 6, 1972, when Civil Case No. 9559 was called for
pre-trial, that he discovered his previous professional relationship with Sales. At that time, the ten-year prescriptive
period for revival of the judgment in favor of Alisbo had already expired. He thereupon asked Alisbo's permission to
allow him (Jalandoon) to withdraw from the case. He also informed the court about his untenable position and
requested that he be allowed to retire therefrom. His request was granted.

In his report to the Court, the Solicitor General made the following observations:
Evident from the foregoing is the fact that in handling the case for Ramon S. Alisbo which eventually led to its
dismissal, respondent committed several errors, among which are:
1. He did not verify the real status of Ramon Alisbo before filing the case. Otherwise, his lack of capacity to sue would
not have been at issue.
2. He postponed the motion to revive judgment and gave way instead to a motion to resolve pending incidents in Civil
Case 4963. In doing so, he frittered away precious time.
3. He dropped Ramon Alisbo's co-plaintiffs and impleaded them as defendants. Otherwise, the complaint would have
been defective only in part.

Had not respondent committed the above mistakes, Civil Case No. 9559 in all probability would not have been
dismissed on the ground of prescription. (pp. 9-10, Solicitor General's Report.)

While the Solicitor General does not believe that Attorney Jalandoon's mistakes in handling Alisbo's case were
deliberate or made with malice aforethought because there is no "proof of collusion or conspiracy between
respondent and those who would benefit from the dismissal of Civil Case No. 9559 . . . and that, on the other hand,
respondent stood to gain substantially (50% of the amount recovered) if he had succeeded in having the judgment
revived and executed" (pp. 10-11, Solicitor General's Report), still those errors are so gross and glaring that they could

not have resulted from mere negligence or lack of due care.

Attorney Jalandoon's pretense that he did not know before the pre-trial that the Sales defendants had been his
clients in the past, is unbelievable because:
1. Before he filed the complaint for revival of judgment, he had had several interviews with Ramon S. Alisbo and
Norberto Alisbo regarding Civil Case No. 4963.
2. He must have done some research on the court records of Civil Case No. 4963, so he could not have overlooked his
own participation in that case as counsel for Carlito Sales, et al.
3. To prepare the complaint for revival of judgment (Civil Case No. 9559), he had to inform himself about the personal
circumstances of the defendants-Carlito Sales, et al. The fact that they had been his clients could not have eluded

In view of his former association with the Saleses, Attorney Jalandoon, as a dutiful lawyer, should have declined the
employment proffered by Alisbo on the ground of conflict of interest. Had he done that soon enough, the Alisbos
(herein complainants) would have had enough time to engage the services of another lawyer and they would not
have lost their case through prescription of the action.
The actuations of respondent attorney violated Paragraphs 1 and 2, No. 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics which

It is the duty of a lawyer at the time of retainer to disclose to the client all the circumstances of his relations to the
parties, and any interest in or connection with the controversy, which might influence the client in the selection of

It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by express consent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts. Within the meaning of this canon, a lawyer represents conflicting interests when, in behalf of
one client, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires him to oppose. (pp. 14-15, Solicitor
General's Report.)

The impression we gather from the facts is that Attorney Jalandoon used his position as Alisbo's counsel precisely to
favor his other client, Carlito Sales, by delaying Alisbo's action to revive the judgment in his favor and thereby deprive
him of the fruits of his judgment which Attorney Jalandoon, as Sales' counsel, had vigorously opposed. Thus, although
Atty. Jalandoon prepared Alisbo's complaint for revival of judgment on April 18, 1970, he delayed its filing until
September 12, 1970. He postponed filing the action by asking the Court instead to resolve pending incidents in said
Civil Case No. 4963. By doing that, he frittered away what little time was left before the action would prescribe. The
original complaint which he filed in the names of Ramon Alisbo and his brothers was only partially defective because
of Ramon's incompetence. By dropping the other plaintiffs, leaving alone the incompetent Ramon to prosecute the
action, respondent made the second complaint wholly defective and ineffectual to stop the running of the
prescriptive period.

After filing the complaint, Attorney Jalandoon sat on the case. While he allegedly found out about Ramon Alisbo's
insanity on July 17, 1971 only, he amended the complaint to implead Alisbo's legal guardian as plaintiff on December
8, 1971 only, or almost five (5) months later. By that time the prescriptive period had run out.

The surrounding circumstances leave us with no other conclusion than that Attorney Jalandoon, betrayed his client
Ramon Alisbo's trust and did not champion his cause with that wholehearted fidelity, care and devotion that a lawyer
is obligated to give to every case that he accepts from a client. There is more than simple negligence resulting in the
extinguishment and loss of his client's right of action; there is a hint of duplicity and lack of candor in his dealings with
his client, which call for the exercise of this Court's disciplinary power.

The Honorable Solicitor General who conducted the investigation of this case found respondent Attorney Benito
Jalandoon, Sr. guilty of serious misconduct and infidelity. Although the Solicitor General recommended the
suspension of respondent Attorney Benito Jalandoon Sr. from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year, the
Court, after due deliberation, decided to suspend him for a period of two (2) years from the finality of this decision.


ALFONSO VISITACION, plaintiff-appellee,

VICTOR MANIT, substituted by his widow LEONARDA MANIT and daughters VIRGINIA DUNGOG, VICTORIA
BATUCAN and MERLINDA MANIT, defendants-appellants.
Amadeo Seno for plaintiff-appellee. Jesus P. Garcia for defendants-appellants.

Appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Cebu and certified by the Court of Appeals to this Court, since
the issues raised on appeal are all questions of law.

The Court of Appeals in its Resolution of January 17, 1967 certifying the case as falling within the exclusive
jurisdiction of this Court points out that this appeal is "unique" in the sense that the appellant purports to be not the
original defendant, Victor Manit, now deceased, nor his heirs, his widow and three daughters of age, substituted for
him upon his death, per the title of this case above, but rather his counsel of record, Atty. Jesus P. Garcia, who on
April 13, 1960, after the trial court's adverse decision, filed the Notice of Appeal and cash bond on Appeal as
"Attorney for Victor Manit deceased" and on the same date filed the Record on Appeal as "Jesus P. Garcia, in his
capacity as officer of the Court and as former counsel of the deceased." The Record on Appeal and appeal bond were
thereafter approved on April 25, 1960 by the trial court and the case forwarded on appeal to the Court of Appeals,
and in turn certified to this Court.

The case originated on January 18, 1956 when plaintiff appellee filed this case against defendant Victor Manit to
hold him liable subsidiarily as employer for the death of plaintiff's son, Delano Visitacion, as a result of injuries
sustained in a vehicular collision involving laid defendant's driver Rudolfo Giron, who was found insolvent after having
been convicted and sentenced in a previous criminal case arising out of said death, to indemnify the victim's heirs in
the amount of P3,000.00.lawphi
An Answer to the complaint was filed in due course by Atty. Garcia on behalf of defendant. On June 1, 1956, the case
was heard, without defendant or his counsel being present, and plaintiff presented his evidence and the case, was
submitted for decision. On June 6, 1956, defendant, however, filed a motion for new trial which was granted by the
trial court on June 9, 1956.

Plaintiff presented his oral and documentary evidence and was cross-examined by Atty. Garcia. The record further
shows that on March 19, 1958, Atty. Garcia commenced the presentation of evidence on behalf of defendant. He
presented defendant's wife, Leonarda Manit who testified that her husband, Victor Manit "had no business of his
own, because he is sickly" and that she was the one operating and managing their transportation business of three

On October 14, 1958, when the case was scheduled for continuation of the trial, Atty. Garcia manifested that the
original defendant, Victor Manit had recently died, and the trial court on the same date directed him to furnish
plaintiff's counsel the names of the said defendant's heirs, so that plaintiff could amend the complaint accordingly. On
August 11, 1959, plaintiff's counsel submitted a Motion to Admit the Amended Complaint attached thereto,
furnishing copy of said pleadings to Atty. Garcia, who acknowledged receipt thereof as "Attorney for the defendant."
The only amendment in the complaint consisted in impleading the widow and heirs of the deceased original
defendant in substitution for him, pursuant to Rule 3, section 17 of the Rules of Court. At the hearing of the said
motion on the same date, the trial court, after noting that there was no opposition thereto by Atty. Garcia, admitted
the Amended Complaint in its Order of August 11, 1959, wherein "(A)s prayed for by counsel for the defendants,
defendants are hereby given fifteen (15) days' time within which to file an answer to said amended complaint." No
answer to the amended complaint having been filed, the original answer stood as defendants' answer to the
amended complaint, in accordance with Rule 11, section 3 of the Rules of Court.

The case was again set for hearing on January 28, 1960 with notice to the parties through their counsels of record.
One day before the hearing, on January 27, 1960, Atty. Garcia filed a "Motion to Withdraw as Counsel", alleging that
"the heirs of Victor Manit have not hired (him) to represent them and consequently, (his) continued appearance in
representation of a dead client would be illegal" and asking the trial court "that he be relieved as counsel in the
above-entitled case for the reasons stated herein."

When the case was called on the next day, neither defendants nor Atty. Garcia appeared, and the trial court noting
"defendants' apparent lack of interest as can be gleaned from the records" considered them to have renounced their

right to appear and present evidence to contest plaintiff's claim. It did not pass upon Atty. Garcia's Motion to
Withdraw as Counsel and proceeded to render judgment in favor of plaintiff, the dispositive part of which provides as

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court pronounces judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against the
defendants; and hereby sentences the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay the plaintiff the amount of P3,000.00
as indemnity for the death of Delano Visitacion, plus P3,000.00 in concept of moral damages, and the additional sum
of P2,000.00 as attorney's fees, as well as the costs of this action.
Atty. Garcia's Motion for Reconsideration, based on the same grounds hereinafter discussed having been denied by
the trial court, he filed the present appeal, and assigns the following errors in his "Brief for Defendant-Appellant":
First Error:
Second Error:
Third Error:
He prayed therein that the appellate Court render judgment:
(a). Annulling the decision appealed from;
(b). Remanding the case to the lower court for further proceedings by serving summons on the defendants and giving
them a chance to present their evidence;
(c). Relieving the undersigned counsel from all responsibility in connection with this case in view of the death of his
client; and
(d). Granting such other and further reliefs and remedies in accordance with law and equity. (Appellants' Brief, p. 10)
We hold this "unique" appeal by the counsel of record, Atty. Jesus P. Garcia, allegedly "in his capacity as officer of
the Court and as former counsel of the deceased Victor Manit" to be untenable.

There are two fundamental errors on which Atty. Garcia's appeal is premised. First, if he presents this appeal "in his
capacity as officer of the Court and as former counsel of the deceased Victor Manit", his appeal should be thrown out,
as not being a party to the case, much less a party in interest, he has no legal standing whatsoever to prosecute this
appeal. Second, in filing his Notice of Appeal and Cash Appeal Bond, he represented himself as "Attorney for Victor
Manit, deceased", depositing the sum of P60.00 as appeal bond "to answer or respond for the costs which the
appellate court may award against the herein defendant-appellant," thus representing anew to the trial Court that
he was duly authorized to present the appeal on behalf of the estate of the original defendant, Victor Manit
deceased, who had earlier been substituted in the case by his heirs, the widow and three daughters of legal age. The
trial Court was perfectly correct in relying upon this representation in accordance with Rule 138, section 21 of the
Rules of Court which provides that "(A)n attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any case in
which he appears ...." This appeal must accordingly be dealt with as an appeal on behalf of said heirs as defendants-
appellants and not in the "unique" concept with which Atty. Garcia would circumscribe it.

1. As to the first error assigned, no error was committed by the trial court in continuing with the ease and handing
down its decision against defendants-appellants. The contention that said defendants-appellants, as substituted
parties-defendants by virtue of their being the heirs of the deceased original defendant pursuant to the trial court's
Orders of October 24, 1958 and August 11, 1959 in accordance with Rule 3, section 17 of the Rules of Court , should
have been brought within the Court's jurisdiction by summons is fallacious. For the record shows that Atty. Garcia at
the time acknowledged receipt of the Amended Complaint substituting said defendants-heirs for the deceased
original defendant as "Attorney for the defendants", presented no opposition thereto, and furthermore prayed for
and was granted by the Court a period of 15 days to file an answer to the Amended Complaint. Having been duly
impleaded and having submitted to the Court's jurisdiction through their counsel, Atty. Garcia, the issuance of a
summons was unnecessary. The other contention that "there is oven no record showing that these defendants were
at all informed that they had become parties to the above-captioned case" is equally fallacious. Nowhere in
appellants' brief is there an assertion by Atty. Garcia, that, he, as their attorney of record, and in compliance with his
duty as such and as an officer of the Court, failed or neglected to inform them of the admission of the Amended
Complaint substituting them for the deceased original defendant.

2. Appellants claim in their second assignment of error that the trial court erred in ignoring the Motion to Withdraw
as Counsel filed by Atty. Garcia. In the face of Atty. Garcia's previous representations and appearance as counsel of
record for the substituted defendants, his last hour motion to withdraw as counsel and disclaimer that said
defendants have hired him to represent them which he filed one day before the date set for resumption of the
hearing came too late and was properly ignored by the Court. The Court could not accept this turn-about on his
mere "say-so." His motion was not verified. Aside from the fact that his said motion carried no notice, in violation of
the requirement of Rule 15, section 4 of the Rules of Court, and could therefore be treated as a "mere scrap of
paper", the said motion was likewise fatally defective in that it carried no notice to his clients on record, the
defendants-appellants, as required by Rule 138, section 26 of the Rules of Court. Furthermore, it is well settled that
"(A)n attorney seeking to withdraw must make an application to the court, for the relation does not terminate
formally until there is a withdrawal of record; at least so far as the opposite party is concerned, the relation otherwise
continues until the end of the litigation." The trial court's ignoring of the last-hour motion and its handing down of
its decision on the day of the hearing, upon the failure of defendants and their counsel to appear, in spite of their
having been duly notified thereof, was in effect a denial of counsel's application for withdrawal. Atty. Garcia's
unexplained failure to appear was unexcusable. He had no right to presume that the Court would grant his
withdrawal. If he had then appeared and insisted on his withdrawal, the trial court could then have had the
opportunity to order the appearance of defendants-appellants and verify from them the truth of his assertion that
they had not "hired him to represent them."

3. The trial court, therefore, did not render a "premature judgment in an unfinished case where the defendants were
not given their day in court", as claimed in the last error assigned by appellants. As stated earlier, the record shows
that on March 19, 1958, the original defendant's widow, Leonarda Manit was placed by Atty. Garcia on the witness
stand during the deceased's lifetime and testified that her husband "has no business of his own, because he is sickly"
and that she was the one operating and managing their transportation business of three trucks since as early as 1952,
some years before the filing of the complaint on January 18, 1956. In effect, the widow, Leonarda Manit had then
submitted herself to the Court's jurisdiction, asserting as she did that she was the one operating the business and that
her husband had no business of his own. The widow and her three children of age as heirs of the deceased cannot
therefore claim ignorance of the pendency of the case, and that notwithstanding that she was the actual operator
and manager of the business, that she has been kept in complete ignorance of its subsequent developments, after her
husband's death over 10 years ago. Almost 10 years have elapsed since they were substituted in 1959 as defendants
for the deceased, and it taxes all credibility for them to claim now in their brief that "said new defendants did not
even know that they became parties in the Amended Complaint," and that all this time not the slightest effort was
made by them to find out from Atty. Garcia or from the Court for that matter what had happened to the case nor did
Atty. Garcia in compliance with his duty as an officer of the Court inform them of the decision handed down by the
Court Over 9 years ago. Having failed to appear on the day set for trial without any justifiable explanation to the Court
nor having presented an affidavit of merits as to the existence of valid and lawful defenses, they cannot now complain
of having been deprived of their day in Court.

The circumstances of the case and the appeal taken all together lead to the conclusion that the last-hour withdrawal
application of Atty. Garcia and his appeal "as officer of the Court and then counsel of the deceased" was but a device
to prolong this case and delay in the execution of the judgment, which should have been carried out years ago. The
imposition of double costs is therefore in order.

ACCORDINGLY, the judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed, with double costs to be paid by the attorney for
defendants. So ordered.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ELEGIO NADERA, JR. Y SADSAD, accused-appellant.


These cases are before us on automatic review of the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, Calapan,
Oriental Mindoro, finding accused-appellant Elegio Nadera, Jr. guilty of four counts of rape of his minor daughters,
Oleby and Maricris Nadera, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for one count of rape and
death for each of the remaining three counts. Accused-appellant was also ordered to indemnify complainants Oleby
Nadera in the amount of P150,000.00 and Maricris Nadera in the amount of P50,000.00, without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency. MENDOZAJ

Reversal of the decision is sought on the sole ground that -

The facts are as follows:
Accused-appellant Elegio Nadera, Jr. has four children by his wife Daisy, namely: Oleby, born on October 2, 1982;
Maricris, born on March 16, 1984; March Anthony, born on January 8, 1986; and Sherilyn, born on September 27,
[if !supportFootnotes][2][endif]

On September 22, 1991, Daisy left for a job in Bahrain, and came home to the Philippines for vacation only in July
1993. She then left again for Bahrain in September 1993 and did not return until September 12, 1995.

On April 28, 1996, Oleby and Maricris, assisted by a neighbor, Lita Macalalad, told their mother that they had been
raped by their father, herein accused-appellant. Thereupon, they went to the police authorities of Naujan and filed a
[if !supportFootnotes][4][endif]
complaint against accused-appellant.

After preliminary examination, on June 6, 1996, four informations charging accused-appellant with rape on various
dates were filed in the Regional Trial Court, Calapan, Oriental Mindoro

[if !supportFootnotes][5][endif]
In Criminal Case No. C-4982, the information
That on or about the 17th day of May, 1992, at around 10:00 o'clock in the evening, at Barangay Bayani, Municipality
of Naujan, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, motivated by lust and lewd design, and by
means of force and intimidation, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously did lie and succeeded
in having carnal knowledge with his daughter, OLEBY NADERA, nine (9) years of age at that
time against the latter's will and consent.

[if !supportFootnotes][6][endif]
In Criminal Case No. C-4983, the information
charged -
That on or about the 17th day of April, 1995 at Barangay Bayani, Municipality of Naujan, Province of Oriental
Mindoro, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, motivated by lust and lewd design, and by means of force and intimidation,
wilfully, and unlawfully and feloniously did lie and succeeded in having carnal knowledge
with his daughter, OLEBY NADERA, twelve (12) years of age at that time against the latter's
will and consent.

[if !supportFootnotes][7][endif]
In Criminal Case No. C-4984, the information
That on or about the 24th day of April, 1995, sometime in the evening, at Barangay Bayani, Municipality of Naujan,
Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, motivated by lust and lewd design, and by means of force
and intimidation, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously did lie and succeeded in having carnal
knowledge with his daughter, OLEBY NADERA, twelve (12) years of age at that time against
the latter's will and consent.

[if !supportFootnotes][8][endif]

In Criminal Case No. C-4985, the information

recited -
That on or about the 3rd day of March 1996 at around 8:00 o'clock in the evening, at Barangay Bayani, Municipality of
Naujan, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, motivated by lust and lewd design, and by
means of force and intimidation, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously did lie and succeeded
in having carnal knowledge with his daughter, MARICRIS NADERA, eleven (11) years of age
against the latter's will and consent.

The record shows that at his arraignment on July 23, 1996, accused-appellant, assisted by Atty. Manolo A. Brotonel of
[if !supportFootnotes][9][endif]
the Public Attorney's Office, pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him.
However, on
August 5, 1997, after the prosecution had presented Dr. Cynthia S. Fesalbon, accused-appellant pleaded guilty to the
crime charged in all the informations.

The prosecution presented four witnesses, namely: Dr. Cynthia Fesalbon, Oleby Nadera, Maricris Nadera, and Daisy
Dr. Cynthia S. Fesalbon, Medical Officer IV of the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Hospital, who conducted the medical
examination of both complainants, submitted a report on the result of Oleby Nadera's examination as follows:

- No sign of external physical injuries as of time of examination. - Breast developed - Abdomen: flat, soft non-tender.
- Minimal pubic hair - Healed incomplete hymenal lacerations at 5, 7, 12 o'clock positions. - No bleeding.
Vagina admits 2 fingers with ease. - Cervix small, firm, close non-tender (-) bleeding. - Uterus not enlarged. -
Adnexae negative

- Smear for the presence of spermatozoa revealed positive result.
She testified that the hymenal lacerations may have been caused by the insertion of a hard object, the patient's
history of genitalic insertions, a straddle injury, or sitting on hard wood. She could not determine when these
[if !supportFootnotes][11][endif]
lacerations were sustained because they had healed over a period beyond seven days.

[if !supportFootnotes][12][endif]
Dr. Fesalbon likewise rendered a report
on the medical examination of Maricris Nadera, the
pertinent parts of which state:

- No sign of external physical injuries as of time of examination. - Abdomen, flat, soft.
- Absence of pubic hair healed hymenal lacerations, incomplete at 1, 5, 8, 11 o'clock positions.
Vagina admits 1 finger with ease. - Cervix small (-) bleeding - Uterus not enlarged. -Adnexae (-).

- Smear for the presence of spermatozoa revealed Negative result.
In the case of Maricris Nadera, Dr. Fesalbon explained that the hymenal lacerations could have been caused by
penetration such as through instrumentation or insertion of an object inside the vagina. They could also have been
caused by the penetration of the penis. Upon inquiry from the court, Dr. Fesalbon stated that the fact that Maricris
had more hymenal lacerations than Oleby could be due to the difference in the impact of penetration. She added that
the number of times each of the girls had sexual intercourse could not be ascertained merely from the hymenal
[if !supportFootnotes][13][endif]
lacerations, although it could be concluded that an object had been inserted in the vagina.

Oleby Nadera testified about the rapes committed by her father against her as follows:
On May 17, 1992, at around 10 o'clock in the evening, while Daisy was away working as a domestic helper in Bahrain,
accused- appellant pulled Oleby, then nine years of age, towards a bed, removed her panties and shorts and ordered
her to keep quiet. He then placed himself on top of her and inserted his penis into her vagina. He proceeded to make
an up and down motion while on top of his daughter. All the while, Oleby was crying, pleading with her father,

"Huwag po!", "Huwag po!" Accused-appellant again ordered Oleby to keep quiet lest her brother and sisters were
awakened. Afterwards, accused-appellant told Oleby to put on her panties and shorts and to go to sleep. Oleby went
to the bed where her brother and sisters were sleeping and cried.

On another occasion, on April 17, 1995, accused-appellant sent Sherilyn and Maricris to the sari-sari store while he
asked March Anthony to gather firewood. While Oleby was left alone inside their house in Barangay Bayani, Naujan,
Oriental Mindoro, accused-appellant again raped her. Oleby was 12 years old at that time. Accused-appellant closed
the door and windows, removed Oleby's panties and shorts and sat down. While sitting down, accused-appellant
placed Oleby's legs on his thighs and inserted his penis into her vagina. Later on, he told Oleby to put on her panties
and shorts and told her to fetch her brother and sisters.

Oleby was raped by her father for the third time on April 24, 1995. That evening, she woke up to find her father on
top of her, taking off her shorts and panties and inserting his penis into her vagina. As her father was taking off her
clothes, Oleby cried and pleaded, "Huwag po! Huwag po!" Instead of desisting, accused-appellant told her to keep
quiet so as not to awaken her brother and sisters, and threatened her with harm if she made any noise. Accused-
[if !supportFootnotes][14][endif]
appellant then made a pumping motion, consummating the sexual act with his daughter.

After Oleby's direct examination had been finished, Atty. Brotonel, accused-appellant's counsel, did not conduct any
[if !supportFootnotes][15][endif]
cross examination on the ground that he was convinced Oleby was telling the truth.

On that same day, Maricris also testified. She related how she was raped by her father on March 3, 1996, the year
before, when she was 11 years old. At about eight o'clock in the evening of said date, while her brother and sisters
were sleeping, she was pulled by her father towards his bed and told to lie down. Accused-appellant then placed
himself on top of Maricris and inserted his penis into her vagina. Maricris pleaded "Papa, huwag po, maawa naman
kayo sa amin." Ignoring his daughter's pleas, accused-appellant continued raping her by making a pumping motion
and threatened to kill all of them if she cried. Accused-appellant afterwards asked Maricris to put on her shorts and
panties and return to bed. He told Maricris not to cry so as not to awaken her siblings. She did not tell anyone what
befell her because she was afraid. A neighbor, named Lita Macalalad, asked her if Oleby had been raped by their
father. It turned out Oleby had told her ordeal to Lita Macalalad while they were washing clothes and talking about
Oleby's parents. Oleby also told Lita Macalalad that Maricris had been raped by their father as well, a fact related to
[if !supportFootnotes][16][endif]
Oleby by Maricris.

Daisy Nadera, accused-appellant's wife, also testified for the prosecution. Her testimony focused on the dates of
births of her children and the fact that she was out of the country when the alleged rapes occurred. She testified that
she and her daughters filed a complaint for rape against accused-appellant after discovering his hideous acts.
[if !supportFootnotes][17][endif]
Thereafter, her children were subjected to a medical examination.

On August 12, 1997, the prosecution formally offered its documentary evidence and rested its case thereafter.
Accused-appellant did not present any evidence in his defense.

On August 27, 1997, the trial court rendered judgment finding accused-appellant guilty of four counts of rape against
[if !supportFootnotes][18][endif]
his daughters. The dispositive portion of its decision

ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds accused Elegio Nadera, Jr., guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as principal, of the crime
of Rape [4 counts] with the qualifying circumstance that the victims are under 18 years of
age and the offender is a parent. He is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion
Perpetua ranging from 20 years and 1 day to 40 years for the rape committed on May 17,
1992 and three DEATH PENALTIES for the rape committed on April 17 and 24, 1995 and
March 3, 1996, together with the accessory penalties provided by law. He is also ordered to
indemnify victim Oleby Nadera the total amount of P150,000.00 in Criminal Case Nos. C-
4982, C-4983 and C-4984 and Maricris Nadera, the amount of P50,000.00 in Criminal Case
No. C-4985, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.


As already stated, accused-appellant's lone assignment of error is that the trial court accepted his plea of guilty to a
capital offense without making a searching inquiry to determine whether he understood the consequences of his
plea. In support of his contention, accused-appellant invokes the ruling in the case of People v. Dayot
in which this Court ruled that, in criminal cases, the judge must be convinced that the accused, in

pleading guilty, is truly guilty. This could be done by requiring him to narrate the events leading to the crime, making
him reenact it, or asking him to supply missing details. The judge must satisfy himself that: (1) the accused is
voluntarily pleading guilty, and (2) he is truly guilty and there is a rational basis for a finding of guilt based on his

We find merit in accused-appellant's allegations. In addition, we find that there was inadequate representation of his
case in court, thus necessitating the remand of this case for further proceedings.

Rule 116 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:
SEC. 3. Plea of guilty to capital offense; reception of evidence.- When the accused pleads guilty to a capital offense,
the court shall conduct a searching inquiry into the voluntariness
and full comprehension of the consequences of his plea and
require the prosecution to prove his guilt and the precise degree
of culpability. The accused may also present evidence on his

Under this Rule, three things are enjoined upon the trial court when a plea of guilty to a capital offense is entered: (1)
the court must conduct a searching inquiry into the voluntariness of the plea and the accused's full comprehension of
the consequences thereof; (2) the court must require the prosecution to present evidence to prove the guilt of the
accused and the precise degree of his culpability; and, (3) the court must ask the accused if he desires to present
[if !supportFootnotes][20][endif]
evidence on his behalf and allow him to do so if he desires.

[if !supportFootnotes][21][endif]
What constitutes a searching inquiry, as explained in People v. Alicando,
is that the plea of guilt
must be based on a free and informed judgment. Hence, a searching inquiry must focus on: (1) the voluntariness of
the plea, and (2) the full comprehension of the consequences of the plea.

In the case at bar, the record does not show what exactly transpired at the re-arraignment of accused-appellant, for
what reason he changed his plea from "not guilty" to "guilty," and whether he fully understood the consequences of
his guilty plea. The only indication in the record that accused-appellant changed his plea to guilty is the Certificates of
[if !supportFootnotes][22][endif]
Re- Arraignment, dated August 5, 1997, in Criminal Case Nos. C-4982 to C-4985.
On what
exactly accused-appellant said in entering his plea of guilty and what exactly he had been told by the trial judge, the
records shed no light. There is thus no evidence to show that accused-appellant's guilty plea was voluntarily made or
that he had fully understood the consequences of such plea.

In its decision, the trial court described the manner in which the accused pleaded guilty, thus:
Upon arraignment, accused, assisted by Atty. Manolo A. Brotonel of the Public Attorney's Office, pleaded not guilty to
the crime charged. However, on August 5, 1997, when these cases were called for pre-trial
and trial, counsel for the accused manifested that the accused, realizing the futility of
entering into trial and considering that he actually committed the acts complained of,
intimated his intention to enter a plea of guilty to the above- mentioned charges. The
accused was then asked by this Court if he was aware of the consequences of a plea of
guilty to a capital offense: that for the rape he committed on May 17, 1992 against his
daughter, Oleby Nadera, who was 9 years old at the time, he would be sentenced to
reclusion perpetua and for the three other counts of rape committed on April 17 and 24,
1995 [both against Oleby Nadera] and on March 3, 1996 [against Maricris Nadera, 11 years
old at the time], he would be sentenced to death by lethal injection. After having been
informed of this, he insisted that he is willing to enter a plea of guilty to the crimes charged
[if !supportFootnotes][23][endif]
and is ready to face the consequences thereof.

The warnings given by the trial court in this case fall short of the requirement that it must make a searching inquiry to
determine whether accused-appellant understood fully the import of his guilty plea. As has been said, a mere warning
[if !supportFootnotes][24][endif]
that the accused faces the supreme penalty of death is insufficient.
For more often than not, an
accused pleads guilty upon bad advice or because he hopes for a lenient treatment or a lighter penalty. The trial judge
[if !supportFootnotes][25][endif]
must erase such mistaken impressions.
He must be completely convinced that the guilty plea
made by the accused was not made under duress or promise of reward. The judge must ask the accused the manner
the latter was arrested or detained, and whether he was assisted by counsel during the custodial and preliminary
investigations. In addition, the defense counsel should also be asked whether he conferred with the accused and

completely explained to him the meaning and the consequences of a plea of guilt. Furthermore, since the age,
educational attainment and socio-economic status of the accused may reveal insights for a proper verdict in the case,
[if !supportFootnotes][26][endif]
the trial court must ask questions concerning them.
In this case, absent any showing that these
questions were put to accused-appellant, a searching inquiry cannot be said to have been undertaken by the trial

What the trial court did in this case, as described in its decision, is similar to what happened in People v. Sevilleno.
In that case, the accused was charged with the rape and homicide of a nine-year old girl. The
accused pleaded guilty whereupon the judge asked him questions: (1) Do you understand your plea of guilt? and (2)
Do you know that your plea of guilt could bring the death penalty? This Court held that these questions did not
constitute a searching inquiry.

. . . In every case where the accused enters a plea of guilty to a capital offense, especially where he is an ignorant
person with little or no education, the proper and prudent course to follow is to take such
evidence as are available and necessary in support of the material allegations of the
information, including the aggravating circumstances therein enumerated, not only to
satisfy the trial judge himself but also to aid the Supreme Court in determining whether the
accused really and truly understood and comprehended the meaning, full significance and
[if !supportFootnotes][28][endif]
consequences of his plea.

Clearly, the plea of guilty of accused-appellant in this case was made improvidently.

Convictions based on an improvident plea of guilt are set aside only if such plea is the sole basis of the judgment. If
the trial court relied on sufficient and credible evidence to convict the accused, the conviction must be sustained,
because then it is predicated not merely on the guilty plea of the accused but on evidence proving his commission of
[if !supportFootnotes][29][endif]
the offense charged.

As already stated, the prosecution evidence consisted of the testimonies of Oleby and Maricris Nadera, the results of
their medical examinations, and the testimonies of their mother, Daisy, and the physician who conducted the medical
examination of the two girls, Dr. Cynthia Fesalbon. Certain circumstances present in this case, however, persuade us
that a remand of this case is necessary.
First. A perusal of the decision of the court reveals that the trial judge failed to state the factual and legal reasons on
which he based accused-appellant's conviction. Except for the narration of the prosecution's evidence and a bare
recital of R.A. No.7659, amending Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, there is nothing else to indicate the reason for
the decision. There is no evaluation of the evidence and no reason given why the court found the testimonies of the
witnesses credible. Rule 120 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:
Sec. 2. Form and contents of judgment.- The judgment must be written in the official language, personally and directly
prepared by the judge and signed by him and shall contain clearly and distinctly a
statement of the facts proved or admitted by the accused and the law upon which the
judgment is based.
If it is of conviction, the judgment shall state (a) the legal qualification of the offense constituted by the acts
committed by the accused, and the aggravating or mitigating circumstances attending the
commission thereof, if there be any; (b) participation of the accused in the commission of
the offense, whether as principal, accomplice, or accessory after the fact; (c) the penalty
imposed upon the accused; and (d) the civil liability or damages caused by the wrongful act
to be recovered from the accused by the offended party, if there be any, unless the
enforcement of the civil liability by a separate action has been reserved or waived.
In case of acquittal, unless there is a clear showing that the act from which the civil liability might arise did not exist,
the judgment shall make a finding on the civil liability of the accused in favor of the
offended party.
[if !supportFootnotes][30][endif]
In People v. Bugarin,
we stated:
The requirement that the decisions of courts must be in writing and that they must set forth clearly and distinctly the
facts and the law on which they are based serves many functions. It is intended, among
other things, to inform the parties of the reason or reasons for the decision so that if any of
them appeals, he can point out to the appellate court the finding of facts or the rulings on
points of law with which he disagrees. More than that, the requirement is an assurance to
the parties that, in reaching judgment, the judge did so through the processes of legal
reasoning. It is, thus, a safeguard against the impetuosity of the judge, preventing him from

deciding by ipse dixit. Vouchsafed neither the sword nor the purse by the Constitution but
nonetheless vested with the sovereign prerogative of passing judgment on the life, liberty
or property of his fellowmen, the judge must ultimately depend on the power of reason for
sustained public confidence in the justness of his decision. The decision of the trial court in
this case disrespects the judicial function.
Second. The cavalier attitude of accused-appellant's counsel, Atty. Manolo A. Brotonel of the Public Attorney's Office,
cannot go unnoticed. It is discernible in (a) his refusal to cross examine Oleby Nadera; (b) the manner in which he
conducted Maricris Nadera's cross examination; and, (c) his failure not only to present evidence for the accused but
also to inform the accused of his right to do so, if he desires.
Only faithful performance by counsel of his duty towards his client can give meaning and substance to the accused's
right to due process and to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Hence, a lawyer's duty, especially that of a
defense counsel, must not be taken lightly. It must be performed with all the zeal and vigor at his command to
protect and safeguard the accused's fundamental rights.
[if !supportFootnotes][31][endif]
In the case of People vs. Bermas,
no less than three PAO lawyers were found by the Court to
have failed in performing their duties to their client, an accused charged with raping his daughter. The first lawyer
inexplicably waived the cross examination of the private complainant and later asked to be relieved of her duties as
counsel de oficio. A second lawyer appointed by the court missed several hearings during the trial and could no longer
be located. The third PAO lawyer appointed by the trial court accepted his duties reluctantly and later ceased to
appear for the accused. This Court held that:
The right to counsel must be more than just the presence of a lawyer in the courtroom or the mere propounding of
standard questions and objections. The right to counsel means that the accused is amply
accorded legal assistance extended by a counsel who commits himself to the cause for the
defense and acts accordingly. The right assumes an active involvement by the lawyer in the
proceedings, particularly at the trial of the case, his bearing constantly in mind of the basic
rights of the accused, his being well-versed on the case and his knowing the fundamental
procedures, essential laws and existing jurisprudence. The right of an accused to counsel
finds substance in the performance by the lawyer of his sworn duty of fidelity to his client.
Tersely put, it means an efficient and truly decisive legal assistance and not a simple
perfunctory representation.
Measured by this standard, the defense counsels conduct in this case falls short of the quality of advocacy demanded
of him, considering the gravity of the offense charged and the finality of the penalty. A glaring example of his manifest
lack of enthusiasm for his client's cause is his decision not to cross examine Oleby Nadera, as revealed in the following
portion of the records:
.......Any cross?
.......If Your Honor please, we are not conducting any cross-examination, because this representation, from the
[if !supportFootnotes][32][endif]
demeanor of the witness, I am convinced that she is telling the truth.

It may be so that defense counsel personally found Oleby's testimony to be believable. Nonetheless, he had the
bounden duty to scrutinize private complainant's testimony to ensure that the accused's constitutional right to
confront and examine the witnesses against him was not rendered for naught.
It bears pointing out that in rape cases, it is often the word of the complainant against that of the accused, the two
being the only persons present during the commission of the offense. While the lone testimony of the victim is
sufficient to convict the accused, such testimony must be clear, positive, convincing and consistent with human
nature and the normal course of things. Complainant's testimony cannot be accepted with precipitate credulity
[if !supportFootnotes][33][endif]
without denying the accused's constitutional right to be presumed innocent.
This is where cross
examination becomes essential to test the credibility of the witnesses, expose falsehoods or half-truths, uncover the
truth which rehearsed direct examination testimonies may successfully suppress, and demonstrate inconsistencies in
substantial matters which create reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused and thus to give substance to the
constitutional right of the accused to confront the witnesses against him. For unless proven otherwise to be guilty
[if !supportFootnotes][34][endif]
beyond all reasonable doubt, the accused is presumed to be innocent.

Indeed, cross examining Oleby Nadera becomes indispensable if her testimony is viewed together with the results of
her medical examination. Oleby Nadera claimed that she was last raped by her father on April 24, 1995.
[if !supportFootnotes][36][endif]
Yet, the medical examination conducted on her on April 30, 1996
the presence of spermatozoa in the vaginal canal on that date. This was a year after the last rape allegedly committed
by her father. This evident discrepancy leads to only one natural conclusion: Oleby engaged in sexual intercourse a
few days before she was examined. This raises a number of questions that bear upon the credibility of Oleby as a
witness and upon the guilt of accused- appellant. This may not necessarily mean that she was lying when she said that

on April 24, 1995 she had been raped by accused-appellant, but it does indicate a necessity-that of cross examining
her in order to ferret out the truth.
The same may be said of defense counsel's treatment of Maricris' testimony. While she was cross examined by
defense counsel, the examination was at best a half-hearted attempt to comply with a lawyer's obligation, lacking the
rigor and zeal required considering that a man's life is at stake. The cross examination centered on what Maricris did
or did not do while she witnessed her sister being raped, and on her failure to report the allegedly incestuous rapes
against them. Said cross examination did not even touch upon the specific details concerning the rape committed
against her. Containing lurid details as it may be, it was nonetheless important to probe Maricris' testimony,
especially since it was substantially similar to the first incident of rape narrated by her sister, and thus raised the
possibility that it was a rehearsed, if not concocted, story.
Lastly, not only did defense counsel fail to object to the documentary evidence presented by the prosecution,
according to the trial court's decision, he even expressed his conformity to the admission of the same. Neither did he
[if !supportFootnotes][37][endif]
present any evidence on behalf of accused-appellant.
Worse, nowhere in the records is it shown
that accused-appellant was informed, either by his counsel or by the court, of his right to present evidence, if he so
Atty. Brotonel, as counsel de oficio, had the duty to defend his client and protect his rights, no matter how guilty or
evil he perceives accused-appellant to be. The performance of this duty was all the more imperative because the life
of accused-appellant hangs in the balance. His duty was no less because he was counsel de oficio.
In view of the foregoing, we find it necessary to remand the case for the proper arraignment and trial of the accused,
considering not only the accused's improvident plea of guilt but also his lawyer's neglect in representing his cause. A
new trial has been ordered in criminal cases on the ground of retraction of witnesses, negligence or incompetency of
counsel, improvident plea of guilty, disqualification of an attorney de oficio to represent the accused in the trial court,
and where a judgment was rendered on a stipulation of facts entered into by both the prosecution and the defense.

WHEREFORE, the decision, dated April 27, 1997, of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, is
hereby SET ASIDE and Criminal Case Nos. C-4982, C-4983, C-4984 and C-4985 are REMANDED to it for further
proceedings in accordance with this decision. The trial court is enjoined to conduct the proper trial of accused-
appellant with all deliberate speed upon receipt of the records of the cases.
SO ORDERED.2/28/00 9:29 AM

Angeles v. Uy
Judge Angeles of the RTC of Caloocan City charged Atty. Thomas Uy with violation of Canon 16 of the CPR.
Complainant states that respondents acts also rendered him administratively liable .
In a different case, a certain Norma Trajano alleged that she paid 20k to private complainant and the balance of
16.5k was delivered to Atty. Uy, the lawyer of private complainant in the different case.
Complainant Del Rosario manifested that she did not receive the 16.5k pesos paid to Atty. Uy.
Uy however argued that his client did not like to accept the money. But such an assertion was belied when Del
Rosario manifested her willingness to accept the money.
Uy alleged that the amount was safely in his office in the same building. As such, the proceedings were
suspended in order for Uy to get the money from his office. Yet, Uy never returned hence the administrative
case against him.
In his comment, Uy contends that he kept the money in his office because it was the wish of his client. He
allegedly informed them of such money and tried to give it to them but they insisted that he retain it in order for
them to not spend it.
The Office of the Bar Confidant recommended that Uy be suspended for one month. It was decided that the
complainants side of the story had more merit.

Issue: WON Uy is guilty of violating Canon 16 of the CPR

The Court agreed with the Office of the Bar Confidant.
The relationship between a lawyer and a client is highly fiduciary. It requires a high degree of fidelity and good
faith. It is designed to remove all such temptation and to prevent everything of that kind from being done for the
protection of the client.
Canon 16 of the CPR provides that a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may
come into his possession.
Furthermore, Rule 16.01 states that a lawyer shall account for al the money or property collected or received
for or from the client.
Respondent failed to promptly report and account for the 16.5k he had received from Trajano on behalf of his
If it were true that Del Rosario was informed about the payment and that she entrusted it to Uy, she would have
known his whereabouts. That she did not know it showed falsity of the claim.
In Aya v. Bigornia, the Court ruled that money collected by a lawyer in favor of his clients must be immediately
turned over to them.
In Daroy v. Legaspi, the Court held that lawyers are bound to promptly account for money or property
received by them on behalf of their clients and failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct.
Verily, the question is not necessarily whether the rights of the clients have been prejudiced, but whether the
lawyer has adhered to the ethical standards of the bar.
In this light, the Court must stress that it has the duty to look into dealings between attorneys and their clients
and to guard the latter from any undue consequences resulting from a situation in which they may stand
In the present case, the records merely show that respondent did not promptly report that he received money
on behalf of his client. There is no clear evidence of misappropriation. Under the circumstances, Atty. Uy should
be suspended for only one month.

Cruz v. Jacinto
Spouses Fernando Cruz and Amelia Cruz seek the disbarment of Atty. Ernesto Jacinto.
Atty. Jacinto, lawyer of the couple in an unrelated case requested the Cruz spouses for a loan in behalf of a
certain Conceptiopn Padilla who he claimed to be an old friend.
The spouses authorized him to start preparing all the documents relative to the registration of the Real Estate
Mortgate to secure the loan.
The complainants agreed to the request and were presented by a Real Estate Mortgage Contract and a TCT in
the name of Padilla.
Upon maturity of the loan, the spouses demanded payment from Padilla by going to the address. However, no
such person was living in the address. Furthermore, the TCT presented to them was verified as a fake title by
the Register of Deeds.
The evidence of the complainants included the statement of Atty. Jacintos housemaid and Estrella Palipada, the
secretary of the office of Atty. Jacinto. Palipada stated that she was instructed by Jacinto to notarize the said
contract by signing the name of one Atty. Ricardo Neri.
A case for estafa was filed against Jacinto.
Jacinto alleged that the criminal information filed against him had already been dismissed because of the
voluntary desistance of the complainants.
He further averred that he had no idea that the Certificate of Title used to obtain the loan was a fake one.
IBP recommends that Jacinto be suspended for six months. It is the lawyers sworn duty to obey the laws of the
land to promote respect for law and legal processes (Canon 1).
Respondent still averred that the complainants have no cause of action against him as the same has been waved
on account of the desistance and quitclaim they executed.

Issue: WON complaint should prosper

The Court adopted the recommendation of the IBP.
The assertion of respondent must fail. The practice of law is so intimately affected with public interest that it is
both a right and a duty of the state to control and regulate it in order to promote the public welfare.
A lawyer may be disciplined or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity,
which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, in probity and good demeanor, thus rendering
unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.
As a rule, a lawyer is not barred from dealing with his client but the business transaction must be characterized
with utmost honesty and good faith.
Business transactions between an attorney and his client are disfavored and discouraged by the policy of the
law. Hence, courts carefully watch these transactions to be sure that no advantage is taken by a lawyer over his
Respondent utterly failed to perform his duties and responsibilities faithfully and well as to protect the rights
and interests of his clients and by his deceitful actuations constituting violations of the CPR must be subjected to
disciplinary measures for his own good, as well as for the good of the entire membership of the Bar as a whole.
Wherefore, Jacinto was suspended for six months.

Diaz v. Kapunan

Vicente Diaz and Secundino de Mendezona formed a business partnership. The business failed to prosper and
suffered losses. They formulated a document of sale and mortgage in which Mendezona recognized a debt in
favor of Diaz in the sum of 90k laid upon Mendezonas hacienda.
Later on, Mendezona was nowhere to be found and his family was unable to meet the payment. Thus, the
hacienda was offered for sale at public auction.
Diazs lawyer, Atty. Kapunan told the deputy sheriff of Leyte that he was ready to bid on the property up to 16k
in order to assist the Mendezona family.
Later, Diaz and Kapunan entered into an agreement wherein Kapunan should withdraw his bid and refrain from
bidding in consideration of 1,000 pesos from Diaz.
Following the termination of the sheriffs sale, Diaz pressed charges against Kapunan for alleged unprofessional
It was found that Kapunan was also the lawyer of the Mendezona family and was given extensive authority.
When Kapunan took part in the sale, it must be assumed that he was bidding in representation of his clients and
not for the benefit of his clients.
Three charges were considered against Kapunan. The first two were related to Kapunans attempt to represent
both the parties in the case and to molest and disturb Diaz by frviolous motions. The third charge has to do with
Kapunan having intervened in the manner in which he did in the sale of the property of his client Mendezona.
The Atty-General is of the opinion that the facts constitute a flagrant violation of the provisions of article 1459 of
the Civil Code and article 542 of the Penal Code.

Issue: WON Kapunan is guilty of such violations.

Article 1459 of the Civil Code provides that the following persons, naming them, cannot take by purchase,
even at a public or judicial auction, either in person or through the mediation of another. The provision
contained in the last paragraph of said article is made to include lawyers.
The Court does not believe this article has been infringed by the respondent because he has not purchased
property at a public or judicial auction and because his participation was in representation of his client.
In article 542 of the Penal Code, it punishes any person who shall solicit any gift or promise as a consideration
for agreeing to refrain from taking party in any public auction.
The agreement of both parties wherein Diaz pays Kapunan the sum of 1,000 pesos to withdraw from the sale is
exactly the situation covered by article 542 of the Penal Code.
Execution sales should be open to free and full competition in order to secure the maximum benefit of the
The Court concluded that Atty. Kapunan has been guilty of a technical violation of art. 542 of the Penal Code.
However, since the complainant is equally guilty with the responded Kapunan and the latter was found to be
acting in good faith, Kapunan shall only be reprimanded.

Gonato v. Adaza

An administrative case filed by complainant against their former counsel Atty. Adaza charging him with
malpractice and violation of trust.
Complainants engaged the services of respondent as their counsel for a separate case wherein complainants
allege that respondent demanded from them the amount of 15,980 pesos to be used in paying the docket fee
and other court fees.
Thereafter, complainant asked for the official receipts. The complainants were told that respondent only gave
photocopies of the RP receipts.
Complainants personally went to respondents law office to demand the original copies but to no avail. This
prompted the complainants to verify the authenticity of the receipts with the Clerk of Court and it was
discovered that the photocopies of the receipts did not reflect the same amount on the original copies.
Respondent admits that he received the said amount and intended it to cover the expenses necessary for the
case to prosper. However, after careful study, he appropriated the said sum to his acceptance and appearance
The IBP recommended the suspension of responded for 3 months. IBP found sufficient evidence that there were
no such filing fees which were due when respondent asked complainants for the amount of 15,980 pesos.

Issue: WON respondent is guilty of malpractice

The Court agrees with the IBP.
Respondents act of asking for an exorbitant amount on the pretext that it was needed for the payment of court
fees constitutes malpractice which is a serious breach of professional duty towards complainants.
Respondent expressly admitted having received the money, but he persistently refused to return it despite
repeated demands. This conduct is clearly indicative of lack of integrity and moral soundness as he was clinging
to something which was not his and to which he absolutely had no right.
Respondents shallow excuse that he applied said money to his fees is merely an afterthought and cannot justify
his refusal to return the same as this was made withouot the acquiescence of the complainants.
It is settle that the conversion by a lawyer of funds entrusted to him is a gross violation of professional ethics
and a betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession.
Canon 7 of the CPR mandates that a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession. The trust and confidence necessarily reposed by clients require in the lawyer a high standard and
appreciation of his duty to them.
To this end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any
degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the profession.
The facts and evidence obtaining in this case glaringly reveal respondents failure to live up to his duties as a
lawyer in consonance with the strictures of his oath and the CPR particularly Canon 16 which provides that a
lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession.
As a member of the Bar, respondent was and is expected to always live up to the standards embodied in said
Code particularly Canons 15, 16, 17, and 20 for the relationship between an attorney and his client is highly
fiduciary in nature and demands utmost fidelity and good faith.
Wherefore, Atty. Adaza is suspended for a period of six months.

Celaje v. Soriano

A disbarment case filed against Atty. Soriano for gross misconduct.
Andrea Celaje alleged that respondent asked for money to be put up as an injunction bond, which complainant
found out later, however, to be unnecessary as the application for the writ was denied by the trial court.
Respondent also asked for money on several occasions allegedly to spend for or to be given to the judge
handling the case.
When complainant approached the judge and asked whether what respondent was saying was true, the judge
denied them and advised her to file an administrative case.
IBP found respondent guilty of gross misconduct in his relations with his client and recommended that he be
suspended for three years.
Complainant alleged that she remitted to respondent amounts of money totalling to more or less 270k but were
not in writing.
There is no ill-motive at all on the part of complainant to fabricate charges against respondent. Unfortunately,
none of the 270k was ever documented and therefore accuracy of the amounts could not be established and
However, it was found that an amount of 5,800 from the 14,800 intended for the injunction bond remains
unaccounted for.
Complainant reiterated her accusations against respondent and expressed that she had been aggrieved and
misled by respondent. According to complainant, this was made possible because she was not aware of or
knowledgeable on legal matters and practices.

Issue: WON respondent is guilty of malpractice

The Court resolved to adopt the recommendation.
The CPR (Canon 16) mandates that a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may
come into his possession. He sahll account for all money or property collected or received from his client and
shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand.
It was established that respondent could not account for the 5,800 pesos which was supposed to be part of the
sum for the injunction bond.
Respondents failure to return the money to complainant upon demand gave rise to the presumption that he
misappropriated it for his own use to the prejudice of, and in violation of the trust reposed in him by his client.
As the Court pronounced, when a lawyer receives money from the client for a particular purpose, the lawyer is
bound to render an accounting to the client showing that the money was spent for a particular purpose.
Membership in the legal profession is a privilege. The attorney-client relationship is highly fiduciary in nature.
As such, it requires utmost good faith, loyalty, fidelity, and disinterestedness on the part of the lawyer.
In Small v. Banares, the respondent was suspended for two years for violating Canon 16 of the CPR. Considering
the similar circumstances, the respondent in this case was suspended for two years.

Penticostes v. Ibanez
Encarnacion Pascual, sister in law of Atty. Penticostes was sued for non-remittance of SSS payments.
Pascual gave 1,804 pesos to respondent as payment of her SSS contribution in arears. Respondent however did
not remit the amount in the system.
Complainant filed with RTC for professional misconduct against Ibanez due to the latters failure to remit the
SSS contributions and was a violation of his oath as a lawyer.
Respondent then paid the amount to the SSS in behalf of Pascual. He then claims that the action was moot and
academic as the amount was already paid. The IBP recommended that respondent be reprimanded.

Court adopts recommendation.
While there is no doubt that the payment was made, it is clear that such payment was only made after a
complaint had been filed.
The Court has repeatedly admonished lawyers that a high sense of morality, honesty and fair dealing is
expected and required of a member of the bar. Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that
[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
It is glaringly clear that respondents non-remittance for over one year of the funds coming from Encarnacion
Pascual constitutes conduct in gross violation of the above canon
The belated payment of the same to the SSS does not excuse his misconduct. While Pascual may not strictly be
considered a client of respondent, the rules relating to a lawyers handling of funds of a client is applicable.
In Daroy v. Legaspi,[1] this court held that (t)he relation between an attorney and his client is highly fiduciary
in nature...[thus] lawyers are bound to promptly account for money or property received by them on behalf of
their clients and failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct.
The failure of respondent to immediately remit the amount to the SSS gives rise to the presumption that he has
misappropriated it for his own use. This is a gross violation of general morality as well as professional ethics; it
impairs public confidence in the legal profession and deserves punishment.
o Respondents claim that he may not be held liable because he committed such acts, not in his capacity as a
private lawyer, but as a prosecutor is unavailing. Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
These canons shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official tasks.
o As stated by the IBP Committee that drafted the Code, a lawyer does not shed his professional obligations
upon assuming public office. In fact, his public office should make him more sensitive to his professional
obligations because a lawyers disreputable conduct is more likely to be magnified in the publics eye.
ACCORDINGLY, this Court REPRIMANDS respondent

Rubias v. Batiller
Before the war with Japan, Francisco Militante filed an application for registration of the parcel of land in
After the war, the petition was heard and denied. Pending appeal, Militante sold the land to petitioner, his son-
Plaintiff filed an action for forcible entry against respondent.
Defendant claims the complaint of the plaintiff does not state a cause of action, the truth of the matter being that
he and his predecessors-in-interest have always been in actual, open and continuous possession since time
immemorial under claim of ownership of the portions of the lot in question.

Issue: Whether or not the contract of sale between appellant and his father-in-law was void because it was made
when plaintiff was counsel of his father-in-law in a land registration case involving the property in dispute

The stipulated facts and exhibits of record indisputably established plaintiff's lack of cause of action and justified
the outright dismissal of the complaint.
Plaintiff's claim of ownership to the land in question was predicated on the sale thereof made by his father-in-
law in his favor, at a time when Militante's application for registration thereof had already been dismissed by the
Iloilo land registration court and was pending appeal in the Court of Appeals.

Article 1491 of our Civil Code (like Article 1459 of the Spanish Civil Code) prohibits in its six paragraphs certain
persons, by reason of the relation of trust or their peculiar control over the property, from acquiring such
property in their trust or control either directly or indirectly and "even at a public or judicial auction," as




public officers and employees; judicial officers and employees, prosecuting attorneys, and
lawyers; and

others especially disqualified by law.

Fundamental consideration of public policy render void and inexistent such expressly prohibited purchase (e.g.
by public officers and employees of government property intrusted to them and by justices, judges, fiscals and
lawyers of property and rights in litigation and submitted to or handled by them, under Article 1491, paragraphs
(4) and (5) of our Civil Code) has been adopted in a new article of our Civil Code, viz, Article 1409 declaring such
prohibited contracts as "inexistent and void from the beginning."
Indeed, the nullity of such prohibited contracts is definite and permanent and cannot be cured by ratification.

The public interest and public policy remain paramount and do not permit of compromise or ratification. In his
aspect, the permanent disqualification of public and judicial officers and lawyers grounded on public policy
differs from the first three cases of guardians, agents and administrators (Article 1491, Civil Code), as to whose
transactions it had been opined that they may be "ratified" by means of and in "the form of a new contact, in
which cases its validity shall be determined only by the circumstances at the time the execution of such new

The causes of nullity which have ceased to exist cannot impair the validity of the new contract. Thus, the object
which was illegal at the time of the first contract, may have already become lawful at the time of the ratification
or second contract; or the service which was impossible may have become possible; or the intention which could
not be ascertained may have been clarified by the parties. The ratification or second contract would then be
valid from its execution; however, it does not retroact to the date of the first contract."



This is actually a disbarment case against VILLEGAS.
It turns out that VILLEGAS was counsel of record of one Felix LEONG, the administrator for the testate estate of
one Felomina Zerna.
In 1963, LEONG, as administrator of Zernas estate, entered into a lease contract with the partnership of HIJOS
DE VILLEGAS over several lots included in Zernas estate.
The said lease contract was renewed several times henceforth.
It is important to note at this point that VILLEGAS was both counsel of LEONG and a partner in the partnership
When LEONG died, this disbarment suit was filed by MANANQUIL, the appointed administrator for LEONGs
estate. MANANQUIL alleged that the lease contracts were made under iniquitous terms and conditions. Also,
MANANQUIL alleged that VILLEGAS should have first notified and secured the approval of the probate court in
Zernas estate before the contracts were renewed, VILLEGAS being counsel of that estates administrator.

ISSUES: Whether VILLEGAS should have first secured the probate courts approval regarding the lease. Whether
VILLEGAS should be disbarred.


First issue:
NO. Pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 84 of the Revised Rules of Court, a judicial executor or administrator has the
right to the possession and management of the real as well as the personal estate of the deceased so long as it is
necessary for the payment of the debts and the expenses of administration. He may, therefore, exercise acts of
administration without special authority from the court having jurisdiction of the estate. For instance, it has long
been settled that an administrator has the power to enter into lease contracts involving the properties of the
estate even without prior judicial authority and approval.

Thus, considering that administrator LEONG was not required under the law and prevailing jurisprudence to
seek prior authority from the probate court in order to validly lease real properties of the estate, VILLEGAS, as
counsel of LEONG, cannot be taken to task for failing to notify the probate court of the various lease contracts
involved herein and to secure its judicial approval thereto.

Second Issue:
NO. There is no evidence to warrant disbarment, although VILLEGAS should be suspended from practice of law
because he participated in the renewals of the lease contracts involving properties of Zernas estate in favor of
the partnership of HIJOS DE VILLEGAS. Under Art. 1646 of the Civil Code, lawyers, with respect to the property
and rights which may be the object of any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their profession
are prohibited fro leasing, either in person or through the mediation of another, the properties or things
mentioned. Such act constituted gross misconduct, hence, suspension for four months.

FACTS: Antonia Ulibari filed with RTC for annulment of a document against her children. The case was handled by
Atty. Henerido Eduarte. However, Atty. Henerido Eduarte was appointed as RTC judge. The case of Ulibari was then
transferred to Atty, Josephine Eduarte, wife of Atty. Henerido Eduarte. The RTC rendered a decision in favor of
Antonia Ulibari. Only one of the children, Dominga Ordonio, appealed to CA. While the appeal was pending in the CA,
Antonia conveyed some parcels of her land to her children in the form of deeds of absolute sale, prepared and
notarized by Atty. Josephine Eduarte. Antonia also conveyed 20 hectares of land to Atty. Josephine and Atty.
Henerido as their attorneys fees. All the titles and lands subject to the deeds of absolute sale and deeds of
conveyance were in the name of Antonia. Subsequently, Dominga filed a disbarment complaint against Atty.
Josephine on the basis of an affidavit executed by her mother, Antonia, stating that she never conveyed parcel of land
to Atty. Josephine as attorneys fees and she had no knowledge of the deeds of absolute sale executed in favor of her
children. The IBP- CBD recommended one-year suspension from the practice of law.
1. WON Antonia was defrauded into signing the Deed of Conveyance 2. WON Atty. Josephine violated any law in
preparing and notarizing the deeds of absolute sale in making it appear that there were considerations therefor,
when in truth there were none so received by the seller
1. Yes. It is clear from Antonias affidavit and deposition that she never conveyed the said land to her lawyer as
attorneys fees. Granting for the sake of argument that Antonio did convey the land as attorneys fee, Atty. Josephine
should have not caused the execution of the deed since a case was still pending before CA covering the same land.
She violated Art 1491 of the Civil Code which prohibits lawyers from acquiring assignment property and rights which
may be subject of any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their profession. The prohibition applies
when a lawyer has not paid money for it and the property was merely assigned to him in consideration of legal
services rendered at a time when the property is still subject of a pending case.
2. Yes. Atty. Josephine admitted that Antonia did not actually sell parcels of land to her children and that she utilized
the form of deed of sale because it was the most convenient and appropriate document to effect transfer of parcels
of land. She violated part of her oath as a lawyer that she shall not do any falsehood. She violated Rule 10.01 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility. Overall holding: Suspension of 6 months for having violated Art 1491 of the Civil
Code another 6 months for violation of lawyers oath and Rule 10.01. Total of one year suspension.