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A.M. No.

1625 February 12, 1990

ANGEL L. BAUTISTA, complainant,
ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES, respondent.
In a verified complaint filed by Angel L. Bautista on May 19, 1976, respondent Ramon A. Gonzales was charged with
malpractice, deceit, gross misconduct and violation of lawyer's oath. Required by this Court to answer the charges against
him, respondent filed on June 19, 1976 a motion for a bill of particulars asking this Court to order complainant to amend
his complaint by making his charges more definite. In a resolution dated June 28, 1976, the Court granted respondent's
motion and required complainant to file an amended complaint. On July 15, 1976, complainant submitted an amended
complaint for disbarment, alleging that respondent committed the following acts:
Accepting a case wherein he agreed with his clients, namely, Alfaro Fortunado, Nestor Fortunado and Editha
Fortunado [hereinafter referred to as the Fortunados] to pay all expenses, including court fees, for a contingent fee of fifty
percent (50%) of the value of the property in litigation.
Acting as counsel for the Fortunados in Civil Case No. Q-15143, wherein Eusebio Lopez, Jr. is one of the
defendants and, without said case being terminated, acting as counsel for Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No. Q-15490;
Transferring to himself one-half of the properties of the Fortunados, which properties are the subject of the
litigation in Civil Case No. Q-15143, while the case was still pending;
Inducing complainant, who was his former client, to enter into a contract with him on August 30, 1971 for the
development into a residential subdivision of the land involved in Civil Case No. Q-15143, covered by TCT No. T-1929,
claiming that he acquired fifty percent (50%) interest thereof as attorney's fees from the Fortunados, while knowing fully
well that the said property was already sold at a public auction on June 30, 1971, by the Provincial Sheriff of Lanao del
Norte and registered with the Register of Deeds of Iligan City;
Submitting to the Court of First Instance of Quezon City falsified documents purporting to be true copies of
"Addendum to the Land Development Agreement dated August 30, 1971" and submitting the same document to the
Fiscal's Office of Quezon City, in connection with the complaint for estafa filed by respondent against complainant
designated as I.S. No. 7512936;

Committing acts of treachery and disloyalty to complainant who was his client;

Harassing the complainant by filing several complaints without legal basis before the Court of First Instance and
the Fiscal's Office of Quezon City;
Deliberately misleading the Court of First Instance and the Fiscal's Office by making false assertion of facts in his
Filing petitions "cleverly prepared (so) that while he does not intentionally tell a he, he does not tell the truth
Respondent filed an answer on September 29, 1976 and an amended answer on November 18, 1976, denying the
accusations against him. Complainant filed a reply to respondent's answer on December 29, 1976 and on March 24, 1977
respondent filed a rejoinder.
In a resolution dated March 16, 1983, the Court referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor General for investigation,
report and recommendation. In the investigation conducted by the Solicitor General, complainant presented himself as a

witness and submitted Exhibits "A" to "PP", while respondent appeared both as witness and counsel and submitted
Exhibits "1" to "11". The parties were required to submit their respective memoranda.
On May 16, 1988 respondent filed a motion to dismiss the complaint against him, claiming that the long delay in the
resolution of the complaint against him constitutes a violation of his constitutional right to due process and speedy
disposition of cases. Upon order of the Court, the Solicitor General filed a comment to the motion to dismiss on August 8,
1988, explaining that the delay in the investigation of the case was due to the numerous requests for postponement of
scheduled hearings filed by both parties and the motions for extension of time to file their respective memoranda."
[Comment of the Solicitor General, p. 2; Record, p. 365]. Respondent filed a reply to the Solicitor General's comment on
October 26, 1988. In a resolution dated January 16, 1989 the Court required the Solicitor General to submit his report and
recommendation within thirty (30) days from notice.
On April 11, 1989, the Solicitor General submitted his report with the recommendation that Atty. Ramon A. Gonzales be
suspended for six (6) months. The Solicitor General found that respondent committed the following acts of misconduct:
transferring to himself one-half of the properties of his clients during the pendency of the case where the
properties were involved;
concealing from complainant the fact that the property subject of their land development agreement had already
been sold at a public auction prior to the execution of said agreement; and
misleading the court by submitting alleged true copies of a document where two signatories who had not signed
the original (or even the xerox copy) were made to appear as having fixed their signatures [Report and Recommendation
of the Solicitor General, pp. 17-18; Rollo, pp. 403-404].
Respondent then filed on April 14, 1989 a motion to refer the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation and disposition pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court. Respondent manifested that he
intends to submit more evidence before the IBP. Finally, on November 27, 1989, respondent filed a supplemental motion
to refer this case to the IBP, containing additional arguments to bolster his contentions in his previous pleadings.
Preliminarily, the Court will dispose of the procedural issue raised by respondent. It is respondent's contention that the
preliminary investigation conducted by the Solicitor General was limited to the determination of whether or not there is
sufficient ground to proceed with the case and that under Rule 139 the Solicitor General still has to file an administrative
complaint against him. Respondent claims that the case should be referred to the IBP since Section 20 of Rule 139-B
provides that:
This Rule shall take effect on June 1, 1988 and shall supersede the present Rule 139 entitled DISBARMENT OR
SUSPENSION OF ATTORNEYS. All cases pending investigation by the Office of the Solicitor General shall be
transferred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors for investigation and disposition as provided in
this Rule except those cases where the investigation has been substantially completed.
The above contention of respondent is untenable. In the first place, contrary to respondent's claim, reference to the IBP of
complaints against lawyers is not mandatory upon the Court [Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 79690-707; Zaldivar
v. Gonzales, G.R. No. 80578, October 7, 1988]. Reference of complaints to the IBP is not an exclusive procedure under
the terms of Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court [Ibid]. Under Sections 13 and 14 of Rule 139-B, the Supreme
Court may conduct disciplinary proceedings without the intervention of the IBP by referring cases for investigation to the
Solicitor General or to any officer of the Supreme Court or judge of a lower court. In such a case, the report and
recommendation of the investigating official shall be reviewed directly by the Supreme Court. The Court shall base its
final action on the case on the report and recommendation submitted by the investigating official and the evidence
presented by the parties during the investigation.
Secondly, there is no need to refer the case to the IBP since at the time of the effectivity of Rule 139-B [June 1, 1988] the
investigation conducted by the Office of the Solicitor General had been substantially completed. Section 20 of Rule 139-B
provides that only pending cases, the investigation of which has not been substantially completed by the Office of the

Solicitor General, shall be transferred to the IBP. In this case the investigation by the Solicitor General was terminated
even before the effectivity of Rule 139-B. Respondent himself admitted in his motion to dismiss that the Solicitor General
terminated the investigation on November 26, 1986, the date when respondent submitted his reply memorandum [Motion
to Dismiss, p. 1; Record, p. 353].
Thirdly, there is no need for further investigation since the Office of the Solicitor General already made a thorough and
comprehensive investigation of the case. To refer the case to the IBP, as prayed for by the respondent, will result not only
in duplication of the proceedings conducted by the Solicitor General but also to further delay in the disposition of the
present case which has lasted for more than thirteen (13) years.
Respondent's assertion that he still has some evidence to present does not warrant the referral of the case to the IBP.
Considering that in the investigation conducted by the Solicitor General respondent was given ample opportunity to
present evidence, his failure to adduce additional evidence is entirely his own fault. There was therefore no denial of
procedural due process. The record shows that respondent appeared as witness for himself and presented no less than
eleven (11) documents to support his contentions. He was also allowed to cross-examine the complainant who appeared as
a witness against him.
The Court will now address the substantive issue of whether or not respondent committed the acts of misconduct alleged
by complainant Bautista.
After a careful review of the record of the case and the report and recommendation of the Solicitor General, the Court
finds that respondent committed acts of misconduct which warrant the exercise by this Court of its disciplinary power.
The record shows that respondent prepared a document entitled "Transfer of Rights" which was signed by the Fortunados
on August 31, 1971. The document assigned to respondent one-half (1/2) of the properties of the Fortunados covered by
TCT No. T-1929, with an area of 239.650 sq. mm., and TCT No. T-3041, with an area of 72.907 sq. m., for and in
consideration of his legal services to the latter. At the time the document was executed, respondent knew that the
abovementioned properties were the subject of a civil case [Civil Case No. Q-15143] pending before the Court of First
Instance of Quezon City since he was acting as counsel for the Fortunados in said case [See Annex "B" of Original
Complaint, p. 12; Rollo, p. 16]. In executing the document transferring one-half (1/2) of the subject properties to himself,
respondent violated the law expressly prohibiting a lawyer from acquiring his client's property or interest involved in any
litigation in which he may take part by virtue of his profession [Article 1491, New Civil Code]. This Court has held that
the purchase by a lawyer of his client's property or interest in litigation is a breach of professional ethics and constitutes
malpractice [Hernandez v. Villanueva, 40 Phil. 774 (1920); Go Beltran v. Fernandez, 70 Phil. 248 (1940)].
However, respondent notes that Canon 10 of the old Canons of Professional Ethics, which states that "[t]he lawyer should
not purchase any interests in the subject matter of the litigation which he is conducting," does not appear anymore in the
new Code of Professional Responsibility. He therefore concludes that while a purchase by a lawyer of property in
litigation is void under Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, such purchase is no longer a ground for disciplinary action under the
new Code of Professional Responsibility.
This contention is without merit. The very first Canon of the new Code states that "a lawyer shall uphold the Constitution,
obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal process" (Emphasis supplied), Moreover, Rule 138, Sec. 3
of the Revised Rules of Court requires every lawyer to take an oath to 44 obey the laws [of the Republic of the
Philippines] as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein." And for any violation of this oath, a
lawyer may be suspended or disbarred by the Supreme Court [Rule 138, Sec. 27, Revised Rules of Court]. All of these
underscore the role of the lawyer as the vanguard of our legal system. The transgression of any provision of law by a
lawyer is a repulsive and reprehensible act which the Court will not countenance. In the instant case, respondent, having
violated Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, must be held accountable both to his client and to society.
Parenthetically, it should be noted that the persons mentioned in Art. 1491 of the Civil Code are prohibited from
purchasing the property mentioned therein because of their existing trust relationship with the latter. A lawyer is
disqualified from acquiring by purchase the property and rights in litigation because of his fiduciary relationship with such
property and rights, as well as with the client. And it cannot be claimed that the new Code of Professional Responsibility

has failed to emphasize the nature and consequences of such relationship. Canon 17 states that "a lawyer owes fidelity to
the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him." On the other hand, Canon 16
provides that "a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession."
Hence, notwithstanding the absence of a specific provision on the matter in the new Code, the Court, considering the
abovequoted provisions of the new Code in relation to Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, as well as the prevailing jurisprudence,
holds that the purchase by a lawyer of his client's property in litigation constitutes a breach of professional ethics for
which a disciplinary action may be brought against him.
Respondent's next contention that the transfer of the properties was not really implemented, because the land development
agreement on which the transfer depended was later rescinded, is untenable. Nowhere is it provided in the Transfer of
Rights that the assignment of the properties of the Fortunados to respondent was subject to the implementation of the land
development agreement. The last paragraph of the Transfer of Rights provides that:
... for and in consideration of the legal services of ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES, Filipino, married to Lilia Yusay, and a
resident of 23 Sunrise Hill, New Manila, Quezon City, rendered to our entire satisfaction, we hereby, by these presents, do
transfer and convey to the said ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES, his heirs, successor, and assigns, one-half (1/2) of our
rights and interests in the abovedescribed property, together with all the improvements found therein [Annex D of the
Complaint, Record, p. 28; Emphasis supplied].
It is clear from the foregoing that the parties intended the transfer of the properties to respondent to be absolute and
unconditional, and irrespective of whether or not the land development agreement was implemented.
Another misconduct committed by respondent was his failure to disclose to complainant, at the time the land development
agreement was entered into, that the land covered by TCT No. T-1929 had already been sold at a public auction. The land
development agreement was executed on August 31, 1977 while the public auction was held on June 30, 1971.
Respondent denies that complainant was his former client, claiming that his appearance for the complainant in an antigraft case filed by the latter against a certain Gilbert Teodoro was upon the request of complainant and was understood to
be only provisional. Respondent claims that since complainant was not his client, he had no duty to warn complainant of
the fact that the land involved in their land development agreement had been sold at a public auction. Moreover, the sale
was duly annotated at the back of TCT No. T-1929 and this, respondent argues, serves as constructive notice to
complainant so that there was no concealment on his part.
The above contentions are unmeritorious. Even assuming that the certificate of sale was annotated at the back of TCT No.
T-1929, the fact remains that respondent failed to inform the complainant of the sale of the land to Samauna during the
negotiations for the land development agreement. In so doing, respondent failed to live up to the rigorous standards of
ethics of the law profession which place a premium on honesty and condemn duplicitous conduct. The fact that
complainant was not a former client of respondent does not exempt respondent from his duty to inform complainant of an
important fact pertaining to the land which is subject of their negotiation. Since he was a party to the land development
agreement, respondent should have warned the complainant of the sale of the land at a public auction so that the latter
could make a proper assessment of the viability of the project they were jointly undertaking. This Court has held that a
lawyer should observe honesty and fairness even in his private dealings and failure to do so is a ground for disciplinary
action against him [Custodio v. Esto, Adm. Case No. 1113, February 22, 1978, 81 SCRA 517].
Complainant also charges respondent with submitting to the court falsified documents purporting to be true copies of an
addendum to the land development agreement.
Based on evidence submitted by the parties, the Solicitor General found that in the document filed by respondent with the
Court of First Instance of Quezon City, the signatories to the addendum to the land development agreement namely,
Ramon A. Gonzales, Alfaro T. Fortunado, Editha T. Fortunado, Nestor T. Fortunado, and Angel L. Bautistawere made
to appear as having signed the original document on December 9, 1972, as indicated by the letters (SGD.) before each of
their names. However, it was only respondent Alfaro Fortunado and complainant who signed the original and duplicate
original (Exh. 2) and the two other parties, Edith Fortunado and Nestor Fortunado, never did. Even respondent himself
admitted that Edith and Nestor Fortunado only signed the xerox copy (Exh. 2-A) after respondent wrote them on May 24,
1973, asking them to sign the said xerox copy attached to the letter and to send it back to him after signing [Rejoinder to
Complainant's Reply, pp. 4-6; Rollo, pp. 327-329]. Moreover, respondent acknowledged that Edith and Nestor Fortunado

had merely agreed by phone to sign, but had not actually signed, the alleged true copy of the addendum as of May 23,
1973 [Respondent's Supplemental Motion to Refer this Case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, p. 16]. Thus, when
respondent submitted the alleged true copy of the addendum on May 23, 1973 as Annex "A" of his Manifestation filed
with the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, he knowingly misled the Court into believing that the original addendum
was signed by Edith Fortunado and Nestor Fortunado. Such conduct constitutes willful disregard of his solemn duty as a
lawyer to act at all times in a manner consistent with the truth. A lawyer should never seek to mislead the court by an
artifice or false statement of fact or law [Section 20 (d), Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court; Canon 22, Canons of
Professional Ethics; Canon 10, Rule 10.01, Code of Professional Responsibility].
Anent the first charge of complainant, the Solicitor General found that no impropriety was committed by respondent in
entering into a contingent fee contract with the Fortunados [Report and Recommendation, p. 8; Record, p. 394]. The
Court, however, finds that the agreement between the respondent and the Fortunados, which provides in part that:
We the [Fortunados] agree on the 50% contingent fee, provided, you [respondent Ramon Gonzales] defray all expenses,
for the suit, including court fees.
Alfaro T. Fortunado [signed]
Editha T. Fortunado [signed]
Nestor T. Fortunado [signed]
Ramon A. Gonzales [signed]
[Annex A to the Complaint, Record, p. 4].
is contrary to Canon 42 of the Canons of Professional Ethics which provides that a lawyer may not properly agree with a
client to pay or bear the expenses of litigation. [See also Rule 16.04, Code of Professional Responsibility]. Although a
lawyer may in good faith, advance the expenses of litigation, the same should be subject to reimbursement. The agreement
between respondent and the Fortunados, however, does not provide for reimbursement to respondent of litigation
expenses paid by him. An agreement whereby an attorney agrees to pay expenses of proceedings to enforce the client's
rights is champertous [JBP Holding Corp. v. U.S. 166 F. Supp. 324 (1958)]. Such agreements are against public policy
especially where, as in this case, the attorney has agreed to carry on the action at his own expense in consideration of
some bargain to have part of the thing in dispute [See Sampliner v. Motion Pictures Patents Co., et al., 255 F. 242 (1918)].
The execution of these contracts violates the fiduciary relationship between the lawyer and his client, for which the former
must incur administrative sanctions.
The Solicitor General next concludes that respondent cannot be held liable for acting as counsel for Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in
Civil Case No. Q-15490 while acting as counsel for the Fortunados against the same Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No.
Q-15143. The Court, after considering the record, agrees with the Solicitor General's findings on the matter. The evidence
presented by respondent shows that his acceptance of Civil Case No. Q-15490 was with the knowledge and consent of the
Fortunados. The affidavit executed by the Fortunados on June 23, 1976 clearly states that they gave their consent when
respondent accepted the case of Eusebio Lopez, Jr. [Affidavit of Fortunados, dated June 23, 1976; Rollo, p. 198]. One of
the recognized exceptions to the rule against representation of conflicting interests is where the clients knowingly consent
to the dual representation after full disclosure of the facts by counsel [Canon 6, Canons of Professional Ethics; Canon 15,
Rule 15.03, Code of Professional Responsibility].
Complainant also claims that respondent filed several complaints against him before the Court of First Instance and the
Fiscal's Office of Quezon City for the sole purpose of harassing him.
The record shows that at the time of the Solicitor General's investigation of this case, Civil Case No. Q-18060 was still
pending before the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, while the complaints for libel (I.S. No. 76-5912) and perjury
(I.S. No. 5913) were already dismissed by the City Fiscal for insufficiency of evidence and lack of interest, respectively
[Report and Recommendation, pp. 16-17; Rollo, pp. 402-403]. The Solicitor General found no basis for holding that the
complaints for libel and perjury were used by respondent to harass complainant. As to Civil Case No. Q-18060,
considering that it was still pending resolution, the Solicitor General made no finding on complainants claim that it was a

mere ploy by respondent to harass him. The determination of the validity of the complaint in Civil Case No. Q-18060 was
left to the Court of First Instance of Quezon City where the case was pending resolution.
The Court agrees with the above findings of the Solicitor General, and accordingly holds that there is no basis for holding
that the respondent's sole purpose in filing the aforementioned cases was to harass complainant.
Grounds 6, 8 and 9 alleged in the complaint need not be discussed separately since the above discussion on the other
grounds sufficiently cover these remaining grounds.
The Court finds clearly established in this case that on four counts the respondent violated the law and the rules governing
the conduct of a member of the legal profession. Sworn to assist in the administration of justice and to uphold the rule of
law, he has "miserably failed to live up to the standards expected of a member of the Bar." [Artiaga v. Villanueva, Adm.
Matter No. 1892, July 29, 1988, 163 SCRA 638, 647]. The Court agrees with the Solicitor General that, considering the
nature of the offenses committed by respondent and the facts and circumstances of the case, respondent lawyer should be
suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.
WHEREFORE, finding that respondent Attorney Ramon A. Gonzales committed serious misconduct, the Court Resolved
to SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law for SIX (6) months effective from the date of his receipt of this
Resolution. Let copies of this Resolution be circulated to all courts of the country for their information and guidance, and
spread in the personal record of Atty. Gonzales.
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.
Gutierrez, Jr., Sarmiento, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado, JJ., took no part.

G.R. Nos. 79690-707

October 7, 1988

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,

as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution, respondents.
G.R. No. 80578 October 7, 1988
ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,
HON. RAUL M. GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman ombudsman under the 1987
Constitution, respondent.

The following are the subjects of this Resolution:
a Motion, dated 9 February 1988, to Cite in Contempt filed by petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar against public
respondent Special Prosecutor (formerly Tanodbayan) Raul M. Gonzalez, in connection with G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and
G.R. No. 80578. and 2) a Resolution of this Court dated 2 May 1988 requiring respondent Hon. Raul Gonzalez to show
cause why he should not be punished for contempt and/or subjected to administrative sanctions for making certain public
The pertinent facts are as follows:
Petitioner Zaldivar is one of several defendants in Criminal Cases Nos.
12159-12161 and 12163-12177 (for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) pending before the
Sandiganbayan. The Office of the Tanodbayan conducted the preliminary investigation and filed the criminal informations
in those cases (originally TBP Case No. 86-00778).
On 10 September 1987, petitioner filed with this Court a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus (G.R. Nos.
79690-707) naming as respondents both the Sandiganbayan and Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez. Among other things, petitioner
assailed: (1) the 5 February 1987 Resolution 1 of the "Tanodbayan" recommending the filing of criminal informations
against petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in TBP Case No. 86-00778; and (2) the 1 September 1987 Resolution 2 of
the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 1216312177 denying his Motion to Quash the criminal
informations filed in those cases by the "Tanodbayan." In this respect, petitioner alleged that respondent Gonzalez, as
Tanodbayan and under the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, was no longer vested with power and authority
independently to investigate and to institute criminal cases for graft and corruption against public officials and employees,
and hence that the informations filed in Criminal Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 12163-12177 were all null and void.
On 11 September 1987, this Court issued a Resolution, which read:
G.R. Nos. 79690-707 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. The Honorable Sandiganbayan and Honorable Raul M. Gonzalez, Claiming
To Be and Acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution ).Acting on the special civil action for
certiorari, prohibition and mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, with urgent motion for prelimin9ary
elimination injunction, the Court Resolved, without giving due course to the petition, to require the respondents to
COMMENT thereon, within ten (10) days from notice.

The Court further Resolved to ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, effective immediately and continuing
until further orders from this Court, ordering respondent Sandiganbayan to CEASE and DESIST from hearing and trying
Criminal Cases Nos. 12159 to 12161 and 12163 to 12177 insofar as petitioner Enrique Zaldivar is concerned and from
hearing and resolving the Special Prosecutor's motion to suspend dated September 3, 1987.
The parties later filed their respective pleadings.
Petitioner Zaldivar filed with this Court a second Petition for certiorari and Prohibition (G.R. No. 80578) on 19 November
1987, initially naming only Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez as respondent. That Petition assailed the 24 September 1987
Resolution 3 of the "Tanodbayan" in TBP Case No. 87- 01304 recommending that additional criminal charges for graft
and corruption be filed against petitioner Zaldivar and five (5) other individuals. Once again, petitioner raised the
argument of the Tanodbayan's lack of authority under the 1987 Constitution to file such criminal cases and to investigate
the same. Petitioner also moved for the consolidation of that petition with G.R. No. 79690-707.
In a Resolution dated 24 November 1987, 4 this Court, without giving due course to the second petition: (1) required
respondent Gonzalez to submit a comment thereon: and (2) issued a temporary restraining order "ordering respondent
Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and DESIST from further acting in TBP Case No. 87-01394 ... and particularly, from
filing the criminal information consequent thereof and from conducting preliminary investigation therein." In a separate
resolution of the same date, 5 G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578 were ordered consolidated by the Court.
In the meantime, however, on 20 November 1987 or four (4) days prior to issuance by this Court of a temporary
restraining order in G.R. No. 80578, the Office of the Tanodbayan instituted Criminal Case No. 12570 6 with the
Sandiganbayan which issued on 23 November 1987 an Order of Arrest 7 for petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in
Criminal Case No. 12570. Upon Motion 8 of petitioner Zaldivar, this Court issued the following Resolution on 8
December 1987:
G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan). The motion filed by the Solicitor
General for respondents for an extension of thirty (30) days from the expiration of the original period within which to file
comment on the petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction or restraining order
Acting on the manifestation with motion to treat the Sandiganbayan as party-respondent, the Court Resolved to (a)
Consider IMPLEADED the Sandiganbayan as party respondent; and (b) In pursuance of and supplementing the
Temporary Restraining Order of November 24, 1987 "ordering respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and
DESIST from further acting in TBP Case No. 87-01304 entitled, "Commission on Audit vs. Gov. Enrique Zaldivar, et al."
and particularly, from filing the criminal information consequent thereof and from conducting preliminary investigation
therein" ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER effective immediately and continuing until further orders from
this Court, ordering respondents Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan to CEASE and DESIST from further acting
in Criminal Case No. 12570, entitled, "People of the Philippines vs. Enrique M. Zaldivar, et al." and from enforcing the
order of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan in said case.
The Solicitor General filed a Comment 9 on the petition in G.R. No. 80578, and we required the petitioner to submit a
Reply 10 thereto.
On 9 February 1988, petitioner Zaldivar filed with the Court a Motion to Cite in Contempt 11 directed at respondent
Gonzalez. The Motion cited as bases the acts of respondent Gonzalez in: (1) having caused the filing of the information
against petitioner in Criminal Case No. 12570 before the Sandiganbayan; and (2) issuing certain allegedly contemptuous
statements to the media in relation to the proceedings in G.R. No. 80578. In respect of the latter, petitioner annexed to his
Motion a photocopy of a news article, reproduced here in toto, which appeared in the 30 November 1987 issue of the
"Philippine Daily Globe:"
Tanod Scores SC for Quashing Graft Case
TANODBAYAN Justice Raul M. Gonzalez said yesterday the Supreme Court order stopping him from investigating graft
cases involving Antique Gov. Enrique Zaldivar can aggravate the thought that affluent persons "an prevent the progress of
a trial."

What I am afraid of (with the issuance of the order) is that it appears that while rich and influential persons get favorable
actions from the Supreme Court, it is difficult for an ordinary litigant to get his petition to be given due course. Gonzalez
told the Daily Globe in an exclusive interview.
Gonzalez said the high tribunal's order '"eightens the people's apprehension over the justice system in this country,
especially because the people have been thinking that only the small fly can get it while big fishes go scot-free."
Gonzalez was reacting to an order issued by the tribunal last week after Zaldivar petitioned the court to stop the
Tanodbayan from investigating graft cases filed against him.
Zaldivar had charged that Gonzalez was biased in his investigations because the latter wanted to help promote the political
fortunes of a friend from Antique, lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan.
Acting on Zaldivar's petition, the high court stopped Gonzalez from investigating a graft charge against the governor, and
from instituting any complaint with the Sandiganbayan.
While President Aquino had been prodding me to prosecute graft cases even if they involve the high and mighty, the
Supreme Court had been restraining me. Gonzalez said.
In accordance with the President's order, Gonzalez said he had filed graft cases against two "very powerful" officials of
the Aquino government-Commissioner Quintin Doromal of the Presidential Commission on Good Government and
Secretary Jiamil I.M. Dianlan of the Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities.
While I don't wish to discuss the merits of the Zaldivar petition before the Supreme Court, I am a little bit disturbed that
(the order) can aggravate the thinking of some people that affluent persons can prevent the progress of a trial, he said.
He disclosed that he had a talk with the Chief Executive over the weekend and that while she symphatizes with local
officials who are charged in court during election time, 'She said that it might be a disservice to the people and the voters
who are entitled to know their candidates.
Gonzalez said that while some cases filed against local officials during election time could be mere harassment suits, the
Constitution makes it a right of every citizen to be informed of the character of tile candidate, who should be subject to
scrutiny. (Emphasis supplied)
Acting on petitioner's Motion to Cite in Contempt, the Court on 16 February 1988 required respondent Gonzalez "to
COMMENT on aforesaid Motion within ten (10) days from notice." 12 On 27 April 1988, the Court rendered its Decision
13 (per curiam) in the Consolidated Petitions. The dispositive portion thereof read:
WHEREFORE, We hereby:
GRANT the consolidated petitions filed by petitioner Zaldivar and hereby NULLIFY the criminal informations
filed against him in the Sandiganbayan; and
ORDER respondent Raul Gonzalez to cease and desist from conducting investigations and filing criminal cases
with the Sandiganbayan or otherwise exercising the powers and functions of the Ombudsman.
A Motion for Reconsideration 14 was filed by respondent Gonzalez the next day, 28 April 1988. In his Motion, respondent
Gonzalez, after having argued the legal merits of his position, made the following statements totally unrelated to any legal
issue raised either in the Court's Decision or in his own Motion:
That he "ha(d) been approached twice by a leading member of the court ... and he was asked to 'go slow on
Zaldivar and 'not to be too hard on him;' "

That he "was approached and asked to refrain from investigating the COA report on illegal disbursements in the
Supreme Court because 'it will embarass the Court;" and
That "(i)n several instances, the undersigned respondent was called over the phone by a leading member of the
Court and was asked to dismiss the cases against (two Members of the Court)."
Respondent Gonzalez also attached three (3) handwritten notes 15 which he claimed were sent by "some members of this
Honorable Court, interceeding for cases pending before this office (i.e., the Tanodbayan)." He either released his Motion
for Reconsideration with facsimiles of said notes to the press or repeated to the press the above extraneous statements: the
metropolitan papers for the next several days carried long reports on those statements and variations and embellishments
thereof On 2 May 1988, the Court issued the following Resolution in the Consolidated Petitions:
G.R. No. 79690-707 (Enrique Zaldivar vs. The Hon. Sandiganbayan, et al. G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon.
Raul M. Gonzalez, etc).
Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent Gonzalez under date of April 28, 1988, the Court
Resolved to REQUIRE the petitioner to COMMENT thereon within ten (10) days from notice hereof.
It appearing that respondent Raul M. Gonzalez has made public statements to the media which not only deal with
matters subjudice but also appear offensive to and disrespectful of the Court and its individual members and calculated,
directly or indirectly, to bring the Court into disrepute, discredit and ridicule and to denigrate and degrade the
administration of justice, the Court Resolved to require respondent Gonzalez to explain in writing within ten (10) days
from notice hereof, why he should not be punished for contempt of court and/or subjected to administrative sanctions for
making such public statements reported in the media, among others, in the issues of the "Daily Inquirer," the "Journal,"
the "Manila Times," the "Philippine Star," the "Manila Chronicle" the "Daily Globe" and the "Manila Standard" of April
29 and 30, and May 1, 1988, to wit:
That the Court resolution in question is merely "an offshoot of the position he had taken that the SC Justices
cannot claim immunity from suit or investigation by government prosecutors or motivated by a desire to stop him 'from
investigating cases against some of their proteges or friends;"
That no less than six of the members of the Court "interceded for and on behalf of persons with pending cases
before the Tanodbayan," or sought "to pressure him to render decisions favorable to their colleagues and friends;"
That attempts were made to influence him to go slow on Zaldivar and not to be too hard on him and to refrain
from investigating the Commission on Audit report on illegal disbursements in the Supreme Court because it will
embarass the Court;

That there were also attempts to cause the dismissal of cases against two Associate Justices; and


That the Court had dismissed judges' without rhyme or reason' and disbarred lawyers 'without due process.

It further appearing that three (3) affidavits relative to the purpose of and circumstances attendant upon the notes
written to said public respondent by three (3) members of the Court have since been submitted to the Court and now form
part of its official records, the Court further Resolved to require the Clerk of Court to ATTACH to this Resolution copies
of said sworn statements and the annexes thereto appended, and to DIRECT respondent Gonzalez also to comment
thereon within the same period of ten (10) days.
It finally appearing that notice of the Resolution of February 16, 1988 addressed to respondent Gonzalez was
misdelivered and therefore not served on him, the Court Resolved to require the Clerk of Court to CAUSE SERVICE of
said Resolution on the respondent and to REQUIRE the latter to comply therewith.
Respondent Gonzalez subsequently filed with this Court on 9 May 1988 an Omnibus Motion for Extension and Inhibition
16 alleging, among other things: that the above quoted 2 May 1988 Resolution of the Court "appears to have overturned
that presumption [of innocence] against him:" and that "he gravely doubts whether that 'cold neutrality [of an impartial
judge] is still available to him" there being allegedly "at least 4 members of this Tribunal who will not be able to sit in

judgment with substantial sobriety and neutrality." Respondent Gonzalez closed out his pleading with a prayer that the
four (4) Members of the Court Identified and referred to there by him inhibit themselves in the deliberation and resolution
of the Motion to Cite in Contempt.
On 19 May 1988 17 after receipt of respondent's Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. 18 this Court in an extended
per curiam Resolution 19 denied the Motion and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. That denial was made "final
and immediately executory.
Respondent Gonzalez has since then filed the following pleadings of record:

Manifestation with Supplemental Motion to Inhibition 20 dated 23 May 1988;


Motion to Transfer Administrative Proceedures to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines 21 dated 20 May 1988

Urgent Motion for Additional Extension of Time to File Explanation Ex Abundante Cautelam, 22 dated 26 May

Urgent Ex-Parte Omnibus Motion


For Extension of Time


For Inhibition and

For Transfer of Administrative Proceedings to the IBP, Under Rule 139-B 23 dated 4 June 1988 (with Annex "A;"
24 an anonymous letter dated 27 May 1988 from the alleged Concerned Employees of the Supreme Court and addressed
to respondent):

Ex-Parte Manifestation 25 dated 7 June 1988;


Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration 26 1988; and


Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation with Motion 27 member 1988.

In compliance with the 2 May 1988 Resolution of this Court quoted earlier, respondent Gonzalez submitted on 17 June
1988 an Answer with Explanation and Comment 28 offering respondent's legal arguments and defenses against the
contempt and disciplinary charges presently pending before this Court. Attached to that pleading as Annex "A" thereof
was respondent's own personal Explanation/Compliance 29 second explanation called "Compliance," 30 with annexes,
was also submitted by respondent on 22 July 1988.
We begin by referring to the authority of the Supreme Court to discipline officers of the court and members of the Bar.
The Supreme Court, as regulator and guardian of the legal profession, has plenary disciplinary authority over attorneys.
The authority to discipline lawyers stems from the Court's constitutional mandate to regulate admission to the practice of
law, which includes as well authority to regulate the practice itself of
law. 31 Quite apart from this constitutional mandate, the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court over members of the
Bar is an inherent power incidental to the proper administration of justice and essential to an orderly discharge of judicial
functions. 32 Moreover, the Supreme Court has inherent power to punish for contempt, to control in the furtherance of
justice the conduct of ministerial officers of the Court including lawyers and all other persons connected in any manner
with a case before the Court. 33 The power to punish for contempt is "necessary for its own protection against an
improper interference with the due administration of justice," "(it) is not dependent upon the complaint of any of the
parties litigant. 34
There are, in other words, two (2) related powers which come into play in cases like that before us here; the Court's
inherent power to discipline attorneys and the contempt power. The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of
the Bar is broader than the power to punish for contempt. Contempt of court may be committee both by lawyers and non-

lawyers, both in and out of court. Frequently, where the contemnor is a lawyer, the contumacious conduct also constitutes
professional misconduct which calls into play the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. 35 Where the respondent is
a lawyer, however, the Supreme Court's disciplinary authority over lawyers may come into play whether or not the
misconduct with which the respondent is charged also constitutes contempt of court. The power to punish for contempt of
court does not exhaust the scope of disciplinary authority of the Court over lawyers. 36 The disciplinary authority of the
Court over members of the Bar is but corollary to the Court's exclusive power of admission to the Bar. A lawyer is not
merely a professional but also an officer of the court and as such, he is called upon to share in the task and responsibility
of dispensing justice and resolving disputes in society. Any act on his part which visibly tends to obstruct, pervert, or
impede and degrade the administration of justice constitutes both professional misconduct calling for the exercise of
disciplinary action against him, and contumacious conduct warranting application of the contempt power.
It is sometimes asserted that in the exercise of the power to punish for contempt or of the disciplinary authority of the
Court over members of the Bar, the Court is acting as offended party, prosecutor and arbiter at one and the same time.
Thus, in the present case, respondent Gonzalez first sought to get some members of the Court to inhibit themselves in the
resolution of this case for alleged bias and prejudice against him. A little later, he in effect asked the whole Court to inhibit
itself from passing upon the issues involved in this proceeding and to pass on responsibility for this matter to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, upon the ground that respondent cannot expect due process from this Court, that the
Court has become incapable of judging him impartially and fairly. Respondent Gonzalez misconceives the nature of the
proceeding at bar as well as the function of the members of the Court in such proceeding.
Respondent's contention is scarcely an original one. In In Re Almacen, 37 then Associate (later Chief) Justice Fred Fruiz
Castro had occasion to deal with this contention in the following lucid manner:



It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the exercise of our authority in the premises, that, as Atty. Almacen would
have it appear, the members of the Court are the 'complainants, prosecutors and judges' all rolled up into one in this
instance. This is an utter misapprehension, if not a total distortion, not only of the nature of the proceeding at hand but
also of our role therein.
Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor
purely criminal, this proceeding is notand does not involvea trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation
by the Court into the conduct of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal
prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. It may be initiated by the Court motu
proprio. Public interest is its 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 property and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of
members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and
responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a
complainant or a prosecutor.
Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a certain degree, aggrieved parties. Any tirade against the Court as a body is
necessarily and inextricably as much so against the individual members thereof But in the exercise of its disciplinary
powers, the Court acts as an entity separate and distinct from the individual personalities of its members. Consistently
with the intrinsic nature of a collegiate court, the individual members act not as such individuals but only as a duly
constituted court. The distinct individualities are lost in the majesty of their office. So that, in a very real sense, if there be
any complainant in the case at bar, it can only be the Court itself, not the individual members thereofas well as the
people themselves whose rights, fortunes and properties, nay, even lives, would be placed at grave hazard should the
administration of justice be threatened by the retention in the Bar of men unfit to discharge the solemn responsibilities of
membership in the legal fraternity.
Finally, the power to exclude persons from the practice of law is but a necessary incident of the power to admit persons to
said practice. By constitutional precept, this power is vested exclusively in this Court. This duty it cannot abdicate just as
much as it cannot unilaterally renounce jurisdiction legally invested upon it. So that even if it be conceded that the
members collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, that fact alone does not and cannot disqualify them from the

exercise of the power because public policy demands that they, acting as a Court, exercise the power in all cases which
call for disciplinary action. The present is such a case. In the end, the imagined anomaly of the merger in one entity of the
personalities of complainant, prosecutor and judge is absolutely inexistent.


xxx. 38

It should not be necessary for the members of this Court expressly to disclaim any bias or prejudice against the respondent
that would prevent them from acting in accordance with the exacting requirements of their oaths of office. It also appears
to the Court that for all the members to inhibit themselves from sitting on this case is to abdicate the responsibility with
which the Constitution has burdened them. Reference of complaints against attorneys either to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines or to the Solicitor General is not mandatory upon the Supreme Court; such reference to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is certainly not an exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139-B of the
Revised Rules of Court, especially where the charge consists of acts done before the Supreme Court. There is no need for
further investigation of facts in the present case for it is not substantially disputed by respondent Gonzalez that he uttered
or wrote certain statements attributed to him. In any case, respondent has had the amplest opportunity to present his
defense; his defense is not that he did not make the statements ascribed to him but that those statements give rise to no
liability on his part, having been made in the exercise of his freedom of speech. The issues which thus need to be resolved
here are issues of law and of basic policy and the Court, not any other agency, is compelled to resolve such issues.
It is necessary to become very explicit as to what respondent Gonzalez was saying in his statements set out above.
Respondent has not denied making the above statements; indeed, he acknowledges that the newspaper reports of the
statements attributed to him are substantially correct. 39
Respondent Gonzalez was in effect saying, firstly, that the Supreme Court deliberately rendered an erroneous or wrong
decision when it rendered its per curiam Decision dated 27 April 1988 in G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and 80578. That decision
according to respondent Gonzalez, was issued as an act of retaliation by the Court against him for the position he had
taken "that the (Supreme Court) Justices cannot claim immunity from suit or investigation by government prosecutors,"
and in order to stop respondent from investigating against "some of (the) proteges or friends (of some Supreme Court
Justices)." The Court cannot, of course, and will not debate the correctness of its Decision of 27 April 1988 and of its
Resolution dated 19 May 1988 (denying respondent Gonzalez Motion for Reconsideration) in the consolidated Zaldivar
cases. Respondent Gonzalez, and anyone else for that matter, is free intellectually to accept or not to accept the reasoning
of the Court set out in its per curiam Decision and Resolution in the consolidated Zaldivar cases. This should not,
however, obscure the seriousness of the assault thus undertaken by respondent against the Court and the appalling
implications of such assault for the integrity of the system of administration of justice in our country. Respondent has said
that the Court rendered its Decision and Resolution without regard to the legal merits of the Zaldivar cases and had used
the judicial process to impose private punishment upon respondent for positions he had taken (unrelated to the Zaldivar
cases) in carrying out his duties. It is very difficult to imagine a more serious affront to, or a greater outrage upon, the
honour and dignity of this Court than this. Respondent's statement is also totally baseless. Respondent's statements were
made in complete disregard of the fact that his continuing authority to act as Tanodbayan or Ombudsman after the
effectivity of the 1987 Constitution, had been questioned before this Court as early as 10 September 1987 in the Petition
for Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus filed against him in these consolidated Petitions 40 that is, more than seven (7)
months before the Court rendered its Decision. Respondent also ignores the fact that one day later, this Court issued a
Temporary Restraining Order effective immediately ordering the Sandiganbayan to cease and desist from hearing the
criminal cases filed against petitioner Zaldivar by respondent Gonzalez. Respondent also disregards the fact that on 24
November 1987, upon the filing of a second Petition for certiorari for Prohibition by Mr. Zaldivar, the Court issued a
Temporary Restraining Order this time requiring the respondent to cease and desist from further acting in TBP Case No.
87-0934. Thus, the decision finally reached by this Court in April 1988 on the constitutional law issue pending before the
Court for the preceding eight (8) months, could scarcely have been invented as a reprisal simply against respondent.
A second charge that respondent Gonzalez hurled against members of the Supreme Court is that they have improperly Id
pressured" him to render decisions favorable to their "colleagues and friends," including dismissal of "cases" against two
(2) members of the Court. This particularly deplorable charge too is entirely baseless, as even a cursory examination of
the contents of the handwritten notes of three (3) members of this Court addressed to respondent (which respondent
attached to his Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of this Court of 27 April 1988 in the consolidated Petitions)

win show. It is clear, and respondent Gonzalez does not pretend otherwise, that the subject matters of the said notes had no
relation at all to the issues in G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and 80578. This charge appears to have been made in order to try to
impart some substance (at least in the mind of respondent) to the first accusation made by respondent that the Court had
deliberately rendered a wrong decision to get even with respondent who had, with great fortitude, resisted "pressure" from
some members of the Court. Once again, in total effect, the statements made by respondent appear designed to cast the
Court into gross disrepute, and to cause among the general public scorn for and distrust in the Supreme Court and, more
generally, the judicial institutions of the Republic.
Respondent Gonzalez has also asserted that the Court was preventing him from prosecuting "rich and powerful persons,"
that the Court was in effect discrimination between the rich and powerful on the one hand and the poor and defenseless
upon the other, and allowing "rich and powerful" accused persons to go "scot-free" while presumably allowing or
affirming the conviction of poor and small offenders. This accusation can only be regarded as calculated to present the
Court in an extremely bad light. It may be seen as intended to foment hatred against the Supreme Court; it is also
suggestive of the divisive tactics of revolutionary class war.
Respondent, finally, assailed the Court for having allegedly "dismissed judges 'without rhyme or reason' and disbarred
lawyers 'without due process.'" The Court notes that this last attack is not without relation to the other statements made by
respondent against the Court. The total picture that respondent clearly was trying to paint of the Court is that of an
"unjudicial" institution able and willing to render "clearly erroneous" decisions by way of reprisal against its critics, as a
body that acts arbitrarily and capriciously denying judges and lawyers due process of law. Once again, the purport of
respondent's attack against the Court as an institution unworthy of the people's faith and trust, is unmistakable. Had
respondent undertaken to examine the records 'of the two (2) judges and the attorney he later Identified in one of his
Explanations, he would have discovered that the respondents in those administrative cases had ample opportunity to
explain their side and submit evidence in support thereof. 41 He would have also found that there were both strong
reasons for and an insistent rhyme in the disciplinary measures there administered by the Court in the continuing effort to
strengthen the judiciary and upgrade the membership of the Bar. It is appropriate to recall in this connection that due
process as a constitutional precept does not, always and in all situations, require the trial-type proceeding, 42 that the
essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit any evidence one may have
in support of one's defense. 43 "To be heard" does not only mean verbal arguments in court; one may be heard also
through pleadings. Where opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings, is accorded, there is no
denial of procedural due process. 44
As noted earlier, respondent Gonzalez was required by the Court to explain why he should not be punished for contempt
and/or subjected to administrative discipline for making the statements adverted to above. In his subsequent pleadings
where he asked the full Court to inhibit itself and to transfer the administrative proceedings to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, respondent made, among others, the following allegations:
That the Members of the Court "should inhibit [themselves] in the contempt and administrative charges against
the respondent, in the light of the manifest prejudice and anger they hold against respondent as shown in the language of
the resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration;"
That "the entire membership of the court has already lost that 'cold neutrality of an impartial judge' [to] be able to
allow fairness and due process in the contempt citation as well as in the possible administrative charge;
That "respondent honestly feels that this court as angry and prejudiced as it is, respondent has no china man's
chance to get fair hearing in the contempt and possible administrative charges;"

That one must consider "the milieu before this Tribunal with, perhaps passion and obfuscation running riot;"

That respondent, "after having been castigated with such venom by the entire Court in its decision denying the
Motion for Reconsideration, does not have confidence in the impartiality of the entire Court" and that he "funds it
extremely difficult to believe that the members of this Tribunal can still act with unbiased demeanor towards him;" and
That "the Tribunal is determined to disbar [respondent] without due process" and that a specified Member of the
Court "has been tasked to be the ponente, or at least prepare the decision." (Underscoring in the original)

Thus, instead of explaining or seeking to mitigate his statements earlier made, respondent sought to heap still more
opprobrium upon the Court, accusing it of being incapable of judging his acts and statements justly and according to law.
Once again, he paints this Court as a body not only capable of acting without regard to due process but indeed determined
so to act. A grand design to hold up this Court to public scorn and disrespect as an unworthy tribunal, one obfuscated by
passion and anger at respondent, emerges once more. It is very difficult for members of this Court to understand how
respondent Gonzalez could suppose that judges on the highest tribunal of the land would be ready and willing to violate
their most solemn oath of office merely to gratify any imagined private feelings aroused by respondent. The universe of
the Court revolves around the daily demands of law and justice and duty, not around respondent nor any other person or
group of persons.
Whether or not the statements made by respondent Gonzalez may reasonably be regarded by this Court as contumacious
or as warranting exercise of the disciplinary authority of this Court over members of the Bar, may best be assayed by
examining samples of the kinds of statements which have been held in our jurisdiction as constituting contempt or
otherwise warranting the exercise of the Court's authority.
In Montecillo v. Gica, 45 Atty. Quirico del Mar as counsel for Montecillo, who was accused in a slander case,
moved to reconsider a decision of the Court of Appeals in favor of the complainant with a veiled threat that he should
interpose his next appeal to the President of the Philippines. In his Motion for Reconsideration, he referred to the
provisions of the Revised Penal Code on "knowingly rendering an unjust judgment," and "judgment rendered through
negligence" and implied that the Court of Appeals had allowed itself to be deceived. Atty. del Mar was held guilty of
contempt of court by the Court of Appeals. He then sued the three (3) justices of the Court of Appeals for damages before
the Court of First Instance of Cebu, seeking to hold them liable for their decision in the appealed slander case. This suit
was terminated, however, by compromise agreement after Atty. del Mar apologized to the Court of Appeals and the
justices concerned and agreed to pay moral damages to the justices. Atty. del Mar some time later filed with this Court a
Petition for Review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals in a slander case. This Court denied the Petition for
Review. Atty. del Mar then filed a Motion for Reconsideration and addressed a letter to the Clerk of the Supreme Court
asking for the names of the justices of this Court who had voted in favor of and those who had voted against his Motion
for Reconsideration. After his Motion for Reconsideration was denied for lack of merit, Atty. del Mar filed a
Manifestation in this Court saying:
I can at this time reveal to you that, had your Clerk of Court furnished me with certified true copies of the last two
Resolutions of the Supreme Court confirming the decision of the Court of Appeals in the case entitled Francisco M. Gica
vs. Jorge Montecillo, I would have filed against the Justices supporting the same, civil and criminal suits as I did to the
Justices of the Court of Appeals who, rewarding the abhorent falsification committed by Mr. Gica, reversed for him the
decisions of the City Court and the Court of First Instance of Cebu, not with a view to obtaining a favorable judgment
therein but for the purpose of exposing to the people the corroding evils extant in our Government, so that they may well
know them and work for their extermination. (60 SCRA at 240;emphasis supplied)
Counsel was asked to explain why he should not be administratively dealt with for making the above statements. In his
additional explanation, Atty. del Mar made the following statements:
... Graft, corruption and injustice are rampant in and outside of the Government. It is this state of things that convinced me
that all human efforts to correct and/or reform the said evils will be fruitless and, as stated in my manifestation to you, I
have already decided to retire from a life of militancy to a life of seclusion, leaving to God the filling up deficiencies. (60
SCRA at 242)
The Court suspended Atty. del Mar, "until further orders," from the practice of law saying:
... Respondent is utilizing what exists in his mind as state of graft, corruption and injustice allegedly rampant in and
outside of the government as justification for his contemptuous statements. In other words, he already assumed by his own
contemptuous utterances that because there is an alleged existence of rampant corruption, graft and injustice in and out of
the government, We, by Our act in G.R. No. L-36800, are among the corrupt, the grafters and those allegedly committing
injustice. We are at a complete loss to follow respondent del Mar's logic ...
xxx xxxxxx

To aged brethren of the bar it may appear belated to remind them that second only to the duty of maintaining allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the Philippines, is the duty of all
attorneys to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers (Sec. 20 (b) Rule 138, Rules
of Court). But We do remind them of said duty to emphasize to their younger brethren its paramount importance. A lawyer
must always remember that he is an officer of the court exercising a high privilege and serving in the noble mission of
administering justice.



As already stated, the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A G.R. No. 46504-R was based on its evaluation of the
evidence on only one specific issue. We in turn denied in G.R. No. L-36800 the petition for review on certiorari of the
decision because We found no reason for disturbing the appellate court's finding and conclusion. In both instances, both
the Court of Appeals and this Court exercised judicial discretion in a case under their respective jurisdiction. The
intemperate and imprudent act of respondent del Mar in resorting to veiled threats to make both Courts reconsider their
respective stand in the decision and the resolution that spelled disaster for his client cannot be anything but pure
contumely for aid tribunals.
It is manifest that respondent del Mar has scant respect for the two highest Court of the land when on the flimsy ground of
alleged error in deciding a case, he proceeded to challenge the integrity of both Courts by claiming that they knowingly
rendered unjust judgment. In short, his allegation is that they acted with intent and malice, if not with gross ignorance of
the law, in disposing of the case of his client.



... To those who are in the practice of law and those who in the future will choose to enter this profession, We wish to
point to this case as a reminder for them to imprint in their hearts and minds that an attorney owes it to himself to respect
the courts of justice and its officers as a fealty for the stability of our democratic institutions. (60 SCRA at 242-247:
emphasis supplied)
In Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel, 46 four (4) members of the bar, acting as counsel for
MacArthur International Minerals Company were required by this Court to explain certain statements made in
MacArthur's third Motion for Reconsideration:
...; and I the Supreme Court I has overlooked the applicable law due to the mis-representation and obfuscation of
the petitioners' counsel. (Last sentence, par. 1, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968).
... Never has any civilized democratic tribunal ruled that such a gimmick (referring to the "right to reject any and
all bids") can be used by vulturous executives to cover up and excuse losses to the public, a government agency or just
plain fraud ... and it is thus difficult, in the light of our upbringing and schooling, even under many of the incumbent
justices, that the Honorable Supreme Court intends to create a decision that in effect does precisely that in a most absolute
manner. (Second sentence, par. 7, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968). (31 SCRA at 6)
They were also asked to explain the statements made in their Motion to Inhibit filed on 21 September 1968 asking
Mr. Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro to inhibit themselves from considering, judging
and resolving the case or any issue or aspect thereof retroactive to January 11, 1967. The motion charges "It that the
brother of the Honorable Associate Justice Castro is a vice-president of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of
the false, erroneous and illegal decision dated January 31, 1968" and the ex-parte preliminary injunction rendered in the
above-entitled case, the latter in effect prejudging and predetermining this case even before the joining of an issue. As to
the Chief Justice, the motion states [t]hat the son of the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion was given a
significant appointment in the Philippine Government by the President a short time before the decision of July 31, 1968
was rendered in this case. The appointment referred to was as secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments. The
motion presents a lengthy discourse on judicial ethics, and makes a number of side comments projecting what is claimed
to be the patent wrongfulness of the July 31, 1968 decision. It enumerates "incidents" which, according to the motion,
brought about respondent MacArthur's belief that unjudicial prejudice had been caused it and that there was 'unjudicial
favoritism' in favor of 'petitioners, their appointing authority and a favored party directly benefited by the said decision

(31 SCRA at 6-7)

Another attorney entered his appearance as new counsel for MacArthur and filed a fourth Motion for Reconsideration
without leave of court, which Motion contained the following paragraphs:
The said decision is illegal because it was penned by the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion when in
fact he was outside the borders of the Republic of the Philippines at the time of the Oral Argument of the above-entitled
casewhich condition is prohibited by the New Rules of CourtSection 1, Rule 51, and we quote: "Justices; who may
take part... . Only those members present when any matter is submitted for oral argument will take part in its
consideration and adjudication ... ." This requirement is especially significant in the present instance because the member
who penned the decision was the very member who was absent for approximately four months or more. This provision
also applies to the Honorable Justices Claudio Teehankee and Antonio Barredo.
xxx xxx xxx
That if the respondent MacArthur International Minerals Company abandons its quest for justice in the Judiciary
of the Philippine Government, it will inevitably either raise the graft and corruption of Philippine Government officials in
the bidding of May 12, 1965, required by the Nickel Law to determine the operator of the Surigao nickel deposits, to the
World Court on grounds of deprivation of justice and confiscation of property and/or to the United States Government,
either its executive or judicial branches or both, on the grounds of confiscation of respondent's proprietary vested rights by
the Philippine Government without either compensation or due process of law and invoking the Hickenlooper Amendment
requiring the cutting off of all aid and benefits to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium,
amounting to more than fifty million dollars annually, until restitution or compensation is made.
(31 SCRA at 10-11)
Finding their explanations unsatisfactory, the Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Sanchez, held three (3) attorneys guilty
of contempt:
We start with the case of Atty. Vicente L. Santiago. In his third motion for reconsideration, we, indeed, find
language that is not to be expected of an officer of the courts. He pictures petitioners as 'vulturous executives.' He speaks
of this Court as a 'civilized, democratic tribunal,' but by innuendo would suggest that it is not.
In his motion to inhibit, his first paragraph categorizes our decision of July 31, 1968 as 'false, erroneous and illegal' in a
presumptuous manner. He then charges that the ex parte preliminary injunction we issued in this case prejudiced and
predetermined the case even before the joining of an issue. He accuses in a reckless manner two justices of this Court for
being interested in the decision of this case: Associate Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, because his brother is the vice president
of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the decision, and Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, whose son was
appointed secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments, 'a significant appointment in the Philippine Government
by the President, a short time before the decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered.' In this backdrop, he proceeds to state
that 'it would seem that the principles thus established [the moral and ethical guidelines for inhibition of any judicial
authority by the Honorable Supreme Court should first apply to itself.' He puts forth the claim that lesser and further
removed conditions have been known to create favoritism, only to conclude that there is no reason for a belief that the
conditions obtaining in the case of the Chief Justice and Justice Castro would be less likely to engender favoritism and
prejudice for or against a particular cause or party.' Implicit in this at least is that the Chief Justice and Justice Castro are
insensible to delicadeza, which could make their actuation suspect. He makes it plain in the motion that the Chief Justice
and Justice Castro not only were not free from the appearance of impropriety but did arouse suspicion that their
relationship did affect their judgment. He points out that courts must be above suspicion at all times like Ceasar's wife,
warns that loss of confidence for the Tribunal or a member thereof should not be allowed to happen in our country,
'although the process has already begun.



What is disconcerting is that Atty. Santiago's accusations have no basis in fact and in law. The slur made is not limited to
the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Castro. It sweepingly casts aspersion on the whole court. For, inhibition is also asked if,
we repeated any other justices who have received favors or benefits directly or indirectly from any of the petitioners or
any members of any board-petitioner or their agents or principals, including the president.' The absurdity of this posture is

at once apparent. For one thing, the justices of this Court are appointed by the President and in that sense may be
considered to have each received a favor from the President. Should these justices inhibit themselves every time a case
involving the Administration crops up? Such a thought may not certainly be entertained. The consequence thereof would
be to paralyze the machinery of this Court. We would in fact, be wreaking havoc on the tripartite system of government
operating in this country. Counsel is presumed to know this. But why the unfounded charge? There is the not too-well
concealed effort on the part of a losing litigant's attorney to downgrade this Court.
The mischief that stems from all of the foregoing gross disrespect is easy to discern. Such disrespect detracts much from
the dignity of a court of justice. Decidedly not an expression of faith, counsel's words are intended to create an atmosphere
of distrust, of disbelief.
xxx xxxxxx
The precepts, the teachings, the injunctions just recited are not unfamiliar to lawyers. and yet, this Court finds in the
language of Atty. Santiago a style that undermines and degrades the administration of justice. The stricture in Section 3 (d)
of Rule 71 of the Rules against improper conduct tending to degrade the administration of justice is thus transgressed.
Atty. Santiago is guilty of contempt of court.
xxx xxx xxx
Third. The motion contained an express threat to take the case to the World Court and/or the United States government. It
must be remembered that respondent MacArthur at that time was still trying to overturn the decision of this Court of July
31, 1968. In doing so, unnecessary statements were in ejected. More specifically, the motion announced that McArthur
'will inevitably ... raise the graft and corruption of the Philippine government officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965 ... to
the World Court' and would invoke 'the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and benefits to the
Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium, amount to more than fifty million dollars annually ...
This is a clear attempt to influence or bend the blind of this Court to decide the case' in its favor. A notice of appeal to the
World Court has even been embodied in Meads return. There is a gross inconsistency between the appeal and the move to
reconsider the decision. An appeal from a decision presupposes that a party has already abandoned any move to reconsider
that decision. And yet, it would appear that the appeal to the World Court is being dangled as a threat to effect a change of
the decision of this Court. Such act has no aboveboard explanation.
xxx xxx xxx
The dignity of the Court, experience teaches, can never be protected where infraction of ethics meets with complacency
rather than punishment. The people should not be given cause to break faith with the belief that a judge is the epitome of
honor amongst men. To preserve its dignity, a court of justice should not yield to the assaults of disrespect. Punctilio of
honor, we prefer to think, is a standard of behavior so desirable in a lawyer pleading a cause before a court of justice. (31
SCRA at 13-23; emphasis supplied)
In In re Almacen, supra, Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen, in protest against what he asserted was "a great injustice
committed against his client by the Supreme Court," filed a Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title. He alleged
that his client was deeply aggrieved by this Court's "unjust judgment," and had become "one of the sacrificial victims
before the altar of hypocrisy," saying that "justice as administered by the present members of the Supreme Court [was) not
only blind, but also deaf and dumb." Atty. Almacen vowed to argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum" so that
"the people may know of this silent injustice committed by this Court' and that "whatever mistakes, wrongs and injustices
that were committed [may] never be repeated." Atty. Almacen released to the press the contents of his Petition and on 26
September 1967, the "Manila Times" published statements attributed to him as follows:
Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition, said he did not expose the tribunal's 'unconstitutional and obnoxious'
practice of arbitrarily denying petitions or appeals without any reason.
Because of the tribunal's 'short-cut justice.' Almacen deplored, his client was condemned to pay P120,000, without
knowing why he lost the case.

xxx xxx xxx

There is no use continuing his law practice, Almacen said in this petition, 'where our Supreme Court is composed of men
who are calloused to our pleas of justice, who ignore without reason their own applicable decisions and commit culpable
violations of the Constitution with impunity.'

xxx xxx

He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of his title by which he earns his living, the present members of the
Supreme Court 'will become responsible to all cases brought to its attention without discrimination, and will purge itself
of those unconstitutional and obnoxious "lack of merit' or "denied resolutions. (31 SCRA at 565566; emphasis supplied)
Atty. Almacen was required by this Court to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. His
explanation, which in part read:
xxx xxx xxx
The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolized in paintings that can be found in all courts and government offices. We have
added only two more symbols, that it is also deaf and dumb. Deaf in the sense that no members of this Court has ever
heard our cries for charity, generosity, fairness, understanding, sympathy and for justice; dumb in the sense, that inspire of
our beggings, supplications, and pleadings to give us reasons why our appeals has been DENIED, not one word was
spoken or given ... We refer to no human defect or ailment in the above statement. We only described the impersonal state
of Things and nothing more.
xxx xxxxxx
As we have stated, we have lost our faith and confidence in the members of this Court and for which reason we offered to
surrender our lawyer's certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because what has been lost today may be regained tomorrow. As the
offer was intended as our self-imposed sacrifice, then we alone may decide as to when we must end our self- sacrifice. If
we have to choose between forcing ourselves to have faith and confidence in the members of the Court but disregard our
Constitution and to uphold the Constitution and be condemned by the members of this Court, there is no choice, we must
uphold the latter. (31 SCRA at 572; emphasis supplied)
was found by the Court to be "undignified and cynical" and rejected. The Court indefinitely suspended Almacen from the
practice of law holding, through Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, that Almacen had exceeded the boundaries of "fair
In Paragas V. Cruz, 47 Counsel, whose Petition for Ceriorari ran was dismissed by this Court, made the following
statements in his Motion for Reconsideration:
The petitioner respectfully prays for a reconsideration of the resolution of this Honorable Court dated April 20,1966 on the
ground that it constitutes a violation of Section 14 of Rule 11 2 of the Rules of Court promulgated by this very Hon.
Supreme Court, and on the further ground that it is likewise a violation of the most important right in the Bill of Rights of
the Constitution of the Philippines, a culpable violation which is a ground for impeachment.
... The rule of law in a democracy should always be upheld and protected by all means, because the rule of law creates and
preserves peace and order and gives satisfaction and contentment to all concerned. But when the laws and the rules are
violated, the victims resort, sometimes, to armed force and to the ways of the cavemen We do not want Verzosa and Reyes
repeated again and again, killed in the premises of the Supreme Court and in those of the City Hall of Manila. Educated
people should keep their temper under control at all times! But justice should be done to all concerned to perpetuate the
very life of Democracy on the face of the earth. (14 SCRA at 810; emphasis supplied)
The Court considered the above statements as derogatory to the dignity of the Court and required counsel to show cause
why administrative action should not be taken against him. Counsel later explained that he had merely related factual
events (i.e., the killing of Verzosa and Reyes) and to express his desire to avoid repetition of such acts. The Court, through
Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, found these explanations unsatisfactory and the above statements contumacious.

... The expressions contained in the motion for reconsideration ... are plainly contemptuous and disrespectful, and
reference to the recent killing of two employees is but a covert threat upon the members of the Court. ... That such threats
and disrespectful language contained in a pleading filed in courts are constitutive of direct contempt has been repeatedly
decided (Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724; People vs. Venturanza, 52 Off. Gaz. 769; Medina vs. Rivera, 66 Phil. 151;
De Joya vs. Court of First Instance of Rizal, 1, 9785, September 19,1956; Sison vs. Sandejas L- 9270, April 29,1959;
Lualhati vs. Albert, 57 Phil. 86). What makes the present case more deplorable is that the guilty party is a member of the
bar; for, as remarked in People vs. Carillo, 77 Phil. 580Counsel should conduct himself towards the judges who try his cases with that courtesy all have a right to expect. As an
officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard
towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice.
It in light and plausible that an attorney in defending the cause and rights of his client, should do so with all the fervor and
energy of which he is capable, but it is not, and never will be so, for him to exercise said right by resorting to intimidation
or proceeding without the propriety and respect which the dignity of the courts require. (Salcedo vs. Hernandez, [In re
Francisco], 61 Phil. 729)' (1 4 SCRA at 811-812; emphasis supplied)
In In re Sotto, 48 a newspaper reporter, Mr. Angel Parazo, invoking the Press Freedom Law, refused to divulge the
source of the news item which carried his by-line and was sent to jail for so refusing. Atty. Vicente Sotto, a senator and
author of said law, caused the publication of the following item in a number of daily newspapers in Manila:
As author of the Press Freedom Law (Republic Act No. 53), interpreted by the Supreme Court in the case of Angel
Parazo, reporter of a local daily, who now has to suffer 30 days imprisonment, for his refusal to divulge the source of a
news published in his paper, I regret to say that our High Tribunal has not only erroneously interpreted said law, but that it
is once more putting in evidence the incompetency or narrow mindedness of the majority of its members. In the wake of
so many blunders and injustices deliberately committed during these last years, I believe that the only remedy to put an
end to so much evil, is to change the members of the Supreme Court. To this effect, I announce that one of the first
measures, which I will introduce in the coming congressional sessions, will have as its object the complete reorganization
of the Supreme Court. As it is now constituted, the Supreme Court of today constitutes a constant peril to liberty and
democracy. It need be said loudly, very loudly, so that even the deaf may hear: The Supreme Court of today is a far cry
from the impregnable bulwark of Justice of those memorable times of Cayetano Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel
Araullo and other learned jurists who were the honor and glory of the Philippine Judiciary. (82 Phil. at 597-598; emphasis
In finding Atty. Sotto in contempt, despite his avowals of good faith and his invocation of the constitutional guarantee of
free speech and in requiring him to show cause why he should not be disbarred, the Court, through Mr. Justice Feria, saidTo hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing deliberately so many blunders and injustices
that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of one party knowing that the law and justice is on the part of the adverse
party and not on the one in whose favor the decision was rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would
tend necessarily to undermine the coincidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court, and
consequently to lower and degrade the administration of justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines is,
under the Constitution, the last bulwark to which the Filipino people may repair to obtain relief for their grievances or
protection of their rights when these are trampled upon, and if the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity
of the members of this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law
into their hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result. As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts
Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which he owes
fidelity according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to promote distrust in the administration of justice.
Respect to the courts guarantees the stability of other institutions, which without such guaranty would be resting on a very
shaky foundation. (82 Phil. at 601-602; emphasis supplied)
In Salcedo v. Hernandez, 49 Atty. Vicente Francisco filed a Motion before the Supreme Court which contained the
following paragraph (in translation):

We should like frankly and respectfully to make it of record that the resolution of this court, denying our motion for
reconsideration, is absolutely erroneous and constitutes an outrage to the rights of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a
mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls in the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas. We wish to exhaust all the
means within our power in order that this error may be corrected by the very court which has committed it, because we
should not want that some citizen, particularly some voter of the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, resort to the press
publicly to denounce, as he has a right to do, the judicial outrage of which the herein petitioner has been the victim, and
because it is our utmost desire to safeguard the prestige of this honorable court and of each and every member thereof in
the eyes of the public. But, at the same time we wish to state sincerely that erroneous decisions like these, which the
affected party and his thousands of voters will necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes of sakdalism and make
the public lose confidence in the administration of justice. (61 Phil. at 726; emphasis supplied)
When required by the Court to show cause why he should not be declared in contempt, Atty. Francisco responded by
saying that it was not contempt to tell the truth. Examining the statements made above, the Court held:
... [they] disclose, in the opinion of this court, an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the court and an intentional
contempt of its dignity, because the court is thereby charged with no less than having proceeded in utter disregard of the
laws, the rights of the parties, and of the untoward consequences, or with having abused its power and mocked and flouted
the rights of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's client, because the acts of outraging and mocking from which the words
'outrage' and mockery' used therein are derived, means exactly the same as all these, according to the Dictionary of the
Spanish Language published by the Spanish Academy (Dictionary of the Spanish Language, 15th ed., pages 132-513).
The insertion of the phrases in question in said motion of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, for many years a member of the
Philippine bar, was neither justified nor in the least necessary, because in order to call the attention of the court in a special
way to the essential points relied upon in his argument and to emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons stated in his
said motion were sufficient and the phrases in question were superfluous. In order to appeal to reason and justice, it is
highly improper and amiss to make trouble and resort to threats, as Attorney Vicente J. Francisco has done, because both
means are annoying and good practice can ever sanction them by reason of their natural tendency to disturb and hinder the
free exercise of a serene and impartial judgment, particularly in judicial matters, in the consideration of questions
submitted for resolution.
There is no question that said paragraph of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's motion contains a more or less veiled threat to
the court because it is insinuated therein, after the author shows the course which the voters of Tiaong should follow in
case he fails in his attempt, that they will resort to the press for the purpose of denouncing, what he claims to be a judicial
outrage of which his client has been the victim; and because he states in a threatening manner with the intention of
predisposing the mind of the reader against the court, thus creating an atmosphere of prejudices against it in order to make
it odious in the public eye, that decisions of the nature of that referred to in his motion to promote distrust in the
administration of justice and increase the proselytes of sakdalism a movement with seditious and revolutionary tendencies
the activities of which, as is of public knowledge, occurred in this country a few days ago. This cannot mean otherwise
than contempt of the dignity of the court and disrespect of the authority thereof on the part of Attorney Vicente J.
Francisco, because he presumes that the court is so devoid of the sense of justice that, if he did not resort to intimidation,
it would maintain its error notwithstanding the fact that it may be proven, with good reasons, that it has acted erroneously.
As a member of the bar and an officer of this court, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, as any attorney, is in duty bound to
uphold its dignity and authority and to defend its integrity, not only because it had conferred upon him the high privilege,
not a right (Malcolm, Legal Ethics, 158 and 160), of being what he now is: a priest of justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio St.,
Rep., 492, 669), but also because in so doing, he neither creates nor promotes distrust in the administration of justice, and
prevents anybody from harboring and encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is the source of disorder, thus
undermining the foundation upon which rests that bulwark called judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn
for protection and relief (61 Phil. at 727-728; emphasis supplied)
It should not be supposed that the six (6) cases above discussed exhaust our case law on this matter. In the following
cases, among others, the Supreme Court punished for contempt or administratively disciplined lawyers who had made
statements not very different from those made in the cases discussed above:

In re Wenceslao Laureta, 148 SCRA 382 (1987);


Borromeo v. Court of appeals, 87 SCRA 67 (1978);


Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer, 20 SCRA 441 (1967);


Malolos v. Reyes, 1 SCRA 559 (1961);


De Joya, et al. v. Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasay City Branch, 99 Phil. 907 (1956);


People v. Venturanza, et al., 98 Phil. 211 (1956);


In re Suzano A. Velasquez, per curiam Resolution (unreported), Promulgated 29 April 1955;


Cornejo v. Tan, 85 Phil. 772 (1950);


People v. Carillon, 77 Phil. 572 (1946);


Intestate Estate of Rosario 0lba; Contempt Proceedings against Antonio Franco, 67 Phil. 312 (1939); and


Lualhati v. Albert, 57 Phil. 86 (1932).

Considering the kinds of statements of lawyers discussed above which the Court has in the past penalized as
contemptuous or as warranting application of disciplinary sanctions, this Court is compelled to hold that the statements
here made by respondent Gonzalez clearly constitute contempt and call for the exercise of the disciplinary authority of the
Supreme Court. Respondent's statements, especially the charge that the Court deliberately rendered an erroneous and
unjust decision in the Consolidated Petitions, necessarily implying that the justices of this Court betrayed their oath of
office, merely to wreak vengeance upon the respondent here, constitute the grossest kind of disrespect for the Court. Such
statements very clearly debase and degrade the Supreme Court and, through the Court, the entire system of administration
of justice in the country. That respondent's baseless charges have had some impact outside the internal world of subjective
intent, is clearly demonstrated by the filing of a complaint for impeachment of thirteen (13) out of the then fourteen (14)
incumbent members of this Court, a complaint the centerpiece of which is a repetition of the appalling claim of
respondent that this Court deliberately rendered a wrong decision as an act of reprisal against the respondent.
The principal defense of respondent Gonzalez is that he was merely exercising his constitutional right of free speech. He
also invokes the related doctrines of qualified privileged communications and fair criticism in the public interest.
Respondent Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. No one seeks to deny him that right, least
of all this Court. What respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression, like all constitutional
freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with the
requirements of equally important public interests. One of these fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the
integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There is no antinomy between free expression and the
integrity of the system of administering justice. For the protection and maintenance of freedom of expression itself can be
secured only within the context of a functioning and orderly system of dispensing justice, within the context, in other
words, of viable independent institutions for delivery of justice which are accepted by the general community. As Mr.
Justice Frankfurter put it:
... A free press is not to be preferred to an independent judiciary, nor an independent judiciary to a free press. Neither has
primacy over the other; both are indispensable to a free society. The freedom of the press in itself presupposes an
independent judiciary through which that freedom may, if necessary be vindicated. And one of the potent means for
assuring judges their independence is a free press. 50
Mr. Justice Malcolm of this Court expressed the same thought in the following terms:
The Organic Act wisely guarantees freedom of speech and press. This constitutional right must be protected in its fullest
extent. The Court has heretofore given evidence of its tolerant regard for charges under the Libel Law which come

dangerously close to its violation. We shall continue in this chosen path. The liberty of the citizens must be preserved in
all of its completeness. But license or abuse of liberty of the press and of the citizens should not be confused with liberty
ill its true sense. As important as is the maintenance of an unmuzzled press and the free exercise of the rights of the
citizens is the maintenance of the independence of the Judiciary. Respect for the Judiciary cannot be had if persons are
privileged to scorn a resolution of the court adopted for good purposes, and if such persons are to be permitted by
subterranean means to diffuse inaccurate accounts of confidential proceedings to the embarassment of the parties and the
courts. 51 (Emphasis supplied)
Only slightly (if at all) less important is the public interest in the capacity of the Court effectively to prevent and control
professional misconduct on the part of lawyers who are, first and foremost, indispensable participants in the task of
rendering justice to every man. Some courts have held, persuasively it appears to us, that a lawyer's right of free
expression may have to be more limited than that of a layman. 52
It is well to recall that respondent Gonzalez, apart from being a lawyer and an officer of the court, is also a Special
Prosecutor who owes duties of fidelity and respect to the Republic and to this Court as the embodiment and the repository
of the judicial power in the government of the Republic. The responsibility of the respondent "to uphold the dignity and
authority of this Court' and "not to promote distrust in the administration of justice 53 is heavier than that of a private
practicing lawyer.
Respondent Gonzalez claims to be and he is, of course, entitled to criticize the rulings of this Court, to point out where he
feels the Court may have lapsed into error. Once more, however, the right of criticism is not unlimited. Its limits were
marked out by Mr. Justice Castro in In re Almacen which are worth noting
But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bonafide and shall not spill over the walls of decency
and propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the one hand, and abuse and slander of courts and the judges
thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a
misconduct that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential to the orderly administration of justice.
Hence, in the assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers even those gifted with superior intellect are enjoined to rein up their


xxx 54

(Emphasis supplied)
The instant proceeding is not addressed to the fact that respondent has criticized the Court; it is addressed rather to the
nature of that criticism or comment and the manner in which it was carried out.
Respondent Gonzalez disclaims an intent to attack and denigrate the Court. The subjectivities of the respondent are
irrelevant so far as characterization of his conduct or misconduct is concerned. He will not, however, be allowed to
disclaim the natural and plain import of his words and acts. 55 It is upon the other hand, not irrelevant to point out that
respondent offered no apology in his two (2) explanations and exhibited no repentance. 56
Respondent Gonzalez also defends himself contending that no injury to the judiciary has been shown, and points to the
fact that this Court denied his Motion for Reconsideration of its per curiam Decision of 27 April 1988 and reiterated and
amplified that Decision in its Resolution of 19 May 1988. In the first place, proof of actual damage sustained by a court or
the judiciary in general is not essential for a finding of contempt or for the application of the disciplinary authority of the
Court. Insofar as the Consolidated Petitions are concerned, this Court after careful review of the bases of its 27 April 1988
Decision, denied respondent's Motion for Reconsideration thereof and rejected the public pressures brought to bear upon
this Court by the respondent through his much publicized acts and statements for which he is here being required to
account. Obstructing the free and undisturbed resolution of a particular case is not the only species of injury that the Court
has a right and a duty to prevent and redress. What is at stake in cases of this kind is the integrity of the judicial
institutions of the country in general and of the Supreme Court in particular. Damage to such institutions might not be
quantifiable at a given moment in time but damage there will surely be if acts like those of respondent Gonzalez are not
effectively stopped and countered. The level of trust and confidence of the general public in the courts, including the court

of last resort, is not easily measured; but few will dispute that a high level of such trust and confidence is critical for the
stability of democratic government.
Respondent Gonzalez lastly suggests that punishment for contempt is not the proper remedy in this case and suggests that
the members of this Court have recourse to libel suits against him. While the remedy of libel suits by individual members
of this Court may well be available against respondent Gonzalez, such is by no means an exclusive remedy. Moreover,
where, as in the instant case, it is not only the individual members of the Court but the Court itself as an institution that
has been falsely attacked, libel suits cannot be an adequate remedy. 57
The Court concludes that respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of contempt of court in facie curiae and of gross misconduct
as an officer of the court and member of the Bar.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND Atty. Raul M. Gonzalez from the practice of law indefinitely and
until further orders from this Court, the suspension to take effect immediately.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman, the Secretary of Justice, the Solicitor
General and the Court of Appeals for their information and guidance.
Fernan C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento,
Cortes, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

[SBC Case No. 519. July 31, 1997]

PATRICIA FIGUEROA, complainant, vs. SIMEON BARRANCO, JR., respondent.


In a complaint made way back in 1971, Patricia Figueroa petitioned that respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. be denied
admission to the legal profession. Respondent had passed the 1970 bar examinations on the fourth attempt, after
unsuccessful attempts in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Before he could take his oath, however, complainant filed the instant
petition averring that respondent and she had been sweethearts, that a child out of wedlock was born to them and that
respondent did not fulfill his repeated promises to marry her.
The facts were manifested in hearings held before Investigator Victor F. Sevilla in June and July 1971. Respondent and
complainant were townmates in Janiuay, Iloilo. Since 1953, when they were both in their teens, they were steadies.
Respondent even acted as escort to complainant when she reigned as Queen at the 1953 town fiesta. Complainant first
acceded to sexual congress with respondent sometime in 1960. Their intimacy yielded a son, Rafael Barranco, born on
December 11, 1964.[1] It was after the child was born, complainant alleged, that respondent first promised he would
marry her after he passes the bar examinations. Their relationship continued and respondent allegedly made more than
twenty or thirty promises of marriage. He gave only P10.00 for the child on the latters birthdays. Her trust in him and their
relationship ended in 1971, when she learned that respondent married another woman. Hence, this petition.
Upon complainants motion, the Court authorized the taking of testimonies of witnesses by deposition in 1972. On
February 18, 1974, respondent filed a Manifestation and Motion to Dismiss the case citing complainants failure to
comment on the motion of Judge Cuello seeking to be relieved from the duty to take aforesaid testimonies by deposition.
Complainant filed her comment stating that she had justifiable reasons in failing to file the earlier comment required and
that she remains interested in the resolution of the present case. On June 18, 1974, the Court denied respondents motion to
On October 2, 1980, the Court once again denied a motion to dismiss on the ground of abandonment filed by respondent
on September 17, 1979.[2] Respondents third motion to dismiss was noted in the Courts Resolution dated September 15,
1982.[3] In 1988, respondent repeated his request, citing his election as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Janiuay,
Iloilo from 1980-1986, his active participation in civic organizations and good standing in the community as well as the
length of time this case has been pending as reasons to allow him to take his oath as a lawyer.[4]
On September 29, 1988, the Court resolved to dismiss the complaint for failure of complainant to prosecute the case for
an unreasonable period of time and to allow Simeon Barranco, Jr. to take the lawyers oath upon payment of the required
Respondents hopes were again dashed on November 17, 1988 when the Court, in response to complainants opposition,
resolved to cancel his scheduled oath-taking. On June 1, 1993, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
The IBPs report dated May 17, 1997 recommended the dismissal of the case and that respondent be allowed to take the
lawyers oath.
We agree.

Respondent was prevented from taking the lawyers oath in 1971 because of the charges of gross immorality made by
complainant. To recapitulate, respondent bore an illegitimate child with his sweetheart, Patricia Figueroa, who also claims
that he did not fulfill his promise to marry her after he passes the bar examinations.
We find that these facts do not constitute gross immorality warranting the permanent exclusion of respondent from the
legal profession. His engaging in premarital sexual relations with complainant and promises to marry suggests a doubtful
moral character on his part but the same does not constitute grossly immoral conduct. The Court has held that to justify
suspension or disbarment the act complained of must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. A grossly immoral act is
one that is so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a
high degree.[6] It is a willful, flagrant, or shameless act which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable
members of the community.[7]
We find the ruling in Arciga v. Maniwang[8] quite relevant because mere intimacy between a man and a woman, both of
whom possess no impediment to marry, voluntarily carried on and devoid of any deceit on the part of respondent, is
neither so corrupt nor so unprincipled as to warrant the imposition of disciplinary sanction against him, even if as a result
of such relationship a child was born out of wedlock.[9]
Respondent and complainant were sweethearts whose sexual relations were evidently consensual. We do not find
complainants assertions that she had been forced into sexual intercourse, credible. She continued to see and be
respondents girlfriend even after she had given birth to a son in 1964 and until 1971. All those years of amicable and
intimate relations refute her allegations that she was forced to have sexual congress with him. Complainant was then an
adult who voluntarily and actively pursued their relationship and was not an innocent young girl who could be easily led
astray. Unfortunately, respondent chose to marry and settle permanently with another woman. We cannot castigate a man
for seeking out the partner of his dreams, for marriage is a sacred and perpetual bond which should be entered into
because of love, not for any other reason.
We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act of revenge of a woman scorned, bitter and unforgiving to the end.
It is also intended to make respondent suffer severely and it seems, perpetually, sacrificing the profession he worked very
hard to be admitted into. Even assuming that his past indiscretions are ignoble, the twenty-six years that respondent has
been prevented from being a lawyer constitute sufficient punishment therefor. During this time there appears to be no
other indiscretion attributed to him.[10] Respondent, who is now sixty-two years of age, should thus be allowed, albeit
belatedly, to take the lawyers oath.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. Respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. is ALLOWED to take his
oath as a lawyer upon payment of the proper fees.
Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco, and Panganiban, JJ., concur.
Narvasa, C.J., Hermosisima, Jr., and Torres, Jr., JJ., on leave

A. M. No. 2104 August 24, 1989


In a sworn complaint 1 dated 25 September 1979, the spouses Erlinda Dalman and Narciso Melendrez charged Reynerio I.
Decena, a member of the Philippine Bar, with malpractice and breach of trust. The complainant spouses alleged, among
others, that respondent had, by means of fraud and deceit, taken advantage of their precarious financial situation and his
knowledge of the law to their prejudice, succeeded in divesting them of their only residential lot in Pagadian City; that
respondent, who was their counsel in an estafa case against one Reynaldo Pineda, had compromised that case without
their authority.
In his answer dated 18 March 1980, respondent denied all the charges levelled against him and prayed for the dismissal of
the complaint.
By resolution dated 14 April 1980, the administrative complaint was referred to the Office of the Solicitor General for
investigation, report and recommendation.
Accordingly, the Solicitor General forthwith deputized the City Fiscal of Pagadian City, Jorge T. Almonte, to conduct the
necessary investigation, with instructions to submit thereafter this report and recommendation thereon. Fiscal Almonte
held several hearings on the administrative case until 15 July 1982, when he requested the Solicitor General to release him
from the duty of investigating the case.
On 10 September 1982, the Solicitor General granted Fiscal Almonte's request and in his stead appointed the Provincial
Fiscal of Zamboanga del Sur, Pedro S. Jamero, who resumed hearings on 15 June 1983.
Respondent filed with this Court on 9 June 1987, a motion seeking to inhibit Fiscal Jamero from hearing the case followed
by an urgent motion for indefinite postponement of the investigation. Both motions were denied by the Court in a
Resolution dated 21 September 1987 with instructions to the Solicitor General to complete the investigation of the
administrative case and to render his report and recommendation thereon within thirty (30) days from notice.
On 19 July 1988, the Solicitor General submitted his Report and Recommendation 2 dated 21 June 1988. In as Report,
after setting out the facts and proceedings held in the present case, the Solicitor General presented the following:
Complainants allege that on August 5, 1975, they obtained from respondent a loan of P 4,000.00. This loan was secured
by a real estate mortgage (Annex C, Complainants' Complaint, p. 16, records).lwph1.t In the said Real Estate
Mortgage document, however, it was made to appear that the amount borrowed by complainants was P5,000.00.
Confronted by this discrepancy, respondent assured complainants that said document was a mere formality, and upon such
assurance, complainants signed the same. The document was brought by complainant Narciso Melendres to a Notary
Public for notarization. After the same was notarized, he gave the document to respondent. Despite the assurance,
respondent exacted from complainants P500.00 a month as payment for what is beyond dispute usurious interest on the

P5,000.00 loan. Complainants religiously paid the obviously usurious interest for three months: September, October and
November, 1975. Then they stopped paying due to financial reverses. In view of their failure to pay said amounts as
interest, respondent prepared a new document on May 7, 1976, a Real Estate Mortgage (Annex D, Complaint, p. 18,
records) over the same lot 3125-C, replacing the former real estate mortgage dated August 5, 1975, but this time the sum
indicated in said new contract of mortgage is P 10,000.00, purportedly with interest at 19% per annum. In this new Real
Estate Mortgage, a special power of attorney in favor of respondent was inserted, authorizing him to sell the mortgaged
property at public auction in the event complainants fail to pay their obligation on or before May 30, 1976. Without
explaining the provisions of the new contract to complainants, respondent insisted that complainants sign the same, again
upon the assurance that the document was a mere formality. Unsuspecting of the motive of respondent, complainants
signed the document. Complainants Narciso Melendres again brought the same document to a Notary Public for
notarization. After the document was notarized, he brought the same to respondent without getting a copy of it.
Complainants, relying on the assurance of the respondent that the second Real Estate Mortgage was but a formality,
neither bothered to ask from respondent the status of their lot nor tried to pay their obligation. For their failure to pay the
obligation, the respondent on October 12, 1976, applied for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the second real estate
mortgage (Exhibit 16, Respondent's Position Paper). All the requirements of Act No. 3135, as amended, re extrajudicial
sale of mortgage were ostensibly complied with by respondent. Hence, finally, title was transferred to him, and on June
20, 1979, respondent sold the involved property to Trinidad Ylanan for P12,000.00.
When informed of the above by one Salud Australlado on the first week of March 1979 (see Sworn Statement of
complainant Narciso Melendres, p. 6, Folder No. 2 of case), and not having known the legal implications of the provisions
of the second Real Estate Mortgage which they had executed, complainants could not believe that title to their lot had
already been transferred to respondent and that respondent had already sold the same to a third person.
Upon learning of the sale in March, 1979, complainants tried to raise the amount of P10,000.00 and went to respondent's
house on May 30, 1979 to pay their obligation, hoping that they could redeem their property, although three years had
already lapsed from the date of the mortgage.
Respondent did not accept the proffered P10,000.00, but instead gave complainants a sheet of paper (Annex B,
Complainants' Position Paper), which indicated that the total indebtedness had soared to P20,400.00. The computation
was made in respondent's own handwriting. Complainants went home with shattered hopes and with grief in their hearts.
Hence, the instant competent for disbarment against respondent filed on October 5, 1979.
Respondent DENIES all the allegations of complainants. He maintains that what appears on the two documents allegedly
executed by complainants, i.e., that they obtained a loan of P5,000.00 on August 5, 1975 and another P10,000.00 on May
7,1976, is allegedly the truth, and claims that he in truth delivered the alleged amount of P5,000.00 to complainants and
not P4,000.00. With respect to the second loan, respondent claims that he delivered to complainants P8,000.00, plus the
P2,000.00 loan previously extended [to] complainants [by] one Regino Villanueva, which loan had been indorsed to
respondent for collection, thus making a total of P10,000.00, as appearing on said document. Respondent denies that he
exacted usurious interest of 10% a month or P500.00 from complainants. He asserts that the fact that complainants were
able to secure a loan from the Insular Bank of Asia and America (IBAA) only proves the truth of his allegation that the
title of the property, at the time complainants obtained a loan from IBAA on April 1976, was clear of any encumbrance,
since complainants had already paid the original loan of P5,000.00 obtained from respondent; that complainants knew
fully well all the conditions of said mortgage; and that his acquisition of the property in question was in accordance with
their contract and the law on the matter. Thus, he denies that he has violated any right of the complainants.
After weighing the evidence of both complainants and respondent, we find against respondent.
While complainants are correct in their claim that they actually obtained an actual cash of P4,000.00, they are only partly
correct in the claim that out of the P10,000.00 appearing in the second Real Estate Mortgage, P6,000.00 was applied to
interest considering that not all the P6,000.00 but only P4,000.00 was applied to interest, computed as follows: the first
loan of P5,000.00 was supposedly due on August 31, 1975. Complainants paid 10% monthly interest or P500.00 on
September 30, 1975, October 31, 1975 and November 30, 1975. Consequently, beginning December 31, 1975 up to May
31, 1976 (the date of the execution of the second Real Estate Mortgage) a total of six (6) months lapsed. Six (6) months at
P500.00 equals P 3,000.00, which amount plus the P2,000.00 complainants' loan to one Engr. Villanueva (indorsed to
respondent for collection) totals P5,000.00. Adding this amount to the previous P5,000.00 indicated loan secured by the

first mortgage results in P10,000.00, the amount appearing in the second Real Estate Mortgage. Section 7, Rule 130 of the
Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 7. Evidence of written agreements. When the terms of an agreement have been reduced to writing, it is to be
considered as complaining all such terms, and, therefore, there can be, as between the parties and their successors in
interest, no evidence of the terms of the agreement other than the contents of the writing, except in the following cases:
(a) Where a mistake or imperfection of the writing, or its failure to express the true intent and agreement of the parties, or
the validity of the agreement is put in issue by the pleadings;
(b) Where there is an intrinsic ambiguity in the writing. The term "agreement" includes wills.
There is no dispute that the two documents denominated Real Estate Mortgages covering the supposed original loan of
P5,000.00 and the inflated P10,000.00, respectively, were voluntarily signed by the complainants. The general rule is that
when the parties have reduced their agreement to writing, it is presumed that they have made the writing the only
repository and memorial of the truth, and whatever is not found in the writing must be understood to have been waived
and abandoned.
However, the rule is not absolute as it admits of some exceptions, as aforequoted. One of the exceptions, that is, failure to
express the true intent and agreement of the parties, applies in this case. From the facts obtaining in the case, it is clear
that the complainants were induced to sign the Real Estate Mortgage documents by the false and fraudulent
representations of respondent that each of the successive documents was a are formality.
While it may be true that complainants are not at all illiterate, respondent, being a lawyer, should have at least explained
to complainants the legal implications of the provisions of the real estate mortgage, particularly the provision appointing
him as the complainants' attorney-in-fact in the event of default in payments on the part of complainants. While it may be
conceded that it is presumed that in practice the notary public apprises complainants of the legal implications of the
contract, it is of common knowledge that most notaries public do not go through the desired practice. Respondent at least
could have informed the complainants by sending a demand letter to them to pay their obligation as otherwise he would
proceed to sell the lot at public auction as per their contract. This respondent failed to do, despite the fact that he knew
fully wen that complainants were trying their best to raise money to be able to pay their obligation to him, as shown by the
loan obtained by complainants from the IBAA on April 8, 1976. In this connection, it may be stated that complainants, per
advice of respondent himself, returned the proceeds of the IBAA loan to the bank immediately on April 30, 1976,
considering that the net proceeds of the loan from said bank was only P4,300.00 and not enough to pay the indicated loan
from respondent of P5,000.00, which per computation of respondent would already have earned interest of P2,500.00 for
five (5) months (December 1975 to April, 1976).
Respondent claims that complainants had paid him the original loan of P5,000.00, and that this was the reason why
complainants were able to mortgage the lot to the bank free from any encumbrance. This claim is incorrect. The reason
why the title (T-2684) was free from any encumbrance was simply because of the fact that the first Real Estate Mortgage
for the indicated loan of P5,000.00 (the actual amount was only P 4,000.00) had not been annotated at the back of the title
(see Annex B, p. 14, rec.).
Respondent also denies that complainants offered to him the amount of Pl0,000. 00 as payment of the loan, alleging that if
the offer were true, he could have readily accepted the same since he sold the lot for almost the same amount, for only
P12,000.00, a difference of a few thousand pesos. Respondent's denial is spacious.
Indeed, complainants made the offer, but respondent refused the same for the simple reason that the offer was made on
May 30,1979, three (3) years after the execution of the mortgage on May 31, 1976. With its lapse of time, respondent
demanded obviously the payment of the accumulated substantial interest for three years, as shown by his own
computation in as own handwriting on a sheet of paper (Annex C, Complainants' Position Paper, Folder No.
In view of all the foregoing, the observation made by the Hearing Officer is worth quoting:

In the humble opinion of the undersigned the pivotal question with respect to this particular charge is whose version is to
be believed. Is it the version of the complainants or the version of the respondent.
In resolving this issue the possible motive on the part of the complainants in filing the present complaint against the
respondent must be carefully examined and considered. At the beginning there was a harmonious relationship between the
complainants and the respondent so much so that respondent was even engaged as counsel of the complainants and it is
but human nature that when respondent extended a loan to the complainants the latter would be grateful to the former.
However, in the case at bar, complainants filed a complaint against the respondent in spite of the great disparity between
the status of the complainants and the respondent. Admittedly, respondent is in a better position financially, socially and
intellectually. To the mind of the undersigned, complainants were only compelled to file the above entitled complaint
against the respondent because they felt that they are so aggrieved of what the respondent has done to them. It is for this
reason therefore that the undersigned is inclined to believe the version of the complainants rather than of the respondent.
In addition thereto, the respondent as a lawyer could really see to it that the transaction between the complainants and
himself on papers appear legal and in order. Besides, there is ample evidence in the records of its case that respondent is
actually engaged in lending money at least in a limited way and that the interest at the rate of ten per cent a month is but
common among money lenders during the time of the transactions in question'
Going now into the second charge, complainants alleged that respondent, who was their counsel (private prosecutor) in
Criminal Case No. 734, for estafa, against accused Reynaldo Pineda, compromised the case with the accused without their
consent and received the amount of P500.00 as advance payment for the amicable settlement, without however, giving to
the complainants the Id amount nor informing them of said settlement and payment.
Again, respondent denies the allegation and claims that the amicable settlement was with the consent of complainant wife
Erlinda Dalman Melendre[z].
We are inclined to believe the version of the complainants.
It is admitted that complainants were not interested in putting the accused Reynaldo Pineda to jail but rather in merely
recovering their money of P2,000.00. At this stage, relationship between complainants and respondent was not yet
strained, and respondent, as counsel of the complainants in this case, knew that complainants were merely interested in
said recovery. Knowing this, respondent on his own volition talked to accused and tried to settle the case amicably for
P2,000.00. He accepted the amount of P500.00 as advance payment, being then the only amount carried by the accused
Pineda. A receipt was signed by both respondent and accused Pineda (Annex M, p. 34, record). However, respondent did
not inform complainants about this advance payment, perhaps because he was still waiting for the completion of the
payment of P2,000.00 before turning over the whole amount to complainants.
At any rate, complainants saw accused Pineda give the abovementioned P500.00 to respondent, but they were ashamed
then to ask directly of respondent what the money was all about.
On June 27, 1979, barely a month after May 30, 1979, when the complainants had already lost their trust and respect
and/or confidence in respondent upon knowing what happened to their lot and, more so, upon respondent's refusal to
accept the Pl0,000.00 offered by complainants to redeem the same, Narciso Melendre[z] saw the accused Pineda on his
way home and confronted him on the P500.00 that had been given to respondent. Accused then showed complainant
Melendres the receipt (Annex M, Id.) showing that the P500.00 was an advance payment for the supposed
settlement/dismissal of the case filed by complainants against him.
Sensing or feeling that respondent was fooling them, complainants then filed a motion before the court which was trying
the criminal case and relieved respondent as their counsel.
The Investigating Fiscal, who heard the case and saw the demeanor of the witnesses in testifying, had this to say:
With respect to the second charge, the fact that respondent received P500.00 from Reynaldo Pineda is duly established.
Both the complainants and the respondent agreed that the said amount was given to the respondent in connection with a
criminal case wherein the complainants were the private offended parties: that Reynaldo Pineda is the accused and that the
respondent is the private prosecutor of the said case. The pivotal issue in this particular charge is whether the respondent
received the amount of P500.00 from Reynaldo Pineda as an advance payment of an amicable settlement entered into by

the complainants and the accused or the respondent received said amount from the accused without the knowledge and
consent of the complainants. If it is true as alleged by the respondent that he only received it for and in behalf of the
complainants as advance payment of an amicable settlement why is it that the same was questioned by the complainants?
Why is it that it was not the complainants who signed the receipt for the said amount? How come that as soon as
complainants knew that the said amount was given to the respondent, the former filed a motion in court to relieve
respondent as their counsel on the ground that they have lost faith and confidence on him? If it is really true that
complainants have knowledge and have consented to this amicable settlement they should be grateful to the efforts of their
private prosecutor yet the fact is that they resented the same and went to the extent of disqualifying the respondent as their
private prosecutor. Reynaldo Pineda himself executed an affidavit belying the claim of the respondent.'
Clearly, the complained acts as described and levelled against respondent Decena are contrary to justice, honesty,
modesty, or good morals for which he may be suspended. The moral turpitude for which an attorney may be disbarred
may consist of misconduct in either his professional or non- professional attitude (Royong v. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859). The
complained acts of respondent imply something immoral in themselves, regardless of the fact whether they are punishable
by law. The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute, fixes the moral turpitude (Bartos vs. U.S. Dist. Court
for District of Nebraska C.C.C. Neb] 19 F [2d] 722).
A parting comment.
All the above is not to say that complainants themselves are faultless.
Complainants should likewise be blamed for trusting the respondent too much. They did not bother to keep a copy of the
documents they executed and considering that they admitted they did not understand the contents of the documents, they
did not bother to have them explained by another lawyer or by any knowledgeable person in their locality. Likewise, for a
period of three years, they did not bother to ask for respondent the status of their lot and/or their obligation to him. Their
complacency or apathy amounting almost to negligence contributed to the expedient loss of their property thru the legal
manuevers employed by respondent. Hence, respondent's liability merits mitigation. (Emphasis supplied)
and made the following recommendation:
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that Atty. Reynerio I. Decena be suspended from the practice of law for a
period of five (5) years. 3
The Office of the Solicitor General, through Fiscals Almonte and Jamero, held several hearings during the investigation of
the present administrative case: City Fiscal Jorge T. Almonte was able to hold six (6) actual hearings out of twenty-five
(25) resettings 4 While only five (5) actual hearings, out of forty (40) resettings 5 were held under Provincial Fiscal Pedro
S. Jamero. In those hearings, the complainants presented a number of witnesses who, after their direct testimony, were
cross-examined by the counsel for respondent; complainant Narciso Melendrez also testified and was accordingly crossexamined. Considering the long delay incurred in the investigation of the administrative case and having been pressed by
the Solicitor General immediately to complete the investigation, Fiscal Jamero posed a change of procedure, from trial
type proceedings to requiring the parties to submit their respective position papers. The complainants immediately filed
their position paper which consisted of their separate sworn statements, (that of Narciso Melendrez was in a question and
answer form), their documentary exhibits and an affidavit of one Jeorge G. Santos. Respondent also filed his counteraffidavit and affidavits of his witnesses, with several annexes in support thereof In the healing of 28 October 1987, which
had been set for the cross examination of the complainants and their witnesses by respondent, the complainants refused to
submit themselves to cross-examination on the ground that the order of the hearing officer dated 17 December 1986
declaring respondent's right of cross examination as having been waived, had become final and executory. Respondent
questions now the evidentiary value of the complainants' position paper, not having passed through any cross-examination
and argues that the non-submission of the complainants and their witnesses to cross-examination constitutes a denial of
his right to due process.
We do not think respondent's right to confront the complainants and their witnesses against him has been violated,
Respondent in fact cross-examined complainant Narciso Melendrez and some of the witnesses which complainants had
presented earlier. As pointed out by the Solicitor General, the record of the proceedings shows that respondent had all the
opportunity to cross-examine the other witnesses of the complainants (those whose affidavits were attached to
complainants' position paper) had he wanted to, but had forfeited such opportunity by asking for numerous continuances

which indicated a clear attempt on his part to delay the investigation proceedings. Respondent had in fact requested a total
of twenty three (23) resettings during the investigation proceedings: he had eight (8) under Fiscal Almonte and fifteen (15)
under Fiscal Jamero. There were also instances where respondent asked for postponement and at the same time reset the
hearing to a specific date of his choice on which neither he nor as counsel would appear. That attitude of respondent
eventually led the hearing officer to declare his (respondent's) right to cross-examine the complainants and their witnesses
as having been waived in his order of 17 December 1986. Respondent can not now claim that he had been deprived below
of the opportunity to confront the complainants and their witnesses.
After carefully going through the record of the proceedings as well as the evidence presented by both parties, we agree
with the findings and conclusions of the Solicitor General.
The following acts of respondent:
making it appear on the 5 August 1975 real estate mortgage that the amount loaned to complainants was
P5,000.00 instead of P4,000.00;

exacting grossly unreasonable and usurious interest;

making it appear in the second real estate mortgage of 7 May 1976 that the loan extended to complainants had
escalated to P10,000.00;
failing to inform complainants of the import of the real mortgage documents and inducing them to sign those
documents with assurances that they were merely for purposes of "formality";
failing to demand or refraining from demanding payment from complainants before effecting extrajudicial
foreclosure of the mortgaged property; and
failing to inform or refraining from informing complainants that the real estate mortgage had already been
foreclosed and that complainants had a right to redeem the foreclosed property within a certain period of time.
constitute deception and dishonesty and conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar. We agree with the Solicitor General
that the acts of respondent "imply something immoral in themselves regardless of whether they are punishable by law"
and that these acts constitute moral turpitude, being "contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals." The standard
required from members of the Bar is not, of course, satisfied by conduct which merely avoids collision with our criminal
law. Even so, respondent's conduct, in fact, may be penalizable under at least one penal statute the anti-usury law.
The second charge against respondent relates to acts done in his professional capacity, that is, done at a time when he was
counsel for the complainants in a criminal case for estafa against accused Reynaldo Pineda. There are two (2) aspects to
this charge: the first is that respondent Decena effected a compromise agreement concerning the civil liability of accused
Reynaldo Pineda without the consent and approval of the complainants; the second is that, having received the amount of
P500.00 as an advance payment on this "settlement," he failed to inform complainants of that advance payment and
moreover, did not turn over the P500.00 to the complainants. The facts show that respondent "settled" the estafa case
amicably for P2,000.00 without the knowledge and consent of complainants. Respondent informed complainants of the
amicable "settlement" and of the P500.00 advance payment only after petitioner Narciso Melendrez had confronted him
about these matters. And respondent never did turn over to complainants the P500.00. Respondent is presumed to be
aware of the rule that lawyers cannot "without special authority, compromise their clients' litigation or receive anything in
discharge of a client's claim, but the full amount in cash. 6 Respondent's failure to turn over to complainants the amount
given by accused Pineda as partial "settlement" of the estafa case underscores his lack of honesty and candor in dealing
with his clients.
Generally, a lawyer should not be suspended or disbarred for misconduct committed in his personal or non-professional
capacity. Where however, misconduct outside his professional dealings becomes so patent and so gross as to demonstrate
moral unfitness to remain in the legal profession, the Court must suspend or strike out the lawyer's name from the Rollo of
Attorneys. 7 The nature of the office of an attorney at law requires that he shall be a person of good moral character. This
qualification is not only a condition precedent to admission to the practice of law; its continued possession is also essential
for remaining in the practice of law, in the exercise of privileges of members of the Bar. Gross misconduct on the part of a

lawyer, although not related to the discharge of professional duties as a member of the Bar, which puts his moral character
in serious doubt, renders him unfit to continue in the practice of law. 8
In the instant case, the exploitative deception exercised by respondent attorney upon the complainants in his private
transactions with them, and the exacting of unconscionable rates of interest, considered together with the acts of
professional misconduct committed by respondent attorney, compel this Court to the conviction that he has lost that good
moral character which is indispensable for continued membership in the Bar.
WHEREFORE, respondent Reynerio I. Decena is hereby DISBARRED and his name shall be stricken from the Rollo of
Attorneys. Let a copy of this Resolution be FURNISHED each to the Bar Confidant and spread on the personal records of
respondent attorney, and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
A.M. No. 1334 November 28, 1989
ATTY. JOSE B. AZNAR, respondent.
This is a complaint for disbarment filed against respondent on the ground of gross immorality.
Complainant, a second year medical student of the Southwestern University (Cebu), alleged in her verified complaint that
respondent Atty. Jose B. Aznar, then chairman of said university, had carnal knowledge of her for several times under
threat that she would fail in her Pathology subject if she would not submit to respondent's lustful desires. Complainant
further alleged that when she became pregnant, respondent, through a certain Dr. Gil Ramas, had her undergo forced
In compliance with the Resolution of the Court dated July 9, 1974, respondent filed his Answer denying any personal
knowledge of complainant as well as all the allegations contained in the complaint and by way of special defense, averred
that complainant is a woman of loose morality.
On September 2, 1974, the Court Resolved to refer the case to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and
The findings of the Solicitor General is summarized as follows:
Complainant Rosario delos Reyes testified that:
she was a second year medical student of the Southwestern University, the Chairman of the Board of which was
respondent Jose B. Aznar (pp. 11, 15, tsn, June 6, 1975);
she however failed in her Pathology subject which prompted her to approach respondent in the latter's house who
assured her that she would pass the said subject (pp. 15,16, 26, 33, tsn, June 6, 1975);

despite this assurance, however, she failed (p. 33, tsn, June 6, 1975);

sometime in February, 1973, respondent told her that she should go with him to Manila, otherwise, she would
flunk in all her subjects (pp. 42, 50, tsn, June 6, 1975); ... ... ... ;

on February 12, 1973, both respondent and complainant boarded the same plane (Exh. "A") for Manila; from the
Manila Domestic Airport, they proceeded to Room 905, 9th Floor of the Ambassador Hotel where they stayed for three
days (Exhs. "K", "K-1" to "K-6"; p. 55, tsn, June 6, 1 975);
after arriving at the Ambassador Hotel, they dined at a Spanish restaurant at San Marcelino, Malate, Manila for
around three hours (pp 56-57, tsn, June 6, 1975);
they returned to the hotel at around twelve o'clock midnight, where respondent had carnal knowledge of her twice
and then thrice the next morning (p. 59, tsn, June 6, 1975; pp. 154, 155 & 157, tsn, July 18, 1975);
complainant consented to the sexual desires of respondent because for her, she would sacrifice her personal honor
rather than fail in her subjects (p.6l, tsn, June 6, 1975); ... ... ...;
sometime in March, 1973, complainant told respondent that she was suspecting pregnancy because she missed her
menstruation (p. 76, tsn, July 17, 1975); ... ... ...;
later, she was informed by Dr. Monsanto (an instructor in the college of medicine) that respondent wanted that an
abortion be performed upon her (p.82, tsn, July l7, 1975); ... ... ... ;
thereafter, Ruben Cruz, a confidant of respondent, and Dr. Monsato fetched her at her boarding house on the
pretext that she would be examined by Dr. Gil Ramas (pp. 87-88, tsn, July 17, 1975);
12) upon reaching the clinic of Dr. Ramas she was given an injection and an inhalation mask was placed on her mouth and
nose (pp. 88-90, tsn, July 17, 1 975);
as a result, she lost consciousness and when she woke up, an abortion had already been performed upon her and
she was weak, bleeding and felt pain all over her body (pp. 90-91, tsn, July 17, 1975); ... ... ... (Rollo, pp. 38-40)
Monica Gutierrez Tan testified that she met complainant and a man whom complainant introduced as Atty. Aznar in front
of the Ambassador Hotel (pp. 183-184, tsn, Sept. 10, 1975; Rollo, p. 41).
Dr. Rebecca Gucor and Dr. Artemio Ingco, witnesses for the complainant, testified that abdominal examinations and x-ray
examination of the lumbro-sacral region of complainant showed no signs of abnormality (Rollo, p. 42).
The evidence for the respondent as reported by the Solicitor General is summarized as follows:
Edilberto Caban testified that:
In December, 1972, respondent Atty. Aznar stayed at Ambassador Hotel with his wife and children; respondent
never came to Manila except in December, 1972; (pp. 8-9,. tsn, Nov. 24, 1977);

He usually slept with respondent everytime the latter comes to Manila (p. 13, tsn, Nov. 24, 1977; Rollo, pp. 42-

Oscar Salangsang, another witness for the respondent stated that:

In February, 1973, he went to Ambassador Hotel to meet respondent; the latter had male companions at the hotel
but he did not see any woman companion of respondent Aznar;
He usually slept with respondent at the Ambassador Hotel and ate with him outside the hotel together with Caban
(pp. 8-9, 13-15, tsn, Jan. 13, 1978; Rollo, p. 43).
The Court notes that throughout the period of the investigation conducted by the Solicitor General, respondent Aznar was
never presented to refute the allegations made against him.

In his Answer, respondent Aznar alleges that he does not have any knowledge of the allegations in the complaint. As
special defense, respondent further alleged that the charge levelled against him is in furtherance of complainant's vow to
wreck vengeance against respondent by reason of the latter's approval of the recommendation of the Board of Trustees
barring complainant from enrollment for the school year 1973-1974 because she failed in most of her subjects. It is
likewise contended that the defense did not bother to present respondent in the investigation conducted by the Solicitor
General because nothing has been shown in the hearing to prove that respondent had carnal knowledge of the
Contrary to respondent's averments, the Solicitor General made a categorical finding to the effect that respondent had
carnal knowledge of complainant, to wit:
From the foregoing, it is clear that complainant was compelled to go to Manila with respondent upon the threat of
respondent that if she failed to do so, she would flunk in all her subjects and she would never become a medical intern
(pp. 42, 50, tsn, June 6, 1975). As respondent was Chairman of the College of Medicine, complainant had every reason to
believe him.
It has been established also that complainant was brought by respondent to Ambassador Hotel in Manila for three days
where he repeatedly had carnal knowledge of her upon the threat that if she would not give in to his lustful desires, she
would fail in her Pathology subject (Exhs. "A", "K", "K-1" to "K-6" pp. 51, 52, 55-59, tsn, June 6, 1975);



On the other hand, respondent did not bother to appear during the hearing. It is true that he presented Edilberto Caban and
Oscar Salangsang who testified that respondent usually slept with them every time the latter came to Manila, but their
testimony (sic) is not much of help. None of them mentioned during the hearing that they stayed and slept with respondent
on February 12 to February 14, 1973 at Ambassador Hotel. ... ... ... Besides, Edilberto Caban testified that respondent
stayed at Ambassador Hotel with his wife and children in December, 1972. The dates in question, however, are February
12 to 14, 1973, inclusive. His (Caban's) testimony, therefore, is immaterial to the present case" (Rollo, pp. 43-44).
In effect, the Solicitor General found that the charge of immorality against respondent Aznar has been substantiated by
sufficient evidence both testimonial and documentary; while finding insufficient and uncorroborated the accusation of
intentional abortion. The Solicitor General then recommends the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for a
period of not less than three (3) years.
On March 16, 1989, the Court Resolved to require the parties to Move in the premises to determine whether any
intervening event occurred which would render the case moot and academic (Rollo, p. 69).
On April 12, 1989, the Solicitor General filed a manifestation and motion praying that the case at bar be considered
submitted for decision on the bases of the report and recommendation previously submitted together with the record of the
case and the evidence adduced (Rollo, p. 75).
After a thorough review of the records, the Court agrees with the finding of the Solicitor General that respondent Aznar,
under the facts as stated in the Report of the investigation conducted in the case, is guilty of "grossly immoral conduct"
and may therefore be removed or suspended by the Supreme Court for conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar (Sec. 27,
Rule 138, Rules of Court).
Respondent failed to adduce evidence sufficient to engender doubt as to his culpability of the offense imputed upon him.
With the exception of the self-serving testimonies of two witnesses presented on respondent's behalf, the records are bereft
of evidence to exonerate respondent of the act complained of, much less contradict, on material points, the testimonies of
complainant herself.
While respondent denied having taken complainant to the Ambassador Hotel and there had sexual intercourse with the
latter, he did not present any evidence to show where he was at that date. While this is not a criminal proceeding,
respondent would have done more than keep his silence if he really felt unjustly traduced.

It is the duty of a lawyer, whenever his moral character is put in issue, to satisfy this Court that he is a fit and proper
person to enjoy continued membership in the Bar. He cannot dispense with nor downgrade the high and exacting moral
standards of the law profession (Go v. Candoy, 21 SCRA 439 [1967]). As once pronounced by the Court:
When his integrity is challenged by evidence, it is not enough that he denies the charges against him; he must meet the
issue and overcome the evidence for the relator (Legal and Judicial Ethics, by Malcolm, p. 93) and show proofs that he
still maintains the highest degree of morality and integrity, which at all times is expected of him. ... In the case of United
States v. Tria, 17 Phil. 303, Justice Moreland, speaking for the Court, said:
An accused person sometimes owes a duty to himself if not to the State. If he does not perform that duty, he may not
always expect the State to perform it for him. If he fails to meet the obligation which he owes to himself, when to meet it
is the easiest of easy things, he is hardy indeed if he demand and expect that same full and wide consideration which the
State voluntarily gives to those who by reasonable effort seek to help themselves. This is particularly so when he not only
declines to help himself but actively conceals from the State the very means by which it may assist him (Quingwa SCRA
439 [1967]).
The Solicitor General recommends that since the complainant is partly to blame for having gone with respondent to
Manila knowing fully well that respondent is a married man ,with children, respondent should merely be suspended from
the practice of law for not less than three (3) years (Rollo, p. 47).
On the other hand, respondent in his manifestation and motion dated April 18, 1989 alleges that since a period of about ten
(10) years had already elapsed from the time the Solicitor General made his recommendation for a three (3) years
suspension and respondent is not practicing his profession as a lawyer, the court may now consider the respondent as
having been suspended during the said period and the case dismissed for being moot and academic.
We disagree.
Complainant filed the instant case for disbarment not because respondent reneged on a promise to marry (Quingwa v.
Puno, supra). More importantly. complainant's knowledge of of respondent's marital status is not at issue in the case at bar.
Complainant submitted to respondent's solicitation for sexual intercourse not because of a desire for sexual gratification
but because of respondent's moral ascendancy over her and fear that if she would not accede, she would flunk in her
subjects. As chairman of the college of medicine where complainant was enrolled, the latter had every reason to believe
that respondent could make good his threats. Moreover, as counsel for respondent would deem it "worthwhile to inform
the the Court that the respondent is a scion of a rich family and a very rich man in his own right and in fact is not
practicing his profession before the court" (Rollo, p. 70), mere suspension for a limited period, per se, would therefore
serve no redeeming purpose. The fact that he is a rich man and does not practice his profession as a lawyer, does not
render respondent a person of good moral character. Evidence of good moral character precedes admission to bar (Sec.2,
Rule 138, Rules of Court) and such requirement is not dispensed with upon admission thereto. Good moral character is a
continuing qualification necessary to entitle one to continue in the practice of law. The ancient and learned profession of
law exacts from its members the highest standard of morality (Quingwa v. Puno, supra).
Under Section 27, Rule 138, "(a) member of the bar may be removed 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, ... " In Arciga v. Maniwang (106 SCRA 591, [1981]), this Court had occasion to define the
concept of immoral conduct, as follows:
A lawyer may be disbarred for grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
turpitude. A member of the bar should have moral integrity in addition to professional probity.
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is grossly immoral conduct or to specify
the moral delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The rule
implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that
warrants disbarment.

Immoral conduct has been defined as 'that which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference
to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community' (7 C.J.S. 959).
Where an unmarried female dwarf possessing the intellect of a child became pregnant by reason of intimacy with a
married lawyer who was the father of six children, disbarment of the attorney on the ground of immoral conduct was
justified (In re Hicks 20 Pac. 2nd 896).
In the present case, it was highly immoral of respondent, a married man with children, to have taken advantage of his
position as chairman of the college of medicine in asking complainant, a student in said college, to go with him to Manila
where he had carnal knowledge of her under the threat that she would flunk in all her subjects in case she refused.
WHEREFORE, respondent Jose B. Aznar is hereby DISBARRED and his name is ordered stricken off from the Roll of

G.R. No. L-28546

July 30, 1975


The parties in this case, except Lourdes Yu Ago, have been commuting to this Court for more than a decade.
In 1955 the petitioners Venancio Castaeda and Nicetas Henson filed a replevin suit against Pastor Ago in the Court of
First Instance of Manila to recover certain machineries (civil case 27251). In 1957 judgment was rendered in favor of the
plaintiffs, ordering Ago to return the machineries or pay definite sums of money. Ago appealed, and on June 30, 1961 this
Court, in Ago vs. Castaeda, L-14066, affirmed the judgment. After remand, the trial court issued on August 25, 1961 a
writ of execution for the sum of P172,923.87. Ago moved for a stay of execution but his motion was denied, and levy was
made on Ago's house and lots located in Quezon City. The sheriff then advertised them for auction sale on October 25,
1961. Ago moved to stop the auction sale, failing in which he filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals. The
appellate court dismissed the petition and Ago appealed. On January 31,1966 this Court, in Ago vs. Court of Appeals, et
al., L-19718, affirmed the dismissal. Ago thrice attempted to obtain a writ of preliminary injunction to restrain the sheriff
from enforcing the writ of execution "to save his family house and lot;" his motions were denied, and the sheriff sold the
house and lots on March 9, 1963 to the highest bidders, the petitioners Castaeda and Henson. Ago failed to redeem, and
on April 17, 1964 the sheriff executed the final deed of sale in favor of the vendees Castaeda and Henson. Upon their
petition, the Court of First Instance of Manila issued a writ of possession to the properties.
However, on May 2, 1964 Pastor Ago, now joined by his wife, Lourdes Yu Ago, as his co-plaintiff, filed a complaint in the
Court of First Instance of Quezon City (civil case Q-7986) to annul the sheriff's sale on the ground that the obligation of
Pastor Ago upon which judgment was rendered against him in the replevin suit was his personal obligation, and that
Lourdes Yu Ago's one-half share in their conjugal residential house and lots which were levied upon and sold by the
sheriff could not legally be reached for the satisfaction of the judgment. They alleged in their complaint that wife Lourdes
was not a party in the replevin suit, that the judgment was rendered and the writ of execution was issued only against
husband Pastor, and that wife Lourdes was not a party to her husband's venture in the logging business which failed and
resulted in the replevin suit and which did not benefit the conjugal partnership.
The Court of First Instance of Quezon City issued an ex parte writ of preliminary injunction restraining the petitioners, the
Register of Deeds and the sheriff of Quezon City, from registering the latter's final deed of sale, from cancelling the
respondents' certificates of title and issuing new ones to the petitioners and from carrying out any writ of possession. A
situation thus arose where what the Manila court had ordered to be done, the Quezon City court countermanded. On
November 1, 1965, however, the latter court lifted the preliminary injunction it had previously issued, and the Register of

deeds of Quezon City cancelled the respondents' certificates of title and issued new ones in favor of the petitioners. But
enforcement of the writ of possession was again thwarted as the Quezon City court again issued a temporary restraining
order which it later lifted but then re-restored. On May 3, 1967 the court finally, and for the third time, lifted the
restraining order.
While the battle on the matter of the lifting and restoring of the restraining order was being fought in the Quezon City
court, the Agos filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with this Court under date of May 26, 1966, docketed as L26116, praying for a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the sheriff from enforcing the writ of possession. This Court
found no merit in the petition and dismissed it in a minute resolution on June 3, 1966; reconsideration was denied on July
18, 1966. The respondents then filed on August 2, 1966 a similar petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Court of
Appeals (CA-G.R. 37830-R), praying for the same preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals also dismissed the
petition. The respondents then appealed to this Court (L-27140).1wph1.t We dismissed the petition in a minute
resolution on February 8, 1967.
The Ago spouses repaired once more to the Court of Appeals where they filed another petition for certiorari and
prohibition with preliminary injunction (CA-G.R. 39438-R). The said court gave due course to the petition and granted
preliminary injunction. After hearing, it rendered decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, writ of preliminary injunction from enforcement of the writ of possession on and ejectment from the onehalf share in the properties involved belonging to Lourdes Yu Ago dated June 15, 1967 is made permanent pending
decision on the merits in Civil Case No. Q-7986 and ordering respondent Court to proceed with the trial of Civil Case No.
Q-7986 on the merits without unnecessary delay. No pronouncement as to costs.
Failing to obtain reconsideration, the petitioners Castaeda and Henson filed the present petition for review of the
aforesaid decision.
We do not see how the doctrine that a court may not interfere with the orders of a co-equal court can apply in the
case at bar. The Court of First Instance of Manila, which issued the writ of possession, ultimately was not interfered with
by its co-equal court, the Court of First Instance of Quezon City as the latter lifted the restraining order it had previously
issued against the enforcement of the Manila court's writ of possession; it is the Court of Appeals that enjoined, in part,
the enforcement of the writ.
Invoking Comilang vs. Buendia, et al., 1 where the wife was a party in one case and the husband was a party in
another case and a levy on their conjugal properties was upheld, the petitioners would have Lourdes Yu Ago similarly
bound by the replevin judgment against her husband for which their conjugal properties would be answerable. The case
invoked is not at par with the present case. In Comilang the actions were admittedly instituted for the protection of the
common interest of the spouses; in the present case, the Agos deny that their conjugal partnership benefited from the
husband's business venture.
Relying upon Omnas vs. Rivera, 67 Phil. 419, the Court of Appeals held that a writ of possession may not issue
until the claim of a third person to half-interest in the property is adversely determined, the said appellate court assuming
that Lourdes Yu Ago was a "stranger" or a "third-party" to her husband. The assumption is of course obviously wrong, for,
besides living with her husband Pastor, she does not claim ignorance of his business that failed, of the relevant cases in
which he got embroiled, and of the auction sale made by the sheriff of their conjugal properties. Even then, the ruling in
Omnas is not that a writ of possession may not issue until the claim of a third person is adversely determined, but that the
writ of possession being a complement of the writ of execution, a judge with jurisdiction to issue the latter also has
jurisdiction to issue the former, unless in the interval between the judicial sale and the issuance of the writ of possession,
the rights of third parties to the property sold have supervened. The ruling in Omnas is clearly inapplicable in the present
case, for, here, there has been no change in the ownership of the properties or of any interest therein from the time the writ
of execution was issued up to the time writ of possession was issued, and even up to the present.
We agree with the trial court (then presided by Judge Lourdes P. San Diego) that it is much too late in the day for
the respondents Agos to raise the question that part of the property is unleviable because it belongs to Lourdes Yu Ago,
considering that (1) a wife is normally privy to her husband's activities; (2) the levy was made and the properties
advertised for auction sale in 1961; (3) she lives in the very properties in question; (4) her husband had moved to stop the
auction sale; (5) the properties were sold at auction in 1963; (6) her husband had thrice attempted to obtain a preliminary

injunction to restrain the sheriff from enforcing the writ of execution; (7) the sheriff executed the deed of final sale on
April 17, 1964 when Pastor failed to redeem; (8) Pastor had impliedly admitted that the conjugal properties could be
levied upon by his pleas "to save his family house and lot" in his efforts to prevent execution; and (9) it was only on May
2, 1964 when he and his wife filed the complaint for annulment of the sheriff's sale upon the issue that the wife's share in
the properties cannot be levied upon on the ground that she was not a party to the logging business and not a party to the
replevin suit. The spouses Ago had every opportunity to raise the issue in the various proceedings hereinbefore discussed
but did not; laches now effectively bars them from raising it.
Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by
exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a
reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.

The decision of the appellate court under review suffers from two fatal infirmities.

It enjoined the enforcement of the writ of possession to and ejectment from the one-half share in the properties
involved belonging to Lourdes Yu Ago. This half-share is not in esse, but is merely an inchoate interest, a mere
expectancy, constituting neither legal nor equitable estate, and will ripen into title when only upon liquidation and
settlement there appears to be assets of the community. 3 The decision sets at naught the well-settled rule that injunction
does not issue to protect a right not in esse and which may never arise. 4
The decision did not foresee the absurdity, or even the impossibility, of its enforcement. The Ago spouses
admittedly live together in the same house 5 which is conjugal property. By the Manila court's writ of possession Pastor
could be ousted from the house, but the decision under review would prevent the ejectment of Lourdes. Now, which part
of the house would be vacated by Pastor and which part would Lourdes continue to stay in? The absurdity does not stop
here; the decision would actually separate husband and wife, prevent them from living together, and in effect divide their
conjugal properties during coverture and before the dissolution of the conjugal union.
Despite the pendency in the trial court of the complaint for the annulment of the sheriff's sale (civil case Q-7986),
elementary justice demands that the petitioners, long denied the fruits of their victory in the replevin suit, must now enjoy
them, for, the respondents Agos, abetted by their lawyer Jose M. Luison, have misused legal remedies and prostituted the
judicial process to thwart the satisfaction of the judgment, to the extended prejudice of the petitioners. The respondents,
with the assistance of counsel, maneuvered for fourteen (14) years to doggedly resist execution of the judgment thru
manifold tactics in and from one court to another (5 times in the Supreme Court).
We condemn the attitude of the respondents and their counsel who, far from viewing courts as sanctuaries for those who
seek justice, have tried to use them to subvert the very ends of justice. 6
Forgetting his sacred mission as a sworn public servant and his exalted position as an officer of the court, Atty. Luison has
allowed himself to become an instigator of controversy and a predator of conflict instead of a mediator for concord and a
conciliator for compromise, a virtuoso of technicality in the conduct of litigation instead of a true exponent of the primacy
of truth and moral justice.
A counsel's assertiveness in espousing with candour and honesty his client's cause must be encouraged and is to be
commended; what we do not and cannot countenance is a lawyer's insistence despite the patent futility of his client's
position, as in the case at bar.
It is the duty of a counsel to advise his client, ordinarily a layman to the intricacies and vagaries of the law, on the merit or
lack of merit of his case. If he finds that his client's cause is defenseless, then it is his bounden duty to advise the latter to
acquiesce and submit, rather than traverse the incontrovertible. A lawyer must resist the whims and caprices of his client,
and temper his clients propensity to litigate. A lawyer's oath to uphold the cause of justice is superior to his duty to his
client; its primacy is indisputable. 7
In view of the private respondents' propensity to use the courts for purposes other than to seek justice, and in
order to obviate further delay in the disposition of the case below which might again come up to the appellate courts but

only to fail in the end, we have motu proprio examined the record of civil case Q-7986 (the mother case of the present
case). We find that

the complaint was filed on May 2, 1964 (more than 11 years ago) but trial on the merits has not even started;

after the defendants Castaedas had filed their answer with a counterclaim, the plaintiffs Agos filed a
supplemental complaint where they impleaded new parties-defendants;
after the admission of the supplemental complaint, the Agos filed a motion to admit an amended supplemental
complaint, which impleads an additional new party-defendant (no action has yet been taken on this motion);

the defendants have not filed an answer to the admitted supplemental complaint; and

the last order of the Court of First Instance, dated April 20, 1974, grants an extension to the suspension of time to
file answer. (Expediente, p. 815)
We also find that the alleged causes of action in the complaint, supplemental complaint and amended supplemental
complaint are all untenable, for the reasons hereunder stated. The Complaint
Upon the first cause of action, it is alleged that the sheriff levied upon conjugal properties of the spouses Ago despite the
fact that the judgment to be satisfied was personal only to Pastor Ago, and the business venture that he entered into, which
resulted in the replevin suit, did not redound to the benefit of the conjugal partnership. The issue here, which is whether or
not the wife's inchoate share in the conjugal property is leviable, is the same issue that we have already resolved, as barred
by laches, in striking down the decision of the Court of Appeals granting preliminary injunction, the dispositive portion of
which was herein-before quoted. This ruling applies as well to the first cause of action of the complaint.
Upon the second cause of action, the Agos allege that on January 5, 1959 the Castaedas and the sheriff, pursuant to an
alias writ of seizure, seized and took possession of certain machineries, depriving the Agos of the use thereof, to their
damage in the sum of P256,000 up to May 5, 1964. This second cause of action fails to state a valid cause of action for it
fails to allege that the order of seizure is invalid or illegal.
It is averred as a third cause of action that the sheriff's sale of the conjugal properties was irregular, illegal and unlawful
because the sheriff did not require the Castaeda spouses to pay or liquidate the sum of P141,750 (the amount for which
they bought the properties at the auction sale) despite the fact that there was annotated at the back of the certificates of
title a mortgage of P75,000 in favor of the Philippine National Bank; moreover, the sheriff sold the properties for
P141,750 despite the pendency of L-19718 where Pastor Ago contested the amount of P99,877.08 out of the judgment
value of P172,923.37 in civil case 27251; and because of said acts, the Agos suffered P174,877.08 in damages.
Anent this third cause of action, the sheriff was under no obligation to require payment of the purchase price in the
auction sale because "when the purchaser is the judgment creditor, and no third-party claim has been filed, he need not
pay the amount of the bid if it does not exceed the amount of his judgment." (Sec. 23, Rule 39, Rules of Court)
The annotated mortgage in favor of the PNB is the concern of the vendees Castaedas but did not affect the sheriff's sale;
the cancellation of the annotation is of no moment to the Agoo.
Case L-19718 where Pastor Ago contested the sum of P99,877.08 out of the amount of the judgment was dismissed by
this Court on January 31, 1966.
This third cause of action, therefore, actually states no valid cause of action and is moreover barred by prior judgment.
The fourth cause of action pertains to moral damages allegedly suffered by the Agos on account of the acts complained of
in the preceding causes of action. As the fourth cause of action derives its life from the preceding causes of action, which,
as shown, are baseless, the said fourth cause of action must necessarily fail.
The Counterclaim

As a counterclaim against the Agos, the Castaedas aver that the action was unfounded and as a consequence of its filing
they were compelled to retain the services of counsel for not less than P7,500; that because the Agos obtained a
preliminary injunction enjoining the transfer of titles and possession of the properties to the Castaedas, they were
unlawfully deprived of the use of the properties from April 17, 1964, the value of such deprived use being 20% annually
of their actual value; and that the filing of the unfounded action besmirched their feelings, the pecuniary worth of which is
for the court to assess.
The Supplemental Complaint
Upon the first cause of action, it is alleged that after the filing of the complaint, the defendants, taking advantage of the
dissolution of the preliminary injunction, in conspiracy and with gross bad faith and evident intent to cause damage to the
plaintiffs, caused the registration of the sheriff's final deed of sale; that, to cause more damage, the defendants sold to their
lawyer and his wife two of the parcels of land in question; that the purchasers acquired the properties in bad faith; that the
defendants mortgaged the two other parcels to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation while the defendants' lawyer
and his wife also mortgaged the parcels bought by them to the Rizal Commercial Bank; and that the bank also acted in
bad faith.
The second cause of action consists of an allegation of additional damages caused by the defendants' bad faith in entering
into the aforesaid agreements and transactions.
The Amended Supplemental Complaint
The amendment made pertains to the first cause of action of the supplemental complaint, which is, the inclusion of a
paragraph averring that, still to cause damage and prejudice to the plaintiffs, Atty. & Mrs. Juan Quijano, in bad faith sold
the two parcels of land they had previously bought to Eloy Ocampo who acquired them also in bad faith, while Venancio
Castaeda and Nicetas Henson in bad faith sold the two other parcels to Juan Quijano (60%) and Eloy Ocampo (40%)
who acquired them in bad faith and with knowledge that the properties are the subject of a pending litigation.
Discussion on The Causes of Action
of The Supplemental Complaint And
The Amended Supplemental Complaint
Assuming hypothetically as true the allegations in the first cause of action of the supplemental complaint and the amended
supplemental complaint, the validity of the cause of action would depend upon the validity of the first cause of action of
the original complaint, for, the Agos would suffer no transgression upon their rights of ownership and possession of the
properties by reason of the agreements subsequently entered into by the Castaedas and their lawyer if the sheriff's levy
and sale are valid. The reverse is also true: if the sheriff's levy and sale are invalid on the ground that the conjugal
properties could not be levied upon, then the transactions would perhaps prejudice the Agos, but, we have already
indicated that the issue in the first cause of action of the original complaint is barred by laches, and it must therefore
follow that the first cause of action of the supplemental complaint and the amended supplemental complaint is also barred.
For the same reason, the same holding applies to the remaining cause of action in the supplemental complaint and the
amended supplemental complaint.
ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Court of Appeals under review is set aside. Civil case Q-7986 of the Court of First
Instance of Rizal is ordered dismissed, without prejudice to the re-filing of the petitioners' counterclaim in a new and
independent action. Treble costs are assessed against the spouses Pastor Ago and Lourdes Yu Ago, which shall be paid by
their lawyer, Atty. Jose M. Luison. Let a copy of this decision be made a part of the personal file of Atty. Luison in the
custody of the Clerk of Court.
Makasiar, Esguerra, Muoz Palma and Martin, JJ., concur.
Teehankee, J., is on leave.

Duran & Lim for respondent.
Attorney-General Jaranilla and Provincial Fiscal Jose for the Government.
The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of the provincial board of Isabela, admits that
previous to the last general elections he made use of a card written in Spanish and Ilocano, which, in translation, reads as
Notary Public
Province of Isabela
(NOTE. As notary public, he can execute for you a deed of sale for the purchase of land as required by the cadastral
office; can renew lost documents of your animals; can make your application and final requisites for your homestead; and
can execute any kind of affidavit. As a lawyer, he can help you collect your loans although long overdue, as well as any
complaint for or against you. Come or write to him in his town, Echague, Isabela. He offers free consultation, and is
willing to help and serve the poor.)
The respondent further admits that he is the author of a letter addressed to a lieutenant of barrio in his home municipality
written in Ilocano, which letter, in translation, reads as follows:
ECHAGUE, ISABELA, September 18, 1928
MY DEAR LIEUTENANT: I would like to inform you of the approaching date for our induction into office as member of
the Provincial Board, that is on the 16th of next month. Before my induction into office I should be very glad to hear your
suggestions or recommendations for the good of the province in general and for your barrio in particular. You can come to
my house at any time here in Echague, to submit to me any kind of suggestion or recommendation as you may desire.
I also inform you that despite my membership in the Board I will have my residence here in Echague. I will attend the
session of the Board of Ilagan, but will come back home on the following day here in Echague to live and serve with you

as a lawyer and notary public. Despite my election as member of the Provincial Board, I will exercise my legal profession
as a lawyer and notary public. In case you cannot see me at home on any week day, I assure you that you can always find
me there on every Sunday. I also inform you that I will receive any work regarding preparations of documents of contract
of sales and affidavits to be sworn to before me as notary public even on Sundays.
I would like you all to be informed of this matter for the reason that some people are in the belief that my residence as
member of the Board will be in Ilagan and that I would then be disqualified to exercise my profession as lawyer and as
notary public. Such is not the case and I would make it clear that I am free to exercise my profession as formerly and that
I will have my residence here in Echague.
I would request you kind favor to transmit this information to your barrio people in any of your meetings or social
gatherings so that they may be informed of my desire to live and to serve with you in my capacity as lawyer and notary
public. If the people in your locality have not as yet contracted the services of other lawyers in connection with the
registration of their land titles, I would be willing to handle the work in court and would charge only three pesos for every
Yours respectfully,
Notary Public.
The facts being conceded, it is next in order to write down the applicable legal provisions. Section 21 of the Code of Civil
Procedure as originally conceived related to disbarments of members of the bar. In 1919 at the instigation of the
Philippine Bar Association, said codal section was amended by Act No. 2828 by adding at the end thereof the following:
"The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers,
constitutes malpractice."
The statute as amended conforms in principle to the Canons of Professionals Ethics adopted by the American Bar
Association in 1908 and by the Philippine Bar Association in 1917. Canons 27 and 28 of the Code of Ethics provide:
27. ADVERTISING, DIRECT OR INDIRECT. The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a
young lawyer, and especially with his brother lawyers, is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional
capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced, but must be the outcome of character and conduct. The publication or
circulation of ordinary simple business cards, being a matter of personal taste or local custom, and sometimes of
convenience, is not per se improper. But solicitation of business by circulars or advertisements, or by personal
communications or interview not warranted by personal relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure
business by indirection through touters of any kind, whether allied real estate firms or trust companies advertising to
secure the drawing of deeds or wills or offering retainers in exchange for executorships or trusteeships to be influenced by
the lawyer. Indirect advertisement for business by furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments concerning the manner of
their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like selflaudation, defy the traditions and lower the tone of our high calling, and are intolerable.
28. STIRRING UP LITIGATION, DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AGENTS. It is unprofessional for a lawyer to
volunteer advice to bring a lawsuit, except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his duty to do so.
Stirring up strife and litigation is not only unprofessional, but it is indictable at common law. It is disreputable to hunt up
defects in titles or other causes of action and inform thereof in order to the employed to bring suit, or to breed litigation by
seeking out those with claims for personal injuries or those having any other grounds of action in order to secure them as
clients, or to employ agents or runners for like purposes, or to pay or reward directly or indirectly, those who bring or
influence the bringing of such cases to his office, or to remunerate policemen, court or prison officials, physicians,
hospital attaches or others who may succeed, under the guise of giving disinterested friendly advice, in influencing the
criminal, the sick and the injured, the ignorant or others, to seek his professional services. A duty to the public and to the
profession devolves upon every member of the bar having knowledge of such practices upon the part of any practitioner
immediately to inform thereof to the end that the offender may be disbarred.

Common barratry consisting of frequently stirring up suits and quarrels between individuals was a crime at the common
law, and one of the penalties for this offense when committed by an attorney was disbarment. Statutes intended to reach
the same evil have been provided in a number of jurisdictions usually at the instance of the bar itself, and have been
upheld as constitutional. The reason behind statutes of this type is not difficult to discover. The law is a profession and not
a business. The lawyer may not seek or obtain employment by himself or through others for to do so would be
unprofessional. (State vs. Rossman [1909], 53 Wash., 1; 17 Ann. Cas., 625; People vs. Mac Cabe [1893], 19 L. R. A., 231;
2 R. C. L., 1097.)
It becomes our duty to condemn in no uncertain terms the ugly practice of solicitation of cases by lawyers. It is destructive
of the honor of a great profession. It lowers the standards of that profession. It works against the confidence of the
community in the integrity of the members of the bar. It results in needless litigation and in incenting to strife otherwise
peacefully inclined citizens.
The solicitation of employment by an attorney is a ground for disbarment or suspension. That should be distinctly
Giving application of the law and the Canons of Ethics to the admitted facts, the respondent stands convicted of having
solicited cases in defiance of the law and those canons. Accordingly, the only remaining duty of the court is to fix upon
the action which should here be taken. The provincial fiscal of Isabela, with whom joined the representative of the
Attorney-General in the oral presentation of the case, suggests that the respondent be only reprimanded. We think that our
action should go further than this if only to reflect our attitude toward cases of this character of which unfortunately the
respondent's is only one. The commission of offenses of this nature would amply justify permanent elimination from the
bar. But as mitigating, circumstances working in favor of the respondent there are, first, his intimation that he was
unaware of the impropriety of his acts, second, his youth and inexperience at the bar, and, third, his promise not to commit
a similar mistake in the future. A modest period of suspension would seem to fit the case of the erring attorney. But it
should be distinctly understood that this result is reached in view of the considerations which have influenced the court to
the relatively lenient in this particular instance and should, therefore, not be taken as indicating that future convictions of
practice of this kind will not be dealt with by disbarment.
In view of all the circumstances of this case, the judgment of the court is that the respondent Luis B. Tagorda be and is
hereby suspended from the practice as an attorney-at-law for the period of one month from April 1, 1929,
Street, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.
Johnson, J., reserves his vote.
Separate Opinions
OSTRAND, J., dissenting:
I dissent. Under the circumstances of the case a reprimand would have been sufficient punishment.

A.C. No. L-1117

March 20, 1944


ESTANISLAO R. BAYOT, respondent.
Office of the Solicitor General De la Costa and Solicitor Feria for complainant.
Francisco Claravall for respondent.
The respondent, who is an attorney-at-law, is charged with malpractice for having published an advertisement in the
Sunday Tribune of June 13, 1943, which reads as follows:
license promptly secured thru our assistance & the annoyance of delay or publicity avoided if desired, and marriage
arranged to wishes of parties. Consultation on any matter free for the poor. Everything confidential.
Legal assistance service
12 Escolta, Manila, Room, 105
Tel. 2-41-60.
Appearing in his own behalf, respondent at first denied having published the said advertisement; but subsequently, thru his
attorney, he admitted having caused its publication and prayed for "the indulgence and mercy" of the Court, promising
"not to repeat such professional misconduct in the future and to abide himself to the strict ethical rules of the law
profession." In further mitigation he alleged that the said advertisement was published only once in the Tribune and that
he never had any case at law by reason thereof.
Upon that plea the case was submitted to the Court for decision.

It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics of his
profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among
other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or
brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant
advertises his wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to
and adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member of the bar,
he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah.
"The most worth and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . is the establishment of a well-merited
reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and
conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.)
In In re Tagorda, 53 Phil., the respondent attorney was suspended from the practice of law for the period of one month for
advertising his services and soliciting work from the public by writing circular letters. That case, however, was more
serious than this because there the solicitations were repeatedly made and were more elaborate and insistent.
Considering his plea for leniency and his promise not to repeat the misconduct, the Court is of the opinion and so decided
that the respondent should be, as he hereby is, reprimanded.

F. BUENAVENTURA, petitioners.
Two separate Petitions were filed before this Court 1) by the surviving partners of Atty. Alexander Sycip, who died on
May 5, 1975, and 2) by the surviving partners of Atty. Herminio Ozaeta, who died on February 14, 1976, praying that they
be allowed to continue using, in the names of their firms, the names of partners who had passed away. In the Court's
Resolution of September 2, 1976, both Petitions were ordered consolidated.
Petitioners base their petitions on the following arguments:
Under the law, a partnership is not prohibited from continuing its business under a firm name which includes the
name of a deceased partner; in fact, Article 1840 of the Civil Code explicitly sanctions the practice when it provides in the
last paragraph that: t.hqw
The use by the person or partnership continuing the business of the partnership name, or the name of a deceased partner as
part thereof, shall not of itself make the individual property of the deceased partner liable for any debts contracted by such
person or partnership. 1

In regulating other professions, such as accountancy and engineering, the legislature has authorized the adoption
of firm names without any restriction as to the use, in such firm name, of the name of a deceased partner; 2 the legislative
authorization given to those engaged in the practice of accountancy a profession requiring the same degree of trust and
confidence in respect of clients as that implicit in the relationship of attorney and client to acquire and use a trade
name, strongly indicates that there is no fundamental policy that is offended by the continued use by a firm of
professionals of a firm name which includes the name of a deceased partner, at least where such firm name has acquired
the characteristics of a "trade name." 3
The Canons of Professional Ethics are not transgressed by the continued use of the name of a deceased partner in
the firm name of a law partnership because Canon 33 of the Canons of Professional Ethics adopted by the American Bar
Association declares that: t.hqw
... The continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner when permissible by local custom, is not unethical but
care should be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use. ... 4
There is no possibility of imposition or deception because the deaths of their respective deceased partners were
well-publicized in all newspapers of general circulation for several days; the stationeries now being used by them carry
new letterheads indicating the years when their respective deceased partners were connected with the firm; petitioners will
notify all leading national and international law directories of the fact of their respective deceased partners' deaths. 5
No local custom prohibits the continued use of a deceased partner's name in a professional firm's name; 6 there is
no custom or usage in the Philippines, or at least in the Greater Manila Area, which recognizes that the name of a law firm
necessarily Identifies the individual members of the firm. 7
The continued use of a deceased partner's name in the firm name of law partnerships has been consistently
allowed by U.S. Courts and is an accepted practice in the legal profession of most countries in the world. 8
The question involved in these Petitions first came under consideration by this Court in 1953 when a law firm in Cebu
(the Deen case) continued its practice of including in its firm name that of a deceased partner, C.D. Johnston. The matter
was resolved with this Court advising the firm to desist from including in their firm designation the name of C. D.
Johnston, who has long been dead."
The same issue was raised before this Court in 1958 as an incident in G. R. No. L-11964, entitled Register of Deeds of
Manila vs. China Banking Corporation. The law firm of Perkins & Ponce Enrile moved to intervene as amicus curiae.
Before acting thereon, the Court, in a Resolution of April 15, 1957, stated that it "would like to be informed why the name
of Perkins is still being used although Atty. E. A. Perkins is already dead." In a Manifestation dated May 21, 1957, the law
firm of Perkins and Ponce Enrile, raising substantially the same arguments as those now being raised by petitioners,
prayed that the continued use of the firm name "Perkins & Ponce Enrile" be held proper.
On June 16, 1958, this Court resolved: t.hqw
After carefully considering the reasons given by Attorneys Alfonso Ponce Enrile and Associates for their continued use of
the name of the deceased E. G. Perkins, the Court found no reason to depart from the policy it adopted in June 1953 when
it required Attorneys Alfred P. Deen and Eddy A. Deen of Cebu City to desist from including in their firm designation, the
name of C. D. Johnston, deceased. The Court believes that, in view of the personal and confidential nature of the relations
between attorney and client, and the high standards demanded in the canons of professional ethics, no practice should be
allowed which even in a remote degree could give rise to the possibility of deception. Said attorneys are accordingly
advised to drop the name "PERKINS" from their firm name.
Petitioners herein now seek a re-examination of the policy thus far enunciated by the Court.
The Court finds no sufficient reason to depart from the rulings thus laid down.
Inasmuch as "Sycip, Salazar, Feliciano, Hernandez and Castillo" and "Ozaeta, Romulo, De Leon, Mabanta and
Reyes" are partnerships, the use in their partnership names of the names of deceased partners will run counter to Article
1815 of the Civil Code which provides: t.hqw

Art. 1815.
Every partnership shall operate under a firm name, which may or may not include the name of one or
more of the partners.
Those who, not being members of the partnership, include their names in the firm name, shall be subject to the liability, of
a partner.
It is clearly tacit in the above provision that names in a firm name of a partnership must either be those of living partners
and. in the case of non-partners, should be living persons who can be subjected to liability. In fact, Article 1825 of the
Civil Code prohibits a third person from including his name in the firm name under pain of assuming the liability of a
partner. The heirs of a deceased partner in a law firm cannot be held liable as the old members to the creditors of a firm
particularly where they are non-lawyers. Thus, Canon 34 of the Canons of Professional Ethics "prohibits an agreement for
the payment to the widow and heirs of a deceased lawyer of a percentage, either gross or net, of the fees received from the
future business of the deceased lawyer's clients, both because the recipients of such division are not lawyers and because
such payments will not represent service or responsibility on the part of the recipient. " Accordingly, neither the widow
nor the heirs can be held liable for transactions entered into after the death of their lawyer-predecessor. There being no
benefits accruing, there ran be no corresponding liability.
Prescinding the law, there could be practical objections to allowing the use by law firms of the names of deceased
partners. The public relations value of the use of an old firm name can tend to create undue advantages and disadvantages
in the practice of the profession. An able lawyer without connections will have to make a name for himself starting from
scratch. Another able lawyer, who can join an old firm, can initially ride on that old firm's reputation established by
deceased partners.
In regards to the last paragraph of Article 1840 of the Civil Code cited by petitioners, supra, the first factor to
consider is that it is within Chapter 3 of Title IX of the Code entitled "Dissolution and Winding Up." The Article primarily
deals with the exemption from liability in cases of a dissolved partnership, of the individual property of the deceased
partner for debts contracted by the person or partnership which continues the business using the partnership name or the
name of the deceased partner as part thereof. What the law contemplates therein is a hold-over situation preparatory to
formal reorganization.
Secondly, Article 1840 treats more of a commercial partnership with a good will to protect rather than of a professional
partnership, with no saleable good will but whose reputation depends on the personal qualifications of its individual
members. Thus, it has been held that a saleable goodwill can exist only in a commercial partnership and cannot arise in a
professional partnership consisting of lawyers. 9t.hqw
As a general rule, upon the dissolution of a commercial partnership the succeeding partners or parties have the right to
carry on the business under the old name, in the absence of a stipulation forbidding it, (s)ince the name of a commercial
partnership is a partnership asset inseparable from the good will of the firm. ... (60 Am Jur 2d, s 204, p. 115) (Emphasis
On the other hand, t.hqw
... a professional partnership the reputation of which depends or; the individual skill of the members, such as partnerships
of attorneys or physicians, has no good win to be distributed as a firm asset on its dissolution, however intrinsically
valuable such skill and reputation may be, especially where there is no provision in the partnership agreement relating to
good will as an asset. ... (ibid, s 203, p. 115) (Emphasis supplied)
A partnership for the practice of law cannot be likened to partnerships formed by other professionals or for
business. For one thing, the law on accountancy specifically allows the use of a trade name in connection with the practice
of accountancy. 10 t.hqw
A partnership for the practice of law is not a legal entity. It is a mere relationship or association for a particular purpose. ...
It is not a partnership formed for the purpose of carrying on trade or business or of holding property." 11 Thus, it has been
stated that "the use of a nom de plume, assumed or trade name in law practice is improper. 12

The usual reason given for different standards of conduct being applicable to the practice of law from those pertaining to
business is that the law is a profession.
Dean Pound, in his recently published contribution to the Survey of the Legal Profession, (The Lawyer from Antiquity to
Modern Times, p. 5) defines a profession as "a group of men pursuing a learned art as a common calling in the spirit of
public service, no less a public service because it may incidentally be a means of livelihood."



Primary characteristics which distinguish the legal profession from business are:
A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a byproduct, and in which one may attain the highest
eminence without making much money.
A relation as an "officer of court" to the administration of justice involving thorough sincerity, integrity, and

A relation to clients in the highest degree fiduciary.

A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness, and unwillingness to resort to current
business methods of advertising and encroachment on their practice, or dealing directly with their clients. 13
"The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is in the nature of a privilege or franchise. 14 It is
limited to persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. 15 The right does not
only presuppose in its possessor integrity, legal standing and attainment, but also the exercise of a special privilege, highly
personal and partaking of the nature of a public trust." 16
Petitioners cited Canon 33 of the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association" in support of
their petitions.
It is true that Canon 33 does not consider as unethical the continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner in the
firm name of a law partnership when such a practice is permissible by local custom but the Canon warns that care should
be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use.
It must be conceded that in the Philippines, no local custom permits or allows the continued use of a deceased or former
partner's name in the firm names of law partnerships. Firm names, under our custom, Identify the more active and/or more
senior members or partners of the law firm. A glimpse at the history of the firms of petitioners and of other law firms in
this country would show how their firm names have evolved and changed from time to time as the composition of the
partnership changed. t.hqw
The continued use of a firm name after the death of one or more of the partners designated by it is proper only where
sustained by local custom and not where by custom this purports to Identify the active members. ...
There would seem to be a question, under the working of the Canon, as to the propriety of adding the name of a new
partner and at the same time retaining that of a deceased partner who was never a partner with the new one. (H.S. Drinker,
op. cit., supra, at pp. 207208) (Emphasis supplied).
The possibility of deception upon the public, real or consequential, where the name of a deceased partner continues to be
used cannot be ruled out. A person in search of legal counsel might be guided by the familiar ring of a distinguished name
appearing in a firm title.
Petitioners argue that U.S. Courts have consistently allowed the continued use of a deceased partner's name in the
firm name of law partnerships. But that is so because it is sanctioned by custom.
In the case of Mendelsohn v. Equitable Life Assurance Society (33 N.Y.S. 2d 733) which petitioners Salazar, et al. quoted
in their memorandum, the New York Supreme Court sustained the use of the firm name Alexander & Green even if none

of the present ten partners of the firm bears either name because the practice was sanctioned by custom and did not offend
any statutory provision or legislative policy and was adopted by agreement of the parties. The Court stated therein: t.
The practice sought to be proscribed has the sanction of custom and offends no statutory provision or legislative policy.
Canon 33 of the Canons of Professional Ethics of both the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar
Association provides in part as follows: "The continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner, when permissible
by local custom is not unethical, but care should be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use."
There is no question as to local custom. Many firms in the city use the names of deceased members with the approval of
other attorneys, bar associations and the courts. The Appellate Division of the First Department has considered the matter
and reached The conclusion that such practice should not be prohibited. (Emphasis supplied)



Neither the Partnership Law nor the Penal Law prohibits the practice in question. The use of the firm name herein is also
sustainable by reason of agreement between the partners. 18
Not so in this jurisdiction where there is no local custom that sanctions the practice. Custom has been defined as a rule of
conduct formed by repetition of acts, uniformly observed (practiced) as a social rule, legally binding and obligatory. 19
Courts take no judicial notice of custom. A custom must be proved as a fact, according to the rules of evidence. 20 A local
custom as a source of right cannot be considered by a court of justice unless such custom is properly established by
competent evidence like any other fact. 21 We find such proof of the existence of a local custom, and of the elements
requisite to constitute the same, wanting herein. Merely because something is done as a matter of practice does not mean
that Courts can rely on the same for purposes of adjudication as a juridical custom. Juridical custom must be differentiated
from social custom. The former can supplement statutory law or be applied in the absence of such statute. Not so with the
Moreover, judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws form part of the legal system. 22 When the Supreme Court
in the Deen and Perkins cases issued its Resolutions directing lawyers to desist from including the names of deceased
partners in their firm designation, it laid down a legal rule against which no custom or practice to the contrary, even if
proven, can prevail. This is not to speak of our civil law which clearly ordains that a partnership is dissolved by the death
of any partner. 23 Custom which are contrary to law, public order or public policy shall not be countenanced. 24
The practice of law is intimately and peculiarly related to the administration of justice and should not be considered like
an ordinary "money-making trade." t.hqw
... It is of the essence of a profession that it is practiced in a spirit of public service. A trade ... aims primarily at personal
gain; a profession at the exercise of powers beneficial to mankind. If, as in the era of wide free opportunity, we think of
free competitive self assertion as the highest good, lawyer and grocer and farmer may seem to be freely competing with
their fellows in their calling in order each to acquire as much of the world's good as he may within the allowed him by
law. But the member of a profession does not regard himself as in competition with his professional brethren. He is not
bartering his services as is the artisan nor exchanging the products of his skill and learning as the farmer sells wheat or
corn. There should be no such thing as a lawyers' or physicians' strike. The best service of the professional man is often
rendered for no equivalent or for a trifling equivalent and it is his pride to do what he does in a way worthy of his
profession even if done with no expectation of reward, This spirit of public service in which the profession of law is and
ought to be exercised is a prerequisite of sound administration of justice according to law. The other two elements of a
profession, namely, organization and pursuit of a learned art have their justification in that they secure and maintain that
spirit. 25
In fine, petitioners' desire to preserve the Identity of their firms in the eyes of the public must bow to legal and ethical
ACCORDINGLY, the petitions filed herein are denied and petitioners advised to drop the names "SYCIP" and
"OZAETA" from their respective firm names. Those names may, however, be included in the listing of individuals who
have been partners in their firms indicating the years during which they served as such.

Teehankee, Concepcion, Jr., Santos, Fernandez, Guerrero and De Castro, JJ., concur
Fernando, C.J. and Abad Santos, J., took no part.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, C.J., concurring:

The petitions are denied, as there are only four votes for granting them, seven of the Justices being of the contrary view, as
explained in the plurality opinion of Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera. It is out of delicadeza that the undersigned did
not participate in the disposition of these petitions, as the law office of Sycip, Salazar, Feliciano, Hernandez and Castillo
started with the partnership of Quisumbing, Sycip, and Quisumbing, the senior partner, the late Ramon Quisumbing, being
the father-in-law of the undersigned, and the most junior partner then, Norberto J. Quisumbing, being his brother- in-law.
For the record, the undersigned wishes to invite the attention of all concerned, and not only of petitioners, to the last
sentence of the opinion of Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera: 'Those names [Sycip and Ozaeta] may, however, be
included in the listing of individuals wtes
AQUINO, J., dissenting:
I dissent. The fourteen members of the law firm, Sycip, Salazar, Feliciano, Hernandez & Castillo, in their petition of June
10, 1975, prayed for authority to continue the use of that firm name, notwithstanding the death of Attorney Alexander
Sycip on May 5, 1975 (May he rest in peace). He was the founder of the firm which was originally known as the Sycip
Law Office.
On the other hand, the seven surviving partners of the law firm, Ozaeta, Romulo, De Leon, Mabanta & Reyes, in their
petition of August 13, 1976, prayed that they be allowed to continue using the said firm name notwithstanding the death of
two partners, former Justice Roman Ozaeta and his son, Herminio, on May 1, 1972 and February 14, 1976, respectively.
They alleged that the said law firm was a continuation of the Ozaeta Law Office which was established in 1957 by Justice
Ozaeta and his son and that, as to the said law firm, the name Ozaeta has acquired an institutional and secondary
Article 1840 of the Civil Code, which speaks of the use by the partnership of the name of a deceased partner as part of the
partnership name, is cited to justify the petitions. Also invoked is the canon that the continued use by a law firm of the
name of a deceased partner, "when permissible by local custom, is not unethical" as long as "no imposition or deception is
practised through this use" (Canon 33 of the Canons of Legal Ethics).
I am of the opinion that the petition may be granted with the condition that it be indicated in the letterheads of the two
firms (as the case may be) that Alexander Sycip, former Justice Ozaeta and Herminio Ozaeta are dead or the period when
they served as partners should be stated therein.
Obviously, the purpose of the two firms in continuing the use of the names of their deceased founders is to retain the
clients who had customarily sought the legal services of Attorneys Sycip and Ozaeta and to benefit from the goodwill
attached to the names of those respected and esteemed law practitioners. That is a legitimate motivation.
The retention of their names is not illegal per se. That practice was followed before the war by the law firm of James
Ross. Notwithstanding the death of Judge Ross the founder of the law firm of Ross, Lawrence, Selph and Carrascoso, his
name was retained in the firm name with an indication of the year when he died. No one complained that the retention of
the name of Judge Ross in the firm name was illegal or unethical.

Adm. Case No. 2131

May 10, 1985

ADRIANO E. DACANAY, complainant

Adriano E. Dacanay for and his own behalf.
Madrid, Cacho, Angeles, Dominguez & Pecson Law Office for respondents.

Lawyer Adriano E. Dacanay, admitted to the bar in 1954, in his 1980 verified complaint, sought to enjoin Juan G. Collas,
Jr. and nine other lawyers from practising law under the name of Baker & McKenzie, a law firm organized in Illinois.
In a letter dated November 16, 1979 respondent Vicente A. Torres, using the letterhead of Baker & McKenzie, which
contains the names of the ten lawyers, asked Rosie Clurman for the release of 87 shares of Cathay Products International,
Inc. to H.E. Gabriel, a client.
Attorney Dacanay, in his reply dated December 7, 1979, denied any liability of Clurman to Gabriel. He requested that he
be informed whether the lawyer of Gabriel is Baker & McKenzie "and if not, what is your purpose in using the letterhead
of another law office." Not having received any reply, he filed the instant complaint.
We hold that Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm, cannot practice law in the Philippines (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Rules
of Court). As admitted by the respondents in their memorandum, Baker & McKenzie is a professional partnership

organized in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois with members and associates in 30 cities around the world. Respondents, aside
from being members of the Philippine bar, practising under the firm name of Guerrero & Torres, are members or
associates of Baker & Mckenzie.
As pointed out by the Solicitor General, respondents' use of the firm name Baker & McKenzie constitutes a representation
that being associated with the firm they could "render legal services of the highest quality to multinational business
enterprises and others engaged in foreign trade and investment" (p. 3, respondents' memo). This is unethical because
Baker & McKenzie is not authorized to practise law here. (See Ruben E. Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1983 Ed., p. 115.)
WHEREFORE, the respondents are enjoined from practising law under the firm name Baker & McKenzie.