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Canon 15

Rule 15.1 PNB vs Cedo


Petetioner: Philippine National Bank charged respondent Atty.
Telesforo S. Cedo, former Asst. Vice-President of the Asset
Management Group of complainant bank with violation of
Canon 14 B1 by appearing as counsel for individuals who had
transactions with complainant bank in which respondent during
his employment with aforesaid bank, had intervened. He
intervened in the handling of the loan account of the spouses
Ponciano and Eufemia Almeda with complainant bank by
writing demand letters to the couple. When a civil action
ensued between complainant bank and the Almeda spouses
as a result of this loan account, the latter were represented by
the law firm "Cedo, Ferrer, Maynigo & Associates" of which
respondent is one of the Senior Partners.

respondent is guilty of breaching their privileged and


confidential lawyer-client relationship, and should be disbarred.
Held: Dismissed
In engaging the services of an attorney, the client reposes on
him special powers of trust and confidence. Their relationship
is strictly personal and highly confidential and fiduciary. The
relation is of such delicate, exacting and confidential nature
that is required by necessity and public interest.
Now, we go to the rule on attorney-client privilege. The factors
essential to establish the existence of the privilege
(1)There exists an attorney-client relationship, or a prospective
attorney-client relationship, and it is by reason of this
relationship that the client made the communication.

Held: SUSPEND respondent ATTY. TELESFORO S. CEDO


from the practice of law for THREE (3) YEARS, effective
immediately.

(2) The client made the communication in confidence. The


mere relation of attorney and client does not raise a
presumption of confidentiality. The client must intend the
communication to be confidential.

The foregoing disquisition on conflicting interest applies with


equal force and effect to respondent in the case at bar. Having
been an executive of complainant bank, respondent now seeks
to litigate as counsel for the opposite side, a case against his
former employer involving a transaction which he formerly
handled while still an employee of complainant, in violation of
Canon 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics on adverse
influence and conflicting interests, to wit:

(3) The legal advice must be sought from the attorney in his
professional capacity. The communication made by a client to
his attorney must not be intended for mere information, but for
the purpose of seeking legal advice from his attorney as to his
rights or obligations. The communication must have been
transmitted by a client to his attorney for the purpose of
seeking legal advice.

It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by


express conflicting consent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts. Within the meaning of this canon, a
lawyer represents conflicting interest when, in behalf on one
client, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another
client requires him to oppose.
Rule 15.2 Mercado vs Vitriolo
Facts: In August 1992, Atty. Anastacio P. de Leon, counsel of
complainant, died. On February 7, 1994, respondent entered
his appearance before the trial court as collaborating counsel
for complainant.[3]
On April 13, 1999, respondent filed a criminal action against
complainant before the Office of the City Prosecutor, Pasig City
for violation of Articles 171 and 172 (falsification of public
document) of the Revised Penal Code.[5] Respondent alleged
that complainant made false entries in the Certificates of Live
Birth of her children, Angelica and Katelyn Anne. More
specifically, complainant allegedly indicated in said Certificates
of Live Birth that she is married to a certain Ferdinand
Fernandez, when in truth, she is legally married to Ruben G.
Mercado and their marriage took place on April 11, 1978.
Complainant denied the accusations of respondent against
her. She denied using any other name than Rosa F.
Mercado. She also insisted that she has gotten married only
once, on April 11, 1978, to Ruben G. Mercado.
Complainant Mercado alleged that said criminal complaint for
falsification of public document disclosed confidential facts
and information relating to the civil case for annulment, then
handled by respondent Vitriolo as her counsel. This prompted
complainant Mercado to bring this action against respondent.
She claims that, in filing the criminal case for falsification,

If the client seeks an accounting service, or business or


personal assistance, and not legal advice, the privilege does
not attach to a communication disclosed for such purpose.
In the case at bar evidence on record fails to substantiate
complainants allegations. We note that complainant did not
even specify the alleged communication in confidence
disclosed by respondent. She contends that respondent
violated the rule on privileged communication when he
instituted a criminal action against her for falsification of public
documents because the criminal complaint disclosed facts
relating to the civil case for annulment then handled by
respondent. She did not, however, spell out these facts which
will determine the merit of her complaint. The Court cannot be
involved in a guessing game as to the existence of facts which
the complainant must prove.
Rule 15.3 Hilado vs David
In April 1945, Blandina Hilado filed a complaint to have some
deeds of sale annulled against Selim Assad. Attorney Delgado
Dizon represented Hilado. Assad was represented by a certain
Atty. Ohnick.
In January 1946, Atty. Vicente Francisco replaced Atty. Ohnick
as counsel for Assad and he thenafter entered his appearance
in court.
In May 1946 or four months later, Atty. Dizon filed a motion to
have Atty. Francisco be disqualified because Atty. Dizon found
out that in June 1945, Hilado approached Atty. Francisco to
ask for additional legal opinion regarding her case and for
which Atty. Francisco sent Hilado a legal opinion letter.
Atty. Francisco opposed the motion for his disqualification. In
his opposition, he said that no material information was relayed
to him by Hilado; that in fact, upon hearing Hilados story, Atty.

Francisco advised her that her case will not win in court; but
that
later,
Hilado
returned
with
a
copy
of
the Complaint prepared by Atty. Dizon; that however, when
Hilado returned, Atty. Francisco was not around but an
associate in his firm was there (a certain Atty. Federico
Agrava); that Atty. Agrava attended to Hilado; that after Hilado
left, leaving behind the legal documents, Atty. Agrava then
prepared a legal opinion letter where it was stated that Hilado
has no cause of action to file suit; that Atty. Agrava had Atty.
Francisco sign the letter; that Atty. Francisco did not read the
letter as Atty. Agrava said that it was merely a letter explaining
why the firm cannot take on Hilados case.
Atty. Francisco also pointed out that he was not paid for his
advice; that no confidential information was relayed because
all Hilado brought was a copy of the Complaint which was
already filed in court; and that, if any, Hilado already waived
her right to disqualify Atty. Francisco because he was already
representing Assad in court for four months in the said case.
Judge Jose Gutierrez David ruled in favor of Atty. Francisco.
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Francisco should be disqualified in
the said civil case.
HELD: Yes. There already existed an attorney-client
relationship between Hilado and Atty. Francisco. Hence, Atty.
Francisco cannot act as counsel against Hilado without the
latters consent.
It does not matter if the information relayed is confidential or
not. So long as the attorney-client relationship is established,
the lawyer is proscribed from taking other representations
against the client.
Even if it was not actually written by Atty. Francisco but was
only signed by him: It still binds him because Atty. Agrava,
assuming that he was the real author, was part of the same law
firm. An information obtained from a client by a member or
assistant of a law firm is information imparted to the firm, his
associates or his employers.
The fact that it took Hilado four months from the time Atty.
Francisco filed his entry of appearance to file a
disqualification: It does not matter. The length of time is not a
waiver of her right. The right of a client to have a lawyer be
disqualified, based on previous atty-client relationship, as
counsel against her does not prescribe. Professional
confidence once reposed can never be divested by expiration
of professional employment.
Rule 15.5 Bergonia vs Merrera
Facts Arsenia T. Bergonia , together with her relatives, filed a
case for the quieting of title against her niece Josephine
Bergonia, as well as Spouses Rodolfo and Remedios Parayno
and their minor daughter Gretchen. After due trial, the
Regional
Trial
Court
(RTC)
of
Urdaneta,
Pangasinan, promulgated its Decision in favor of the Parayno
spouses and their daughter. On appeal, the CA affirmed the
ruling of the trial court and the Decision became final and
executory.
Since the disputed land was still in the possession of
complainant, the Paraynos instituted to recover possession.
After the Answer was filed, respondent Atty. Arsenio A. Merrera
became her counsel of record. After due trial, of the same

RTC rendered its Decision ordering her to vacate the premises


and to surrender possession thereof to the Parayno spouses.
Thereafter, complainant appealed the RTC judgment to the
CA. Respondent, as counsel, received a Notice to File
Brief[ on December 17, 1997. Acting on his Motion for
extension to file the appellants brief, the CA in its February 18,
1998 minute Resolution granted him until March 17, 1998 to do
so. Even before the first extension had lapsed, however, he
again filed an Urgent Second Motion for extension to file
brief, praying that he be given until April 16, 1998 to submit the
required pleading. The CA again granted his Second Motion.
Eventually, the deadline, which had already been extended
twice, lapsed without his filing the appellants brief. Hence, the
CA, upon motion of the appellees, dismissed the appeal.
This administrative case stems from an AffidavitComplaint[1] filed by Arsenia T. Bergonia on March 2, 1999,
seeking the disbarment of Atty. Arsenio A. Merrera for violating
Canons 12 and 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Complainant alleged that his inexcusable negligence, while
acting as her counsel, caused the unceremonious dismissal of
her appeal.
Held: SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six
(6) months
Lawyers should fully familiarize themselves with the causes of
their clients before advising the latter on the soundness of
litigating. If they find that the intended suit is devoid of merit or
that the pending action is defenseless,[22] they should promptly
inform and dissuade their clients accordingly.
Assuming that respondent indeed tried to persuade
complainant to abandon the appeal, he should have
manifested to the CA that he had decided not to file the
appellants brief anymore, instead of just letting the period
lapse. His contention that he could not find the appropriate
jurisprudence to support her case is too flimsy to be credible.
A competent and ethical lawyer would have at least tried to
persuade the CA with reason and logic.
Rule 15. 7 Rural Bank vs Calape
Facts: On 1 April 2002, respondent ATTY. JAMES BENEDICT
FLORIDO and his clients, Dr. Domeciano Nazareno, Dr.
Remedios Relampagos, Dr. Manuel Relampagos, and Felix
Rengel (Nazareno-Relampagos group), through force and
intimidation, with the use of armed men, forcibly took over the
management and the premises of RBCI. They also forcibly
evicted Cirilo A. Garay (Garay), the bank manager, destroyed
the banks vault, and installed their own staff to run the bank.
Respondent explained that he acted in accordance with
the authority granted upon him by the Nazareno-Relampagos
group, the lawfully and validly elected Board of Directors of
RBCI. Respondent said he was merely effecting a lawful and
valid change of management. Respondent alleged that a
termination notice was sent to Garay but he refused to
comply. On 1 April 2002, to ensure a smooth transition of
managerial operations, respondent and the NazarenoRelampagos group went to the bank to ask Garay to step
down. However, Garay reacted violently and grappled with the
security guards long firearm. Respondent then directed the
security guards to prevent entry into the bank premises of
individuals who had no transaction with the bank. Respondent,

through the orders of the Nazareno-Relampagos group, also


changed the locks of the banks vault.
Held: Affirmed the decision of IBP Board of Governors
On 18 April 2002, RBCI filed a complaint for disbarment
against respondent. RBCI alleged that respondent violated his
oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility (Code).
On 20 March 2006, the IBP Board of Governors
issued Resolution No. XVII-2006-120 which declared that
respondent dismally failed to live up to the exacting standards
of the law profession and suspended respondent from the
practice of law for one year with a warning that repetition of
similar conduct will warrant a more severe penalty.
Held: Rule 15.07 of the Code requires a lawyer to impress
upon his client compliance with the law and principles of
fairness. A lawyer must employ only fair and honest means to
attain the lawful objectives of his client. It is his duty to counsel
his clients to use peaceful and lawful methods in seeking
justice and refrain from doing an intentional wrong to their
adversaries.
A lawyers duty is not to his client but to the
administration of justice. To that end, his clients success is
wholly subordinate. His conduct ought to and must always be
scrupulously observant of the law and ethics. Any means, not
honorable, fair and honest which is resorted to by the lawyer,
even in the pursuit of his devotion to his clients cause, is
condemnable and unethical.
Canon 16
Barcenas vs Atty. Alvero
Facts: Reynaria Barcenas, through her employee Rodolfo San
Antonio (San Antonio), entrusted to Atty. Arnolito Alvero the
amount of P300,000.00, which the latter was supposed to give
to a certain Amanda Gasta to redeem the rights of his
deceased father as tenant of a ricefield located
in Barangay San Benito, Victoria, Laguna. Later, Barcenas
found out that Atty. Alvero was losing a lot of money in
cockfights. To check if the money they gave Atty. Alvero was
still intact, Barcenas pretended to borrow P80,000.00 from
the P300,000.00 and promised to return the amount when
needed or as soon as the case was set for hearing. However,
Atty. Alvero allegedly replied, Akala nyo ba ay madali kunin
ang pera pag nasa korte na? Subsequently, Barcenas
discovered that Atty. Alvero did not deposit the money in court,
but instead converted and used the same for his personal
needs. In his letters Atty. Atty. Alvero admitted the receipt of
the P300,000.00 and promised to return the money. However,
as of the filing of the instant complaint, despite repeated
demands, Atty. Alvero failed to return the same. Thus,
Barcenas prayed that Atty. Alvero be disbarred for being a
disgrace to the legal profession.
In Notice of Resolution the IBP Board of Governors
adopted and approved with modification as to penalty the
Report and Recommendation of the IBP-CBD. Instead, it
ordered that Atty. Alvero be suspended from the practice of law
for two (2) years and, likewise, ordered him to account for and
return the amount of P300,000.00 to complainants within thirty
(30) days from receipt of notice.

From the records of the case, there is likewise a clear breach


of lawyer-client relations. When a lawyer receives money from
a 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. And if he does not use the money for
the intended purpose, the lawyer must immediately return the
money to his client. These, Atty. Alvero failed to do.
Jurisprudence dictates that a lawyer who obtains possession of
the funds and properties of his client in the course of his
professional employment shall deliver the same to his client (a)
when they become due, or (b) upon demand. In the instant
case, respondent failed to account for and return
the P300,000.00 despite complainants repeated demands.
Rule 16.1 Tarog vs Ricafort
Facts: In 1992, the Tarogs sought the advice of Atty. Jaime L. Miralles
regarding their bank-foreclosed property located in the Bicol Region.
Atty. Miralles advised them to engage a Bicol-based attorney for that
purpose. So theyengaged Atty. Ricafort as their attorney on account of
his being well-known in the community, and being also the Dean of the
College of Law of Aquinas University where their son was then
studying.
Having willingly accepted the engagement, Atty. Ricafort explained the
importance of depositing P65,000.00 in court to counter
the P60,000.00 for the foreclosed property. After they informed him that
they had onlyP60,000.00, he required them to add some more amount
(dagdagan niyo ng konti).
After some time, the Tarogs visited Atty. Ricafort to verify the status of
the consignation. Atty. Ricafort informed them that he had not
deposited the amount in court, but in his own account. He promised to
return the money, plus interest. Despite several inquiries about when
the amount would be returned, however, the Tarogs received mere
assurances from Atty. Ricafort that the money was in good hands.
The Tarogs further claimed that the Regional Trial Court, Branch 52, in
Sorsogon (RTC), where their complaint for annulment of sale was
being heard, had required the parties to file their memoranda.
Accordingly, they delivered P15,000.00 to Atty. Ricafort for that
purpose, but he did not file the memorandum.6
When it became apparent to the Tarogs that Atty. Ricafort would not
make good his promise of returning theP65,000.00, plus interest,
Arnulfo demanded by his letter dated December 3, 2002 that Atty.
Ricafort return theP65,000.00, plus interest, and the P15,000.00 paid
for the filing of the memorandum.7 Yet, they did not receive any reply
from Atty. Ricafort.
The IBP Board decide that Atty. Romulo L. Ricafort is hereby
DISBARRED andOrdered to Return the amount of P65,000
and P15,000 to complainant.
Held: The Code of Professional Responsibility demands the utmost
degree of fidelity and good faith in dealing with the moneys entrusted
to lawyers because of their fiduciary relationship. 25 In particular, Rule
16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states:
Rule 16.01 - A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected
or received for or from the client.
Undoubtedly, Atty. Ricafort was required to hold in trust any money and
property of his clients that came into his possession, 26 and he needed
to be always mindful of the trust and confidence his clients reposed in
him.27 Thus, having obtained the funds from the Tarogs in the course of
his professional employment, he had the obligation to deliver such

funds to his clients (a) when they became due, or (b) upon
demand.281avvphi1