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SECOND DIVISION

A.C. No. 5116

April 13, 2015

DAVAO IMPORT DISTRIBUTORS vs. ATTY. JOHNNY LANDERO


FACTS:
In August 1997, Davao Import Distributors hired Atty. John Landero to represent
them and file a complaint against Angelita Lobrando and Juanito Du for the recovery
of one split type air-conditioner with replevin and damages.
Lobrando purchased on installment from Davao Import one-split type air-conditioner
for her salon. Eventually Lobrando failed to fulfill her obligations to Davao Import.
When Davao Import sought to retrieve the unit, it was revealed that Lobrandos
business had already closed down. The air-conditioner was left at the business salon
however, Davao Import failed to take hold of the unit because it was allegedly
retained by Juanito Du to whom Angelita Librando was also indebted for unpaid
rentals. Thus, Davao Imported to file a civil action against Du.
The administrative controversy arose when Atty. John Landero, failed to appear in
the pre-trial. Davao Import through its branch manager, Pandili, also failed to attend
because Atty. Landero did not inform them of the schedule. As a result the case
against Du was dismissed and Du was allowed to present his evidence ex-parte in
support of his counterclaim. In effect, the MTCC issued a decision ordering
complainant to pay Du the amounts of P70,000.00 as moral damages, P15,000.00
as attorney's fees and P5,000.00 as litigation expenses.
Atty Landero, in his defense, reasoned that he and Pandili, the branch manager of
Davao Import agreed to abandon the case.
Atty. Landero failed to file a motion for reconsideration with the RTC. Further, he also
failed to file a petition for review with the Court of Appeals despite payment by
Davao Import to file such petition. Although Landeros motion for extension of time
to file the petition for review was granted by the CA, Landero still failed to file such
petition.
It has to be noted that the motion for extension of time was granted because of
Atty. Landeros pity to his client, so he resorted to mislead the court by alleging that
he had just received the decision and that the filing is within the reglementary
period copy furnished the counsel of Juanito Du, when in truth, he received the
decision at an earlier time.
Davao Import then filed a complaint for disbarment against Atty. Landero asserting
that Landeros actuations of (1) not appearing in the pre-trial of the case, (2) not
availing of the legal remedies against the dismissal of the Complaint due to nonsuit, and (3) failing to file a petition for review, constitute unprofessional behavior or
misconduct and violations of Canon 12 of the CPR, which merit disciplinary action, if
not, disbarment.

In March 2008, the Investigating Commissioner, Commission on Bar Discipline of the


Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala
(Commissioner Villanueva-Maala) recommended that respondent be suspended
from the practice of law for three months.
In July 2008, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the
recommendation of Commissioner Villanueva-Maala but modified the period of
suspension by increasing it from three months to six months.
The complaint was thus submitted to the Court for final action.
ISSUE:
Whether or not Atty. Landero displayed unprofessional behavior and misconduct and
violated Canons 12 and 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
RULING:
The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative. Atty. Landero committed acts violative
of Canons 12 and 18 of the CPR.
Atty. Landero displayed unprofessional behavior and misconduct and violated the
CPR. His failure to appear in the pre-trial is a violation of Canon 18 of the CPR which
requires every lawyer to serve his client with utmost dedication, competence and
diligence. He must not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in
this regard renders him administratively liable.
Even assuming that there is truth to his allegation that he and Pandili already
agreed to abandon the case, he should have still attended the scheduled pre-trial to
formally move for its withdrawal. His client couldnt have been prejudiced by paying
for the damagesand other fees if a proper withdrawal of the case was made in
accordance with Rule 17 of the Rules of Court.
As for the act of Atty. Landero in stating in his motion for extension that he received
the RTC Decision at a later date to make it appear that the filing of the said motion
is well-within the period for filing an appeal, it is a blatant violation of Rule 12.03,
Canon 12 of the CPR, which states:
CANON 12 - A LAWYER SHALL EXERT EVERY EFFORT AND CONSIDER IT HIS DUTY TO
ASSIST IN THE SPEEDY AND EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
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Thus, any act on his part which tends visibly to obstruct, pervert or impede and
degrade the administration of justice constitutes professional misconduct calling for
the exercise of disciplinary action against him.
With the violations of Atty. Landero, he was suspended from the practice of law for
six (6) months.