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EN BANC

A.C. No. 10132, March 24, 2015


HEIRS OF PEDRO ALILANO REPRESENTED BY DAVID ALILANO,
Complainants, v. ATTY. ROBERTO E. EXAMEN, Respondent.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
Before us is a complaint1 for disbarment filed before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) by the heirs of Pedro Alilano against Atty. Roberto E. Examen for
misconduct and malpractice for falsifying documents and presenting these as
evidence in court thus violating the Lawyers Oath,2 Canons 1,3 104 and 19,5 and
Rules 1.01,6 1.02,7 10.01,8 and 19.019 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
(CPR).
Pedro Alilano and his wife, Florentina, were the holders of Original Certificate of
Title (OCT) No. P-23261 covering a 98,460 sq. m. parcel of land identified as Lot
No. 1085 Pls-544-D located in Paitan, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat. Pedro and
Florentina died on March 6, 1985 and October 11, 1989, respectively.
It appears that on March 31, 1984 and September 12, 1984 Absolute Deeds of Sale10
were executed by the Spouses Alilano in favor of Ramon Examen and his wife,
Edna. Both documents were notarized by respondent Atty. Roberto Examen, brother
of the vendee. Sometime in September 1984, Spouses Examen obtained possession
of the property.
On January 12, 2002, the heirs of Alilano filed a suit for recovery of possession
before the Regional Trial Court of Sultan Kudarat against Edna Examen and Atty.
Roberto Examen.11 It was during this proceeding that Atty. Examen introduced into
evidence the March 31, 1984 and September 12, 1984 Absolute Deeds of Sale.
12

On November 15, 2003, the heirs of Alilano filed this complaint alleging that Atty.
Examen, based on Barretto v. Cabreza,13 violated the notarial law when he notarized
the absolute deeds of sale since a notary public is prohibited from notarizing a
document when one of the parties is a relative by consanguinity within the fourth

civil degree or affinity within the second civil degree. It is also alleged that Atty.
Examen notarized the documents knowing that the cedula or residence certificate
number used by Ramon Examen was not actually his but the residence certificate
number of Florentina. Atty. Examen also falsely acknowledged that the two
witnesses personally appeared before him when they did not. Lastly, it is alleged that
despite knowing the infirmities of these documents, Atty. Examen introduced these
documents into evidence violating his oath as a lawyer and the CPR.
In his defense, Atty. Examen pointed out that there was no longer any prohibition
under the Revised Administrative Code for a notary public to notarize a document
where one of the parties is related to him by consanguinity and affinity.14 With
regard to the use of Florentinas residence certificate as Ramons, Atty. Examen said
that he was in good faith and that it was office practice that the secretary type details
without him personally examining the output.15 In any event, he reasoned that the
use of anothers residence certificate is not a ground for disbarment and is barred by
prescription based on IBP Resolution No. XVI-2004-13 dated January 26, 2004
where it was proposed that the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar
Discipline Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Section 1, Rule VIII, be revised to
include a prescription period for professional misconduct: within two years from the
date of the act.16
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In its Report and Recommendation,17 the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD)
found Atty. Examen liable for breach of the Notarial Law and introducing false
Absolute Deeds of Sale before court proceedings. It stated that there was ample
evidence to support the complainants contention that the Spouses Alilano did not
voluntarily and knowingly convey their property, i.e. denials under oath by attesting
witnesses and NBI Report by Handwriting Expert Jennifer Dominguez stating that
Pedro Alilanos signature in the September 1984 Absolute Deed of Sale was
significantly different from the specimen signatures. It also noted that Ramon
Examens residence certificate number, date and place of issue were also falsified
since the residence certificate actually belonged to Florentina Pueblo. It thus
recommended that the penalty of disbarment be imposed.
The IBP Board of Governors (BOG) in its June 26, 2007 Resolution18 adopted the
IBP CBDs report but modified the penalty to suspension from the practice of law for
a period of two years and a suspension of Atty. Examens Notarial Commission for a
period of two years.

Atty. Examen moved for reconsideration. In its Notice of Resolution, the IBP BOG
denied the motion for reconsideration. It also modified the penalty imposed to
suspension from the practice of law for a period of one year and disqualification from
re-appointment as Notary Public for a period of two years.19
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We agree with the IBP that Atty. Examen is administratively liable and hereby
impose a modified penalty.
In disbarment cases the only issue that is to be decided by the Court is whether the
member of the bar is fit to be allowed the privileges as such or not.20 It is not
therefore the proper venue for the determination of whether there had been a proper
conveyance of real property nor is it the proper proceeding to take up whether
witnesses signatures were in fact forged.
NO PRESCRIPTION OF ACTIONS FOR
ACTS OF ERRING MEMBERS OF THE BAR
In Frias v. Atty. Bautista-Lozada,21 the Court En Banc opined that there can be no
prescription in bar discipline cases. It pointed out this has been the policy since 1967
with the Courts ruling in Calo, Jr. v. Degamo22 and reiterated in Heck v. Santos23
where we had the chance to state:
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If the rule were otherwise, members of the bar would be emboldened to disregard the
very oath they took as lawyers, prescinding from the fact that as long as no private
complainant would immediately come forward, they stand a chance of being
completely exonerated from whatever administrative liability they ought to answer
for. It is the duty of this Court to protect the integrity of the practice of law as well as
the administration of justice. No matter how much time has elapsed from the time of
the commission of the act complained of and the time of the institution of the
complaint, erring members of the bench and bar cannot escape the disciplining arm
of the Court. This categorical pronouncement is aimed at unscrupulous members of
the bench and bar, to deter them from committing acts which violate the Code of
Professional Responsibility, the Code of Judicial Conduct, or the Lawyers Oath. x x
x
Thus, even the lapse of considerable time from the commission of the offending act
to the institution of the administrative complaint will not erase the administrative
culpability of a lawyer. (Italics supplied)24
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We therefore ruled in Frias, that Rule VIII, Section 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the
IBP CBD was void and had no legal effect for being ultra vires and thus null and
void.25
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This ruling was reiterated in the more recent case of Bengco v. Bernardo,26 where the
Court stated that putting a prescriptive period on administrative cases involving
members of the bar would only serve to embolden them to disregard the very oath
they took as lawyers, prescinding from the fact that as long as no private complainant
would immediately come forward, they stand a chance of being completely
exonerated from whatever administrative liability they ought to answer for.
Atty. Examens defense of prescription therefore is of no moment and deserves scant
consideration.
THE SPANISH NOTARIAL LAW OF
1889 WAS REPEALED BY THE REVISED
ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF 1917
Prior to 1917, governing law for notaries public in the Philippines was the Spanish
Notarial Law of 1889. However, the law governing Notarial Practice is changed with
the passage of the January 3, 1916 Revised Administrative Code, which took effect in
1917. In 2004, the Revised Rules on Notarial Practice27 was passed by the Supreme
Court.
In Kapunan, et al. v. Casilan and Court of Appeals,28 the Court had the opportunity to
state that enactment of the Revised Administrative Code repealed the Spanish
Notarial Law of 1889. Thus:
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It is petitioners contention that Notary Public Mateo Canonoy, who was related to
the parties in the donation within the fourth civil degree of affinity, was, under
Articles 22 and 28 of the Spanish Notarial Law, incompetent and disqualified to
authenticate the deed of donation executed by the Kapunan spouses in favor of their
daughter Concepcion Kapunan Salcedo. Said deed of donation, according to
petitioners, became a mere private instrument under Article 1223 of the old Civil
Code, so that under the ruling laid down in the case of Barretto vs. Cabreza (33 Phil.,
413), the donation was inefficacious. The appellate court, however, in the decision
complained of held that the Spanish Notarial Law has been repealed with the
enactment of Act No. 496. We find this ruling to be correct. In the case of Philippine

Sugar Estate vs. Poizart (48 Phil., 536), cited in Vda. de Estuart vs. Garcia (Adm.
Case No. 212, prom. February 15, 1957), this Court held that The old Spanish
notarial law and system of conveyance was repealed in the Philippines and
another and different notarial law and system became the law of the land with
the enactment of Act No. 496.29 (Emphasis supplied)
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In this case, the heirs of Alilano stated that Atty. Examen was prohibited to notarize
the absolute deeds of sale since he was related by consanguinity within the fourth
civil degree with the vendee, Ramon. The prohibition might have still applied had the
applicable rule been the Spanish Notarial Law. However, following the Courts ruling
in Kapunan, the law in force at the time of signing was the Revised Administrative
Code, thus, the prohibition was removed. Atty. Examen was not incompetent to
notarize the document even if one of the parties to the deed was a relative, his
brother. As correctly observed by the IBP CBD:
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WITH UTMOST CARE


In Nunga v. Atty. Viray,31 this Court stated:

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[N]otarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is invested with


substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified or authorized
may act as notaries public. The protection of that interest necessarily requires that
those not qualified or authorized to act must be prevented from imposing upon the
public, the courts, and the administrative offices in general. It must be underscored
that the notarization by a notary public converts a private document into a public
document making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of the
authenticity thereof. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit
upon its face. For this reason, notaries public must observe with utmost care the
basic requirements in the performance of their duties.32 (Emphasis supplied;
citations omitted)
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At the time of notarization, the prevailing law governing notarization was Sections
231-259, Chapter 11 of the Revised Administrative Code and there was no
prohibition on a notary public from notarizing a document when one of the interested
parties is related to the notary public within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity
or second degree of affinity.30

Thus under the prevailing law at the time of notarization it was the duty of the notary
public to comply with the requirements of the Notarial Law. This includes the duty
under Chapter 11, Section 251 of the Revised Administrative Code:
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Note must be taken that under 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice, Rule IV, Section 3(c),
a notary public is disqualified among others to perform the notarial act if he is related
by affinity or consanguinity to a principal within the fourth civil degree, to wit:
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SEC. 3. Disqualifications. A notary public is disqualified from performing a


notarial act if he:

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Under Chapter 11, Section 249 of the Revised Administrative Code provided a list of
the grounds for disqualification:

xxxx

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(c) is a spouse, common-law partner, ancestor, descendant, or relative by affinity or


consanguinity of the principal within the fourth civil degree.
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That Atty. Examen was not incompetent to act as a notary public in the present case
does not mean that he can evade administrative liability under the CPR in
conjunction with the provisions of the Notarial Law.
NOTARIES PUBLIC MUST PERFORM
THEIR DUTIES DILIGENTLY AND

SEC. 251. Requirement as to notation of payment of cedula [residence] tax. Every


contract, deed, or other document acknowledged before a notary public shall have
certified thereon that the parties thereto have presented their proper cedula
[residence] certificates or are exempt from the cedula [residence] tax, and there shall
be entered by the notary public as a part of such certification the number, place of
issue, and date of each cedula [residence] certificate as aforesaid.

SEC. 249. Grounds for revocation of commission. The following derelictions of


duty on the part of a notary public shall, in the discretion of the proper judge of first
instance, be sufficient ground for the revocation of his commission:
xxxx
(f) The failure of the notary to make the proper notation regarding cedula
certificates.
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xxxx

disbarment proceeding. We disagree.

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In Soriano v. Atty. Basco,33 the Court stated that notaries public are required to follow
formalities as these are mandatory and cannot be simply neglected. Thus, the
Notarial Law requires them to certify that a party to the instrument acknowledged
before him has presented the proper residence certificate (or exemption from the
residence certificate) and to enter its number, place of issue and date as part of the
certification. Failure to perform his duties results in the revocation of a notarys
commission. The Court said:
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As a lawyer commissioned as a notary public, respondent is mandated to discharge


with fidelity the sacred duties appertaining to his office, such duties being
dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest. Faithful observance
and utmost respect for the legal solemnity of an oath in an acknowledgment are
sacrosanct. He cannot simply disregard the requirements and solemnities of the
Notarial Law.34 (Emphasis supplied)
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Here, based on the submission of the complainants, it is clear that the residence
certificate number used by Ramon Examen and as notarized by Atty. Examen in both
Absolute Deeds of Sale was not in fact the residence certificate of Ramon but
Florentinas residence certificate number.35 Atty. Examen interposes that he was in
good faith in that it was office practice to have his secretary type up the details of the
documents and requirements without him checking the correctness of same.
A notary public must discharge his powers and duties, which are impressed with
public interest, with accuracy and fidelity.36 Good faith cannot be a mitigating
circumstance in situations since the duty to function as a notary public is personal.
We note that the error could have been prevented had Atty. Examen diligently
performed his functions: personally checked the correctness of the documents. To
say that it was his secretarys fault reflects disregard and unfitness to discharge the
functions of a notary public for it is he who personally acknowledges the document.
He was behooved under Section 251, Chapter 11 of the Revised Administrative Code
to check if the proper cedulas were presented and inspect if the documents to be
acknowledged by him reflected the correct details. This Court cannot stress enough
that notarization is not a routinary act. It is imbued with substantive public interest
owing to the public character of his duties37.
Atty. Examen posits that the failure of a notary to make the proper notation of
cedulas can only be a ground for disqualification and not the proper subject for a

In violating the provisions of the Notarial Law, Atty. Examen also transgressed the
his oath as a lawyer, provisions of the CPR and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court which provides:
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SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court; grounds


therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct
in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to
take before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience of any lawful order of
a superior court, or for corruptly and willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to
a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the
purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes
malpractice.
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By his negligent act of not checking the work of his secretary and merely
perfunctorily notarizing documents, it cannot be said that he upheld legal processes
thus violating Canon 1 of the CPR. Neither can it be said that he promoted
confidence in the legal system. If anything, his acts serve to undermine the functions
of a diligent lawyer. He thus ran afoul Rule 1.02 of the CPR. We cannot stress
enough that as a lawyer, respondent is expected at all times to uphold the integrity
and dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or omission which might
lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the public in the integrity of the legal
profession.38 A lawyers mandate includes thoroughly going over documents
presented to them typed or transcribed by their secretaries.39
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The Court notes that the case between the parties is not the first that reached this
Court. In Edna Examen and Roberto Examen v. Heirs of Pedro Alilano and
Florentina Pueblo,40 Atty. Examen and his sister-in-law questioned via a petition for
certiorari41 the propriety of three Court of Appeals Resolutions relating to a case
involving Lot No. 1085 Pls-544-D this time with respect to its fruits. There the Court
of Appeals (CA) after giving Atty. Examen 90 days to file his appellants brief,
denied a second motion for extension of time merely on the basis of a flimsy reason
that he had misplaced some of the transcript of the witnesses testimonies. The CA
did not find the reason of misplaced transcript as good and sufficient cause to grant
the extension pursuant to Section 12,42 Rule 44 of the Revised Rules of Court. It
stated that it was a flimsy and lame excuse to unnecessarily delay the

proceedings.43 The CA was of the opinion that defendant-appellants, herein


respondent, motion was a mockery of the procedural rules.44 This Court denied the
petition for various procedural defects.45
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With respect to the penalty imposed, given that Atty. Examen not only failed to
uphold his duty as a notary public but also failed to uphold his lawyers oath and ran
afoul the provisions of the CPR, the Court deems it proper to suspend Atty. Examen
from the practice of law for a period of two years following this Courts decision in
Caalim-Verzonilla v. Pascua.46
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WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Roberto E. Examen is hereby SUSPENDED from


the practice of law for TWO (2) YEARS. In addition, his present notarial
commission, if any, is hereby REVOKED, and he is DISQUALIFIED from
reappointment as a notary public for a period of two (2) years from finality of this
Decision. He is further WARNED that any similar act or infraction in the future
shall be dealt with more severely.

myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all
good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this
voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help
me God.
3

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Canon 1, provides:

Canon 1 - A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and
promote respect for law and legal processes.
4

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Canon 10, provides:

Canon 10 - A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.
5

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Canon 19 provides:

Canon 19 - A lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant to be
appended to respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, the Department of Justice and all courts in the country for their
information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Rule 1.01 provides:

Rule 1.01. - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.

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Sereno, C.J., Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del
Castillo, Perez, Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen, and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.
Carpio, J., on leave.

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Rule 1.02 provides:

Rule 1.02. - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law
or at lessening confidence in the legal system.

Endnotes:

Rule 10.01. - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.

Docketed as CBD Case No. 03-1168. Rollo, pp. 2-11.

Lawyers Oath - I, _____________, do solemnly swear that I will maintain


allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey
the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will
do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or
willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor
consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Rule 10.01 provides:

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Rule 19.01 provides:

Rule 19.01. - A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful
objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to
present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or
proceeding.

29

Id. at 892-893.

10

Rollo, pp. 12-13.


30

Rollo, p. 680.

11

12

Docketed as Civil Case No. 1013.


31

366 Phil. 155 (1999).

13

32

Id. at 160-161.

33

507 Phil. 410, 414-415 (2005).

34

Id. at 416.

Received by the IBP November 24, 2003.


33 Phil. 112 (1916).

14

Rollo, p. 189.

15

Id. at 199-201.
35

Rollo, pp. 12-14.

16

Id. at 583.
36

Gonzales v. Atty. Ramos, 499 Phil. 345, 350 (2005).

17

Id. at 677-682. Signed by Commissioner Lolita A. Quisumbing.


37

18

Id. at 676. Signed by Assistant National Secretary Tomas N. Prado.

19

Id. at 674.

20

Pimentel, Jr. v. Atty. Llorente, 393 Phil. 544, 551 (2000).

21

523 Phil. 17, 19 (2006).

22

126 Phil. 802 (1967).

23

467 Phil. 798, 824-825 (2004).

24

Frias v. Atty. Bautista-Lozada, supra note 21, at 19-20.

25

Id. at 20.

26

A.C. No. 6368, June 13, 2012, 672 SCRA 8, 17.

Under Section 241 of the Revised Administrative Code, notary public has the
following powers:
SEC. 241. Powers of notary public. Every notary public shall have power to
administer all oaths and affirmations provided for by law, in all matters incident to
his notarial office, and in the execution of affidavits, depositions, and other
documents requiring an oath, and to receive the proof or acknowledgment of all
writings relating to commerce or navigation, such as bills of sale bottomries,
mortgages, and hypothecations of ships, vessels, or boats, charter parties of
affreightments, letters of attorney, deeds, mortgages, transfers and assignments of
land or buildings, or an interest therein, and such other writings as are commonly
proved or acknowledged before notaries; to act as a magistrate, in the writing of
affidavits or depositions, and to make declarations and certify the truth thereof under
his seal of office, concerning all matters done by him by virtue of his office.
38

Caalim-Verzonilla v. Pascua, A.C. No. 6655, October 11, 2011, 658 SCRA 762,
771-772.
39

27

A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC.

28

109 Phil. 889 (1960).

Adez Realty, Incorporated v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 100643, October 30, 1992,
215 SCRA 301, 305.
40

Docketed as G.R. No. 179896.

41

Under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court.

42

REVISED RULES OF COURT, Rule 44, Section 12 provides:

SEC. 12. Extension of time for filing briefs. - Extension of time for the filing of briefs
will not be allowed, except for good and sufficient cause, and only if the motion for
extension is filed before the expiration of the time sought to be extended.
43

Rollo (G.R. No. 179896), pp. 93 and 96.

44

Id. at 93.

45

Id. at 113-114. Dismissed for violation of Section 3, Rule 46, Section 1 and 4, Rule
65 and Sections 4 and 5, Rule 7 of the Revised Rules of Court and no showing of
grave abuse of discretion.
46

Supra note 38, at 774

EN BANC

WHEREFORE in light of the foregoing complainant pray[s] to order respondent:

[A.M. No. RTJ-01-1657. February 23, 2004]


HEINZ R. HECK, complainant, vs. JUDGE ANTHONY E. SANTOS, REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 19, CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY,1[1] respondent.
DECISION
CALLEJO SR., J.:
May a retired judge charged with notarizing documents without the requisite notary
commission more than twenty years ago be disciplined therefor? This is the novel
issue presented for resolution before this Court.
The instant case arose when in a verified Letter-Complaint dated March 21, 2001
Heinz R. Heck prayed for the disbarment of Judge Anthony E. Santos, Regional Trial
Court, Branch 19, Cagayan de Oro City.
The complainant alleged that prior to the respondents appointment as RTC judge on
April 11, 1989, he violated the notarial law, thus:
Judge Santos, based on ANNEX A, was not duly commissioned as
notary public until January 9, 1984 but still subscribed and forwarded (on a
non-regular basis) notarized documents to the Clerk of Court VI starting
January 1980 uncommissioned until the 9th of January 1984.

a) Judge Santos was commissioned further January 16th 1986 to December 31st 1987
and January 6th 1988 to December 31st 1989 but the records fail to show any entry at
the Clerk of Court after December 31st 1985 until December 31st 1989.
b) Judge Santos failed to forward his Notarial Register after the expiration of his
commission in December 1989.2[2]
...
1[1] The respondent compulsorily retired from the judiciary on May 22,
2002.

1. To disbar Judge Anthony E. Santos and to prohibit him from all future
public service.
2. To forfeit [the] retirement benefits of Judge Santos.
3. To prohibit Judge Santos from future practice of Law.
4. To file a criminal suit against Judge Santos.
5. To conduct a speedy investigation and not to grant/accept any delaying
tactics from Judge Santos or any agency and or public servants involved
in this administrative case.
6. To pay all costs and related costs involved in this administrative case.
and prays for other relief in accordance with equity and fairness based on the
premises.3[3]
The complainant submitted a certification from Clerk of Court, Atty. Beverly SabioBeja, Regional Trial Court, Misamis Oriental, which contained the following:
THIS CERTIFIES that upon verification from the records found and available in this
office, the following data appear:
1. The name Atty. Anthony E. Santos is listed as a duly commissioned notary public
in the following years:
a. January 9, 1984 to December 31, 1985
b. January 16, 1986 to December 31, 1987
c. January 6, 1988 to December 31, 1989
2. Based on the records of transmittals of notarial reports, Atty. Anthony
E. Santos submitted his notarial reports in the ff. years:
a. January 1980 report - was submitted on Feb. 6, 1980
b. February to April 1980 report - was submitted on June 6, 1980
c. May to June 1980 report - was submitted on July 29, 1980
2[2] Rollo, pp. 5-6.
3[3] Id. at 8.

d. July to October 1980 report - submitted but no date of submission


e. November to December 1980-no entry
f. January to February 1981 - no entry
g. March to December 1981 - submitted but no date of submission
h. January to December 1982 - submitted but no date of submission
i. January to June 1983 - submitted on January 5, 1984
j. July to December 1983 - no entry
k. January to December 1984 - submitted on January 20, 1986
l. January to December 1985 - submitted on January 20, 1986
4. Records fail to show any entry of transmittal of notarial documents under the name
Atty. Anthony Santos after December 1985.
5. It is further certified that the last notarial commission issued to Atty. Anthony
Santos was on January 6, 1988 until December 31, 1989.4[4]
In his Answer dated June 13, 2001, the respondent judge categorically denied the
charges against him. He also submitted a certification5[5] from Clerk of Court, Atty.
Sabio-Beja, to prove that there was no proper recording of the commissioned lawyers
in the City of Cagayan de Oro as well as the submitted notarized documents/notarial
register. The respondent further averred as follows:
That the complainant has never been privy to the documents notarized and submitted
by the respondent before the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court
of Misamis Oriental, nor his rights prejudiced on account of the said notarized
documents and therefore not the proper party to raise the said issues;
That the complainant was one of the defendants in Civil Case No. 94-334 entitled
Vinas Kuranstalten Gesmbh et al. versus Lugait Aqua Marine Industries, Inc., and
Heinz Heck, for Specific Performance & Sum of Money, filed before the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 19, Cagayan de Oro City, wherein respondent is the Presiding
Judge. The undersigned resolved the case in favor of the plaintiffs.6[6]

Pursuant to the report of the Office of the Court Administrator recommending the
need to resort to a full-blown investigation to determine the veracity of the parties
assertions, the Court, in a Resolution dated September 10, 2001, resolved to: (a) treat
the matter as a regular administrative complaint; and (b) refer the case to Associate
Justice Edgardo P. Cruz of the Court of Appeals (CA) for investigation, report and
recommendation.7[7]
In his Letters dated December 10, 2001 and February 1, 2002, the complainant
requested that the hearing be held at Cagayan de Oro City. Justice Cruz initially
denied the request but upon the complainants insistence, the matter was forwarded to
the Court, which favorably acted thereon in a Resolution dated July 8, 2002.8[8] The
complainant presented his evidence in Cagayan de Oro City before retired Court of
Appeals Justice Romulo S. Quimbo.9[9]
In a Sealed Report dated August 14, 2003, Investigating Justice Edgardo P. Cruz
made the following recommendation:
It is recommended that [i] respondent (who retired on May 22, 2002) be found guilty
of violation of the Notarial Law by (a) notarizing documents without commission;
(b) tardiness in submission of notarial reports; and (c) non-forwarding of his notarial
register to the Clerk of Court upon expiration of his commission; and [ii] that for
these infractions, he be suspended from the practice of law and barred from being
commissioned as notary public, both for one year, and his present commission, if
any, be revoked.10[10]

6[6] Id. at 14.


7[7] Id. at 79.
8[8] Id. at 208-209.

4[4] Annex A, Rollo, p. 22.

9[9] Resolutions dated July 8, 2002 and November 13, 2002.

5[5] Rollo, p. 16.

10[10] Report, p. 18.

According to the Investigating Justice, the respondent did not adduce evidence in his
defense, while the complainant presented documentary evidence to support the
charges:
It is noteworthy that in his answer, respondent did not claim that he was
commissioned as notary public for the years 1980 to 1983 nor deny the accuracy of
the first certification. He merely alleged that there was no proper recording of the
commissioned lawyers in the City of Cagayan de Oro nor of the submitted Notarized
Documents/Notarial Register. And, as already observed, he presented no evidence,
particularly on his appointment as notary public for 1980 to 1983 (assuming he was
so commissioned) and submission of notarial reports and notarial register.
On the other hand, the second certification shows that there were only two Record
Books available in the notarial section of the RTC of Misamis Oriental (Cagayan de
Oro City); and that the (f)irst book titled Petitions for Notarial Commission contains
items on the Name, Date Commission was issued and Expiration of Commission of
the notary public. First entry appearing was made on December 1982.
If respondent was commissioned in 1980 to 1983, then the first book would disclose
so (at least, for the years 1982 and 1983). However, he did not present said book.
Neither did he present a certification from the Clerk of Court, RTC of Misamis
Oriental, or documents from his files showing that he was commissioned in 1980 to
1983. Similarly, he did not submit a certificate of appointment for all those years.
Under Section 238 of the Notarial Law, such certificate must be prepared and
forwarded by the Clerk of Court, RTC, to the Office of the Solicitor General, together
with the oath of office of the notary public.11[11]
Thus, the Investigating Justice concluded, based on the evidence presented by the
complainant, that the respondent notarized documents in 1980 and 1983 without
being commissioned as a notary public therefor, considering that his earliest
commission of record was on January 9, 1984.12[12]

Before the Court passes upon the merits of the instant complaint, a brief
backgrounder.
On the Applicability of
Resolution A.M. No. 029-02-SC
On September 17, 2002, we issued Resolution A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC,13[13] to wit:
Some administrative cases against Justices of the Court of Appeals and the
Sandiganbayan; judges of regular and special courts; and the court officials who are
lawyers are based on grounds which are likewise grounds for the disciplinary action
of members of the Bar for violation of the Lawyers Oath, the Code of Professional
Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics, or for such other forms of
breaches of conduct that have been traditionally recognized as grounds for the
discipline of lawyers.
In any of the foregoing instances, the administrative case shall also be considered a
disciplinary action against the respondent justice, judge or court official concerned as
a member of the Bar. The respondent may forthwith be required to comment on the
complaint and show cause why he should not also be suspended, disbarred or
otherwise disciplinary sanctioned as a member of the Bar. Judgment in both respects
may be incorporated in one decision or resolution.
Before the Court approved this resolution, administrative and disbarment cases
against members of the bar who were likewise members of the court were treated
separately. Thus, pursuant to the new rule, administrative cases against erring justices
of the CA and the Sandiganbayan, judges, and lawyers in the government service
may be automatically treated as disbarment cases. The Resolution, which took effect
on October 1, 2002, also provides that it shall supplement Rule 140 of the Rules of
Court, and shall apply to administrative cases already filed where the respondents
have not yet been required to comment on the complaints.

The Procedural Issues


11[11] Id. at 10-11.
12[12] Id. at 11-12.

13[13] Re: Automatic Conversion of Some Administrative Cases Against


Justices of the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan; Judges of Regular
and Special Courts; and Court Officials Who are Lawyers as Disciplinary
Proceedings Themselves Both as Such Officials and Members of the
Philippine Bar.

Clearly, the instant case is not covered by the foregoing resolution, since the
respondent filed his Answer/Comment on June 13, 2001.
The Procedure To Be Followed
In Disbarment Cases Involving
A Retired Judge For Acts
Committed While He Was Still
A Practicing Lawyer
The undisputed facts are as follows: (1) the respondent is a retired judge; (2) the
complainant prays for his disbarment; and (3) the acts constituting the ground for
disbarment were committed when the respondent was still a practicing lawyer, before
his appointment to the judiciary. Thus, the respondent is being charged not for acts
committed as a judge; he is charged, as a member of the bar, with notarizing
documents without the requisite notarial commission therefor.
Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court on Disbarment and Discipline of
Attorneys provides:
Section 1. Proceedings for the disbarment, suspension, or discipline of attorneys may
be taken by the Supreme Court motu proprio, or by the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) upon verified complaint of any person. The complaint shall state
clearly, and concisely the facts complained of and shall be supported by affidavits of
persons having personal knowledge of the facts therein alleged and/or by such
documents as may substantiate said facts.
The IBP Board of Governors may, motu proprio or upon referral by the Supreme
Court or by a Chapter Board of Officers, or at the instance of any person, initiate and
prosecute proper charges against erring attorneys including those in the government
service: Provided, however, That all charges against Justices of the Court of Tax
Appeals and lower courts, even if lawyers are jointly charged with them, shall be
filed with the Supreme Court: Provided, further, That charges filed against Justices
and Judges before the IBP, including those filed prior to their appointment to the
Judiciary, shall be immediately forwarded to the Supreme Court for disposition and
adjudication.14[14]

14[14] As amended by Bar Matter No. 1960, May 1, 2000.

The investigation may thereafter commence either before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), in accordance with Sections 2 to Sections 12 of Rule 139-B, or
before the Supreme Court in accordance with Sections 13 and 14, thus:
Section 13. Supreme Court Investigators. - In proceedings initiated motu proprio by
the Supreme Court or in other proceedings when the interest of justice so requires,
the Supreme Court may refer the case for investigation to the Solicitor General or to
any officer of the Supreme Court or judge of a lower court, in which case the
investigation shall proceed in the same manner provided in Sections 6 to 11 hereof,
save that the review of the report shall be conducted directly by the Supreme Court.
Section 14. Report of the Solicitor General or other Court designated Investigator.
Based upon the evidence adduced at the investigation, the Solicitor General or other
Investigator designated by the Supreme Court shall submit to the Supreme Court a
report containing his findings of fact and recommendations together with the record
and all the evidence presented in the investigation for the final action of the Supreme
Court.
It is clear from the Rules then that a complaint for disbarment is cognizable by the
Court itself, and its indorsement to the IBP is not mandatory. The Court may refer the
complaint for investigation, report and recommendation to the Solicitor General, any
officer of the court or a judge of a lower court, on which the Court will thereafter
base its final action.15[15]
Although the respondent has already retired from the judiciary, he is still considered
as a member of the bar and as such, is not immune to the disciplining arm of the
Supreme Court, pursuant to Article VIII, Section 616[16]of the 1987 Constitution.
Furthermore, at the time of the filing of the complaint, the respondent was still the
presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Cagayan de Oro City. As
such, the complaint was cognizable by the Court itself, as the Rule mandates that in
case the respondent is a justice of the Court of Tax Appeals or the lower court, the
complaint shall be filed with the Supreme Court.17[17]
15[15] Bautista v. Gonzales, 182 SCRA 151 (1990).
16[16] Section 6. The Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision
over all courts and the personnel thereof.

The Substantive Issues


The Retirement Or Resignation
Of A Judge Will Not Preclude
The Filing Thereafter Of An
Administrative Charge Against
Him For Which He Shall Still
Be Held Answerable If Found
Liable Therefor
The fact that a judge has retired or has otherwise been separated from the service
does not necessarily divest the Court of its jurisdiction to determine the veracity of
the allegations of the complaint, pursuant to its disciplinary authority over members
of the bench. As we held in Gallos v. Cordero:18[18]
The jurisdiction that was ours at the time of the filing of the administrative complaint
was not lost by the mere fact that the respondent, had ceased in office during the
pendency of his case. The Court retains jurisdiction either to pronounce the
respondent public official innocent of the charges or declare him guilty thereof. A
contrary rule would be fraught with injustice and pregnant with dreadful and
dangerous implications... If innocent, respondent public official merits vindication of
his name and integrity as he leaves the government which he has served well and
faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive the corresponding censure and a penalty
proper and imposable under the situation.19[19]

1. If upon an informal preliminary inquiry by the Office of the Court Administrator,


an administrative complaint against any Justice of the Court of Appeals or
Sandiganbayan or any Judge of the lower courts filed in connection with a case in
court is shown to be clearly unfounded and baseless and intended to harass the
respondent, such a finding should be included in the report and recommendation of
the Office of the Court Administrator. If the recommendation is approved or affirmed
by the Court, the complainant may be required to show cause why he should not be
held in contempt of court. If the complainant is a lawyer, he may further be required
to show cause why he or she should not be administratively sanctioned as a member
of the Bar and as an officer of the court.
2. If the complaint is (a) filed within six months before the compulsory retirement of
a Justice or Judge; (b) for an alleged cause of action that occurred at least a year
before such filing and (c) shown prima facie that it is intended to harass the
respondent, it must forthwith be recommended for dismissal. If such is not the case,
the Office of the Court Administrator must require the respondent to file a comment
within ten (10) days from receipt of the complaint, and submit to the Court a report
and recommendation not later than 30 days from receipt of the comment. The Court
shall act on the recommendation before the date of compulsory retirement of the
respondent, or if it is not possible to do so, within six (6) months from such date
without prejudice to the release of the retirement benefits less such amount as the
Court may order to be withheld, taking into account the gravity of the cause of action
alleged in the complaint.

However, recognizing the proliferation of unfounded or malicious administrative or


criminal cases against members of the judiciary for purposes of harassment, we
issued A.M. No. 03-10-01-SC20[20] which took effect on November 3, 2003. It reads
in part:

Thus, in order for an administrative complaint against a retiring or retired judge or


justice to be dismissed outright, the following requisites must concur: (1) the
complaint must have been filed within six months from the compulsory retirement of
the judge or justice; (2) the cause of action must have occurred at least a year before
such filing; and, (3) it is shown that the complaint was intended to harass the
respondent.

17[17] See Section 1, Rule 139-B, supra.

In this case, the Administrative Complaint dated March 21, 2001 was received by the
Office of the Court Administrator on March 26, 2001.21[21] The respondent retired
compulsorily from the service more than a year later, or on May 22, 2002. Likewise,

18[18] 245 SCRA 218 (1995).


19[19] Id. at 226.

20[20] RESOLUTION PRESCRIBING MEASURES TO PROTECT MEMBERS OF


THE JUDICIARY FROM BASELESS AND UNFOUNDED ADMINISTRATIVE

the ground for disbarment or disciplinary action alleged to have been committed by
the respondent did not occur a year before the respondents separation from the
service. Furthermore, and most importantly, the instant complaint was not prima
facie shown to be without merit and intended merely to harass the respondent.
Clearly, therefore, the instant case does not fall within the ambit of the foregoing
resolution.

appointment as a judge will not exculpate him from taking responsibility for the
consequences of his acts as an officer of the court.25[25]

A Judge May Be Disciplined


For Acts Committed Before His
Appointment To The Judiciary

...[I]t would be unreasonable and unfair to presume that since he had wandered from
the path of moral righteousness, he could never retrace his steps and walk proud and
tall again in that path. No man is beyond information and redemption. A lawyer who
aspires for the exalted position of a magistrate knows, or ought to know, that he must
pay a high price for that honor - his private and official conduct must at all times be
free from the appearance of impropriety. ...27[27]

It is settled that a judge may be disciplined for acts committed prior to his
appointment to the judiciary.22[22] In fact, even the new Rule itself recognizes this, as
it provides for the immediate forwarding to the Supreme Court for disposition and
adjudication of charges against justices and judges before the IBP, including those
filed prior to their appointment to the judiciary.23[23] It need not be shown that the
respondent continued the doing of the act or acts complained of; it is sufficient that
the evidence on record supports the charge on the respondent, considering the gravity
of the offense.
Indeed, there is jurisprudence to the effect that the act complained of must be
continuing in order for the respondent judge to be disciplined therefor. In Sevilla v.
Salubre,24[24] the respondent judge was charged with violating Canon 16 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, for acts committed while he was still a practicing
lawyer. The respondent therein refused to turn over the funds of his client despite
demands, and persisted in his refusal even after he was appointed as a judge.
However, the Court also stated in this case that the respondents subsequent

In the case of Alfonso v. Juanson,26[26] we held that proof of prior immoral conduct
cannot be used as basis for administrative discipline against a judge if he is not
charged with immorality prior to his appointment. We ratiocinated, thus:

The Court ruled in that case that the complainant failed to prove the charges by
substantial evidence.28[28] The complainant therein presented evidence pertaining to
the respondents previous indiscretion while still a practicing lawyer; no evidence
was, however, adduced to prove that the latter continued to engage in illicit acts after
being appointed to the bench. Thus, the respondent was exonerated in this case
because the complainant failed to present evidence that the indiscretion continued
even after the respondent was appointed to the judiciary.
The practice of law is so ultimately affected with public interest that it is both the
right and duty of the State to control and regulate it in order to promote the public
welfare. The Constitution vests this power of control and regulation in this Court.29[29]
25[25] Id. at 601.

21[21] Rollo, p. 5.

26[26] 228 SCRA 239 (1993).

22[22] Sevilla v. Salubre, 348 SCRA 592 (2000).

27[27] Id. at 254.

23[23] Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, as amended by Bar


Matter No. 1960, May 1, 2000.

28[28] Id. at 254.

24[24] 348 SCRA 592 (2000).

29[29] Sevilla v. Salubre, supra, citing Fernando Cruz and Amelia Cruz v.
Atty. Ernesto Jacinto, 328 SCRA 636 (2000).

The Supreme Court, as guardian of the legal profession, has ultimate disciplinary
power over attorneys, which authority is not only a right but a bounden duty as well.
This is why respect and fidelity to the Court is demanded of its members.30[30]
Notarizing Documents Without
The Requisite Commission
Therefore Constitutes
Malpractice, If Not The Crime
Of Falsification Of Public
Documents

constituting as it does not only malpractice, but also the crime of falsification of
public documents.34[34] For such reprehensible conduct, the Court has sanctioned
erring lawyers by suspension from the practice of law, revocation of the notarial
commission and disqualification from acting as such, and even disbarment.35[35]
In the case of Nunga v. Viray,36[36] the Court had the occasion to state -

It must be remembered that notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act.


On the contrary, it is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those
who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public.31[31] Notarization by a
notary public converts a private document into a public one, making it admissible in
evidence without the necessity of preliminary proof of its authenticity and due
execution.32[32]

Where the notarization of a document is done by a member of the Philippine Bar at a


time when he has no authorization or commission to do so, the offender may be
subjected to disciplinary action. For one, performing a notarial [act] without such
commission is a violation of the lawyers oath to obey the laws, more specifically, the
Notarial Law. Then, too, by making it appear that he is duly commissioned when he
is not, he is, for all legal intents and purposes, indulging in deliberate falsehood,
which the lawyers oath similarly proscribes. These violations fall squarely within the
prohibition of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
which provides: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.37[37]

The requirements for the issuance of a commission as notary public must not be
treated as a mere casual formality.33[33] The Court has characterized a lawyers act of
notarizing documents without the requisite commission therefore as reprehensible,

The importance of the function of a notary public cannot, therefore, be overemphasized. No less than the public faith in the integrity of public documents is at
stake in every aspect of that function.38[38]

30[30] Dumadag v. Lumaya, 334 SCRA 512 (2000).

The Charge Against The

31[31] Ma. Corazon D. Fulgencio v. Atty. Bienvenido G. Martin, A.C. 3223,


May 29, 2003.
32[32] Ruiz, Sr. v. Court of Appeals, 362 SCRA 40 (2001).

33[33] Section 2632 of the Notarial Law, provides:SEC. 2632. Certification of


document after expiration of authority of notary. Any person who, after the
expiration of his commission as notary or after the termination of his authority to act
as such, shall affix his seal or official signature to any document with intent to impart
the appearance of notarial authenticity thereto, shall be punished by a fine not
exceeding one thousand pesos or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year,
or both.

34[34] Buensuceso v. Barrera, 216 SCRA 309 (1992).


35[35] Joson v. Baltazar, 194 SCRA 114 (1991).
36[36] 306 SCRA 487 (1999).
37[37] Id. at 491-492.
38[38] Mena U. Gerona vs. Atty. Alfredo Datingaling, A.C. No. 4801,
February 27, 2003.

Respondent Is Supported By
The Evidence On Record
The respondent did not object to the complainants formal offer of evidence,
prompting the Investigating Justice to decide the case on the basis of the pleadings
filed.39[39] Neither did he claim that he was commissioned as notary public for the
years 1980 to 1983, nor deny the accuracy of the first certification. The respondent
merely alleged in his answer that there was no proper recording of the commissioned
lawyers in the City of Cagayan de Oro nor of the submitted Notarized
Documents/Notarial Register. Furthermore, as found by the Investigating Justice, the
respondent presented no evidence of his commission as notary public for the years
1980 to 1983, as well as proof of submission of notarial reports and the notarial
register.40[40]
The respondent in this case was given an opportunity to answer the charges and to
controvert the evidence against him in a formal investigation. When the integrity of a
member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he deny the charges; he must
meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him.41[41]
The respondents allegation that the complainant was not a party in any of the
documents so notarized, and as such was not prejudiced thereby, is unavailing. An
attorney may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath or of his duties
as an attorney and counselor which include the statutory grounds under Section 27,
Rule 13842[42] of the Revised Rules of Court. Any interested person or the court motu

proprio may initiate disciplinary proceedings. There can be no doubt as to the right of
a citizen to bring to the attention of the proper authority acts and doings of public
officers which citizens feel are incompatible with the duties of the office and from
which conduct the citizen or the public might or does suffer undesirable
consequences.43[43]
An Administrative Complaint
Against A Member Of The Bar
Does Not Prescribe
The qualification of good moral character is a requirement which is not dispensed
with upon admission to membership of the bar. This qualification is not only a
condition precedent to admission to the legal profession, but its continued possession
is essential to maintain ones good standing in the profession. It is a continuing
requirement to the practice of law and therefore does not preclude a subsequent
judicial inquiry, upon proper complaint, into any question concerning ones mental or
moral fitness before he became a lawyer. This is because his admission to practice
merely creates a rebuttable presumption that he has all the qualifications to become a
lawyer.44[44] The rule is settled that a lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any
misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be
wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of good
moral character is not only a prerequisite to admission to the bar but also a
continuing requirement to the practice of law.45[45]

39[39] Rollo, Vol. II, p. 514; Report and Recommendation, p. 6.


40[40] Report and Recommendation, p. 10.
41[41] Radjaie v. Alovera, 337 SCRA 244 (2000).
42[42] Sec. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court,
grounds therefore. - A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended
from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral
conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take

before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing as an


attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of
soliciting cases at law, for the purpose of gain, either personally or
through pad agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. ...
43[43] Marcelo v. Javier, Sr., 214 SCRA 1 (1992).
44[44] Carmelita I. Zaguirre v. Atty. Alfredo Castillo, Adm. Case No. 4921,
March 6, 2003.
45[45] Nakpil v. Valdes, 286 SCRA 758 (1998).

Furthermore, administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own,


distinct from and may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.46[46] As we
held in the leading case of In re Almacen:47[47]
[D]isciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor
purely criminal, they do not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but are rather
investigations by the Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended
to inflict punishment, [they are] in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly,
there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. [They] may be initiated by the
Court motu proprio. Public interest is [their] primary objective, and the real question
for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the
privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely
calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the
Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the
proper and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of members
who by their misconduct have prove[n] themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted
with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. ....48[48]

Pursuant to the foregoing, there can be no other conclusion than that an


administrative complaint against an erring lawyer who was thereafter appointed as a
judge, albeit filed only after twenty-four years after the offending act was committed,
is not barred by prescription. If the rule were otherwise, members of the bar would be
emboldened to disregard the very oath they took as lawyers, prescinding from the
fact that as long as no private complainant would immediately come forward, they
stand a chance of being completely exonerated from whatever administrative liability
they ought to answer for. It is the duty of this Court to protect the integrity of the
practice of law as well as the administration of justice. No matter how much time has
elapsed from the time of the commission of the act complained of and the time of the
institution of the complaint, erring members of the bench and bar cannot escape the
disciplining arm of the Court. This categorical pronouncement is aimed at
unscrupulous members of the bench and bar, to deter them from committing acts
which violate the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Code of Judicial Conduct,
or the Lawyers Oath. This should particularly apply in this case, considering the
seriousness of the matter involved - the respondents dishonesty and the sanctity of
notarial documents.

In a case involving a mere court employee49[49] the Court disregarded the Court
Administrators recommendation that the charge for immorality against the
respondent be dismissed on the ground that the complainants failed to adduce
evidence that the respondents immoral conduct was still ongoing. Aside from being
found guilty of illicit conduct, the respondent was also found guilty of dishonesty for
falsifying her childrens certificates of live birth to show that her paramour was the
father. The complaint in this case was filed on August 5, 1999, almost twenty years
after the illicit affair ended.50[50] The Court held that administrative offenses do not
prescribe.51[51]

Thus, even the lapse of considerable time, from the commission of the offending act
to the institution of the administrative complaint, will not erase the administrative
culpability of a lawyer who notarizes documents without the requisite authority
therefor.

46[46] Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pool, Inc. v. Naldoza, 315 SCRA 406
(1999).

Time and again, we have stressed the settled principle that the practice of law is not a
right but a privilege bestowed by the State on those who show that they possess the
qualifications required by law for the conferment of such privilege. Membership in

47[47] 31 SCRA 562 (1970).


48[48] Cited in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pool, Inc. v. Naldoza, supra.

50[50] The complainant admitted having indulged in an illicit relation from


1974 to 1980, with a married co-employee whose wife was employed in
the same court (Id. at 558).

49[49] Floria v. Sunga, 368 SCRA 550 (2001).

51[51] Id. at 559.

At Most, The Delay In The


Institution Of The
Administrative Case Would
Merely Mitigate The
Respondents Liability

the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. A high sense of morality, honesty,
and fair dealing is expected and required of a member of the bar.52[52] By his
actuations, the respondent failed to live up to such standards;53[53] he undermined the
confidence of the public on notarial documents and thereby breached Canon I of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, which requires lawyers to uphold the
Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for the law and legal
processes. The respondent also violated Rule 1.01 thereof which proscribes lawyers
from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.54[54] In
representing that he was possessed of the requisite notarial commission when he was,
in fact, not so authorized, the respondent also violated Rule 10.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and his oath as a lawyer that he shall do no falsehood.
The supreme penalty of disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct
that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the
court. While we will not hesitate to remove an erring attorney from the esteemed
brotherhood of lawyers where the evidence calls for it, we will likewise not disbar
him where a lesser penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end.55[55]
Furthermore, a tempering of justice is mandated in this case, considering that the
complaint against the respondent was filed twenty-four years after the commission of
the act complained of;56[56] that there was no private offended party who came
forward and claimed to have been adversely affected by the documents so notarized
by the respondent; and, the fact that the respondent is a retired judge who deserves to
enjoy the full measure of his well-earned retirement benefits.57[57] The Court finds
that a fine of P5,000.00 is justified in this case.

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Anthony E. Santos is found GUILTY of


notarizing documents without the requisite notarial commission therefor. He is
hereby ORDERED to pay a fine in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00).
SO ORDERED.
Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio,
Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., join Mr. Justice J. C. Vitug in his separate opinion.
Vitug, J., see separate opinion.

52[52] Emiliana M. Eustaquio, Piorillo Gutierrez Rubis and Alicia Montero


Rubis v. Atty. Rex Rimorin, A.C. 5081, March 24, 2003.
53[53] Fidel D. Aquino v. Atty. Oscar Manese, A.C. NO. 4958, April 3, 2003.
54[54] Saburnido v. Madroo, 366 SCRA 1 (2001).
55[55] Floria v. Sunga, supra at 561.
56[56] Sanlakas ng Barangay Julo, San Antonio, Incorporated v.
Empaynado, Jr., 351 SCRA 201 (2001).

57[57] Sanlakas ng Barangay Julo, San Antonio, Inc. v. Empaynado, Jr., 351
SCRA 201 (2001).

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 6484

The respondent refused to return the whole amount of P95,000.00 to the


complainant.1awp++i1 He argued that a complaint2 for annulment of title against
Ard Cervantes had actually been filed in court, though not by him, but by another
lawyer, Atty. Edgar M. Abitria. Thus, he was willing to return only what was left of
the P95,000.00 after deducting therefrom the P50,000.00 that he paid to Atty. Abitria
as acceptance fee for handling the case.

June 16, 2015

ADELITA B. LLUNAR, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. ROMULO RICAFORT, Respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
The present administrative case stemmed from the complaint-affidavit1 that Adelita
B. Llunar (complainant) filed against Atty. Romulo Ricafort (respondent) for gross
and inexcusable negligence and serious misconduct.
Antecedents
In September 2000, the complainant, as attorney-in-fact of Severina Baez, hired the
respondent to file a case against father and son Ricardo and Ard Cervantes (Ard) for
the recovery of a parcel of land allegedly owned by the Baez family but was
fraudulently registered under the name of Ricardo and later was transferred to Ard.
The property, which Ard had mortgaged with the Rural Bank of Malilipot, Albay,
was the subject of foreclosure proceedings at the time the respondent was hired. The
respondent received from the complainant the following afuounts: (a) P70,000.00 as
partial payment of the redemption price of the property; (b) P19,000.00 to cover the
filing fees; and (c) P6,500.00 as attorney's fees.
Three years later, the complainant learned that no case involving the subject property
was ever filed by the respondent with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Legaspi
City. Thus, the complainant demanded that the respondent return to her the amount of
P95,000.00.

The complainant refused to recognize the complaint for annulment of title filed by
Atty. Abitria and claimed that she had no knowledge of Atty. Abitria's engagement as
counsel. Besides, the complaint was filed three (3) years late and the property could
no longer be redeemed from the bank. Also, the complainant discovered that the
respondent had been suspended indefinitely from the practice of law since May 29,
2002, pursuant to this Court's decision in Administrative Case No. 5054,3 which the
complainant suspected was the reason another lawyer, and not the respondent, filed
the complaint for annulment of title in court.
In a resolution4 dated February 2, 2005, the Court referred the case to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
In a report5 dated May 22, 2009, IBP Investigating Commissioner Cecilio C.
Villanueva found the respondent to have been grossly negligent in handling the
complainant's case and to have gravely abused the trust and confidence reposed in
him by the complainant, thereby, violating Canons 156 and 17,7 and Rules 1.01,8
16.03,9 18.03,10 and 18.0411 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).
Also, the Investigating Commissioner found the respondent to have erred in not
informing his client that he was under indefinite suspension from the practice of law.
Due to these infractions, Commissioner Villanueva recommended that the respondent
remain suspended indefinitely from the practice of law.
In Resolution No. XIX-2011-224 dated May 14, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors
agreed with the Investigating Commissioner's findings on the respondent's liability
but modified the recommended penalty from indefinite suspension to disbarment.12
It also ordered the respondent to return to the complainant the amount of P95,000.00
within thirty (30) days from notice. The respondent moved for reconsideration.
In his motion for reconsideration,13 the respondent argued that his referral of the
complainant's case to Atty. Abitria was actually with the complainant's knowledge

and consent; and that he paid Atty. Abitria P50,000.00 for accepting the case. These
facts were confirmed by Atty. Abitria in an affidavit14 dated November 17, 2004, but
were alleged to have been overlooked by Commissioner Villanueva in his report. The
IBP Board . of Governors, in Resolution No. XX-2013-710 dated June 21, 2013,
denied the respondent's motion for reconsideration.15
Our Ruling
We find the respondent guilty of Grave Misconduct in his dealings with his client and
in engaging in the practice of law while under indefinite suspension, and thus impose
upon him the ultimate penalty of DISBARMENT.
The respondent in this case committed several infractions making him liable for
grave misconduct. First, the respondent did not exert due diligence in handling the
complainant's case. He failed to act promptly in redeeming the complainant's
property within the period of redemption. What is worse is the delay of three years
before a complaint to recover the property was actually filed in court. The respondent
clearly dilly-dallied on the complainant's case and wasted precious time and
opportunity that were then readily available to recover the complainant's property.
Under these facts, the respondent violated Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility (CPR), which states that "a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter
entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable."
Second, the respondent failed to return, upon demand, the amounts given to him by
the complainant for handling the latter's case. On three separate occasions, the
respondent received from the complainant the amounts of P19,000.00, P70,000.00,
and P6,500.00 for purposes of redeeming the mortgaged property from the bank and
filing the necessary civil easels against Ard Cervantes. The complainant approached
the respondent several times thereafter to follow up on the easels to be filed
supposedly by the respondent who, in turn, reassured her that actions on her case had
been taken.
After the complainant discovered three years later that the respondent had not filed
any case in court, she demanded that the respondent return the amount of P95,000.00,
but her demand was left unheeded. The respondent later promised to pay her, but
until now, no payment of any amount has been made. These facts confirm that the
respondent violated Canon 16 of the CPR, which mandates every lawyer to "hold in
trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession"16 and
to "account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client."17

In addition, a lawyer's failure to return upon demand the funds or property he holds
for his client gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated these funds or
property for his own use to the prejudice of, and in violation of the trust reposed in
him by his client.18
Third, the respondent committed dishonesty by not being forthright with the
complainant that he was under indefinite suspension from the practice of law. The
respondent should have disclosed this fact at the time he was approached by the
complainant for his services. Canon 15 of the CPR states that "a lawyer shall observe
candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his clients." The
respondent lacked the candor expected of him as a member of the Bar when he
accepted the complainant's case despite knowing that he could not and should not
practice law.
Lastly, the respondent was effectively in the practice of law despite the indefinite
suspension imposed on him. This infraction infinitely aggravates the offenses he
committed. Based on the above facts alone, the penalty of suspension for five (5)
years from the practice of law would have been justified, but the respondent is not an
ordinary violator of the profession's ethical rules; he is a repeat violator of these
rules. In Nunez v. Atty. Ricafort,19 we had adjudged the respondent liable for grave
misconduct in failing to turn over the proceeds of the sale of a property owned by his
client and in issuing bounced checks to satisfy the alias writ of execution issued by
the court in the case for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 filed against him by his
client. We then suspended him indefinitely from the practice of law - a penalty short
of disbarment. Under his current liability - which is no different in character from his
previous offense - we have no other way but to proceed to decree his disbarment. He
has become completely unworthy of membership in our honorable profession.
With respect to the amount to be returned to the complainant, we agree with the IBP
that the respondent should return the whole amount of P95,000.00, without
deductions, regardless of whether the engagement of Atty. Abitria as counsel was
with the complainant's knowledge and consent.
In the first place, the hiring of Atty. Abitria would not have been necessary had the
respondent been honest and diligent in handling the complainant's case from the start.
The complainant should not be burdened with the expense of hiring another lawyer to
perform the services that the respondent was hired to do, especially in this case where
there was an inexcusable non-delivery of such services.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Romulo Ricafort is hereby DISBARRED from the


practice of law and his name REMOVED from the Roll of Attorneys, effective
immediately upon his receipt of this Decision. Also, he is ORDERED to RETURN
the amount of P95,000.00 to complainant Adelita B. Llunar, within thirty (30) days
from notice of this Decision.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the respondent's personal record and
furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and
the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country. This
Decision should likewise be posted on the Supreme Court website for the
information of the general public.

Associate Justice
(On official leave)
MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
Associate Justice

FRANCIS H. JARDELEZA
Associate Justice

Footnotes
* On official leave.
1 Rollo, pp. 1-6.

SO ORDERED.
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO
Chief Justice
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO,
JR.
Associate Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE
CASTRO
Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

(On official leave)


DIOSDADO M. PERALTA*
Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

ESTELA M. PERLASBERNABE

2 Dated October 11, 2003; id. at 11-13.


3 Nuez v. Ricafort, 432 Phil. 131 (2002).
4 Rollo, p. 40.
5 Id. at 187-192.
6 ANON 15 - A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his
dealings and transactions with his clients.
7 CANON 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall
be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.
8 Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.
9 Rule 16.03 - A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client
when due or upon demand. However, he shall have a lien over the funds and
may apply so much thereof as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and
disbursements, giving notice promptly thereafter to his client. He shall also
have a lien to the same extent on all judgments and executions he has secured
for his client as provided for in the Rules of Court.

10 Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and
his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.
11 Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his
case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the client's request for
information.
12 Rollo, pp. 185-186.
13 Id. at 156-158.
14 Id. at 159.
15 Id. at 183.
16 CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Canon 16.
17 Id. at Rule 16.01.
18 Espiritu v. Ulep, 497 Phil. 339, 345 (2005).
19 Supra note 3.

FIRST DIVISION

Promulgated:
ATTY. MARCELINO CABUCANA,

LETICIA GONZALES,

A.C. No. 6836

Respondent.

January 23, 2006

Complainant,
Present:

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

RESOLUTION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
PANGANIBAN, C.J., Chairman,

Before this Court is a complaint filed by Leticia Gonzales (Gonzales)


praying that Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, (respondent) be disbarred for

YNARES-SANTIAGO,
- versus -

representing conflicting interests.

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, and

On January 8, 2004, Gonzales filed a petition before the Integrated Bar


of the Philippines (IBP) alleging that: she was the complainant in a case

CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

for sum of money and damages filed before the Municipal Trial Court in
Cities (MTCC) of Santiago City, docketed as Civil Case No. 1-567
where she was represented by the law firm CABUCANA, CABUCANA,

DE GUZMAN AND CABUCANA LAW OFFICE, with Atty. Edmar

On January 9, 2004, the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline ordered

Cabucana

Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. to submit his Answer to the complaint.[7]

handling

the

case

and

herein

respondent

as

an

associate/partner; on February 26, 2001, a decision was rendered in the


civil case ordering the losing party to pay Gonzales the amount of
P17,310.00 with interest and P6,000.00 as attorneys fees; Sheriff Romeo
Gatcheco, failed to fully implement the writ of execution issued in
connection with the judgment which prompted Gonzales to file a
complaint against the said sheriff with this Court; in September 2003,
Sheriff Gatcheco and his wife went to the house of Gonzales; they
harassed Gonzales and asked her to execute an affidavit of desistance
regarding her complaint before this Court; Gonzales thereafter filed
against the Gatchecos criminal cases for trespass, grave threats, grave
oral defamation, simple coercion and unjust vexation; notwithstanding
the pendency of Civil Case No. 1-567, where respondents law firm was
still representing Gonzales, herein respondent represented the Gatchecos
in the cases filed by Gonzales against the said spouses; respondent
should be disbarred from the practice of law since respondents
acceptance of the cases of the Gatchecos violates the lawyer-client
relationship between complainant and respondents law firm and renders
respondent liable under the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR)
particularly Rules 10.01,[1] 13.01,[2] 15.02,[3] 15.03,[4] 21.01[5] and
21.02.[6]

In his Answer, respondent averred: He never appeared and represented


complainant in Civil Case No. 1-567 since it was his brother, Atty.
Edmar Cabucana who appeared and represented Gonzales in said case.
He admitted that he is representing Sheriff Gatcheco and his wife in the
cases filed against them but claimed that his appearance is pro bono and
that the spouses pleaded with him as no other counsel was willing to take
their case. He entered his appearance in good faith and opted to represent
the spouses rather than leave them defenseless. When the Gatchecos
asked for his assistance, the spouses said that the cases filed against them
by Gonzales were merely instigated by a high ranking official who
wanted to get even with them for their refusal to testify in favor of the
said official in another case. At first, respondent declined to serve as
counsel of the spouses as he too did not want to incur the ire of the highranking official, but after realizing that he would be abdicating a sworn
duty to delay no man for money or malice, respondent entered his
appearance as defense counsel of the spouses free of any charge. Not
long after, the present complaint was crafted against respondent which
shows that respondent is now the subject of a demolition job. The civil
case filed by Gonzales where respondents brother served as counsel is
different and distinct from the criminal cases filed by complainant

against the Gatcheco spouses, thus, he did not violate any canon on legal

which is a violation of the CPR; and that respondent continues to use the

ethics. [8]

name of De Guzman in their law firm despite the fact that said partner

Gonzales filed a Reply contending that the civil case handled by


respondents brother is closely connected with the cases of the Gatchecos

has already been appointed as Assistant Prosecutor of Santiago City,


again in violation of the CPR.[13]

which the respondent is handling; that the claim of respondent that he is

Respondent filed his Position Paper restating his allegations in his

handling the cases of the spouses pro bono is not true since he has his

Answer.[14]

own agenda in offering his services to the spouses; and that the
allegation that she is filing the cases against the spouses because she is
being used by a powerful person is not true since she filed the said cases
out of her own free will.[9]
The Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP sent to the parties a Notice
of Mandatory Conference dated March 1, 2004.[10] On the scheduled
conference, only a representative of complainant appeared.[11]
Commissioner Demaree Raval of the IBP-CBD then directed both
parties to file their respective verified position papers.[12]
Complainant filed a Memorandum reiterating her earlier assertions and
added that respondent prepared and notarized counter-affidavits of the
Gatcheco spouses; that the high-ranking official referred to by
respondent is Judge Ruben Plata and the accusations of respondent
against the said judge is an attack against a brother in the profession

On August 23, 2004, Commissioner Wilfredo E.J.E. Reyes issued an


Order notifying both parties to appear before his office on October 28,
2004 for a clarificatory question regarding said case.[15] On the said
date, only respondent appeared[16] presenting a sworn affidavit executed
by Gonzales withdrawing her complaint against respondent. It reads:
SINUMPAANG SALAYSAY
TUNGKOL SA PAG-UURONG NG DEMANDA
Ako, si LETICIA GONZALES, nasa tamang edad, Pilipino, may
asawa, at nakatira sa Barangay Dubinan East, Santiago City,
makaraang manumpa ayon sa batas ay nagsasabing:
Ako ang nagdedemanda o petitioner sa CBD Case No. 04-1186 na
may pamagat na Leticia Gonzales versus Atty. Marcelino C.
Cabucana, Jr. na kasalukuyang nahaharap sa Commission on Bar
Discipline ng Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Ang pagkakahain ng naturang demanda ay nag-ugat sa dipagkakaintindihan na namamagitan sa akin at nina Mr. and Mrs.
Romeo and Anita Gatcheco.

Dahil sa aking galit sa naturang mag-asawa, idinawit ko si Atty.


Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. sa sigalot na namamagitan sa akin at sa
mag-asawang Gatcheco, gayong nalalaman ko na si Atty. Marcelino
C. Cabucana ay walang nalalaman sa naturang di pagkakaintindihan.
Makaraang pag-isipang mabuti ang paghain ko ng demanda kontra
kay Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr., nakumbinsi ako na ang
pagdedemanda ko kay Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. ay isang
malaking pagkakamali dahil siya ay walang kinalalaman (sic) sa di
pagkakaintindihan naming(sic) ng mag-asawang Gatcheco.
Si Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. ay di ko rin naging abogado sa
Civil Case No. 1-567 (MTCC Br. I Santiago City) na inihain ko
kontra kay Eduardo Mangano.
Nais kong ituwid ang lahat kung kayat aking iniuurong ang naturang kasong inihain
ko kontra kay Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. at dahil dito ay hindi na ako
interesado pang ituloy and naturang kaso, at aking hinihiling sa kinauukulan na
dismisin na ang naturang kaso.
Ginawa ko ang sinumpaang salaysay na ito upang patotohanan sa
lahat ng nakasaad dito.[17]

On February 24, 2005, Commissioner Reyes submitted his Report and


Recommendation, portions of which are quoted hereunder:
The Undersigned Commissioner believes that the respondent made a
mistake in the acceptance of the administrative case of Romeo
Gatcheco, however, the Commission (sic) believes that there was no
malice and bad faith in the said acceptance and this can be shown by
the move of the complainant to unilaterally withdraw the case which
she filed against Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. However, Atty.
Cabucana is reminded to be more careful in the acceptance of cases as
conflict of interests might arise.
It is respectfully recommended that Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr.
(be) sternly warned and reprimanded andadvised to be more
circumspect and careful in accepting cases which might result in
conflict of interests.[21]

On June 25, 2005, a Resolution was passed by the Board of Governors of


the IBP, to wit:
RESOLUTION NO. XVI-2005-153
CBD CASE NO. 03-1186
Leticia Gonzales vs.

Commissioner Reyes issued an Order dated October 28, 2004 requiring

Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr.

Gonzales to appear before him on November 25, 2004, to affirm her


statements and to be subject to clarificatory questioning.[18] However,
none of the parties appeared.[19] On February 17, 2005, only respondent
was present. Commissioner Reyes then considered the case as submitted
for resolution.[20]

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED


and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made
part of this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation
fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and
rules, and considering that respondent made (a) mistake in the
acceptance of the administrative case of Romeo Gatcheco, Atty.

Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. is hereby WARNED and REPRIMANDED


and advised to be more circumspect and careful in accepting cases
which might result in conflict of interests.[22]

then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers,


which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.[26]

Before going to the merits, let it be clarified that contrary to the

One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the

report of Commissioner Reyes, respondent did not only represent

acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the

the Gatcheco spouses in the administrative case filed by Gonzales

lawyers duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite

against them. As respondent himself narrated in his Position Paper,

suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of

he likewise acted as their counsel in the criminal cases filed by

that duty.[27] As we expounded in the recent case of Quiambao vs.

Gonzales against them.[23]

Bamba,[28]

With that settled, we find respondent guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of


Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:

Rule 15.03 A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interest except by


written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the
facts.

It is well-settled that a lawyer is barred from representing


conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given
after a full disclosure of the facts.[24] Such prohibition is founded on
principles of public policy and good taste as the nature of the lawyerclient relations is one of trust and confidence of the highest degree.[25]
Lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the clients confidence,
but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only

The proscription against representation of conflicting interests


applies to a situation where the opposing parties are present clients in
the same action or in an unrelated action. It is of no moment that the
lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which
the lawyer has to oppose for the other client, or that there would be no
occasion to use the confidential information acquired from one to the
disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly unrelated. It is
enough that the opposing parties in one case, one of whom would lose
the suit, are present clients and the nature or conditions of the lawyers
respective retainers with each of them would affect the performance
of the duty of undivided fidelity to both clients.[29]

The claim of respondent that there is no conflict of interests in this


case, as the civil case handled by their law firm where Gonzales is
the complainant and the criminal cases filed by Gonzales against the
Gatcheco spouses are not related, has no merit. The representation
of opposing clients in said cases, though unrelated, constitutes

conflict of interests or, at the very least, invites suspicion of double-

prosper as it is settled that while there may be instances where

dealing which this Court cannot allow.[30]

lawyers cannot decline representation they cannot be made to labor

Respondent further argued that it was his brother who represented


Gonzales in the civil case and not him, thus, there could be no
conflict of interests. We do not agree. As respondent admitted, it was
their law firm which represented Gonzales in the civil case. Such
being the case, the rule against representing conflicting interests
applies.
As we explained in the case of Hilado vs. David:[31]

under conflict of interest between a present client and a prospective


one.[34] Granting also that there really was no other lawyer who
could handle the spouses case other than him, still he should have
observed the requirements laid down by the rules by conferring with
the prospective client to ascertain as soon as practicable whether the
matter would involve a conflict with another client then seek the
written consent of all concerned after a full disclosure of the facts.
[35] These respondent failed to do thus exposing himself to the
charge of double-dealing.

[W]e can not sanction his taking up the cause of the adversary
of the party who had sought and obtained legal advice from his firm;
this, not necessarily to prevent any injustice to the plaintiff but to keep
above reproach the honor and integrity of the courts and of the bar.
Without condemning the respondents conduct as dishonest, corrupt, or
fraudulent, we do believe that upon the admitted facts it is highly
inexpedient. It had the tendency to bring the profession, of which he is
a distinguished member, into public disrepute and suspicion and
undermine the integrity of justice.[32]

The claim of respondent that he acted in good faith and with


honest intention will also not exculpate him as such claim does not

We note the affidavit of desistance filed by Gonzales. However, we


are not bound by such desistance as the present case involves public
interest.[36] Indeed, the Courts exercise of its power to take
cognizance of administrative cases against lawyers is not for the
purpose of enforcing civil remedies between parties, but to protect
the court and the public against an attorney guilty of unworthy
practices in his profession.[37]

render the prohibition inoperative.[33]


In similar cases where the respondent was found guilty of representing
In the same manner, his claim that he could not turn down the

conflicting interests a penalty ranging from one to three years suspension

spouses as no other lawyer is willing to take their case cannot

was imposed.[38]

We shall consider however as mitigating circumstances the fact that

commission of the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt

he is representing the Gatcheco spouses pro bono and that it was his

with more severely.

firm and not respondent personally, which handled the civil case of
Gonzales. As recounted by complainant herself, Atty. Edmar
Cabucana signed the civil case of complainant by stating first the
name of the law firm CABUCANA, CABUCANA, DE GUZMAN

SO ORDERED.
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ

AND CABUCANA LAW OFFICE, under which, his name and

Associate Justice

signature appear; while herein respondent signed the pleadings for

WE CONCUR:

the Gatcheco spouses only with his name,[39] without any mention

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

of the law firm. We also note the observation of the IBP


Commissioner Reyes that there was no malice and bad faith in
respondents acceptance of the Gatchecos cases as shown by the move
of complainant to withdraw the case.

Chief Justice
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Thus, for violation of Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional


Responsibility and taking into consideration the aforementioned
mitigating circumstances, we impose the penalty of fine of P2,000.00.

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

WHEREFORE, Resolution No. XVI-2005-153 of the Integrated Bar


of the Philippines is APPROVED with MODIFICATION that
respondent Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. is FINED the amount of

[1]

Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.

[2]

Rule 13.01 A lawyer shall not extend extraordinary attention or hospitality to, nor
seek opportunity for, cultivating familiarity with judges.

Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) with a STERN WARNING that a

[3]

Rule 15.02 A lawyer shall be bound by the rule on privilege communication in


respect of matters disclosed to him by a prospective client.

[14]

Id., pp. 46-50.

[15]

Id., p. 54.

[16]

Id., p. 55.

[17]

Id., p. 56.

[18]

Id., p. 58.

a) When authorized by the client after acquainting him of the consequences


of the disclosure;

[19]

Id., p. 60.

b)

[20]

Id., p. 63.

[21]

Id., pp. 68-69.

[22]

Id., p. 65.

[23]

Id., pp. 46-49.

[24]

See Rule 15.03, Code of Professional Responsibility.

[25]

Quiambao vs. Bamba, A.C. No. 6708 (CBD Case No. 01-874), August 25, 2005.

Rule 15.03 A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written
consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.

[4]

Rule 21.01 A lawyer shall not reveal the confidences or secrets of his client
except:

[5]

When required by law;

c) When necessary to collect his fees or to defend himself, his employees or


associates or by judicial action.
[6]

Rule 21.02 A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his client, use information
acquired in the course of employment, nor shall he use the same to his own
advantage or that of a third person, unless the client with full knowledge of
the circumstances consents thereto.

Rollo, pp. 1-3.


[7]

Rollo, p. 10.

[26]

Ibid.

[8]

Id., pp. 12-16.

[27]

Santos, Sr. vs. Beltran, A.C. No. 5858, December 11, 2003, 418 SCRA 17, 25-26.

[9]

Id., pp. 19-21.

[28] A.C.

No. 6708 (CBD Case No. 01-874), August 25, 2005.

[10]

Id., p. 29.

[29]

Ibid.

[11]

Id., p. 33.

[30]

Ibid.

[12]

Id., p. 53.

[31]

84 Phil. 569 (1949).

[13]

Id., pp. 37-41.

[32]

Id., p. 579.

[33]

Quiambao vs. Bamba, supra.

[34]

Ibid.

[35]

See Rules 15.01 & 15.03, CPR.

[36]

Mercado vs. Vitriolo, 459 SCRA 1, 8; Rangwani vs. Dio, 443 SCRA 408, 417.

[37]

Rangwani vs. Dio, supra.

[38]

Quiambao vs. Bamba, Adm. Case No. 6708, August 25, 2005; Vda de Alisbo vs.
Jalandoni, A.C. No. 1311, July 18, 1991, 199 SCRA 321; PNB vs. Cedo, 312
Phil. 904 (1995); Maturan vs. Gonzales, 350 Phil. 882 (1998); Northwestern
University, Inc. vs. Arguillo, A.C. No. 6632, August 2, 2005.

[39]

See rollo, pp. 1-2, 38.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

Cebu City, Branch 18, for Homicide in Criminal Case No. CBU-31733. Garcia
alleged that Sesbreo is only on parole. Garcia alleged that homicide is a crime
against moral turpitude; and thus, Sesbreo should not be allowed to continue his
practice of law.

EN BANC
A.C. No. 7973 and A.C. No. 10457

February 3, 2015

MELVYN G. GARCIA, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. RAUL H. SESBRENO, Respondent.
DECISION

In his Comment, Sesbreo alleged that on 15 August 2008, Garcia filed a similar
complaint against him before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Commission on
Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), docketed as CBC Case No. 08-2273. Sesbreo alleged
that Garcias complaint was motivated by resentment and desire for revenge because
he acted as pro bono counsel for Maria Margarita and Angie Ruth.
In the Courts Resolution dated 18 January 2010, the Court referred A.C. No. 7973 to
the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation.

PER CURIAM:

A.C. No. 10457 (CBC Case No. 08-2273)

Two complaints for disbarment were filed by Dr. Melvyn G. Garcia (Garcia) against
Atty. Raul H. Sesbrefio (Sesbrefio). The two cases, docketed as A.C. No. 7973 and
A.C. No. 10457, were consolidated in the Court's Resolution dated 30 September
2014.

A day prior to the filing of A.C. No. 7973, or on 29 July 2008, Garcia filed a
complaint for disbarment against Sesbreo before the IBP-CBD. He alleged that
Sesbreo is practicing law despite his previous conviction for homicide in Criminal
Case No. CBU-31733, and despite the facts that he is only on parole and that he has
not fully served his sentence. Garcia alleged that Sesbreo violated Section 27, Rule
138 of the Rules of Court by continuing to engage in the practice of law despite his
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Upon the directive of the IBP-CBD,
Garcia submitted his verified complaint against Sesbreo alleging basically the same
facts he alleged in A.C. No. 7973.

A.C. No. 7973


On 30 July 2008, Garcia filed a complaint for disbarment against Sesbreo before the
Office of the Bar Confidant. The case was docketed as A.C. No. 7973. Garcia alleged
that in 1965, he married Virginia Alcantara in Cebu. They had two children, Maria
Margarita and Angie Ruth. In 1971, he and Virginia separated. He became a dentist
and practiced his profession in Cabanatuan City. Garcia alleged that in1992, Virginia
filed a petition for the annulment of their marriage, which was eventually granted.
Garcia alleged that in 2005 while he was in Japan, Sesbreo, representing Maria
Margarita and Angie Ruth, filed an action for support against him and his sister
Milagros Garcia Soliman. At the time of the filing of the case, Maria Margarita was
already 39 years old while Angie Ruth was 35 years old. The case was dismissed. In
2007, Garcia returned from Japan. When Sesbreo and Garcias children learned
abouthis return, Sesbreo filed a Second Amended Complaint against him. Garcia
alleged that he learned that Sesbreo was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of

In his answer to the complaint, Sesbreo alleged that his sentence was commuted and
the phrase "with the inherent accessory penalties provided by law" was deleted.
Sesbreo argued that even if the accessory penalty was not deleted, the
disqualification applies only during the term of the sentence. Sesbreo further alleged
that homicide does not involve moral turpitude. Sesbreo claimed that Garcias
complaint was motivated by extreme malice, bad faith, and desire to retaliate against
him for representing Garcias daughters in court.
The IBP-CBD consolidated A.C. No. 7973 with CBD Case No. 08-2273. The parties
agreed on the sole issue to be resolved: whether moral turpitude is involved in a
conviction for homicide. The IBP-CBD ruled that the Regional Trial Court of Cebu
found Sesbreo guilty of murder and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion

perpetua. On appeal, this Court downgraded the crime to homicide and sentenced
Sesbreo to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for 9 years and 1 day of prision
mayor as minimum to 16 years and 4 months of reclusion temporalas maximum. The
IBP-CBD found that Sesbreo was released from confinement on 27 July 2001
following his acceptance of the conditions of his parole on 10 July 2001.
The IBP-CBD ruled that conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude is a ground
for disbarment or suspension. Citing International Rice Research Institute v. National
Labor Relations Commission,1 the IBPCBD further ruled that homicide may or may
not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. The IBP-CBD
reviewed the decision of this Court convicting Sesbreo for the crime of homicide,
and found that the circumstances leading to the death of the victim involved moral
turpitude. The IBP-CBD stated:
Neither victim Luciano Amparadon or his companion Christopher Yapchangco was
shown to be a foe of respondent and neither had the victim Luciano nor his
companion Christopher shown to have wronged the respondent. They simply
happened to be at the wrong place and time the early morning of June 3, 1993.
The circumstances leading to the death of Luciano solely caused by respondent, bear
the earmarks of moral turpitude. Paraphrasing what the Supreme Court observed in
Soriano v. Dizon, supra, the respondent, by his conduct, displayed extreme arrogance
and feeling of self-importance. Respondent acted like a god who deserved not to be
slighted by a couple of drunks who may have shattered the stillness of the early
morning with their boisterous antics, natural display of loud bravado of drunken men
who had one too many. Respondents inordinate over reaction to the ramblings of
drunken men who were not even directed at respondent reflected poorly on his fitness
to be a member of the legal profession. Respondent was not only vindictive without a
cause; he was cruel with a misplaced sense of superiority.2
Following the ruling of this Court in Soriano v. Atty. Dizon3 where the respondent
was disbarred for having been convicted of frustrated homicide, the IBP-CBD
recommended that Sesbreo be disbarred and his name stricken from the Roll of
Attorneys.
In its Resolution No. XX-2013-19 dated 12 February 2013, the IBP Board of
Governors adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of the IBP-CBD.

On 6 May 2013, Sesbreo filed a motion for reconsideration before the IBP-CBD.
Sesbreo alleged that the IBP-CBD misunderstood and misapplied Soriano v. Atty.
Dizon. He alleged that the attendant circumstances in Sorianoare disparate, distinct,
and different from his case. He further alleged that there was no condition set on the
grant of executive clemency to him; and thus, he was restored to his full civil and
political rights. Finally, Sesbreo alleged that after his wife died in an ambush, he
already stopped appearing as private prosecutor in the case for bigamy against Garcia
and that he already advised his clients to settle their other cases. He alleged that
Garcia already withdrew the complaints against him.
On 11 February 2014, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XX-201431 denying Sesbreos motion for reconsideration. The IBPCBD transmitted the
records of the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant on 20 May 2014. CBD Case
No. 08-2273 was redocketed as A.C. No. 10457. In the Courts Resolution dated 30
September 2014, the Court consolidated A.C. No. 7973 and A.C. No. 10457.
The only issue in these cases is whether conviction for the crime of homicide
involves moral turpitude.
We adopt the findings and recommendation of the IBP-CBD and approve Resolution
No. XX-2013-19 dated 12 February 2013 and Resolution No. XX-2014-31 dated 11
February 2014 of the IBP Board of Governors.
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states that a member of the bar may be
disbarred or suspended as attorney by this Court by reason of his conviction of a
crime involving moral turpitude. This Court has ruled that disbarment is the
appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment for a crime involving moral
turpitude.4 Moral turpitude is an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private
duties which a man owes to his fellow men or to society in general, contraryto
justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.5
The question of whether conviction for homicide involves moral turpitude was
discussed by this Court in International Rice Research Institute v. NLRC6 where it
ruled:
This is not to say that all convictions of the crime of homicide do not involve moral
turpitude.1wphi1 Homicide may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on
the degree of the crime. Moral turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is
not shown by every known and intentional violation of statute, but whether any

particular conviction involves moral turpitude may be a question of fact and


frequently depends on all the surrounding circumstances. While x x x generally but
not always, crimes mala in seinvolve moral turpitude, while crimes mala prohibitado
not, it cannot always be ascertained whether moral turpitude does or does not exist by
classifying a crime as malum in se or as malum prohibitum, since there are crimes
which are mala in se and yet rarely involve moral turpitude and there are crimes
which involve moral turpitude and are mala prohibita only. It follows therefore, that
moral turpitude is somewhat a vague and indefinite term, the meaning of which must
be left to the process of judicial inclusion or exclusion as the cases are reached.7
In People v. Sesbreo,8 the Court found Sesbreo guilty of homicide and ruled:
WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City,
Branch 18, in Criminal Case No. CBU-31733 is hereby MODIFIED. Appellant Raul
H. Sesbreois hereby found GUILTY of HOMICIDE and hereby sentenced to suffer
a prison term of 9 years and 1 day of prision mayor, as a minimum, to 16 years and 4
months of reclusion temporal, as a maximum, with accessory penalties provided by
law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Luciano Amparado in the amount of
P50,000.00 and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.9
We reviewed the Decision of this Court and we agree with the IBPCBD that the
circumstances show the presence of moral turpitude.
The Decision showed that the victim Luciano Amparado (Amparado) and his
companion Christopher Yapchangco (Yapchangco) were walking and just passed by
Sesbreos house when the latter, without any provocation from the former, went out
of his house, aimed his rifle, and started firing at them. According to Yapchangco,
theywere about five meters, more or less, from the gate of Sesbreo when they heard
the screeching sound of the gate and when they turned around, they saw Sesbreo
aiming his rifle at them. Yapchangco and Amparado ran away but Amparado was hit.
An eyewitness, Rizaldy Rabanes (Rabanes), recalled that he heard shots and opened
the window of his house. He saw Yapchangco and Amparado running away while
Sesbreo was firing his firearm rapidly, hitting Rabanes house in the process.
Another witness, Edwin Parune, saw Amparado fall down after being shot, then saw
Sesbreo in the middle of the street, carrying a long firearm, and walking back
towards the gate of his house. The IBP-CBD correctly stated that Amparado and
Yapchangco were just at the wrong place and time. They did not do anything that

justified the indiscriminate firing done by Sesbreo that eventually led to the death of
Amparado.
We cannot accept Sesbreos argument that the executive clemency restored his full
civil and political rights. Sesbreo cited In re Atty. Parcasio10 to bolster his
argument. In thatcase, Atty. Parcasio was granted "an absolute and unconditional
pardon"11 which restored his "full civil and political rights,"12 a circumstance not
present inthese cases. Here, the Order of Commutation13 did not state that the pardon
was absolute and unconditional. The accessory penalties were not mentioned when
the original sentence was recited in the Order of Commutation and they were also not
mentioned in stating the commuted sentence. It only states: By virtue of the authority
conferred upon me by the Constitution and upon the recommendation of the Board of
Pardons and Parole, the original sentence of prisoner RAUL SESBREO Y HERDA
convicted by the Regional Trial Court, Cebu City and Supreme Court and sentenced
to an indeterminate prison term of from 9 years and 1 day to 16 years and 4 months
imprisonment and to pay an indemnity of P50,000.00 is/are hereby commuted to an
indeterminate prison term of from 7 years and 6 months to 10 years imprisonment
and to pay an indemnity of P50,000.00.14
Again, there was no mention that the executive clemency was absolute and
unconditional and restored Sesbreo to his full civil and political rights.
There are four acts of executive clemency that the President can extend: the President
can grant reprieves, commutations, pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after
conviction by final judgment.15 In this case, the executive clemency merely
"commuted to an indeterminate prison term of 7 years and 6 months to 10 years
imprisonment" the penalty imposed on Sesbrefio. Commutation is a mere reduction
of penalty.16 Commutation only partially extinguished criminal liability.17 The
penalty for Sesbrefio' s crime was never wiped out. He served the commuted or
reduced penalty, for which reason he was released from prison. More importantly, the
Final Release and Discharge18 stated that "[i]t is understood that such x x x
accessory penalties of the law as have not been expressly remitted herein shall
subsist." Hence, the Parcasio case has no application here. Even if Sesbrefio has been
granted pardon, there is nothing in the records that shows that it was a full and
unconditional pardon. In addition, the practice of law is not a right but a privilege.19
It is granted only to those possessing good moral character.20 A violation of the high
moral standards of the legal profession justifies the imposition of the appropriate
penalty against a lawyer, including the penalty of disbarment.21

WHEREFORE, respondent Raul H. Sesbrefio is DISBARRED effective immediately


upon his receipt of this Decision.

Footnotes
* On leave.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters, and the Office of
the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts all over the country. Let a
copy of this Decision be attached to the personal records of respondent.
SO ORDERED.

1 G.R. No. 97239, 12 May 1993, 221 SCRA 760.


2 Rollo (A.C. No. 10457), pp. 275-276.
3 515 Phil. 635 (2006).

MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO


Chief Justice
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO,
JR.
Associate Justice

4 Re: SC Decision Dated May 20, 2008 in G.R. No. 161455 Under Rule 139B of the Rules of Court v. Atty. Rodolfo D. Pactolin, A.C. No. 7940, 24 April
2012, 670 SCRA 366.
5 Catalan, Jr. v. Silvosa, A.C. No. 7360, 24 July 2012, 677 SCRA 352.
6 Supra note 1.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE
CASTRO
Associate Justice

(On leave)
ARTURO D. BRION*
Associate Justice

7 Supra note 1, at 768.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

9 Id. at 795.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

(no part)
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

ESTELA M. PERLASBERNABE
Associate Justice

MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN


Associate Justice

FRANCIS H. JARDELEZA
Associate Justice

8 372 Phil. 762 (1999).

10 161 Phil. 437 (1976).


11 Id. at 441.
12 Id.
13 Rollo (A.C. No. 10457), p. 154.
14 Id.
15 Section 19, Article VII, 1987 Constitution. See Garcia v. Chairman,
Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 75025, 14 September 1993, 226 SCRA 356.
16 Cabantag v. Wolfe, 6 Phil. 273 (1906).

17 Article 94, Revised Penal Code.


18 Rollo (A.C. No. 10457), p. 155.
19 Overgaard v. Atty. Valdez, 588 Phil. 422 (2008).
20 Id.
21 Id.

A.C. No. 5377

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

On March 22, 2007, Atty. Baliga, also the Regional Director of the Commission on
Human Rights Regional Office for Region II, filed the undated ex parte clarificatory
pleading with leave of court.9

THIRD DIVISION

In his ex parte clarificatory pleading, Atty. Baliga alleged that on July 14, 2006,
complainant Lingan wrote the Commission on Human Rights. Lingan requested the
Commission to investigate Atty. Baliga following the latter's suspension from the
practice of law.

June 30, 2014

VICTOR C. LINGAN, Complainant,


vs.
ATTYS. ROMEO CALUBAQUIB and JIMMY P. BALIGA, Respondents.
RESOLUTION
LEONEN, J.:
This court has the exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the practice of law. When this
court orders a lawyer suspended from the practice of law, the lawyer must desist from
performing all functions requiring the application of legal knowledge within the
period of suspension. This includes desisting from holding a position in government
requiring the authority to practice law.
For our resolution is respondent Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga's motion to lift one-year
suspension from the practice of law.1
In the resolution2 dated June 15, 2006, this court found Attys. Romeo I. Calubaquib
and Jimmy P. Baliga guilty of violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility3 and of the Lawyer's Oath.4 Respondents allowed their
secretaries to notarize documents in their stead, in violation of Sections 2455 and
2466 of the Notarial Law. This court suspended respondents from the practice of law
for one year, revoked their notarial commissions, and disqualified them from
reappointment as notaries public for two years.
Complainant Victor C. Lingan filed his motion for reconsideration,7 praying that
respondents be disbarred, not merely suspended from the practice of law. In the
resolution8 dated September 6, 2006, this court denied complainant Lingan's motion
for reconsideration for lack of merit.

After this court had suspended Atty. Baliga from the practice of law, the Commission
on Human Rights En Banc issued the resolution10 dated January 16, 2007,
suspending him from his position as Director/Attorney VI of the. Commission on
Human Rights Regional Office for Region II. According to the Commission on
Human Rights En Banc, Atty. Baliga's suspension from the practice of law
"prevent[ed] [him] from assuming his post [as Regional Director] for want of
eligibility in the meantime that his authority to practice law is suspended."11
Atty. Baliga argued that he cannot be suspended for acts not connected with his
functions as Commission on Human Rights Regional Director. According to Atty.
Baliga, his suspension from the practice of law did not include his suspension from
public office. He prayed for clarification of this court's resolution dated June 15,
2006 "to prevent further injury and prejudice to [his] rights."12
This court noted without action Atty. Baliga's ex parte clarificatory pleading as this
court does not render advisory opinions.13
On May 8, 2009, this court received a letter from complainant Lingan. In his letter14
dated May 4, 2009, Lingan alleged that Atty. Baliga continued practicing law and
discharging his functions as Commission on Human Rights Regional Director, in
violation of this court's order of suspension.
Complainant Lingan allegedly received a copy of the Commission on Human Rights
En Banc 's resolution suspending Atty. Baliga as Regional Director. On Atty. Baliga's
motion, the ommission reconsidered Atty. Baliga's suspension and instead
admonished him for "[violating] the conditions of his commission as a notary
public."15 According to complainant Lingan, he was not served a copy of Atty.
Baliga's motion for reconsideration.16

Complainant Lingan claimed that the discharge of the functions of a Commission on


Human Rights Regional Director necessarily required the practice of law. A
Commission on Human Rights Regional Director must be a member of the bar and is
designated as Attorney VI. Since this court suspended Atty. Baliga from the practice
of law, Atty. Baliga was in effect "a non-lawyer . . . and [was] disqualified to hold the
position of [Regional Director] [during the effectivity of the order of suspension]."17
The Commission on Human Rights, according to complainant Lingan, should have
ordered Atty. Baliga to desist from performing his functions as Regional Director.
Complainant Lingan prayed that this court give "favorable attention and action on the
matter."18
This court endorsed complainant Lingan's letter to the Office of the Bar Confidant for
report and recommendation.19
In its report and recommendation20 dated June 29, 2009, the Office of the Bar
Confidant found that the period of suspension of Attys. Calubaquib and Baliga had
already lapsed. It recommended that respondents be required to file their respective
motions to lift order of suspension with certifications from the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and the Executive Judge of the court where they might appear as counsel
and state that they desisted from practicing law during the period of suspension.
On the claim that the Commission on Human Rights allowed Atty. Baliga to perform
his functions as Regional Director during the period of suspension, the Office of the
Bar Confidant said that the Commission "deliberate[ly] disregard[ed]"21 this court's
order of suspension. According to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Commission
on Human Rights had no power to "[alter, modify, or set aside any of this court's
resolutions] which [have] become final and executory. "22
Thus, with respect to Atty. Baliga, the Office of the Bar Confidant recommended that
this court require him to submit a certification from the Commission on Human
Rights stating that he desisted from performing his functions as Regional Director
while he was suspended from the practice of law.23
The Office of the Bar Confidant further recommended that Atty. Baliga and the
Commission .on Human Rights be required to comment on complainant Lingan's
allegation that Atty. Baliga continued to perform his functions as Regional Director
while he was suspended from the practice of law.

On July 17, 2009, Atty. Baliga filed a manifestation,24 arguing that his suspension
from the practice of law did not include his suspension from public office. Atty.
Baliga said, "[t]o stretch the coverage of [his suspension from the practice of law] to
[his] public office would be tantamount to [violating] his constitutional rights [sic] to
due process and to the statutory principle in law that what is not included is deemed
excluded."25
In the resolution26 dated September 23, 2009, this court required respondents to file
their respective motions to lift order of suspension considering the lapse of the period
of suspension. This court further ordered Atty. Baliga and the Commission on Human
Rights to comment on complainant Lingari's allegation that Atty. Baliga continued
performing his functions as Regional Director while he was suspended from the
practice of law. The resolution dated September 23, 2009 provides:
Considering that the period of suspension from the practice of law and
disqualification from being commissioned as notary public imposed on respondents
have [sic] already elapsed, this Court resolves:
(1) to require both respondents, within ten (10) days from notice, to FILE
their respective motions to lift relative to their suspension and disqualification
from being commissioned as notary public and SUBMIT certifications from
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Executive Judge of the Court where
they may appear as counsel, stating that respondents have actually ceased and
desisted from the practice of law during the entire period of their suspension
and disqualification, unless already complied with in the meantime;
(2) to require Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga to SUBMIT a certification from the
Commission on Human Rights [CHR] stating that he has been suspended
from office and has stopped from the performance of his functions for the
period stated in the order of suspension and disqualification, within ten (10)
days from notice hereof;
(3) to require respondent Atty. Baliga and the CHR to COMMENT on the
allegations of complainant against them, both within ten (10) days from
receipt of notice hereof; ...27 (Emphasis in the original)
In compliance with this court's order, Attys. Calubaquib and Baliga filed their
respective motions to lift order of suspension.28 Atty. Baliga also filed his comment

on complainant Lingan's allegation that he continued performing his functions as


Regional Director during his suspension from the practice of law.
In his comment29 dated November 13, 2009, Atty. Baliga alleged that as Regional
Director, he "perform[ed], generally, managerial functions,"30 which did not require
the practice of law. These managerial functions allegedly included ."[supervising] ...
the day to day operations of the regional office and its personnel";31 "monitoring
progress of investigations conducted by the [Commission on Human Rights]
Investigation Unit";32 "monitoring the implementation of all other services and
assistance programs of the [Commission on Human Rights] by the different units at
the regional level";33 and "[supervising] . . . the budgetary requirement preparation
and disbursement of funds and expenditure of the [Regional Office]."34 The
Commission allegedly has its own "legal services unit which takes care of the legal
services matters of the [Commission]."35
Stating that his functions as Regional Director did not require the practice of law,
Atty. Baliga claimed thaf he "faithful[ly] [complied] with [this court's resolution
suspending him from the practice of law]."36
The Commission on Human Rights filed its comment37 dated November 27, 2009. It
argued that "the penalty imposed upon Atty. Baliga as a member of the bar is separate
and distinct from any penalty that may be imposed upon him as a public official for
the same acts."38 According to the Commission, Atty. Baliga's suspension from the
practice of law is a "bar matter"39 while the imposition of penalty upon a
Commission on Human Rights official "is an entirely different thing, falling as it
does within the exclusive authority of the [Commission as] disciplining body."40
Nevertheless, the Commission manifested that it would defer to this court's resolution
of the issue and would "abide by whatever ruling or decision [this court] arrives at on
[the] matter. "41 In reply42 to Atty. Baliga's comment, complainant Lingan argued
that Atty. Baliga again disobeyed this. court. Atty. Baliga failed to submit a
certification from the Commission on Human Rights stating that he was suspended
from office and desisted from performing his functions as Regional Director.
As to Atty. Baliga's claim that he did not practice law while he held his position as
Regional Director and only performed generally managerial functions, complainant
Lingan countered that Atty. Baliga admitted to defying the order of suspension. Atty.
Baliga admitted to performing the functions of a "lawyer-manager,"43 which under
the landmark case of Cayetano v. Monsod44 constituted practice of law. Complainant

Lingan reiterated that the position of Regional Director/ Attorney VI requires the
officer "to be a lawyer [in] good standing."45 Moreover, as admitted by Atty. Baliga,
he had supervision and control over Attorneys III, IV, and V. Being a "lawyermanager," Atty. Baliga practiced law while he held his position as Regional Director.
With respect to Atty. Baliga's claim that he was in good faith in reassuming his
position as Regional Director, complainant Lingan countered that if Atty. Baliga were
really in good faith, he should have followed the initial resolution of the Commission
on Human Rights suspending him from office. Atty. Baliga did not even furnish this
court a copy of his motion for reconsideration of the Commission on Human Right's
resolution suspending him from office. By "playing ignorant on what is 'practice of
law', twisting facts and philosophizing,"46 complainant Lingan argued that Atty.
Baliga "[no longer has that] moral vitality imperative to the title of an attorney."47
Compfainant Lingan prayed that Atty. Baliga be disbarred.
On February 17, 2010, this court lifted the order of suspension of Atty.
Calubaquib.48 He was allowed to resume his practice of law and perform notarial
acts subject to compliance with the requirements for issuance of a notarial
commission.
On the other hand, this court referred to the Office of the Bar Confidant for
evaluation, report, and recommendation Atty. Baliga's motion to lift one-year
suspension and the respective comments of Atty. Baliga and the Commission on
Human Rights.49
In its report and recommendation50 dated October 18, 2010, the Office of the Bar
Confidant stated that Atty. Baliga "should not [have been] allowed to perform his
functions, duties, and responsibilities [as Regional Director] which [required acts
constituting] practice .of law."51 Considering that Atty. Baliga claimed that he did
not perform his functions as Regional Director which required the practice of law, the
Office of the Bar Confidant recommended that the Commission on Human Rights be
required to comment on this claim. The Office of the Bar Confidant also
recommended holding in abeyance the resolution of Atty. Baliga's motion to lift
suspension "pending [the Commission on Human Right's filing of comment]."52
In the resolution53 dated January 12, 2011, this court held in abeyance the resolution
of Atty. Baliga's motion to lift one-year suspension. The Commission on Human
Rights was ordered to comment on Atty. Baliga's claim that he did not practice law
while he held his position as Regional Director.

In its comment54 dated April 6, 2011, the Commission on Human Rights reiterated
that the penalty imposed on Atty. Baliga as a member of the bar is separate from the
penalty that might be imposed on him as Regional Director. The Commission added
that it is "of honest belief that the position of [Regional Director] is managerial and
does not [require the practice of law]."55 It again manifested that it will "abide by
whatever ruling or decision [this court] arrives on [the] matter."56
The issue for our resolution is whether Atty. Baliga's motion to lift order of
suspension should be granted.
We find that Atty. Baliga violated this court's order of suspension. We, therefore,
suspend him further from the practice of law for six months.
Practice of law is "any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of
law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience."57 It includes
"[performing] acts which are characteristics of the [legal] profession"58 or
"[rendering any kind of] service [which] requires the use in any degree of legal
knowledge or skill."59
Work in government that requires the use of legal knowledge is considered practice.
of law. In Cayetano v. Monsod,60 this court cited the deliberations of the 1986
Constitutional Commission and agreed that work rendered by lawyers in the
Commission on Audit requiring "[the use of] legal knowledge or legal talent"61 is
practice of law.
The Commission on Human Rights is an independent office created under the
Constitution with power to investigate "all forms of human rights violations
involving civil and political rights[.]"62 It is divided into regional offices with each
office having primary responsibility to investigate human rights violations in its
territorial jurisdiction.63 Each regional office is headed by the Regional Director
who is given the position of Attorney VI.
Under the Guidelines and Procedures in the Investigation and Monitoring of Human
Rights Violations and Abuses, and the Provision of CHR Assistance,64 the Regional
Director has the following powers and functions:
a. To administer oaths or affirmations with respect to "[Commission on
Human Rights] matters;"65

b. To issue mission orders in their respective regional offices;66


c. To conduct preliminary evaluation or initial investigation of human rights
complaints in the absence of the legal officer or investigator;67
d. To conduct dialogues or preliminary conferences among parties and discuss
"immediate courses of action and protection remedies and/or possible
submission of the matter to an alternative dispute resolution";68
e. To issue Commission on Human Rights processes, including notices, letterinvitations, orders, or subpoenas within the territorial jurisdiction of the
regional office;69 and
f. To review and approve draft resolutions of human rights cases prepared by
the legal officer.70
These powers and functions are characteristics of the legal profession. Oaths and
affirmations are usually performed by members of the judiciary and notaries public71
- officers who are necessarily members of the bar.72 Investigating human rights
complaints are performed primarily by the Commission's legal officer.73 Discussing
immediate courses of action and protection remedies and reviewing and approving
draft resolutions of human rights cases prepared by the legal officer require the use of
extensive legal knowledge.
The exercise of the powers and functions of a Commission on Human Rights
Regional Director constitutes practice of law. Thus, the Regional Director must be an
attorney - a member of the bar in good standing and authorized to practice law.74
When the Regional Director loses this authority, such as when he or she is disbarred
or suspended from the practice of law, the Regional Director loses a necessary
qualification to the position he or she is holding. The disbarred or suspended lawyer
must desist from holding the position of Regional Director.
This court suspended Atty. Baliga from the practice of law for one year on June 15,
2006, "effective immediately."75 From the time Atty. Baliga received the court's
order of suspension on July 5, 2006,76 he has been without authority to practice law.
He lacked a necessary qualification to his position as Commission on Human Rights
Regional Director/ Attorney VI. As the Commission on Human Rights correctly
resolved in its resolution dated January 16, 2007:

WHEREAS, this suspension under ethical standards, in effect, prevents Atty. Baliga
from assuming his post, for want of eligibility in the meantime that his authority to
practice law is suspended. This is without prejudice to the investigation to be
conducted to the practice of law of Atty. Baliga, which in the case of all Regional
Human Rights Directors is not generally allowed by the Commission;
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Commission on Human Rights of
the Philippines resolved to put into effect and implement the legal implications of the
SC decision by decreeing the suspension of Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga in the discharge of
his functions and responsibilities as Director/Attorney VI of CHRP-Region II in
Tuguegarao City for the period for which the Supreme Court Resolution is in
effect.77 (Emphasis in the original)
In ordering Atty. Baliga suspended from office as Regional Director, the Commission
on Human Rights did not violate Atty. Baliga's right to due process. First, he was
only suspended after: investigation by the Commission on Human Rights Legal and
Investigation Office.78 Second, the Commission gave Atty. Baliga an opportunity to
be heard when he filed his motion for reconsideration.
Atty. Baliga's performance of generally managerial functions was not supported by
the record. It was also immaterial.1wphi1 He held the position of Commission on
Human Rights Regional Director because of his authority to practice law. Without
this authority, Atty. Baliga was disqualified to hold that position.
All told, performing the functions of a Commission on Human Rights Regional
Director constituted practice of law. Atty. Baliga should have desisted from holding
his position as Regional Director.
Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, willful disobedience to any lawful
order of a superior court is a ground for disbarment or suspension from the practice
of law:
SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court; grounds therefor.
- A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by
the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such
office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving
moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before
admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior
court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case

without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of
gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
In Molina v. Atty. Magat,79 this court suspended further Atty. Ceferino R. Magat
from the practice of law for six months for practicing his profession despite this
court's previous order of suspension.
We impose the same penalty on Atty. Baliga for holding his position as Regional
Director despite lack.of authority to practice law.1wphi1
We note that the Commission on Human Rights En Banc issued the resolution dated
April 13, 2007, reconsidering its first resolution suspending Atty. Baliga as Regional
Director/ Attorney VI. Instead, the Commission admonished Atty. Baliga and sternly
warned him that repeating the same offense will cause his dismissal from the service.
The resolution with CHR (III) No. A2007-045 dated April 13, 2007 reads:
In his Motion for Reconsideration dated March 15, 2007, respondent Atty. Jimmy P.
Baliga prays before the Honorable Commission to recall and annul his suspension as
Regional Director/ Attorney VI of the Commission on Human Rights - Regional
Office No. II, per 16 January 2007 Commission en Banc Resolution CHR (III) No.
A2007-013.
The grounds relied upon the motion are not sufficient to convince the Commission
that Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga is totally blameless and should not suffer the appropriate
penalty for breach of the Code of Professional Responsibility and his Lawyer's oath.
The Commission, in the exercise of its authority to discipline, is concerned with the
transgression by Atty. Baliga of his oath of office as government employee. As
records have it, the Commission granted Atty. Baliga authority to secure a
commission as a notary public. With this, he is mandated to act as a notary public in
accordance with the rules and regulations, to include the conditions expressly set
forth by the Commission.
With the findings clearly enunciated in the Supreme Court resolution in SC
Administrative Case No. 5277 dated 15 June 2006, the Commission cannot close its
eyes to the act of Atty. Baliga that is clearly repugnant to the conduct of an officer
reposed with public trust.

This is enough just cause to have this piece of word, short of being enraged, and
censure Atty. Baliga for having contravened the conditions of his commission as a
notary public. What was granted to Atty. Baliga is merely a privilege, the exercise of
which requires such high esteem to be in equal footing with the constitutional
mandate of the Commission. Clearly, Atty. Baliga should keep in mind that the
Commission exacts commensurate solicitude from whatever privilege the
Commission grants of every official and employee.

of suspension from the practice of law, effective upon service on Atty. Baliga of a
copy of this resolution.

The Commission notes that by now Atty. Baliga is serving the one year suspension
imposed on him pursuant to the Supreme Court resolution. The Commission believes
that the further suspension of Atty. Baliga from the office may be too harsh in the
meantime that the Supreme Court penalty is being served. This Commission is
prevailed upon that the admonition of Atty. Baliga as above expressed is sufficient to
complete the cycle of penalizing an erring public officer.

MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F. LEONEN


Associate Justice

WHEREFORE, the Commission hereby modifies its ruling in Resolution CHR (III)
No. A2007-013 and imposes the penalty of admonition with a stem warning that a
repetition of the same will merit a penalty of dismissal from the service.80 (Emphasis
in the original)

SERVE copies of this resolution to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office
of the Bar Confidant, and the Commission on Human Rights.
SO ORDERED.

WE CONCUR:
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA*
Associate Justice
MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.**
Associate Justice

BIENVENIDO L. REYES***
Associate Justice

The Commission on Human Rights erred in issuing the resolution dated April 13,
2007. This resolution caused Atty. Baliga to reassume his position as Regional
Director/ Attorney VI despite lack of authority to practice law.
We remind the Commission on Human Rights that we have the exclusive jurisdiction
to regulate the practice of law.81 The Commission cannot, by mere resolutions and
.other issuances, modify or defy this court's orders of suspension from the practice of
law. Although the Commission on Human Rights has the power to appoint its officers
and employees,82 it can only retain those with the necessary qualifications in the
positions they are holding.
As for Atty. Baliga, we remind him that the practice of law is a "privilege burdened
with conditions."83 To enjoy the privileges of practicing law, lawyers must "[adhere]
to the rigid standards of mental fitness, [maintain] the highest degree of morality[,]
and [faithfully comply] with the rules of [the] legal profession."84
WHEREFORE, we further SUSPEND Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga from the practice of law
for six ( 6) months. Atty. Baliga shall serve a total of one (1) year and six (6) months

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

Footnotes
* Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta was designated as Acting
Chairperson of the Third Division per Special Order No. 1707 dated June 17,
2o'1t1, vice Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., in view of the latter's
official trip to Nairobi, Kenya on June 22 to 25, 2014 and to South Africa on
June 26 to 29, 2014.
** Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr. was designated as Acting
Member per Special Order No. 1691 dated May 22, 2014, in view of the
vacancy in the Third Division.
*** Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes was designated as Acting Member
of the Third Division per Special Order No. 1704 dated June 17, 2014, vice

Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., in view of the latter's official trip
to Nairobi, Kenya on June 22 to 25, 2014 and to South Africa on June 26 to
29, 2014.
1 Rollo, pp. 558-566. This motion is dated November 16, 2009.
2 Id. at 240-;2.55.
3 CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY' Canon 1, Rule 1.01
states:
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct.
4 "I, do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines, I will support the Constitution and obey the laws as well as the
legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood,
nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly
promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give aid nor consent
to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct
myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion,
with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon
myself these voluntary obligations without any mental reservation or purpose
of evasion. So help me God."
5 REVISED ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF 1917, book 1, title IV, chap. 11,
art. V, sec. 245 states:
SECTION 245. Notarial register. - Every notary public shall keep a
register to be known as the notarial register, wherein record shall be
made of all his official acts as notary; and he shall supply a certified
copy of such record, or any part thereof, to any person applying for it
and paying the legal fees therefor.

instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him, the


person executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument, the
witnesses, if any, to the signature, the date of the execution, oath, or
acknowledgment of the instrument, the fees collected by hint for his
services as notary in connection therewith. and when the instrument is
a contract, he shall keep a co1Tect copy thereof as part of his records,
and shall likewise enter in said records a brief description of the
substance thereof and shall give to each entry a consecutive number,
beginning with number one in each calendar year. The notary shall
give to each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before
him a number corresponding to the one in his register, and shall also
state on the instrument the page or pages of his register on which the
same is recorded. No blank line shall be left between entries.
When a notary public shall protest any draft, bill of exchange, or
promissory note, he shall make a full and true record in his notarial
register of all his proceedings in relation thereto, and shall note therein
whether the demand or the sum of money therein mentioned was
made, of whom, when, and where; whether he presented such draft,
bill, or note: whether notices were given, to whom, and in what
manner; where the same was made, and when, and to whom, and
where directed: and of every other fact touching the same.
At the end of each week the notary shall certify in his register the
number of instruments executed, sworn to, acknowledged, or
protested before him; or if none such, certificate shall show this fact.
7 Rollo, pp. 256-293.
8 Id. at 295 ..
9 Id. at 296-343.
10 Id. at 322-325, Resolution CHR (III) No. A2007-013.

6 REVISED ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF 1917, book I, title IV, chap. 11,


art. V, sec. 246 states:
SECTION 246. Matters to be entered therein - The notary public shall
enter in such register, in chronological order, the nature of each

11 Id. at 323.
12 Id. at 307.

13 Id. at 346, Resolution dated July 16, 2007.

32 Id. at 545.

14 Id at 397-413.

33 Id.

15 Id. at 407, Resolution CHR (Ill) No. A2007-045 dated April 13, 2007.

34 Id.

16 Id. at 398.

35 Id.

17 Id.

36 Id.

18 Id. at 400.

37 Id. at 487-542.

19 Id. at 396, 1st Indorsement dated May 13, 2009.

38 Id. at 490

20 Id. at 415-420.

39 Id.

21 Id. at 418.

40 Id.

22 Id.

41 Id. at 491.

23 Id. at 420.

42 Id. at 587-S92.

24 Id. at 422-471.

43 Id. at 589.

25 Id. at 426.

44 278 Phil. 235 (1991) [Per J. Paras, En Banc].

26 Id. at 473-474.

45 Rollo, p. 589.

27 Id. at 473.

46 Id. at 590.

28 Id. at 478-482 and 558-566.

47 Id. at 591.

29 Id. at 543-556.

48 Id. at 569-570.

30 Id. at 544.

49 Id. at 570.

31 Id. at 544-545.

50 Id. at 594-600.

51 Id. at 600.
52 Id.
53 Id. at 602-603.
54 ld.at612-617.
55 ld.at615.
56 Id.
57 Cayetano v. Monsod, 278 Phil. 235, 243 (1991) [Per J. Paras, En Banc].
58 Id.

66 GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES IN THE INVESTIGATION AND


MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND ABUSES, AND
THE PROVISION OF CHR ASSISTANCE, rule 3, sec. 4.
67 GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES IN THE INVESTIGATION AND
MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND ABUSES, AND
THE PROVISION OF CHR ASSISTANCE, rule 4, sec. 6.
68 GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES IN THE INVESTIGATION AND
MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND ABUSES, AND
THE PROVISION OF CHR ASSISTANCE, rule 4, sec. 9.
69 GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES IN THE INVESTIGATION AND
MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND ABUSES, AND
THE PROVISION OF CHRASSISTANCE, rule 4, sec. 11.

60 278 Phil. 235 (1991) [Per J. Paras, En Banc].

70 GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES IN THE INVESTIGATION AND


MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND ABUSES, AND
THE PROVISION OF CH R ASSISTANCE, rule 4, sec. 17.

61 Id. at 244.

71 ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF 1987, book I, chap. I 0, sec. 41.

62 CONST!., art. XIII, sec. 18 (1); Cario v. Commission on Human Rights,


G.R. No. 96681, December 2, 1991, 204 SCRA 483, 494 [Per J. Narvasa, En
Banc].

72 CONSTI., Art. VIII, sec. 7; REVISED ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF


1917, book I, title IV, chap. II, art. I, sec. 233.

59 Id.

63 GUIDEUNES AND PROCEDURES IN THE INVESTIGATION AND


MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND ABUSES, AND
THE PROVISION OF CHR ASSISTANCE, rule 4, sec. 7.

73 GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES IN THE INVESTIGATION AND


MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND ABUSES, AND
THE PROVISION OF CHR ASSISTANCE, rule 4, sec. 6.
74 RULES OF COURT, rule 138, sec. 1.

64 This set of guidelines was approved in April 2012. Available at


<http://www.chr.gov.ph/MAIN%20PAGES/about%20us/PDF/FINAL
APPROVED 8.31.2012.pdt> (visited March 21, 2014).

75 Rollo, p. 254.

65 GUIDEUNES AND PROCEDURES IN THE INVESTIGATION AND


MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND ABUSES, AND
THE PROVISION OF CHRASSISTANCE, rule 3, sec. l(n)

77 Id. at 323.

76 Id. at 418.

78 Id. at 298.

79 A.C. No. 1900, June 13, 2012, 672 SCRA I [Per J. Mendoza, Third
Division].
80 Rollo, pp. 407408.
81 CONST., art. VIII, sec. 5 (5).
82 CONST., art. XIII, sec. 18 (I 0).
83 Foronda v. Atty. Guerrero, 516 Phil. I, 3 (2006) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., En
Banc].
84 Id.

EN BANC

In his complaint, Guevarra gave the following account:

JOSELANO GUEVARRA,
Complainant,

versus

ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL


EALA,
Respondent.

A.C. No. 7136


PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
GARCIA,
VELASCO, JR., and
NACHURA, JJ.
Promulgated:
August 1, 2007

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
Per Curiam:
Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4, 2002 a Complaint for
Disbarment58[1] before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee
on Bar Discipline (CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala a.k.a. Noli
Eala (respondent) for grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated violation of
the lawyers oath.

58[1] Rollo, pp. 1-8.

He first met respondent in January 2000 when his (complainants) thenfiancee Irene Moje (Irene) introduced respondent to him as her friend who
was married to Marianne (sometimes spelled Mary Ann) Tantoco with whom
he had three children.
After his marriage to Irene on October 7, 2000, complainant noticed that from
January to March 2001, Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone
calls, as well as messages some of which read I love you, I miss you, or Meet
you at Megamall.
Complainant also noticed that Irene habitually went home very late at night or
early in the morning of the following day, and sometimes did not go home
from work. When he asked about her whereabouts, she replied that she slept
at her parents house in Binangonan, Rizal or she was busy with her work.
In February or March 2001, complainant saw Irene and respondent together
on two occasions. On the second occasion, he confronted them following
which Irene abandoned the conjugal house.
On April 22, 2001, complainant went uninvited to Irenes birthday celebration
at which he saw her and respondent celebrating with her family and friends.
Out of embarrassment, anger and humiliation, he left the venue immediately.
Following that incident, Irene went to the conjugal house and hauled off all
her personal belongings, pieces of furniture, and her share of the household
appliances.
Complainant later found, in the masters bedroom, a folded social card bearing
the words I Love You on its face, which card when unfolded contained a
handwritten letter dated October 7, 2000, the day of his wedding to Irene,
reading:
My everdearest Irene,

By the time you open this, youll be moments away from


walking down the aisle. I will say a prayer for you that you may find meaning
in what youre about to do.

April 2001, Irene was already residing. He also learned still later that when
his friends saw Irene on or about January 18, 2002 together with respondent
during a concert, she was pregnant.

Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me to find


fleeting happiness but experience eternal pain? Is it only for us to find a true
love but then lose it again? Or is it because theres a bigger plan for the two of
us?

In his ANSWER,60[3] respondent admitted having sent the I LOVE YOU card
on which the above-quoted letter was handwritten.

I hope that you have experienced true happiness with me. I


have done everything humanly possible to love you. And today, as you make
your vows . . . I make my own vow to YOU!

14. Respondent and Irene were even FLAUNTING THEIR


ADULTEROUS RELATIONSHIP as they attended social functions together.
For instance, in or about the third week of September 2001, the couple
attended the launch of the Wine All You Can promotion of French wines, held
at the Mega Strip of SM Megamall B at Mandaluyong City. Their attendance
was reported in Section B of the Manila Standard issue of 24 September
2001, on page 21. Respondent and Irene were photographed together; their
picture was captioned: Irene with Sportscaster Noli Eala. A photocopy of the
report is attached as Annex C.61[4] (Italics and emphasis in the original;
CAPITALIZATION of the phrase flaunting their adulterous relationship
supplied),

I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you from the first
time I laid eyes on you, to the time we spent together, up to the final moments
of your single life. But more importantly, I will love you until the life in me is
gone and until we are together again.
Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I have enough
memories of us to last me a lifetime. Always remember though that in my
heart, in my mind and in my soul, YOU WILL ALWAYS

On paragraph 14 of the COMPLAINT reading:

respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:


. . . AND THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO!
BE MINE . . . . AND MINE ALONE, and I WILL ALWAYS BE YOURS
AND YOURS ALONE!
I LOVE YOU FOREVER, I LOVE YOU FOR ALWAYS. AS LONG
AS IM LIVING MY TWEETIE YOULL BE!59[2]
Eternally yours,
NOLI
Complainant soon saw respondents car and that of Irene constantly parked at
No. 71-B 11th Street, New Manila where, as he was to later learn sometime in
59[2] Id. at 2-3; Exhibit C, p. 10.

4.
Respondent specifically denies having ever flaunted an adulterous
relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the truth
of the matter being that their relationship was low profile and known only to
the immediate members of their respective families, and that Respondent,
as far as the general public was concerned, was still known to be legally
married to Mary Anne Tantoco.62[5] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied
On paragraph 15 of the COMPLAINT reading:
60[3] Id. at 31-35.
61[4] Id. at 6.
62[5] Id. at 32.

Respondent admitted65[8] paragraph 18 of the COMPLAINT reading:


15. Respondents adulterous conduct with the complainants wife and
his apparent abandoning or neglecting of his own family, demonstrate his
gross moral depravity, making him morally unfit to keep his membership in
the bar. He flaunted his aversion to the institution of marriage, calling it a
piece of paper. Morally reprehensible was his writing the love letter to
complainants bride on the very day of her wedding, vowing to continue his
love for her until we are together again, as now they are.63[6] (Underscoring
supplied),
respondent stated in his ANSWER as follows:
5. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 15 of the
Complaint regarding his adulterous relationship and that his acts demonstrate
gross moral depravity thereby making him unfit to keep his membership in
the bar, the reason being that Respondents relationship with Irene was not
under scandalous circumstances and that as far as his relationship with his
own family:
5.1 Respondent has maintained a civil, cordial and peaceful relationship with
[his wife] Mary Anne as in fact they still occasionally meet in public, even if
Mary Anne is aware of Respondents special friendship with Irene.

18. The Rules of Court requires lawyers to support the Constitution and obey
the laws. The Constitution regards marriage as an inviolable social institution
and is the foundation of the family (Article XV, Sec. 2).66[9]
And on paragraph 19 of the COMPLAINT reading:
19. Respondents grossly immoral conduct runs afoul of the
Constitution and the laws he, as a lawyer, has been sworn to uphold. In
pursuing obsessively his illicit love for the complainants wife, he mocked the
institution of marriage, betrayed his own family, broke up the complainants
marriage, commits adultery with his wife, and degrades the legal
profession.67[10] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied),
respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:
7. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the
Complaint, the reason being that under the circumstances the acts of
Respondent with respect to his purely personal and low profile special
relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor
tantamount to grossly immoral conduct as would be a ground for
disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.68[11]
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

xxxx
5.5 Respondent also denies that he has flaunted his aversion to the institution
of marriage by calling the institution of marriage a mere piece of paper
because his reference [in his above-quoted handwritten letter to Irene] to the
marriage between Complainant and Irene as a piece of paper was merely with
respect to the formality of the marriage contract.64[7] (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied

65[8] Id. at 31.


66[9] Id. at 7.

63[6] Id. at 6.

67[10] Ibid.

64[7] Id. at 32-33.

68[11] Id. at 33.

To respondents ANSWER, complainant filed a REPLY,69[12] alleging that


Irene gave birth to a girl and Irene named respondent in the Certificate of
Live Birth as the girls father. Complainant attached to the Reply, as Annex A,
a copy of a Certificate of Live Birth70[13] bearing Irenes signature and
naming respondent as the father of her daughter Samantha Irene Louise Moje
who was born on February 14, 2002 at St. Lukes Hospital.
Complainants REPLY merited a REJOINDER WITH MOTION TO
DISMISS71[14] dated January 10, 2003 from respondent in which he denied
having personal knowledge of the Certificate of Live Birth attached to the
complainants Reply.72[15] Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint due to
the pendency of a civil case filed by complainant for the annulment of his
marriage to Irene, and a criminal complaint for adultery against respondent
and Irene which was pending before the Quezon City Prosecutors Office.
During the investigation before the IBP-CBD, complainants ComplaintAffidavit and Reply to Answer were adopted as his testimony on direct
examination.73[16] Respondents counsel did not cross-examine complainant.74
[17]
After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San
Juan, in a 12-page REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION75[18] dated
October 26, 2004, found the charge against respondent sufficiently proven.

The Commissioner thus recommended76[19] that respondent be disbarred for


violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
reading:

Rule 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or


deceitful conduct (Underscoring supplied),
and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code reading:
Rule 7.03: A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his
fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave
in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. (Underscoring
supplied)
The IBP Board of Governors, however, annulled and set aside the
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner and accordingly
dismissed the case for lack of merit, by Resolution dated January 28, 2006
briefly reading
RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2006-06
CBD Case No. 02-936

69[12] Id. at 37-42; Exhibit E.

Joselano C. Guevarra vs.

70[13] Id. at 43; Exhibit F.

Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala

71[14] Id. at 71-76.

a.k.a. Noli Eala

72[15] Id. at 71.


73[16] Id. at 199-200; TSN, February 21, 2003, pp. 41-42.

75[18] Id. at 333-344.

74[17] Id. at 200; TSN, February 21, 2003, p. 42.

76[19] Rollo, pp. 340-344.

RESOLVED to ANNUL and SET ASIDE, as it is hereby ANNULLED AND


SET ASIDE, the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and to
APPROVE the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled case for lack of merit.77[20]
(Italics and emphasis in the original)

Hence, the present petition78[21] of complainant before this Court, filed


pursuant to Section 12 (c), Rule 13979[22] of the Rules of Court.

for lack of merit, gave no reason therefor as its above-quoted 33-word


Resolution shows.
Respondent contends, in his Comment80[23] on the present petition of
complainant, that there is no evidence against him.81[24] The contention fails.
As the IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner observed:
While it may be true that the love letter dated October 7, 2000 (Exh. C) and
the news item published in the Manila Standard (Exh. D), even taken together
do not sufficiently prove that respondent is carrying on an adulterous
relationship with complainants wife, there are other pieces of evidence on
record which support the accusation of complainant against respondent.

The petition is impressed with merit.


Oddly enough, the IBP Board of Governors, in setting aside the
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner and dismissing the case

77[20] Id. at 332.


78[21] Id. at 345-354.

79[22] RULES OF COURT, Rule 139-B, Section 12 (c):If the


respondent is exonerated by the Board or the disciplinary sanction
imposed by it is less than suspension or disbarment (such as
admonition, reprimand, or fine) it shall issue a decision exonerating
respondent or imposing such sanction. The case shall be deemed
terminated unless upon petition of the complainant or other interested
party filed with the Supreme Court within fifteen (15) days from
notice of the Boards resolution, the Supreme Court orders otherwise.

It should be noted that in his Answer dated 17 October 2002, respondent


through counsel made the following statements to wit: Respondent
specifically denies having [ever] flaunted an adulterous relationship with
Irene as alleged in paragraph [14] of the Complaint, the truth of the matter
being [that] their relationship was low profile and known only to immediate
members of their respective families . . . , and Respondent specifically denies
the allegations in paragraph 19 of the complaint, the reason being that under
the circumstances the acts of the respondents with respect to his purely
personal and low profile relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous
circumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral conduct . . .
These statements of respondent in his Answer are an admission that there
is indeed a special relationship between him and complainants wife,
Irene, [which] taken together with the Certificate of Live Birth of
Samantha Louise Irene Moje (Annex H-1) sufficiently prove that there
was indeed an illicit relationship between respondent and Irene which
resulted in the birth of the child Samantha. In the Certificate of Live Birth
of Samantha it should be noted that complainants wife Irene supplied the
information that respondent was the father of the child. Given the fact
80[23] Rollo pp. 429-445.
81[24] Id. at 434-440.

that the respondent admitted his special relationship with Irene there is no
reason to believe that Irene would lie or make any misrepresentation
regarding the paternity of the child. It should be underscored that
respondent has not categorically denied that he is the father of Samantha
Louise Irene Moje.82[25] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Indeed, from respondents Answer, he does not deny carrying on an adulterous
relationship with Irene, adultery being defined under Art. 333 of the Revised
Penal Code as that committed by any married woman who shall have sexual
intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal
knowledge of her, knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be
subsequently declared void.83[26] (Italics supplied) What respondent denies is
having flaunted such relationship, he maintaining that it was low profile and
known only to the immediate members of their respective families.
In other words, respondents denial is a negative pregnant,
a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial facts in the pleading
responded to which are not squarely denied. It was in effect an admission of
the averments it was directed at. Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a
form of negative expression which carries with it in affirmation or at least an
implication of some kind favorable to the adverse party. It is a denial pregnant
with an admission of the substantial facts alleged in the pleading. Where a
fact is alleged with qualifying or modifying language and the words of the
allegation as so qualified or modified are literally denied, it has been held that
the qualifying circumstances alone are denied while the fact itself is
admitted.84[27] (Citations omitted; emphasis and underscoring supplied)

father. And the phrase NOT MARRIED is entered on the desired information
on DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE. A comparison of the signature
attributed to Irene in the certificate85[28] with her signature on the Marriage
Certificate86[29] shows that they were affixed by one and the same person.
Notatu dignum is that, as the Investigating Commissioner noted, respondent
never denied being the father of the child.
Franklin A. Ricafort, the records custodian of St. Lukes Medical Center, in his
January 29, 2003 Affidavit87[30] which he identified at the witness stand,
declared that Irene gave the information in the Certificate of Live Birth that
the childs father is Jose Emmanuel Masacaet Eala, who was 38 years old and
a lawyer.88[31]
Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between respondent and Irene has
been sufficiently proven by more than clearly preponderant evidence that
evidence adduced by one party which is more conclusive and credible than
that of the other party and, therefore, has greater weight than the other89[32]
which is the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative case against a
lawyer.

85[28] Id. at 43; Exhibits F and F-3; TSN, December 2, 2003, pp. 226-227.
86[29] Id. at 9; Exhibit B.
87[30] Id. at 63.

A negative pregnant too is respondents denial of having personal knowledge


of Irenes daughter Samantha Louise Irene Mojes Certificate of Live Birth. In
said certificate, Irene named respondent a lawyer, 38 years old as the childs
82[25] Id. at 342-343.
83[26] REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 333.
84[27] Republic v. Sandiganbayan, 453 Phil. 1059, 1107 (2003).

88[31] Id. at 63, 215-219; TSN, December 2, 2003, pp. 12-14, vide p. 43.
89[32] Habagat Grill v. DMC-Urban Property Developer, Inc., G.R. No.
155110, March 31, 2003, 454 SCRA 653, 664-665, citing Municipality of
Moncada v. Cajuigan, 21 Phil. 184 (1912); Stronghold Insurance Company,
Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 173 SCRA 619, May 29, 1989; Metro Manila
Transit Corp. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 104408, June 21, 1993, 223
SCRA 521, 534.

Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are
distinct from and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.
. . . of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal case, proof beyond
reasonable doubt is necessary; in an administrative case for disbarment or
suspension, clearly preponderant evidence is all that is required.90[33]
(Emphasis supplied)
Respondent insists, however, that disbarment does not lie because his
relationship with Irene was not, under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised
Rules of Court, reading:
SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court,
grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from
his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or
other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by
reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any
violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice,
or for a willful disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party to a case
without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the
purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers,
constitutes malpractice.
The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a
competent court or other disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction where
he has also been admitted as an attorney is a ground for his disbarment or
suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the acts hereinabove
enumerated.
The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary
agency shall be prima facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or
suspension (Emphasis and underscoring supplied),
under scandalous circumstances.91[34]

The immediately-quoted Rule which provides the grounds for disbarment or


suspension uses the phrase grossly immoral conduct, not under scandalous
circumstances. Sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances is,
following Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code reading
ART. 334. Concubinage. - Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the
conjugal dwelling, or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous
circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in
any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and
medium periods.

x x x x,

an element of the crime of concubinage when a married man has sexual


intercourse with a woman elsewhere.
Whether a lawyers sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the
benefit of marriage should be characterized as grossly immoral conduct
depends on the surrounding circumstances.92[35] The case at bar involves a
relationship between a married lawyer and a married woman who is not his
wife. It is immaterial whether the affair was carried out discreetly. Apropos is
the following pronouncement of this Court in Vitug v. Rongcal:93[36]
On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extramarital affair with complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not
91[34] Vide rollo, p. 443.
92[35] Arciga v. Maniwang, 193 Phil. 731,735-736 (1981).

90[33] Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pool, Inc. v. Naldoza, 374 Phil. 1, 910 (1999).

93[36] A.C. No. 6313, September 7, 2006, 501 SCRA 166.

so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be


reprehensible to a high degree in order to merit disciplinary sanction. We
disagree.x x x x
While it has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual
relations between two unmarried adults is not sufficient to warrant
administrative sanction for such illicit behavior, it is not so with respect to
betrayals of the marital vow of fidelity. Even if not all forms of extramarital relations are punishable under penal law, sexual relations outside
marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests deliberate
disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by
the Constitution and affirmed by our laws.94[37] (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)
95

And so is the pronouncement in Tucay v. Atty. Tucay: [38]


The Court need not delve into the question of whether or not the respondent
did contract a bigamous marriage . . . It is enough that the records of this
administrative case substantiate the findings of the Investigating
Commissioner, as well as the IBP Board of Governors, i.e., that indeed
respondent has been carrying on an illicit affair with a married woman, a
grossly immoral conduct and indicative of an extremely low regard for the
fundamental ethics of his profession. This detestable behavior renders him
regrettably unfit and undeserving of the treasured honor and privileges
which his license confers upon him.96[39] (Underscoring supplied)
Respondent in fact also violated the lawyers oath he took before admission to
practice law which goes:
I _________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the
Philippines, do solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the
94[37] Id. at 177-178.

Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey the laws
as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do
no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or
willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid
nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will
conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and
discretion with all good fidelity as well as to the courts as to my clients; and I
impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation
or purpose of evasion. So help me God. (Underscoring supplied)
Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article XV (The Family) of
the Constitution reading:
Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the
foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.
In this connection, the Family Code (Executive Order No. 209), which echoes
this constitutional provision, obligates the husband and the wife to live
together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help
and support.97[40]

Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of


Professional Responsibility which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct, and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7
of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in any conduct
that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law.
Clutching at straws, respondent, during the pendency of the investigation of
the case before the IBP Commissioner, filed a Manifestation98[41] on March
22, 2005 informing the IBP-CBD that complainants petition for nullity of his
(complainants) marriage to Irene had been granted by Branch 106 of the
Quezon City Regional Trial Court, and that the criminal complaint for

95[38] 376 Phil. 336 (1999).

97[40] Article 68.

96[39] Id. at 340.

98[41] Rollo, pp. 233-246.

adultery complainant filed against respondent and Irene based on the same set
of facts alleged in the instant case, which was pending review before the
Department of Justice (DOJ), on petition of complainant, had been, on motion
of complainant, withdrawn.

already promulgated a Resolution on September 22, 2003 reversing the


dismissal by the Quezon City Prosecutors Office of complainants complaint
for adultery. In reversing the City Prosecutors Resolution, DOJ Secretary
Simeon Datumanong held:

The Secretary of Justices Resolution of January 16, 2004 granting


complainants Motion to Withdraw Petition for Review reads:

Parenthetically the totality of evidence adduced by complainant would, in the


fair estimation of the Department, sufficiently establish all the elements of the
offense of adultery on the part of both respondents. Indeed, early on,
respondent Moje conceded to complainant that she was going out on dates
with respondent Eala, and this she did when complainant confronted her
about Ealas frequent phone calls and text messages to her. Complainant also
personally witnessed Moje and Eala having a rendezvous on two occasions.
Respondent Eala never denied the fact that he knew Moje to be married to
complainant[.] In fact, he (Eala) himself was married to another woman.
Moreover, Mojes eventual abandonment of their conjugal home, after
complainant had once more confronted her about Eala, only served to confirm
the illicit relationship involving both respondents. This becomes all the more
apparent by Mojes subsequent relocation in No. 71-B, 11th Street, New
Manila, Quezon City, which was a few blocks away from the church where
she had exchange marital vows with complainant.

Considering that the instant motion was filed before the final resolution of the
petition for review, we are inclined to grant the same pursuant to Section 10
of Department Circular No. 70 dated July 3, 2000, which provides that
notwithstanding the perfection of the appeal, the petitioner may withdraw the
same at any time before it is finally resolved, in which case the appealed
resolution shall stand as though no appeal has been taken.99[42]
(Emphasis supplied by complainant)
That the marriage between complainant and Irene was subsequently declared
void ab initio is immaterial. The acts complained of took place before the
marriage was declared null and void.100[43] As a lawyer, respondent should be
aware that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are
presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful contract of
marriage.101[44] In carrying on an extra-marital affair with Irene prior to the
judicial declaration that her marriage with complainant was null and void, and
despite respondent himself being married, he showed disrespect for an
institution held sacred by the law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a
lawyer.
As for complainants withdrawal of his petition for review before the DOJ,
respondent glaringly omitted to state that before complainant filed his
December 23, 2003 Motion to Withdraw his Petition for Review, the DOJ had
99[42] Id. at 455-456.
100[43] Id. at 1-8, 277-283.
101[44] RULES OF COURT, Rule 131, Section 3 (aa); Sevilla v. Cardenas,
G.R. No. 167684, July 31, 2006, 497 SCRA 428, 443-445.

It was in this place that the two lovers apparently cohabited. Especially since
Ealas vehicle and that of Mojes were always seen there. Moje herself admits
that she came to live in the said address whereas Eala asserts that that was
where he held office. The happenstance that it was in that said address that
Eala and Moje had decided to hold office for the firm that both had formed
smacks too much of a coincidence. For one, the said address appears to be a
residential house, for that was where Moje stayed all throughout after her
separation from complainant. It was both respondents love nest, to put short;
their illicit affair that was carried out there bore fruit a few months later when
Moje gave birth to a girl at the nearby hospital of St. Lukes Medical Center.
What finally militates against the respondents is the indubitable fact that in
the certificate of birth of the girl, Moje furnished the information that Eala
was the father. This speaks all too eloquently of the unlawful and damning
nature of the adulterous acts of the respondents. Complainants supposed
illegal procurement of the birth certificate is most certainly beside the point
for both respondents Eala and Moje have not denied, in any categorical

manner, that Eala is the father of the child Samantha Irene Louise
Moje.102[45] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
It bears emphasis that adultery is a private offense which cannot be
prosecuted de oficio and thus leaves the DOJ no choice but to grant
complainants motion to withdraw his petition for review. But even if
respondent and Irene were to be acquitted of adultery after trial, if the
Information for adultery were filed in court, the same would not have been a
bar to the present administrative complaint.

Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, is DISBARRED for grossly


immoral conduct, violation of his oath of office, and violation of Canon 1,
Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately executory, be made part of
the records of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court
of the Philippines. And let copies of the Decision be furnished the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all courts.
This Decision takes effect immediately.

103

Citing the ruling in Pangan v. Ramos, [46] viz:


SO ORDERED.
x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the criminal charge is not a bar
to these [administrative] proceedings. The standards of legal profession are
not satisfied by conduct which merely enables one to escape the penalties of x
x x criminal law. Moreover, this Court, in disbarment proceedings is acting in
an entirely different capacity from that which courts assume in trying
criminal case104[47] (Italics in the original),

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice

CONSUELO YNARES- SANTIAGO


Associate Justice

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ
Associate Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
Associate Justice

this Court in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pools, Inc. v. Atty. Naldoza,105


[48] held:
Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are
distinct from and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Resolution No. XVII-2006-06
passed on January 28, 2006 by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
102[45] Rollo, pp. 481-482.
103[46] 107 SCRA 1 (1981).
104[47] Id. at 6-7.
105[48] 374 Phil. 1, 9 (1999).

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

CANCIO C. GARCIA
Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991
RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner,
vs.
CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. SALONGA, COMMISSION ON
APPOINTMENT, and HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his capacity as
Secretary of Budget and Management, respondents.
Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf.
Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano co-counsel for petitioner.
PARAS, J.:p

We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching proportions. While


ostensibly only legal issues are involved, the Court's decision in this case
would indubitably have a profound effect on the political aspect of our
national existence.
The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C:
There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and
six Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines
and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age,
holders of a college degree, and must not have been candidates for any
elective position in the immediately preceding -elections. However, a
majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the
Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least
ten years. (Emphasis supplied)
The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article XII-C of
the 1973 Constitution which similarly provides:
There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of a
Chairman and eight Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of
the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five
years of age and holders of a college degree. However, a majority thereof,
including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have
been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.' (Emphasis
supplied)
Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what
constitutes practice of law as a legal qualification to an appointive office.
Black defines "practice of law" as:
The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of
legal principles and technique to serve the interest of another with his
consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting in
the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and
other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing,
the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal
advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and all actions taken for
them in matters connected with the law. An attorney engages in the
practice of law by maintaining an office where he is held out to be-an
attorney, using a letterhead describing himself as an attorney, counseling
clients in legal matters, negotiating with opposing counsel about pending
litigation, and fixing and collecting fees for services rendered by his
associate. (Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.)
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. (Land
Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken, 129 Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) A
person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he:

... for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person,


firms, associations or corporations as to their rights under the law, or
appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings
pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board,
body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to
settle controversies and there, in such representative capacity performs
any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of
their clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative
capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as to their rights
under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in
court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of
law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S.W. 2d 895, 340
Mo. 852)
This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v.Agrava, (105
Phil. 173,176-177) stated:
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in
court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident
to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions and
proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition,
conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them
in matters connected with the law incorporation services, assessment and
condemnation services contemplating an appearance before a judicial
body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in
bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in
attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to
constitute law practice, as do the preparation and drafting of legal
instruments, where the work done involves the determination by the
trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p.
262, 263). (Emphasis supplied)
Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no small part of work
performed outside of any court and having no immediate relation to
proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal advice
on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation and execution of legal
instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust relations
and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no direct
connection with court proceedings, they are always subject to become
involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a high degree of legal
skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for
adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These customary functions
of an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate relation to the
administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, so far as
concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn between that

part of the work of the lawyer which involves appearance in court and
that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments in his office. It
is of importance to the welfare of the public that these manifold
customary functions be performed by persons possessed of adequate
learning and skill, of sound moral character, and acting at all times under
the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all attorneys.
(Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , p. 665-666,
citing In re Opinion of the Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313, quoted in Rhode
Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179 A. 139,144).
(Emphasis ours)
The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting orientation
briefing for new lawyers (1974-1975) listed the dimensions of the practice
of law in even broader terms as advocacy, counselling and public service.
One may be a practicing attorney in following any line of employment in
the profession. If what he does exacts knowledge of the law and is of a
kind usual for attorneys engaging in the active practice of their
profession, and he follows some one or more lines of employment such as
this he is a practicing attorney at law within the meaning of the statute.
(Barr v. Cardell, 155 NW 312)
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the
application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience.
"To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are
characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give
notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the
use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23)
The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show that it
has adopted a liberal interpretation of the term "practice of law."
MR. FOZ. Before we suspend the session, may I make a manifestation
which I forgot to do during our review of the provisions on the
Commission on Audit. May I be allowed to make a very brief statement?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir).
The Commissioner will please proceed.
MR. FOZ. This has to do with the qualifications of the members of the
Commission on Audit. Among others, the qualifications provided for by
Section I is that "They must be Members of the Philippine Bar" I am
quoting from the provision "who have been engaged in the practice of
law for at least ten years".
To avoid any misunderstanding which would result in excluding members
of the Bar who are now employed in the COA or Commission on Audit, we
would like to make the clarification that this provision on qualifications
regarding members of the Bar does not necessarily refer or involve actual
practice of law outside the COA We have to interpret this to mean that as

long as the lawyers who are employed in the COA are using their legal
knowledge or legal talent in their respective work within COA, then they
are qualified to be considered for appointment as members or
commissioners, even chairman, of the Commission on Audit.
This has been discussed by the Committee on Constitutional Commissions
and Agencies and we deem it important to take it up on the floor so that
this interpretation may be made available whenever this provision on the
qualifications as regards members of the Philippine Bar engaging in the
practice of law for at least ten years is taken up.
MR. OPLE. Will Commissioner Foz yield to just one question.
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect, saying that service in the COA by a lawyer is
equivalent to the requirement of a law practice that is set forth in the
Article on the Commission on Audit?
MR. FOZ. We must consider the fact that the work of COA, although it is
auditing, will necessarily involve legal work; it will involve legal work.
And, therefore, lawyers who are employed in COA now would have the
necessary qualifications in accordance with the Provision on qualifications
under our provisions on the Commission on Audit. And, therefore, the
answer is yes.
MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the construction given to this is that this is
equivalent to the practice of law.
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
MR. OPLE. Thank you.
... ( Emphasis supplied)
Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides, among
others, that the Chairman and two Commissioners of the Commission on
Audit (COA) should either be certified public accountants with not less
than ten years of auditing practice, or members of the Philippine Bar who
have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
(emphasis supplied)
Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in many
ways synonymous with the word "lawyer." Today, although many lawyers
do not engage in private practice, it is still a fact that the majority of
lawyers are private practitioners. (Gary Munneke, Opportunities in Law
Careers [VGM Career Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15).
At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, as
commonly understood, means "an individual or organization engaged in
the business of delivering legal services." (Ibid.). Lawyers who practice
alone are often called "sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called
"firms." The firm is usually a partnership and members of the firm are the
partners. Some firms may be organized as professional corporations and

the members called shareholders. In either case, the members of the firm
are the experienced attorneys. In most firms, there are younger or more
inexperienced salaried attorneyscalled "associates." (Ibid.).
The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas of law
practice is essentially tautologous, unhelpful defining the practice of law
as that which lawyers do. (Charles W. Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics [West
Publishing Co.: Minnesota, 1986], p. 593). The practice of law is defined
as the performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly
understood to be the practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v. Connecticut Bank
& Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863, 870 [1958] [quoting Grievance
Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, 626 [1941]). Because
lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and
governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too global to be
workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.).
The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at once the
most publicly familiar role for lawyers as well as an uncommon role for
the average lawyer. Most lawyers spend little time in courtrooms, and a
large percentage spend their entire practice without litigating a case.
(Ibid., p. 593). Nonetheless, many lawyers do continue to litigate and the
litigating lawyer's role colors much of both the public image and the self
perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.).
In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind reflects
history, not reality. (Ibid.). Why is this so? Recall that the late Alexander
SyCip, a corporate lawyer, once articulated on the importance of a lawyer
as a business counselor in this wise: "Even today, there are still
uninformed laymen whose concept of an attorney is one who principally
tries cases before the courts. The members of the bench and bar and the
informed laymen such as businessmen, know that in most developed
societies today, substantially more legal work is transacted in law offices
than in the courtrooms. General practitioners of law who do both litigation
and non-litigation work also know that in most cases they find themselves
spending more time doing what [is] loosely desccribe[d] as business
counseling than in trying cases. The business lawyer has been described
as the planner, the diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t]
need not [be] stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be
avoided where internal medicine can be effective." (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
In the course of a working day the average general practitioner wig
engage in a number of legal tasks, each involving different legal
doctrines, legal skills, legal processes, legal institutions, clients, and other
interested parties. Even the increasing numbers of lawyers in specialized
practice wig usually perform at least some legal services outside their

specialty. And even within a narrow specialty such as tax practice, a


lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as advice-giving to an
importantly different one such as representing a client before an
administrative agency. (Wolfram, supra, p. 687).
By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the lawyer is
one of the relatively rare types a litigator who specializes in this work
to the exclusion of much else. Instead, the work will require the lawyer to
have mastered the full range of traditional lawyer skills of client
counselling, advice-giving, document drafting, and negotiation. And
increasingly lawyers find that the new skills of evaluation and mediation
are both effective for many clients and a source of employment. (Ibid.).
Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in litigation work
that is constrained in very important ways, at least theoretically, so as to
remove from it some of the salient features of adversarial litigation. Of
these special roles, the most prominent is that of prosecutor. In some
lawyers' work the constraints are imposed both by the nature of the client
and by the way in which the lawyer is organized into a social unit to
perform that work. The most common of these roles are those of
corporate practice and government legal service. (Ibid.).
In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein below
quoted are emerging trends in corporate law practice, a departure from
the traditional concept of practice of law.
We are experiencing today what truly may be called a revolutionary
transformation in corporate law practice. Lawyers and other professional
groups, in particular those members participating in various legal-policy
decisional contexts, are finding that understanding the major emerging
trends in corporation law is indispensable to intelligent decision-making.
Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems of today requires
an accurate understanding of the nature and implications of the corporate
law research function accompanied by an accelerating rate of information
accumulation. The recognition of the need for such improved corporate
legal policy formulation, particularly "model-making" and "contingency
planning," has impressed upon us the inadequacy of traditional
procedures in many decisional contexts.
In a complex legal problem the mass of information to be processed, the
sorting and weighing of significant conditional factors, the appraisal of
major trends, the necessity of estimating the consequences of given
courses of action, and the need for fast decision and response in
situations of acute danger have prompted the use of sophisticated
concepts of information flow theory, operational analysis, automatic data
processing, and electronic computing equipment. Understandably, an
improved decisional structure must stress the predictive component of

the policy-making process, wherein a "model", of the decisional context or


a segment thereof is developed to test projected alternative courses of
action in terms of futuristic effects flowing therefrom.
Although members of the legal profession are regularly engaged in
predicting and projecting the trends of the law, the subject of corporate
finance law has received relatively little organized and formalized
attention in the philosophy of advancing corporate legal education.
Nonetheless, a cross-disciplinary approach to legal research has become
a vital necessity.
Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions by those
trained primarily in the law can be improved through an early introduction
to multi-variable decisional context and the various approaches for
handling such problems. Lawyers, particularly with either a master's or
doctorate degree in business administration or management, functioning
at the legal policy level of decision-making now have some appreciation
for the concepts and analytical techniques of other professions which are
currently engaged in similar types of complex decision-making.
Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate finance problems would
require the services of an astute attorney because of the complex legal
implications that arise from each and every necessary step in securing
and maintaining the business issue raised. (Business Star, "Corporate
Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is assiduously referred
to as the "abogado de campanilla." He is the "big-time" lawyer, earning
big money and with a clientele composed of the tycoons and magnates of
business and industry.
Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers, many people could not
explain what it is that a corporate lawyer does. For one, the number of
attorneys employed by a single corporation will vary with the size and
type of the corporation. Many smaller and some large corporations farm
out all their legal problems to private law firms. Many others have inhouse counsel only for certain matters. Other corporation have a staff
large enough to handle most legal problems in-house.
A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a lawyer who handles
the legal affairs of a corporation. His areas of concern or jurisdiction may
include, inter alia: corporate legal research, tax laws research, acting out
as corporate secretary (in board meetings), appearances in both courts
and other adjudicatory agencies (including the Securities and Exchange
Commission), and in other capacities which require an ability to deal with
the law.
At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume responsibilities other than
the legal affairs of the business of the corporation he is representing.

These include such matters as determining policy and becoming involved


in management. ( Emphasis supplied.)
In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling of being isolated
from the action, or not understanding how one's work actually fits into the
work of the orgarnization. This can be frustrating to someone who needs
to see the results of his work first hand. In short, a corporate lawyer is
sometimes offered this fortune to be more closely involved in the running
of the business.
Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may sometimes be engaged by a
multinational corporation (MNC). Some large MNCs provide one of the few
opportunities available to corporate lawyers to enter the international law
field. After all, international law is practiced in a relatively small number
of companies and law firms. Because working in a foreign country is
perceived by many as glamorous, tills is an area coveted by corporate
lawyers. In most cases, however, the overseas jobs go to experienced
attorneys while the younger attorneys do their "international practice" in
law libraries. (Business Star, "Corporate Law Practice," May 25,1990, p.
4).
This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the lawyer in the realm of
finance. To borrow the lines of Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce
Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is one who fails to spot problems, a
good lawyer is one who perceives the difficulties, and the excellent lawyer
is one who surmounts them." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law,"
Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs a "shot in the
arm," so to speak. No longer are we talking of the traditional law teaching
method of confining the subject study to the Corporation Code and the
Securities Code but an incursion as well into the intertwining modern
management issues.
Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily with three (3)
types of learning: (1) acquisition of insights into current advances which
are of particular significance to the corporate counsel; (2) an introduction
to usable disciplinary skins applicable to a corporate counsel's
management responsibilities; and (3) a devotion to the organization and
management of the legal function itself.
These three subject areas may be thought of as intersecting circles, with
a shared area linking them. Otherwise known as "intersecting managerial
jurisprudence," it forms a unifying theme for the corporate counsel's total
learning.
Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences affect the
counsel's role. For that matter, the corporate lawyer reviews the
globalization process, including the resulting strategic repositioning that

the firms he provides counsel for are required to make, and the need to
think about a corporation's; strategy at multiple levels. The salience of
the nation-state is being reduced as firms deal both with global
multinational entities and simultaneously with sub-national governmental
units. Firms increasingly collaborate not only with public entities but with
each other often with those who are competitors in other arenas.
Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in decision-making within
the corporation is rapidly changing. The modem corporate lawyer has
gained a new role as a stakeholder in some cases participating in the
organization and operations of governance through participation on
boards and other decision-making roles. Often these new patterns
develop alongside existing legal institutions and laws are perceived as
barriers. These trends are complicated as corporations organize for global
operations. ( Emphasis supplied)
The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with governmental
policies toward the promotion and management of technology. New
collaborative arrangements for promoting specific technologies or
competitiveness more generally require approaches from industry that
differ from older, more adversarial relationships and traditional forms of
seeking to influence governmental policies. And there are lessons to be
learned from other countries. In Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are
examples of collaborative efforts between governmental and business
Japan's MITI is world famous. (Emphasis supplied)
Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office of the Corporate
Counsel comprises a distinct group within the managerial structure of all
kinds of organizations. Effectiveness of both long-term and temporary
groups within organizations has been found to be related to indentifiable
factors in the group-context interaction such as the groups actively
revising their knowledge of the environment coordinating work with
outsiders, promoting team achievements within the organization. In
general, such external activities are better predictors of team
performance than internal group processes.
In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of the corporate
lawyer vis-a-vis the managerial mettle of corporations are challenged.
Current research is seeking ways both to anticipate effective managerial
procedures and to understand relationships of financial liability and
insurance considerations. (Emphasis supplied)
Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three factors are
apropos:
First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics has been found an
effective tool for new managerial thinking regarding both planning and
pressing immediate problems. An understanding of the role of feedback

loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow, enable users to simulate all
sorts of systematic problems physical, economic, managerial, social,
and psychological. New programming techniques now make the system
dynamics principles more accessible to managers including corporate
counsels. (Emphasis supplied)
Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make better decisions
involving complexity and uncertainty. In the context of a law department,
it can be used to appraise the settlement value of litigation, aid in
negotiation settlement, and minimize the cost and risk involved in
managing a portfolio of cases. (Emphasis supplied)
Third Modeling for Negotiation Management. Computer-based models can
be used directly by parties and mediators in all lands of negotiations. All
integrated set of such tools provide coherent and effective negotiation
support, including hands-on on instruction in these techniques. A
simulation case of an international joint venture may be used to illustrate
the point.
[Be this as it may,] the organization and management of the legal
function, concern three pointed areas of consideration, thus:
Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires special skills that
comprise a major part of the general counsel's responsibilities. They differ
from those of remedial law. Preventive lawyering is concerned with
minimizing the risks of legal trouble and maximizing legal rights for such
legal entities at that time when transactional or similar facts are being
considered and made.
Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within which are
undertaken those activities of the firm to which legal consequences
attach. It needs to be directly supportive of this nation's evolving
economic and organizational fabric as firms change to stay competitive in
a global, interdependent environment. The practice and theory of "law" is
not adequate today to facilitate the relationships needed in trying to
make a global economy work.
Organization and Functioning of the Corporate Counsel's Office. The
general counsel has emerged in the last decade as one of the most
vibrant subsets of the legal profession. The corporate counsel hear
responsibility for key aspects of the firm's strategic issues, including
structuring its global operations, managing improved relationships with
an increasingly diversified body of employees, managing expanded
liability exposure, creating new and varied interactions with public
decision-makers, coping internally with more complex make or by
decisions.
This whole exercise drives home the thesis that knowing corporate law is
not enough to make one a good general corporate counsel nor to give

him a full sense of how the legal system shapes corporate activities. And
even if the corporate lawyer's aim is not the understand all of the law's
effects on corporate activities, he must, at the very least, also gain a
working knowledge of the management issues if only to be able to grasp
not only the basic legal "constitution' or makeup of the modem
corporation. "Business Star", "The Corporate Counsel," April 10, 1991, p.
4).
The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the bench) is to have more
than a passing knowledge of financial law affecting each aspect of their
work. Yet, many would admit to ignorance of vast tracts of the financial
law territory. What transpires next is a dilemma of professional security:
Will the lawyer admit ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he feign
understanding and risk exposure? (Business Star, "Corporate Finance
law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C.
Aquino to the position of Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received by
the Secretariat of the Commission on Appointments on April 25, 1991.
Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not
possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice
of law for at least ten years.
On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the
nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18, 1991, he
took his oath of office. On the same day, he assumed office as Chairman
of the COMELEC.
Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on
Appointments of Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a citizen and
taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and Prohibition praying
that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as
Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null and void.
Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed
the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86-55%. He has been a
dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its
inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his professional license
fees as lawyer for more than ten years. (p. 124, Rollo)
After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled the
bar, Atty. Monsod worked in the law office of his father. During his stint in
the World Bank Group (1963-1970), Monsod worked as an operations
officer for about two years in Costa Rica and Panama, which involved
getting acquainted with the laws of member-countries negotiating loans
and coordinating legal, economic, and project work of the Bank. Upon
returning to the Philippines in 1970, he worked with the Meralco Group,
served as chief executive officer of an investment bank and subsequently

of a business conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered services to


various companies as a legal and economic consultant or chief executive
officer. As former Secretary-General (1986) and National Chairman (1987)
of NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved being knowledgeable in election
law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation hearings before the
Comelec. In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in his personal capacity and as
former Co-Chairman of the Bishops Businessmen's Conference for Human
Development, has worked with the under privileged sectors, such as the
farmer and urban poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in
affirmative action for the agrarian reform law and lately the urban land
reform bill. Monsod also made use of his legal knowledge as a member of
the Davide Commission, a quast judicial body, which conducted numerous
hearings (1990) and as a member of the Constitutional Commission
(1986-1987), and Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of Public
Officers, for which he was cited by the President of the Commission,
Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma for "innumerable amendments to reconcile
government functions with individual freedoms and public accountability
and the party-list system for the House of Representative. (pp. 128-129
Rollo) ( Emphasis supplied)
Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty. Monsod
used to be a member.
In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel acts as a team, and
which is adequately constituted to meet the various contingencies that
arise during a negotiation. Besides top officials of the Borrower
concerned, there are the legal officer (such as the legal counsel), the
finance manager, and an operations officer (such as an official involved in
negotiating the contracts) who comprise the members of the team.
(Guillermo V. Soliven, "Loan Negotiating Strategies for Developing
Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No. 2, Central Bank of the Philippines,
Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis supplied)
After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's Constitution; it lays
down the law as far as the loan transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat
of any Loan Agreement can be compartmentalized into five (5)
fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's representation; (3)
conditions of closing; (4) covenants; and (5) events of default. (Ibid., p.
13).
In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any debt restructuring
program. For aside from performing the tasks of legislative drafting and
legal advising, they score national development policies as key factors in
maintaining their countries' sovereignty. (Condensed from the work
paper, entitled "Wanted: Development Lawyers for Developing Nations,"
submitted by L. Michael Hager, regional legal adviser of the United States

Agency for International Development, during the Session on Law for the
Development of Nations at the Abidjan World Conference in Ivory Coast,
sponsored by the World Peace Through Law Center on August 26-31,
1973). ( Emphasis supplied)
Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more so than purely
renegotiation policies, demand expertise in the law of contracts, in
legislation and agreement drafting and in renegotiation. Necessarily, a
sovereign lawyer may work with an international business specialist or an
economist in the formulation of a model loan agreement. Debt
restructuring contract agreements contain such a mixture of technical
language that they should be carefully drafted and signed only with the
advise of competent counsel in conjunction with the guidance of
adequate technical support personnel. (See International Law Aspects of
the Philippine External Debts, an unpublished dissertation, U.S.T.
Graduate School of Law, 1987, p. 321). ( Emphasis supplied)
A critical aspect of sovereign debt restructuring/contract construction is
the set of terms and conditions which determines the contractual
remedies for a failure to perform one or more elements of the contract. A
good agreement must not only define the responsibilities of both parties,
but must also state the recourse open to either party when the other fails
to discharge an obligation. For a compleat debt restructuring represents a
devotion to that principle which in the ultimate analysis is sine qua non
for foreign loan agreements-an adherence to the rule of law in domestic
and international affairs of whose kind U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver
Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said: "They carry no banners, they beat no
drums; but where they are, men learn that bustle and bush are not the
equal of quiet genius and serene mastery." (See Ricardo J. Romulo, "The
Role of Lawyers in Foreign Investments," Integrated Bar of the Philippine
Journal, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and Fourth Quarters, 1977, p. 265).
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice of
law". particularly the modern concept of law practice, and taking into
consideration the liberal construction intended by the framers of the
Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past work experiences as a lawyereconomist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a
lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich
and the poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement
that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, 143
SCRA 327, the Court said:
Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be performed
by the officer in which it is vested according to his best lights, the only
condition being that the appointee should possess the qualifications

required by law. If he does, then the appointment cannot be faulted on


the ground that there are others better qualified who should have been
preferred. This is a political question involving considerations of wisdom
which only the appointing authority can decide. (emphasis supplied)
No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v. Civil
Service Commission, 171 SCRA 744) where it stated:
It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified, as in this case, and
all the other legal requirements are satisfied, the Commission has no
alternative but to attest to the appointment in accordance with the Civil
Service Law. The Commission has no authority to revoke an appointment
on the ground that another person is more qualified for a particular
position. It also has no authority to direct the appointment of a substitute
of its choice. To do so would be an encroachment on the discretion vested
upon the appointing authority. An appointment is essentially within the
discretionary power of whomsoever it is vested, subject to the only
condition that the appointee should possess the qualifications required by
law. ( Emphasis supplied)
The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at bar,
consists of four (4) stages: (1) nomination; (2) confirmation by the
Commission on Appointments; (3) issuance of a commission (in the
Philippines, upon submission by the Commission on Appointments of its
certificate of confirmation, the President issues the permanent
appointment; and (4) acceptance e.g., oath-taking, posting of bond,
etc. . . . (Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949; Gonzales, Law
on Public Officers, p. 200)
The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its consent to the
nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections is
mandated by Section 1(2) Sub-Article C, Article IX of the Constitution
which provides:
The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be appointed by the President
with the consent of the Commission on Appointments for a term of seven
years without reappointment. Of those first appointed, three Members
shall hold office for seven years, two Members for five years, and the last
Members for three years, without reappointment. Appointment to any
vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of the predecessor. In no
case shall any Member be appointed or designated in a temporary or
acting capacity.
Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion, suffice it to say that his
definition of the practice of law is the traditional or stereotyped notion of
law practice, as distinguished from the modern concept of the practice of
law, which modern connotation is exactly what was intended by the
eminent framers of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's

definition would require generally a habitual law practice, perhaps


practised two or three times a week and would outlaw say, law practice
once or twice a year for ten consecutive years. Clearly, this is far from the
constitutional intent.
Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz states
that in my written opinion, I made use of a definition of law practice which
really means nothing because the definition says that law practice " . . . is
what people ordinarily mean by the practice of law." True I cited the
definition but only by way of sarcasm as evident from my statement that
the definition of law practice by "traditional areas of law practice is
essentially tautologous" or defining a phrase by means of the phrase itself
that is being defined.
Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers almost
all situations, most individuals, in making use of the law, or in advising
others on what the law means, are actually practicing law. In that sense,
perhaps, but we should not lose sight of the fact that Mr. Monsod is a
lawyer, a member of the Philippine Bar, who has been practising law for
over ten years. This is different from the acts of persons practising law,
without first becoming lawyers.
Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify an
elected President of the Philippines, say, on the ground that he lacks one
or more qualifications. This matter, I greatly doubt. For one thing, how can
an action or petition be brought against the President? And even
assuming that he is indeed disqualified, how can the action be
entertained since he is the incumbent President?
We now proceed:
The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public
hearings on Monsod's confirmation, implicitly determined that he
possessed the necessary qualifications as required by law. The judgment
rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an acknowledged
power is beyond judicial interference except only upon a clear showing of
a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
(Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such grave abuse of
discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commission's
judgment. In the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the
Court's corrective power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of
discretion, that would amount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and would
warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been clearly shown.
Additionally, consider the following:
(1) If the Commission on Appointments rejects a nominee by the
President, may the Supreme Court reverse the Commission, and thus in
effect confirm the appointment? Clearly, the answer is in the negative.

(2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom the
Commission has confirmed? The answer is likewise clear.
(3) If the United States Senate (which is the confirming body in the U.S.
Congress) decides to confirm a Presidential nominee, it would be
incredible that the U.S. Supreme Court would still reverse the U.S. Senate.
Finally, one significant legal maxim is:
We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that
giveth life.
Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the procurator
of Judea asked Delilah (who was Samson's beloved) for help in capturing
Samson. Delilah agreed on condition that
No blade shall touch his skin;
No blood shall flow from his veins.
When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the procurator
placed an iron rod burning white-hot two or three inches away from in
front of Samson's eyes. This blinded the man. Upon hearing of what had
happened to her beloved, Delilah was beside herself with anger, and
fuming with righteous fury, accused the procurator of reneging on his
word. The procurator calmly replied: "Did any blade touch his skin? Did
any blood flow from his veins?" The procurator was clearly relying on the
letter, not the spirit of the agreement.
In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Grio-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., I certify that he voted to dismiss the petition. (Fernan, C.J.)
Sarmiento, J., is on leave.
Regalado, and Davide, Jr., J., took no part.

Separate Opinions
NARVASA, J., concurring:
I concur with the decision of the majority written by Mr. Justice Paras,
albeit only in the result; it does not appear to me that there has been an
adequate showing that the challenged determination by the Commission
on Appointments-that the appointment of respondent Monsod as
Chairman of the Commission on Elections should, on the basis of his
stated qualifications and after due assessment thereof, be confirmed-was
attended by error so gross as to amount to grave abuse of discretion and
consequently merits nullification by this Court in accordance with the

second paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution. I therefore


vote to DENY the petition.
PADILLA, J., dissenting:
The records of this case will show that when the Court first deliberated on
the Petition at bar, I voted not only to require the respondents to
comment on the Petition, but I was the sole vote for the issuance of a
temporary restraining order to enjoin respondent Monsod from assuming
the position of COMELEC Chairman, while the Court deliberated on his
constitutional qualification for the office. My purpose in voting for a TRO
was to prevent the inconvenience and even embarrassment to all parties
concerned were the Court to finally decide for respondent Monsod's
disqualification. Moreover, a reading of the Petition then in relation to
established jurisprudence already showed prima facie that respondent
Monsod did not possess the needed qualification, that is, he had not
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his
appointment as COMELEC Chairman.
After considering carefully respondent Monsod's comment, I am even
more convinced that the constitutional requirement of "practice of law for
at least ten (10) years" has not been met.
The procedural barriers interposed by respondents deserve scant
consideration because, ultimately, the core issue to be resolved in this
petition is the proper construal of the constitutional provision requiring a
majority of the membership of COMELEC, including the Chairman thereof
to "have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years."
(Art. IX(C), Section 1(1), 1987 Constitution). Questions involving the
construction of constitutional provisions are best left to judicial resolution.
As declared in Angara v. Electoral Commission, (63 Phil. 139) "upon the
judicial department is thrown the solemn and inescapable obligation of
interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries."
The Constitution has imposed clear and specific standards for a COMELEC
Chairman. Among these are that he must have been "engaged in the
practice of law for at least ten (10) years." It is the bounden duty of this
Court to ensure that such standard is met and complied with.
What constitutes practice of law? As commonly understood, "practice"
refers to the actual performance or application of knowledge as
distinguished from mere possession of knowledge; it connotes an active,
habitual, repeated or customary action. 1 To "practice" law, or any
profession for that matter, means, to exercise or pursue an employment
or profession actively, habitually, repeatedly or customarily.
Therefore, a doctor of medicine who is employed and is habitually
performing the tasks of a nursing aide, cannot be said to be in the

"practice of medicine." A certified public accountant who works as a clerk,


cannot be said to practice his profession as an accountant. In the same
way, a lawyer who is employed as a business executive or a corporate
manager, other than as head or attorney of a Legal Department of a
corporation or a governmental agency, cannot be said to be in the
practice of law.
As aptly held by this Court in the case of People vs. Villanueva: 2
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or
customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words,
it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs- Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864,
42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute
has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to
the public as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services (State
vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644,647.) ... (emphasis supplied).
It is worth mentioning that the respondent Commission on Appointments
in a Memorandum it prepared, enumerated several factors determinative
of whether a particular activity constitutes "practice of law." It states:
1. Habituality. The term "practice of law" implies customarily or habitually
holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People vs. Villanueva, 14
SCRA 109 citing State v. Boyen, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when
one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the
general practice of law (U.S. v. Ney Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one
takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary public, and files a
manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to
practice law in all courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968).
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or
customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it
is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v.
Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864).
2. Compensation. Practice of law implies that one must have presented
himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal profession
and that his professional services are available to the public for
compensation, as a service of his livelihood or in consideration of his said
services. (People v. Villanueva, supra). Hence, charging for services such
as preparation of documents involving the use of legal knowledge and
skill is within the term "practice of law" (Ernani Pao, Bar Reviewer in
Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1988 ed., p. 8 citing People v. People's
Stockyards State Bank, 176 N.B. 901) and, one who renders an opinion as
to the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is to that
extent, practicing law (Martin, supra, p. 806 citing Mendelaun v. Gilbert
and Barket Mfg. Co., 290 N.Y.S. 462) If compensation is expected, all
advice to clients and all action taken for them in matters connected with

the law; are practicing law. (Elwood Fitchette et al., v. Arthur C. Taylor,
94A-L.R. 356-359)
3. Application of law legal principle practice or procedure which calls for
legal knowledge, training and experience is within the term "practice of
law". (Martin supra)
4. Attorney-client relationship. Engaging in the practice of law
presupposes the existence of lawyer-client relationship. Hence, where a
lawyer undertakes an activity which requires knowledge of law but
involves no attorney-client relationship, such as teaching law or writing
law books or articles, he cannot be said to be engaged in the practice of
his profession or a lawyer (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 ed., p. 30). 3
The above-enumerated factors would, I believe, be useful aids in
determining whether or not respondent Monsod meets the constitutional
qualification of practice of law for at least ten (10) years at the time of his
appointment as COMELEC Chairman.
The following relevant questions may be asked:
1. Did respondent Monsod perform any of the tasks which are peculiar to
the practice of law?
2. Did respondent perform such tasks customarily or habitually?
3. Assuming that he performed any of such tasks habitually, did he do so
HABITUALLY FOR AT LEAST TEN (10) YEARS prior to his appointment as
COMELEC Chairman?
Given the employment or job history of respondent Monsod as appears
from the records, I am persuaded that if ever he did perform any of the
tasks which constitute the practice of law, he did not do so HABITUALLY
for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment as COMELEC
Chairman.
While it may be granted that he performed tasks and activities which
could be latitudinarianly considered activities peculiar to the practice of
law, like the drafting of legal documents and the rendering of legal
opinion or advice, such were isolated transactions or activities which do
not qualify his past endeavors as "practice of law." To become engaged in
the practice of law, there must be a continuity, or a succession of acts. As
observed by the Solicitor General in People vs. Villanueva: 4
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have
presented himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal
profession and that his professional services are available to the public for
a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his
said services.
ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to declare
respondent Monsod as not qualified for the position of COMELEC

Chairman for not having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten
(10) years prior to his appointment to such position.
CRUZ, J., dissenting:
I am sincerely impressed by the ponencia of my brother Paras but find I
must dissent just the same. There are certain points on which I must
differ with him while of course respecting hisviewpoint.
To begin with, I do not think we are inhibited from examining the
qualifications of the respondent simply because his nomination has been
confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. In my view, this is not a
political question that we are barred from resolving. Determination of the
appointee's credentials is made on the basis of the established facts, not
the discretion of that body. Even if it were, the exercise of that discretion
would still be subject to our review.
In Luego, which is cited in the ponencia, what was involved was the
discretion of the appointing authority to choose between two claimants to
the same office who both possessed the required qualifications. It was
that kind of discretion that we said could not be reviewed.
If a person elected by no less than the sovereign people may be ousted
by this Court for lack of the required qualifications, I see no reason why
we cannot disqualified an appointee simply because he has passed the
Commission on Appointments.
Even the President of the Philippines may be declared ineligible by this
Court in an appropriate proceeding notwithstanding that he has been
found acceptable by no less than the enfranchised citizenry. The reason is
that what we would be examining is not the wisdom of his election but
whether or not he was qualified to be elected in the first place.
Coming now to the qualifications of the private respondent, I fear that the
ponencia may have been too sweeping in its definition of the phrase
"practice of law" as to render the qualification practically toothless. From
the numerous activities accepted as embraced in the term, I have the
uncomfortable feeling that one does not even have to be a lawyer to be
engaged in the practice of law as long as his activities involve the
application of some law, however peripherally. The stock broker and the
insurance adjuster and the realtor could come under the definition as
they deal with or give advice on matters that are likely "to become
involved in litigation."
The lawyer is considered engaged in the practice of law even if his main
occupation is another business and he interprets and applies some law
only as an incident of such business. That covers every company
organized under the Corporation Code and regulated by the SEC under
P.D. 902-A. Considering the ramifications of the modern society, there is
hardly any activity that is not affected by some law or government

regulation the businessman must know about and observe. In fact, again
going by the definition, a lawyer does not even have to be part of a
business concern to be considered a practitioner. He can be so deemed
when, on his own, he rents a house or buys a car or consults a doctor as
these acts involve his knowledge and application of the laws regulating
such transactions. If he operates a public utility vehicle as his main source
of livelihood, he would still be deemed engaged in the practice of law
because he must obey the Public Service Act and the rules and
regulations of the Energy Regulatory Board.
The ponencia quotes an American decision defining the practice of law as
the "performance of any acts ... in or out of court, commonly understood
to be the practice of law," which tells us absolutely nothing. The decision
goes on to say that "because lawyers perform almost every function
known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a definition
would obviously be too global to be workable."
The effect of the definition given in the ponencia is to consider virtually
every lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law even if he does not
earn his living, or at least part of it, as a lawyer. It is enough that his
activities are incidentally (even if only remotely) connected with some
law, ordinance, or regulation. The possible exception is the lawyer whose
income is derived from teaching ballroom dancing or escorting wrinkled
ladies with pubescent pretensions.
The respondent's credentials are impressive, to be sure, but they do not
persuade me that he has been engaged in the practice of law for ten
years as required by the Constitution. It is conceded that he has been
engaged in business and finance, in which areas he has distinguished
himself, but as an executive and economist and not as a practicing
lawyer. The plain fact is that he has occupied the various positions listed
in his resume by virtue of his experience and prestige as a businessman
and not as an attorney-at-law whose principal attention is focused on the
law. Even if it be argued that he was acting as a lawyer when he lobbied
in Congress for agrarian and urban reform, served in the NAMFREL and
the Constitutional Commission (together with non-lawyers like farmers
and priests) and was a member of the Davide Commission, he has not
proved that his activities in these capacities extended over the prescribed
10-year period of actual practice of the law. He is doubtless eminently
qualified for many other positions worthy of his abundant talents but not
as Chairman of the Commission on Elections.
I have much admiration for respondent Monsod, no less than for Mr.
Justice Paras, but I must regretfully vote to grant the petition.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:

When this petition was filed, there was hope that engaging in the practice
of law as a qualification for public office would be settled one way or
another in fairly definitive terms. Unfortunately, this was not the result.
Of the fourteen (14) member Court, 5 are of the view that Mr. Christian
Monsod engaged in the practice of law (with one of these 5 leaving his
vote behind while on official leave but not expressing his clear stand on
the matter); 4 categorically stating that he did not practice law; 2 voting
in the result because there was no error so gross as to amount to grave
abuse of discretion; one of official leave with no instructions left behind on
how he viewed the issue; and 2 not taking part in the deliberations and
the decision.
There are two key factors that make our task difficult. First is our
reviewing the work of a constitutional Commission on Appointments
whose duty is precisely to look into the qualifications of persons
appointed to high office. Even if the Commission errs, we have no power
to set aside error. We can look only into grave abuse of discretion or
whimsically and arbitrariness. Second is our belief that Mr. Monsod
possesses superior qualifications in terms of executive ability, proficiency
in management, educational background, experience in international
banking and finance, and instant recognition by the public. His integrity
and competence are not questioned by the petitioner. What is before us is
compliance with a specific requirement written into the Constitution.
Inspite of my high regard for Mr. Monsod, I cannot shirk my constitutional
duty. He has never engaged in the practice of law for even one year. He is
a member of the bar but to say that he has practiced law is stretching the
term beyond rational limits.
A person may have passed the bar examinations. But if he has not
dedicated his life to the law, if he has not engaged in an activity where
membership in the bar is a requirement I fail to see how he can claim to
have been engaged in the practice of law.
Engaging in the practice of law is a qualification not only for COMELEC
chairman but also for appointment to the Supreme Court and all lower
courts. What kind of Judges or Justices will we have if there main
occupation is selling real estate, managing a business corporation,
serving in fact-finding committee, working in media, or operating a farm
with no active involvement in the law, whether in Government or private
practice, except that in one joyful moment in the distant past, they
happened to pass the bar examinations?
The Constitution uses the phrase "engaged in the practice of law for at
least ten years." The deliberate choice of words shows that the practice
envisioned is active and regular, not isolated, occasional, accidental,
intermittent, incidental, seasonal, or extemporaneous. To be "engaged" in

an activity for ten years requires committed participation in something


which is the result of one's decisive choice. It means that one is occupied
and involved in the enterprise; one is obliged or pledged to carry it out
with intent and attention during the ten-year period.
I agree with the petitioner that based on the bio-data submitted by
respondent Monsod to the Commission on Appointments, the latter has
not been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. In fact, if
appears that Mr. Monsod has never practiced law except for an alleged
one year period after passing the bar examinations when he worked in his
father's law firm. Even then his law practice must have been extremely
limited because he was also working for M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in
Economics at the University of Pennsylvania during that period. How
could he practice law in the United States while not a member of the Bar
there?
The professional life of the respondent follows:
1.15.1. Respondent Monsod's activities since his passing the Bar
examinations in 1961 consist of the following:
1. 1961-1963: M.A. in Economics (Ph. D. candidate), University of
Pennsylvania
2. 1963-1970: World Bank Group Economist, Industry Department;
Operations, Latin American Department; Division Chief, South Asia and
Middle East, International Finance Corporation
3. 1970-1973: Meralco Group Executive of various companies, i.e.,
Meralco Securities Corporation, Philippine Petroleum Corporation,
Philippine Electric Corporation
4. 1973-1976: Yujuico Group President, Fil-Capital Development
Corporation and affiliated companies
5. 1976-1978: Finaciera Manila Chief Executive Officer
6. 1978-1986: Guevent Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer
7. 1986-1987: Philippine Constitutional Commission Member
8. 1989-1991: The Fact-Finding Commission on the December 1989 Coup
Attempt Member
9. Presently: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the
following companies:
a. ACE Container Philippines, Inc.
b. Dataprep, Philippines
c. Philippine SUNsystems Products, Inc.
d. Semirara Coal Corporation
e. CBL Timber Corporation
Member of the Board of the Following:
a. Engineering Construction Corporation of the Philippines
b. First Philippine Energy Corporation

c. First Philippine Holdings Corporation


d. First Philippine Industrial Corporation
e. Graphic Atelier
f. Manila Electric Company
g. Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc.
h. Philippine Electric Corporation
i. Tarlac Reforestation and Environment Enterprises
j. Tolong Aquaculture Corporation
k. Visayan Aquaculture Corporation
l. Guimaras Aquaculture Corporation (Rollo, pp. 21-22)
There is nothing in the above bio-data which even remotely indicates that
respondent Monsod has given the law enough attention or a certain
degree of commitment and participation as would support in all sincerity
and candor the claim of having engaged in its practice for at least ten
years. Instead of working as a lawyer, he has lawyers working for him.
Instead of giving receiving that legal advice of legal services, he was the
oneadvice and those services as an executive but not as a lawyer.
The deliberations before the Commission on Appointments show an effort
to equate "engaged in the practice of law" with the use of legal
knowledge in various fields of endeavor such as commerce, industry, civic
work, blue ribbon investigations, agrarian reform, etc. where such
knowledge would be helpful.
I regret that I cannot join in playing fast and loose with a term, which
even an ordinary layman accepts as having a familiar and customary welldefined meaning. Every resident of this country who has reached the age
of discernment has to know, follow, or apply the law at various times in
his life. Legal knowledge is useful if not necessary for the business
executive, legislator, mayor, barangay captain, teacher, policeman,
farmer, fisherman, market vendor, and student to name only a few. And
yet, can these people honestly assert that as such, they are engaged in
the practice of law?
The Constitution requires having been "engaged in the practice of law for
at least ten years." It is not satisfied with having been "a member of the
Philippine bar for at least ten years."
Some American courts have defined the practice of law, as follows:
The practice of law involves not only appearance in court in connection
with litigation but also services rendered out of court, and it includes the
giving of advice or the rendering of any services requiring the use of legal
skill or knowledge, such as preparing a will, contract or other instrument,
the legal effect of which, under the facts and conditions involved, must be
carefully determined. People ex rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n v. Tinkoff, 399 Ill.

282, 77 N.E.2d 693; People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v. People's Stock
Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901, and cases cited.
It would be difficult, if not impossible to lay down a formula or definition of
what constitutes the practice of law. "Practicing law" has been defined as
"Practicing as an attorney or counselor at law according to the laws and
customs of our courts, is the giving of advice or rendition of any sort of
service by any person, firm or corporation when the giving of such advice
or rendition of such service requires the use of any degree of legal
knowledge or skill." Without adopting that definition, we referred to it as
being substantially correct in People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v.
People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901. (People v.
Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773, 776)
For one's actions to come within the purview of practice of law they
should not only be activities peculiar to the work of a lawyer, they should
also be performed, habitually, frequently or customarily, to wit:
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent's answers to questions propounded to him were rather
evasive. He was asked whether or not he ever prepared contracts for the
parties in real-estate transactions where he was not the procuring agent.
He answered: "Very seldom." In answer to the question as to how many
times he had prepared contracts for the parties during the twenty-one
years of his business, he said: "I have no Idea." When asked if it would be
more than half a dozen times his answer was I suppose. Asked if he did
not recall making the statement to several parties that he had prepared
contracts in a large number of instances, he answered: "I don't recall
exactly what was said." When asked if he did not remember saying that
he had made a practice of preparing deeds, mortgages and contracts and
charging a fee to the parties therefor in instances where he was not the
broker in the deal, he answered: "Well, I don't believe so, that is not a
practice." Pressed further for an answer as to his practice in preparing
contracts and deeds for parties where he was not the broker, he finally
answered: "I have done about everything that is on the books as far as
real estate is concerned."
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent takes the position that because he is a real-estate broker he
has a lawful right to do any legal work in connection with real-estate
transactions, especially in drawing of real-estate contracts, deeds,
mortgages, notes and the like. There is no doubt but that he has engaged
in these practices over the years and has charged for his services in that
connection. ... (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773)
xxx xxx xxx

... An attorney, in the most general sense, is a person designated or


employed by another to act in his stead; an agent; more especially, one
of a class of persons authorized to appear and act for suitors or
defendants in legal proceedings. Strictly, these professional persons are
attorneys at law, and non-professional agents are properly styled
"attorney's in fact;" but the single word is much used as meaning an
attorney at law. A person may be an attorney in facto for another, without
being an attorney at law. Abb. Law Dict. "Attorney." A public attorney, or
attorney at law, says Webster, is an officer of a court of law, legally
qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of
clients. "The principal duties of an attorney are (1) to be true to the court
and to his client; (2) to manage the business of his client with care, skill,
and integrity; (3) to keep his client informed as to the state of his
business; (4) to keep his secrets confided to him as such. ... His rights are
to be justly compensated for his services." Bouv. Law Dict. tit. "Attorney."
The transitive verb "practice," as defined by Webster, means 'to do or
perform frequently, customarily, or habitually; to perform by a succession
of acts, as, to practice gaming, ... to carry on in practice, or repeated
action; to apply, as a theory, to real life; to exercise, as a profession,
trade, art. etc.; as, to practice law or medicine,' etc...." (State v. Bryan,
S.E. 522, 523; Emphasis supplied)
In this jurisdiction, we have ruled that the practice of law denotes
frequency or a succession of acts. Thus, we stated in the case of People v.
Villanueva (14 SCRA 109 [1965]):
xxx xxx xxx
... Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent
or customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other
words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan.
864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of
statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's
self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such
services. ... . (at p. 112)
It is to be noted that the Commission on Appointment itself recognizes
habituality as a required component of the meaning of practice of law in a
Memorandum prepared and issued by it, to wit:
l. Habituality. The term 'practice of law' implies customarilyor habitually
holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People v. Villanueva, 14
SCRA 109 citing State v. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when one
sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the
general practice of law (U.S. v. Noy Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one
takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary public, and files a

manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to


practice law in all courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968).
Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or
customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it
is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 1 09 citing State v.
Cotner, 1 27, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864)." (Rollo, p. 115)
xxx xxx xxx
While the career as a businessman of respondent Monsod may have
profited from his legal knowledge, the use of such legal knowledge is
incidental and consists of isolated activities which do not fall under the
denomination of practice of law. Admission to the practice of law was not
required for membership in the Constitutional Commission or in the FactFinding Commission on the 1989 Coup Attempt. Any specific legal
activities which may have been assigned to Mr. Monsod while a member
may be likened to isolated transactions of foreign corporations in the
Philippines which do not categorize the foreign corporations as doing
business in the Philippines. As in the practice of law, doing business also
should be active and continuous. Isolated business transactions or
occasional, incidental and casual transactions are not within the context
of doing business. This was our ruling in the case of Antam Consolidated,
Inc. v. Court of appeals, 143 SCRA 288 [1986]).
Respondent Monsod, corporate executive, civic leader, and member of
the Constitutional Commission may possess the background,
competence, integrity, and dedication, to qualify for such high offices as
President, Vice-President, Senator, Congressman or Governor but the
Constitution in prescribing the specific qualification of having engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten (10) years for the position of COMELEC
Chairman has ordered that he may not be confirmed for that office. The
Constitution charges the public respondents no less than this Court to
obey its mandate.
I, therefore, believe that the Commission on Appointments committed
grave abuse of discretion in confirming the nomination of respondent
Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC.
I vote to GRANT the petition.
Bidin, J., dissent
Separate Opinions
NARVASA, J., concurring:
I concur with the decision of the majority written by Mr. Justice Paras,
albeit only in the result; it does not appear to me that there has been an
adequate showing that the challenged determination by the Commission
on Appointments-that the appointment of respondent Monsod as

Chairman of the Commission on Elections should, on the basis of his


stated qualifications and after due assessment thereof, be confirmed-was
attended by error so gross as to amount to grave abuse of discretion and
consequently merits nullification by this Court in accordance with the
second paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution. I therefore
vote to DENY the petition.
Melencio-Herrera, J., concur.
PADILLA, J., dissenting:
The records of this case will show that when the Court first deliberated on
the Petition at bar, I voted not only to require the respondents to
comment on the Petition, but I was the sole vote for the issuance of a
temporary restraining order to enjoin respondent Monsod from assuming
the position of COMELEC Chairman, while the Court deliberated on his
constitutional qualification for the office. My purpose in voting for a TRO
was to prevent the inconvenience and even embarrassment to all parties
concerned were the Court to finally decide for respondent Monsod's
disqualification. Moreover, a reading of the Petition then in relation to
established jurisprudence already showed prima facie that respondent
Monsod did not possess the needed qualification, that is, he had not
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his
appointment as COMELEC Chairman.
After considering carefully respondent Monsod's comment, I am even
more convinced that the constitutional requirement of "practice of law for
at least ten (10) years" has not been met.
The procedural barriers interposed by respondents deserve scant
consideration because, ultimately, the core issue to be resolved in this
petition is the proper construal of the constitutional provision requiring a
majority of the membership of COMELEC, including the Chairman thereof
to "have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years."
(Art. IX(C), Section 1(1), 1987 Constitution). Questions involving the
construction of constitutional provisions are best left to judicial resolution.
As declared in Angara v. Electoral Commission, (63 Phil. 139) "upon the
judicial department is thrown the solemn and inescapable obligation of
interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries."
The Constitution has imposed clear and specific standards for a COMELEC
Chairman. Among these are that he must have been "engaged in the
practice of law for at least ten (10) years." It is the bounden duty of this
Court to ensure that such standard is met and complied with.
What constitutes practice of law? As commonly understood, "practice"
refers to the actual performance or application of knowledge as
distinguished from mere possession of knowledge; it connotes an active,
habitual, repeated or customary action. 1 To "practice" law, or any

profession for that matter, means, to exercise or pursue an employment


or profession actively, habitually, repeatedly or customarily.
Therefore, a doctor of medicine who is employed and is habitually
performing the tasks of a nursing aide, cannot be said to be in the
"practice of medicine." A certified public accountant who works as a clerk,
cannot be said to practice his profession as an accountant. In the same
way, a lawyer who is employed as a business executive or a corporate
manager, other than as head or attorney of a Legal Department of a
corporation or a governmental agency, cannot be said to be in the
practice of law.
As aptly held by this Court in the case of People vs. Villanueva: 2
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or
customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words,
it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs- Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864,
42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute
has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to
the public as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services (State
vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644,647.) ... (emphasis supplied).
It is worth mentioning that the respondent Commission on Appointments
in a Memorandum it prepared, enumerated several factors determinative
of whether a particular activity constitutes "practice of law." It states:
1. Habituality. The term "practice of law" implies customarily or habitually
holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People vs. Villanueva, 14
SCRA 109 citing State v. Boyen, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when
one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the
general practice of law (U.S. v. Ney Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one
takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary public, and files a
manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to
practice law in all courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968).
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or
customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it
is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v.
Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864).
2. Compensation. Practice of law implies that one must have presented
himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal profession
and that his professional services are available to the public for
compensation, as a service of his livelihood or in consideration of his said
services. (People v. Villanueva, supra). Hence, charging for services such
as preparation of documents involving the use of legal knowledge and
skill is within the term "practice of law" (Ernani Pao, Bar Reviewer in
Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1988 ed., p. 8 citing People v. People's
Stockyards State Bank, 176 N.B. 901) and, one who renders an opinion as

to the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is to that
extent, practicing law (Martin, supra, p. 806 citing Mendelaun v. Gilbert
and Barket Mfg. Co., 290 N.Y.S. 462) If compensation is expected, all
advice to clients and all action taken for them in matters connected with
the law; are practicing law. (Elwood Fitchette et al., v. Arthur C. Taylor,
94A-L.R. 356-359)
3. Application of law legal principle practice or procedure which calls for
legal knowledge, training and experience is within the term "practice of
law". (Martin supra)
4. Attorney-client relationship. Engaging in the practice of law
presupposes the existence of lawyer-client relationship. Hence, where a
lawyer undertakes an activity which requires knowledge of law but
involves no attorney-client relationship, such as teaching law or writing
law books or articles, he cannot be said to be engaged in the practice of
his profession or a lawyer (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 ed., p. 30). 3
The above-enumerated factors would, I believe, be useful aids in
determining whether or not respondent Monsod meets the constitutional
qualification of practice of law for at least ten (10) years at the time of his
appointment as COMELEC Chairman.
The following relevant questions may be asked:
1. Did respondent Monsod perform any of the tasks which are peculiar to
the practice of law?
2. Did respondent perform such tasks customarily or habitually?
3. Assuming that he performed any of such tasks habitually, did he do so
HABITUALLY FOR AT LEAST TEN (10) YEARS prior to his appointment as
COMELEC Chairman?
Given the employment or job history of respondent Monsod as appears
from the records, I am persuaded that if ever he did perform any of the
tasks which constitute the practice of law, he did not do so HABITUALLY
for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment as COMELEC
Chairman.
While it may be granted that he performed tasks and activities which
could be latitudinarianly considered activities peculiar to the practice of
law, like the drafting of legal documents and the rendering of legal
opinion or advice, such were isolated transactions or activities which do
not qualify his past endeavors as "practice of law." To become engaged in
the practice of law, there must be a continuity, or a succession of acts. As
observed by the Solicitor General in People vs. Villanueva: 4
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have
presented himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal
profession and that his professional services are available to the public for

a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his


said services.
ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to declare
respondent Monsod as not qualified for the position of COMELEC
Chairman for not having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten
(10) years prior to his appointment to such position.
CRUZ, J., dissenting:
I am sincerely impressed by the ponencia of my brother Paras but find I
must dissent just the same. There are certain points on which I must
differ with him while of course respecting hisviewpoint.
To begin with, I do not think we are inhibited from examining the
qualifications of the respondent simply because his nomination has been
confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. In my view, this is not a
political question that we are barred from resolving. Determination of the
appointee's credentials is made on the basis of the established facts, not
the discretion of that body. Even if it were, the exercise of that discretion
would still be subject to our review.
In Luego, which is cited in the ponencia, what was involved was the
discretion of the appointing authority to choose between two claimants to
the same office who both possessed the required qualifications. It was
that kind of discretion that we said could not be reviewed.
If a person elected by no less than the sovereign people may be ousted
by this Court for lack of the required qualifications, I see no reason why
we cannot disqualified an appointee simply because he has passed the
Commission on Appointments.
Even the President of the Philippines may be declared ineligible by this
Court in an appropriate proceeding notwithstanding that he has been
found acceptable by no less than the enfranchised citizenry. The reason is
that what we would be examining is not the wisdom of his election but
whether or not he was qualified to be elected in the first place.
Coming now to the qualifications of the private respondent, I fear that the
ponencia may have been too sweeping in its definition of the phrase
"practice of law" as to render the qualification practically toothless. From
the numerous activities accepted as embraced in the term, I have the
uncomfortable feeling that one does not even have to be a lawyer to be
engaged in the practice of law as long as his activities involve the
application of some law, however peripherally. The stock broker and the
insurance adjuster and the realtor could come under the definition as
they deal with or give advice on matters that are likely "to become
involved in litigation."
The lawyer is considered engaged in the practice of law even if his main
occupation is another business and he interprets and applies some law

only as an incident of such business. That covers every company


organized under the Corporation Code and regulated by the SEC under
P.D. 902-A. Considering the ramifications of the modern society, there is
hardly any activity that is not affected by some law or government
regulation the businessman must know about and observe. In fact, again
going by the definition, a lawyer does not even have to be part of a
business concern to be considered a practitioner. He can be so deemed
when, on his own, he rents a house or buys a car or consults a doctor as
these acts involve his knowledge and application of the laws regulating
such transactions. If he operates a public utility vehicle as his main source
of livelihood, he would still be deemed engaged in the practice of law
because he must obey the Public Service Act and the rules and
regulations of the Energy Regulatory Board.
The ponencia quotes an American decision defining the practice of law as
the "performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly understood
to be the practice of law," which tells us absolutely nothing. The decision
goes on to say that "because lawyers perform almost every function
known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a definition
would obviously be too global to be workable."
The effect of the definition given in the ponencia is to consider virtually
every lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law even if he does not
earn his living, or at least part of it, as a lawyer. It is enough that his
activities are incidentally (even if only remotely) connected with some
law, ordinance, or regulation. The possible exception is the lawyer whose
income is derived from teaching ballroom dancing or escorting wrinkled
ladies with pubescent pretensions.
The respondent's credentials are impressive, to be sure, but they do not
persuade me that he has been engaged in the practice of law for ten
years as required by the Constitution. It is conceded that he has been
engaged in business and finance, in which areas he has distinguished
himself, but as an executive and economist and not as a practicing
lawyer. The plain fact is that he has occupied the various positions listed
in his resume by virtue of his experience and prestige as a businessman
and not as an attorney-at-law whose principal attention is focused on the
law. Even if it be argued that he was acting as a lawyer when he lobbied
in Congress for agrarian and urban reform, served in the NAMFREL and
the Constitutional Commission (together with non-lawyers like farmers
and priests) and was a member of the Davide Commission, he has not
proved that his activities in these capacities extended over the prescribed
10-year period of actual practice of the law. He is doubtless eminently
qualified for many other positions worthy of his abundant talents but not
as Chairman of the Commission on Elections.

I have much admiration for respondent Monsod, no less than for Mr.
Justice Paras, but I must regretfully vote to grant the petition.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:
When this petition was filed, there was hope that engaging in the practice
of law as a qualification for public office would be settled one way or
another in fairly definitive terms. Unfortunately, this was not the result.
Of the fourteen (14) member Court, 5 are of the view that Mr. Christian
Monsod engaged in the practice of law (with one of these 5 leaving his
vote behind while on official leave but not expressing his clear stand on
the matter); 4 categorically stating that he did not practice law; 2 voting
in the result because there was no error so gross as to amount to grave
abuse of discretion; one of official leave with no instructions left behind on
how he viewed the issue; and 2 not taking part in the deliberations and
the decision.
There are two key factors that make our task difficult. First is our
reviewing the work of a constitutional Commission on Appointments
whose duty is precisely to look into the qualifications of persons
appointed to high office. Even if the Commission errs, we have no power
to set aside error. We can look only into grave abuse of discretion or
whimsically and arbitrariness. Second is our belief that Mr. Monsod
possesses superior qualifications in terms of executive ability, proficiency
in management, educational background, experience in international
banking and finance, and instant recognition by the public. His integrity
and competence are not questioned by the petitioner. What is before us is
compliance with a specific requirement written into the Constitution.
Inspite of my high regard for Mr. Monsod, I cannot shirk my constitutional
duty. He has never engaged in the practice of law for even one year. He is
a member of the bar but to say that he has practiced law is stretching the
term beyond rational limits.
A person may have passed the bar examinations. But if he has not
dedicated his life to the law, if he has not engaged in an activity where
membership in the bar is a requirement I fail to see how he can claim to
have been engaged in the practice of law.
Engaging in the practice of law is a qualification not only for COMELEC
chairman but also for appointment to the Supreme Court and all lower
courts. What kind of Judges or Justices will we have if there main
occupation is selling real estate, managing a business corporation,
serving in fact-finding committee, working in media, or operating a farm
with no active involvement in the law, whether in Government or private
practice, except that in one joyful moment in the distant past, they
happened to pass the bar examinations?

The Constitution uses the phrase "engaged in the practice of law for at
least ten years." The deliberate choice of words shows that the practice
envisioned is active and regular, not isolated, occasional, accidental,
intermittent, incidental, seasonal, or extemporaneous. To be "engaged" in
an activity for ten years requires committed participation in something
which is the result of one's decisive choice. It means that one is occupied
and involved in the enterprise; one is obliged or pledged to carry it out
with intent and attention during the ten-year period.
I agree with the petitioner that based on the bio-data submitted by
respondent Monsod to the Commission on Appointments, the latter has
not been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. In fact, if
appears that Mr. Monsod has never practiced law except for an alleged
one year period after passing the bar examinations when he worked in his
father's law firm. Even then his law practice must have been extremely
limited because he was also working for M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in
Economics at the University of Pennsylvania during that period. How
could he practice law in the United States while not a member of the Bar
there?
The professional life of the respondent follows:
1.15.1. Respondent Monsod's activities since his passing the Bar
examinations in 1961 consist of the following:
1. 1961-1963: M.A. in Economics (Ph. D. candidate), University of
Pennsylvania
2. 1963-1970: World Bank Group Economist, Industry Department;
Operations, Latin American Department; Division Chief, South Asia and
Middle East, International Finance Corporation
3. 1970-1973: Meralco Group Executive of various companies, i.e.,
Meralco Securities Corporation, Philippine Petroleum Corporation,
Philippine Electric Corporation
4. 1973-1976: Yujuico Group President, Fil-Capital Development
Corporation and affiliated companies
5. 1976-1978: Finaciera Manila Chief Executive Officer
6. 1978-1986: Guevent Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer
7. 1986-1987: Philippine Constitutional Commission Member
8. 1989-1991: The Fact-Finding Commission on the December 1989 Coup
Attempt Member
9. Presently: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the
following companies:
a. ACE Container Philippines, Inc.
b. Dataprep, Philippines
c. Philippine SUNsystems Products, Inc.
d. Semirara Coal Corporation

e. CBL Timber Corporation


Member of the Board of the Following:
a. Engineering Construction Corporation of the Philippines
b. First Philippine Energy Corporation
c. First Philippine Holdings Corporation
d. First Philippine Industrial Corporation
e. Graphic Atelier
f. Manila Electric Company
g. Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc.
h. Philippine Electric Corporation
i. Tarlac Reforestation and Environment Enterprises
j. Tolong Aquaculture Corporation
k. Visayan Aquaculture Corporation
l. Guimaras Aquaculture Corporation (Rollo, pp. 21-22)
There is nothing in the above bio-data which even remotely indicates that
respondent Monsod has given the law enough attention or a certain
degree of commitment and participation as would support in all sincerity
and candor the claim of having engaged in its practice for at least ten
years. Instead of working as a lawyer, he has lawyers working for him.
Instead of giving receiving that legal advice of legal services, he was the
oneadvice and those services as an executive but not as a lawyer.
The deliberations before the Commission on Appointments show an effort
to equate "engaged in the practice of law" with the use of legal
knowledge in various fields of endeavor such as commerce, industry, civic
work, blue ribbon investigations, agrarian reform, etc. where such
knowledge would be helpful.
I regret that I cannot join in playing fast and loose with a term, which
even an ordinary layman accepts as having a familiar and customary welldefined meaning. Every resident of this country who has reached the age
of discernment has to know, follow, or apply the law at various times in
his life. Legal knowledge is useful if not necessary for the business
executive, legislator, mayor, barangay captain, teacher, policeman,
farmer, fisherman, market vendor, and student to name only a few. And
yet, can these people honestly assert that as such, they are engaged in
the practice of law?
The Constitution requires having been "engaged in the practice of law for
at least ten years." It is not satisfied with having been "a member of the
Philippine bar for at least ten years."
Some American courts have defined the practice of law, as follows:
The practice of law involves not only appearance in court in connection
with litigation but also services rendered out of court, and it includes the
giving of advice or the rendering of any services requiring the use of legal

skill or knowledge, such as preparing a will, contract or other instrument,


the legal effect of which, under the facts and conditions involved, must be
carefully determined. People ex rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n v. Tinkoff, 399 Ill.
282, 77 N.E.2d 693; People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v. People's Stock
Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901, and cases cited.
It would be difficult, if not impossible to lay down a formula or definition of
what constitutes the practice of law. "Practicing law" has been defined as
"Practicing as an attorney or counselor at law according to the laws and
customs of our courts, is the giving of advice or rendition of any sort of
service by any person, firm or corporation when the giving of such advice
or rendition of such service requires the use of any degree of legal
knowledge or skill." Without adopting that definition, we referred to it as
being substantially correct in People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v.
People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901. (People v.
Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773, 776)
For one's actions to come within the purview of practice of law they
should not only be activities peculiar to the work of a lawyer, they should
also be performed, habitually, frequently or customarily, to wit:
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent's answers to questions propounded to him were rather
evasive. He was asked whether or not he ever prepared contracts for the
parties in real-estate transactions where he was not the procuring agent.
He answered: "Very seldom." In answer to the question as to how many
times he had prepared contracts for the parties during the twenty-one
years of his business, he said: "I have no Idea." When asked if it would be
more than half a dozen times his answer was I suppose. Asked if he did
not recall making the statement to several parties that he had prepared
contracts in a large number of instances, he answered: "I don't recall
exactly what was said." When asked if he did not remember saying that
he had made a practice of preparing deeds, mortgages and contracts and
charging a fee to the parties therefor in instances where he was not the
broker in the deal, he answered: "Well, I don't believe so, that is not a
practice." Pressed further for an answer as to his practice in preparing
contracts and deeds for parties where he was not the broker, he finally
answered: "I have done about everything that is on the books as far as
real estate is concerned."
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent takes the position that because he is a real-estate broker he
has a lawful right to do any legal work in connection with real-estate
transactions, especially in drawing of real-estate contracts, deeds,
mortgages, notes and the like. There is no doubt but that he has engaged

in these practices over the years and has charged for his services in that
connection. ... (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773)
xxx xxx xxx
... An attorney, in the most general sense, is a person designated or
employed by another to act in his stead; an agent; more especially, one
of a class of persons authorized to appear and act for suitors or
defendants in legal proceedings. Strictly, these professional persons are
attorneys at law, and non-professional agents are properly styled
"attorney's in fact;" but the single word is much used as meaning an
attorney at law. A person may be an attorney in facto for another, without
being an attorney at law. Abb. Law Dict. "Attorney." A public attorney, or
attorney at law, says Webster, is an officer of a court of law, legally
qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of
clients. "The principal duties of an attorney are (1) to be true to the court
and to his client; (2) to manage the business of his client with care, skill,
and integrity; (3) to keep his client informed as to the state of his
business; (4) to keep his secrets confided to him as such. ... His rights are
to be justly compensated for his services." Bouv. Law Dict. tit. "Attorney."
The transitive verb "practice," as defined by Webster, means 'to do or
perform frequently, customarily, or habitually; to perform by a succession
of acts, as, to practice gaming, ... to carry on in practice, or repeated
action; to apply, as a theory, to real life; to exercise, as a profession,
trade, art. etc.; as, to practice law or medicine,' etc...." (State v. Bryan,
S.E. 522, 523; Emphasis supplied)
In this jurisdiction, we have ruled that the practice of law denotes
frequency or a succession of acts. Thus, we stated in the case of People v.
Villanueva (14 SCRA 109 [1965]):
xxx xxx xxx
... Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent
or customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other
words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan.
864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of
statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's
self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such
services. ... . (at p. 112)
It is to be noted that the Commission on Appointment itself recognizes
habituality as a required component of the meaning of practice of law in a
Memorandum prepared and issued by it, to wit:
l. Habituality. The term 'practice of law' implies customarilyor habitually
holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People v. Villanueva, 14
SCRA 109 citing State v. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when one
sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the

general practice of law (U.S. v. Noy Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one
takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary public, and files a
manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to
practice law in all courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968).
Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or
customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it
is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 1 09 citing State v.
Cotner, 1 27, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864)." (Rollo, p. 115)
xxx xxx xxx
While the career as a businessman of respondent Monsod may have
profited from his legal knowledge, the use of such legal knowledge is
incidental and consists of isolated activities which do not fall under the
denomination of practice of law. Admission to the practice of law was not
required for membership in the Constitutional Commission or in the FactFinding Commission on the 1989 Coup Attempt. Any specific legal
activities which may have been assigned to Mr. Monsod while a member
may be likened to isolated transactions of foreign corporations in the
Philippines which do not categorize the foreign corporations as doing
business in the Philippines. As in the practice of law, doing business also
should be active and continuous. Isolated business transactions or
occasional, incidental and casual transactions are not within the context
of doing business. This was our ruling in the case of Antam Consolidated,
Inc. v. Court of appeals, 143 SCRA 288 [1986]).
Respondent Monsod, corporate executive, civic leader, and member of
the Constitutional Commission may possess the background,
competence, integrity, and dedication, to qualify for such high offices as
President, Vice-President, Senator, Congressman or Governor but the
Constitution in prescribing the specific qualification of having engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten (10) years for the position of COMELEC
Chairman has ordered that he may not be confirmed for that office. The
Constitution charges the public respondents no less than this Court to
obey its mandate.
I, therefore, believe that the Commission on Appointments committed
grave abuse of discretion in confirming the nomination of respondent
Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC.
I vote to GRANT the petition.
Bidin, J., dissent
Footnotes
1 Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary.
2 14 SCRA 109
3 Commission on Appointments' Memorandum dated 25 June 1991 RE:
WHAT CONSTITUTES PRACTICE OF LAW, pp. 6-7.

4 14 SCRA 109.

A Filipino Lawyer Who Becomes A Citizen Of Another Country And


Later Re-Acquires His Philippine Citizenship Under R.A. No. 9225,
Remains To Be A Member Of The Philippine Bar
August 7, 2015 by The Lawyer's Post
The Facts:

Epifanio Muneses (petitioner), a member of the Philippine Bar since


1966, became a citizen of the United States on August 21, 1981,
hence lost his privilege to practice law in the Philippines. On
september 15, 2006, he reacquired his citizenship pursuant to
Republic Act 9225 by taking his oath of allegiance as a Filipino
cityien before the Philippine Consulate in Washington, D.C. He filed
the instant petition to be allowed to practice law in the Philippines,
stating therein that he intends to retire in the country. He
submitted pertinent documents to support his petition.
The Issue:

Whether or not Epifanio should be allowed to resume practice of


law in the Philippines.
The Ruling:
In Bar Matter No. 1678, dated December 17, 2007, the Court was
confronted with a similar petition filed by Benjamin M. Dacanay (Dacanay)

who requested leave to resume his practice of law after availing the
benefits of R.A. No. 9225. Dacanay was admitted to the Philippine Bar in
March 1960. In December 1998, he migrated to Canada to seek medical
attention for his ailments and eventually became a Canadian citizen in
May 2004. On July 14, 2006, Dacanay re-acquired his Philippine
citizenship pursuant to R.A. No. 9225 after taking his oath of allegiance
before the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, Canada. He
returned to the Philippines and intended to resume his practice of law.
The Court reiterates that Filipino citizenship is a requirement for
admission to the bar and is, in fact, a continuing requirement for the
practice of law. The loss thereof means termination of the petitioners
membership in the bar; ipso jure the privilege to engage in the practice of
law. Under R.A. No. 9225, natural-born citizens who have lost their
Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a
foreign country are deemed to have re-acquired their Philippine
citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic 1. Thus, a
Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country and later reacquires his Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225, remains to be a
member of the Philippine Bar. However, as stated in Dacanay, the right to
resume the practice of law is not automatic. 2 R.A. No. 9225 provides that
a person who intends to practice his profession in the Philippines must
apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such
practice.3

It can not be overstressed that:


The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. It is so
delicately affected with public interest that it is both the power and
duty of the State (through this Court) to control and regulate it in
order to protect and promote the public welfare.
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the
highest degree of morality, faithful observance of the legal
profession, compliance with the mandatory continuing legal
education requirement and payment of membership fees to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are the conditions required
for membership in good standing in the bar and for enjoying the
privilege to practice law. Any breach by a lawyer of any of these
conditions makes him unworthy of the trust and confidence which
the courts and clients repose in him for the continued exercise of
his professional privilege.4
Thus, in pursuance to the qualifications laid down by the Court for
the practice of law, the OBC required the herein petitioner to submit
the original or certified true copies of the following documents in
relation to his petition:
1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship;
2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship);
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines;
4. Identification Certificate (IC) issued by the Bureau of
Immigration;
5. Certificate of Good Standing issued by the IBP;
6. Certification from the IBP indicating updated payments of
annual membership dues;
7. Proof of payment of professional tax; and
8. Certificate of compliance issued by the MCLE Office.
In compliance thereof, the petitioner submitted the following:
1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship;
2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship);
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines;
4. Certificate of Re-Acquisition/Retention of Philippine
Citizenship issued by the Bureau of Immigration, in lieu of the
IC;

5. Certification dated May 19, 2010 of the IBP-Surigao City


Chapter attesting to his good moral character as well as his
updated payment of annual membership dues;
6. Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) for the year 2010;
7. Certificate of Compliance with the MCLE for the 2nd
compliance period; and
8. Certification dated December 5, 2008 of Atty. Gloria EstenzoRamos, Coordinator, UC-MCLE Program, University of Cebu,
College of Law attesting to his compliance with the MCLE.
The OBC further required the petitioner to update his
compliance, particularly with the MCLE. After all the
requirements were satisfactorily complied with and finding that
the petitioner has met all the qualifications and none of the
disqualifications for membership in the bar, the OBC
recommended that the petitioner be allowed to resume his
practice of law.
Upon this favorable recommendation of the OBC, the Court
adopts the same and sees no bar to the petitioners resumption
to the practice of law in the Philippines.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Epifanio B. Muneses is
hereby GRANTED, subject to the condition that he shall re-take
the Lawyers Oath on a date to be set by the Court and subject
to the payment of appropriate fees.
Furthermore, the Office of the Bar Confidant is directed to draft
the necessary guidelines for the re-acquisition of the privilege to
resume the practice of law for the guidance of the Bench and
Bar
SO ORDERED.
REYES, J.:

Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Del


Castillo, Abad, Villarama, Jr., Perez, Sereno, and Perlas-Bernabe,
JJ., concur.
Brion, J., on leave.
Mendoza, J., on leave.
EN BANC, B.M. No. 2112, July 24, 2012, IN RE: PETITION TO REACQUIRE THE PRIVILEGE TO PRACTICE LAW IN THE PHILIPPINES,
EPIFANJO B. MUNESES, PETITIONER.
Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship Any provision of
law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural born citizens of the
Philippines by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a
foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired
Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of
allegiance to the Republic:
I_________, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend
the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws
and legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of
the Philippines and I hereby declare that 1 recognize and accept the
supreme authority of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and
allegiance thereto; and that I imposed this obligation upon myself
voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of
this Act, become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their
Philippine citizenship upon taking the aforesaid oath.
2
Petition for Leave to Resume Practice of Law, Benjamin Dacanay,
Petitioner, B.M. No. 1678, December 17,2007.
3
R.A. No. 9225, Section 5.
4
Supra note 2.

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