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EN BANC

A.C. No. 10910 [Formerly CBD Case No. 12-3594], January 19, 2016
ANTERO M. SISON, JR., Complainant, v. ATTY. MANUEL N. CAMACHO, Respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
In his verified affidavit-complaint, 1 dated September 17, 2012, filed before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), complainant Atty. Antero M. Sison, Jr. (Atty. Sison),
president of Marsman-Drysdale Agribusiness Holdings Inc. (MDAHI), charged respondent Atty. Manuel
Camacho (Atty. Camacho) with violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). He accused Atty.
Camacho of violating Rule 1.01, for dishonestly entering into a compromise agreement without
authorization, and Rule 16.01, for failure to render an accounting of funds which were supposed to be paid
as additional docket fees.

Complainant's Position

Atty. Sison alleged that Atty. Camacho was the counsel of MDAHI in an insurance claim action against
Paramount Life & General Insurance Corp. (Paramount Insurance), docketed as Civil Case No. 05-655,
before the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 139 (RTC). The initial insurance claim of MDAHI against
Paramount Insurance was P14,863,777.00.

On March 4, 2011, Atty. Camacho met with Atty. Enrique Dimaano (Atty. Dimaano), corporate secretary of
MDAHI, and proposed to increase their claim to P64,412,534.18 by taking into account the interests
imposed. Atty. Camacho, however, clarified that the increase in the claim would require additional docket
fees in the amount of P1,288,260.00, as shown in his hand-written computation. 2MDAHI agreed and granted
the said amount to Atty. Dimaano which was evidenced by a Payment Request/Order Form. 3 On May 27,
2011, Atty. Dimaano gave the money for docket fees to Atty. Camacho who promised to issue a receipt for
the said amount, but never did.4
Atty. Sison later discovered that on May 26, 2011, the RTC had already rendered a decision5 in favor of
MDAHI granting its insurance claim plus interests in the amount of approximately P65,000,000.00.

On August 11, 2011, Atty. Camacho sent a letter 6 to MDAHI recommending a settlement with Paramount
Insurance in Civil Case No. 05-655 in the amount of PI5,000,000.00 allegedly to prevent a protracted appeal
with the appellate court. MDAHI refused the offer of compromise and did not indicate its conforme on the
letter of Atty. Camacho. Surprisingly, even without the written conformity of MDAHI, Atty. Camacho filed the
Satisfaction of Judgment,7 dated August 15, 2011, before the RTC stating that the parties had entered into a
compromise agreement.

On August 18, 2011, Atty. Sison met with Atty. Camacho to clarify the events that transpired. 8 He asked
Atty. Camacho whether he paid the amount of P1,288,260.00 as additional dockets fees, and the latter
replied that he simply gave it to the clerk of court as the payment period had lapsed.

Disappointed with the actions of Atty. Camacho, Atty. Sison sent a letter,9 dated August 24, 2011, stating
that he was alarmed that the former would accept a disadvantageous compromise; that it was against
company policy to bribe any government official with respect to the P1,288,260.00 given to the clerk of
court; and that MDAHI would only pay P200,000.00 to Atty. Camacho as attorney's fees.

Respondent's Position

In his verified answer,10 dated October 30, 2012, Atty. Camacho denied all the allegations against him. He
stressed that he had the authority to enter into the compromise agreement. Moreover, the alleged docket
fees given to him by MDAHI formed part of his attorney's fees.
He further stated in his position paper 11 that the judgment debt was paid and accepted by MDAHI without
any objection, as duly evidenced by an acknowledgment receipt. 12 Thus, there was no irregularity in the
compromise agreement.

With respect to the amount handed to him, Atty. Camacho averred that he filed a Motion to Compel Plaintiff
to Pay Attorney's Fee on September 13, 2011 before the RTC. The Court granted the said motion in its April
12, 2012 Order13 stating that the amount of PI,288,260.00 was considered as part of his attorney's fees.

On July 6, 2012, the RTC issued an Order 14 resolving the motion for reconsideration filed by both parties in
favor of Atty. Camacho. In the said order, the RTC opined that only P300,000.00 was previously paid to Atty.
Camacho15 as attorney's fees. Based on the foregoing, Atty. Camacho asserted that the amount of
P1,288,260.00 which he received, truly formed part of his unpaid attorney's fees. He stressed that the said
RTC order had attained finality and constituted res judicata on the present administrative case. He added
that MDAHI disregarded the RTC order as it filed an estafa case against him concerning the amount of
PI,288,260.00.

Report and Recommendation

After the mandatory conference on January 24, 2013 and upon a thorough evaluation of the evidence
presented by the parties in their respective position papers, the IBP-CBD submitted its Report and
Recommendation,16 dated April 1, 2013 finding Atty. Camacho to have violated the provisions of Rule 1.01
and Rule 16.01 of the CPR and recommending the imposition of the penalty of one (1) year suspension from
the practice of law against him. In its Resolution No. XX-2013-474, 17 dated April 16, 2013, the Board of
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (Board) adopted the said report and recommendation of
Investigating Commissioner Eldrid C. Antiquiera.

Aggrieved, Atty. Camacho filed a motion for reconsideration 18 before the Board reiterating that the
compromise agreement was valid because MDAHI did not reject the same and that the amount of
P1,288,260.00 formed part of his attorney's fees.

In his Comment/Opposition,19 Atty. Sison countered that Atty. Camacho never denied that he filed the
satisfaction of judgment without the written authority of MDAHI and that there was a pending estafa case
against him before the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 146, docketed as Criminal Case No. 13-
1688, regarding the P1,288,260.00 handed to him.

In its Resolution No. XXI-2014-532,20 dated August 10, 2014, the Board adopted the report and
recommendation21 of National Director Dominic CM. Solis. The Board partially granted the motion for
reconsideration and dismissed, without prejudice, the charge regarding the failure to account for the money,
because it was premature to act on such issue due to the pending criminal case against the Atty. Camacho.
Accordingly, the penalty of one (1) year suspension imposed was lowered to six (6) months suspension from
the practice of law.

Hence, the case was elevated to the Court.

The Court's Ruling

The Court finds that Atty. Camacho violated Rules 1.01 and 16.01 of the CPR.

Entering into a compromise


agreement without written
authority of the client

Those in the legal profession must always conduct themselves with honesty and integrity in all their
dealings. Members of the Bar took their oath to conduct themselves according to the best of their knowledge
and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to their clients and to delay no man for money or
malice. These mandates apply especially to dealings of lawyers with their clients considering the highly
fiduciary nature of their relationship.22
In the practice of law, lawyers constantly formulate compromise agreements for the benefit of their clients.
Article 1878 of the Civil Code provides that " [s]pecial powers of attorney are necessary in the following
cases: xxx (3) To compromise, to submit questions to arbitration, to renounce the right to appeal from a
judgment, to waive objections to the venue of an action or to abandon a prescription already acquired xxx."

In line with the fiduciary duty of the Members of the Bar, Section 23, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court specifies
a stringent requirement with respect to compromise agreements, to wit: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Sec. 23. Authority of attorneys to bind clients. - Attorneys have authority to bind their clients in any case by
any agreement in relation thereto made in writing, and in taking appeals, and in all matters of ordinary
judicial procedure. But they cannot, without special authority, compromise their client's litigation,
or receive anything in discharge of a client's claim but the full amount in cash.

[Emphasis and Underscoring Supplied]


cralawla wlibrary

In the case at bench, the RTC decision, dated May 26, 2011, awarded MDAHI approximately
P65,000,000.00. When Paramount Insurance offered a compromise settlement in the amount of
P15,000,000.00, it was clear as daylight that MDAHI never consented to the said offer. As can be gleaned
from Atty. Camacho's letter, MDAHI did not sign the conforme regarding the compromise agreement. 23
Glaringly, despite the lack of a written special authority, Atty. Camacho agreed to a lower judgment award
on behalf of his client and filed a satisfaction of judgment before the RTC. The said pleading also failed to
bear the conformity of his client.24 Although MDAHI subsequently received the payment of P15M from
Paramount Insurance, it does not erase Atty. Camacho's transgression in reaching the compromise
agreement without the prior consent of his client.

For entering into a compromise agreement without the written authority of his client, Atty. Camacho violated
Rule 1.01 of the CPR, which states that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct." Members of the Bar must always conduct themselves in a way that promotes public
confidence in the integrity of the legal profession. 25
cralawre d

Failing to account for


the money of the client

Atty. Camacho was also charged with violation of Rule 16.01 of the CPR, which provides for a lawyer's duty
to "account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client."

Here, Atty. Sison alleged that MDAHI gave Atty. Camacho the amount of PI,288,260.00 as payment of
additional docket fees but the latter failed to apply the same for its intended purpose. In contrast, Atty.
Camacho invoked the July 6, 2012 Order of the RTC which declared the MDAHI allegation as
unsubstantiated, and claimed that the said amount formed part of his attorney's fees. The Board, on the
other hand, opined that it was still premature to decide such issue because there was a pending estafa case,
docketed as Criminal Case No. 13-1688, filed by MDAHI against Atty. Camacho involving the same amount
of P1,288,260.00.

The Court is of the view that it is not premature to rule on the charge against Atty. Camacho for his failure
to account for the money of his client. The pending case against him is criminal in nature. The issue therein
is whether he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of misappropriating the amount of P1,288,260.00 entrusted
to him by his client. The present case, however, is administrative in character, requiring only substantial
evidence. It only entails a determination of whether Atty. Camacho violated his solemn oath by failing to
account for the money of his client. Evidently, the adjudication of such issue in this administrative case shall
not, in any way, affect the separate criminal proceeding.
In disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the only issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to be
allowed to continue as a member of the Bar. The only concern of the Court is the determination of the
respondent's administrative liability. The findings in this case will have no material bearing on other judicial
action which the parties may choose to file against each other. While a lawyer's wrongful actuations may
give rise at the same time to criminal, civil, and administrative liabilities, each must be determined in the
appropriate case; and every case must be resolved in accordance with the facts and the law applicable and
the quantum of proof required in each.26
Delving into the substance of the allegation, the Court rules that Atty. Camacho indeed violated Rule 16.01
of the CPR. When Atty. Camacho personally requested MDAHI for additional docket fees, the latter
obediently granted the amount of P1,288,260.00 to the former. Certainly, it was understood that such
amount was necessary for the payment of supposed additional docket fees in Civil Case No. 05-655. Yet,
when Atty. Sison confronted Atty. Camacho regarding the said amount, the latter replied that he simply gave
it to the clerk of court as the payment period had lapsed. Whether the said amount was pocketed by him or
improperly given to the clerk of court as a form of bribery, it was unmistakably clear that Atty. Camacho did
not apply the amount given to him by his client for its intended legal purpose.

Atty. Camacho did not even deny making that request to MDAHI for additional docket fees and receiving
such amount from his client. Rather, he set up a defense that the said amount formed part of his attorney's
fees. Such defense, however, is grossly contradictory to the established purpose of the P1,288,260.00. In its
Payment Request/Order Form,27 it is plainly indicated therein that MDAHI released the said amount only to
be applied as payment for additional docket fees, and not for any other purposes. Consequently, the lame
excuse of Atty. Camacho is bereft of merit because it constitutes a mere afterthought and a manifest
disrespect to the legal profession. Atty. Camacho is treading on a perilous path where the payment of his
attorney's fees is more important than his fiduciary and faithful duty of accounting the money of his client.
Well-settled is the rule that lawyers are not entitled to unilaterally appropriate their clients' money for
themselves by the mere fact that the clients owe them attorney's fees. 28
Moreover, Atty. Camacho failed to issue a receipt to MDAHI from the moment he received the said amount.
In Tarog v. Ricafort,29 the Court held that ethical and practical considerations made it both natural and
imperative for a lawyer to issue receipts, even if not demanded, and to keep copies of the receipts for his
own records. Pursuant to Rule 16.01 of the CPR, a lawyer must be aware that he is accountable for the
money entrusted to him by the clients, and that his only means of ensuring accountability is by issuing and
keeping receipts.

Worse, on May 26, 2011, the RTC already rendered its decision in Civil Case No. 05-655, adjudging MDAHI
entitled to an insurance claim in the amount of approximately P65,000,000.00. From that date on, there was
no more need for additional docket fees. Apparently, still unaware of the judgment, MDAHI subsequently
released the money for additional docket fees to Atty. Dimaano, who handed it to Atty. Camacho on May 27,
2011. Despite a decision having been rendered, Atty. Camacho did not reject the said amount or return it to
his client upon receipt. Instead, he unilaterally withheld the said amount by capriciously invoking the
payment of his attorney's fees.

The fiduciary nature of the relationship between the counsel and his client imposes on the lawyer the duty to
account for the money or property collected or received for or from his client. Money entrusted to a lawyer
for a specific purpose but not used for the purpose should be immediately returned. A lawyer's failure, to
return upon demand, the funds held by him on behalf of his client gives rise to the presumption that he has
appropriated the same for his own use in violation of the trust reposed in him by his client. Such act is a
gross violation of general morality as well as of professional ethics. It impairs public confidence in the legal
profession and deserves punishment.30
Administrative penalty

A member of the Bar may be penalized, even disbarred or suspended from his office as an attorney, for
violation of the lawyer's oath and/or for breach of the ethics of the legal profession as embodied in the CPR.
The practice of law is a profession, a form of public trust, the performance of which is entrusted to those
who are qualified and who possess good moral character. The appropriate penalty for an errant lawyer
depends on the exercise of sound judicial discretion based on the surrounding facts. 31
In Luna v. Galarrita,32 the Court suspended the respondent lawyer for two (2) years because he accepted a
compromise agreement without valid authority and he failed to turn over the payment to his client. In the
case of Melendrez v. Decena33 the lawyer therein was disbarred because he entered into a compromise
agreement without the special authority of his client and he drafted deceptive and dishonest contracts.
Similarly, in Navarro v. Meneses III,34 another lawyer, who misappropriated the money entrusted to him by
his client which he failed and/or refused to account for despite repeated demands, was disbarred because
his lack of personal honesty and good moral character rendered him unworthy of public confidence.

In this case, Atty. Camacho entered into a compromise agreement without the conformity of his client which
is evidently against the provisions of the CPR and the law. Moreover, he deliberately failed to account for the
money he received from his client, which was supposed to be paid as additional docket fees. He even had
the gall to impute that the money was illicitly given to an officer of the court. The palpable indiscretions of
Atty. Camacho shall not be countenanced by the Court for these constitute as a blatant and deliberate
desecration of the fiduciary duty that a lawyer owes to his client.

The Court finds that Atty. Camacho's acts are so reprehensible, and his violations of the CPR are so flagrant,
exhibiting his moral unfitness and inability to discharge his duties as a member of the Bar. His actions erode
rather than enhance the public perception of the legal profession. Therefore, in view of the totality of his
violations, as well as the damage and prejudice they caused to his client, Atty. Camacho deserves the
ultimate penalty of disbarment.

Further, he must be ordered to return the amount of P1,288,260.00 to MDAHI, which he received in his
professional capacity for payment of the purported additional docket fees. Disciplinary proceedings revolve
around the determination of the respondent-lawyer's administrative liability, which must include those
intrinsically linked to his professional engagement.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Manuel N. Camacho is found guilty of violating Rule 1.01 and Rule 16.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. For reasons above-stated, he is DISBARRED from the practice of law and his
name stricken off the Roll of Attorneys, effective immediately.

Furthermore, Atty. Manuel N. Camacho is ORDERED to return to Marsman-Drysdale Agribusiness Holdings


Inc. the money intended to pay for additional docket fees which he received from the latter in the amount of
P1,288,260.00 within ninety (90) days from the finality of this decision.

Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be entered into the records of
respondent Atty. Manuel N. Camacho. Copies shall likewise be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts concerned.

SO ORDERED. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

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

SECOND DIVISION
A.C. No. 9880, November 28, 2016
WILSON CHUA, Complainant, v. ATTY. DIOSDADO B. JIMENEZ, Respondent.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
This case was filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline on October
20, 2003 by complainant Wilson Chua against respondent Atty. Diosdado B. Jimenez for grave misconduct,
malpractice, dishonesty, and conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar.1
Factual Antecedents
The complainant alleged that he entered into a retainership agreement with the respondent for the latter to
handle all his legal problems, with particular emphasis on those that needed filing in the courts: more
specifically, against Excellent Quality, Alexander Ty, Benny Lao, Clarita Tan. and Amosup. For these, he gave
respondent the amount of P235,127.00 for the necessary filing fees. Complainant likewise entrusted to the
respondent all the pertinent documents thereto.

The complainant likewise alleged that, for the last seven years prior, he had never attended a single hearing
on any case that he had assigned to respondent, save for those involving Clarita Tan and Union Bank and in
which case he was a defendant. Respondent allegedly would advise him of upcoming hearings only to cancel
them last minute due purportedly to cancellations, postponements, or resettings of the hearings.

Complainant had written respondent several times - on June 11, 2003; June 20, 2003; July 14, 2003;
August 18, 2003; September 9, 2003; and September 24, 2003 - for the return of the documents he had
entrusted to respondent as well as the amount of P235,127.00. On September 24, 2003, he terminated
respondent's legal services for failure to file the necessary cases, the very object of the retainership
agreement, and to return the sum of P235,127.00.

In an Order2 dated October 23, 2003, the IBP directed respondent to file his Answer within 15 days. Instead
of filing an Answer, respondent requested for additional 15 days within which to comply.3Thereafter,
respondent filed a Motion for Bill of Particulars 4 and another Urgent Motion to File Answer.5 However, for
being a prohibited pleading, the IBP denied the motion for bill of particulars. 6With no action yet on the part
of the IBP with regard to his Urgent Motion To File Answer, respondent again filed an Urgent Motion For Last
Extension To File Answer.7 Perhaps exasperated by respondent's delaying tactics, complainant moved that
respondent be declared in default and that he be allowed to present evidence ex-parte. 8
In an Order9 dated March 17, 2004, the IBP declared respondent in default and set the mandatory
conference on April 28, 2004. In the meantime, respondent moved for the lifting of the default order 10
attaching thereto his Answer with Counterclaim.

Respondent denied complainant's charges that he had violated his oath of office as a lawyer and the Code of
Professional Responsibility. He further alleged that he had been pressuring the complainant and his mother
Tiu Eng Te for the payment of professional services rendered by his law firm amounting to around P13
Million. And because of this non-payment or failure to arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement for the
payment of his professional fees, he has withheld the filing of cases on behalf of the complainant and his
companies. He also denied receiving the amount of P235,127.00 from complainant. 11
By way of Reply,12 complainant insisted that respondent had received the amount of P235,127.00 intended
for payment of filing fees. As proof, he submitted photocopies of checks payable to respondent as well as
cash vouchers showing details of said payment.13
Mandatory conference was thereafter conducted during which both parties appeared and entered into
stipulations. After the termination of the mandatory conference, both parties were directed to submit their
verified position papers. Only complainant complied. Respondent failed to submit his position paper.

Report and Recommendation of the IBP:

The Investigating Commissioner14 found respondent guilty of violating the Code of Professional
Responsibility, particularly Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 as well as Canon 22, Rule 22.02. He opined
that:
As between the claim of Complainant that he gave Respondent an amount for filing fees of the cases
endorsed x x x and the denial of Respondent we are inclined to agree with Complainant that at least the
amount of P165,127.00 x x x was given to Respondent. Besides, such bare denial would appear inconsistent
with Respondent's own admission that he was forced to hold on the filing of new cases because of unsettled
professional fees. x x x
x x x There is nothing on record to show that Respondent ever informed Complainant on the status of their
case. x x x

Respondent has raised the matter of his unpaid fees in other cases handled by him as a reason for his not
filing the cases. Respondent has not presented enough evidence to convince us of such unpaid fees. Besides,
it is clear that the papers and documents were given to him for the specific purpose of filing cases but which
Respondent did not file. He already received the amounts for filing fees. x x x Respondent has not even
accomplished the purpose for which the monies and documents were given.

xxxx

Respondent has not been candid with Complainant in terms of his handling of the aforementioned accounts
contrary to the demands of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Respondent is also negligent in not acting on the cases endorsed to him by Complainant. The fact that there
is an outstanding issue with respect to the payment of his retainer fees in not, to our mind, a justification for
his inaction. The least Respondent would have done is to keep the Complainant updated on such cases and
candidly discuss with him the matter of his outstanding fees.
Respondent has not returned any of the papers or documents demanded by the client after his services were
terminated. Nothing on the record shows that he returned the documents and files requested. x x x

xxxx

We believe that under the facts presented, Respondent has violated the Code of Professional Responsibility
and should therefore be disciplined.15
Thus, the Investigating Commissioner recommended respondent's suspension from the practice of law for a
period of three (3) months and that he be ordered to return the pertinent files and documents to
complainant.16 The IBP Board of Governors, in Resolution No. XVII-2006-579 dated December 15, 2006,
resolved to adopt the findings of the Investigating Commissioner but modified the recommended penalty to
suspension of one (1) year from the practice of law and to return the files and documents of the
complainant, and the amounts duly supported by receipts.17
Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration. In Resolution No. XX-2012-591 dated December 29, 2012,
the IBP Board of Governors granted the same and reinstated the penalty recommended by the Investigating
Commissioner of suspension from the practice of law for a period of three (3) months and to return the
records and documents to complainant.

The records of the case was thereafter transmitted by the IBP to this Court pursuant to Rule 139-B of the
Rules of Court. In a Manifestation and Clarification dated April 2, 2013, complainant sought that respondent
be also ordered to return the amount of P235,127.00 to complainant.

Issues

Before this Court is the long standing controversy associated with a retainership agreement - does a lawyer
have the right to hold on to a client's documents, even after the relationship of lawyer-client has been
terminated, due to non-payment of his or her professional legal fees? Or is this a ground for disciplinary
action? Did respondent violate the Code of Professional Responsibility when he failed to file the cases
indorsed by complainant despite receipt of filing fees?

The Court's Ruling

Relying on the exhaustive fact finding deliberations of the IBP, we find the complainant's allegations to be
believable and supported by evidence.
Because he had doubted that respondent ever filed any case as agreed upon with complainant, the latter
started demanding from the former the return of all the documents and files he had given to him at the start
of their retainership agreement as well as the amounts entrusted to him as filing fees. In a span of roughly
two and a half months, complainant wrote respondent no less than six times. On the other hand, there is no
record to show that respondent ever executed a written reply to any of the six letters.

We give credence to the allegation that complainant gave respondent some amount specifically for filing
fees, relative to the cases both parties had earlier agreed to. However, as correctly noted by the
Investigating Commissioner, only the amount of P165,127.00 out of the alleged P235,127.00 was duly
proved by complainant to have been received by respondent specifically to defray the expenses for filing
fees. Among the disbursements were 100,000.00 for filing and other fees relative to the Excellent Quality
case (May 10, 1997); P23,000.00 for the Attachment Bond likewise for Excellent Quality (August 18, 1999);
P13,563.50 representing the filing fee of Alex Ty (August 4, 2000); P13,563.50 representing the filing fee of
Clarita Tan (August 5, 2000); and P15,000.00 as filing fee for Benny Lao (August 31, 2001). This total of
P165,127.00 is duly supported by checks issued to respondent and company vouchers relating to the
particular disbursements and which vouchers were signed by respondent.

Notably, during the mandatory conference held on December 13, 2004, respondent admitted that he
received said amounts from complainant. However, he explained that notwithstanding receipt of money from
complainant, he withheld filing of cases indorsed to him because complainant had not yet settled his
obligation with respondent's law office, viz.:
COMM. DULAY:

So did you withhold action on those cases?

ATTY. JIMENEZ:

We suspended, Your Honor, not the services but we withhold the filing of the cases until after partial
settlement at least of the obligation is settled.18
Similarly, in his motion for reconsideration filed with the IBP, respondent admitted that he applied the
monies he received from complainant to his and law office's professional fees instead of defraying the same
as intended, i.e., as filing fees, to wit:
Whatever amount paid by complainant to respondent's law office were applied as partial payments of
respondent's law office professional fees, and reimbursement of other miscellaneous expenses spent by the
respondent's law office to complainant x x x.19
"A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath, a patent disregard of his duties, or an
odious deportment unbecoming an attorney. A lawyer must at no time be wanting in probity and moral fiber
which are not only conditions precedent to his entrance to the Bar but are likewise essential demands for his
continued membership therein."20
In particular, the Code of Professional Responsibility, Canon 15, states:
A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his clients.
Respondent fell short in being fair and loyal to his client, herein complainant.

Rules 18.03 further states:


A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall
render him liable.
Respondent did not even file the cases for which he was engaged and upon which he collected filing fees.

Rule 18.04 continues:


A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time
to the client's request for information.
Respondent was utterly lacking in this responsibility to his client as he unfairly kept him in the dark,
misleading him for seven years,
While the same Code of Professional Responsibility recognizes the right of a lawyer to have a lien over the
funds and property of his client as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees, Rule 16.03 demands that "[a]
lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand." This is a reiteration of
Rule 16.01, which states that "[a] lawyer shall account for all money and property collected or received for
or from the client."

"A lawyer should be scrupulously careful in handling money entrusted to him in his professional capacity.
Consequently, when a lawyer receives money from a client for a particular purpose, the lawyer is bound to
render an accounting to his client, showing that he spent the money for the purpose intended." 21
Respondent miserably disregarded the mandate of accountability expected of him.

The respondent's issue on the supposed non-payment of his fees should have prompted him to seek
communication with complainant and resolve such matter. He should not have used the same as a ground
for his inaction insofar as the cases referred to him were concerned. "A lawyer's negligence in the discharge
of his obligations arising from the relationship of counsel and client may cause delay in the administration of
justice and prejudice the rights of a litigant particularly his client. Thus, from the perspective of the ethics of
the legal profession, a lawyer's lethargy in carrying out his duties to his client is both unprofessional and
unethical."22 "Indeed, under their sacred oath, lawyers pledge not to delay any person for money or
malice."23
Neither should the said issue have been the reason for his failure to return the documents of his client. Rule
22.02 mandates him to do so: "A lawyer who withdraws or is discharged shall, subject to a retainer lien,
immediately turn all papers and property to which the client is entitled....x x x."

In the recent en banc case of Fabie v. Atty. Real,24 the Court suspended the errant lawyer from the practice
of law for six (6) months for failing to return the documents and money entrusted to him by his client. At
the same time, he was ordered to return the money with legal interest from the time he received the same
until full payment thereof. In the present case, records show that respondent received the total amount of
P165,127.00 as follows; P100,000.00 on May 10, 1997; P23,000.00 on August 18, 1999; P13,563.50 on
August 4, 2000; another P13,563.50 on August 5, 2000; and P15,000.00 on August 31, 2001. 25 Thus, cralawred

pursuant to our ruling in Fabie, respondent must return the aforesaid amounts to complainant with interest
at the legal rate of 12% per annum from their respective date of receipt until June 30, 2013, and 6% per
annum from July 1, 2013 until full payment.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Diosdado B. Jimenez is found GUILTY of violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and the Lawyer's Oath and is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six
(6) months and ORDERED to return to complainant within ten (10) days from notice all the pertinent
records and documents, and the amounts of P100,000.00; P23,000.00; P13,653.50; another P13,653.50;
and P15,000.00, or a total of P165,127.00, with interest of 12% per annum reckoned from the respective
date of receipt until June 30, 2013, and 6% per annum from July 1, 2013 until full payment. Respondent is
WARNED that commission of the same or similar infraction in the future will merit a more severe penalty.
Respondent is also directed to submit proof of his compliance within 30 days from receipt of this Decision.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be entered in the personal records
of respondent and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts.

SO ORDERED. cralawla wlibrary

Carpio, (Chairperson), Brion, Mendoza, and Leonen, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION
A.C. No. 10583 [Formerly CBD 09-2555], February 18, 2015
ROBERTO BERNARDINO, Complainant, v. ATTY. VICTOR REY SANTOS, Respondent.

A.C. NO. 10584 [FORMERLY CBD 10-2827]


ATTY. JOSE MANGASER CARINGAL, Complainant, v. ATTY. VICTOR REY SANTOS, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
LEONEN, J.:
These cases involve administrative Complaints 1 against Atty. Victor Rey Santos for violation of Canon 10,
Rule 10.012 and Canon 15, Rule 15.033 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

In A.C. No. 10583, complainant Roberto C. Bernardino (Bernardino) filed a Letter-Complaint 4 against Atty.
Victor Rey Santos (Atty. Santos) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, praying that Atty. Santos be
investigated and subjected to disciplinary action.5cralawla wlibrary

Bernardino alleged that the death certificate of his aunt, Rufina de Castro Turla, was falsified by Atty.
Santos. Atty. Santos made it appear that Rufina Turla died in 1992, when in fact, she died in 1990. 6 cralawlawlibrary

Atty. Santos used the falsified death certificate to support the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication 7 executed by
Mariano Turla, husband of Rufina Turla. 8 Paragraph 6 of the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication prepared by Atty.
Santos states: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Being her surviving spouse, I am the sole legal heir entitled to succeed to and inherit the estate of said
deceased who did not leave any descendant or any other heir entitled to her estate. 9 (Emphasis in the
original, underscoring supplied)

Years later, Atty. Santos, on behalf of Marilu Turla, daughter of Rufina and Mariano Turla, 10 filed a Complaint11
for sum of money with prayer for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and temporary restraining order against
Bernardino, docketed as Civil Case No. 09-269. 12 The Complaint in Civil Case No. 09-269 alleged that Marilu
Turla is an heir of Mariano Turla,13 which allegedly contradicts the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication that Atty.
Santos drafted.14 Hence, Atty. Santos represented clients with conflicting interests. 15 cralawlawlibrary

In Civil Case No. 09-269, Atty. Santos testified during cross-examination: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY:

ATTY. CARINGAL

....

Q : In your Judicial Affidavit[,] you mentioned that you know Marilu C. Turla[,] the
plaintiff[,] since she was about four years old.

A : Yes, sir.

Q : As a matter of fact[,] you know her very well[,] considering that you are a
Ninong of the plaintiff, isnt it?

A : I was not a Ninong when I first knew Marilu Turla, I was just recently married
to one of her cousins.

...
.

Q : Now, the parents of Marilu Turla are Mariano C. Turla and Rufina C. Turla?

THE WITNESS
: Yes, sir. As per my study and as per my knowledge of her relationship[s].

THE COURT

: Whats the name of the mother?

ATTY. CARINGAL

: Rufina, your Honor. Rufina Turla.

Q : And wife died ahead of Mariano, isnt it?

THE WITNESS

: Yes, sir.

Q : And of course, being the daughter of Rufina Turla, Marilu is also an heir of
Rufina Turla, isnt it?

A : Of course.

Q : Now, we go by the ethics of the profession, Mr. Witness. You recall[,] of


course[,] and admitted [sic] in court that you drafted this document which you
requested to be marked as Exhibit B.

THE COURT

: Exhibit?

ATTY. CARINGAL

: B, your Honor, in particular reference to the Affidavit of Adjudication for the


extra judicial settlement of the intestate estate of the late Rufina De Castro
Turla[,] and I have just learned from you as you just testified. Rufina is the
mother of the plaintiff here[,] Marilu Turla.

THE WITNESS

: Yes, sir.

Q : And as you admitted, you prepared you drafted [sic] this Extra Judicial.

A :
Yes, sir.

Q : Or this Affidavit of Adjudication.


ATTY. REY SANTOS

: At this point in time, your Honor, I would object to the question regarding my
legal ethics because it is not the issue in this case.

...
.

ATTY. CARINGAL

...
.

Q :
. . . In this document consisting of one, two, three, four and appearing to have
been duly notarized on or about 29th [of] June 1994 with document number
28, page number 7, book number 23, series of 1994 before Notary Public
Hernando P. Angara. I call your attention to the document[,] more
particularly[,] paragraph 6 thereof and marked as Exhibit 7-A for the
defendants[.] I read into the record and I quote, Being her surviving spouse,
I am the sole legal heir entitled to succeed to and inherit the estate of the said
deceased who did not leave any descendant, ascendant or any other heir
entitled to her estate.16Mr. Witness, is this particular provision that you have
drafted into this document . . . true or false?

ATTY. REY SANTOS

: Your Honor, I would like to reiterate that any question regarding the matter
that would impugn the legitimacy of the plaintiff, Marilu Turla[,] is impertinent
and immaterial in this case[.] [I]t was only the wife Rufina Turla [who] ha[s]
the right to impugn the legitimacy of the plaintiff[,] and that has been the
subject of my continuing objection from the very beginning.

THE COURT

: But then again[,] you have presented this document as your Exhibit B[.] [Y]ou
have practically opened the floodgate to . . . questions on this document.

ATTY. REY SANTOS


: Only for the purposes [sic] of showing one or two . . . properties owned by the
late Mariano Turla, your Honor. That is why thats only [sic] portion I have
referred to in marking the said documents, your Honor.

THE COURT

: So, you now refused [sic] to answer the question?

ATTY. REY SANTOS

: No, I am not refusing to answer, I am just making a manifestation.

ATTY. CARINGAL

: What is the answer, is it true or false, your Honor[?]

ATTY. REY SANTOS

: My answer regarding the same would be subject to my objection on the


materiality and impertinency and relevancy of this question, your Honor[,] to
this case.

THE COURT

: So anyway, the court has observed the continuing objection before[,] and to
be consistent with the ruling of the court[,] I will allow you to answer the
question[.] [I]s it true or false?

THE WITNESS

: No, that is not true.

ATTY. CARINGAL

: That is not true. Mr. Witness, being a lawyer[,] you admit before this court
that you have drafted a document that caused the transfer of the estate of the
decease[d] Rufina Turla.

THE WITNESS

: Yes, sir.

...
.

ATTY. CARINGAL
Q : This document, this particular provision that you said was false, you did not
tell anybody[,] ten or five years later[,] that this is false, is it not?

THE WITNESS

: I called the attention of Mr. Mariano Turla[.] I . . . asked him what about
Lulu17she is entitled [sic] to a share of properties and he . . . told me, Ako na
ang bahala kay Lulu[,] hindi ko pababayaan yan. So, he asked me to proceed
with the Affidavit of Adjudication wherein he claimed the whole [sic] properties
for himself.18 (Emphasis supplied)

Another Complaint19 was filed against Atty. Santos by Atty. Jose Mangaser Caringal (Atty. Caringal). This
was docketed as A.C. No. 10584.20 Similar to Bernardinos Complaint, Atty. Caringal alleged that Atty.
Santos represented clients with conflicting interests. 21 He also alleged that in representing Marilu Turla, Atty.
Santos would necessarily go against the claims of Mariano Turla. 22 cralawla wlibrary

Also, in representing Marilu Turla, Atty. Santos was allegedly violating the so-called Dead Mans Statute 23
because he [would] be utilizing information or matters of fact occurring before the death of his deceased
client. Similarly, he . . . [would] be unscrupulously utilizing information acquired during his professional
relation with his said client . . . that [would] constitute a breach of trust . . . or of privileged
communication[.]24 cralawla wlibrary

Atty. Caringal further alleged that Atty. Santos violated Canon 12 25 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
when he filed several cases against the other claimants of Mariano Turlas estate. 26 In other words, he
engaged in forum shopping.27 cralawla wlibrary

In addition, Atty. Santos allegedly violated Canon 10, Rule 10.01 28 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
when he drafted Mariano Turlas Affidavit of Self-Adjudication. The Affidavit states that Mariano Turla is the
sole heir of Rufina Turla, but Atty. Santos knew this to be false. 29 Atty. Santos wife, Lynn Batac, is Mariano
Turlas niece.30 As part of the family, Atty. Santos knew that Rufina Turla had other heirs. 31 Atty. Caringal
further alleged: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

14.4 Being the lawyer of Mariano Turla in the drafting of the document some fifteen years ago, he is fully
aware of all the circumstances therein recited. Moreover at that time, the [sic] Lynn Batac Santos was then
employed at the BIR [sic] who arranged for the payment of the taxes due. There is some peculiarity in the
neat set up [sic] of a husband and wife team where the lawyer makes the document while the wife who is a
BIIR [sic] employee arranges for the payment of the taxes due the government;

14.5 Respondent attorney could not have been mistaken about the fact recited in the Affidavit of
Adjudication, etc. that said deceased (Rufina de Castro Turla) did not leave any descendant, xxx, or any
other heir entitled to her estate [sic] . . . [.] 32 (Emphasis in the original)

Atty. Caringal argued that Atty. Santos was bound by the statement in Mariano Turlas affidavit that Rufina
Turla had no other heir.33 cralawla wlibrary

Moreover, Atty. Santos allegedly converted funds belonging to the heirs of Mariano Turla for his own benefit.
The funds involved were rental income from Mariano Turlas properties that were supposed to be distributed
to the heirs. Instead, Atty. Santos received the rental income.34 cralawlawlibrary

Lastly, Atty. Caringal alleged that Atty. Santos cited the repealed Article 262 of the Civil Code in his
arguments.35 cralawlawlibrary

In his Answer,36 Atty. Santos denied having falsified the death certificate. 37 He explained that the death
certificate and the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication were given to him by Mariano Turla and that he was not
aware that there was a falsified entry in the death certificate. 38 cralawla wlibrary
As regards the issue on conflict of interest, Atty. Santos argued that he did not represent and was not
representing conflicting interests since Mariano Turla was already dead. 39 Further, he [was] representing
Marilu Turla against those who ha[d] an interest in her fathers estate. 40 Mariano Turlas Affidavit of Self-
Adjudication never stated that there was no other legal heir but only that Mariano Turla was the sole heir of
Rufina Turla.41
cralawla wlibrary

Regarding the allegations of Atty. Caringal, Atty. Santos insisted that he did not commit forum shopping
because the various cases filed had different issues.42 cralawlawlibrary

As to the conversion of funds, Atty. Santos explained that the funds used were being held by his client as
the special administratrix of the estate of Mariano Turla. 43 According to Atty. Santos, payment of attorneys
fees out of the estates funds could be considered as expenses of administration.44 Also, payment of Atty.
Santos legal services was a matter which Atty. Caringal had no standing to question. 45 cralawla wlibrary

On the allegation that Atty. Santos cited a repealed provision of law, he discussed that Article 262 of the
Civil Code is applicable because it was in force when Marilu Turlas birth certificate was registered. 46 cralawla wlibrary

The Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines recommended that Atty. Santos be
suspended for three (3) months.47 cralawlawlibrary

It found that Bernardino failed to prove his allegation that Atty. Santos knew that the death certificate was
falsified and used it to support Mariano Turlas Affidavit of Self-Adjudication. 48 cralawlawlibrary

Likewise, Atty. Caringal failed to prove that Atty. Santos converted funds from Mariano Turlas estate. 49 cralawla wlibrary

With regard to the citation of a repealed provision, the Commission on Bar Discipline stated that the
evidence presented did not prove that Atty. Santos knowingly cited a repealed law.50 cralawla wlibrary

Further, Atty. Santos did not engage in forum shopping. The various cases filed involved different parties
and prayed for different reliefs.51 cralawla wlibrary

However, the Commission on Bar Discipline agreed with Bernardino and Atty. Caringal that Atty. Santos
represented clients with conflicting interests.52 The Report and Recommendation53 of the Commission on Bar
Discipline stated: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

. . . Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility particularly Rule 15.03 specifically proscribes
members of the bar from representing conflicting interests. The Supreme Court has explained that the
proscription against representation of conflicting interest finds application where the conflicting interests
arise with respect to the same general matter and is applicable however slight such adverse interest may
be; the fact that the conflict of interests is remote or merely probable does not make the prohibition
inoperative.

....

. . . In the case at bar, the fact that the respondent represented Mariano Turla is no secret. The respondent
has in a number of pleadings/motions/documents and even on the witness stand admitted that he drafted
Mariano Turlas Affidavit of Adjudication which expressly states that he was the sole heir of Rufina Turla.

And then he afterwards agreed to represent Marilu Turla who claimed to be Mariano Turlas daughter. To
substantiate her claim that she is Mariano Turlas daughter, the respondent admitted that he relied on the
birth certificate presented by Marilu Turla[,] which indicates that she is not only the daughter of Mariano
Turla but also of Rufina Turla as evidenced by the Birth Certificate presented stating that Rufina Turla is
Marilu Turlas mother. This means that Marilu Turla was also a rightful heir to Rufina Turlas inheritance and
was deprived of the same because of the Affidavit of Adjudication which he drafted for Mariano Turla[,]
stating that he is his wifes sole heir.

. . . To further explain, the respondent[,] in agreeing to represent Marilu Turla[,] placed himself in a position
where he is to refute the claim in Mariano Turlas Affidavit of Adjudication that he is the only heir of Rufina
Turla.54 (Citations omitted)

In the Resolution55 dated May 10, 2013, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP
Board of Governors) adopted and approved the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Bar
Discipline.
Atty. Santos filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, 56 which was denied by the IBP Board of Governors in
the Resolution57 dated March 22, 2014.

This administrative case was forwarded to this court through a letter of transmittal dated July 15, 2014, 58
pursuant to Rule 139-B, Section 12(b) of the Rules of Court which provides: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

RULE 139-B

DISBARMENT AND DISCIPLINE OF ATTORNEYS

SEC. 12. Review and decision by the Board of Governors.

....

(b) If the Board, by the vote of a majority of its total membership, determines that the respondent should
be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred, it shall issue a resolution setting forth its findings and
recommendations which, together with the whole record of the case, shall forthwith be transmitted to the
Supreme Court for final action.

The issues in this case are: (1) whether respondent Atty. Santos violated the Code of Professional
Responsibility; and (2) whether the penalty of suspension of three (3) months from the practice of law is
proper.

This court accepts and adopts the findings of fact of the IBP Board of Governors Resolution. However, this
court modifies the recommended penalty of suspension from the practice of law from three (3) months to
one (1) year.

Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

CANON 15 A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his
client.

....

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

The rule on conflict of interest is based on the fiduciary obligation in a lawyer-client relationship. Lawyers
must treat all information received from their clients with utmost confidentiality in order to encourage clients
to fully inform their counsels of the facts of their case. 59 In Hornilla v. Atty. Salunat,60 this court explained
what conflict of interest means: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties.
The test is whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyers duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it
is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this argument will be
opposed by him when he argues for the other client. This rule covers not only cases in which confidential
communications have been confided, but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be
used. Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to
perform an act which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also
whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquired
through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new
relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his
client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof. 61 (Emphasis
supplied, citations omitted)
Applying the test to determine whether conflict of interest exists, respondent would necessarily refute
Mariano Turlas claim that he is Rufina Turlas sole heir when he agreed to represent Marilu Turla. Worse, he
knew that Mariano Turla was not the only heir. As stated in the Report of the Commission on Bar
Discipline:
chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Worse[,] the respondent himself on the witness stand during his April 14, 2009 testimony in the Civil Case
for Sum of Money with Prayer of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order docketed as
Civil Case No. 09-269 filed with the RTC of Makati City admitted as follows: I called the attention of Mr.
Mariano Turla[.] I . . . asked him what about Lulu she is entitled [sic] to a share of properties and he . . .
told me, Ako na ang bahala kay Lulu[,] hindi ko pababayaan yan. So he asked me to proceed with the
Affidavit of Adjudication wherein he claimed the whole [sic] properties for himself. This very admission
proves that the respondent was privy to Marilu Turlas standing as a legal and rightful heir to Rufina Turlas
estate.62 (Citation omitted)

However, Rule 15.03 provides for an exception, specifically, by written consent of all concerned given after
a full disclosure of the facts.63 Respondent had the duty to inform Mariano Turla and Marilu Turla that there
is a conflict of interest and to obtain their written consent.

Mariano Turla died on February 5, 2009, 64 while respondent represented Marilu Turla in March 2009. 65 It is
understandable why respondent was unable to obtain Mariano Turlas consent. Still, respondent did not
present evidence showing that he disclosed to Marilu Turla that he previously represented Mariano Turla and
assisted him in executing the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication. Thus, the allegation of conflict of interest
against respondent was sufficiently proven.

Likewise, we accept and adopt the IBP Board of Governors finding that respondent violated Canon 10, Rule
10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which states: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

CANON 10 A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.

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

In the Report, the Commission on Bar Discipline explained: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Corollary to the foregoing, the Commission by virtue of the doctrine res ipsa loquitor [sic] finds that the
respondents act of failing to thwart his client Mariano Turla from filing the Affidavit of Adjudication
despite . . . his knowledge of the existence of Marilu Turla as a possible heir to the estate of Rufina Turla, the
respondent failed to uphold his obligation as a member of the bar to be the stewards of justice and
protectors of what is just, legal and proper. Thus in failing to do his duty and acting dishonestly[,] not only
was he in contravention of the Lawyers Oath but was also in violation of Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility.66 (Emphasis in the original)

As officers of the court, lawyers have the duty to uphold the rule of law. In doing so, lawyers are expected to
be honest in all their dealings. 67 Unfortunately, respondent was far from being honest. With full knowledge
that Rufina Turla had another heir, he acceded to Mariano Turlas request to prepare the Affidavit of Self-
Adjudication.68 cralawla wlibrary

This court notes that the wording of the IBP Board of Governors Resolutions dated May 10, 2013 and March
22, 2014 seems to imply that it is the Integrated Bar of the Philippines that has the authority to impose
sanctions on lawyers. This is wrong.

The authority to discipline members of the Bar is vested in this court under the 1987 Constitution: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

ARTICLE VIII
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT

....
Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:

....

(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice,
and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar, and legal assistance to
the underprivileged. . . . (Emphasis supplied)

Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan69 elucidated on this courts plenary disciplinary authority over attorneys 70 and
discussed: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

We begin by referring to the authority of the Supreme Court to discipline officers of the court and members
of the court and members of the Bar. The Supreme Court, as regular and guardian of the legal profession,
has plenary disciplinary authority over attorneys. The authority to discipline lawyers stems from the Courts
constitutional mandate to regulate admission to the practice of law, which includes as well authority to
regulate the practice itself of law. 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. . . .

. . . The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar is but corollary to the Courts exclusive
power of admission to the Bar. A lawyers [sic] 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.71 (Citations omitted)

This courts authority is restated under Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, specifically: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

RULE 138
Attorneys and Admission to Bar

....

SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor.A member of the bar
may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take
before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party to a case
without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally
or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. (Emphasis supplied)

In Ramirez v. Buhayang-Margallo,72 this court emphasized the authority of this court to impose disciplinary
action on those admitted to the practice of law.

Parenthetically, it is this court that has the constitutionally mandated duty to discipline lawyers. 73 Under the
current rules, the duty to assist fact finding can be delegated to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The
findings of the Integrated Bar, however, can only be recommendatory, consistent with the constitutional
powers of this court. Its recommended penalties are also, by its nature, recommendatory.74
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The authority given to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is based on Rule 139-B, Section 1 of the Rules of
Court, which provides that [p]roceedings for the disbarment, suspension or discipline of attorneys may be
taken by the Supreme Court motu proprio, or by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines . . . upon the verified
complaint of any person. However, this authority is only to assist this court with the investigation of the
case, to determine factual findings, and to recommend, at best, the penalty that may be imposed on the
erring lawyer.

We reiterate the discussion in Tenoso v. Atty. Echanez: 75 cralawlawlibrary

Time and again, this Court emphasizes that the practice of law is imbued with public interest and that a
lawyer owes substantial duties not only to his client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts,
and to the nation, and takes part in one of the most important functions of the Statethe administration of
justiceas an officer of the court. Accordingly, [l]awyers are bound to maintain not only a high standard
of legal proficiency, but also of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing.76 (Citations omitted)

Only this court can impose sanctions on members of the Bar. This disciplinary authority is granted by the
Constitution and cannot be relinquished by this court. 77 The Resolutions of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines are, at best, recommendatory, and its findings and recommendations should not be equated with
Decisions and Resolutions rendered by this court.

WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Victor Rey Santos guilty of violating Canon 15, Rule 15.03 and Canon
10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The findings of fact and recommendations of the
Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines dated May 10, 2013 and March 22, 2014 are
ACCEPTED and ADOPTED with the MODIFICATION that the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for
one (1) year is imposed upon Atty. Victor Rey Santos. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar
act shall be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondents
personal record as attorney, to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and to the Office of the Court
Administrator for dissemination to all courts throughout the country for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio, (Chairperson), Velasco, Jr.,* Del Castillo, and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
chanrobleslaw

[G.R. No. 138231. February 21, 2002]


GREGORIO R. CASTILLO, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN and the
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
BUENA, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari, seeking to annul the Resolutions dated November 24,
1998 and February 18, 1999 of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case No. 0014, which
denied petitioners motion to dismiss the complaint as against him pursuant to the ruling
of this Court in Regala vs. Sandiganbayan, 262 SCRA 123.
On July 23, 1987, the Republic of the Philippines filed with the Sandiganbayan a
complaint for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages against
several persons one of which is petitioner. The case was docketed as Civil Case No.
0014. The allegations pertinent to the petitioner reads:
10. Defendant GREGORIO R. CASTILLO acted as a dummy, nominee and/or agent of
Defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Modesto Enriquez, Trinidad Diaz-
Enriquez, Rebecco Panlilio, Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio and Leandro Enriquez in establishing
Hotel properties Inc. in order to acquire beneficial interest and control, and conceal ownership,
of Silahis International Hotel. He may be served with summons and other court processes at his
last known address at 8th Floor Singapore Airlines Bldg., 138 H.V. de la Costa St., Salcedo
Village, Makati, Metro Manila.
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
15. Defendant spouses Rebecco Panlilio and Erlinda Enriquez-Panlilio, spouses, Modesto
Enriquez and Trinidad Diaz-Enriquez, spouses, Leandro Enriquez, Guillermo Gastrock, Ernesto
Abalos and Gregorio R. Castillo in unlawful concert with Defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos and
Imelda R. Marcos, taking undue advantage of their close relationship with the latter Defendant
spouses, in order to enrich themselves at the expense of Plaintiff, devised several schemes and
strategems, as follows:[1]
After petitioner moved for a bill of particulars, the Republic filed a Submission attaching
a copy of its Complaint (Expanded per Court-Approved Plaintiffs Manifestation/Motion
dated December 8, 1987)" (hereafter the Expanded Complaint). The Republic expanded
paragraph 15 (c) of its complaint to read as follows:
(c) Acquired the controlling interest in the Silahis International Hotel, Inc. by the purchase from
the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) of seventy-one (71%) per cent of the capital
stock of said Silahis International Hotel Inc. and assignment of DBPs various receivable from
Silahisworth P187,641,502.76 with the active collaboration, knowledge and willing participation
of its Vice-Chairman, Defendant Don M. Ferry who signed all the documents pertaining to such
sale and assignment, for the grossly undervalued amount of only P120 Million, to the serious
detriment of Plaintiff and the Filipino people. Defendant Gregorio R. Castillo signed all pertinent
documents as attorney-in-fact of the defendants Enriquezes and Panlilios.[2]
On February 29, 1988, petitioner filed his Answer including a counterclaim against the
Republic. As an affirmative defense, petitioner alleged in his Answer that:
3. To the extent that it has been brought against defendant as attorney-in-fact of the defendants
Enriquezes and Panlilios who as such signed all pertinent documents for the latter, without any
allegations of knowledge of or participation in the wrongful acts within which the other
defendants are charged, the complainant, insofar as defendant is concerned, has been brought
against one who is not a real-party-interest.[3]
On October 24, 1992, petitioner died. Subsequently, a motion to dismiss was filed by his
counsel on the ground that since the complaint is one for recovery of money, debt or
interest thereon, it does not survive the death of petitioner.
On February 19, 1993, the Sandiganbayan promulgated a Resolution denying
petitioners motion to dismiss. It ruled that respondents cause of action as against
petitioner is not abated by the latters death, the case being not only one for recovery of
money, debt or interest thereon, but one for recovery of real and personal property and
that the cause of action being inclusive of claim for damages for tortuous misconduct.
On October 15, 1996, petitioner, represented by his heirs, field another Motion to
Dismiss on the ground that the Complaint against him is violative of the lawyer-client
confidentiality privilege and must be dismissed pursuant to the Supreme Courts
decision in Regala vs. Sandiganbayan, promulgated on September 20, 1996.
The respondent Republic filed an Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss.
On November 26, 1998, the Sandiganbayan promulgated the herein assailed
Resolution dated November 24, 1998 denying the motion to dismiss on the ground that
petitioner is being sued as principal defendant for being in conspiracy with other
defendants in the commission of the acts complained of. The pertinent portions of the
said resolution read:
In the instant case, the cause of action against herein defendant Castillo is clearly spelled out in
paragraphs 9 and 15 of the Complaint, to wit:
9. Defendant GREGORIO R. CASTILLO acted as dummy, nominee and/or agent of Defendants
Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Modesto Enriquez, Trinidad Diaz-Enriquez, Rebecco
Panlilio, Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio and Leandro Enriquez in establishing Hotel Properties Inc. in
order to acquire beneficial interest and control, and conceal ownership, of Silahis International
Hotel. He may be served with summons and other court processes at his last known address at
8th Floor Singapore Airlines Bldg., 138 H.V. de la Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati, Metro
Manila.
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
15. Defendant spouses Rebecco Panlilio and Erlinda Enriquez-Panlilio, spouses, Modesto
Enriquez and Trinidad Diaz-Enriquez, spouses, Leandro Enriquez, Guillermo Gastrock, Ernesto
Abalos and Gregorio R. Castillo in unlawful concert with Defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos and
Imelda R. Marcos, taking undue advantage of their close relationship with the latter Defendant
spouses, in order to enrich themselves at the expense of Plaintiff, devised several schemes and
strategems, as follows:
Thus, We subscribe to the plaintiffs opposition that defendant Castillo is being sued as principal
defendant for being in conspiracy with the other defendants in the commission of the acts
complained of.
The lawyer-client confidentiality privilege invoked by defendant Castillo in seeking the dismissal
of this case is a matter of defense and is premature to be taken into consideration at this stage
of the proceedings. In fact this is one of the issues in this case as defendant Castillo in
paragraph 3 of his Answer denied the allegations in paragraph 9 of the complaint claiming that
he merely acted in his professional capacity as counsel for the defendants Enriquezes and
Panlilios.
The fact that in PCGGs expanded complaint it subsequently alleged with particularity that
defendant Castillos only participation was that he signed all pertinent documents as attorney-in-
fact of defendant Enriquezes, the same did not in any manner change the cause of action
against defendant Castillo but merely supplements the same.
PREMISES CONSIDERED and for utter lack of merit, the instant motion to dismiss is hereby
DENIED.[4]
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was likewise denied.
Hence, the present petition.
Petitioner submits that:
Respondent court committed grave abuse of discretion in disregarding the ruling of this court in
Regala v. Sandiganbayan, et al. and in refusing to dismiss Civil Case No. 0014 as against
petitioner.
Petitioner argues that the suit against him is violative of the lawyer-client confidentiality
privilege and must be dismissed pursuant to this Courts decision in Regala vs.
Sandiganbayan.
On the other hand, the respondent Republic contends that the ruling in Regala does not
apply to the present case, because in said case, there was a clear finding that the
ACCRA lawyers were impleaded by the PCGG as co-defendants to force them to
disclose the identity of their clients as shown by the PCGGs willingness to cut a deal
with the ACCRA lawyers the names of their clients in exchange for exclusion from the
complaint. In the present case, continues the respondent Republic, petitioner is being
sued as principal defendant for being in conspiracy with the other defendants in the
commission of the act complained of, and he is not being required to name his clients.
Respondent Republic also posits that petitioners claim that he merely acted in his
professional capacity as counsel with neither participation in nor knowledge of the
unlawful acts allegedly committed by his clients, is a mere allegation that has to be
proven.
We find for the petitioner.
It is true that unlike in Regala, petitioner in the present case is not being required to
name his clients. However, the case of Regala is still applicable to the present case
because the two cases are the same in more important aspects.
The fact of the lawyer-client relationship between petitioner and defendants Enriquezes
and Panlilios was immediately raised by petitioner as one of his affirmative defenses. In
the same vein, in Regala the professional relationship was raised merely as a defense
by defendant lawyers and was not yet proved during the trial. This notwithstanding, this
Court struck out the complaint against the lawyers.
The respondent Republic argued in its Comment that:
Moreover, the rule of confidentiality under the lawyer-client relationship is not a valid ground to
dismiss a complaint against a party. It is merely a ground for disqualification of a witness
(Section 24, Rule 130, Rules of Court) and may only be invoked at the appropriate time, such
as, when a lawyer is under compulsion to answer as witness, as when, having taken the witness
stand, he is questioned on such confidential communication or advice, or is being otherwise
judicially coerced to produce, through subpoena duces tecum to otherwise, letters or other
documents containing the same privileged matter. But defendant is not being required to testify
about or otherwise reveal any confidential communication made by the client to him or his
advice given thereon. What is clear from the complaint is that defendant is being sued as
principal defendant for being in conspiracy with the other defendants in the commission of the
acts complained of.
Besides, the attorney-client privileged communication does not apply if the confidence received
by an attorney is for the purpose of advancing a criminal or fraudulent purpose.[5]
This was the same argument raised by the Republic in the case of Regala. In overruling
the Republics position, this Court ruled:
An argument is advanced that the invocation by petitioners of the privilege of attorney-client
confidentiality at this stage of the proceedings is premature and that they should wait until they
are called to testify and examine as witnesses as to matters learned in confidence before they
can raise their objection. But petitioners are not mere witnesses. They are co-principals in the
case for recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth. They have made their position clear from the very
beginning that they are not willing to testify and they cannot be compelled to testify in view of
their constitutional right against self-incrimination and of their fundamental legal right to maintain
inviolate the privilege of attorney-client confidentiality.[6]
The doctrine of adherence to judicial precedents or stare decisis is provided in Art. 8 of
the Civil Code. The doctrine is enunciated thus:
The doctrine of stare decisis enjoins adherence to judicial precedents. It requires courts in a
country to follow the rule established in a decision of the Supreme Court thereof. That decision
becomes a judicial precedent to be followed in subsequent cases by all courts in the land. The
doctrine of stare decisis is based on the principle that once a question of law has been
examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument.[7]
WHEREFORE, the Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan dated November 24, 1998 and
February 18, 1999 are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Respondent
Sandiganbayan is further ordered to exclude petitioner Gregorio R. Castillo as party-
defendant in SB Civil Case NO. 0014 entitled Republic of the Philippines vs. Modesto
Enriquez, et al.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Quisumbing, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 138231, Feb. 21, 2002

Doctrine of adherence to judicial precedents (stare decisis)

FACTS:

RP filed with the Sandiganbayan a complaint for reconveyance, reversion, accounting,


restitution and damages against several persons, one of which is Gregorio Castillo. The
latter was accused of having acted as dummy, nominee and/or agent of the Marcoses,
et al. in establishing Hotel Properties, Inc., in order to acquire beneficial interest and
control, and conceal ownership, of Silahis International Hotel.

Castillo later died, therefore, a motion to dismiss was subsequently filed on the ground
that the action did not survive the death of petitioner. Sandiganbayan denied the motion,
stating that the case is not only one for recovery of money, debt or interest thereon, but
one for recovery of real and personal property and that the cause of action being
inclusive of claim for damages for tortuous misconduct.

In another motion to dismiss, petitioner contended that the complaint filed against
Castillo is violative of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege (since Castillo is attorney-
in-fact). But Sandiganbayan ruled that Castillo is sued as principal defendant for being
in conspiracy with other defendants in the commission of the acts complained of.

Hence this petition.

ISSUES:

Whether or not Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion


Whether or not the suit is violative of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege

PETITIONERS CONTENTION:

The suit is violative of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege and must be dismissed
pursuant to the Courts decision in Regala vs. Sandiganbayan.

THEORY OF DEFENSE:

The ruling in Regala does not apply because in said case, there was a clear finding that
the ACCRA lawyers were impleaded by the PCGG as co-defendants to force them to
disclose the identity of their clients as shown by the PCGGs willingness to cut a deal
with the ACCRA lawyers the names of their clients in exchange for exclusion from the
complaint. In the present case, petitioner is being sued as principal defendant for being
in conspiracy with the other defendants in the commission of the act complained of, and
he is not being required to name his clients.

The claim that petitioner merely acted in his professional capacity as counsel with
neither participation in nor knowledge is a mere allegation not yet proven.

HELD:

SC found for the petitioner.

The Court adopted its own ruling in the Regala case, viz: an argument is advanced that
the invocation by petitioner of the privilege of attorney-client confidentiality at this state
of the proceedings is premature and that they should wait until they are called to testify
and examine as witnesses as to matters learned in confidence before they can raise
their objection. But petitioners are not mere witnesses. They are co-principals in the
case for recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth. They have made their position clear from
the very beginning that they are not willing to testify and they cannot be compelled to
testify in view of their constitutional right against self-incrimination and of their
fundamental legal right to maintain inviolate the privilege of attorney-client
confidentiality.

The doctrine of adherence to judicial precedents or stare decisis, provided in Art. 8,


C.C., enjoins adherence to judicial precedents. It required courts in a country to follow
the rule established in a decision of the Supreme Court thereof. That decision becomes
a judicial precedent to be followed in subsequent cases by all courts in the land. The
doctrine of stare decisis is based on the principle that once a question of law has been
examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument.

WHEREFORE, the Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan dated November 24, 1998 and
February 18, 1999 are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Respondent
Sandiganbayan is further ordered to exclude petitioner Gregorio R. Castillo as party-
defendant in SB Civil Case NO. 0014 entitled Republic of the Philippines vs. Modesto
Enriquez, et al.

SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION
A.M. No. P-08-2455 April 30, 2008
[formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 05-2175-P]
JUDGE FATIMA GONZALES-ASDALA, petitioner,
vs.
VICTOR PEDRO A. YANEZA (Legal Researcher II), respondent.
x------------------------------------------x
A.M. No. P-08-2456 April 30, 2008
[formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 05-2228-P]
JUDGE FATIMA GONZALES-ASDALA, petitioner,
vs.
VICTOR PEDRO A. YANEZA (Legal Researcher II), respondent.
x------------------------------------------x
A.M. No. RTJ-08-2113 April 30, 2008
[formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 06-2449-RTJ]
VICTOR PEDRO A. YANEZA, petitioner,
vs.
JUDGE FATIMA GONZALES-ASDALA, respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
The first two complaints subject of the present resolution merited a counter-complaint -- the third
subject case.
In OCA I.P.I. No. 05-2175-P, complainant Judge Fatima Gonzales Asdala (Judge Asdala), then
1
Presiding Judge of Branch 87 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, charged Legal
Researcher II Victor Pedro A. Yaneza (Yaneza) with gross neglect for failure to inform her of a Notice
of Appeal filed by the petitioner in Special Proceeding No. Q-01043860, "Estate of Li Guat and Chua
Kay," and to prepare a draft of the proforma order normally issued under the circumstances.
It appears that the Notice of Appeal was filed on June 11, 2004 during which Yaneza was the Officer-
in-Charge of the Branch Clerk's Office. Judge Asdala only got wind of the filing of the Notice of
Appeal on February 18, 2005 after Amy Soneja (Soneja), the Officer-in Charge on Judicial Matters,
informed her about it.
2
In his Explanation in compliance with Judge Asdala's February 19, 2005 memorandum to him,
Yaneza stated that since appeals in special proceedings should be by record of appeal and not by
notice of appeal, "there was no necessity to call the attention of the Presiding Judge for the reason
3
that she is not under any obligation to act on a wrongful pleading or a wrong method of appeal."
4 5
In the Comment he filed on June 14, 2005 in compliance with the May 10, 2005 First Indorsement
of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), Yaneza reiterated his above-said explanation, adding
that
x x x there is a more sinister motive behind Judge Asdala's actions and inaction in relation to the
Estate of Li Guat and Chua Kay. xxx Sometime in February 2003 Judge Asdala misused her office
and meddled in a case represented by Atty. Marcelino Bautista, former RTC Judge of Quezon City.
This became the subject of an administrative case filed by the latter against Judge Asdala [AM No.
RTJ-05-1916] and as an offshoot Atty. Bautista together with his client went to the media to expose
Judge Asdala's alleged misuse of her office xxx. [T]he Supreme Court decided the case against
6
Judge Asdala on May 1[0], 2005 and fined her P40,000.00. The TV Program Direct Connect was
hosted by Atty. Batas Mauricio. Judge Asdala retaliated and filed a libel case against Atty. Bautista
and his client which is now pending before RTC Branch 100, Quezon City under Crim. Case No. 03-
119215 entitled ["]People of the Philippines vs. Melencio P. Manansala III and Marcelino Bautista Jr.
["] Judge Adsala did not include the TV host Atty. Batas Mauricio xxx in her complaint for libel [as]
she had other plans of getting even. It so happens that counsel on record in SPECIAL
PROCEEDINGS NO. Q-01-43860 entitled ["]Estate of Li Guat and Chua Kay["] is the law firm of Atty.
Mauricio. xxx Judge Asdala after several hearings finally dismissed the case. Thereafter, when the
notice of appeal was filed she did not act on it. Now she wants to make me a convenient escape [ sic]
7
goat to cover for her sins. (Underscoring supplied.)
Yaneza later claimed, during the hearing of OCA I.P.I. No. 05-2175-P conducted by the OCA, that on
Judge Asdala's instruction, he inserted the Notice of Appeal in a folder of pending incidents which
8
was placed on a table near the entrance to Judge Asdala's chamber.
In OCA I.P.I. No. 05-2228-P, Judge Asdala, by letter of April 18, 2005 addressed to the RTC
Executive Judge of Quezon City, charged Yaneza with abandonment, insubordination, misconduct,
9
and acts prejudicial to the interest of the service.
In support of her charges, Judge Asdala alleged as follows: She issued to Yaneza Memorandum No.
24 directing him to submit case reports, together with their attachments, for November and
December 2005, and to make the necessary corrections therein following their rejection by the OCA,
but that despite repeated verbal instructions, Yaneza failed to comply therewith; and that on April 1,
2005, Yaneza wrote her that it was not his responsibility to submit the attachments and correct the
reports.
Judge Asdala further alleged:
From April 3, 2005 when she admonished him even up to the time of writing of the abovesaid letter
of April 18, 2005 to the Executive Judge, Yaneza went on leave without accomplishing a "proper and
timely" application as required by Civil Service Rules. She thus issued Memorandum No. 26
directing him to report back for work within eight hours from receipt thereof. The process server of
the branch, who was tasked to deliver the memorandum, reported however that Yaneza refused to
open the door of his house, constraining him to leave the memorandum by the door of Yaneza's
house.
10 11
By letter of May 10, 2005 to the Executive Judge, and by way of Comment/Complaint filed
before the OCA, Yaneza explained that he tried to have the reports brought to the OCA by the
process server but failed because Judge Asdala had been sending the process server on private
errands and she did not allow anyone other than herself to give orders to him (process server).
Yaneza added that Judge Asdala has a "propensity to order the Court Process Server to do unusual
12
tasks like driving her children to school," and that she was in fact fined by this Court for utilizing the
13
Court Deputy Sheriff to do things for her own interest.
Explaining further, Yaneza alleged that he requested Rowena Agulo, the clerk in charge of civil
cases, bring the reports to the OCA but she was not allowed by Myrla Nicandro who acted as officer-
in-charge (OIC) of Branch 87. Furthermore, Yaneza claimed:
The trouble with the Office is that there is much confusion, there are two (2) OIC[s], one Ms. Amy
Soneja who was properly designated by the Supreme Court and the other Ms. Myrla Nicandro who
was not appointed by the Supreme Court but presents herself [as] and [is] treated by the
Presiding Judge as the OIC, thus appearing to be a usurper;
xxxx
In Branch 87, Ms. Soneja is the properly appointed OIC by the Supreme Court[,] meaning[,] she is
the only one who can exercise the powers of the Office of the Clerk of Court and no other. Myrla
Nicandro not being properly appointed by the Supreme Court has no authority to present herself as
OIC. It is a public misrepresentation. Any exercise of the powers of the Clerk of Court by Ms.
Nicandro is [a] usurpation before our eyes. xxx Myrla Nicandro is only a stenographer by rank and
has no item in the plantilla of Branch 87. She is only detailed, has been transferred from several
offices[;] maybe her best qualification is that she is a kumare of the Presiding Judge and a constant
companion in various activities. x x x
xxxx
It is very difficult to ask any of the clerical staff to go and file the reports [with] the Supreme Court,
since they have to secure permission from a usurper OIC Myrla Nicandro[. I]n fact I requested
Rowena Agulo[,] clerk in charge of civil cases[,] to file the reports but the usurper turned down her
request for permission;
By way of comment [on] my application for leave, it is the practice of the Presiding Judge to allot the
time in which the staff will take leave. x x x But for several years now, the Presiding Judge has not
allocated any period for us to go on leave. Thus, I did not have any vacation for years. x x x
After conferring with the properly appointed OIC Ms. Amy Soneja, I submitted an application for
leave dated April 1, 2005, and she in turn submitted it to the usurper OIC Myrla Nicandro, and
it is only lately thru this complaint that [I] became aware that my application for leave was not
14
approved. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Annexed to Yaneza's May 10, 2005 letter of the Executive Judge was, among others, a copy of his
application for leave covering the period April 4, 5 and 6, 2005, which was received by Branch 87 of
15
the Quezon City RTC at 10:00 A.M. on April 1, 2005.
16
On recommendation of the OCA, the Court considered Yaneza's above-stated Comment filed at
the OCA on June 14, 2005 to Judge Asdala's letter-complaint as well as the Comment/Complaint
Yaneza filed at the OCA on August 30, 2005, as counter-complaints which were docketed as OCA
17
IPI No. 06-2449-RTJ, and required her to file her comment thereon.
18
In her Comment in OCA I.P.I. No. 06-2449-RTJ, Judge Asdala alleged that the charges against her
were ill-motivated, reiterated her own charges against Yaneza, and emphasized Yaneza's alleged
incompetence and laziness.
After receiving evidence on the three cases, Hearing Officer Designate Romulo S. Quimbo made the
following findings and recommendations:
In OCA-IPI No. 05-2175-P, x x x [t]he evidence does not show that the failure of Yaneza to bring the
[Notice of Appeal] to the attention of Judge Asdala was motivated by any corrupt motives. As a
matter of fact, while he admitted his failure to call the attention of Judge Asdala regarding said notice
of appeal, he reasoned that there was no necessity to bring it to her because it was not the proper
pleading. x x x
However, although the notice of appeal filed in the case may have been insufficient to satisfy the
rules, still it was not for him to decide. He should have brought the matter to the complainant's
attention. When he ruled that the said notice of appeal was not the correct pleading, he was
performing a judicial power reserved for the presiding judge.
Yaneza, however, averred that in obedience to the instructions of Judge Asdala, he had placed the
notice of appeal on a table near complainant's door together with other pending incidents. This is
denied by Judge Asdala. Be that as it may, we cannot hold respondent Yaneza liable for willful
concealment of the notice of appeal. No motive has been ascribed or proven against Yaneza. On the
other hand, it is not denied that the counsel for the petitioners in the Li Guat case was Atty. Mauricio,
the television host where the acts of Judge Asdala amounting to obstruction of justice and for which
she was fined P40,000.00 in A.M. No. RTJ-05-1916 had been aired. It is not farfetched to think that
the dismissal of Special Proceedings No. A-01-43860 and her failure to act on the notice of appeal
was the result of some animosity which she felt against Atty. Mauricio.
In OCA-IPI No. 05-2228-P, x x x respondent Yaneza was in duty bound to prepare and submit
the reports within the first week of the following month. Hence, his failure to submit the November
2004 report during December and his failure to submit the December 2004 report in early January
amounts to inefficiency. His excuse that there was confusion in the office because of the two OICs is
rather lame.
This inefficiency, although not particularly listed in Section 23, Rule XIV of Book V of Executive Order
No. 292 (Administrative Code) as among the offenses that may be committed by government
employees, deserves a reprimand and a stern warning that any repetition of the same would be
dealt with more drastically.
Judge Asdala further charges Yaneza for abandonment of his position. She averred that she had
directed her OIC to inform Yaneza that his application for leave had been disapproved. She also
issued a memorandum directing Yaneza to report to the office and this memorandum was served on
Yaneza by the process server who was, however, unable to serve the same personally on Yaneza.
Yaneza was unable to substantiate his charges against Judge Asdala [in OCA-IPI No. 06-2449-RTJ].
xxx
There appears to be some merit in the statement of Yaneza as regards the confusion of the
personnel because of the presence of two (2) OIC's - Ms. Amy So[n]eja, who was regularly
appointed by the Supreme Court and Ms. Myrla Nicandro, who was appointed by Judge Asdala. This
act of Judge Asdala is covered by x x x Memorand[a] No. 0009, s. of 2005 (pp. 81-82, Rollo, 05-
2228-P) and No. 0019, s. of 2005 (Ibid., pp. 83-85). This is the reason advanced by Yaneza as
regards the inefficiency of Branch 87. x x x
The undersigned recommends that OCA-IPI No. 2175-P [sic] be re-docketed as a regular
administrative matter and that respondent Victor Pedro A. Yaneza be reprimanded and sternly
warned that a repetition of the same offense or the commission of a similar one in the future would
be more drastically dealt with; that OCA-IPI No. 05-2228-P [sic] be dismissed for lack of merit and
that OCA-IPI No. 06-2449-RTJ be also dismissed but Judge Asdala be required to explain why she
appointed another OIC Branch Clerk considering that one had already been designated by the
19
Court. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
In OCA IPI No. 05-2175-P, this Court finds the immediately quoted findings, as well as the
recommendation, of Hearing Officer Designate Romulo S. Quimbo well-taken.
In OCA IPI No. 05-2228-P, the Hearing Officer Designate observes that Yaneza's failure to file the
reports, while constituting inefficiency, is "not particularly listed in Sec. 23, Rule IV of Book V of
Executive Order No. 292 (Administrative Code) as among the offenses that maybe committed by
government employees." He nevertheless recommends that Yaneza be reprimanded.
Section 52 (c) (14) of Rule 11 of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil
Service provides that failure to process documents and complete action on documents and papers
within a reasonable time from preparation thereof, except as otherwise provided in the rules
implementing the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, shall
be penalized with a reprimand on the first offense, a suspension for one to 30 days on the second
20
offense, and dismissal on the third offense. It bears noting that, as the Hearing Officer Designate
himself notes, Yaneza was "duty bound to prepare and submit the reports" on time. It is in this
light that the Court finds Yaneza to have violated Civil Service Rules.
Respecting Yaneza's unauthorized absences, he admits that he did not report for work from April 3,
21
2005 until sometime in May of the same year, he claiming that he applied for a vacation leave. The
copy of his approved application for vacation leave submitted before this Court was, however, only
22 23
for April 4-6, 2005. While he claims to have subsequently applied for a second vacation leave,
he did not present a copy of any such application. In fact he admits having gone on leave without
24
verifying whether his purported applications for the purpose were approved.
The Revised Rules for Administrative Cases in the Civil Service penalizes frequent unauthorized
absences with suspension of six months and one day to one year on the first offense, and dismissal
25
on the second offense. Civil Service Memorandum Circular No. 4, series of 1991 penalizes, for
habitual absenteeism, any civil service employee who incurs unauthorized absences in excess of the
allowable 2.5 monthly leave credit under the Leave Law for at least three months in a semester or at
26
least three consecutive months during the year, which Supreme Court Circular No. 2-99 equates
27
with frequent absenteeism. As there is no record of Yaneza's available leave credits when he was
absent on the dates involved in the case, he cannot be faulted for frequent unauthorized
28
absenteeism. Judge Aquino v. Fernandez enlightens:
The reason for the requirement that employees applying for vacation leave, whenever possible, must
submit in advance their applications [for] vacation leave, is to enable heads of offices to make the
necessary adjustments in the work assignments among the staff so that the work may not be
hampered or paralyzed. However, it is clear from [Sections 49-54 of Rule XVI of the Omnibus Civil
Service Rules and Regulations] that mere failure to file a leave of absence in advance does not ipso
facto render an employee administratively liable. In case the application for vacation leave of
absence is filed after the employee reports back to work but disapproved by the head of the agency,
29
then, under Section 50 xxx, the employee shall not be entitled to receive his salary
corresponding to the period of his unauthorized leave of absence. The unauthorized leave of
absence becomes punishable only if the absence is frequent or habitual under Section 23 (q), Rule
XIV of the omnibus Civil Service Rules and Regulations or detrimental to the service under Section
30
23 (r) [sic] or the official or employee falsified his daily time record under Section 23 (a) or (f) of the
31
same Omnibus Civil Service Rules. (Italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied)
In the absence then of evidence that Yaneza's unauthorized absences were frequent or habitual, or
that he falsified his daily time record, or that his absence was inimical to the interest of public
32
service, the Court may not administratively discipline him. He is, however, not entitled to receive
his salary corresponding to the period of his unauthorized absences. Following the provision of
Article 2154 of the Civil Code that "[i]f something is received where there is no right to demand it,
and it was unduly delivered through mistake, the obligation to return it arises," he must return the
same if he had already received it.
Finally, in OCA IPI No. 06-2449-RTJ, this Court finds well-taken the findings and recommendation of
the Hearing Officer Designate.
33
In Edao v. Asdala, the Court, by Decision of July 26, 2007, dismissed Judge Asdala from the
34
service for gross insubordination and gross misconduct unbefitting of a member of the judiciary.
This leaves it unnecessary to still consider the complaint against her for personally designating her
choice of an OIC Branch Clerk of Court despite the previous official designation of one by the Court.
WHEREFORE, OCA-I.P.I. No. 05-2175-P is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
OCA-I.P.I. No. 05-2228-P is REDOCKETED as a regular administrative matter. Victor Pedro A.
Yaneza is found GUILTY of violation of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the
Civil Service for failure to process documents and complete action on documents and papers within
a reasonable time from preparation thereof, and is accordingly REPRIMANDED with WARNING that
a repetition of the same offense will be dealt with more severely.
If Yaneza had received his salary corresponding to his unauthorized absences from April 3, 2005 to
May 31, 2005, he is ORDERED to return the same. The Office of the Court Administrator is ordered
to verify the matter and, if in the affirmative, to implead the order.
OCA-I.P.I. No. 06-2449-RTJ is DISMISSED for mootness.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
A.M. No. P-03-1697 October 1, 2003
JOCELYN S. PAISTE, complainant,
vs.
APRONIANO V. MAMENTA, JR., Clerk of Court II, Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Tayug-San Nicolas,
Pangasinan, respondent.
x---------------------------------x
A.M. No. P-03-1699 October 1, 2003
JOANNE S. GOLTIAO, complainant,
vs.
APRONIANO V. MAMENTA, JR., Clerk of Court II, Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Tayug-San Nicolas,
Pangasinan, respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
These consolidated administrative cases arose from two different complaints filed against
respondent Aproniano V. Mamenta, Jr., Clerk of Court II, Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Tayug-San
1
Nicolas, Pangasinan. In an affidavit-complaint filed with the Office of the Chief Justice, dated August
10, 2001, complainant Joanne S. Goltiao charged him with gambling and drinking liquor during office
hours, sexual harassment, arrogance and acts unbecoming of a government official. In another
2
affidavit-complaint filed with the Office of the Court Administrator, dated August 28, 2001, the other
complainant Jocelyn C. Paiste charged him with conduct unbecoming of a public officer and with
3
violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for his failure to issue official receipt.
4 5
After respondent denied the accusations against him in separate letters, we resolved to refer both
cases to Hon. Ulysses Butuyan, Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Tayug, Pangasinan
6
for investigation, report and recommendation. Separate investigations of the complaints were
conducted.
In A.M. No. P-03-1699 (formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 01-1202-P), evidence shows that complainant Goltiao
7
is a Stenographer I of the MCTC of Tayug-San Nicolas since 1997. She testified that on August 7,
2000, at about 3:00 p.m., a representative from the Plaridel Insurance Co. came to their office
seeking clearance. She immediately prepared the necessary form and, together with the
representative, went to see respondent in the courtroom to obtain his signature. When she asked
him to sign the document, respondent, who was at that time playing tong-its (a card game) at the
lawyers table with unnamed individuals, got angry and threw his cards. He shouted at her: "Why did
you bring them with you? Did you like them to bring me to the Supreme Court?" She responded that
such was not her intention and reminded him of his requirement that he must first see the applicants
before he sign their clearance. He did not sign the clearance, sent then out and shouted "Bullshit
ka!" at her thrice. They all then went out of the courtroom and proceeded back to the staff room. She
went to her table and buried her face in her hands, crying. Respondent followed her and continued
uttering unsavory remarks: "Bullshit ka! Vulva of your mother! Why did you take the client there and
even raised your voice? (Bullshit ka! Okinnam nga babai! Apay ta innalam dagita kliyente idiay
sanak to rinayawan!)" She replied that her parents taught them not to answer back at older people.
He still shouted: "Vulva of your mother! I wish you will die now! Whom are you bragging of? We will
try each other. (Okinnam nga babai! Matay ka koma itattan! Apay sinno aya ti paglaslastog mo?
Sige, agpipinnadas tayo.)" Thereafter, he asked the utility aide to buy him four bottles of beer.
Goltiao declared that her working relationship with the respondent is "sometimes good and
8
sometimes bad because of his ill temper." He easily gets mad at her even for small, trivial mistakes.
This situation started, according to her, when she told him to stop courting and sending her love
notes as she is already a married woman. She related an incident which happened early one
morning when he asked her to see him inside the judges chamber. At that time, the designated
judge was not around. Once inside, she was told to sit in one of the chairs in front of the judges
table. The respondent, who was sitting at the judges chair, then extended his hand to her, as if he
wanted to shake her hands. She reciprocated by extending her hands and jokingly put his hands on
her forehead (agmanmano). She afterwards tried to free her hands off his but he would no let her.
Instead, he told her, "Wait for a while, I would just like to tell you something. I love you, is that okay?
Tell me that you love me too. No strings attached." She retorted, "As if you are my father." Spurned,
he got mad. This kind of incident happened at least ten more times.
Furthermore, respondent sent her love notes. He wrote his love messages on pieces of paper in
9
front of her and handed them to her. She knew that they were intended for her as there was nobody
else present when he gave the notes to her. He would also call her at her mothers house. She did
not respond affirmatively to his display of affection as both of them are married. Finally, she
explained that she filed a complaint against him only on August 10, 2001 because of the August 7,
2001 incident, when she got fed up at the way he treated her.
Marilyn de Leon, also a court stenographer of MCTC Tayug-San Nicolas, corroborated the testimony
10
of Goltiao. She stated that she witnessed the incident on August 7, 2001, when respondent
became angry at Goltiao after the latter went to ask for his signature while he was playing tong-its.
She heard respondent shout foul words at Goltiao. She added that respondent gets mad at everyone
at the office on trivial matter. She, too, received love notes from the respondent.
11
Court stenographer Glenda C. Ramirez also corroborated the testimony of Goltiao. She declared
that she witnessed the incident on August 7, 2001 at their office. She observed that respondent was
fuming mad at Goltiao, when the latter asked him to sign a clearance form. She heard respondent
shout at Goltiao inside the courtroom and at the staff room. Respondent got mad when Goltiao
allowed the representatives of the insurance company to enter the courtroom, where he was playing
tong-its. She related that she also received love notes from him. One time, after respondent signed
her travel order she noticed the following message written on the order: "7:30 in the evening,
Jollibee." She did not go out with him. She chose him as a principal sponsor on her wedding in the
hope that he would treat her like his own child and that he would stop sending notes to her. This did
not happen even as respondent continued to easily get mad at her for simple lapses.
Renato Rombawa, a utility worker at the court, saw the incident on August 7, 2001, when respondent
12
got mad at Goltiao inside the courtroom. He did not know why he became furious. At the time of
the incident, respondent was playing tong-its.
Estifanio Acosta, Clerk III at the MCTC, stated that he likewise saw respondent got mad when
13
Goltiao tried to obtain his signature for a clearance form. Respondent, he recalled, was at that time
playing tong-its. He knew that respondent gives love notes to Goltiao and Glenda Ramirez, as the
two revealed this secret to him.
Lastly, David Kagaoan testified that at about 3:00 oclock in the afternoon of August 7, 2001,
14
somebody came to get a clearance from the court. The clearance form was prepared by Goltiao
who went to see the respondent at the courtroom. He then heard shouts of "vulva of your mother, get
out of here!" from the room. He thought it came from the respondent, who was then playing tong-its.
Rombawa, the utility worker, went inside the courtroom and brought the sobbing Goltiao out. He
stated that complainant showed him some of the love notes respondent gave her. He knows it came
from respondent as he is familiar with his signature.
15
Respondent denied the allegations against him. He admitted shouting at Goltiao because she, too,
shouted at him. He declared that the complaint was intended to harass him and put him into shame
and to remove him from office. He said that Goltiao and her witnesses resent his strictness and they
want to continue with their bad ways in the office. Goltiao, Ramirez and de Leon come to office late
but Goltiaos daily time record does not reflect her tardiness. She sells stenographic notes without
remitting a single centavo to the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF). Witness Rombawa does not
work in the office from 2:00 to 5:00 oclock in the afternoon. Witness Acosta is a habitual absentee,
reports at 10:00 oclock and leaves after only an hour. He then returns at 2:00 oclock in the
afternoon. He is hired by one Bobby Go as a driver. Witness Kagaoan is a habitual latecomer as he
attends to his agricultural business first before going to the court. He adds that witnesses Rombawa,
Acosta and Kagaoan all play tong-its either at the session hall of the court or the first floor of the
building.
On rebuttal, complainant Goltiao revealed that respondent invited her several times for a date at
16
Jollibee, instructing her not to tell her husband about it. Respondent countered that every time he
17
invites her, it was with de Leon, Ramirez and other court personnel.
In A.M. No. P-03-1697 (formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 01-1196-P), complainant Paiste is the owner of
JCP72 Insurance Agency, and as its proprietor, has transactions with the MCTC Tayug-San
18
Nicolas. She testified that on April 3, 2001 at about 2:00 p.m. she went to the court, together with a
client, to post bail. When they arrived, they could not find the respondent. An employee named
Marilyn accompanied then to one of the rooms at the hall of justice where the respondent was
holding game cards and playing tong-its with some people. Marilyn called respondents attention
telling him that somebody wants to post bail. Respondent retorted, "You just go ahead upstairs. Why,
could you not wait?" They went ahead and respondent followed fifteen minutes after. She noticed
that he was mad. They told him they want to post bail and he asked for the records of the case. After
examining the records, he slammed it and said, "You go to Rosales! That is not our work!" He also
became angry when they followed him.
On April 20, 2001, Paiste, an officemate and a client again went to the MCTC in Tayug-San Nicolas
to post bail in connection with Criminal Case No. 7461. The respondent instructed them to go to the
house of Judge Pastor. They went there as told but the judge rejected their papers. They returned
the next day, a Saturday, after completing their documents. They came from the court where they
met respondent, who accompanied them to the judges house. The judge approved the surety
19
bond. Later, they handed three thousand pesos (P3,000.00) to the respondent, two thousand four
hundred pesos (P2,400.00) of which was for the JDF. They gave him the remaining six hundred
pesos (P600.00) after he asked them, "Paano naman yung sa akin?" They understood that to mean
that he was expecting some form of compensation as he accompanied them outside the office on a
non-working day. They then demanded an official receipt for the two thousand four hundred pesos
(P2,400.00) they paid him corresponding to the amount of the JDF. He told them to go to the court
and get it the following Monday. That Monday, she sent one of her staff to get the receipt, but the
latter reported to her that he did not issue one. She added that this is not the only time that he failed
to issue her a receipt. In other cases, he also neglected to do so even after she has paid the
mandatory JDF fees.
A staff member of the MCTC Tayug-San Nicolas, Estifanio Acosta, verified the records of Criminal
Case No. 7461 and stated that no official receipt appears on file although the personal bail bonds
issued by the JCP72 Insurance Agency, bearing the date April 21, 2001, in favor of the several
20
accused in the case were approved by the acting presiding judge of the court.
For his part, respondent merely denied the foregoing allegations in open court and waived
21
presentation of evidence.
22
After investigation, the investigating judge rendered a Consolidated Report and Recommendation
finding respondent guilty of serious misconduct and accordingly proposed that he be sternly
reprimanded and fined ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00), thus:
Nonetheless, on the basis of the evidence adduced, barely refuted by the respondent, the
undersigned finds him guilty of serious misconduct in office, consisting of abundantly substantiated
offenses thus:
1. Making undue advances through love notes to female subordinates;
2. Indulging in card games during office hours;
3. Using abusive language in dealing with subordinates as well as with third persons seeking his
services as clerk of court; and
4. Receiving payments for court fees without promptly issuing the corresponding receipts therefore.
WHEREFORE, all of the foregoing premises and circumstances considered, the undersigned hereby
respectfully recommends that respondent be sternly reprimanded, and fined in the amount of
23
P10,000.00, for serious misconduct.
The report was forwarded to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA). After evaluating the report
and the records, the OCA proposed that a stiffer penalty must be imposed on respondent. On the
basis of Sections 52, 54 and 55 of Memorandum Circular No. 19, series of 1999 of the Civil Service
24
Commission, it recommended that the two complaints be consolidated and docketed as a regular
administrative case and that respondent be "SUSPENDED for a period of one (1) year having been
found Guilty of various offenses including the (sic) Grave Offenses and disgraceful and immoral
25
conduct."
A painstaking examination of the records of the cases convinces us that the respondent is guilty of
the offenses charged against him.
The evidence in A.M. No. P-03-1699 adequately establishes that he was guilty of gambling, using
abusive language and sexually harassing his female subordinates. We find credible the categorical
and straightforward testimonies of complainant Goltiao and her witnesses. Their frank and candid
testimonies, unshaken by cross-examination and unflawed by inconsistencies or contradictions in
26
their material points, deserve our full faith and belief.
In contrast, we are not persuaded by the denial put forward by the respondent. The purported motive
he imputes against complainant and her witnesses for filing this case is not worthy of attention. He
asserts that they just want him removed so they can continue with their "bad ways in the office." It
strikes us strange that he allowed these bad ways for a long time without taking any measures or
reporting them to the OCA.
Time and again, we have emphasized that court officers, circumscribed with heavy responsibility,
27
must be the paragon of propriety and good behavior. This is especially true for a clerk of court like
the respondent. As a ranking officer of the court, it is incumbent upon him to set an example to his
co-employees as to how they should conduct themselves in office; to see to it that his subordinates
work efficiently in accordance with the rules and regulations of the civil service and the judiciary; and
to provide then with a healthy working atmosphere wherein co-workers treat each other with respect,
28
courtesy and cooperation, so that in the end public interest will be benefited.
Respondent failed to measure up to these standards. His use of offensive language towards
complainant Goltiao reflects his impoliteness and lack of decorum. He shouted profanity at her,
verbally abused her and even disrespected her mother. He did this in the presence of so many
employees and clients of the court. Worse, there was no reason for him to unleash to her a fury of
this kind. She was merely asking him to sign a clearance form and to examine the applicant
pursuant to his specific instruction that he should first see the applicant for the clearance before he
sign the form. In fine, she was just doing her job. The truth is, he got mad at her out of his fear that
the client she brought along might report him to this court when they caught him in flagrante delicto
gambling.
Similarly objectionable is respondents penchant for playing tong-its (a card game) and gambling
with other employees of the court. Gambling is illegal and is absolutely forbidden at court premises
29
during office hours. It generates unwholesome consequences on the gambler as it diverts his
30
attention from the more important responsibilities of his job. Respondent himself was very much
aware of this prohibition and this is exactly the reason why he castigated the complainant for
approaching him while he was playing cards, thus: "Why did you bring then with you? Did you like
31
them to bring me to the Supreme Court?"
Worse, respondent was playing cards and gambling during office hours at the session hall of the
courtroom, which is hardly the place for such undesirable activities. A courtroom is generally looked
upon by people with high respect and regarded as a sacred place where witnesses testify under
32
oath, where conflicts are resolved, rights adjudicated, and justice solemnly dispensed. Making it a
33
game room and a casino area diminishes its sanctity and dignity.
The undue advances respondent made to complainant Goltiao betrays his twisted sense of
propriety. Many times, he declared his feelings for her and handed her love notes. He would then
beseech her to say the same things to him. He proposed to have dinner dates with her at Jollibee.
There were times that he cornered her at the judges chamber and unnecessarily held her hand.
While professing ones amorous intention is not something that usually causes a hullabaloo, it
becomes indecent and improper in this case considering he is complainant Goltiaos superior and
both of them are married. His dissoluteness told itself when he went to the extent of calling her at her
mothers house and persuading her not to tell her husband about these incidents.
It appears too that the complainant was not the exclusive object of respondents advances.
Witnesses Marilyn de Leon and Glenda Ramirez testified that they also received love notes and
invitations for dinner from him. Like a hunter out on the prowl, he victimized other female workers
unabashedly professing his alleged feelings for them in utter disregard of the fact that they were his
subordinates, they were married and they were young enough to be his daughters. Instead of he
being in loco parentis over his subordinate employees, he preyed on them as he took advantage of
34
his superior position.
Under the circumstances, we find respondent guilty of sexual harassment. His severely outrageous
acts, which are an affront to women, constitute sexual harassment because they necessarily result in
35
an intimidating, hostile, and offensive working environment for his female subordinates. He abused
the power and authority he exercises over them, which is the gravamen of the offense in sexual
36
harassment. Sexual harassment in the workplace is not about a man taking advantage of a
woman by reason of sexual desire it is about power being exercised by a superior over his women
37
subordinates. That power emanates from the fact that he can remove them if they refuse his
38
amorous advances.
There is likewise sufficient evidence in A.M. No. P-03-1697 to hold respondent administratively liable
for his failure to issue official receipt after receiving court fees and for discourtesy. The testimony of
complainant Paiste is worthy of belief. We find her categorical and consistent declarations credible,
39
especially when viewed in the light of the fact that no ill-motive on her part was established.
Against her positive testimony, supported by documentary evidence based on official court records,
40
the mere uncorroborated denial of the respondent deserves scant considerations.
The evidence shows that on April 21, 2001, complainant Paiste gave to the respondent the amount
of two thousand four hundred pesos (P2,400.00) as bail bond of the accused in Criminal Case No.
7461. When she asked for an official receipt, he told her to get it the following Monday at the court.
She sent an office representative that Monday as told but respondent did not issue any receipt.
Further verification from the records of Criminal Case No. 7461 reveals that no copy of the official
receipt appears on file indicating that no receipt was ever issued to complainant Paiste.
Undoubtedly, respondent should have issued an official receipt when he received the sum of money
from complainant Paiste. His failure to do so is a violation of the National Accounting and Auditing
Manual which mandates that no payment of any nature shall be received by a collecting officer
41
without immediately issuing an official receipt, in acknowledgment thereof. It bears emphasis that
there is no valid reason for his non-issuance of a receipt. Even if he argues that he could not issue
an official receipt to the complainant Paiste as the transaction transpired on a Saturday and outside
court premises, still, his failure to issue a receipt the following Monday is totally unjustified.
We also find the rude and boorish manner respondent treated complainant Paiste and her client on
April 3, 2001 uncalled for. His demeanor bordered on arrogance. He made them wait for fifteen
minutes before he attended to their concern as they found him playing cards and gambling. He was
very irritable the whole time he was talking to them. After he examined the record, he slammed it an
told them to go to the court at Rosales. He then got annoyed when they followed him. To be sure,
this is no way to treat court users.
High strung and belligerent behavior has no place in government, especially in the judiciary, where
the personnel are enjoined to act with self-restraint and civility at all times, even when confronted
42
with rudeness and insolence. They are expected to extend prompt, courteous and adequate
43
service to the people. Such conduct is exacted from them so that they will earn and keep societys
44
high regard for and confidence in the judicial service. Conduct violative of this standard quickly and
surely corrodes respect for the courts. It is the imperative and sacred duty of everyone charged with
the dispensation of justice, from the judge to the lowliest clerk, to uphold the courts good name and
45
standing as true temples of justice.
We do not agree with both the investigating judge and the OCA when they imposed a single penalty
on the respondent for two cases. Although consolidated, the two cases are distinct and each one
contains different charges. Respondent, as a consequence, must be separately held liable and
penalized for the charges in each case.
This brings us to the individual penalties which must be imposed on the respondent for each case. In
A.M. No. P-03-1699, we hold that the gross discourtesy, gambling and sexual harassment he
committed constituted serious misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service which
warrant his dismissal from office. He has been shown to lack the requisite professional and moral
qualifications to continue as an employee in the judiciary. In A.M. No. P-03-1697, his failure to issue
a receipt amounted to gross neglect of duty while his grossly discourteous behavior is conduct
unbecoming of a public officer. For this reason, we impose on him a suspension of one (1) month.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, RESPONDENT Aproniano V. Mamenta, Jr. is found Guilty of gross
discourtesy, gambling, and sexual harassment in A.M. No. P-03-1699 and is accordingly
DISMISSED from the service with prejudice to re-employment in any branch, agency, or
instrumentality of the Government, including government-owned and controlled corporations.
He is likewise found Guilty of gross discourtesy and failure to issue an official receipt in A.M. No. P-
03-1697 and is meted the penalty of suspension for a period of One (1) Month. Considering,
however, that we already ordered his dismissal in A.M. No. P-03-1699, his suspension is moot.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-
Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Azcuna, J., on leave.

SECOND DIVISION

EMILIA R. HERNANDEZ, A.C. No. 9387


Complainant, (Formerly CBD Case No. 05-1562)
Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus - BRION,
PEREZ,
SERENO, and
REYES, JJ.
ATTY. VENANCIO B. PADILLA,
Promulgated:
Respondent.
June 20, 2012

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
R E S O LUTIO N
SERENO, J.:

This is a disbarment case filed by Emilia Hernandez (complainant) against her


lawyer, Atty. Venancio B. Padilla (respondent) of Padilla Padilla Bautista Law
Offices, for his alleged negligence in the handling of her case.

The records disclose that complainant and her husband were the respondents in an
ejectment case filed against them with the Regional Trial Court of Manila (RTC).

[1]
In a Decision dated 28 June 2002, penned by Judge Rosmari D. Carandang
(Judge Carandang), the RTC ordered that the Deed of Sale executed in favor of
complainant be cancelled; and that the latter pay the complainant therein, Elisa
Duigan (Duigan), attorneys fees and moral damages.

Complainant and her husband filed their Notice of Appeal with the RTC.
Thereafter, the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered them to file their Appellants Brief.
They chose respondent to represent them in the case. On their behalf, he filed a
Memorandum on Appeal instead of an Appellants Brief. Thus, Duigan filed a

[2]
Motion to Dismiss the Appeal. The CA granted the Motion in a Resolution dated
16 December 2003.

No Motion for Reconsideration (MR) of the Resolution dismissing the appeal was
filed by the couple. Complainant claims that because respondent ignored the
Resolution, he acted with deceit, unfaithfulness amounting to malpractice of law.

[3]
Complainant and her husband failed to file an appeal, because respondent never
informed them of the adverse decision. Complainant further claims that she asked
respondent several times about the status of the appeal, but despite inquiries he

[4]
deliberately withheld response [sic], to the damage and prejudice of the spouses.

The Resolution became final and executory on 8 January 2004. Complainant was
informed of the Resolution sometime in July 2005, when the Sheriff of the RTC
came to her house and informed her of the Resolution.

[5]
On 9 September 2005, complainant filed an Affidavit of Complaint with the
Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP),
seeking the disbarment of respondent on the following grounds: deceit,
malpractice, and grave misconduct. Complainant prays for moral damages in the
amount of 350,000.

[6]
Through an Order dated 12 September 2005, Director of Bar Discipline Rogelio
A. Vinluan ordered respondent to submit an answer to the Complaint. In his

[7]
Counter-Affidavit/Answer, respondent prayed for the outright dismissal of the
Complaint.

Respondent explained that he was not the lawyer of complainant. He averred that
prior to the mandatory conference set by the IBP on 13 December 2005, he had
never met complainant, because it was her husband who had personally transacted
with him. According to respondent, the husband despondently pleaded to me to
prepare a Memorandum on Appeal because according to him the period given by

[8]
the CA was to lapse within two or three days. Thus, respondent claims that he
filed a Memorandum on Appeal because he honestly believed that it is this

[9]
pleading which was required.

Before filing the Memorandum, respondent advised complainants husband to settle

[10]
the case. The latter allegedly gestured approval of the advice.

After the husband of complainant picked up the Memorandum for filing,


respondent never saw or heard from him again and thus assumed that the husband
heeded his advice and settled the case. When respondent received an Order from
the CA requiring him to file a comment on the Motion to Dismiss filed by Duigan,
he instructed his office staff to contact Mr. Hernandez thru available means of

[11]
communication, but to no avail. Thus, when complainants husband went to the
office of respondent to tell the latter that the Sheriff of the RTC had informed
complainant of the CAs Resolution dismissing the case, respondent was just as
surprised. The lawyer exclaimed, KALA KO BA NAKIPAG AREGLO NA KAYO.

[12]

[13]
In his 5 January 2009 Report, IBP Investigating Commissioner Leland R.
Villadolid, Jr. found that respondent violated Canons 5, 17, and 18 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (the Code). He recommended that respondent be
suspended from practicing law from 3 to 6 months.

The board of governors of the IBP issued Resolution No. XIX-2010-452 on 28


August 2010. Therein, they resolved to adopt and approve the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner. Respondent was suspended
from the practice of law for six months.

[14]
Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration. He prayed for the relaxation of
the application of the Canons of the Code. On 14 January 2012, the IBP board of

[15]
governors passed Resolution No. XX-2012-17 partly granting his Motion and
reducing the penalty imposed to one-month suspension from the practice of law.

Pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, acting Director for Bar Discipline

[16]
Dennis A.B. Funa, through a letter addressed to then Chief Justice Renato C.
Corona, transmitted the documents pertaining to the disbarment Complaint against
respondent.

We adopt the factual findings of the board of governors of the IBP. This Court,
however, disagrees with its Decision to reduce the penalty to one-month
suspension. We thus affirm the six-month suspension the Board originally imposed
in its 28 August 2010 Resolution.

Respondent insists that he had never met complainant prior to the mandatory
conference set for the disbarment Complaint she filed against him. However, a
perusal of the Memorandum of Appeal filed in the appellate court revealed that he
had signed as counsel for the defendant-appellants therein, including complainant

[17]
and her husband. The pleading starts with the following sentence:
DEFENDANT[S]-APPELLANTS, by counsel, unto this Honorable Court submit
[18]
the Memorandum and further allege that: x x x. Nowhere does the document
say that it was filed only on behalf of complainants husband.

It is further claimed by respondent that the relation created between him and
complainants husband cannot be treated as a client-lawyer relationship, viz:

It is no more than a client needing a legal document and had it prepared by a lawyer for a fee.
Under the factual milieu and circumstances, it could not be said that a client entrusted to a lawyer
[19]
handling and prosecution of his case that calls for the strict application of the Code; x x x

As proof that none of them ever intended to enter into a lawyer-client relationship,
he also alleges that complainants husband never contacted him after the filing of
the Memorandum of Appeal. According to respondent, this behavior was very

[20]
unusual if he really believed that he engaged the formers services.

[21]
Complainant pointed out in her Reply that respondent was her lawyer, because
he accepted her case and an acceptance fee in the amount of 7,000.

According to respondent, however, [C]ontrary to the complainants claim that he


charged 7,000 as acceptance fee, the fee was only for the preparation of the

[22]
pleading which is even low for a Memorandum of Appeal: x x x.

Acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship and

[23]
gives rise to the duty of fidelity to the clients cause. Once a lawyer agrees to
handle a case, it is that lawyers duty to serve the client with competence and

[24]
diligence. Respondent has failed to fulfill this duty.

According to respondent, he merely drafted the pleading that complainants


husband asked from him. Respondent also claims that he filed a Memorandum of
Appeal, because he honestly believed that this was the pleading required, based on
what complainants husband said.

The IBP Investigating Commissioners observation on this matter, in the 5 January


2009 Report, is correct. Regardless of the particular pleading his client may have
believed to be necessary, it was respondents duty to know the proper pleading to be
filed in appeals from RTC decisions, viz:

Having seen the Decision dated 18 June 2002 of the trial court, respondent should have known
that the mode of appeal to the Court of Appeals for said Decision is by ordinary appeal under
Section 2(a) Rule 41 of the1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. In all such cases, Rule 44 of
[25]
the said Rules applies.

When the RTC ruled against complainant and her husband, they filed a Notice of
Appeal. Consequently, what should apply is the rule on ordinary appealed cases or
Rule 44 of the Rules on Civil Procedure. Rule 44 requires that the appellants brief
be filed after the records of the case have been elevated to the CA. Respondent, as
a litigator, was expected to know this procedure. Canon 5 of the Code reads:

CANON 5 A lawyer shall keep abreast of legal developments, participate in continuing legal
education programs, support efforts to achieve high standards in law schools as well as in the
practical training of law students and assist in disseminating information regarding the law and
jurisprudence.
The obligations of lawyers as a consequence of their Canon 5 duty have been

[26]
expounded in Dulalia, Jr. v. Cruz, to wit:

It must be emphasized that the primary duty of lawyers is to obey the laws of the land and
promote respect for the law and legal processes. They are expected to be in the forefront in the
observance and maintenance of the rule of law. This duty carries with it the obligation to be well-
informed of the existing laws and to keep abreast with legal developments, recent enactments
and jurisprudence. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles. Unless
they faithfully comply with such duty, they may not be able to discharge competently and
diligently their obligations as members of the bar. Worse, they may become susceptible to
committing mistakes.

In his MR, respondent begged for the consideration of the IBP, claiming that the
reason for his failure to file the proper pleading was that he did not have enough
time to acquaint himself thoroughly with the factual milieu of the case. The IBP
reconsidered and thereafter significantly reduced the penalty originally imposed.

Respondents plea for leniency should not have been granted.

The supposed lack of time given to respondent to acquaint himself with the facts of
the case does not excuse his negligence.

Rule 18.02 of the Code provides that a lawyer shall not handle any legal matter
without adequate preparation. While it is true that respondent was not complainants
lawyer from the trial to the appellate court stage, this fact did not excuse him from
his duty to diligently study a case he had agreed to handle. If he felt he did not
have enough time to study the pertinent matters involved, as he was approached by
complainants husband only two days before the expiration of the period for filing
the Appellants Brief, respondent should have filed a motion for extension of time
to file the proper pleading instead of whatever pleading he could come up with,

[27]
just to beat the deadline set by the Court of Appeals.

Moreover, respondent does not deny that he was given notice of the fact that he
filed the wrong pleading. However, instead of explaining his side by filing a
comment, as ordered by the appellate court, he chose to ignore the CAs Order. He
claims that he was under the presumption that complainant and her husband had
already settled the case, because he had not heard from the husband since the filing
of the latters Memorandum of Appeal.

This explanation does not excuse respondents actions.

First of all, there were several remedies that respondent could have availed
himself of, from the moment he received the Notice from the CA to the moment
he received the disbarment Complaint filed against him. But because of his
negligence, he chose to sit on the case and do nothing.

Second, respondent, as counsel, had the duty to inform his clients of the status of
their case. His failure to do so amounted to a violation of Rule 18.04 of the Code,
which reads:

18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within
a reasonable time to the clients request for information.

If it were true that all attempts to contact his client proved futile, the least
respondent could have done was to inform the CA by filing a Notice of Withdrawal
of Appearance as counsel. He could have thus explained why he was no longer the
counsel of complainant and her husband in the case and informed the court that he

[28]
could no longer contact them. His failure to take this measure proves his
negligence.

Lastly, the failure of respondent to file the proper pleading and a comment on
Duigans Motion to Dismiss is negligence on his part. Under 18.03 of the Code, a
lawyer is liable for negligence in handling the clients case, viz:

Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
connection therewith shall render him liable.
Lawyers should not neglect legal matters entrusted to them, otherwise their
negligence in fulfilling their duty would render them liable for disciplinary action.

[29]

Respondent has failed to live up to his duties as a lawyer. When a lawyer violates
his duties to his client, he engages in unethical and unprofessional conduct for

[30]
which he should be held accountable.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Venancio Padilla is found guilty of violating


Rules 18.02, 18.03, 18.04, as well as Canon 5 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Hence, he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for SIX (6)
MONTHS and STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or a similar
offense will be dealt with more severely.
Let copies of this Resolution be entered into the personal records of respondent as
a member of the bar and furnished to the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, and the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts of the country
for their information and guidance.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION
A.C. No. 11323, September 14, 2016
NICOLAS ROBERT MARTIN EGGER, Complainant, v. ATTY. FRANCISCO P. DURAN, Respondent.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
For the Court's resolution is a Complaint 1 dated November 27, 2014 filed before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) by complainant Nicolas Robert Martin Egger (complainant) against respondent Atty.
Francisco P. Duran (respondent), praying that the latter be meted disciplinary sanctions for his failure to
perform his undertaking as counsel and to return complainant's money despite demand and earlier promise
to do so, in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).

The Facts

Complainant alleged that on January 22, 2014, he engaged respondent's services to file on his behalf a
petition for the annulment of his marriage. As consideration therefor, complainant deposited the total
amount of P100,000.00 to respondent's bank account, spread over two (2) tranches of P50,000.00 each.
Despite such payment, respondent never prepared, much less filed, said petition. This prompted
complainant to terminate respondent's services due to loss of trust and confidence. Further, complainant,
through his wife,2 Dioly Rose Reposo (Reposo), wrote a letter3 demanding for the return of the P100,000.00
he gave to respondent as lawyer's fees. In reply, respondent wrote complainant a letter 4 promising the
return of the aforesaid amount before the end of May 2014. However, respondent did not fulfill his promise,
prompting complainant to hire a new counsel, who in turn, wrote another letter 5 demanding for the return of
the said lawyer's fees. As the second demand letter went unheeded, complainant filed the instant case
against respondent.6chanrobleslaw

In various issuances, the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP CBD) required respondent to file his
Answer,7 as well as to appear in the mandatory conference, 8 but the latter failed to do so. Resultantly, the
IBP issued an Order9 dated March 18, 2015 submitting the case for report and recommendation.

On March 26, 2015, however, respondent belatedly filed his Answer 10 praying for the dismissal of the instant
complaint. Respondent averred that he had no lawyer-client relationship with complainant as his client was
the latter's wife, Reposo. Further, while respondent admitted the receipt of P100,000.00 and that no petition
for annulment was filed, he denied being remiss in his duties as a lawyer, explaining that such non-filing was
due to, inter alia, Reposo's failure to pay the full acceptance fee amounting to P150,000.00, as well as to
produce her psychiatric evaluation report. Finally, respondent claimed that his failure to return the
P100,000.00 fee he collected was due to the fact that he lost most of his assets due to Typhoon Yolanda.
Nevertheless, he signified his intention to return said fee as soon as he recovers from his dire financial
condition.11
chanrobleslaw

The IBP's Report and Recommendation

In its Report and Recommendation12 dated April 21, 2015, the IBP-CBD found respondent administratively
liable and, accordingly, recommended that he be meted the penalty of suspension from the practice of law
for a period of six (6) months and ordered to return the amount of P100,000.00 with legal interest from
April25, 2014 to complainants. It was likewise recommended that respondent show compliance with such
directives within thirty (30) days from the finality of the suspension order by the Court. 13 Essentially, the
IBP-CBD found respondent guilty of violating Canon 18 of the CPR for neglecting a legal matter entrusted to
him (i.e., the filing of the petition for annulment of marriage), and Canon 16 of the same for his failure to
hold in trust all the money he received from complainant. 14 chanroble slaw

In a Resolution15 dated June 20, 2015, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the aforesaid
report and recommendation with modification deleting the imposition of legal interest.

The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for
violating the CPR.

The Court's Ruling

A judicious perusal of the records reveals that sometime in January 2014, complainant and Reposo had
already forged a lawyer-client relationship with respondent, considering that the latter agreed to file a
petition for annulment of marriage in their behalf, and in connection therewith, received the aggregate
amount of P100,000.00 representing legal fees. Case law instructs that a lawyer-client relationship
commences when a lawyer signifies his agreement to handle a client's case and accepts money representing
legal fees from the latter,16 as in this case. Respondent's contention that he only has a lawyer-client
relationship with Reposo but not with her husband, the complainant, is belied by the letter 17 dated April 25,
2014 signed by no less than Reposo herself which shows that she and complainant jointly sought the
services of respondent to work on their annulment case, but had to eventually withdraw therefrom on
account of respondent's failure to render any actual legal service despite their agreement and payment of
legal fees amounting to P100,000.00.

Once a lawyer takes up the cause of his client, he is duty-bound to serve the latter with competence, and to
attend to such client's cause with diligence, care, and devotion whether he accepts it for a fee or for free. He
owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed upon him. 18 This
is commanded by Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the CPR, which reads: ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

xxxx

Rule 18.03- A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.
However, respondent admittedly breached this duty when he failed to prepare, much less file, the
appropriate pleading to initiate complainant and Reposo's case. before the proper court. Respondent's
additional contention that his failure to file the petition was due to complainant and Reposo's failure to remit
the full acceptance fee of P150,000.00 is not an excuse to abandon his client's cause considering that his
duty to safeguard his client's interests commences from his retainer until his effective discharge from the
case or the final disposition of the entire subject matter of litigation. To reiterate, respondent's act of
agreeing to handle complainant's case, coupled with his acceptance of the partial payment of P100,000.00,
already established an attorney-client relationship that gave rise to his duty of fidelity to the client's cause. 19
Indubitably, respondent's neglect of a legal matter entrusted him by complainant and Reposo constitutes
inexcusable negligence for which he must be held administratively liable.

Further, respondent also violated Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the CPR when he failed to return the
amount of P100,000.00 representing the legal fees that complainant paid him, viz.: ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

CANON 16 - A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY
COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.

Rule 16.01 - A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client.

xxxx

Rule 16.03 -A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. x x x.
"The relationship between a lawyer and his client is highly fiduciary and prescribes on a lawyer a great
fidelity and good faith. The highly fiduciary nature of this relationship imposes upon the lawyer the duty to
account for the money or property collected or received for or from his client. Thus, a lawyer's failure to
return upon demand the funds held by him on behalf of his client, as in this case, gives rise to the
presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use in violation of the trust reposed in him by
his client. Such act is a gross violation of general morality, as well as of professional ethics." 20 chanrobleslaw

Having established respondent's administrative liability, the Court now determines the proper penalty to be
imposed upon him.

Case law provides that in similar instances where lawyers neglected their client's affairs and at the same
time failed to return the latter's money and/or property despite demand, the Court imposed upon them the
penalty of suspension from the practice of law. In Segovia-Ribaya v. Lawsin,21 the Court suspended the
lawyer for a period of one (1) year for his failure to perform his undertaking under his retainership
agreement with his client and to return the money given to him by the latter.22Similarly, in Meneses v.
Macalino,23 the same penalty was imposed on a lawyer who failed to render any legal service to his client, as
well as to return the money he received for such purpose. 24 These pronouncements notwithstanding, there
have been instances where the Court tempered the penalty imposed upon a lawyer due to humanitarian and
equitable considerations.25 In view of the foregoing, and taking into consideration respondent's dire
cralawred

financial condition brought by Typhoon Yolanda and his willingness to return the money he received from
complainant as soon as he recovers from such economic status, the Court finds it appropriate to sustain the
recommended suspension from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.

Finally, the Court sustains the IBP's recommendation ordering respondent to return the amount of
P100,000.00 he received from complainant as legal fees. It is well to note that "while the Court has
previously held that disciplinary proceedings should only revolve around the determination of the
respondent-lawyer's administrative and not his civil liability, it must be clarified that this rule remains
applicable only to claimed liabilities which are purely civil in nature for instance, when the claim involves
moneys received by the lawyer from his client in a transaction separate and distinct and not intrinsically
linked to his professional engagement." 26 Hence, since respondent received the aforesaid amount as part of
his legal fees, the Court finds the return thereof to be in order.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco P. Duran is found guilty of violating Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon
16 and Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months, effective upon the finality of this
Decision, and STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more
severely.

Further, respondent is ORDERED to return to complainant Nicolas Robert Martin Egger the legal fees he
received from the latter in the amount of P100,000.00 within ninety (90) days from the finality of this
Decision. Failure to comply with the foregoing directive will warrant the imposition of a more severe penalty.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to respondent's
personal record as a member of the Bar. Likewise, let copies of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all courts in
the country for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED. chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Sereno, C.J., (Chairperson), Leonardo-De Castro, and Caguioa, JJ., concur.


Bersamin, J., on official leave.

FIRST DIVISION
A.C. No. 2404, August 17, 2016
NILO B. DIONGZON, Petitioner, v. ATTY. WILLIAM MIRANO, Respondent.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
A lawyer who agrees to represent a client's interests in the latter's business dealings is duty-bound to keep
the confidence of such client, even after their lawyer-client relationship had ended. If he represents any
other party in a case against his former client over a business deal he oversaw during the time of their
professional relationship, he is guilty of representing conflicting interests, and should be properly sanctioned
for ethical misconduct.

The Case

Before the Court is the petition for review of the Resolution No. 2013-160 adopted by the Board of
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on the complaint for disbarment filed by the
complainant against respondent Atty. William Mirano,1 whereby the IBP Board of Governors found the
respondent guilty of representing conflicting interest, and recommended the penalty of suspension from the
practice of law for one year. The respondent assails the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors.

Antecedents

On the dates material to this case, the complainant was a businessman engaged in the fishing industry in
Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. In 1979, he retained the respondent as his legal counsel to represent him
as the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 10679 then pending in the City Court of Bacolod City (Branch 1). In
November 1981, the complainant again retained the respondent as his lawyer in relation to the execution of
two deeds of sale covering the boats the former was selling to Spouses Almanzur and Milagros Gonzales
(Gonzaleses).2 In January 1982, the parties herein signed a retainer contract for legal services that covered
legal representation in cases and transactions involving, the fishing business of the complainant. 3
chanrobleslaw

In February 1982, the Gonzaleses sued the complainant for replevin and damages, and sought the
annulment of the aforementioned deeds of sale. 4 They were represented by Atty. Romeo Flora, the associate
of the respondent in his law office. It appears that the bond they filed to justify the manual delivery of the
boats subject of the suit had been notarially acknowledged before the respondent without the knowledge
and prior consent of the complainant; 5 and that the respondent eventually entered his appearance as the
counsel for the Gonzaleses against the respondent.6 chanroble slaw

On May 24, 1982, therefore, the complainant initiated this administrative complaint for disbarment against
the respondent by verified letter-complaint.7 chanrobleslaw

The respondent thereafter sought several times the extension of the time for him to file his comment.

In the meantime, Atty. Flora, in an attempt to explain why the respondent had appeared as counsel for the
Gonzaleses, filed a manifestation claiming that the Gonzaleses had been his own personal clients, and that
he had only requested the respondent's appearance because he had been indisposed at the time. 8 chanroble slaw

The complainant belied the explanation of Atty. Flora, however, and pointed out that Atty. Flora was actually
a new lawyer then working in the law office of the respondent. 9 As proof, the complainant submitted the
stationery showing the letterhead of the law office of the respondent that included Atty. Flora's name as an
associate.10
chanroble slaw

In his answer dated September 9, 1982, 11 the respondent stated that the complainant had been his client in
a different civil case; that the complainant had never consulted him upon any other legal matter; that the
complainant had only presented the deeds of sale prepared by another lawyer because he had not been
contented with the terms thereof: that he had not been the complainant's retained counsel because the
retainer agreement did not take effect; that he had returned the amount paid to him by the complainant;
that he had appeared for the Gonzaleses only after their evidence against the complainant had been
presented; that the complainant had approached him when he needed a lawyer to defend him from an
estafa charge: and that the complainant had even wanted him to falsify documents in relation to that estafa
case, but because he had refused his bidding, the complainant had then filed this administrative case
against him.12 chanrobleslaw

Proceedings before the IBP

The complaint was referred to the IBP for investigation. The case was heard over a long period of time
spanning 1985 to 2003,13 and the IBP Board of Governors finally recommended on February 13, 2013 that
the respondent be held guilty of conflict of interest for appearing as the counsel for the opponents of the
complainant with whom he had an existing lawyer-client relationship, a gross violation of his ethical duties
as an attorney; and that he should be punished with suspension from the practice of law for one year.

The Court noted the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors on April 1, 2014.

The respondent filed in this Court a Manifestation with Motion and a Supplement to Manifestation with
Motion, wherein he proceeded to argue against the findings although he initially claimed not to have been
furnished with the IBP Board of Governors' recommendation. He posited that he still had a pending Motion
for Reconsideration in the IBP, and requested that this case be remanded to the IBP for disposition.

Ruling of the Court

We uphold the findings and recommendations of the IBP Board of Governors because they were
substantiated by the records.

On the preliminary matter of procedure being raised by the respondent, it is unnecessary to remand this
case to the IBP for further investigation and disposition by the IBP. Remanding the case to the IBP would be
superfluous and unnecessary. The complaint was filed in 1982, and since then the case underwent three
decades of hearings before different investigating commissioners of the IBP. The matters subject of the
complaint were extensively covered and sifted. In our view, the records are already adequate for resolution
of the charge against the respondent, which, after all, is something that only the Court can ultimately do.

Was the respondent guilty of representing conflict of interest?

The lawyer-client relationship begins from the moment a client seeks the lawyer's advice upon a legal
concern. The seeking may be for consultation on transactions or other legal concerns, or for representation
of the client in an actual case in the courts or other fora. From that moment on, the lawyer is bound to
respect the relationship and to maintain the trust and confidence of his client. No written agreement is
necessary to generate a lawyer-client relationship, but in formalizing it, the lawyer may present a retainer
agreement to be considered and agreed to by the client. As with all contracts, the agreement must contain
all the terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties.

In this case, the respondent presented such a retainer contract to the complainant, the terms of which are
stated below: ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The CLIENT retains and employs the ATTORNEY to take charge of the legal matters of the former in
connection with his fishing business, and the attorney accepts such retainer and employment subject to the
following terms and conditions, to wit: ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
1. That the term of this contract shall be for two "2" years beginning February, 1982 but is deemed
automatically renewed for the same period if not terminated by both parties by virtue of an agreement to
that effect and signed by them;
2.
3.
4. That the compensation to be paid by the client for the services of the attorney, .shall be three hundred
pesos (P300.00) a month;
5.
6.
7. That the attorney may be consulted at all times by CLIENT on all business requiring his professional advice
and opinion and when the ATTORNEY gives a written opinion, a copy shall be sent to the CLIENT;
8.
9.
10. That the duties of the attorney in this retainer contract shall include consultations, opinions, legal advices,
preparations and drafting of contracts and other legal papers, and other legal works, in connection with the
business of the CLIENT, except those cases involving trials in court, which if they are entrusted to the
ATTORNEY, shall be subject to a new agreement;14
11.
Both parties signed their retainer contract on January 20, IS82. Contrary to the assertion of the respondent,
the retainer agreement did not contain a suspensive condition that affected its effectivity as of the date of its
execution. It simply stipulated that the respondent would represent the interests of the complainant in all
matters pertaining to his fishing business, thereby formalizing their lawyer-client relationship. The
respondent's insistence that the complainant should return all the checks to the Gonzaleses relative to the
sale of the fishing boats was clearly not part of the contract.

The lawyer-client relationship between the parties was duly established beginning in 1979 and lasted until
1982. The respondent's claim that he returned the retainer fee did not alter the juridical existence of their
lawyer-client relationship. When the complainant consulted him on the sale of the boats to the Gonzaleses,
the respondent reviewed the contracts of sale in the capacity of the complainant's lawyer, and even
notarized the same. He became aware of the details of the sale by virtue of the confidentiality generated by
his lawyer-client relationship with the complainant.

Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility enjoins lawyers to observe candor, fairness and loyalty in
all their dealings and transactions with their clients. Specifically, Canon 15.03 demands that: "A lawyer shall
not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of
the facts." A conflict of interest exists where a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two opposing
parties, like when the lawyer performs an act that will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which
he represented him, or when the lawyer uses any knowledge he previously acquired from his first client
against the latter.15 The prohibition against conflict of interest is founded on principles of public policy and
good taste, inasmuch as the lawyer-client relationship is based on trust and confidence. 16 A lawyer has a
duty to preserve his client's confidence in him, even if their relationship ends. The purpose is to assure
freedom of communication between the lawyer and the client in order to enable the former to properly
represent and serve the latter's interests. To use against the latter any information the former gains during
the relationship is deplorable and unethical.

When he appeared in court for the benefit of the Gonzaleses to try the case against the complainant, the
respondent unquestionably incurred a conflict of interest. Having become privy to the terms of the sale
subject of the civil case, the conflict of interest became unmitigated because the complainant had not
expressly consented in writing to his appearing in behalf of the Gonzaleses. It would have been more
prudent for him to have excused himself from representing either party in the civil case.

In cavalier fashion, the respondent has cited his accomplishments as a member and officer of the IBP in his
region to buttress his claim of being more credible than the complainant, supposedly a convicted felon. But
such a defense is unworthy of consideration in this instance because the praiseworthiness of one's
accomplishments and professional reputation never furnishes the license for any ethical lawyer to flagrantly
and knowingly violate the Code of Professional Responsibility.

On the penalty, we note that suspension from the practice of law for one year was imposed on the lawyer
who had appeared as defense counsel for the accused in an estafa case despite having written and sent the
demand letter for the complainant in the same case.17 In another case, the same penalty was imposed on
the lawyer who had initially drafted a deed of sale for the client, and who eventually filed a case against said
client to annul the same contract.18 Such penalty is appropriate and commensurate for this case.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court AFFIRMS the Resolution adopted on February 13, 2013 by the Board of
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; FINDS and DECLARES Atty. William N. Mirano guilty of
ethical misconduct due to conflict of interest, and, ACCORDINGLY, SUSPENDS him from the practice of
law for ONE YEAR, effective immediately upon receipt of this decision.

Let copies of this decision be entered in the personal records of Atty. Mirano in the Office of the Bar
Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and a copy of this decision be furnished to the Office of
the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts in the country.

SO ORDERED. chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Sereno, C.J., Leonardo-De Castro, Perlas-Bernabe, and Caguioa, JJ., concur.


Endnotes:

EN BANC
A.C. No. 11113, August 09, 2016
CLEO B. DONGGA-AS, Complainant, v. ATTY. ROSE BEATRIX CRUZ-ANGELES, ATTY. WYLIE M.
PALER, AND ATTY. ANGELES GRANDEA, OF THE ANGELES, GRANDEA & PALER LAW OFFICE,
Respondent.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
For the Court's resolution is a Complaint-Affidavit 1 filed on February 11, 2005 by complainant Cleo B.
Dongga-as (complainant), before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline
(CBD), against respondents Atty. Rose Beatrix Cruz-Angeles (Atty. Cruz-Angeles), Atty. Wylie M. Paler (Atty.
Paler), and Atty. Angeles Grandea (Atty. Grandea; collectively, respondents) of the Angeles, Grandea & Paler
Law Office (law firm), charging them of various violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR)
for, inter alia, refusing to return the money given by complainant in exchange for legal services which
respondents failed to perform.

The Facts

Complainant alleged that sometime in May 2004, he engaged the law firm of respondents to handle the
annulment of his marriage with his wife, Mutya Filipinas Puno-Dongga-as (Mutya). In his meeting with Attys.
Cruz-Angeles and Paler, complainant was told that: (a) the case would cost him P300,000.00, with the first
P100,000.00 payable immediately and the remaining P200,000.00 payable after the final hearing of the
case; (b) respondents will start working on the case upon receipt of PI00,000.00, which will cover the
acceptance fee, psychologist fee, and filing fees; and (c) the time-frame for the resolution of the case will be
around three (3) to four (4) months from filing. Accordingly, complainant paid respondents P100,000.00
which was duly received by Atty. Cruz-Angeles.2 chanrobleslaw

From then on, complainant constantly followed-up his case with Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler. However,
despite his constant prodding, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler could not present any petition and instead,
offered excuses for the delay, saying that: (a) they still had to look for a psychologist to examine Mutya; (b)
they were still looking for a "friendly" court and public prosecutor; and (c) they were still deliberating where
to file the case.3 They promised that the petition would be filed on or before the end of June 2004, but such
date passed without any petition being filed. As an excuse, they reasoned out that the petition could not be
filed since they have yet to talk to the judge who they insinuated will favorably resolve complainant's
petition.4
chanroble slaw

Sometime in the third week of July 2004, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler asked for an additional payment of
P250,000.00 in order for them to continue working on the case. Hoping that his petition would soon be filed,
complainant dutifully paid the said amount on July 23, 2004, which was again received by Atty. Cruz-
Angeles.5 However, to complainant's dismay, no appreciable progress took place. When complainant inquired
about the delay in the filing of the case, Atty. Cruz-Angeles attempted to ease his worries by saying that the
draft petition was already submitted to the judge for editing and that the petition will soon be finalized. 6 chanrobleslaw

In the last week of September 2004, complainant received a text message from Atty. Cruz-Angeles
informing him that the National Statistics Office bore no record of his marriage. The latter explained then
that this development was favorable to complainant's case because, instead of the proposed petition for
annulment of marriage, they would just need to file a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. She also
informed complainant that they would send someone to verify the records of his marriage at the Local Civil
Registrar of La Trinidad, Benguet (Civil Registrar) where his marriage was celebrated. However, upon
complainant's independent verification through his friend, he discovered that the records of his marriage in
the Civil Registrar were intact, and that the alleged absence of the records of his marriage was a mere ruse
to cover up the delay in the filing of the petition. 7 chanrobleslaw

Utterly frustrated with the delay in the filing of his petition for annulment, complainant went to respondents'
law office to terminate their engagement and to demand for a refund of the aggregate amount of
P350,000.00 he earlier paid them. However, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler refused to return the said
amount, and to complainant's surprise, sent him two (2) billing statements dated October 5, 2004 8 and
October 10, 20049 in the amounts of P258,000.00 and P324,000.00, respectively. Notably, the October 5,
2004 billing statement included a fee for "consultants (prosecutors)" amounting to P45,000.00. 10 In view of
the foregoing, complainant filed the instant Complaint-Affidavit before the IBP-CBD, docketed as CBD Case
No. 05-1426.

In her defense,11 Atty. Cruz-Angeles admitted to have received a total of P350,000.00 from complainant, 12
but denied that she was remiss in her duties, explaining that the delay in the filing of the petition for
annulment of marriage was due to complainant's failure to give the current address of Mutya and provide
sufficient evidence to support the petition. 13 Further, Atty. Cruz-Angeles alleged that it was Atty. Paler who
was tasked to draft and finalize the petition. 14 For his part,15 Atty. Paler moved for the dismissal of the case
for failure to state a cause of action, arguing too that complainant filed the present administrative complaint
only to avoid payment of attorney's fees.16 chanroble slaw

The IBP's Report and Recommendation

In a Report and Recommendation 17 dated July 10, 2012, the IBP Investigating Commissioner found Attys.
Cruz-Angeles and Paler administratively liable and, accordingly, recommended that they be meted the
penalty of suspension from the practice of law for four (4) months. However, Atty. Grandea was exonerated
of any liability as his participation in the charges has not been discussed, much less proven. 18 chanrobleslaw

The Investigating Commissioner found that complainant indeed engaged the services of Attys. Cruz-Angeles
and Paler in order to annul his marriage with his wife, Mutya. Despite receiving the aggregate amount of
P350,000.00 from complainant, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler neglected the legal matter entrusted to them,
as evidenced by their failure to just even draft complainant's petition for annulment despite being engaged
for already five (5) long months. 19 Moreover, as pointed out by the Investigating Commissioner, despite their
preliminary assessment that complainant's petition would not likely prosper, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler
still proceeded to collect an additional P250,000.00 from complainant. Worse, they even billed him an
exorbitant sum of P324,000.00.20Thus, the Investigating Commissioner opined that the amounts
respondents had already collected and would still want to further collect from complainant can hardly be
spent for research in connection with the annulment case that was not filed at all. Neither can they cover
just fees for Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler who did nothing to serve complainant's cause. 21 chanrobleslaw

In a Resolution dated September 28, 2013, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the
22

aforesaid Report and Recommendation, with modification increasing the recommended penalty to two (2)
years suspension from the practice of law. Atty. Cruz-Angeles moved for reconsideration, 23 which was,
however, denied in a Resolution24 dated June 7, 2015.

The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue in this case is whether or not Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler should be held
administratively liable for violating the CPR.

The Court's Ruling

A judicious perusal of the records reveals that sometime in May 2004, complainant secured the services of
Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler for the purpose of annulling his marriage with Mutya, and in connection
therewith, paid Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler the aggregate sum of P350,000.00 representing legal fees.
However, despite the passage of more than five (5) months from the engagement, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and
Paler failed to file the appropriate pleading to initiate the case before the proper court; and worse, could not
even show a finished draft of such pleading. Such neglect of the legal matter entrusted to them by their
client constitutes a flagrant violation of Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the CPR, to wit: ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.
Case law exhorts that, "once a lawyer takes up the cause of his client, he is duty-bound to serve the latter
with competence, and to attend to such client's cause with diligence, care, and devotion whether he accepts
it for a fee or for free. He owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed upon him. Therefore, a lawyer's neglect of a legal matter entrusted to him by his client constitutes
inexcusable negligence for which he must be held administratively liable," 25 as in this case.
cralawred

In this relation, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler also violated Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the CPR
when they failed to return to complainant the amount of P350,000.00 representing their legal fees, viz. :
CANON 16 A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY
COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.

Rule 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client.

Rule 16.03 A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand, x x x.
It bears stressing that "the relationship between a lawyer and his client is highly fiduciary and prescribes on
a lawyer a great fidelity and good faith. The highly fiduciary nature of this relationship imposes upon the
lawyer the duty to account for the money or property collected or received for or from his client. Thus, a
lawyer's failure to return upon demand the funds held by him on behalf of his client, as in this case, gives
rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use in violation of the trust reposed
in him by his client. Such act is a gross violation of general morality, as well as of professional ethics." 26 chanroble slaw

Furthermore, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler misrepresented to complainant that the delay in the filing of his
petition for annulment was due to the fact that they were still looking for a "friendly" court, judge, and
public prosecutor who will not be too much of a hindrance in achieving success in the annulment case. In
fact, in the two (2) billing statements dated October 5, 2004 27 and October 10, 2004,28 Attys. Cruz-Angeles
and Paler made it appear that they went to various locations to look for a suitable venue in filing the said
petition, and even paid various amounts to prosecutors and members of the National Bureau of Investigation
to act as their "consultants." Such misrepresentations and deceits on the part of Attys. Cruz-Angeles and
Paler are violations of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR, viz.:
CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
and legal processes.

Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR instructs that "[a]s officers of the court, lawyers are bound to maintain not
only a high standard of legal proficiency, but also of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing." 29 Clearly,
Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler fell short of such standard when they committed the afore-described acts of
misrepresentation and deception against complainant. Their acts are not only unacceptable, disgraceful, and
dishonorable to the legal profession; they also reveal basic moral flaws that make Attys. Cruz-Angeles and
Paler unfit to practice law.30
chanroble slaw

As members of the Bar, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler should not perform acts that would tend to undermine
and/or denigrate the integrity of the courts, such as insinuating that they can find a "friendly" court and
judge that will ensure a favorable ruling in complainant's annulment case. It is their sworn duty as lawyers
and officers of the court to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts. Respect for the courts guarantees
the stability of the judicial institution. Without this guarantee, the institution would be resting on very shaky
foundations.31 This is the very thrust of Canon 11 of the CPR, which provides that "[a] lawyer shall observe
and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by
others." Hence, lawyers who are remiss in performing such sworn duty violate the aforesaid Canon 11, and
as such, should be held administratively liable and penalized accordingly, as in this case. [32]
chanroble slaw

Moreover, Canon 7 of the CPR commands every lawyer to "at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the
legal profession" for the strength of the legal profession lies in the dignity and integrity of its members. It is
every lawyer's duty to maintain the high regard to the profession by staying true to his oath and keeping his
actions beyond reproach. It must be reiterated that as an officer of the court, it is a lawyer's 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; as acts and/or omissions emanating from lawyers which
tend to undermine the judicial edifice is disastrous to the continuity of the government and to the
attainment of the liberties of the people. Thus, all lawyers should be bound not only to safeguard the good
name of the legal profession, but also to keep inviolable the honor, prestige, and reputation of the
judiciary.33 In this case, Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler compromised the integrity not only of the judiciary,
but also of the national prosecutorial service, by insinuating that they can influence a court, judge, and
prosecutor to cooperate with them to ensure the annulment of complainant's marriage. Indubitably, Attys.
Cruz-Angeles and Paler also violated Canon 7 of the CPR, and hence, they should be held administratively
liable therefor.

Anent the proper penalty for Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler, jurisprudence provides that in similar cases
where lawyers neglected their client's affairs, failed to return the latter's money and/or property despite
demand, and at the same time committed acts of misrepresentation and deceit against their clients, the
Court imposed upon them the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years.
In Jinon v. Jiz 34 the Court suspended the lawyer for a period of two (2) years for his failure to return the
amount his client gave him for his legal services which he never performed. Also, in Agot v. Rivera, 35 the
Court suspended the lawyer for a period of two (2) years for his (a) failure to handle the legal matter
entrusted to him and to return the legal fees in connection therewith; and (b) misrepresentation that he was
an immigration lawyer, when in truth, he was not. Finally, in Spouses Lopez v. Limos, 36 the Court suspended
the erring lawyer for three (3) years for her failure to file a petition for adoption on behalf of complainants,
return the money she received as legal fees, and for her commission of deceitful acts in misrepresenting
that she had already filed such petition when nothing was actually filed, resulting in undue prejudice to
therein complainants. In this case, not only did Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler fail to file complainant's
petition for annulment of marriage and return what the latter paid them as legal fees, they likewise
misrepresented that they can find a court, judge, and prosecutor who they can easily influence to ensure a
favorable resolution of such petition, to the detriment of the judiciary and the national prosecutorial service.
Under these circumstances, the Court individually imposes upon Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler the penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years.

Finally, the Court sustains the IBP's recommendation ordering Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler to return the
amount of P350,000.00 they received from complainant as legal fees. It is well to note that "while the Court
has previously held that disciplinary proceedings should only revolve around the determination of the
respondent-lawyer's administrative and not his civil liability, it must be clarified that this rule remains
applicable only to claimed liabilities which are purely civil in nature for instance, when the claim involves
moneys received by the lawyer from his client in a transaction separate and distinct and not intrinsically
linked to his professional engagement." 37 Hence, since Attys. Cruz-Angeles and Paler received the aforesaid
amount as part of their legal fees, the Court finds the return thereof to be in order.

WHEREFORE, respondents Atty. Rose Beatrix Cruz-Angeles and Atty. Wylie M. Paler are found GUILTY of
violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1, Canon 7, Canon 11, Rule 18.03, Canon 18, and Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon
16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, each of them is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of three (3) years, effective upon the finality of this Decision, with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

Likewise, respondents Atty. Rose Beatrix Cruz-Angeles and Atty. Wylie M. Paler are ORDERED to return to
complainant Cleo B. Dongga-as the legal fees they received from the latter in the aggregate amount of
P350,000.00 within ninety (90) days from the finality of this Decision. Failure to comply with the foregoing
directive will warrant the imposition of a more severe penalty.

Meanwhile, the complaint as against Atty. Angeles Grandea is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

Let copies of this Decision be served on the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
and all courts in the country for their information and guidance and be attached to respondents' personal
records as attorney.

SO ORDERED. chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

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

EN BANC
A.C. No. 7618, February 02, 2016
SPOUSES JONATHAN AND ESTER LOPEZ, Complainants, v. ATTY. SINAMAR E. LIMOS, Respondent.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
For the Court's resolution is a petition 1 dated July 16, 2007 filed by complainants-spouses Jonathan and
Ester Lopez (complainants) against respondent Atty. Sinamar E. Limos (respondent), praying that the latter
be meted disciplinary sanctions for her alleged numerous and repeated violations of the Code of Professional
Responsibility (CPR) by failing to perform her undertaking as counsel and to return complainants' money
despite demands. chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

The Facts

Complainants alleged that sometime in June 2006, and while living abroad, they secured the services of
respondent as counsel in connection with their intention to adopt a minor child, Ethan Benedict Victore. 2 In
consideration therefor, complainants, through a representative, 3 paid respondent the aggregate amount of
P75,000.00, which was duly received by the latter.4 A few months later, or on October 6, 2006, they
purposely came back to the Philippines for a two (2)-week stay to commence the filing of the adoption case
before the proper court. However, despite payment and submission of all the required documents to
respondent, no petition was filed during their stay.5 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Sometime in May 2007, complainants, through Jonathan's employer, received respondent's letter 6dated
March 6, 2007, requesting that complainants be allowed to come home to the Philippines to appear and
testify in court for the adoption case she purportedly filed on behalf of complainants before the Regional Trial
Court of San Fernando City, La Union, Branch 30 (RTC), docketed as Spl. Proc. Case No. 2890. Thus,
complainants returned to the Philippines in June 2007, only to find out that: (a) Spl. Proc. Case No. 2890
referred to a petition for the declaration of the presumptive death of another person filed by another
lawyer;7 and (b) respondent had yet to file a petition for adoption on their behalf. 8 Utterly dismayed,
complainants withdrew all their documents from respondent's custody 9 and hired another lawyer to handle
the filing of the adoption case. 10 Moreover, complainants demanded the return of the amount of P75,000.00
given as legal fees.11 However, respondent refused to return such money, retorting that as a standard
operating procedure, she does not return "acceptance fees." 12 In view of the foregoing, complainants filed
the instant administrative case against respondent before this Court.

Despite numerous directives to file a comment,13 respondent failed to do so; thus, the Court was constrained
to dispense with the filing of the same and to impose a fine in the amount of P2,000.00 against her. 14 The
administrative case was then referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report,
and recommendation,15 wherein respondent similarly disregarded the IBP's directives to participate in the
Mandatory Conference and to submit her position paper despite due notice. 16 chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

The IBP's Report and Recommendation

In a Report and Recommendation17 dated January 28, 2014, the IBP Investigating Commissioner found
respondent administratively liable and, accordingly, recommended that she be meted the penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for three (3) years and ordered to return the amount of P75,000.00 with
legal interest to complainants. It was likewise recommended that respondent should show compliance with
such directives within ten (10) days from receipt of the order of suspension. 18 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The IBP Investigating Commissioner found respondent guilty of violating Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the CPR,
as she neglected the legal matter entrusted to her by complainants - i.e., the filing of the adoption case - for
almost a year until complainants finally withdrew their documents from respondent and opted to have the
filing of the case handled by another lawyer. Worse, respondent refused to return the amount of P75,000.00
representing legal fees paid by complainants to her. In this relation, the Investigating Commissioner added
that respondent's liability was further aggravated by the fact that she: (a) deceived complainants by
informing them that a petition for adoption had already been filed on their behalf, when in truth, there was
none; and (b) failed to file any comment when the Court required her to do so. 19 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In a Resolution20 dated October 10, 2014, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the aforesaid
report and recommendation, without mentioning, however, of the IBP Investigating Commissioner's
imposition of legal interest on the amount to be returned. chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for
violating the CPR. chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

The Court's Ruling

A judicious perusal of the records reveals that sometime in June 2006, complainants secured the services of
respondent in order to file a petition for adoption of a minor child named Ethan Benedict Victore, and in
connection thereto, paid the latter the amount of P75,000.00 representing legal fees. However, despite the
lapse of almost a year and for reasons unknown, respondent failed to perform anything in furtherance of the
legal matter entrusted to her by complainants. As correctly pointed out by the IBP Investigating
Commissioner, respondent's acts constitute a flagrant violation of Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the CPR, to
wit:
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

xxxx

Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.
Under the foregoing provisions, once a lawyer takes up the cause of his client, he is duty-bound to serve the
latter with competence, and to attend to such client's cause with diligence, care, and devotion whether he
accepts it for a fee or for free. He owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and
confidence reposed upon him.21 Therefore, a lawyer's neglect of a legal matter entrusted to him by his client
constitutes inexcusable negligence for which he must be held administratively liable, 22 as in this case.
In this relation, respondent also violated Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the CPR when she failed to
return the amount of P75,000.00 representing legal fees that complainants paid her, viz.: ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

CANON 16 - A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY
COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.

Rule 16.01 - A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client.

xxxx

Rule 16.03 - A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. x x x.
Verily, the relationship between a lawyer and his client is highly fiduciary and prescribes on a lawyer a great
fidelity and good faith.23 The highly fiduciary nature of this relationship imposes upon the lawyer the duty to
account for the money or property collected or received for or from his client. 24Thus, a lawyer's failure to
return upon demand the funds held by him on behalf of his client - as in this case - gives rise to the
presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use in violation of the trust reposed in him by
his client. Such act is a gross violation of general morality, as well as of professional ethics. 25 cralawred

Even worse, respondent misrepresented to complainants that she had already commenced an adoption
proceeding on behalf of the latter, as evidenced by the letter 26 dated March 6, 2007 she sent to Jonathan's
employer requesting that he, together with her wife, Ester, be allowed to come home to the Philippines to
appear and testify in court. She even provided them with a case number, Spl. Proc. Case No. 2890, which
was purportedly pending before the RTC. Such misrepresentation resulted in complainants going through the
trouble of coming back to the Philippines, only to find out that: ( a) Spl. Proc. Case No. 2890 referred to a
petition for the declaration of the presumptive death of another person filed by another lawyer; and (b)
respondent had yet to file a petition for adoption on their behalf. These deceitful acts of respondent clearly
violate Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR, which provide: ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

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

Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR instructs that, as officers of the court, lawyers are bound to maintain not only
a high standard of legal proficiency, but also of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing. 27 Indubitably,
respondent fell short of such standard when she committed the afore-described acts of deception against
complainants. Such acts are not only unacceptable, disgraceful, and dishonorable to the legal profession;
they reveal basic moral flaws that make him unfit to practice law.28 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

To aggravate further respondent's administrative liability, the Court notes that it repeatedly required her to
comment on complainants' petition, but respondent ignored such commands. Similarly, when the instant
case was referred to the IBP for investigation, report, and recommendation, respondent again disregarded
the directives of the Investigating Commissioner to attend the mandatory conference and to submit a
position paper. Such audacity on the part of respondent - which caused undue delay in the resolution of the
instant administrative case - contravenes Canon 11 and Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the CPR, all of which
read:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

CANON 11 - A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and
should insist on similar conduct by others.

xxxx

CANON 12 - A lawyer shall exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient
administration of justice.

xxxx

Rule 12.04 - A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse court
processes.
Undoubtedly, "[t]he Court's patience has been tested to the limit by what in hindsight amounts to a lawyer's
impudence and disrespectful1 bent. At the minimum, members of the legal fraternity owe courts of justice
respect, courtesy, and such other becoming conduct essential in the promotion of orderly, impartial, and
speedy justice."29 What respondent has done was the exact opposite, and hence, she must be disciplined
accordingly.

Anent the proper penalty for respondent, jurisprudence provides that in similar cases where lawyers
neglected their client's affairs and, at the same time, failed to return the latter's money and/or property
despite demand, the Court imposed upon them the penalty of suspension from the practice of law. In
Segovia-Ribaya v. Lawsin,30 the Court suspended the lawyer for a period of one (1) year for his failure to
perform his undertaking under his retainership agreement with his client and to return the money given to
him by the latter. Also, in Jinon v. Jiz,31 the Court suspended the lawyer for a period of two (2) years for his
failure to return the amount his client gave him for his legal services which he never performed. Finally, in
Agot v. Rivera,32 the Court suspended the lawyer for a period of two (2) years for his: (a) failure to handle
the legal matter entrusted to him and to return the legal fees in connection thereto; and ( b)
misrepresentation that he was an immigration lawyer, when in truth, he was not. In this case, not only did
respondent fail to file a petition for adoption on behalf of complainants and to return the money she received
as legal fees, she likewise committed deceitful acts in misrepresenting that she had already filed such
petition when nothing was actually filed, resulting in undue prejudice to complainants. On top of these,
respondent showed impertinence not only to the IBP Investigating Commissioner, but to the Court as well,
when she ignored directives to comment on the complainants' petition against her and to participate in the
investigation of the case. Under these circumstances, the Court imposes on respondent the penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years, as recommended by the IBP.

Finally, the Court sustains the IBP's recommendation ordering respondent to return the amount of
P75,000.00 she received from complainants as legal fees. It is well to note that "[w]hile the Court has
previously held that disciplinary proceedings should only revolve around the determination of the
respondent-lawyer's administrative and not his: civil liability, it must be clarified that this rule remains
applicable only to claimed liabilities which are purely civil in nature - for instance, when the claim involves
moneys received by the lawyer from his client in a transaction separate and distinct and not intrinsically
linked to his professional engagement." 33 Since respondent received the aforesaid amount as part of her
legal fees, the Court, thus, finds the return thereof to be in order, with legal interest as recommended by the
IBP Investigating Commissioner.34 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Sinamar E. Limos is found GUILTY of violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, Canon
11, Rule 12.04 of Canon 12, Rules 16.01 and 16.03 of Canon 16, and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, she is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of
three (3) years, effective upon the finality of this Decision, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same
or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

Furthermore, respondent is ORDERED to return to complainants-spouses Jonathan and Ester Lopez the
legal fees she received from the latter in the amount of P75,000.00, with legal interest, within ninety (90)
days from the finality of this Decision. Failure to comply with the foregoing directive will warrant the
imposition of a more severe penalty.

Let copies of this Decision be served on the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
and all courts in the country for their information and guidance and be attached to respondent's personal
record as attorney.

SO ORDERED. cralawla wlibrary

Sereno, C. J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Perez,
Mendoza, Reyes, Leonen, and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.
Caguioa, J., on official leave.
A.C. No. 10662
[Formerly CBD Case No. 10-2654]
JUN B. LUNA, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. DWIGHT M. GALARRITA, Respondent.
DECISION
LEONEN, J.:
Before us is a disbarment Complaint against Atty. Dwight M. Galarrita for his failure to deliver to his
client, complainant Jun B. Luna, the P100,000.00 settlement proceeds he received after entering
into a Compromise Agreement in the foreclosure case without his clients consent.
1
On April 7, 2010, Jun B. Luna (Luna) filed an Affidavit-Complaint against his lawyer, Atty. Dwight M.
Galarrita (Atty. Galarrita), before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
2
Luna alleged that he retained Atty. Galarritas legal services in filing a foreclosure Complaint on
3
October 14, 2002 before the Regional Trial Court of Gumaca, Quezon. The Complaint against one
Jose Calvario (Calvario) alleged that Calvario borrowed P100,000.00 from Luna. This loan was
4 5
secured by a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage over a parcel of land in Quezon Province. Due to
non-payment of the loan, Luna filed the Complaint praying for payment of the obligation with interest,
6
and issuance of a foreclosure decree upon Calvarios failure to fully pay within the period.
The parties tried to amicably settle the case during pre-trial, followed by Lunas presentation and
7
offer of evidence.
8
Atty. Galarrita opted to enter into a settlement with the other party after his formal offer of evidence.
9
They submitted the Kasunduan (Compromise Agreement) before the trial court on February 14,
10
2006. It provided that Calvario would pay Luna P105,000.00 as payment for his mortgaged land
11
and, in turn, Luna would cause the removal of the encumbrance annotation on the land title. The
12 13
trial court approved the Compromise Agreement in its February 20, 2006 Decision. Luna
alleged that Atty. Galarrita never informed him of this Compromise Agreement, and did not deliver to
14
him the P100,000.00 settlement proceeds Atty. Galarrita had received.
15
Lunas Complaint attached a copy of the Counsels Report dated August 12, 2003 where Atty.
Galarrita proposed and provided justifications for settlement, and waived any compensation for his
16
services in the case:
Please take note that Mr. Jose Calvario is willing, able and ready to pay you IN CASH the full
amount of One Hundred Ten Thousand Pesos (Php110,000.00), no more no less. While we are
aware that its your desire to fight this case to its ultimate legal conclusion, allow us nonetheless, to
present the pros and cons of having this case be amicably settled.
Point One: He has in his possession the original copy of the checks you issued showing that upon
signing of the Contract Of Real Estate Mortgage, he received from you Eighty Eight Thousand
Pesos (Php88,000.00) only. Meaning, he has already paid in advance his interest of 12% or the
equivalent of Twelve Thousand Pesos (Php12,000.00) when the contract was signed. Consequently,
it is useless for us to argue before the court that his principal indebtedness amounted to One
Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php100,000.00). Hence, if you accept the compromise settlement of
One Hundred Ten Thousand Pesos (Php110,000.00), you stand to gain Twenty Two Thousand
Pesos (Php22,000.00).
....
Rest assured, your undersigned counsel leaves it to your better judgment as to whether he deserves
to be paid for his legal services regarding this case against Mr. Jose Calvario.
17
Repeat, I will no longer ask from you any compensation for my services regarding this case.
(Emphasis in the original)
Atty. Galarrita wrote Luna the following: Counsels Reports, Requests for Funding, and Statements
of Accounts in relation to case developments, retainers fees, and reimbursement for expenses
18
incurred.
After learning of the settlement, Luna wrote Atty. Galarrita: "I was so surprised when you went into
plea agreement for Compromise Agreement without my knowledge [a]nd beyond to [sic] what we
19 20
had discussed." Atty. Galarrita replied through the Letter dated January 27, 2006, stating in
part:
I entered into an amicable settlement with Mr. Jose Calvario because I am certain that in this kind of
case, a compromise is better than WINNING it.
Everything is transparent. You even told me that you are not interested to acquire the land thats why
you signaled your approval of a compromise.
I was hoping that you already understood my situation. As I have told you, I cant waste my time
going to Gumaca every now and then. Traveling time is too precious for my cases here in Metro
Manila.
The point is: I did not receive any appearance fee for the numerous hearings conducted there
despite sending several statements of accounts (SOA) to your office.
If thats the case, why prolong the agony?
Why bother after all to pursue this case when indeed, you are not interested to acquire the land and
you are not bent in spending the right remuneration for your undersigned counsel?
I have nothing to hide. The money will be deposited in my savings account because I just could not
21
handle that amount of cash in my pocket.
22
In his Letter dated February 27, 2006, Luna wrote:
Yes Im not interested with that lot in Quezon, [and this is] the reason why Im the one who propose
to them [that] [w]e settle this case on our own without any lawyer, they are the one[s] who insist to go
to Court. . . . This is what we come out to [p]ropose to them, with the right amount to cover all those
only been spent including Acceptance fee. You even waive[d] your fee on this, for every hearing
which I couldnt understand, [y]et we end up that we still going [sic] to pursue this case, it was
discussed during my trip there. [This is] [t]he reason Im too surprised with your plea Agreement
23
without my knowledge.
Luna mentioned that the delay in retainers fee payments was due to Atty. Galarritas negligence in
24
handling the case.
25
In his Letter of the same date, Atty. Galarrita explained: "The reason this case was archived [was]
because I could not attend several hearings for lack of meal and transport allowance going to
Gumaca, Quezon. . . . thats moot and academic because this case was not dismissed by the court,
26
at all." Atty. Galarrita then stated that "[f]or all my shortcomings as a lawyer, I now ask
27
forgiveness. . . . But let it not be said that I betrayed you and your cases."
In August 2009, Luna received a letter from one of the heirs of Jose Calvario, Emma C. Tayag,
28
seeking delivery of the land title since they paid the P100,000.00 settlement amount. Another heir,
29
Lutchiare Calvario, wrote Luna in September 2009 again demanding delivery of title.
Luna alleged in his Affidavit-Complaint that Atty. Galarrita has not remitted the P100,000.00 to
30 31
date. He prays for Atty. Galarritas disbarment.
32 33
In his Verified Answer, Atty. Galarrita prays for the dismissal of the disbarment Complaint. He
34
argues that he entered the Compromise Agreement by virtue of a Special Power of Attorney that
35
includes this purpose. He regularly submitted reports to Luna on developments and possible
36
settlement before he entered the Compromise Agreement. He submits that Luna "slept on his
37
rights."
Atty. Galarrita adds that under their General Retainership
38 39
Agreement, Luna shall pay him _4,000.00 monthly. Luna should have paid P48,000.00 as of
November 17, 2006, and after four years with no revocation, termination, or nullification, Lunas
40
unpaid obligation amounted to P208,000.00. He listed other unpaid amounts for his legal
41 42
services. Atty. Galarrita, thus, argues for an application of the rule on retaining lien. Atty.
Galarrita also raises the two-year prescription under Rule VIII, Section 1 of the Rules of Procedure of
43
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline. More than four years elapsed
44
since their last communication in 2006 when the Compromise Agreement became final.
45
In his December 4, 2010 Report and Recommendation, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
46
Investigating Commissioner found that Atty. Galarrita violated Rule 16.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and recommended "his suspension from the practice of law for a period
47
of one (1) year[.]"
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors, in its April 15, 2013 Resolution No. XX-
48
2013-441, adopted and approved with modification the Investigating Commissioners Report and
Recommendation in that Atty. Galarrita is recommended to be "suspended from the practice of law
for six (6) months and [o]rdered to [r]eturn the amount of One Hundred Thousand (P100,000.00)
Pesos to complainant without prejudice to the filing of a collection case for retainers fee against
49
complainant." The Board of Governors denied reconsideration in its May 3, 2014 Resolution No.
50
XXI-2014-270.
The Office of the Bar Confidant reported that "no motion for reconsideration or petition for review
51
was filed as of November 17, 2014." In any case, it is this court that has the authority to discipline
52
members of the bar.
The issue for resolution is whether respondent Atty. Galarrita should be held administratively liable
for entering into a Compromise Agreement without his client complainant Lunas consent, then
refusing to turn over the settlement proceeds received.
This court acknowledges the recommendation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of
Governors, with modification increasing the period of suspension from the practice of law to two (2)
years.
I
Those in the legal profession must always conduct themselves with honesty and integrity in all their
53
dealings.
Lawyers should maintain, at all times, "a high standard of legal proficiency, morality, honesty,
integrity and fair dealing, and must perform their four-fold duty to society, the legal profession, the
courts and their clients, in accordance with the values and norms embodied in the Code [of
54
Professional Responsibility]."
Members of the bar took their oath to conduct themselves "according to the best of [their] knowledge
55
and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [their] clients[,]" and to "delay no
56
man for money or malice[.]"
These mandates apply especially to dealings of lawyers with their clients considering the highly
57
fiduciary nature of their relationship. Clients entrust their causeslife, liberty, and propertyto
their lawyers, certain that this confidence would not be abused.
Complainant Luna entrusted respondent Atty. Galarrita with handling the civil case involving a
mortgaged land in Quezon Province. However, without complainant Lunas consent, respondent Atty.
Galarrita settled this case with the other party.
Article 1878 of the Civil Code provides that "[s]pecial powers of attorney are necessary in the
following cases: . . . (3) To compromise, to submit questions to arbitration, to renounce the right to
appeal from a judgment, to waive objections to the venue of an action or to abandon a prescription
already acquired[.]"
The Rules of Court thus requires lawyers to secure special authority from their clients when entering
into a compromise agreement that dispenses with litigation:
SEC. 23. Authority of attorneys to bind clients. Attorneys have authority to bind their clients in any
case by any agreement in relation thereto made in writing and in taking appeals, and in all matters of
ordinary judicial procedure. But they cannot, without special authority, compromise their
58
clients litigation, or receive anything in discharge of a clients claim but the full amount in cash.
(Emphasis supplied)
Atty. Galarrita contends that he holds a Special Power of Attorney to enter into compromise
agreements, but as found by the Investigating Commissioner:
There seems to be a compelling reason to believe that Complainant had not given any
authority for the Complainant [sic] to enter into Compromise Agreement at that precise stage
of the trial. Firstly, the Complainant was not made a party to the Compromise Agreement despite
the fact that he was not abroad when the agreement was executed. Secondly, there was no
indication that he had agreed to the amount of P100,000.00 in exchange for his withdrawal of the
complaint. Thirdly, he was not seasonably informed of the execution of the Compromise
Agreement/payment of the P100,000.00 and came to know of the same only much later.
Respondent argued that Complainant had previously executed a Special Power of Attorney wherein
he authorized the former to "enter into possible amicable settlement or submit any matter to
arbitration and alternative modes of dispute resolution, simplification of the issues, the necessity of
amendment to the pleadings, the possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and of
documents to avoid unnecessary proof, the limitation of the number of witnesses, the advisability of
preliminary reference of issues to a commissioner, the propriety of rendering judgment on the
pleadings, or summary judgment, or of dismissing the action should a valid ground therefor be found
to exist, the advisability of suspending the proceedings, offer matters that may properly be
considered under Rule 18 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure." It would seem, however, that
despite the authority given to Respondent, the same SPA cannot justify Respondents representation
in the Compromise Agreement on February 14, 2006. To dissect, the SPA was executed on
September 16, 2002 or a month before the filing of the Complaint for Foreclosure of
Mortgage. Thus, the conclusion seems to be that the authority given therein to Respondent
to enter into a possible settlement referred only to a possible settlement that could be
secured or firmed up during the preliminary conference or pre-trial of the case. In fact, the
tenor of the SPA indicates that the SPA was precisely executed in order to constitute Respondent as
Complainants representative during the preliminary conference or pre-trial.
Assuming it can be inferred that the SPA and the authority given to Respondent can be liberally
interpreted and allowed to extend up to the time the Compromise had been executed, still the
Respondent may not have faithfully performed his sworn duty to his client. During the mandatory
conference, it was established that at the time the compromise was executed the Complainant was
not abroad and, therefore, given the current information technology it would have been easy or
convenient for Respondent to have informed his client about it. Admittedly, his failure in this regard
had only given Complainant the reason to cast doubt on his real intention in agreeing to the
compromise agreement for and in his behalf.
It would seem, however, that by Complainants act of demanding the amount from Respondent, the
former may have already ignored the issue on the lack of authority on his part thus curing the defect
59
on the latters authority to enter into the same. (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)
Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in
60
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." Members of the bar must always conduct
61
themselves in a way that promotes "public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession."
Even though complainant Luna effectively abandoned the issue on respondent Atty. Galarritas lack
of authority to compromise the civil case when he demanded the payment of the settlement
proceeds, this does not erase his acts of abusing the trust and confidence reposed in him by
complainant Luna.
II
Worse, respondent Atty. Galarrita not only failed to promptly inform complainant Luna of the formers
receipt of the P100,000.00 settlement proceeds but also refused to turn over the amount to
complainant Luna. This court has held that "any money collected for the client or other trust property
62
coming into the lawyers possession should promptly be reported by him [or her]." Rule 16.03
under Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that:
CANON 16 A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into
his possession.
....
Rule 16.03 A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand.
However, he shall have a lien over the funds and may apply so much thereof as may be necessary
to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving notice promptly thereafter to his client. He shall
also have a lien to the same extent on all judgments and executions he has secured for his client as
provided for in the Rules of Court.
In several cases, we have disciplined lawyers who failed or refused to remit amounts received for
and on behalf of their clients. "The penalty for violation of Canon 16 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility usually ranges from suspension for six months, to suspension for one year, or two
63
years, and even disbarment[,]" depending on the circumstances of each case.
64
In Villanueva v. Atty. Ishiwata, respondent received four checks totalling P225,000.00 from his
clients employer after signing a Quitclaim and Release pursuant to their compromise agreement.65
Despite full payment of settlement award, respondent only remitted P45,000.00 to his client and
refused to deliver the balance.66 Respondent explained that he delivered P90,000.00 to his clients
wife, but his secretary misplaced the signed receipts, and he deducted his 25% attorneys fees of
P56,250.00 from the award.67 The balance left was only P750.00.68 This court found Atty. Ishiwata
guilty of violating Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, suspended him from the
practice of law for one (1) year, and ordered him to restitute to complainant the amount of
P154,500.00 representing the balance after P45,000.00 and the 10% attorneys fees had been
69
deducted from the settlement award.
70
In Aldovino v. Atty. Pujalte, Jr., respondent received P1,001,332.26 from the Branch Clerk of Court
corresponding to the six shares of his clients in the estate of their deceased mother, but respondent
71
only delivered P751,332.26 to his clients. Respondent explained that he deducted P250,000.00
as his attorneys fees, while complainants countered that respondent could only retain P14,000.00
72
as they already paid him P86,000.00 for his services. This court found Atty. Pujalte, Jr. guilty of
violating Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, suspended him from the practice of
73
law for one (1) year, and ordered him to return to complainants the amount of P236,000.00.
74
In Almendarez, Jr. v. Atty. Langit, respondent received P255,000.00 from the Officer-in-Charge
Clerk of Court representing the monthly rentals deposited by the other party in the ejectment case
75
respondent handled for his client. Respondent did not inform his client of this transaction and
76
failed to reply to the final demand letter for accounting. Respondent did not file an Answer to the
77
administrative Complaint despite notice, and failed to appear at the mandatory conference. This
court found Atty. Langit guilty of violating Canons 1, 11, 16, and 17 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, suspended him from the practice of law for two (2) years, and ordered him to restitute
78
to complainant the amount of _255,000.00 with 12% interest per annum.
79
In Bayonla v. Reyes, respondent should have delivered to her clients the amount of P123,582.67
the net amount of Bayonlas share in the expropriation compensation after deducting respondents
40% share as attorneys feesbut respondent only delivered P79,000.00 and refused to remit the
80
P44,582.67 shortage. This court found Atty. Reyes guilty of violating Rules 16.01 and 16.03 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, suspended her from the practice of law for two (2) years,
ordered her to pay complainants the amount of P44,582.67 with 12% interest per annum, and render
81
accounting and inventory.
82 83
In Jinon v. Jiz, respondent received P45,000.00 from his client for transfer of title expenses. His
client later learned that respondent had been collecting the rentals from the property amounting to
84
P12,000.00, yet respondent only turned over P7,000.00. Complainant terminated respondents
85
legal services and demanded the return of the amounts. Respondent countered that his legal
86
services covered negotiation and sale of the property for a fee of P75,000.00. This court found
Atty. Jiz guilty of violating Rules 16.01, 16.03, and 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
suspended him from the practice of law for two (2) years, and ordered him to pay complainant the
amount of P45,000.00 with 6% legal interest per annum from date of demand until finality of
87
Decision, then 12% until fully paid.
In this case, respondent Atty. Galarrita entered into the Compromise Agreement involving
complainant Lunas property without informing him. Even though complainant Luna forewent the lack
of authority issue, respondent Atty. Galarrita still continued to act in bad faith by refusing to turn over
the P100,000.00 settlement amount received. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Investigating
Commissioner found that:
On another point, there seems no cogent proof, too, that Respondent had been advised of
Complainants supposed agreement to Mr. Calvarios payment of P100,000.00. Despite
R[es]pondents allegations that he had informed Complainant about his so-called counsels report, it
remains undisputed that the Complainant did not give him any express approval of the same.
There is to the undersigned enough indicia to conclude that Respondent had committed bad faith in
entering into the Compromise Agreement. From February 2006 to November 2010, or a period of
four (4) years, Respondent failed to turn-over the P100,000.00 he had collected from Mr. Calvario to
Complainant. Worse, he failed to seasonably inform Complainant about the same. He kept the
money and claimed he had the right to retain the same invoking the counsels right to a retaining line
[sic]. He pointed out that Complainant had incurred accrued attorneys fees which he is bound to pay
under the general retainer agreement. Thus, it is not amiss to state that he entered into the said
agreement with the odious motivation to hold on to it and pave the way for the payment of his
attorneys fees. In so doing, he violated the trust reposed in him by his client and violated Rule 16.03
of the Code of [P]rofessional Responsibility.
As to Respondents invocation of the lawyers retaining lien and his retention of the money, the
undersigned deems the same unlawful. True, the Code of Professional Responsibility allows the
lawyer to apply so much thereof as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements,
giving notice promptly thereafter to his client." But this provision assumes that the client agrees with
the lawyer as to the amount of attorneys fees and as to the application of the clients fund to pay his
lawful fees and disbursements, in which case he may deduct what is due him and remit the balance
to his client, with full disclosure on every detail. Without the clients consent, the lawyer has no
authority to apply the clients money for his fees, but he should instead return the money to
his client, without prejudice to his filing a case to recover his unsatisfied fees.
....
On Respondents argument that prescription has already set in against Complainant, suffice it to
state that the rules have already been supplanted by a new set of rules which do not anymore carry
88
the same. (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)
89
Administrative proceedings require only substantial evidence. This court accepts and adopts the
findings of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors, but with modification increasing
the period of suspension from the practice of law to two (2) years considering that respondent Atty.
Galarrita not only compromised litigation without complainant Lunas consent, but also refused to
turn over the settlement proceeds to date.
III
This court sustains the order for respondent Atty. Galarrita to return the amount of P100,000.00 to
complainant Luna.
90
In Ronquillo v. Atty. Cezar, the parties entered a Deed of Assignment after which respondent
91
received P937,500.00 from complainant as partial payment for the townhouse and lot. However,
respondent did not turn over this amount to developer Crown Asia, and no copy of the Contract to
92
Sell was given to complainant. This court suspended Atty. Cezar from the practice of law for three
93
(3) years, but did not grant complainants prayer for the return of the P937,500.00.
Ronquillo held that "[d]isciplinary proceedings against lawyers do not involve a trial of an action, but
94
rather investigations by the court into the conduct of one of its officers." Thus, disciplinary
proceedings are limited to a determination of "whether or not the attorney is still fit to be allowed to
95
continue as a member of the Bar."
Later jurisprudence clarified that this rule excluding civil liability determination from disciplinary
proceedings "remains applicable only to claimed liabilities which are purely civil in nature for
instance, when the claim involves moneys received by the lawyer from his client in a transaction
96
separate and distinct [from] and not intrinsically linked to his professional engagement."
This court has thus ordered in administrative proceedings the return of amounts representing legal
fees. This court has also ordered restitution as concomitant relief in administrative proceedings when
respondents civil liability was already established:
Although the Court renders this decision in an administrative proceeding primarily to exact the
ethical responsibility on a member of the Philippine Bar, the Courts silence about the respondent
lawyers legal obligation to restitute the complainant will be both unfair and inequitable. No victim of
gross ethical misconduct concerning the clients funds or property should be required to still
litigate in another proceeding what the administrative proceeding has already established as
the respondents liability. That has been the reason why the Court has required restitution of the
amount involved as a concomitant relief in the cited cases of Mortera v. Pagatpatan, supra,
97
Almendarez, Jr. v. Langit, supra, Small v. Banares, supra. (Emphasis supplied)
Respondent Atty. Galarrita does not deny his receipt of the P100,000.00 but justifies his refusal to
98
turn over the amount by invoking jurisprudence on retaining lien. The Rules of Court provides for
attorneys retaining lien as follows:
SEC. 37. Attorneys liens. An attorney shall have a lien upon the funds, documents and papers of
his client which have lawfully come into his possession and may retain the same until his lawful fees
and disbursements have been paid, and may apply such funds to the satisfaction thereof. He shall
also have a lien to the same extent upon all judgments for the payment of money, and executions
issued in pursuance of such judgments, which he has secured in a litigation of his client, from and
after the time when he shall have caused a statement of his claim of such lien to be entered upon
the records of the court rendering such judgment, or issuing such execution, and shall have caused
written notice thereof to be delivered to his client and to the adverse party; and he shall have the
same right and power over such judgments and executions as his client would have enforce his lien
99
and secure the payment of his just fees and disbursements.
First, "lawyer[s] [are] not entitled to unilaterally appropriate [their] clients[] money for [themselves] by
100
the mere fact that the client[s] [owe] [them] attorneys fees." They must give prompt notice to
101
their clients of any receipt of funds for or on behalf of their clients.
Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides for a lawyers duty to "account for all
money or property collected or received for or from the client."
Respondent Atty. Galarrita refused to comply with these duties, warranting his suspension from the
practice of law.
Second, the elements required for full recognition of attorneys lien are: "(1) lawyer-client
relationship; (2) lawful possession of the clients funds, documents and papers; and (3) unsatisfied
102
claim for attorneys fees."
Respondent Atty. Galarrita must prove the existence of all these elements. However, this is not the
main issue in this disbarment case against him, and the validity of his retaining lien defense was not
established. Counter evidence even exists such as respondent Atty. Galarrita's Letter dated August
103
12, 2003 waiving any compensation for his services in the foreclosure case. Complainant Luna
also raises respondent Atty. Galarrita's negligence in handling the case, and lack of supporting
104
receipts for the incurred expenses respondent Atty. Galarrita seeks to reimburse.
Nevertheless, we maintain that the disposition of this case is without prejudice to the filing of a
collection case for retainer's fee against complainant Luna. 1wphi1

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Dwight M. Galarrita is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two
(2) years, with a stem warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more
severely. He is ORDERED to return to complainant Jun B. Luna the amount of Pl00,000.00, with
105
legal interest of 6% per annum from February 2006 until fully paid, without prejudice to the filing
of a collection case for retainer's fee against complainant Luna.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant to be entered into
respondent Atty. Galarrita's records as attorney. Copies shall likewise be furnished the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts concerned.
SO ORDERED.
MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
Associate Justice
A.C. No. 10672
*
EDUARDO A. MAGLENTE, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. DELFIN R. AGCAOILI, Respondent.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J:.
1
Before the Court is an administrative complaint dated May 9, 2006 filed by complainant Eduardo A.
Maglente (complainant), before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), against respondent Atty.
Delfin R. Agcaoili, Jr. (respondent), praying that the latter be directed to return the amount of
P48,000he.00 that received from the former.
The Facts
Complainant, as President of "Samahan ng mga Maralitang Taga Ma. Corazon III, Incorporated''
(Samahan), alleged that he engaged the services of respondent for the purpose of filing a case in
2
order to determine the true owner of the land being occupied by the members of Samahan. In
connection therewith, he gave respondent the aggregate amount of P48,000.00 intended to cover
the filing fees for the action to be instituted, as evidenced by a written acknowledgment executed by
3
respondent himself. Despite the payment, respondent failed to file an action in court. When
confronted, respondent explained that the money given to him was not enough to fully pay for the
4
filing fees in court. Thus, complainant asked for the return of the money, but respondent claimed to
5
have spent the same and even demanded more money. Complainant further alleged that when he
persisted in seeking restitution of the aforesaid sum, respondent told him to shut up because it was
6
not his money in the first place. Hence, complainant filed this administrative complaint seeking the
return of the full amount he had paid to respondent.
7
In his defense, respondent denied spending complainants money, explaining that he had already
prepared the initiatory pleading and was poised to file the same, when he discovered through the
Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City that the filing fee was quite costly. This
prompted him to immediately relay such information to complainant who undertook to raise the
8
amount needed. While waiting, however, the instant administrative case was filed against him.
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
9
In a Report and Recommendation dated October 3, 2012, the IBP Investigating Commissioner
found respondent guilty of violating Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR),
and accordingly, recommended that he be: (a) meted with the penalty of Censure, with a warning
that a repetition of the same will be met with a stiffer penalty; and (b) directed to account for or return
10
the amount of 48,000.00 to complainant.
The Investigating Commissioner found that respondent clearly received the amount of 48,000.00
from complainant, which was intended to answer for the filing fees of a case he was supposed to file
11
for the Samahan, but which he failed to do so. In this relation, the Investigating Commissioner
observed that had respondent prepared the complaint and performed research works, as he
claimed, then he could have kept a reasonable amount for his effort under the doctrine of quantum
12
meruit, but unfortunately, he could not present any proof in this respect.
13
In a Resolution dated May 11, 2013, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the
aforesaid Report and Recommendation, with modification increasing the recommended penalty from
Censure to suspension from the practice of law for a period of three (3) months. Aggrieved,
14 15
respondent moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied in a Resolution dated May
3, 2014.
The Issue Before the Court
The essential issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable
for the acts complained of.
The Courts Ruling
After a judicious perusal of the records, the Court concurs with the findings of the IBP, except as to
the penalty to be imposed upon respondent. 1wphi1

It must be stressed that once a lawyer takes up the cause of his client, he is duty-bound to serve the
latter with competence, and to attend to such clients cause with diligence, care, and devotion,
whether he accepts it for a fee or for free. He owes fidelity to such cause and must always be
16
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed upon him. Therefore, a lawyers neglect of a legal
matter entrusted to him by his client constitutes inexcusable negligence for which he must be held
17
administratively liable for violating Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the CPR, which reads:
CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.
xxxx
Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
connection [therewith] shall render him liable. 1wphi1

In the instant case, it is undisputed that complainant engaged the services of respondent for the
purpose of filing a case in court, and in connection therewith, gave the amount of 48,000.00 to
answer for the filing fees. Despite the foregoing, respondent failed to comply with his undertaking
and offered the flimsy excuse that the money he received from complainant was not enough to fully
pay the filing fees.
Furthermore, respondent also violated Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the CPR when he failed
to refund the amount of 48,000.00 that complainant gave him despite repeated demands, viz.:
CANON 16 A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS
CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.
Rule 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the
client.
xxxx
Rule 16.03 A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. x
x x.
Verily, when a lawyer receives money from the client for a particular purpose, the lawyer is bound to
render an accounting to the client showing that the money was spent for the intended purpose.
Consequently, if the money was not used accordingly, the same must be immediately returned to the
18
client. A lawyers failure to return the money to his client despite numerous demands is a violation
19
of the trust reposed on him and is indicative of his lack of integrity, as in this case.
Clearly, respondent failed to exercise such skill, care, and diligence as men of the legal profession
20
commonly possess and exercise in such matters of professional employment, and hence, must
be disciplined accordingly.
Having established respondents administrative liability, the Court now determines the proper penalty
to be imposed.
Jurisprudence provides that in similar cases where lawyers neglected their clients affairs and, at the
same time, failed to return the latters money and/or property despite demand, the Court meted out
21
the penalty of suspension from the practice of law. In Segovia-Ribaya v. Lawsin, the Court
suspended the lawyer for a period of one (1) year for his failure to perform his undertaking under his
22
retainership agreement with his client and to return the money given to him by the latter. Similarly,
23
in Meneses v. Macalino, the same penalty was imposed on a lawyer who failed to render any
24
legal service to his client as well as to return the money he received for such purpose. In view of
the foregoing, the Court finds it appropriate that respondent be meted with the penalty of suspension
from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year.
Finally, the Court sustains the directive for respondent to account for or return the amount of
48,000.00 to complainant. It is well to note that "while the Court has previously held that disciplinary
proceedings should only revolve around the determination of the respondent-lawyers administrative
and not his civil liability, it must be clarified that this rule remains applicable only to claimed liabilities
which are purely civil in nature for instance, when the claim involves moneys received by the lawyer
from his client in a transaction separate and distinct [from] and not intrinsically linked to his
25
professional engagement." Since the aforesaid amount was intended to answer for filing fees
which is intimately related to the lawyer- client relationship between complainant and respondent,
26
the Court finds the return thereof to be in order.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Delfin R. Agcaoili, Jr. (respondent), is found GUILTY of violating
Rules 16.01 and 16.03 of Canon 16, and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one
(1) year, effective upon his receipt of this Decision, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the
same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
Furthermore, respondent is ORDERED to return to complainant Eduardo A. Maglente the amount of
48,000.00 he received from the latter within ninety (90) days from the finality of this Decision. Failure
to comply with the foregoing directive will warrant the imposition of a more severe penalty.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondents record in this Court as attorney. Further, let
copies of this Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court
Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all the courts in the country for their information
and guidance.
SO ORDERED.
ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice

FIRST DIVISION

HERMOJINA ESTORES, G.R. No. 175139


Petitioner,
Present:

CORONA, C.J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
SPOUSES ARTURO and
LAURA SUPANGAN, Promulgated:
Respondents. April 18, 2012
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

The only issue posed before us is the propriety of the imposition of interest and
attorneys fees.

[1]
Assailed in this Petition for Review filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is

[2]
the May 12, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.

83123, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is MODIFIED. The rate of interest shall be six percent (6%) per annum,
computed from September 27, 2000 until its full payment before finality of the judgment. If the adjudged
principal and the interest (or any part thereof) remain unpaid thereafter, the interest rate shall be adjusted to
twelve percent (12%) per annum, computed from the time the judgment becomes final and executory until it is
fully satisfied. The award of attorneys fees is hereby reduced to P100,000.00. Costs against the defendants-
appellants.

[3]
SO ORDERED.
[4]
Also assailed is the August 31, 2006 Resolution denying the motion for

reconsideration.

Factual Antecedents

On October 3, 1993, petitioner Hermojina Estores and respondent-spouses Arturo

[5]
and Laura Supangan entered into a Conditional Deed of Sale whereby petitioner

offered to sell, and respondent-spouses offered to buy, a parcel of land covered by


Transfer Certificate of Title No. TCT No. 98720 located at Naic, Cavite for the
sum of P4.7 million. The parties likewise stipulated, among others, to wit:

xxxx

1. Vendor will secure approved clearance from DAR requirements of which are (sic):
a) Letter request
b) Title
c) Tax Declaration
d) Affidavit of Aggregate Landholding Vendor/Vendee
e) Certification from the Provl. Assessors as to Landholdings of Vendor/Vendee
f) Affidavit of Non-Tenancy
g) Deed of Absolute Sale

xxxx

4. Vendee shall be informed as to the status of DAR clearance within 10 days upon signing of the documents.

xxxx

6. Regarding the house located within the perimeter of the subject [lot] owned by spouses [Magbago], said
house shall be moved outside the perimeter of this subject property to the 300 sq. m. area allocated for [it].
Vendor hereby accepts the responsibility of seeing to it that such agreement is carried out before full payment
of the sale is made by vendee.

7. If and after the vendor has completed all necessary documents for registration of the title and the vendee
fails to complete payment as per agreement, a forfeiture fee of 25% or downpayment, shall be applied.
However, if the vendor fails to complete necessary documents within thirty days without any sufficient reason,
or without informing the vendee of its status, vendee has the right to demand return of full amount of down
payment.

xxxx

9. As to the boundaries and partition of the lots (15,018 sq. m. and 300 sq. m.) Vendee shall be informed
immediately of its approval by the LRC.

10. The vendor assures the vendee of a peaceful transfer of ownership.

[6]
xxxx

After almost seven years from the time of the execution of the contract and
notwithstanding payment of P3.5 million on the part of respondent-spouses,
petitioner still failed to comply with her obligation as expressly provided in

[7]
paragraphs 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10 of the contract. Hence, in a letter dated September

27, 2000, respondent-spouses demanded the return of the amount of P3.5 million

[8]
within 15 days from receipt of the letter. In reply, petitioner acknowledged

receipt of the P3.5 million and promised to return the same within 120 days.
Respondent-spouses were amenable to the proposal provided an interest of 12%

[9]
compounded annually shall be imposed on the P3.5 million. When petitioner

still failed to return the amount despite demand, respondent-spouses were

[10]
constrained to file a Complaint for sum of money before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Malabon against herein petitioner as well as Roberto U. Arias
(Arias) who allegedly acted as petitioners agent. The case was docketed as Civil
Case No. 3201-MN and raffled off to Branch 170. In their complaint, respondent-
spouses prayed that petitioner and Arias be ordered to:

1. Pay the principal amount of P3,500,000.00 plus interest of 12% compounded annually starting October
1, 1993 or an estimated amount of P8,558,591.65;

2. Pay the following items of damages:

a) Moral damages in the amount of P100,000.00;


b) Actual damages in the amount of P100,000.00;
c) Exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000.00;
d) [Attorneys] fee in the amount of P50,000.00 plus 20% of recoverable amount from the [petitioner].
[11]
e) [C]ost of suit.

[12]
In their Answer with Counterclaim, petitioner and Arias averred that they are

willing to return the principal amount of P3.5 million but without any interest as

[13]
the same was not agreed upon. In their Pre-Trial Brief, they reiterated that the

only remaining issue between the parties is the imposition of interest. They argued
that since the Conditional Deed of Sale provided only for the return of the
downpayment in case of breach, they cannot be held liable to pay legal interest as

[14]
well.

[15]
In its Pre-Trial Order dated June 29, 2001, the RTC noted that the parties

agreed that the principal amount of 3.5 million pesos should be returned to the
[respondent-spouses] by the [petitioner] and the issue remaining [is] whether x x x
[respondent-spouses] are entitled to legal interest thereon, damages and attorneys

[16]
fees.

Trial ensued thereafter. After the presentation of the respondent-spouses evidence,


the trial court set the presentation of Arias and petitioners evidence on September

[17]
3, 2003. However, despite several postponements, petitioner and Arias failed to

appear hence they were deemed to have waived the presentation of their

[18]
evidence.Consequently, the case was deemed submitted for decision.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

[19]
On May 7, 2004, the RTC rendered its Decision finding respondent-spouses

entitled to interest but only at the rate of 6% per annum and not 12% as prayed by

[20]
them. It also found respondent-spouses entitled to attorneys fees as they were

[21]
compelled to litigate to protect their interest.

The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the [respondent-spouses] and
ordering the [petitioner and Roberto Arias] to jointly and severally:
1. Pay [respondent-spouses] the principal amount of Three Million Five Hundred Thousand
pesos (P3,500,000.00) with an interest of 6% compounded annually starting October 1, 1993 and
attorneys fee in the amount of Fifty Thousand pesos (P50,000.00) plus 20% of the recoverable
amount from the defendants and cost of the suit.

The Compulsory Counter Claim is hereby dismissed for lack of factual evidence.

[22]
SO ORDERED.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

[23]
Aggrieved, petitioner and Arias filed their notice of appeal. The CA noted that

the only issue submitted for its resolution is whether it is proper to impose interest
for an obligation that does not involve a loan or forbearance of money in the

[24]
absence of stipulation of the parties.

On May 12, 2006, the CA rendered the assailed Decision affirming the ruling of

[25]
the RTC finding the imposition of 6% interest proper. However, the same shall

start to run only from September 27, 2000 when respondent-spouses formally
demanded the return of their money and not from October 1993 when the contract
was executed as held by the RTC. The CA also modified the RTCs ruling as
regards the liability of Arias. It held that Arias could not be held solidarily liable
with petitioner because he merely acted as agent of the latter. Moreover, there was
no showing that he expressly bound himself to be personally liable or that he
exceeded the limits of his authority. More importantly, there was even no showing
[26]
that Arias was authorized to act as agent of petitioner. Anent the award of

attorneys fees, the CA found the award by the trial court (P50,000.00 plus 20% of

[27]
the recoverable amount) excessive and thus reduced the same to P100,000.00.

[28]

The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is MODIFIED. The rate of interest shall be six percent (6%) per annum,
computed from September 27, 2000 until its full payment before finality of the judgment. If the adjudged
principal and the interest (or any part thereof) remain[s] unpaid thereafter, the interest rate shall be adjusted to
twelve percent (12%) per annum, computed from the time the judgment becomes final and executory until it is
fully satisfied. The award of attorneys fees is hereby reduced to P100,000.00. Costs against the [petitioner].

[29]
SO ORDERED.

Petitioner moved for reconsideration which was denied in the August 31, 2006
Resolution of the CA.

Hence, this petition raising the sole issue of whether the imposition of interest and
attorneys fees is proper.

Petitioners Arguments

Petitioner insists that she is not bound to pay interest on the P3.5 million because
the Conditional Deed of Sale only provided for the return of the downpayment in
case of failure to comply with her obligations. Petitioner also argues that the award
of attorneys fees in favor of the respondent-spouses is unwarranted because it
cannot be said that the latter won over the former since the CA even sustained her
contention that the imposition of 12% interest compounded annually is totally
uncalled for.

Respondent-spouses Arguments

Respondent-spouses aver that it is only fair that interest be imposed on the amount
they paid considering that petitioner failed to return the amount upon demand and
had been using the P3.5 million for her benefit. Moreover, it is undisputed that
petitioner failed to perform her obligations to relocate the house outside the
perimeter of the subject property and to complete the necessary documents. As
regards the attorneys fees, they claim that they are entitled to the same because
they were forced to litigate when petitioner unjustly withheld the amount. Besides,
the amount awarded by the CA is even smaller compared to the filing fees they
paid.

Our Ruling

The petition lacks merit.

Interest may be imposed even in the absence of stipulation in the contract.

We sustain the ruling of both the RTC and the CA that it is proper to impose
interest notwithstanding the absence of stipulation in the contract. Article 2210 of
the Civil Code expressly provides that [i]nterest may, in the discretion of the court,
be allowed upon damages awarded for breach of contract. In this case, there is no
question that petitioner is legally obligated to return the P3.5 million because of
her failure to fulfill the obligation under the Conditional Deed of Sale, despite
demand. She has in fact admitted that the conditions were not fulfilled and that she
was willing to return the full amount of P3.5 million but has not actually done so.

[30]
Petitioner enjoyed the use of the money from the time it was given to her until

now. Thus, she is already in default of her obligation from the date of demand, i.e.,
on September 27, 2000.

The interest at the rate of 12% is applicable in the instant case.

Anent the interest rate, the general rule is that the applicable rate of interest shall

[31]
be computed in accordance with the stipulation of the parties. Absent any

stipulation, the applicable rate of interest shall be 12% per annum when the
obligation arises out of a loan or a forbearance of money, goods or credits. In other

[32]
cases, it shall be six percent (6%). In this case, the parties did not stipulate as to

the applicable rate of interest. The only question remaining therefore is whether the
6% as provided under Article 2209 of the Civil Code, or 12% under Central Bank
Circular No. 416, is due.

The contract involved in this case is admittedly not a loan but a Conditional Deed
of Sale. However, the contract provides that the seller (petitioner) must return the
payment made by the buyer (respondent-spouses) if the conditions are not fulfilled.
There is no question that they have in fact, not been fulfilled as the seller
(petitioner) has admitted this. Notwithstanding demand by the buyer (respondent-
spouses), the seller (petitioner) has failed to return the money and

should be considered in default from the time that demand was made on September
27, 2000.

Even if the transaction involved a Conditional Deed of Sale, can the stipulation
governing the return of the money be considered as a forbearance of money which
required payment of interest at the rate of 12%? We believe so.

[33]
In Crismina Garments, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, forbearance was defined as a

contractual obligation of lender or creditor to refrain during a given period of time,


from requiring the borrower or debtor to repay a loan or debt then due and payable.
This definition describes a loan where a debtor is given a period within which to
pay a loan or debt. In such case, forbearance of money, goods or credits will have
no distinct definition from a loan. We believe however, that the phrase forbearance
of money, goods or credits is meant to have a separate meaning from a loan,
otherwise there would have been no need to add that phrase as a loan is already

[34]
sufficiently defined in the Civil Code. Forbearance of money, goods or credits

should therefore refer to arrangements other than loan agreements, where a person
acquiesces to the temporary use of his money, goods or credits pending happening
of certain events or fulfillment of certain conditions. In this case, the respondent-
spouses parted with their money even before the conditions were fulfilled. They
have therefore allowed or granted forbearance to the seller (petitioner) to use their
money pending fulfillment of the conditions.They were deprived of the use of their
money for the period pending fulfillment of the conditions and when those
conditions were breached, they are entitled not only to the return of the principal
amount paid, but also to compensation for the use of their money. And the
compensation for the use of their money, absent any stipulation, should be the
same rate of legal interest applicable to a loan since the use or deprivation of funds
is similar to a loan.

Petitioners unwarranted withholding of the money which rightfully pertains to


respondent-spouses amounts to forbearance of money which can be considered as
an involuntary loan. Thus, the applicable rate of interest is 12% per annum. In

[35]
Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, cited in Crismina Garments,

[36]
Inc. v. Court of Appeals, the Court suggested the following guidelines:

I. When an obligation, regardless of its source, i.e., law, contracts, quasi-contracts, delicts or quasi-
delicts is breached, the contravenor can be held liable for damages. The provisions under Title XVIII on
Damages of the Civil Code govern in determining the measure of recoverable damages.

II. With regard particularly to an award of interest in the concept of actual and compensatory
damages, the rate of interest, as well as the accrual thereof, is imposed, as follows:

1. When the obligation is breached, and it consists in the payment of a sum of money, i.e., a loan or
forbearance of money, the interest due should be that which may have been stipulated in writing.
Furthermore, the interest due shall itself earn legal interest from the time it is judicially demanded. In
the absence of stipulation, the rate of interest shall be 12% per annum to be computed from default, i.e.,
from judicial or extrajudicial demand under and subject to the provisions of Article 1169 of the Civil
Code.

2. When an obligation, not constituting a loan or forbearance of money, is breached, an interest on the
amount of damages awarded may be imposed at the discretion of the court at the rate of 6% per annum. No
interest, however, shall be adjudged on unliquidated claims or damages except when or until the demand can
be established with reasonable certainty. Accordingly, where the demand is established with reasonable
certainty, the interest shall begin to run from the time the claim is made judicially or extrajudicially (Art. 1169,
Civil Code) but when such certainty cannot be so reasonably established at the time the demand is made, the
interest shall begin to run only from the date the judgment of the court is made (at which time the
quantification of damages may be deemed to have been reasonably ascertained). The actual base for the
computation of legal interest shall, in any case, be on the amount finally adjudged.

3. When the judgment of the court awarding a sum of money becomes final and executory, the rate of
legal interest, whether the case falls under paragraph 1 or paragraph 2, above, shall be 12% per annum from
such finality until its satisfaction, this interim period being deemed to be by then an equivalent to a forbearance
[37]
of credit.

[38]
Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals and its predecessor case,

[39]
Reformina v. Tongol both involved torts cases and hence, there was no

forbearance of money, goods, or credits. Further, the amount claimed (i.e.,


damages) could not be established with reasonable certainty at the time the claim
was made. Hence, we arrived at a different ruling in those cases.

Since the date of demand which is September 27, 2000 was satisfactorily
established during trial, then the interest rate of 12% should be reckoned from said
date of demand until the principal amount and the interest thereon is fully satisfied.

The award of attorneys fees is warranted.

Under Article 2208 of the Civil Code, attorneys fees may be recovered:

xxxx

(2) When the defendants act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third persons
or to incur expenses to protect his interest;

xxxx
(11) In any other case where the court deems it just and equitable that attorneys fees and
expenses of litigation should be recovered.

In all cases, the attorneys fees and expenses of litigation must be reasonable.
Considering the circumstances of the instant case, we find respondent-spouses
entitled to recover attorneys fees. There is no doubt that they were forced to litigate
to protect their interest, i.e., to recover their money. However, we find the amount
of P50,000.00 more appropriate in line with the policy enunciated in Article 2208
of the Civil Code that the award of attorneys fees must always be reasonable.

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is DENIED. The May 12, 2006 Decision
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 83123 is AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATIONS that the rate of interest shall be twelve percent (12%) per
annum, computed from September 27, 2000 until fully satisfied. The award of
attorneys fees is further reduced to P50,000.00.

SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION
DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE
PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 169293
Petitioner,

Present:
- versus -
CORONA, C.J.,
Chairperson,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
TRAVERSE DEVELOPMENT
BERSAMIN,
CORPORATION and CENTRAL
DEL CASTILLO, and
SURETY AND INSURANCE
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
COMPANY,
Promulgated:
Respondents.

October 5, 2011
x----------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

[1] [2]
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the September 30, 2004 Decision

[3]
and August 11, 2005 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.

[4]
65311, which affirmed the November 24, 1998 Decision of the Regional Trial

Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 87, in Civil Case No. Q-37497, as modified

[5]
by its February 1, 1999 Order.
The facts are simple and straightforward.

The Development of the Philippines (DBP)-Tarlac Branch granted a Real Estate


Loan of 910,000.00 to Traverse Development Corporation (Traverse) for the
construction of its three-storey commercial building at Taedo St., Tarlac City. To
secure the payment of this loan, Traverse constituted a mortgage on the land on

[6]
which the building was to be built on July 21, 1980. Among the conditions

imposed by DBP in the mortgage contract was Traverses acquisition of an


insurance coverage for an amount not less than the loan, to be endorsed in DBPs

[7]
favor.

From 1980 to 1981, Traverse submitted to DBP three policies in accordance with
the insurance condition in the mortgage contract. The last of these three was FGU
Policy No. 6246, in the amount of 1 Million, for the period of one year, from May

[8]
7, 1981 to May 7, 1982.

On May 6, 1982, FGU Insurance Corporation (FGU) renewed Traverses Fire


Insurance Policy for another year, from May 7, 1982 to May 7, 1983, for the same

[9]
amount of 1 Million, under Policy No. 61146. However, as DBP had already

transferred the buildings insurance to Central Surety & Insurance Company


(Central), for the same terms, under Fire Insurance Policy No. TAR 1056 (Policy
No. TAR 1056), issued on May 7, 1982, it returned the FGU Policy to Traverse.

[10]

On August 9, 1982, during the effectivity of Policy No. TAR 1056, a fire of
undetermined origin razed and gutted Traverses building. The following day,
Traverse informed Central of the mishap and requested it to immediately conduct

[11]
the necessary inspection, evaluation, and investigation.

On September 7, 1982, Traverse submitted to Central written proof of the loss


sustained by its building, together with its claim in the amount of 1 Million. On
November 6, 1982, Central proposed to settle Traverses claim on the basis of cost

[12]
of repairs of the affected parts of the building for 230,748.00. Believing that

this was highly inequitable and unreasonable, Traverse denied such proposal.

Having failed to arrive at a settlement, Traverse, on February 28, 1983, filed a

[13]
Complaint before the RTC, against Central and DBP for payment of its claim

and damages.

Traverse averred that it was obvious from the beginning that Central was unable or
unwilling to fulfill its liability under Policy No. TAR 1056. Traverse alleged that
due to the unjustifiable delay of Central to settle its claims, it was prevented from
receiving rentals for its building, its loan with DBP had increased due to interest
and penalties, and it had suffered actual damages. Traverse impleaded DBP as a co-
defendant because of its alleged failure or refusal to convince Central to pay
Traverses claims, considering that it transferred Traverses insurance to Central

[14]
without Traverses knowledge.

In its Answer, DBP denied that Traverse had no knowledge of the transfer of its
insurance to Central as evidenced by its payment of the premium, documentary
stamp tax, and other charges for the new insurance policy. DBP also claimed that it
was Traverse that transferred its insurance to Central to avoid delays in renewing

[15]
its insurance, since FGU had no branch office in Tarlac.

Central argued in its Answer that Traverse had no valid and sufficient cause of
action because aside from violating material conditions in its policy, DBP, as the
endorsee of the policy, was the real party-in-interest. Central also averred that
Traverse had no one else to blame but itself for the ballooning interest of its loan
and lack of rentals since it insisted on an exaggerated, unjustified, and
unreasonable claim, considering that the building was not a total loss, as the

[16]
building was only partially damaged.

On November 24, 1998, the RTC rendered a Decision, the dispositive portion of
which reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
(a) ordering defendant CENTRAL SURETY to pay the DBP one million pesos ( 1,000,000.00) representing
the amount for which Fire Insurance Policy No. TAR-1056 was issued, plus interest thereon at 24% which is
double the legal interest ceiling computed from thirty (30) days after defendant received proof of loss on
September 29, 1982 (Exh. D-3, pp. 183-184 Rec.);

(b) ordering defendant DBP to extinguish plaintiffs loan totally, including interest, penalties and charges;

(c) ordering defendant CENTRAL SURETY to pay plaintiff nominal damages in the amount of 50,000,00;

(d) ordering both defendants to pay jointly and severally the plaintiff, attorneys fees in the amount of
[17]
50,000.00, plus cost of litigation.

The RTC held that total loss did not require that the building be annihilated and
turned into rubble, as long as the property was destroyed to such an extent as to
deprive it of the character in which it was insured. In holding Central liable for
damages, interests, penalties, attorneys fees, and costs of suit, the RTC noted how
Central had tried to evade Traverses claims. It said that Traverse made no
declarations as to the use of its building as it had been established that not only was
its insurance policy transferred to Central without its knowledge, but that Policy

[18]
No. TAR 1056 was copied verbatim from its FGU policy.

The RTC adjudged DBP to be solidarily liable with Central for damages, attorneys
fees, and costs of suit in view of its refusal or failure to pursue the claim against
Central. The RTC said that as beneficiary-assignee of Policy No. TAR 1056, DBP
should not have stopped at following-up its claim through letters and telegrams but
should have either filed its own case against Central or joined Traverse as a co-
plaintiff. The RTC took DBPs inaction as suggestive of its deliberate participation

[19]
in the transfer of Traverses existing insurance coverage from FGU to Central.

[20]
On January 13, 1999, DBP filed a Motion for Reconsideration based on the

following grounds:

1. THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN ORDERING DEFENDANT DBP TO EXTINGUISH


[TRAVERSES] LOAN TOTALLY INCLUDING INTEREST, PENALTIES AND CHARGES.

2. THE HONORABLE COURT ALSO ERRED IN ORDERING DEFENDANT DBP TO PAY


[21]
[TRAVERSE] JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY THE ATTORNEYS FEE AND COST OF LITIGATION.

On February 1, 1999, the RTC partially granted DBPs motion by completely


deleting paragraph (b) and modifying paragraph (c) of the disposition of its
November 24, 1998 Decision. The dispositive portion of the RTCs decision in
Civil Case No. Q-37497, as revised, reads:

(a) ordering defendant CENTRAL SURETY to pay the DBP one million pesos ( 1,000,000.00) representing
the amount for which Fire Insurance Policy No. TAR-1056 was issued, plus interest thereon at 24% which is
double the legal interest ceiling computed from thirty (30) days after defendant received proof of loss on
September 29, 1982 (Exh. D-3, pp. 183-184 Rec.);

(b) ordering defendant CENTRAL SURETY to pay plaintiff nominal damages in the amount of 50,000,00;

(c) ordering both defendants to pay plaintiff jointly and severally attorneys fees in the amount of 50,000.00,
[22]
plus cost of litigation.

Both Central and DBP appealed the decision of the RTC to the Court of Appeals,
which appeal was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 65311.
On September 30, 2004, the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal and affirmed
the RTC.

On October 18, 2004, Central moved for the reconsideration of the Court of

[23]
Appeals Decision, alleging that it dealt in good faith with Traverse.

On October 20, 2004, DBP filed its own Motion for Partial Reconsideration,
seeking the rectification of the misquoted dispositive portion, which was from the
November 24, 1998 Decision of the RTC, and the setting aside of the order making
DBP solidarily liable with Central for the payment of attorneys fees and costs of

[24]
suit.

On August 11, 2005, the Court of Appeals resolved both motions for
reconsideration, denying Centrals as its arguments were but a rehash of its petition,

[25]
and partially granting DBPs, in view of the RTCs February 1, 1999 Order.

Undaunted, DBP, on September 27, 2005, filed a petition for review of its case
before this Court. Pending the resolution of its petition, DBP then moved for this
Court to Direct the Lower Court to Issue Writ of Partial Execution.

In seeking our review of its case, DBP assigns only one error, to wit:
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING PETITIONER DBP SOLIDARILY LIABLE WITH
RESPONDENT CENTRAL FOR ATTORNEYS FEES IN THE AMOUNT OF P50,000.00 PLUS COST OF
[26]
LITIGATION.

DBP claims that it cannot be held solidarily liable with Central for the payment of
attorneys fees without contravening Article 2208 of the Civil Code, which
sanctions an award only when the defendants act or omission has compelled the
plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest.
DBP argues that there is no legal justification to hold it liable for attorneys fees and
cost of litigation as nowhere in the decision was it stated that Traverse was
compelled to litigate because of DBPs act or omission. DBP alleges that Centrals
refusal to pay Traverses claim could not be attributed to it especially since it
exerted all efforts to collect from Central. It avers that filing a cross-claim would
have been a mere surplusage and failure to file such cannot be considered as a
basis for its liability. DBP further asseverates that the speculation that Traverse
would have been able to easily collect from FGU had its insurance not been
transferred to Central is not a basis for awarding attorneys fees since it was

[27]
Traverse itself that chose to transfer its insurance to Central.

This Courts Ruling

The resolution of this case hinges upon the lone issue of whether or not DBP can
be held solidarily liable with Central for the payment of attorneys fees and cost of
litigation, in light of the fact that it was the one that facilitated the transfer of
Traverses insurance coverage from FGU to Central.
Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals held DBP liable for attorneys fees and
costs of suit because said courts believed that DBP should have been more
aggressive in pursuing its claim against Central.

In the absence of stipulation, attorneys fees may be recovered as actual or


compensatory damages under any of the circumstances provided for in Article

[28]
2208 of the Civil Code, to wit:

Art. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorney's fees and expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs,
cannot be recovered, except:

(1) When exemplary damages are awarded;

(2) When the defendant's act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to
incur expenses to protect his interest;

(3) In criminal cases of malicious prosecution against the plaintiff;

(4) In case of a clearly unfounded civil action or proceeding against the plaintiff;

(5) Where the defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith in refusing to satisfy the plaintiff's plainly valid,
just and demandable claim;

(6) In actions for legal support;

(7) In actions for the recovery of wages of household helpers, laborers and skilled workers;

(8) In actions for indemnity under workmen's compensation and employer's liability laws;

(9) In a separate civil action to recover civil liability arising from a crime;

(10) When at least double judicial costs are awarded;

(11) In any other case where the court deems it just and equitable that attorney's fees and expenses of litigation
should be recovered.
In all cases, the attorney's fees and expenses of litigation must be reasonable.

Even if it were true that DBP had a hand in the transfer of Traverses
insurance coverage to Central, such act is not sufficient to hold it solidarily
liable with Central for the payment of attorneys fees and cost of litigation
under the above provision of the Civil Code.

Records show that during the testimony of the former insurance examiner of DBP-
Tarlac, Victoria Punzalan (Punzalan), she claimed that she had repeatedly reminded
Mrs. Lourdes Roxas, Traverses President, of the impending expiration of Traverses

[29]
insurance coverage with FGU. Mrs. Roxas, however replied that her son would

not be able to attend to it as he was out of the country at that time. Subsequently,
Atty. Ruperto Zamora of Central called up Punzalan, upon the supposed instruction

[30]
of Mrs. Roxas, to draw up Traverses insurance coverage. DBP only came to

know that Traverse had already renewed its insurance policy with FGU on May 6,

[31]
1981, after Central had already drawn up Policy No. TAR 1056.

We thus find that DBP could not be blamed for facilitating such transfer in light of
the previous delays in Traverses submission of its insurance policy. It is worthy to
note that Policy No. TAR 1056 was drawn on May 7, 1986, the date that Traverses
previous FGU policy was set to expire. Moreover, Central was not only one of
DBPs accredited insurance companies, but it also had a local branch office, which
made transactions with it faster and easier.
This Court also cannot sustain the insinuation that DBPs lax attitude in pursuing its
claim against Central was tantamount to bad faith as to make it liable for attorneys
fees and costs of suit. Even a resort to the principle of equity will not justify
making DBP liable.

The award of attorneys fees is the exception rather than the rule and the court

[32]
must state explicitly the legal reason for such award. As we held in ABS-

[33]
CBN Broadcasting Corporation v. Court of Appeals :

The general rule is that attorneys fees cannot be recovered as part of damages because of the policy that no
premium should be placed on the right to litigate. They are not to be awarded every time a party wins a suit.
The power of the court to award attorneys fees under Article 2208 demands factual, legal, and equitable
justification.Even when a claimant is compelled to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect
his rights, still attorneys fees may not be awarded where no sufficient showing of bad faith could be reflected
[34]
in a partys persistence in a case other than an erroneous conviction of the righteousness of his cause.
(Emphasis supplied.)

It should be remembered that Traverses insurance policy was assigned to DBP.


While it is true that DBP still had the real estate mortgage to ensure the payment of
Traverses loan, it would be in its favor to facilitate Centrals payment on Policy No.
TAR 1056 rather than go through the process of foreclosing Traverses lot or having
to demand payment again, albeit from Traverse this time. Moreover, Traverses own
evidence shows that DBP had tried its best to facilitate and coordinate meetings
between Traverse and Central. DBP Tarlac even suggested to its main office to
have Central blacklisted from its roster of accredited insurance companies as an

[35]
effect of its handling of the Traverse fire insurance claim.
It was not DBPs act of facilitating the transfer of Traverses insurance policy from
FGU to Central that compelled Traverse to litigate its claims, but rather Centrals
persistent refusal to pay such claims. Thus, only Central should be held liable for
the payment of attorneys fees and costs of suit.

In view of the foregoing, the Motion filed by DBP to direct the lower court to issue
a writ of partial execution has become moot.
WHEREFORE, this Court GRANTS the petition and MODIFIES the September
30, 2004 Decision as well as the August 11, 2005 Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 65311 by holding that petitioner Development Bank
of the Philippines is not liable for the payment of attorneys fees and costs of suit in
said case.

SO ORDERED.

[B.M. 850. October 2, 2001]


MANDATORY CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION
RESOLUTION
ADOPTING THE REVISED RULES ON THE CONTINUING LEGAL
EDUCATION FOR MEMBERS OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE
PHILIPPINES
Considering the Rules on the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) for
members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), recommended by the IBP,
endorsed by the Philippine Judicial Academy, and reviewed and passed upon by the
Supreme Court Committee on Legal Education, the Court hereby resolves to approve,
as it hereby approves, the following Revised Rules for proper implementation:
Rule 1. PURPOSE

SECTION 1. Purpose of the MCLE. Continuing legal education is required of members


of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to ensure that throughout their career, they
keep abreast with law and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession and
enhance the standards of the practice of law.
Rule 2. MANDATORY CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION

SECTION 1. Commencement of the MCLE. Within two (2) months from the approval of
these Rules by the Supreme Court En Banc, the MCLE Committee shall be
constituted andshall commence the implementation of the Mandatory Continuing Legal
Education (MCLE) program in accordance with these Rules.
SEC. 2. Requirements of completion of MCLE. Members of the IBP not exempt under
Rule 7 shall complete every three (3) years at least thirty-six (36) hours of continuing
legal education activities approved by the MCLE Committee. Of the 36 hours:
(a) At least six (6) hours shall be devoted to legal ethics equivalent to six (6) credit units.
(b) At least four (4) hours shall be devoted to trial and pretrial skills equivalent to four (4) credit
units.
(c) At least five (5) hours shall be devoted to alternative dispute resolution equivalent to five (5)
credit units.
(d) At least nine (9) hours shall be devoted to updates on substantive and procedural laws, and
jurisprudence equivalent to nine (9) credit units.
(e) At least four (4) hours shall be devoted to legal writing and oral advocacy equivalent to four
(4) credit units.
(f) At least two (2) hours shall be devoted to international law and international conventions
equivalent to two (2) credit units.
(g) The remaining six (6) hours shall be devoted to such subjects as may be prescribed by the
MCLE Committee equivalent to six (6) credit units.
Rule 3. COMPLIANCE PERIOD

SECTION 1. Initial compliance period. -- The initial compliance period shall begin not
later than three (3) months from the adoption of these Rules. Except for the initial
compliance period for members admitted or readmitted after the establishment of the
program, all compliance periods shall be for thirty-six (36) months and shall begin the
day after the end of the previous compliance period.
SEC. 2. Compliance Groups. -- Members of the IBP not exempt from the MCLE
requirement shall be divided into three (3) compliance groups, namely:
(a) Compliance group 1. -- Members in the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila are
assigned to Compliance Group 1.
(b) Compliance group 2. -- Members in Luzon outside NCR are assigned to Compliance Group
2.
(c) Compliance group 3. -- Members in Visayas and Mindanao are assigned to Compliance
Group 3.
Nevertheless, members may participate in any legal education activity wherever it
may be available to earn credit unit toward compliance with the MCLE
requirement.
SEC. 3. Compliance period of members admitted or readmitted after establishment of
the program. Members admitted or readmitted to the Bar after the establishment of the
program shall be assigned to the appropriate Compliance Group based on their Chapter
membership on the date of admission or readmission.
The initial compliance period after admission or readmission shall begin on the first day
of the month of admission or readmission and shall end on the same day as that of all
other members in the same Compliance Group.
(a) Where four (4) months or less remain of the initial compliance period after admission or
readmission, the member is not required to comply with the program requirement for the initial
compliance.
(b) Where more than four (4) months remain of the initial compliance period after admission or
readmission, the member shall be required to complete a number of hours of approved
continuing legal education activities equal to the number of months remaining in the compliance
period in which the member is admitted or readmitted. Such member shall be required to
complete a number of hours of education in legal ethics in proportion to the number of months
remaining in the compliance period. Fractions of hours shall be rounded up to the next whole
number.
Rule 4. COMPUTATION OF CREDIT UNITS(CU)

SECTION 1. Guidelines. - CREDIT UNITS ARE EQUIVALENT TO CREDIT HOURS.


CREDIT UNITS measure compliance with the MCLE requirement under the Rules,
based on the category of the lawyers participation in the MCLE activity. The
following are the guidelines for computing credit units and the supporting
documents required therefor:
PROGRAMS/ACTIVITY CREDIT UNITS SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
1. SEMINARS, CONVENTIONS, CONFERENCES, SYMPOSIA, IN-HOUSE EDUCATION
PROGRAMS, WORKSHOPS, DIALOGUES, ROUND TABLE DISCUSSIONS BY APPROVED
PROVIDERS UNDER RULE 7 AND OTHER RELATED RULES
1.1 PARTICIPANT/ 1 CU PER HOUR OF CERTIFICATE OF
ATTENDEE ATTENDANCE ATTENDANCE WITH
NUMBER OF HOURS
1.2 LECTURER FULL CU FOR THE PHOTOCOPY OF
RESOURCE SUBJECT PER PLAQUE OR
SPEAKER COMPLIANCE PERIOD SPONSORS
CERTIFICATION
1.3 PANELIST/REACTOR 1/2 OF CU FOR THE CERTIFICATION
COMMENTATOR/ SUBJECT PER FROM
MODERATOR/ COMPLIANCE PERIOD SPONSORING COORDINATOR/ ORGANIZATION
FACILITATOR
2. AUTHORSHIP, EDITING AND REVIEW
2.1 LAW BOOK OF NOT FULL CU FOR THE PUBLISHED BOOK
LESS THAN 100 PAGES SUBJECT PER
COMPLIANCE PERIOD
2.2 BOOK EDITOR 1/2 OF THE CU OF PUBLISHED BOOK
AUTHORSHIP CATEGORY WITH PROOF AS
EDITOR
2.3 RESEARCH PAPER 1/2 OF CU FOR THE DULY
INNOVATIVE PROGRAM/ SUBJECT PER CERTIFIED/
CREATIVE PROJECT COMPLIANCE PERIOD PUBLISHED
TECHNICAL
REPORT/PAPER
2.4 LEGAL ARTICLE OF AT 1/2 OF CU FOR THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE
LEAST TEN (10) PAGES SUBJECT PER
COMPLIANCE PERIOD
2.5 LEGAL NEWSLETTER/ 1 CU PER ISSUE PUBLISHED
LAW JOURNAL EDITOR NEWSLETTER/JOURNAL
2.6 PROFESSORIAL CHAIR/ FULL CU FOR THE CERTIFICATION OF
BAR REVIEW LECTURE SUBJECT PER LAW DEAN OR
LAW TEACHING/ COMPLIANCE PERIOD BAR REVIEW
DIRECTOR
Rule 5. CATEGORIES OF CREDIT UNITS

SECTION 1. Classes of Credit units. -- Credit units are either participatory or non-
participatory.
SEC. 2. Claim for participatory credit units. -- Participatory credit units may be claimed
for:
(a) Attending approved education activities like seminars, conferences, conventions, symposia,
in-house education programs, workshops, dialogues or round table discussion.
(b) Speaking or lecturing, or acting as assigned panelist, reactor, commentator, resource
speaker, moderator, coordinator or facilitator in approved education activities.
(c) Teaching in a law school or lecturing in a bar review class.
SEC. 3. Claim for non-participatory credit units. Non-participatory credit units may be
claimed per compliance period for:
(a) Preparing, as an author or co-author, written materials published or accepted for publication,
e.g., in the form of an article, chapter, book, or book review which contribute to the legal
education of the author member, which were not prepared in the ordinary course of the
members practice or employment.
(b) Editing a law book, law journal or legal newsletter.
Rule 6. COMPUTATION OF CREDIT HOURS (CH)

SECTION 1. Computation of credit hours. -- Credit hours are computed based on actual
time spent in an education activity in hours to the nearest one-quarter hour reported in
decimals.
Rule 7. EXEMPTIONS

SECTION 1. Parties exempted from the MCLE. -- The following members of the Bar are
exempt from the MCLE requirement:
(a) The President and the Vice President of the Philippines, and the Secretaries and
Undersecretaries of Executive Departments;
(b) Senators and Members of the House of Representatives;
(c) The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, incumbent and retired
members of the judiciary, incumbent members of the Judicial and Bar Council and incumbent
court lawyers covered by the Philippine Judicial Academy program of continuing judicial
education;
(d) The Chief State Counsel, Chief State Prosecutor and Assistant Secretaries of the
Department of Justice;
(e) The Solicitor General and the Assistant Solicitors General;
(f) The Government Corporate Counsel, Deputy and Assistant Government Corporate Counsel;
(g) The Chairmen and Members of the Constitutional Commissions;
(h) The Ombudsman, the Overall Deputy Ombudsman, the Deputy Ombudsman and the
Special Prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman;
(i) Heads of government agencies exercising quasi-judicial functions;
(j) Incumbent deans, bar reviewers and professors of law who have teaching experience for at
least ten (10) years in accredited law schools;
(k) The Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and members of the Corps of Professors and Professorial
Lecturers of the Philippine Judicial Academy; and
(l) Governors and Mayors.
SEC. 2. Other parties exempted from the MCLE. The following Members of the Bar are
likewise exempt:
(a) Those who are not in law practice, private or public.
(b) Those who have retired from law practice with the approval of the IBP Board of Governors.
SEC. 3. Good cause for exemption from or modification of requirement A member may
file a verified request setting forth good cause for exemption (such as physical disability,
illness, post graduate study abroad, proven expertise in law, etc.) from compliance with
or modification of any of the requirements, including an extension of time for
compliance, in accordance with a procedure to be established by the MCLE Committee.
SEC. 4. Change of status. The compliance period shall begin on the first day of the
month in which a member ceases to be exempt under Sections 1, 2, or 3 of this Rule
and shall end on the same day as that of all other members in the same Compliance
Group.
SEC. 5. Proof of exemption. Applications for exemption from or modification of the
MCLE requirement shall be under oath and supported by documents.
Rule 8. STANDARDS FOR APPROVAL OF

EDUCATION ACTIVITIES

SECTION 1. Approval of MCLE program. Subject to the implementing regulations


that may be adopted by the MCLE Committee, continuing legal education program may
be granted approval in either of two (2) ways: (1) the provider of the activity is an
accredited provider and certifies that the activity meets the criteria of Section 2 of this
Rule; and (2) the provider is specifically mandated by law to provide continuing legal
education.
SEC. 2. Standards for all education activities. All continuing legal education activities
must meet the following standards:
(a) The activity shall have significant current intellectual or practical content.
(b) The activity shall constitute an organized program of learning related to legal subjects and
the legal profession, including cross profession activities (e.g., accounting-tax or medical-legal)
that enhance legal skills or the ability to practice law, as well as subjects in legal writing and oral
advocacy.
(c) The activity shall be conducted by a provider with adequate professional experience.
(d) Where the activity is more than one (1) hour in length, substantive written materials must be
distributed to all participants. Such materials must be distributed at or before the time the activity
is offered.
(e) In-house education activities must be scheduled at a time and location so as to be free from
interruption like telephone calls and other distractions.
Rule 9. ACCREDITATION OF PROVIDERS

SECTION 1. Accreditation of providers. -- Accreditation of providers shall be done by


the MCLE Committee.
SEC. 2. Requirements for accreditation of providers. Any person or group may be
accredited as a provider for a term of two (2) years, which may be renewed, upon
written application. All providers of continuing legal education activities, including in-
house providers, are eligible to be accredited providers. Application for accreditation
shall:
(a) Be submitted on a form provided by the MCLE Committee;
(b) Contain all information requested in the form;
(c) Be accompanied by the appropriate approval fee.
SEC. 3. Requirements of all providers. -- All approved accredited providers shall agree
to the following:
(a) An official record verifying the attendance at the activity shall be maintained by the provider
for at least four (4) years after the completion date. The provider shall include the member on
the official record of attendance only if the members signature was obtained at the time of
attendance at the activity. The official record of attendance shall contain the members name and
number in the Roll of Attorneys and shall identify the time, date, location, subject matter, and
length of the education activity. A copy of such record shall be furnished the MCLE
COMMITTEE.
(b) The provider shall certify that:
(1) This activity has been approved BY THE MCLE COMMITTEE in the amount of ________
hours of which ______ hours will apply in (legal ethics, etc.), as appropriate to the content of the
activity;
(2) The activity conforms to the standards for approved education activities prescribed by these
Rules and such regulations as may be prescribed by the MCLE COMMITTEE.
(c) The provider shall issue a record or certificate to all participants identifying the time, date,
location, subject matter and length of the activity.
(d) The provider shall allow in-person observation of all approved continuing legal education
activity by THE MCLE COMMITTEE, members of the IBP Board of Governors, or designees of
the Committee and IBP staff Board for purposes of monitoring compliance with these Rules.
(e) The provider shall indicate in promotional materials, the nature of the activity, the time devoted to
each topic and identity of the instructors. The provider shall make available to each participant a
copy of THE MCLE COMMITTEE-approved Education Activity Evaluation Form.
(f) The provider shall maintain the completed Education Activity Evaluation Forms for a period of not
less than one (1) year after the activity, copy furnished the MCLE COMMITTEE.
(g) Any person or group who conducts an unauthorized activity under this program or issues a
spurious certificate in violation of these Rules shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.
SEC. 4. Renewal of provider accreditation. The accreditation of a provider may be
renewed every two (2) years. It may be denied if the provider fails to comply with any of
the requirements of these Rules or fails to provide satisfactory education activities for
the preceding period.
SEC. 5. Revocation of provider accreditation. -- the accreditation of any provider
referred to in Rule 9 may be revoked by a majority vote of the MCLE Committee, after
notice and hearing and for good cause.
Rule 10. FEE FOR APPROVAL OF ACTIVITY AND ACCREDITATION OF PROVIDER

SECTION 1. Payment of fees. Application for approval of an education activity or


accreditation as a provider requires payment of the appropriate fee as provided in the
Schedule of MCLE Fees.
Rule 11. GENERAL COMPLIANCE PROCEDURES

SECTION 1. Compliance card. -- Each member shall secure from the MCLE Committee
a Compliance Card before the end of his compliance period. He shall complete the card
by attesting under oath that he has complied with the education requirement or that he
is exempt, specifying the nature of the exemption. Such Compliance Card must be
returned to the Committee not later than the day after the end of the members
compliance period.
SEC. 2. Member record keeping requirement. -- Each member shall maintain sufficient
record of compliance or exemption, copy furnished the MCLE Committee. The record
required to be provided to the members by the provider pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 9
should be a sufficient record of attendance at a participatory activity. A record of non-
participatory activity shall also be maintained by the member, as referred to in Section 3
of Rule 5.
Rule 12. NON-COMPLIANCE PROCEDURES

SECTION 1. What constitutes non-compliance. The following shall constitute non-


compliance:
(a) Failure to complete the education requirement within the compliance period;
(b) Failure to provide attestation of compliance or exemption;
(c) Failure to provide satisfactory evidence of compliance (including evidence of exempt status)
within the prescribed period;
(d) Failure to satisfy the education requirement and furnish evidence of such compliance within
sixty (60) days from receipt of non-compliance notice;
(e) Failure to pay non-compliance fee within the prescribed period;
(f) Any other act or omission analogous to any of the foregoing or intended to circumvent or
evade compliance with the MCLE requirements.
SEC. 2. Non-compliance notice and 60-day period to attain compliance. -Members
failing to comply will receive a Non-Compliance Notice stating the specific deficiency
and will be given sixty (60) days from the date of notification to file a response clarifying
the deficiency or otherwise showing compliance with the requirements. Such notice
shall contain the following language near the beginning of the notice in capital letters:
IF YOU FAIL TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE PROOF OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE MCLE
REQUIREMENT BY (INSERT DATE 60 DAYS FROM DATE OF NOTICE), YOU SHALL BE
LISTED AS A DELINQUENT MEMBER AND SHALL NOT BE PERMITTED TO PRACTICE
LAW UNTIL SUCH TIME AS ADEQUATE PROOF OF COMPLIANCE IS RECEIVED BY THE
MCLE COMMITTEE.
Members given sixty (60) days to respond to a Non-Compliance Notice may use this period to
attain the adequate number of credit units for compliance. Credit units earned during this
period may only be counted toward compliance with the prior compliance period requirement
unless units in excess of the requirement are earned, in which case the excess may be
counted toward meeting the current compliance period requirement.
Rule 13. CONSEQUENCES OF NON-COMPLIANCE

SECTION 1. Non-compliance fee. -- A member who, for whatever reason, is in non-


compliance at the end of the compliance period shall pay a non-compliance fee.
SEC. 2. Listing as delinquent member. -- A member who fails to comply with the
requirements after the sixty (60) day period for compliance has expired, shall be listed
as a delinquent member of the IBP upon the recommendation of the MCLE Committee.
The investigation of a member for non-compliance shall be conducted by the IBPs
Commission on Bar Discipline as a fact-finding arm of the MCLE Committee.
SEC. 3. Accrual of membership fee. -- Membership fees shall continue to accrue at the
active rate against a member during the period he/she is listed as a delinquent member.
Rule 14. REINSTATEMENT

SECTION 1. Process. -- The involuntary listing as a delinquent member shall be


terminated when the member provides proof of compliance with the MCLE requirement,
including payment of non-compliance fee. A member may attain the necessary credit
units to meet the requirement for the period of non-compliance during the period the
member is on inactive status. These credit units may not be counted toward meeting
the current compliance period requirement. Credit units earned during the period of
non-compliance in excess of the number needed to satisfy the prior compliance period
requirement may be counted toward meeting the current compliance period
requirement.
SEC. 2. Termination of delinquent listing is an administrative process. The termination of
listing as a delinquent member is administrative in nature AND it shall be made by the
MCLE Committee.
Rule. 15. COMMITTEE ON MANDATORY CONTINUING

LEGAL EDUCATION

SECTION 1. Composition. The MCLE Committee shall be composed of five (5)


members, namely, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court as Chair, and four (4)
members respectively nominated by the IBP, the Philippine Judicial Academy, a law
center designated by the Supreme Court and associations of law schools and/or law
professors.
The members of the Committee shall be of proven probity and integrity. They shall be
appointed by the Supreme Court for a term of three (3) years and shall receive such
compensation as may be determined by the Court.
SEC. 2. Duty of committee. The MCLE Committee shall administer and adopt such
implementing rules as may be necessary subject to the approval of the Supreme Court.
It shall, in consultation with the IBP Board of Governors, prescribe a schedule of MCLE
fees with the approval of the Supreme Court.
SEC. 3. Staff of the MCLE Committee. Subject to approval by the Supreme Court,
the MCLE Committee shall employ such staff as may be necessary to perform the
record-keeping, auditing, reporting, approval and other necessary functions.
SEC. 4. Submission of annual budget. The MCLE Committee shall submit to the
Supreme Court for approval, an annual budget [for a subsidy] to establish, operate and
maintain the MCLE Program.
This resolution shall take effect on the fifteenth of September 2000, following its
publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.
Adopted this 22nd day of August, 2000, as amended on 02 October 2001.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing,
Pardo, Buena, Ynares-Santiago, De Leon, Jr., and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
Kapunan, J., on official leave.

SECOND DIVISION
A.C. No. 9834, August 26, 2015
SAMUEL B. ARNADO, Complainant, v. ATTY. HOMOBONO A. ADAZA, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case

This is an administrative case against Atty. Homobono A. Adaza (respondent) for his failure to comply with
the requirements of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) under Bar Matter No. 850.
The Antecedent Facts

In a letter, dated 15 March 2013, Atty. Samuel B. Arnado (complainant) called the attention of this Court to
the practice of respondent of indicating "MCLE application for exemption under process" in his pleadings filed
in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, and "MCLE Application for Exemption for Reconsideration" in a pleading filed
in 2012. Complainant informed the Court that he inquired from the MCLE Office about the status of
respondent's compliance and received the following Certification, dated 2 January 2013, from Prof. Myrna S.
Feliciano (Prof. Feliciano), MCLE's Executive Director:
LawlibraryofCRAlaw

This is to certify that per our records, ATTY. HOMOBONO A. ADAZA with Roll Number 14118 of IBP MIS AMIS
ORIENTAL Chapter did not comply with the requirements of Bar Matter [No.] 850 for the following
compliance periods: LawlibraryofCRAlaw

1. First Compliance Period (April 15, 2001 -April 14, 2004)


2.
3. Second Compliance Period (April 15, 2004 -April 14, 2007)
4.
5. Third Compliance Period (April 15, 2007 -April 14, 2010)
6.
This is to further certify that Arty. Adaza filed an Application for Exemption from the MCLE requirement on
(sic) January 2009 but was DENIED by the MCLE Governing Board on (sic) its January 14, 2009 meeting. 1
In its Resolution dated 17 June 2013, the Court referred this case to he MCLE Committee for evaluation,
report and recommendation.

In a letter, dated 5 August 2013, Atty. Jesusa Jean D. Reyes (Atty. Reyes), Assistant Executive Officer of the
MCLE Office, forwarded to the Court the rollo of the case together with the MCLE Governing Board's
Evaluation, Report and Recommendation.2 In its Evaluation, Report and Recommendation3dated 14 August
2013,4 the MCLE Governing Board, through retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Bernardo P. Pardo
(Justice Pardo), MCLE Chairman, informed the Court that respondent applied for exemption for the First and
Second Compliance Periods covering 15 April 2001 to 14 April 2004 and 15 April 2004 to 14 April 2007,
respectively, on the ground of "expertise in law" under Section 3, Rule 7 of Bar Matter No. 850. The MCLE
Governing Board denied the request on 14 January 2009. In the same letter, the MCLE Governing Board
noted that respondent neither applied for exemption nor complied with the Third Compliance period from 15
April 2007 to 14 April 2010.

In its 9 December 2013 Resolution, the Court directed the Second Division Clerk of Court to furnish
respondent with complainant's letter of 15 March 2013. The Court likewise required respondent to file his
comment within ten days from notice.

In his Compliance and Comment5 dated 3 February 2014, respondent alleged that he did not receive a copy
of the 5 August 2013 letter of Atty. Reyes. He stated that he was wondering why his application for
exemption could not be granted. He further alleged that he did not receive a formal denial of his application
for exemption by the MCLE Governing Board, and that the notice sent by Prof. Feliciano was based on the
letter of complainant who belonged to Romualdo and Arnado Law Office, the law office of his political
opponents, the Romualdo family. Respondent alleged that the Romualdo family controlled Camiguin and had
total control of the judges and prosecutors in the province. He further alleged that the law firm had control
of the lawyers in Camiguin except for himself.

Respondent enumerated his achievements as a lawyer and claimed that he had been practicing law for about
50 years. He stated: LawlibraryofCR Alaw

xxxx

Fifth, with a great degree of immodesty, I was the first outsider of the Supreme Court WHOM PRESIDENT
CORAZON C. AQUINO, offered, immediately after she took over government in February 1986, a seat as
Justice of the Supreme Court but I refused the intended appointment because I did not like some members
of the Cory crowd to get me to the SC in an effort to buy my silence;
Sixth, I almost single-handedly handled the case of CORAZON C. AQUINO in the canvassing of the results of
the 1986 snap elections, DISCUSSING CONSTITUTIONAL and legal issues which finally resulted to the EDSAI
revolution;

xxxx

Eighth; I was one of the two lead counsels of now SENATOR MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO in the national
canvassing before the National Canvassing Board when she ran for President against then GENERAL FIDEL
RAMOS. The other counsel was former Justice of the Supreme Court SERAFIN CUEVAS;

Ninth, I handled the 1987 and 1989 as well as the 2003 COUP CASES for leading generals like ABENINA and
COMMENDAOR and COLONELS like GREGORIO HONASAN as well as the SIX OAKWOOD CAPTAINS, including
now SENATOR ANTONIO TRILL ANES;

Tenth, I filed a case with the Supreme Court contesting the constitutionality and validity of the 2010 national
elections, still undecided up to this day;

Eleventh, I filed together with another lawyer, a case in the Supreme Court on the constitutionality and
legality of the Corona impeachment which the SC only decided after the Senate decided his case and former
SC Chief Justice Corona conceding to the decision, thus the SC declaring the case moot and academic;

Twelfth, I have been implementing and interpreting the Constitution and other laws as GOVERNOR OF
MISAMIS ORIENTAL, COMMISSION OF IMMIGRATION and the senior member of the Opposition in the
regular Parliament in the Committee on Revision of Laws and Constitutional Amendments;

Thirteenth, I was the leading Opposition member of Parliament that drafted the Omnibus Election Law;

Fourteenth, I was the leading member of the Opposition in Parliament that prepared and orchestrated the
debate in the complaint for impeachment against PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS;

Fifteenth, I have been practicing law for about fifty years now with appearances before the Supreme Court
when Justices were like Concepcion, Barrera and JBL REYES; in the Court of Appeals; and numerous courts
all over the country;

Sixteenth, I have been engaged as lawyer for a number of lawyers who have exemptions from the MCLE;

x x x x6
Respondent further claimed that he had written five books: (1) Leaders From Marcos to Arroyo; (2)
Presidentiables and Emerging Upheavals; (3) Beginning, Hope and Change; (4) Ideas, Principles and Lost
Opportunities; and (5) Corona Impeachment. Thus, he asked for a reconsideration of the notice for him to
undergo MCLE. He asked for an exemption from MCLE compliance, or in the alternative, for him to be
allowed to practice law while complying with the MCLE requirements.

In its 2 June 2014 Resolution, the Court referred respondent's Compliance and Comment to the Office of the
Bar Confidant (OBC) for evaluation, report and recommendation.

The Report and Recommendation of the OBC

In its Report and Recommendation dated 25 November 2014, the OBC reported that respondent applied for
exemption for the First and Second Compliance Periods on the ground of expertise in law. The MCLE
Governing Board denied the request on 14 January 2009. Prof. Feliciano informed respondent of the denial
of his application in a letter dated 1 October 2012. The OBC reported that according to the MCLE Governing
Board, "in order to be exempted (from compliance) pursuant to expertise in lp.w under Section 3, Rule 7 of
Bar Matter No. 850, the applicant must submit sufficient, satisfactory and convincing proof to establish his
expertise in a certain area of law." The OBC reported that respondent failed to meet the requirements
necessary for the exemption.

The OBC reported that this Court requires practicing members of the Bar to indicate in all their pleadings
filed with the courts the counsel's MCLE Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of Exemption pursuant to 6ar
Matter No. 1922. The OBC further reported that the MCLE Office has no record that respondent filed a
motion for reconsideration; and thus, his representation in a pleading that his "MCLE Application for
Exemption [is] for Reconsideration" in 2012 is baseless.

The OBC further reported that under Rule 12 of Bar Matter No. 850 and Section 12 of the MCLE
Implementing Regulations, non-compliance with the MCLE requirements shall result to the dismissal of the
case and the striking out of the pleadings from the records. 7 The OBC also reported that under Section 12(d)
of the MCLE Implementing Regulations, a member of the Bar who failed to comply with the MCLE
requirements is given 60 days from receipt of notification to explain his deficiency or to show his compliance
with the requirements. Section 12(e) also provides that a member who fails to comply within the given
period shall pay a non-compliance fee of PI,000 and shall be listed as a delinquent member of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) upon the recommendation of the MCLE Governing Board. The OBC reported that
the Notice of Non-Compliance was sent to respondent on 13 August 2013. The OBC also reported that on 14
August 2013, the MCLE Governing Board recommended that cases be filed against respondent in connection
with the pleadings he filed without the MCLE compliance/exemption number for the immediately preceding
compliance period and that the pleadings he filed be expunged from the records.

The OBC found that respondent had been remiss in his responsibilities as a lawyer. The OBC stated that
respondent's failure to comply with the MCLE requirements jeopardized the causes of his clients because the
pleadings he filed could be stricken off from the records and considered invalid.

The OBC recommended that respondent be declared a delinquent member of the Bar and guilty of non-
compliance with the MCLE requirements. The OBC further recommended respondent's suspension from the
practice of law for six months with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future
will be dealt with more severely. The OBC also recommended that respondent be directed to comply with the
requirements set forth by the MCLE Governing Board.

The Issue

The only issue here is whether respondent is administratively liable for his failure to comply with the MCLE
requirements.

The Ruling of this Court

Bar Matter No. 850 requires members of the IBP to undergo continuing legal education "to ensure that
throughout their career, they keep abreast with law and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession
and enhance the standards of the practice of law." 8 The First Compliance Period was from 15 April 2001 to
14 April 2004; the Second Compliance Period was from 15 April 2004 to 14 April 2007; and the Third
Compliance Period was from 15 April 2007 to 14 April 2010. Complainant's letter covered respondent's
pleadings filed in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 which means respondent also failed to comply with the MCLE
requirements for the Fourth Compliance Period from 15 April 2010 to 14 April 2013.

The records of the MCLE Office showed that respondent failed to comply with the four compliance periods.
The records also showed that respondent filed an application for exemption only on 5 January 2009.
According to the MCLE Governing Board, respondent's application for exemption covered the First and
Second Compliance Periods. Respondent did not apply for exemption for the Third Compliance Period. The
MCLE Governing Board denied respondent's application for exemption on 14 January 2009 on the ground
that the application did not meet the requirements of expertise in law under Section 3, Rule 7 of Bar Matter
No. 850. However, the MCLE Office failed to convey the denial of the application for exemption to
respondent. The MCLE Office only informed respondent, through its letter dated 1 October 2012 signed by
Prof. Feliciano, when it received inquiries from complainant, Judge Sinfroso Tabamo, and Camiguin Deputy
Provincial Prosecutor Renato A. Abbu on the status of respondent's MCLE compliance. Respondent filed a
motion for reconsideration after one year, or on 23 October 2013, which the MCLE Governing Board denied
with finality on 28 November 2013. The denial of the motion for reconsideration was sent to respondent in a
letter9 dated 29 November 2013, signed by Justice Pardo.

Clearly, respondent had been remiss in his responsibilities by failing to comply with Bar Matter No. 850. His
application for exemption for the First and Second Compliance Periods was filed after the compliance periods
had ended. He did not follow-up the status of his application for exemption. He furnished the Court with his
letter dated 7 February 201210 to the MCLE Office asking the office to act on his application for exemption
but alleged that his secretary failed to send it to the MCLE Office. 11He did not comply with the Fourth
Compliance Period.

In its 1 October 2012 letter to respondent, the MCLE Office enjoined him to comply with the requirements
for the First to Third Compliance periods. It was reiterated in the 29 November 2013 letter denying
respondent's motion for reconsideration of his application for exemption. The OBC also reported that a
Notice of Non-Compliance was sent to respondent on 13 August 2013. Under Section 12(5) of the MCLE
Implementing Regulations, respondent has 60 days from receipt of the notification to comply. However, in
his Compliance and Comment before this Court, respondent stated that because of his involvement in public
interest issues in the country, the earliest that he could comply with Bar Matter No. 850 would be on 10-14
February 2014 and that he already registered with the MCLE Program of the University of the Philippines
(UP) Diliman on those dates.

Section 12(5) of the MCLE Implementing Regulations provides: LawlibraryofCRAlaw

Section 12. Compliance Procedures

xxxx

(5) Any other act or omission analogous to any of the foregoing or intended to circumvent or evade
compliance with the MCLE requirements.

A member failing to comply with the continuing legal education requirement will receive a Non-Compliance
Notice stating his specific deficiency and will be given sixty (60) days from the receipt of the notification to
explain the deficiency or otherwise show compliance with the requirements. Such notice shall be written in
capital letters as follows:
LawlibraryofCRAlaw

YOUR FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE JUSTIFICATION FOR NON-COMPLIANCE OR PROOF OF COMPLIANCE


WITH THE MCLE REQUIREMENT WITHIN 60 DAYS FROM RECEIPT OF THIS NOTICE SHALL BE A CAUSE FOR
LISTING YOU AS A DELINQUENT MEMBER AND SHALL NOT BE PERMITTED TO PRACTICE LAW UNTIL SUCH
TIME AS ADEQUATE PROOF OF COMPLIANCE IS RECEIVED BY THE MCLE COMMITTEE.

The Member may use the 60-day period to complete his compliance with the MCLE requirement. Credit units
earned during this period may only be counted toward compliance with the prior period requirement unless
units in excess of the requirement are earned in which case the excess may be counted toward meeting the
current compliance period requirement.

A member who is in non-compliance at the end of the compliance period shall pay a non-compliance fee of
PI,000.00 and shall be listed as a delinquent member of the IBP by the IBP Board of Governors upon the
recommendation of the MCLE Committee, in which case Rule 13 9-A of the Rules of Court shall apply.

Even if respondent attended the 10-14 February 2014 MCLE Program of UP Diliman, it would only cover his
deficiencies for the First Compliance Period. He is still delinquent for the Second, Third, and Fourth
Compliance Periods. The Court has not been furnished proof of compliance for the First Compliance Period.
The Court notes the lackadaisical attitude of respondent towards Complying with the requirements of Bar
Matter No. 850. He assumed that his application for exemption, filed after the compliance periods, would be
granted. He purportedly wrote the MCLE Office to follow-up the status of his application but claimed that his
secretary forgot to send the letter. He now wants the Court to again reconsider the MCLE Office's denial of
his application for exemption when his motion for reconsideration was already denied with finality by the
MCLE Governing Board on 28 November 2013. He had the temerity to inform the Court that the earliest that
he could comply was on 10-14 February 2014, which was beyond the 60-day period required under Section
12(5) of the MCLE Implementing Regulations, and without even indicating when he intended to comply with
his deficiencies br the Second, Third, and Fourth Compliance Periods. Instead, he asked the Court to allow
him to continue practicing law while complying with the MCLE requirements.

The MCLE Office is not without fault in this case. While it acted on respondent's application for exemption on
14 January 2009, it took the office three years to inform respondent of the denial of his application. The
MCLE Office only informed respondent on 1 October 2012 and after it received inquiries regarding the status
of respondent's compliance. Hence, during the period when respondent indicated "MCLE application for
exemption under process" in his pleadings, he was not aware of the action of the MCLE Governing Board on
his application for exemption. However, after he had been informed of the denial of his application for
exemption, it still took respondent one year to file a motion for reconsideration. After the denial of his
motion for reconsideration, respondent still took, and is still aking, his time to satisfy the requirements of
the MCLE. In addition, when respondent indicated "MCLE Application for Exemption for Reconsideration" in a
pleading, he had not filed any motion for reconsideration before the MCLE Office.

Respondent's failure to comply with the MCLE requirements and disregard of the directives of the MCLE
Office warrant his declaration as a delinquent member of the IBP. While the MCLE Implementing Regulations
state that the MCLE Committee should recommend to the IBP Board of Governors the listing of a lawyer as a
delinquent member, there is nothing that prevents the Court from using its administrative power and
supervision to discipline erring lawyers and from directing the IBP Board of Governors o declare such
lawyers as delinquent members of the IBP.

The OBC recommended respondent's suspension from the practice of aw for six months. We agree. In
addition, his listing as a delinquent member pf the IBP is also akin to suspension because he shall not be
permitted to practice law until such time as he submits proof of full compliance to the IBP Board of
Governors, and the IBP Board of Governors has notified the MCLE Committee of his reinstatement, under
Section 14 of the MCLE Implementing Regulations. Hence, we deem it proper to declare respondent as a
delinquent member of the IBP and to suspend him from the practice of law for six months or until he has
fully complied with the requirements of the MCLE for the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Compliance
Periods, whichever is later, and he has fully paid the required non-compliance and reinstatement fees.

WHEREFORE, the Court resolves to: LawlibraryofCRAlaw

(1) REMIND the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Office to promptly act on matters that require its
immediate attention, such as but not limited to applications for exemptions, and to communicate its action
to the interested parties within a reasonable period;

(2) DENY the prayer of Atty. Homobono A. Adaza to be exempted from MCLE compliance as the matter had
already been denied with finality by the MCLE Governing Board on 28 November 2013;

(3) DECLARE Atty. Homobono A. Adaza as a delinquent member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
SUSPEND him from the practice of law for SIX MONTHS, or until he has fully complied with the MCLE
requirements for the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Compliance Periods, whichever is later, and he has
fully paid the required non-compliance and reinstatement fees.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Homobono A. Adaza's personal record in the Office of the Bar
Confidant and copies be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in
the land. Let copies be also furnished the MCLE Office and the IBP Governing Board for their appropriate
actions.

SO ORDERED. cralawla wlibrary

Del Castillo, Mendoza, Leonen, and Jardeleza,* JJ., concur.

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 207041, November 09, 2015
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY THE OFFICE OF THE CITY PROSECUTOR,
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, ROXAS CITY, Petitioner, v. JESUS A. ARROJADO, Respondent.
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside the Decision 1 and Resolution2 of
the Court of Appeals (CA), dated September 8, 2011 and April 18, 2013, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No.
04540. The assailed Decision affirmed the Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 16,
dated July 2, 2009 and July 23, 2009 in Criminal Case No. C-75-09, while the questioned Resolution denied
petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration.

The pertinent factual and procedural antecedents of the case are as follows: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

In an Information dated March 23, 2009, herein respondent was charged with the crime of murder by the
Office of the City Prosecutor of Roxas City, Capiz. The case was docketed as Criminal case No. C-75-09 and
was raffled off to Branch 16 of the Regional Trial COurt of Roxas City, Iloilo (RTC of Roxas City).

On June 16, 2009, respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss 3 the Information fiked against him on the ground
that the investigating prosecutor who filed the said Information failed to indicate therein the number and
date of issue of her Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Certificate of Compliance, as required by
Bar Matter No. 1922 (B.M. No. 1922) which was promulgated by this Court via an En Banc Resolution dated
June 3, 2008.4
Herein petitioner filed its Comment/Opposition 5 to respondent's Motion to Dismiss contending that: (1) the
Information sought to be dismissed is sufficient in form and substance; (2) the lack of proof of MCLE
compliance by the prosecutor who prepared and signed the Information should not prejudice the interest of
the State in filing charges against persons who have violated the law; and (3) and administrative edict
cannot prevail over substantive or precedural law, by imposing additional requirements for the sufficiency of
a criminal information.

On July 2, 2009, the RTC of Roxas City issued an Order 6 dismissing the subject Information without
prejudice. respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration. 7 but the trial court denied it in its Order 8dated July
23, 2009

Respondent then filed a petition for certiorari and/or mandamus with the CA assailing the July 2, 2009 and
July 23, 2009 Orders of the RTC of Roxas City.

In its presently assailed Decision, the CA denied respondent's petition and affirmed the questioned RTC
Orders. Respondent's Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied by the CA in its disputed Resolution.

Hence, the present petition for review on certiorari raising a sole Assignment of Error, to wit: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE FAILURE OF THE INVESTIGATING
PROSECUTOR TO INDICATE HER MCLE COMPLIANCE NUMBER AND DATE OF ISSUANCE THEREOF IN THE
INFORMATION AGAINST RESPONDENT JESUS A. ARROJADO WARRANTED THE DISMISSAL OF THE SAME. 9 cralawla wlibrary

Petitioner contends that: (1) the term "pleadings" as used in B.M. No. 1922 does not include criminal
Informations filed in court; (2) the failure of the investigating prosecutor to indicate in the Information the
number and date of issue of her MCLE Certificate of Compliance is a mere formal defect and is not a valid
ground to dismiss the subject Information which is otherwise complete in form and substance.
The petition lacks merit.

Pertinent portions of B.M. No. 1922, provide as follows: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

xxxx

The Court further Resolved, upon the recommendation of the Committee on Legal Education and Bar
Matters, to REQUIRE practicing members of the bar to INDICATE in all pleadings filed before the courts
or quasi-judicial bodies, the number and date of issue of their MCLE Certificate of Compliance or
Certificate of Exemption, as may be applicable, for the immediately preceding compliance period. Failure to
disclose the required information would cause the dismissal of the case and the expunction of the pleadings
from the records.

x x x10 cralawlawlibrary

Section 1, Rule 6 of the Rules of Court, as amended, defines pleadings as the written statements of the
respective claims and defenses of the parties submitted to the court for appropriate judgment. Among the
pleadings enumerated under Section 2 thereof are the complaint and the answer in a civil suit. On the other
hand, under Section 4, Rule 110 of the same Rules, an information is defined as an accusation in writing
charging a person with an offense, subscribed by the prosecutor and filed with the court. In accordance with
the above definitions, it is clear that an information is a pleading since the allegations therein, which charge
a person with an offense, is basically the same as a complaint in a civil action which alleges a plaintiffs cause
or cause of action. In this respect, the Court quotes with approval the ruling of the CA on the matter, to
wit:chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

xxxx

[A]n information is, for all intents and purposes, considered an initiatory pleading because it is a written
statement that contains the cause of action of a party, which in criminal cases is the State as represented by
the prosecutor, against the accused. Like a pleading, the Information is also filed in court for appropriate
judgment. Undoubtedly then, an Information falls squarely within the ambit of Bar Matter No. 1922, in
relation to Bar Matter 850.11 cralawlawlibrary

Even under the rules of criminal procedure of the United States, upon which our rules of criminal procedure
were patterned, an information is considered a pleading. Thus, Rule 12(a), Title IV of the United States
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, states that: "[t]he pleadings in a criminal proceeding are the
indictment, the information, and the pleas of not guilty, guilty, and nolo contendere." Thus, the Supreme
Court of Washington held that: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

An information is a pleading. It is the formal statement on the part of the state of the facts constituting the
offense which the defendant is accused of committing. In other words, it is the plain and concise statement
of the facts constituting the cause of action. It bears the same relation to a criminal action that a complaint
does to a civil action; and, when verified, its object is not to satisfy the court or jury that the defendant is
guilty, nor is it for the purpose of evidence which is to be weighed and passed upon, but is only to inform the
defendant of the precise acts or omissions with which he is accused, the truth of which is to be determined
thereafter by direct and positive evidence upon a trial, where the defendant is brought face to face with the
witnesses.12 cralawlawlibrary

In a similar manner, the Supreme Court of Illinois ruled that "[a]n indictment in a criminal case is a
pleading, since it accomplishes the same purpose as a declaration in a civil suit, pleading by allegation the
cause of action in law against [a] defendant."13
As to petitioner's contention that the failure of the investigating prosecutor to indicate in the subject
Information the number and date of issue of her MCLE Certificate of Compliance is a mere formal defect and
is not a valid ground to dismiss such Information, suffice it to state that B.M. No. 1922 categorically provides
that "[f]ailure to disclose the required information would cause the dismissal of the case and the expunction
of the pleadings from the records." In this regard, petitioner must be reminded that it assailed the trial
court's dismissal of the subject Information via a special civil action for certiorari filed with the CA. The writ
of certiorari is directed against a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions that
acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. 14 Grave abuse of
discretion means such capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction.15 To justify the issuance of the writ of certiorari, the abuse of discretion must be grave, as when
the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and it
must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform
the duty enjoined, or to act at all, in contemplation of law, as to be equivalent to having acted without
jurisdiction.16 Since the trial court's dismissal of the subject Information was based on a clear and
categorical provision of a rule issued by this Court, the court a quo could not have committed a capricious or
whimsical exercise of judgment nor did it exercise its discretion in an arbitrary or despotic manner. Thus, the
CA did not commit error in dismissing petitioner's petition for certiorari.

In harping on its contention that the ends of justice would be best served if the criminal case would be
allowed to proceed in order to determine the innocence or culpability of the ciccused, petitioner sounds as if
the dismissal of the Information left the prosecution with no other recourse or remedy so as to irreversibly
jeopardize the interests of the State and the private offended party. On the contrary, the Court agrees with
the CA that the dismissal of the Information, without prejudice, did not leave the prosecution without any
other plain, speedy and adequate remedy. To avoid undue delay in the disposition of the subject criminal
case and to uphold the parties' respective rights to a speedy disposition of their case, the prosecution,
mindful of its duty not only to prosecute offenders but more importantly to do justice, could have simply re-
filed the Information containing the required number and date of issue of the investigating prosecutor's
MCLE Certificate of Compliance, instead of resorting to the filing of various petitions in court to stubbornly
insist on its position and question the trial court's dismissal of the subject Information, thereby wasting its
time and effort and the State's resources.

The Court is neither persuaded by petitioner's invocation of the principle on liberal construction of procedural
rules by arguing that such liberal construction "may be invoked in situations where there may be some
excusable formal deficiency or error in a pleading, provided that the same does not subvert the essence of
the proceeding and connotes at least a reasonable attempt at compliance with the Rules." The prosecution
has never shown any reasonable attempt at compliance with the rule enunciated under B.M. No. 1922. Even
when the motion for reconsideration of the RTC Order dismissing the subject Information was filed, the
required number and date of issue of the investigating prosecutor's MCLE Certificate of Compliance was still
not included nor indicated. Thus, in the instant case, absent valid and compelling reasons, the requested
leniency and liberality in the observance of procedural rules appear to be an afterthought, hence, cannot be
granted.

In any event, to avoid inordinate delays in the disposition of cases brought about by a counsel's failure to
indicate in his or her pleadings the number and date of issue of his or her MCLE Certificate of Compliance,
this Court issued an En Bane Resolution, dated January 14, 2014 which amended B.M. No. 1922 by
repealing the phrase "Failure to disclose the required information would cause the dismissal of the case and
the expunction of the pleadings from the records" and replacing it with "Failure to disclose the required
information would subject the counsel to appropriate penalty and disciplinary action." Thus, under the
amendatory Resolution, the failure of a lawyer to indicate in his or her pleadings the number and date of
issue of his or her MCLE Certificate of Compliance will no longer result in the dismissal of the case and
expunction of the pleadings from the records. Nonetheless, such failure will subject the lawyer to the
prescribed fine and/or disciplinary action.

In light of the above amendment, while the same was not yet in effect at the time that the subject
Information was filed, the more prudent and practical thing that the trial court should have done in the first
place, so as to avoid delay in the disposition of the case, was not to dismiss the Information but to simply
require the investigating prosecutor to indicate therein the number and date of issue of her MCLE Certificate
of Compliance.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals, dated
September 8, 2011 and April 18, 2013, respectively, in CA-G.R. SPNo. 04540 are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED

Velasco, Jr., (Chairperson), Bersamin,* Villarama, Jr., and Reyes, JJ., concur.

EN BANC
A.C. NO. 10525, September 01, 2015
INTESTATE ESTATE OF JOSE UY, HEREIN REPRESENTED BY ITS ADMINISTRATOR WILSON UY,
Complainant, v. ATTY. PACIFICO M. MAGHARI III, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
LEONEN, J.:
This resolves a Complaint1 for disbarment directly filed before this court by complainant Wilson Uy, the
designated administrator of the estate of Jose Uy. This Complaint charges respondent Atty. Pacifico M.
Maghari, III (Maghari) with engaging in deceitful conduct and violating the Lawyer's Oath. Specifically,
Maghari is charged with the use of information that is false and/or appropriated from other lawyers in
signing certain pleadings.2
On February 18, 1997, Lilia Hofilea (Hofilea) filed a Petition before the Bacolod City Regional Trial Court
praying that she be designated administratrix of the estate of her common-law partner, the deceased Jose
Uy. This was docketed as Spec. Proc. No. 97-241.3
Hofilea was initially designated administratrix. 4 However, a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order
designating Hofilea as administratix was filed by Wilson Uy, one of Jose Uy's children, on behalf of Jose Uy's
spouse and other children.5 In its Order 6 dated June 9, 1998, the Regional Trial Court designated Wilson Uy
as administrator of Jose Uy's estate.

Subsequently, Hofilea's claims in the settlement of Jose Uy's estate were granted. 7 Hence, she filed a
Motion for Execution8 dated September 14, 2007.

In Spec. Proc No. 97-241 and in other proceedings arising from the conflicting claims to Jose Uy's estate,
Hofilea was represented by her counsel, Atty. Mariano L. Natu-El (Atty. Natu-el). In a pleading filed in the
course of these proceedings (i.e., in the Comment dated May 27, 2009 filed before the Court of Appeals9),
Atty. Natu-El indicated the following details:

MARIANO L. NATU-EL
Counsel for Private-Respondent
Rm. 14, J.S. Building
Lacson-Galo Sts., Bacolod City
IBP O.R. No. 731938 11/24/08
PTR NO. 0223568 1/5/09
ROLL NO. 20865
MCLENO. 001597010 (Emphasis supplied)

There appears to have been conflicts between Wilson Uy and the other heirs of Jose Uy. 11 In the course of
the proceedings, Wilson Uy prayed that a subpoena ad testificandum be issued to Magdalena Uy as she was
alleged to have been the treasurer of several businesses owned by Jose Uy.12 In its Order13 dated April 20,
2010, the Regional Trial Court granted Wilson Uy's Motion that a Subpoena ad Testificandum be issued to
Magdalena Uy.

Thereafter, Magdalena Uy, through Maghari, her counsel, filed a Motion to Quash Subpoena ad Testificandum
with Alternative Motion to Cite the Appearance of Johnny K.H. Uy.14 In signing this Motion, Maghari indicated
the following details:

PACIFICO M. MAGHARI, III


Counsel for Magdalena Uy
590 Ylac St., Villamonte
Bacolod City
IBP O.R. No. 731938 11/24/08 B.C.
PTR NO. 0223568 1/5/09 B.C.
ROLL NO. 20865
MCLECompl. 0015970 1/14/0915 (Emphasis supplied)

On November 9, 2010, Wilson Uy filed his Opposition to Magdalena Uy's Motion to Quash. 16
Magdalena Uy, through Maghari, filed her Reply17 to Wilson Uy's Opposition. This Reply was dated December
8, 2010. In signing this Reply, Maghari indicated the following details:

PACIFICO M. MAGHARI, III


Counsel for Magdalena Uy
590 Ylac St., Villamonte
Bacolod City
IBP O.R. No. 766304 11/27/09 B.C.
PTR NO. 3793872 1/4/10 B.C.
ROLL NO. 20865
MCLE Compl. 0015970 1/14/0918 (Emphasis supplied)

The Regional Trial Court subsequently denied Magdalena Uy's Motion to Quash. 19 Thereafter, Maghari filed for
Magdalena Uy a Motion for Reconsideration20 dated July 15, 2011. In signing this Motion, Maghari indicated
the following details:

PACIFICO M. MAGHARI, III


Counsel for Magdalena Uy
590 Ylac St., Villamonte
Bacolod City
IBP O.R. No. 815530 1/4/11 B.C.
PTR NO. 4190929 1/4/11 B.C.
ROLL NO. 20865
MCLE Compl. IH-0000762 1/14/0921(Emphasis supplied)

As the Motion for Reconsideration was denied, 22 Maghari filed for Magdalena Uy a Motion to Recall Subpoena
ad Testificandum23 dated March 8, 2012. In signing this Motion, Maghari indicated the following details:

PACIFICO M. MAGHARI, III


Counsel for Magdalena Uy
590 Ylac St., Villamonte
Bacolod City
IBP O.R. No. 848630 12/27/11 B.C.
PTR NO. 4631737 1/2/12 B.C.
ROLL NO. 44869
MCLE Compl. III-0000762 1/14/0924 (Emphasis supplied)

At this point, Wilson Uy's counsel noticed that based on the details indicated in the March 8, 2012 Motion,
Maghari appeared to have only recently passed the bar examinations. This prompted Wilson Uy to check the
records of Spec. Proc No. 97-241. Upon doing so, he learned that since 2010, Maghari had been changing
the professional details indicated in the pleadings he has signed and has been copying the professional
details of Atty. Natu-El.25
cralawred

Wilson Uy then filed a Motion26 to declare Magdalena Uy in indirect contempt (as by then she had still not
complied with the Subpoena ad Testificandum) and to require Maghari to explain why he had been usurping
the professional details of another lawyer.
In its Order27 dated February 16, 2012, the Regional Trial Court declined from citing Magdalena Uy in
contempt as no verified petition asking that she be so cited had been filed. 28
On July 31, 2014, Wilson Uy filed before this court the present Complaint for disbarment. 29 Pointing to
Maghari's act of repeatedly a changing and using another lawyer's professional details, Wilson Uy asserts
that Maghari violated the Lawyer's Oath and acted in a deceitful manner.

In the Resolution30 dated November 12, 2014, this court directed Maghari to file his Comment on Wilson Uy's
Complaint.

This court, through the Office of the Bar Confidant, received Maghari's Comment 31 on March 2, 2015.

For resolution are the issues of whether respondent Atty. Pacifico M. Maghari, III engaged in unethical
conduct and of what proper penalty may be meted on him.

Respondent does not deny the existence of the errant entries indicated by complainant. However, he insists
that he did not incur disciplinary liability. He claims that these entries were mere overlooked errors:

For true indeed that after the draft of a particular motion or pleading had been printed and ready for
signature, all what [sic] he did after cursorily going over it was to affix his signature thereon, specifically,
atop his printed name, without giving any special or particular attention to details as the "IBP, PTR, and
MCLE Numbers", considering that these are matters of record and are easily verifiable, thus he gains nothing
by "the usurpation of professional details of another lawyer" and has no sinister motive or ill-purpose in so
doing[.]32
He attempts to diminish the significance of the dubious entries and instead ascribes ill motive to
complainant. He faults complainant for "nitpicking" 33 and calls him a "sore loser" 34 and a "disgruntled
litigant"35 who is merely "making a mountain out of a molehill" 36 and is predisposed to "fault-finding."

He adds that "for the satisfaction of complainant," 37 he has provided what are supposedly his correct
professional details:

2009

IBP OR No. 765868 - Dec. 22, 2008 - Bacolod City


PTR No. 3408746 - Jan. 5, 2009 -Bacolod City
MCLE Compl. II-0012507 - Jan. 14, 2009 and
III-0000762-Jan. 14, 2009

2010

IBP OR No. 766304 - Dec. 9, 2009 - Bacolod City


PTR No. 3793872 - Jan. 4, 2010 -Bacolod City
MCLE Compl. II-0012507 - Jan. 14, 2009 and
III-0000762 - Jan. 14, 2009

2011

IBP OR No. 815530 -Jan. 4, 2011 -Bacolod City


PTRNo. 4190929 - Jan. 4, 2011 - Bacolod City
MCLE Compl. III-0000762 - Jan. 14, 2009

2012
IBP OR No. 848630-Dec. 27, 2011 - Bacolod City
PTR No. 4631737 - Jan. 2, 2012 -Bacolod City
MCLE Compl. III-0000762 - Jan. 14, 200938 ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

II

Respondent's avowals, protestations, and ad hominem attacks on complainant fail to impress.

The duplicitous entries speak for themselves. The errors are manifest and respondent admits their
existence. This court would perhaps be well counseled to absolve respondent of liability or let him get away
with a proverbial slap on the wrist if all that was involved were a typographical error, or otherwise, an error
or a handful of errors made in an isolated instance or a few isolated instances. So too, if the error pertained
to only ' one of the several pieces of information that lawyers are required to indicate when signing
pleadings.

None of these can be said of this case. Respondent did not merely commit errors in good faith. The truth is
far from it. First, respondent violated clear legal requirements, and indicated patently false information.
Second, the way he did so demonstrates that he did so knowingly. Third, he did so repeatedly. Before our
eyes is a pattern of deceit. Fourth, the information he used was shown to have been appropriated from
another lawyer. Not only was he deceitful; he was also larcenous. Fifth, his act not only of usurping another
lawyer's details but also of his repeatedly changing information from one pleading to another demonstrates
the intent to mock and ridicule courts and legal processes. Respondent toyed with the standards of legal
practice.

Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court provides for deceit as a ground for disbarment. The Lawyer's
Oath entails commitment to, among others, obeying laws and legal orders, doing no falsehood, conducting
one's self as a lawyer to the best of one's capacity, and acting with fidelity to both court and client:

I, do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, I will support the
Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will
do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any
groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or
malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion, with all
good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself these voluntary obligations
without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.

No amount of feigned ignorance and ad hominem attacks on complainant can negate the gravity of
respondent's actions. His insolent and mocking violation of statutory and regulatory requirements is a
violation of his duties to society and to courts. His swiping of another lawyer's information is a violation of
his duties to the legal profession. The unnecessary risks that he foiled on his client as a possible result of
deficiently signed pleadings violate his duties to his client. Thus, respondent did not only act in a deceitful
manner and violate the solemn oath he took to be admitted into the legal profession; he also violated every
single chapter of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

It is as clear as the entries themselves that respondent acted in a manner that is woefully unworthy of an
officer of the court. He was not even a good citizen. As respondent has fallen short of the ethical standards
apropos to members of the legal profession, we find it proper to suspend respondent from the practice of
law for two (2) years.

III

The requirement of a counsel's signature in pleadings, the significance of this requirement, and the
consequences of non-compliance are spelled out in Rule 7, Section 3 of the Rules of Court:
Section 3. Signature and address. Every pleading must be signed by the party or counsel representing
him, stating in either case his address which should not be a post office box.

The signature of counsel constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading; that to the best of
his knowledge, information, and belief there is good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for
delay.

An unsigned pleading produces no legal effect. However, the court may, in its discretion, allow such
deficiency to be remedied if it shall appear that the same was due to mere inadvertence and not intended
for delay. Counsel who deliberately files an unsigned pleading, or signs a pleading in violation of this Rule, or
alleges scandalous or indecent matter therein, or fails promptly report to the court a change of his address,
shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. (Emphasis supplied)

A counsel's signature on a pleading is neither an empty formality nor even a mere means for identification.
Through his or her signature, a party's counsel makes a positive declaration. In certifying through his or her
signature that he or she has read the pleading, that there is ground to support it, and that it is not
interposed for delay, a lawyer asserts his or her competence, credibility, and ethics. Signing a pleading is
such a solemn component of legal practice that this court has taken occasion to decry the delegation of this
task to non-lawyers as a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility:

The signature of counsel constitutes an assurance by him that he has read the pleading; that, to the best of
his knowledge, information and belief, there is a good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for
delay. Under the Rules of Court, it is counsel alone, by affixing his signature, who can certify to these
matters.

The preparation and signing of a pleading constitute legal work involving practice of law which is reserved
exclusively for the members of the legal profession. Counsel may delegate the signing of a pleading to
another lawyer but cannot do so in favor of one who is not. The Code of Professional Responsibility
provides:chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Rule 9.01 A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law
may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing. ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Moreover, a signature by agents of a lawyer amounts to signing by unqualified persons, something the law
strongly proscribes.39 (Citations omitted)

A counsel's signature is such an integral part of a pleading that failure to comply with this requirement
reduces a pleading to a mere scrap of paper totally bereft of legal effect. Thus, faithful compliance with this
requirement is not only a matter of satisfying a duty to a court but is as much a matter of fidelity to one's
client. A deficiency in this respect can be fatal to a client's cause.

Apart from the signature itself, additional information is required to be indicated as part of a counsel's
signature:

(1) Per Rule 7, Section 3 of the Rules of Court, a counsel's address must be stated;

(2) In Bar Matter No. 1132,40 this court required all lawyers to indicate their Roll of Attorneys
number;
(3) In Bar Matter No. 287, 41 this court required the inclusion of the "number and date of their official
receipt indicating payment of their annual membership dues to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines for the current year"; in lieu of this, a lawyer may indicate his or her lifetime
membership number;

(4) In accordance with Section 139 of the Local Government Code, 42 a lawyer must indicate his
professional tax receipt number;

(5) Bar Matter No. 192243 required the inclusion of a counsel's Mandatory Continuing Legal Education
Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of Exemption; and

(6) This court's Resolution in A.M. No. 07-6-5-SC 44 required the inclusion of a counsel's contact
details.

As with the signature itself, these requirements are not vain formalities.

The inclusion of a counsel's Roll of Attorneys number, professional tax receipt number, and Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) receipt (or lifetime membership) number is intended to preserve and protect the
integrity of legal practice. They seek to ensure that only those who have satisfied the requisites for legal
practice are able to engage in it. With the Roll of Attorneys number, parties can readily verify if a person
purporting to be a lawyer has, in fact, been admitted to the Philippine bar.45With the professional tax receipt
number, they can verify if the same person is qualified to engage in a profession in the place where he or
she principally discharges his or her functions. With the IBP receipt number, they can ascertain if the same
person remains in good standing as a lawyer. These pieces of information, in the words of Galicto v. Aquino
III, "protect the public from bogus lawyers." 46Paying professional taxes (and the receipt that proves this
payment) is likewise compliance with a revenue mechanism that has been statutorily devolved to local
government units.

The inclusion of information regarding compliance with (or exemption from) Mandatory Continuing Legal
Education (MCLE) seeks to ensure that legal practice is reserved only for those who have complied with the
recognized mechanism for "keep[ing] abreast with law and jurisprudence, maintaining] the ethics of the
profession[,] and enhancing] the standards of the practice of law." 47
Lastly, the inclusion of a counsel's address and contact details is designed to facilitate the dispensation of
justice. These pieces of information aid in the service of court processes, enhance compliance with the
requisites of due process, and facilitate better representation of a client's cause. In Juane v. Garcia,48 this
court took occasion to expound on the significance of putting on record a counsel's address:

The time has come, we believe, for this Court to remind the members of the Bar that it is their inescapable
duty to make of record their correct address in all cases in which they are counsel for a suitor. For, instances
there have been in the past when, because of failure to inform the court of the change of address, litigations
were delayed. And this, not to speak of inconvenience caused the other parties and the court. Worse still,
litigants have lost their cases in court because of such negligence on the part of their counsel. It is painful
enough for a litigant to surfer a setback in a legal battle. It is doubly painful if defeat is occasioned by his
attorney's failure to receive notice because the latter has changed the place of his law office without giving
the proper notice therefor. It is only when some such situation comes about that the negligent lawyer comes
to realize the grave responsibility that he has incurred both to his client and to the cause of justice. It is then
that the lawyer is reminded that in his oath of office he solemnly declared that he "will conduct" himself "as
a lawyer according to the best of his knowledge and discretion." Too late. Experience indeed is a good
teacher. To a lawyer, though, it could prove very expensive.49
These requirements are not mere frivolities. They are not mere markings on a piece of paper. To willfully
disregard them is, thus, to willfully disregard mechanisms put in place to facilitate integrity, competence,
and credibility in legal practice; it is to betray apathy for the ideals of the legal profession and demonstrates
how one is wanting of the standards for admission to and continuing inclusion in the bar. Worse, to not only
willfully disregard them but to feign compliance only, in truth, to make a mockery of them reveals a dire,
wretched, and utter lack of respect for the profession that one brandishes.

IV

We underscore several facts. These demonstrate that respondent acted in manifest bad faith, thereby
exhibiting a pattern of insubordination, dishonesty, deceit, and intent to make a mockery of courts and legal
processes.

In signing the Motion to Quash Subpoena ad Testificandum with Altenative Motion to Cite the Appearance of
Johnny K.H. Uy, respondent appropriated four of the five details (i.e., IBP official receipt number,
professional tax receipt number, Roll of Attorneys number, and MCLE compliance number) that Atty. Natu-el
indicated in the Comment dated May 27, 2009, which the latter signed and filed before the Court of Appeals.
Atty. Natu-el's details are reproduced as follows:

MARIANO L. NATU-EL
Counsel for Private-Respondent
Rm. 14, J.S. Building
Lacson-Galo Sts., Bacolod City
IBP O.R. No. 731938 11/24/08
PTR NO. 0223568 1/5/09
ROLL NO. 20865
MCLENO. 001597050 [Emphasis supplied] ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The details that respondent indicated are reproduced as follows:

PACIFICO M. MAGHARI, III


Counsel for Magdalena Uy
590 Ylac St., Villamonte
Bacolod City
IBPO.R. No. 731938 11/24/08 B.C.
PTR NO. 0223568 1/5/09 B.C.
ROLL NO. 20865
MCLE Compl. 00159701/14/0951 (Emphasis supplied)

In signing the Reply dated December 8, 2010, respondent used what was supposedly his correct IBP official
receipt number and professional tax receipt number:

PACIFICO M. MAGHARI, III


Counsel for Magdalena Uy
590 Ylac St., Villamonte
Bacolod City
IBP O.R. No. 766304 11/27/09 B.C.
PTR NO. 3793872 1/4/10 B.C.
ROLL NO. 20865
MCLE Compl. 00159701/14/0952 (Emphasis supplied)

The same pleading, however, still bore Atty. Natu-el's Roll of Attorneys number and MCLE compliance
number, which respondent previously appropriated for himself.
In signing the Motion for Reconsideration dated July 15, 2011, respondent used what was supposedly his
correct IBP official receipt number and professional tax receipt number. However, he still used Atty. Natu-el's
Roll of Attorneys number:

PACIFICO M. MAGHARI, III


Counsel for Magdalena Uy
590 Ylac St., Villamonte
Bacolod City
IBP O.R. No. 815530 1/4/11 B.C.
PTR NO. 4190929 1/4/11 B.C.
ROLL NO. 20865
MCLE Compl. III-0000762 1/14/09 53
(Emphasis supplied)

It was only in signing the Motion to Recall Subpoena ad Testificandum 54 dated March 8, 2012, that all the
professional details that respondent indicated are supposedly his own:

PACIFICO M. MAGHARI, III


Counsel for Magdalena Uy
590 Ylac St., Villamonte
Bacolod City
IBP O.R. No. 848630 12/27/11 B.C.
PTR NO. 4631737 1/2/12 B. C.
ROLL NO. 44869
MCLE Compl. 111-0000762 1/14/09 (Emphasis supplied)

Respondent acted deliberately. It is impossible that the erroneous details he indicated on his pleadings are
products of mere inadvertence.

To begin with, details were copied from a pleading submitted by another lawyer. These details somehow
found their way into respondent's own pleadings. Certainly, these details could not have written themselves,
let alone transfer themselves from a pleading prepared by one lawyer to those prepared by another.
Someone must have actually performed the act of copying and transferring; that is, someone must have
intended to copy and transfer them. Moreover, the person responsible for this could have only been
respondent or someone acting under his instructions; the pleadings on which they were transferred are,
after all, respondent's pleadings.

Second, these details were not merely copied, they were modified. "B.C." was added to the IBP official
receipt and professional tax receipt numbers copied from Atty. Natu-el. The facts of modification and
addition show active human intervention to make something more out of markings that could otherwise
have simply been reproduced.

Third, in subsequent pleadings, some details copied from Atty. Natu-el were discarded while some were
retained. The December 8, 2010 Reply still bore Atty. Natu-el's Roll of Attorneys number and MCLE
compliance number, but no longer his IBP official receipt number and professional tax receipt number. The
July 15, 2011 Motion for Reconsideration only bore Atty. Natu-el's MCLE compliance number. This gradual
act of segregating informationdiscarding some while retaining others, and retaining less over timereveals
that the author of these markings must have engaged in a willful exercise that filtered those that were to be
discarded from those that were to be retained.

Respondent is rightly considered the author of these acts. Any claim that the error was committed by a
secretary is inconsequential. As this court has stated in Gutierrez v. Zulueta:55
The explanation given by the respondent lawyer to the effect that the failure is attributable to the negligence
of his secretary is devoid of merit. A responsible lawyer is expected to supervise the work in his office with
respect to all the pleadings to be filed in court and he should not delegate this responsibility, lock, stock and
barrel, to his office secretary. If it were otherwise, irresponsible members of the legal profession can avoid
appropriate disciplinary action by simply disavowing liability and attributing the problem to the fault or
negligence of the office secretary. Such situation will not be countenanced by this Court. 56
V

In the first place, it is doubtful that respondent has complied with the requirements of paying his dues to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, paying his annual professional tax, and completing the necessary units for
Mandatory Continuing Legal Education in the periods concerned. To put it plainly, there would be no need for
him to use incorrect information if he had complied with all pertinent regulations.

In his Comment, respondent provided what are supposedly his correct professional details. We emphasize,
however, that he failed to attach to his Comment copies of the pertinent official receipts, certifications, and
other supporting documents. All that he relies on is a self-serving recital of numbers and dates. None but
respondent, himself, was in a better position to produce the documents that could prove his claims. His
failure to do so is, at the very least, suspicious. It can very well mean that they do not exist, or that he
willfully desisted from producing them. The latter would be more damaging to respondent, as it calls into
operation the basic presumption "[t]hat evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if produced." 57
Even assuming that the details provided by respondent in his Comment are correct, it still remains that he
(1) used a false IBP official receipt number, professional tax receipt number, Roll of Attorneys number, and
MCLE compliance number a total of seven (7) times; and (2) used another lawyer's details seven (7) times.

In failing to accurately state his professional details, respondent already committed punishable violations. An
isolated inaccuracy, regardless of the concerned lawyer's lack of bad faith, already merits a penalty of
relative severity. In Bumactao v. Fano,58 respondent Atty. Restito F. Fano was suspended from the practice of
law for the singular violation of indicating wrong MCLE compliance details:

Here, it is established that respondent Atty. Restito F. Fano falsely indicated "MCLE Compliance No. III-
0018308". . . . . The admitted falsity notwithstanding, respondent endeavors to douse his culpability by
shifting the blame to the MCLE providers - PLM and IBP Quezon City Chapter and insisting that he acted
in good faith. He likewise attributes the indication of "MCLE Compliance No. III-0018308" to his secretary /
liaison, an "honest mistake . . . because of the pressure of his many duties."

We are not impressed.

Bar Matter No. 1922, dated June 3, 2008, requires "practicing members of the bar to indicate in all
pleadings filed before the courts or quasi-judicial bodies, the number and date of issue of their MCLE
Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of Exemption, as may be applicable. . . ." It further provides that
"[f]ailure to disclose the required information would cause the dismissal of the case and the expunction of
the pleadings from the records."

At the very least, respondent was negligent in failing to monitor his own MCLE compliance. This is a sort of
negligence that is hardly excusable. As a member of the legal profession, respondent ought to have known
that non-compliance would have resulted in the rendering inutile of any pleading he may file before any
tribunal. The grave consequence of non-compliance notwithstanding, respondent (by his own account)
admits to having complacently relied on the statements of MCLE providers. His negligence, therefore risked
harm not only upon himself - he being now burdened with the present complaint as a direct consequence -
but worse, upon his clients, the reliefs they seek through their pleadings being possibly rendered
inoperative.59
This court has never shied away from disciplining lawyers who have willfully engaged in acts of deceit and
falsehood.

In Flores v. Chua,60 respondent Atty. Enrique S. Chua was disbarred on this court's finding of "a habit,
attitude, and mindset not only to abuse one's legal knowledge or training, but also to deliberately defy or
ignore known virtues and values which the legal profession demands from its members." 61 Atty. Enrique S.
Chua was found to have notarized a document that he knew to have been falsified so as to make it appear
that a person had personally appeared before him; this was part of a bigger design to defraud another.

In Nunga v. Viray,62 respondent Atty. Venancio Viray was suspended from the practice of law for three (3)
years after having been found to have notarized a document despite the lapse of his commission as a notary
public.

In Benguet Electric Cooperative v. Flores,63 respondent Atty. Ernesto B. Flores was suspended from the
practice of law for two (2) years after being found to have falsely stated that he did not pursue an appeal so
as to absolve himself of the charge of forum shopping when, in fact, he had perfected an appeal.

Here, respondent violated Bar Matter No. 287, Section 139(e) of the Local Government Code, Bar Matter No.
1132, and Bar Matter No. 1922, a total of seven (7) times. The sheer multiplicity of instances belies any
claim that we are only dealing with isolated errors. Regardless whether isolated or manifold, these
inaccuracies alone already warrant disciplinary sanctions. However, as shall be discussed, respondent also
acted with dishonest, deceitful, and even larcenous intent.

Respondent is not only accountable for inaccuracies. This case is far from being a matter of clerical errors.
He willfully used false information. In so doing, he misled courts, litigantshis own client included
professional colleagues, and all others who may have relied on the records and documents on which these
false details appear.

Respondent's act of filing pleadings that he fully knew to contain false information is a mockery of courts,
chief of which is this court, considering that this court is the author of all but one of the regulations that
respondent violated. It is this court that requires respondent to indicate his Roll of Attorneys number, IBP
official receipt number, and MCLE compliance number.

Having also violated a requirement spelled out in the Local Government Code, respondent similarly made a
mockery of an act of the legislature.

Respondent's profligacy does not stop here. He also appropriated for himself another lawyer's professional
details in seven (7) separate instances.

In seven distinct instances, respondent is accountable for three constituent acts of larceny, taking, use, and
profiting.

Seven times, respondent took for himself professional details that belonged to another. In these seven
instances, he used the same swiped details in his own pleadings. So too, in these seven instances he
personally benefited. In these instances, respondent succeeded in making it appear that he filed valid
pleadings and avoided the fatal consequences of a deficiently signed pleading. He was able to pursue reliefs
in court and carry on litigation that could have been terminated as soon as his deficient pleadings were
recognized.

All these instances of falsity, dishonesty, and professional larceny are similarly acts of deceit. In using false
information taken from another, respondent misled courts, parties, and colleagues into believing that he was
faithfully, truthfully, and decently discharging his functions.

Respondent's acts reek of malicious intent to deceive courts. He was not only insubordinate and disobedient
of regulations; he was also dishonest, deceitful and duplicitous. Worse, he was mocking and contemptuous.

VI

The totality of respondent's actions demonstrates a degree of gravity that warrants suspension from the
practice of law for an extended period.
This case involves anything but trivial non-compliance. It is much graver. The confluence of: (1)
respondent's many violations; (2) the sheer multiplicity of rules violated; (3) the frequencynay, pattern
of falsity and deceit; and (4) his manifest intent to bring courts, legal processes, and professional standards
to disrepute brings to light a degree of depravity that proves respondent worthy of being sanctioned. Having
flagrantly disobeyed, deceived, and ridiculed courts, respondent rightly stands to be at the receiving end of
disciplinary action.

Respondent's circumstances are well within the grounds for disciplining lawyers as specified by Rule 138,
Section 27 of the Rules of Court. His deception is well demonstrated. He ran afoul of every single word, save
perhaps his name, in the Lawyer's Oath. Then again, it was his own signature, his own name, that
respondent Pacifico M. Maghari, III had disgraced.

Respondent's acts also demonstrate a violation of every single chapter of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility pronounces a lawyer's foremost duty "to uphold the
constitution, obey the laws of the land V and promote respect for law and legal processes" Rule 1.01 of the
same Code requires lawyers to "not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."

Per Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, "[a] lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to
the court" Rule 10.01 requires lawyers to "not do any falsehood . . . or allow the court to be misled by any
artifice." Rule 10.03 imposes upon lawyers the duty of faithfully "observ[ing] the rules of procedure [and]
not misusing] them to defeat the ends of justice." Canon 11 exhorts lawyers to "observe and maintain the
respect due to the courts."

Respondent did not merely violate a statute and the many issuances of this court as regards the information
that members of the bar must indicate when they sign pleadings. He did so in a manner that betrays intent
to make a mockery of courts, legal processes, and professional standards. By his actions, respondent
ridiculed and toyed with the requirements imposed by statute and by this court. He trampled upon
professional standards established not only by this court, in its capacity as overseer of the legal profession,
but by the Republic itself, through a duly enacted statute. In so doing, he violated his duty to society and to
the courts.

Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility requires a lawyer to "conduct himself with courtesy,
fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues."

In appropriating information pertaining to his opposing counsel, respondent did not only fail to observe
common courtesy. He encroached upon matters that, ultimately, are personal to another. This encroachment
is, therefore, not only an act of trickery; it is also act of larceny. In so doing, he violated his duty to the legal
profession.

Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility imposes upon a lawyer "fidelity to the cause of his
client," while Canon 18 requires a lawyer to "serve his client with competence and diligence."

In using false information in his pleadings, respondent unnecessarily put his own client at risk. Deficiencies
in how pleadings are signed can be fatal to a party's cause as unsigned pleadings produce no legal effect. In
so doing, respondent violated his duty to his clients.

It is tempting to think that the only thing respondent did was to deviate from required formalities.
Respondent was, himself, quite dismissive, stating that he did nothing more than "cursorily [go] over . . .
without giving any ... attention to details . . . that. . . are matters of record and are easily verifiable." 64 It is
equally tempting to think it would be excessive of this court to engage in an overly rigid, pedantic emphasis
on formalistic niceties.
However, we have demonstrated that what can otherwise be dismissed as empty formalities are, in fact,
necessary solemnities. They are not ends in themselves but crucial means to enhance the integrity,
competence and credibility of the legal profession. They are vital to the dispensation of justice. The
significance of these solemnities, along with the legal profession's "high standard of legal proficiency, . . .
morality, honesty, integrity[,] and fair dealing[,]" 65 put in contrast with how respondent has fallen dismally
and disturbingly short of the high standards that his profession demands, demonstrates the propriety of
momentarily suspending respondent from engaging in legal practice.

It is unsettling that respondent engaged in the mockery and ridicule that he did of the very same badges
his place in the Roll of Attorneys, his membership in the Integrated Bar, his recognition as a practicing
professional, his continuing training and competencethat are emblematic of his being a lawyer. Seeing as
how he manifested such contempt for these badges, we find that there is every reason for preventing him,
at least temporarily, from engaging in the profession these badges signify.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Pacifico M. Maghari, III, having clearly violated his Lawyer's Oath and the
Canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility through his unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct, is
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2) years, effective upon receipt of a copy of this Resolution.

Let copies of this Resolution be served on the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, and all courts in the country for their information and guidance. Let a copy of this Resolution be
attached to respondent Atty. Pacifico M. Maghari, III's personal record as attorney.

SO ORDERED. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Villarama, Jr., Perez,
Mendoza, Perlas-Bernabe, and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.
Velasco, Jr., J., no part. I inhibit due to relation to a party.
Reyes, J., on leave.

EN BANC
A.M. No. MTJ-12-1813 (Formerly A.M. No. 12-5-42-METC), November 22, 2016
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, Complainant, v. JUDGE ELIZA B. YU, METROPOLITAN
TRIAL COURT, BRANCH47, PASAY CITY, Respondent.

A.M. No. 12-1-09-METC

RE: LETTER DATED 21 JULY 2011 OF EXECUTIVE JUDGE BIBIANO G. COLASITO AND THREE (3)
OTHER JUDGES OF THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, PASAY CITY, FOR THE SUSPENSION OR
DETAIL TO ANOTHER STATION OF JUDGE ELIZA B. YU, BRANCH 47, SAME COURT.

A.M. No. MTJ-13-1836 (FORMERLY A.M. No. 11-11-115-METC)

RE: LETTER DATED MAY 2, 2011 OF HON. ELIZA B. YU, PRESIDING JUDGE, METROPOLITAN TRIAL
COURT, BRANCH 47, PASAY CITY.

A.M. No. MTJ-12-1815 (FORMERLY OCA IPI No. 11-2401-MTJ)

LEILANI A. TEJERO-LOPEZ, Complainant, v. JUDGE ELIZA B. YU, BRANCH 47, METROPOLITAN


TRIAL COURT, PASAY CITY, Respondent.

OCA IPI No. 11-2398-MTJ

JOSEFINA G. LABID, Complainant, v. JUDGE ELIZA B. YU,METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, BRANCH


47, PASAY CITY, Respondent.
OCA IPI No. 11-2399-MTJ

AMOR V. ABAD, FROILAN ROBERT L. TOMAS, ROMER H. AVILES, EMELINA J. SAN MIGUEL,
NORMAN D.S. GARCIA, MAXIMA SAYO AND DENNIS ECHEGOYEN, Complainants, v. HON. ELIZA B.
YU, PRESIDING JUDGE, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 47, PASAY CITY, Respondent.

OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ

EXECUTIVE JUDGE BIBIANO G. COLASITO, VICE EXECUTIVE JUDGE BONIFACIO S. PASCUA,


JUDGE RESTITUTO V. MANGALINDAN, JR. JUDGE CATHERINE P. MANODON, MIGUEL C. INFANTE
(CLERK OF COURT IV, OCC-METC), RACQUEL C. DIANO (CLERK OF COURT III, METC, BRANCH 45),
EMMA ANNIE D. ARAFILES (ASSISTANT CLERK OF COURT, OCC-METC), PEDRO C. DOCTOLERO, JR.
(CLERK OF COURT III, METC, BRANCH 44), LYDIA T. CASAS (CLERK OF COURT III, METC, BRANCH
46), ELEANOR N. BAYOG (LEGAL RESEARCHER, METC, BRANCH 45), LEILANIE A. TEJERO ( LEGAL
RESEARCHER, METC, BRANCH 46), ANA MARIA V. FRANCISCO (CASHIER I, OCC METC), SOLEDAD
J. BASSIG (CLERK III, OCC-METC), MARISSA MASHHOOR RASTGOOY (RECORDS OFFICER, OCC-
METC), MARIE LUZ M. OBIDA (ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, OCC-METC), VIRGINIA D. GALANG
(RECORDS OFFICER I, OCC-METC), AUXENCIO JOSEPH CLEMENTE (CLERK OF COURT III, METC,
BRANCH 48), EVELYN P. DEPALOBOS (LEGAL RESEARCHER, METC, BRANCH 44), MA. CECILIA
GERTRUDES R. SALVADOR (LEGAL RESEARCHER, METC, BRANCH 48), JOSEPH B. PAMATMAT
(CLERK III, OCC-METC), ZENAIDA N. GERONIMO (COURT STENOGRAPHER, OCC-METC), BENJIE V.
ORE (PROCESS SERVER, OCC-METC), FORTUNATO E. DIEZMO (PROCESS SERVER, OCC-METC),
NOMER B. VILLANUEVA (UTILITY WORKER, OCC-METC), ELSA D. GARNET (CLERK III, OCC METC),
FATIMA V. ROJAS (CLERK III, OCC-METC), EDUARDO E. EBREO (SHERIFF III, METC, BRANCH 45),
RONALYN T. ALMARVEZ (COURT STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 45), MA. VICTORIA C.
OCAMPO (COURT STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 45), ELIZABETH LIPURA (CLERK III METC,
BRANCH 45), MARY ANN J. CAYANAN (CLERK III, METC, BRANCH 45), MANOLO MANUEL E.
GARCIA (PROCESS SERVER, METC, BRANCH 45), EDWINA A. JUROK (UTILITY WORKER, OCC-
METC), ARMINA B. ALMONTE (CLERK III, OCC-METC), ELIZABETH G. VILLANUEVA (RECORDS
OFFICER, METC, BRANCH 44), ERWIN RUSS B. RAGASA (SHERIFF III, METC, BRANCH 44), BIEN T.
CAMBA (COURT STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 44), MARLON M. SULIGAN (COURT
STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 44), CHANDA B. TOLENTINO (COURT STENOGRAPHER II,
METC, BRANCH 44), FERDINAND R. MOLINA (COURT INTERPRETER, METC, BRANCH 44),
PETRONILO C. PRIMACIO, JR. (PROCESS SERVER, METC, BRANCH 45), EDWARD ERIC SANTOS
(UTILITY WORKER, METC, BRANCH 45), EMILIO P. DOMINE (UTILITY WORKER, METC, BRANCH
45), ARNOLD P. OBIAL (UTILITY WORKER, METC, BRANCH 44), RICARDO E. LAMPITOC (SHERIFF
III, METC, BRANCH 46), JEROME H. AVILES (COURT STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 46), ANA
LEA M. ESTACIO (COURT STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 46), LANIE F. AGUINALDO (CLERK
III, METC, BRANCH 44), JASMINE L. LINDAIN (CLERK III, METC, BRANCH 44), RONALDO S.
QUIJANO (PROCESS SERVER, METC, BRANCH 44), DOMINGO H. HOCOSOL (UTILITY WORKER,
METC, BRANCH 48), EDWIN P. UBANA (SHERIFF III, METC, BRANCH 48), MARVIN O.
BALICUATRO (COURT STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 48), MA. LUZ D. DIONISIO (COURT
STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 48), MARIBEL A. MOLINA (COURT STENOGRAPHER II, METC,
BRANCH 48), CRISTINA E. LAMPITOC (COURT STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 46), MELANIE
DC BEGASA (CLERK III, METC, BRANCH 46), EVANGELINE M. CHING (CLERK III, METC, BRANCH
46), LAWRENCE D. PEREZ (PROCESS SERVER, METC, BRANCH 46), EDMUNDO VERGARA (UTILITY
WORKER, METC, BRANCH 46), AMOR V. ABAD (COURT INTERPRETER, METC, BRANCH 47), ROMER
H. AVILES (COURT STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 47), FROILAN ROBERT L. TOMAS (COURT
STENOGRAPHER II, METC, BRANCH 47), MAXIMA C. SAYO (PROCESS SERVER, BRANCH 47),
SEVILLA B. DEL CASTILLO (COURT INTERPRETER, METC, BRANCH 48), AIDA JOSEFINA IGNACIO
(CLERK III, METC, BRANCH 48), BENIGNO A. MARZAN (CLERK III, METC, BRANCH 48), KARLA
MAE R. PACUNAYEN (CLERK III, METC, BRANCH 48), IGNACIO M. GONZALES (PROCESS SERVER,
METC, BRANCH 48), EMELINA J. SAN MIGUEL (RECORDS OFFICER, OCC, DETAILED AT BRANCH
47), DENNIS M. ECHEGOYEN (SHERIFF III, OCC-METC), NORMAN GARCIA (SHERIFF III, METC,
BRANCH 47), NOEL G. LABID (UTILITY WORKER I, BRANCH 47), Complainant, v. HON. ELIZA B. YU,
PRESIDING JUDGE, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 47, PASAY CITY, Respondent.

OCA IPI No. 12-2456-MTJ

JUDGE BIBIANO G. COLASITO, JUDGE BONIFACIO S. PASCUA, JUDGE RESTITUTO V.


MANGALINDAN, JR. AND CLERK OF COURT MIGUEL C. INFANTE, Complainants, v. HON. ELIZA B.
YU, PRESIDING JUDGE, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 47, PASAY CITY, Respondent.

A.M. No. MTJ-13-1821

JUDGE EMILY L. SAN GASPAR-GITO, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 20, MANILA,
Complainant, v. JUDGE ELIZA B. YU, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 47, PASAY CITY,
Respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
A judge embodies the law; she cannot be above it. She should not use it to advance her personal
convenience, or to oppress others. She should be obedient to the rules and directives enunciated by the
Supreme Court for the effective administration of justice; otherwise, she becomes an arrogant tyrant. Being
a magistrate of the law, she must comport herself in a manner consistent with the dignity of her judicial
office, and must not commit any act that erodes public confidence in the Judiciary.

In these consolidated administrative proceedings, we resolve the several charges of gross misconduct, gross
ignorance of the law, gross insubordination, oppression, and conduct unbecoming of a judge leveled by
various complainants, some of.them her fellow Judges, against respondent Judge Eliza B. Yu, the Presiding
Judge of Branch 47, Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) in Pasay City.

On June 4, 2013, A.M. No. MTJ-12-1813 was consolidated with A.M. No. MTJ-12-1-09-MeTC. 1 Other closely-
related administrative complaints involving the respondent, specifically: A.M. No. MTJ-13-1863, A.M. No.
MTJ-12-1815, OCA IPI No. 11-2398-MTJ, OCA IPI No. 11-2399-MTJ, OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ, and OCA IPI
No. 12-2456-MTJ, were similarly consolidated.2
Antecedents

A.M. No. MTJ-12-1813


(Office of the Court Administrator v. Judge Eliza B. Yu)

On January 27, 2011, the Court, through Chief Justice Renata C. Corona, issued Administrative Order No.
19-20113 in response to the specific request of Secretary Alberto A. Lim of the Department of Tourism (DOT)
to establish night courts in Pasay City and Makati City. A.O. No. 19-2011 designated the branches of the
MeTC in Pasay City and Makati City as night courts to expeditiously hear and try cases involving nighttime
apprehensions, special cases under the Rule on Summary Procedure, and criminal cases involving tourists,
viz.:
chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 19-2011

ESTABLISHING NIGHT COURTS IN THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS OF PASAY CITY AND
MAKATI CITY

WHEREAS, the Constitution mandates the speedy disposition of cases of all persons before judicial
bodies; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

WHEREAS, "the Executive Judges of the Metropolitan Trial Courts and Municipal Trial Courts in Cities of the
cities and municipalities comprising Metro Manila x x x may assign all judges to hold night court sessions
daily from Monday to Friday and on official holidays and special days."
WHEREAS, in line with the constitutional mandate on the speedy disposition of cases and in the exercise of
its power of administrative supervision over all courts, the Supreme Court has ordered (a) the establishment
of night courts in the Metropolitan Trial Courts of Manila "to try and decide all special cases enumerated in
the Rule on Summary Procedure," and (b) the opening of two branches in the Metropolitan Trial Courts of
Quezon City as night courts to hear "cases involving nighttime apprehensions" and special cases enumerated
in the Rule on Summary Procedure; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

WHEREAS, the Court held that the operational guidelines for the assignment of judges and the holding of
night court sessions in Manila shall also be applicable to the night courts established in Quezon City; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

WHEREAS, the Court requires the expeditious disposition of criminal cases involving tourists; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

WHEREAS, the Honorable Secretary Alberto A. Lim of the Department of Tourism has requested the
designation of night courts also in Pasay City and Makati City, in addition to those already existing in Manila
and Quezon City; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, it is hereby directed that: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

1. Night courts similar to those designated in the Metropolitan Trial Courts of Manila City and Quezon City be
established in the Metropolitan Trial Courts of Pasay City and Makati City; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

2. The operational guidelines for the assignment of judges and the holding of night court sessions in the
Metropolitan Trial Courts of Manila be applicable to the night courts in the Metropolitan Trial Courts of Pasay
City and Makati City, respectively, except operating hours, which shall be from four-thirty in the afternoon
(4:30 p.m.) until eleven o'clock in the evening (11:00 p.m.); ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

3. The night courts of Pasay City and Makati City be authorized to try and decide cases involving nighttime
apprehensions and all special cases enumerated in the Rule on Summary Procedure; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

4. The provisions of Administrative Circular No. 58-2002, dated 14 November 2002, requiring an expeditious
disposition of criminal cases involving tourists be complied with; and

5. The Executive Judges of the Metropolitan Trial Courts of Pasay City and Makati City (a) to inform the
Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Prosecutor's Office within their respective jurisdictions of the
schedule of the branches of the metropolitan trial courts assigned to hold night sessions; and (b) make
representations with the PNP and the local government units to ensure that appropriate security measures
are adopted to protect the judges and their staff during night sessions.
Immediate compliance with this order is enjoined.

27 January 2011.
To comply with A.O. No. 19-2011, then Pasay City MeTC Executive Judge Bibiano G. Colasito issued a
Memorandum dated February 9, 2011 4 prescribing the schedules for night court service of all Pasay City
MeTC Judges and employees effective February 14, 2011. Under the Memorandum, MeTC Branch 47,
presided by respondent Judge Yu, was assigned night court duties every Friday. But Judge Yu did not desire
to comply, and so inscribed the following marginal note on the February 9, 2011 Memorandum of Judge
Colasito, to wit:
February 11, 2011

Pls. I dissent with the night court assignment. I have pending legal question before the Office of Court
Administrator.5
The pending legal question Judge Yu adverted to had been posed in her letter dated February 2, 2011 to the
Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez,6 as follows: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Sir:
cralawla wlibrary

Our Court is in receipt of Administrative Order No. 19-2011 (Establishing Night Courts in the Metropolitan
Trial Courts of Pasay City and Makati City) today.

Among others, it is provided that: "3. The night Courts of Pasay City and Makati City be authorized to try
and decide cases involving night time apprehensions and all special cases enumerated in the Rule on
Summary Procedure."
With due respect, the police officers cannot apprehend, detain and bring the arrested persons
charged with cases covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure at night without being liable for
Arbitrary Detention. The arrested persons need not post bail under the Rule on Summary
Procedure. Thus, there is no legal basis for the police officers to detain them prior to the hearing
of their cases at night by the court. Moreover, the public prosecutors cannot conduct inquest on
the night arrests of the suspected criminals because the penalty involved in cases covered by the
Rule on Summary Procedure is not more than six (6) months. Inquest can be conducted only
where the penalty is four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day and above. The night
inquest without the release of the arrested suspects is questionable. It can make the public
prosecutors criminally and administratively liable.

It is tedious for the public prosecutor and the public attorney to attend the night court from 4:30
p.m. to 11:00 p.m. after attending an exhaustive hearing in the morning then attend the hearing
on the following day, without additional pay.

Unlike in Manila Metropolitan Trial Courts where the cases tried by night courts are mostly
violation of ordinances, in Pasay Metropolitan Trial Courts, most of the cases filed are Theft, B.P.
Blg. 6 and P.D. No. 1602 that entail full blown trial because the accused refuses to enter into a
plea bargaining. In this sense, the establishment of night courts in Pasay City cannot unclog a
court's criminal docket. (Bold emphases supplied)

Please enlighten us on this concern.

Thank you.
It appears that the Station Investigation and Detective Management Section (SIDMS) of the Pasay City
Police Station received a copy of Judge Yu's letter to Court Administrator Marquez. Wary of the potential
criminal liability of apprehending officers adverted to in the letter, Police Chief Inspector Raymund A. Liguden
of the SIDMS sought clarification from the Office of the Pasay City Prosecutor.7In response, the Office of the
Pasay City Prosecutor explained through Prosecutor Dolores P. Rillera that the apprehending officers could
become liable for arbitrary detention only when they failed to refer the arrested persons for inquest
proceedings within the periods specified under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code.8
Apprised of the explanation from the Office of the Pasay City Prosecutor, Judge Yu requested Prosecutor
Rillera to refer the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and request a legal opinion thereon, 9 even as
she requested Court Administrator Marquez to have her letter to Prosecutor Rillera docketed as an
administrative matter.10
Judge Yu communicated her reservations about the night court by letter directly to DOT Secretary Lim, 11
pointing out that the DOT's request for the establishment of the night courts was supported neither by
statistical data nor by any study. After rendering a lengthy discourse on the flaws of establishing night
courts, she ended her letter with a request for additional compensation and security in case she would
undertake night court duties. The pertinent portions of her letter ran as follows:chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Dear Sir:cralawlawlibrary

This Court learned that you requested for the designation of night courts in Pasay City that resulted to the
issuance of Administrative Order No. 19-2011 (Establishing Night Courts in the Metropolitan Trial Courts of
Pasay City and Makati City) dated January 27, 2011.

With due respect, there is insufficient basis for your request. There was no statistical data
present or there was no study conducted by your department recommending the necessity of
establishing night courts in Pasay City. For the record, this Court is yet to hear a case involving any
tourist. Moreover, the tourists should be advised not to roam around the city at night so as not to
be victims of various crimes. Usually, the perception of the tourists who are going around the city
at night is negative, for they are likely to be engaging in unlawful nocturnal activities. They are
at their own risk at night.
There was no prior consultation with the police officers, public attorneys, public prosecutors,
judges and their staff before your department requested for the creation of night courts in Pasay
City.

There are many concerns which your department did not consider.

First, some of the rights of the accused who were charged with cases covered by the Summary
Procedure are impaired by the operation of night courts. x x x

xxxx

Second, night courts in Manila City and Quezon City are criticized for being ineffective and non-
functional. In Manila City, when I was a public prosecutor, I questioned as to the legality of the detention of
the accused being arraigned at night for violation of ordinances. When I was not given any legal justification,
I requested to be relieved from night court. My experience showed that night court is a waste of time for all.
The cases tried at night court can be tried during day time without burdening the three (3) pillars of our
criminal justice system. xxx. The cases tried are violation of city ordinances, mostly on illegal vending in the
night courts. I heard that these cases were filed for money making scheme by the police officers. From the
information gathered, only those accused who did not give them money were arrested, detained and
brought to the night courts.

Third, there is a grave violation of the right of government employees against long and extended
period of work with no additional pay at night. This is a form of exploitation of workers whose rights
are enshrined under the Constitution. It bears pointing out that additional compensation for night time work
is founded on public policy.
x x x x.

Fourth, it is very burdensome to attend the court at night.

x x x x.

Fifth, it is risky to work at night because of lack of security.

x x x x.
Lastly, the establishment of night courts in Pasay City will not unclog a court's criminal docket.
The situation in Manila City and Quezon City are not similar with Pasay City. x x x. In Manila Metropolitan
Trial Courts, majority of the accused pay the fine for the violation of ordinances not involving any tourist
crime during the night court hearing. Also, a study must be conducted by your department, if necessary,
about the effectiveness of night courts in Manila City and Quezon City, and if these night courts are attaining
the purposes they were created. If not, there is no reason for the establishment of a night court or tourism
court here in Pasay City. Another thing, there is uneven assignment of judges alone to the night court. x x x.

I hope you find merit with this letter. May your department reconsider your request for the establishment of
night courts in Pasay City. With due respect, it will be appreciated if your department will give
additional compensation and provide police security to the judges, public prosecutors, public
attorneys and the entire court staff, if it insist of [sic] establishing night courts here without
conducting any study.

x x x x. (Bold emphases supplied)


On May 5, 2011, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), through Assistant Court Administrator (ACA)
Thelma C. Bahia, responded to the concerns raised by the Judge Yu in the following manner: 12 chanroble svirtuallawlibrary

This refers to your letter dated February 2, 2011 apprising us of certain concerns relative to the
establishment of night courts in Pasay City.
xxxx

The first concern has been ably explained in the attached letter dated February 25, 2011 of Prosecutor
Dolores P. Rillera, Chief, Inquest Division, Office of the City Prosecutor, Pasay City, addressed to Police Chief
Inspector Raymond A. Liguden, Chief SIDMS, Pasay City, who, having been furnished a copy of your letter
dated February 2, 2011, subsequently sought the guidance of Prosecutor Rillera on the matter.

With respect to the second point you raised, prosecutors and public attorneys of Pasay City had long been
assigned their respective schedules to handle inquest proceedings until 10 p.m. prior to the designation of
night courts in Pasay City. Attending night courts would not be as tedious as you surmise. Besides,
prosecutors and public attorneys already receive allowances for staying beyond office hours.

As to the third issue, the main consideration for the designation of night courts is to address the matter of
nighttime apprehension which include offenses enumerated in the Rule of Summary Procedure. Priority is
also given to those criminal cases where the offended party or the complainant is a tourist or transient in the
country as already explained in Administrative Circular No. 58-2002 dated November 14, 2002.

Be reminded that judges, prosecutors and public attorneys are public officers who are duty bound to serve
with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and whose main concern in the
performance of their duties is public welfare and interest.

Please be guided accordingly.13


Ostensibly not satisfied, Judge Yu replied,14 pertinently stating: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

xxxx

With due respect, your letter did not address the issues raised in my letter dated February 11, 2011 to Hon.
Alberto A. Lim, Secretary of Tourism who did not reply said letter to date [sic]. Attached is my letter dated
March 22, 2011 address[ed] to Hon. Jose Midas P. Marquez together with the attachments.

As per information from this Courts' Officer-in-Charge Emelina J. San Miguel who heard from other staff of
the Office of the Clerk of Court, there is (sic) no criminal case filed at night since the start of the night courts
here in Pasay until now showing the need to review, if not abolish the administrative order creating it.
Back at the Pasay City MeTC, the continued refusal by Judge Yu to render night court service prompted
Executive Judge Colasito to assign additional night court duties to the other MeTC Judges and their
personnel.15
In view of Judge Yu's refusal to follow A.O. No. 19-2011, the OCA submitted a memorandum to the Court, 16
recommending that her insubordination, gross misconduct and violation of The New Code of Judicial Conduct
be docketed as an administrative complaint against her. In due course, the Court required Judge Yu to
comment.17
In her comment, Judge Yu denied the charges, and asserted that she did not commit insubordination; 18 that
her protest against night courts was a mere expression of her opinion; that she would render night duty
upon receiving a resolution on her protest from the Court; that the OCAD should have submitted a complete
study and report about the effectiveness of night courts in the National Capital Judicial Region, particularly in
Pasay City;19 and that her protest was covered by her constitutional right to freedom of speech 20 and other
legal principles.21
Judge Yu also asserted that based on her experience, holding night courts unduly burdened the Judges and
their court personnel, as well as other court employees; 22 that A.O. No. 19-2011 merely reiterated
Administrative Order No. 72 dated June 30, 1988 that had been based on the 1983 Rule on Summary
Procedure in Special Cases but the latter issuance had already been superseded by the 1991 Revised Rules
on Summary Procedure;23 that A.O. No. 19-2011 did not make any reference to the 1991 Rules of Summary
Procedure which was a "huge legal blunder;"24 that the drafters of A.O. No. 19-2011 merely reiterated
Administrative Circular No. 58-2002 dated November 14, 2002, and overlooked R.A. No. 4908 (An Act
Requiring Judges Of Courts To Speedily Try Criminal Cases Wherein The Offended Party Is A Person About
To Depart From The Philippines With No Definite Date Of Return);25 that night court duty violated the 8-hour
work period;26 that the Court should exercise judicial restraint; 27 the A.O. No. 19-2011 was invalid for non-
compliance with the requirements of issuing a valid administrative order; 28 that A.O. No. 19-2011 did not
provide any penalty in case of its non-compliance; 29 and that A.O. No. 19-2011 was an invalid order
addressed solely to the Executive Judges of the MeTC of Makati City and Pasay City.30
A.M. No. MTJ-13-1836
(Re: Letter dated May 2, 2011 of Hon. Eliza B. Yu, Branch 47, MeTC, Pasay City); and

A.M. No. MTJ-12-1815


(Leilani A. Tejero-Lopez v. Judge Eliza B. Yu)

These administrative matters refer to the appointments of Ms. Leilani A. Tejero-Lopez as the Branch Clerk of
Court of MeTC Branch 47, and Ms. Mariejoy P. Lagman as Clerk III of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch
108, in Pasay City.

Respondent Judge Yu challenged the appointments.

I. Appointment of Ms. Tejero-Lopez as Clerk of Court III, MeTC Branch 47, Pasay City

On July 9, 2010, Judge Yu requested to fill the position of Clerk of Court III in her sala. 31 Upon approval of
her request32 and consequent posting of the notice of vacancy,33 three applicants vied for the position,
namely: Ms. Ellen D.L.S. Serrano, Ms. Leilani A. Tejero-Lopez and Ms. Eloisa A. Bernardo. 34 From the outset,
Judge Yu favored Ms. Bernardo for the vacancy.35
After evaluating the applicants' qualifications, the Selection and Promotion Board for the Lower Courts under
the OCA (OCA-SPBLC) recommended the appointment of Ms. Tejero-Lopez, then a Legal Researcher
assigned at MeTC Branch 46, in its Board Resolution No. 12B-2011(A) dated April 4, 2011. 36 The OCA-SPBLC
had found Ms. Bernardo to have lacked the required training. 37
On April 12, 2011, Chief Justice Corona, along with Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio and Associate Justice
Conchita Carpio-Morales, approved Ms. Tejero-Lopez's appointment.

In the meantime, by letter dated March 31, 2011, Judge Yu requested the temporary designation of Ms.
Bernardo as the Clerk of Court, 38 and furnished a copy of the letter to Ms. Tejero-Lopez. 39 In the letter, Judge
Yu expressed her protest against the appointment of "another applicant from Metropolitan Trial Court Branch
46, Pasay City, as well as other applicants who cannot be appointed because they lacked the requirement of
the personal endorsement by the judge." She further declared that it would be best to either hire a new
lawyer or to call for another batch of applicants in the event that Ms. Bernardo would not be appointed.

The OCA-SPBLC, through Deputy Court Administrator Nimfa C. Vilches, denied Judge Yu's request for Ms.
Bernardo's temporary designation pursuant to Section 2(b), Rule III of the Omnibus Rules on Appointments
and Other Personnel Actions in view of the availability of a qualified applicant.40
On April 14, 2011, Ms. Tejero-Lopez learned from Ms. Emmie San Miguel, the then OIC of Branch 47, that
Judge Yu had wanted her to execute a waiver or withdrawal of her application.

Wishing to settle the issue of the appointment amicably, Ms. Tejero-Lopez paid Judge Yu a visit in her
chambers. The meeting between them was hostile. In describing the meeting, Ms. Tejero-Lopez pointed out
that Judge Yu had shouted and exclaimed at her: "Nanggugulo ka[!] Ikaw ang nanggugulo[!] katatawag ko
lang sa Supreme Court, Sabi ng Supreme Court, ikaw ang nanggugulo[!]." Ms. Tejero-Lopez recalled that
Judge Yu then demanded her withdrawal with a threat to revoke her appointment later on. Faced with the
prospect of eventually losing her job, Ms. Tejero-Lopez decided to withdraw her application. 41 cralawre d

On April 26, 2011, Judge Yu asked for the reconsideration with the OCA-SPBLC by submitting a copy of the
withdrawal of the application signed by Ms. Tejero-Lopez.42
However, by her letter dated May 10, 2011, Ms. Tejero-Lopez retracted her withdrawal, and signified her
intention to pursue her application.43
After an investigation that established that Ms. Tejero-Lopez did not voluntarily withdraw her application, the
OCA-SPBLC continued processing her appointment,44 and she was eventually appointed Clerk of Court III
effective May 31, 2011.45
Upon receiving her appointment on June 7, 2011, Ms. Tejero-Lopez went to Judge Yu's chambers to take her
oath, but the latter refused her request to administer her oath. According to Ms. Tejero-Lopez, Judge Yu
questioned the integrity of the selection process, and told her directly that the Court had appointed her in
retaliation to her refusal to render night court service. Judge Yu threatened Ms. Tejero-Lopez with criminal
cases of grave coercion and trespassing, and contempt of court if she persisted on taking her oath of office.
Judge Yu further vowed to assail the appointment before the Court and the Civil Service Commission
(CSC).46
On the same day, Judge Yu wrote to Atty. Caridad A. Pabello, Chief of Office, OCA-Office of Administrative
Services (OCA-OAS),47 to protest the appointment, to wit: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Madam: cralawla wlibrary

Thank you for your telegram today. Please be informed that Leilani Lopez has withdrawn her application as
Clerk of Court III in this court [a] long time ago. She failed to comply (sic) all the requirements for the
consideration of her application for such position because, among others, she has no personal
endorsement from this court despite her last ditch attempt to get it on March 7, 2011. This court
did not sign an important document for her relative to the position thus her application cannot be considered
by the Selection and Promotion Board for the Lower Courts at all. Moreover, this court has continuing
protest against her appointment in this court to date. And this was reiterated to Leilani Lopez
few moments ago.

Please be guided accordingly.

x x x x (Bold emphasis supplied)


A week later, Judge Yu sent another letter stating that she had apprised Ms. Tejero-Lopez of her possible
indictment for unlawful appointment, grave coercion and unjust vexation, among others. 48She thereby also
expressed her refusal to honor the "void ab initio" appointment of Ms. Tejero-Lopez, which she characterized
as "a big joke." For the fullest appreciation of the contents, the letter is quoted herein below:
chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Madam: cralawla wlibrary

Please be informed that today Leilani Lopez, the applicant for Clerk of Court III who has withdrawn her
application long time ago, sought to see me because of her appointment, a legally infirm one. I
accommodated her for a brief talk for the last time, hoping to not see her again and never to bother me
anymore.

It was explained to her that she will face possible indictment of, among others, unlawful
appointment, grave coercion and unjust vexation, all punishable under the Revised Penal Code, if
she forcibly insist to take a seat in this court despite of numerous oral and written opposition by
the court to her selection and appointment. Likewise, she can be thrown to jail for contempt of
court, if such callousness and discourteousness continue to exist in this court. Moreover, she was
told that if thievery extends to public office, the elements of Theft under our penal code were established
prima facie, as the concept of apoderamiento or unlawful taking predominates in this situation, an affront of
the Rule of Law, showing that the Rule of Jungle where might is right triumphs as can be gleaned in a paper,
a null and void appointment paper held by her. Her appointment is highly questionable. Leilani Lopez
received the proverbial forbidden apple, obviously grown from a toxic tree. Our court advised her
for the last time not to eat it, or she will suffer the grave consequences, without any taint of
threats to her. The ways of a scholar seem not to have a place in this prestigious institution, for
her appointment is an example of brute force, they say it is a rape of the honor of this bench,
others say it is a spit of insult. However, this court will not press formal charges against the poor Leilani
Lopez, a sorry victim of a subtle power play. Article 24 of the New Civil Code says indirectly that the court
must be vigilant for the protection of morally dependent, ignorant, indigent, mentally weak, tenderness of
age or other handicap of a person. Your office must be reminded that I took my oath seriously before SC
Justice Antonio B. Nachura, and I swore to him that I will uphold the Constitution, and I will remain faithful
to my oath even after his retirement in the judiciary. Consequently, this court will not honor the void ab
initio appointment of Leilani Lopez, a big joke and so this court is laughing at her and all others
who are like her, not to put her and others down, only to treat this delicate matter lightly in jest strange
things, sometimes contrary to law or contrary to the spirit of the law, do happen in judiciary. The Selection
and Promotion Board for the Lower Court is funny, and it made me laugh. I rather laugh than be
angry, than feel helpless, than look powerless in this awful and mean situation. Firmness of decision
anchored on the principles of righteousness and justice is one of the characteristic of this unassuming court.
I am happy to feel that God is with me, and He not Satan is cheering with me in this lonely fight as to what
is right and just.

Thank you. (Bold emphasis supplied)


On June 17, 2011, Judge Yu submitted her formal protest 49 against Ms. Tejero-Lopez' appointment, as
follows: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Chief Justice Renato C. Corona


Supreme Court
P. Faura St., Manila City

FORMAL PROTEST TO THE APPOINTMENT OF LEILANI LOPEZ AS BRANCH CLERK OF COURT OF


METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT BRANCH 47, PASAY CITY

Sir: cralawla wlibrary

All the laws provide the inherent relief of protest by the incumbent judge to an appointment of
any staff in his or her court. The appointed applicant Leilani Lopez is not qualified and not fit to
work as the branch clerk of court in my sala.

Leilani Lopez lacked personal indorsement. The applicant knew this, and so she said to me on June 14,
2011 that she does not know why she was appointed. She attempted to get a personal indorsement from
me on March 7, 2011 that I rejected. She must submit her neuro-psychiatric test results to me and to the
Board because it is definitely abnormal, some kind of an obsession, to insist in clinging on to a position of a
branch clerk of court after numerous oral and written opposition by a judge she will be working with. This
alone is a sign that she is unfit for the job. Her obsession is dark, it is destructive because she places her
own personal interest over public interest[.] [w]ith her presence in my court, the public will definitely suffer,
and so the judiciary. I as a judge will suffer. I am demoralized with this rotten system of appointing
an unfit applicant. I am unhappy right now of her appointment, and it will affect my enthusiasm
and productivity in court. I expressed my disgust unabashedly before the Chief of OAS and the
lawyer from the Legal Department, and so I felt discourteous as I was a victim of discourtesy
here. For showing lack of delicadeza, Leilani Lopez was rejected openly[,] verbally[,] and in writing, made
to her by me and my court staff [sic] for numerous times, thus she is callous and discourteous.

Leilani Lopez deceived me by giving me a formal letter of her withdrawal of application, only to find out
yesterday that she filed her waiver of withdrawal which disclosure should have been made to me by her in
good faith. This qualifies her for the crime of Other Deceits under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code. In
doing this, she does not have my trust and confidence, a biting reality since the time she applied for the
position until her numerous rejections. Dishonesty encompasses all that deviates sense of honesty. Our
workplace provides that "Dishonesty is a serious offense which reflects a person's character and exposes the
moral decay which virtually destroys honor, virtue, and integrity. It is a malevolent act that has no place in
the judiciary, as no other office in the government service exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness
from an employee than a position in the judiciary." If Leilani Lopez has a gull [sic] to deceive me at this
point in time, giving me her formal withdrawal letter and filing her waiver of her withdrawal letter without
my knowledge, and this was not disclosed to me by her despite her opportunities to do so, this meant that
she has a dishonorable and vicious character, undeserving to be in my court. She did this deceitful conduct
to me and she showed unpredictable actuations to me and to the Board while she is still an applicant, she
will most likely do it as a branch clerk of court in my sala. And so I will always be wary with her presence in
my court, and it is a tremendous mental stress or for me as a judge.
With due respect, there was a misconstruction of the laws on selection and appointment of court
personnel by the Board, it presupposes that all the applicants submitted for consideration by the Board
must have good and harmonious working relationship with a judge he or she will work with and so the judge
must have assented or agreed to the proposed application of all applicants, expressly or impliedly. If an
appointed applicant is not the liking of the judge, there will be disharmony in the court. The working
relationship with [sic] be based on mistrust and distrust. It will not accomplish anything good for the
judiciary as a whole. Each other's working life as a judge and as a branch clerk of court will be miserable.
This is not the spirit of the letter of all the laws pertaining to selection and appointment of Supreme Court
employee aspiring for confidential position such as branch clerk of court. In fact, I believe that the branch
clerk of court must be co-terminus with a judge's assignment in a particular court. I do not engage in a
power play, it happens that the personal indorsement of a branch clerk of court is my prerogative
as a judge and I want to exercise that prerogative to accomplish excellently in my judicial and
non-judicial tasks. There were substantive and procedural flaws with her selection and
appointment as branch clerk of court. The laws surrounding the irregular appointment of Leilani
Lopez, including the fact of not resolving my grievance prior to her appointment, were misapplied
in her case. We do not uphold the laws that cause quarrel and dissension in court. Assuming
Leilani Lopez took her oath of an irregular appointment which she is aware of, my recourse as a
judge is to ask for her detail to another court, preferable to the Selection and Promotion Board.
This will not contribute for the success of my court in the interest of public service. Our workplace deprived
me of a court staff who I can completely trust, and help me accomplish great things in the judiciary. The
Board deprived me already of my prerogative to choose my branch clerk of court, and so I want this
deprivation to be put on record. If I lose this legal battle in this workplace, I am a winner because I brought
to your attention, and all Supreme Court justices, ultimately the public, such unrighteous and unjust manner
of selecting and appointing a branch clerk of court. You may have been misled by the Board in signing
her appointment. You have many things to do as Chief Justice, sometimes, you may not have
read the minutes of Board and merely followed its recommendation. As a judge, I have my rights
and privileges, and far more considered than the rights and privileges of an applicant for a
branch clerk of court, a virtual stranger to me at the time of her application, and now her
character is dubious to me. Imagine, this kind of irregular appointment invites suits and casts
disrepute amongst us, I doubt if this is what our Supreme Court envisions or our Constitution
dreams for the Supreme Court. I re-plead all my letters and the attachments dated June 15 and 16,
2011 pertaining to the appointment of Leilani Lopez that were furnished to the Office of the Court
Administrator and to you to form part of this formal protest. Attached herewith is a formal complaint against
Leilani Lopez. (Emphasis supplied)

I am requesting for a Solomonic resolution of this protest.

Thank you.
Judge Yu submitted a supplemental formal protest dated June 28, 2011 describing the appointment to be
"tainted with irregularity in gross violation of the substantive and procedural laws" and "void ab initio" for
failure to obtain the favorable recommendation from her as the presiding judge. 50 She argued that the OCA-
SPBLC had failed to assess the competence and qualifications of Ms. Tejero-Lopez; that Ms. Tejero-Lopez did
not meet the minimum requirements for the position; and that the position of Branch Clerk of Court was
confidential.

In view of Judge Yu's refusal to honor her appointment, Ms. Tejero-Lopez requested Executive Judge Colasito
through her letter of June 11, 2011 for her detail to another office. 51
Ms. Tejero-Lopez ultimately executed a sinumpaang salaysay charging Judge Yu with refusal to obey court
order.52
On September 12, 2011, the Court dismissed Judge Yu's protest against the appointment of Ms. Tejero-
Lopez.53
Judge Yu was undaunted, however, and she filed a motion for reconsideration, 54 attaching the motion to her
supplemental explanation.55
II. Appointment of Ms. Mariejoy P. Lagman, Clerk III, RTC Branch 108, Pasay City
In June 2010, Judge Yu initiated a complaint, docketed as A.M. No. P-12-3033 (formerly A.M. No. 10-8-97-
MeTC), entitled Memoranda of Judge Eliza B. Yu Issued to Legal Researcher Mariejoy P. Lagman and to
Court Stenographer Soledad J. Bassig, All of Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 47, Pasay City, against Ms.
Mariejoy P. Lagman, Legal Researcher II of Branch 47, for grave misconduct, falsification, usurpation of
judicial functions and dishonesty.

Citing "pressure within the working environment" and in order to have "a self-assured and peaceful mind,"
Ms. Lagman requested her transfer to another branch of the MeTC pending the hearing of the complaint
against her.56 Eventually, the Court appointed her as Clerk III of Branch 108 of the RTC in Pasay City
effective October 5, 2010, a demotion from her position as Legal Researcher in Branch 47.

Apparently, Ms. Lagman's appointment did not sit well with Judge Yu, who assailed it before the OCA-SPBLC
as a "fast appointment" for being made despite her pending administrative complaint. 57
On May 2, 2011, the OCA received a letter from Judge Yu requesting for updates on the alleged delay in the
appointment of a clerk of court in her branch, and her protest against the appointment of Ms. Lagman,
among others.58 She thereby threatened to file formal charges against the members of the OCA-SPBLC,
thus: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Sir:
cralawla wlibrary

I am requesting your office to furnish me the information on the following: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

(1) xxx; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

(2) xxx; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

(3) xxx; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

(4) The report of an investigation of the very delayed appointment of our Branch Clerk of Court, the position
is vacant for over three (3) years now; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

(5) x x x; and

(6) The report of an investigation on the appointment of Ms. Mariejoy P. Lagman in RTC Branch 108, Pasay
City despite the pending administrative cases involving grave offenses against her.
I am requesting Atty. Wilma D. Geronga, Chief of Legal Department, Docket and Clearance Division of your
office, to docket my letter dated April 28, 2011 together with the attachments addressed to the Selection
and Promotion Board for the Lower Courts that said office received on the same day touching on the
foregoing matters for the conduct of full investigation because I will take the appropriate action. I will not
hesitate to press formal charges against your office if there was a transgression of the laws and
if still necessary. (sic) Stamping out corruption of any form is one of my advocacies in life.
(Emphasis supplied)

Thank you.
The OCA filed a memorandum denouncing the misconduct and insubordination of Judge Yu relative to the
appointments of Ms. Tejero Lopez and Ms. Lagman.59
On January 30, 2012, the Court required Judge Yu to show cause and explain why she should not be
disciplined for her actions.60
In her explanation,61 Judge Yu denied the allegations, and maintained that she had only exercised her
freedom of speech; that it was her "statutory right as a judge" to question the "irregular appointment" of a
branch clerk of court whom she believed to be lacking in the basic requirements for the position; 62 that it
was "strange to have a jurisprudence on alleged misconduct and insubordination of a judge" based on mere
letters; that her letters were privileged communications and could not be used against her, pursuant to her
constitutional right against self-incrimination;63that she had no evil intention in writing her letters because
she was thereby only expressing her honest-to-goodness opinion without fear of censorship. 64
A.M. No. 12-109-METC
(Re: Letter dated 21 July 2011 of Executive Judge Bibiano G. Colasito and Three (3) Other Judges
of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Pasay City, For the Suspension or Detail To Another Station of
Judge Eliza B. Yu, Branch 47, Same Court)
A.M. No. 11-2399-MTJ
(Amor V. Abad, et al., v. Hon. Eliza B. Yu); and

A.M. No. 11-2378-MTJ


(Executive Judge Bibiano G. Colasito, et al. v. Hon. Eliza B. Yu)

A.M. No. 11-2399-MTJ refers to the complaint 65 filed by the court staff of MeTC Branch 47 charging Judge Yu
with grave misconduct, oppression, gross ignorance of the law and violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

In OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ, four MeTC Judges and 70 MeTC court personnel assigned in Pasay City filed
two affidavit-complaints dated May 12, 2011 66 and July 14, 2011,67 accusing Judge Yu with: (1) gross
insubordination; (2) refusal to perform official duty; (3) gross ignorance of the law or procedure; (4) serious
and grave misconduct constituting violations of Canon 3, Rules 3.0 and 3.08 of the Code of Judicial Conduct
in relation to Canon 6 of The New Code of Judicial Conduct of the Philippine Judiciary; Sections 1 and 2,
Canon 2 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct; and Sections 1 and 2, Canon 4 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct; (5) violation of Supreme Court rules, directives and circulars; (6) violation of Canon 1 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility; (7) violation of the Lawyer's Oath and her oath of office as judge; (8)
oppressive conduct; and (9) violation of Article 231 68 of the Revised Penal Code.

A.M. No. 12-109-METC relates to the Letter dated July 21, 2011 69 sent by her fellow Pasay City MeTC
Judges, namely: Executive Judge Bibiano G. Colasito (Branch 45), Vice-Executive Judge Bonifacio S. Pascua
(Branch 44), Judge Restituto V. Mangalindan (Branch 46), and Judge Catherine P. Manodon (Branch 48),
requesting Judge Yu's immediate suspension or detail to another station pending investigation of all the
administrative cases filed against her.

The common issue in the three complaints concerned the conduct of Judge Yu in relation to her staff, fellow
Judges and other officers of the Supreme Court, her disobedience of the Court's issuances, and her manner
of disposing cases.

I. Oppressive conduct towards her staff

The complaining staffmembers of MeTC Branch 47 claimed that Judge Yu had constantly threatened them
with administrative complaints; 70 that she had readily attributed malice upon their actions, and had sown
intrigue against their honor; 71 that she had impulsively declared in open court during the hearing of the case
docketed as Civil Case No. M-PSY-10-12032-CV entitled Fabra v. Global Classe that they had engaged in
irregular conduct;72 that she had berated Mr. Ferdinand Santos even in front of all the other staff members; 73
and that she had harassed the personnel who had brought administrative complaints against her ( i.e. by
refusing to sign the applications for leave of Noel Labid and Robert Froilan Thomas, and by requiring them to
submit unwarranted documents).74
The complaining staffmembers recalled that at one time they had overheard the respondent uttering: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Mananalo tayo sa kaso sila ang mali. Tayo ang matuwid hindi sila. x x x Ferdie, ready na nga pala yung
permit to carry ko. Magdadala aka ng baril, Cal 45.75
by which they had felt threatened; and that seeing the door to the respondent's chamber left wide open,
they had sought refuge in the offices of her fellow Judges. 76
Judge Yu also trained her sights on the Pasay City MeTC personnel when she requested ACA Bahia to audit
the Office of the Clerk of Court for allegedly unremitted fees paid for the ex parte presentations of evidence
in replevin cases.77 This incident, according to the complaining staffmembers, caused demoralization among
the Pasay City court personnel.

II. Disrespectful attitude towards co-judges, SC officers and offices

The complainant Judges charged Judge Yu with being disrespectful towards other Judges when she wrote
Vice Executive Judge Caridad G. Cuerdo of the RTC Branch 113, and accused Executive Judge Pedro B.
Corrales of the RTC Branch 118, Judge Maria Rosario B. Ragasa of the RTC Branch 108, MeTC Executive
Judge Colasito, and MeTC ViceExecutive Judge Pascua with violations of Canon 1, Section 3 and Canon 2,
Section 3 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, and violation of Section 1, paragraph (c) of Presidential
Decree No. 1829 (obstruction of justice).78
Allegedly, Judge Yu used herOIC Ferdinand A. Santos in sending the letter to Clerk of Court IV Miguel C.
Infante.79 The letter insinuated that Judge Gina Bibat-Palamos and Judge Josephine Vito-Cruz had failed to
act despite their knowledge on the purported selling of decisions by court employees, pertinently
stating:80
chanroble svirtuallawlibrary

Lastly, this court experienced few attempts to withdraw cash bond without motions by including in the
orders granting release of cash bonds, including those confiscated, and the public prosecutor did not object
for failure to read previous order of confiscation, presumably such order is detached from the court records,
as there are instances the pleadings, motions and oppositions are removed from the records, then attached
again after investigation of the court as to where is the particular paper. This is something old because for
example, Acting Judge Josephine VitoCruz was able to sign commitment orders when records show that the
accused was arrested and detained already, and this fact was on paper immediately preceding the order that
she can read it, if it was not detached and attached again after her order; she was able to sign orders on
two arraignments of same accused in different dates in several occasions, and this court noted that in
calendaring, there were attempts to mislead by writing it is for arraignment instead of pre-trial that to relay
on it, the court will issue two arraignment orders; and lost or detached exhibits that she decided on such
point only to know later on the receiving copy of the plaintiff that she decided adversely in the case of
Equitable vs. Chua Ty Kuen, Civil Case No. 2-03 for Replevin, as it seems the modus operandi is to win or
dismiss cases by argument that the evidence are photocopies, as also in this court's experience in case of
People vs. Basa, CC-00-1988 for Reckless Imprudence decided on June 28, 1010, the material exhibits are
photocopies, some are not attached in the court records despite existence in the minutes and transcript of
records, all these examples are presumably, are warnings of existence of wicked harm in this court. Thus,
your office should scrutinize release of cash bonds. Of course, there were complaints of alleged selling of
decisions by court staff in cahoots with each other during Judge Gina Palamos and Judge Josephine Vito Cruz
who were aware of this money-making devious scheme.

This court hopes that your office will take note of this letter which the contents here were supplied by our
judge that deserves to be acted upon swiftly by the Office of the Court Administrator to eradicate, if not
lessen corruption in the judiciary.
Moreover, Judge Yu issued a resolution in Civil Case No. B-03-08 entitled Rodelio Hilario v. Shirley
Pabilona,81 whereby she declared that she was not the co-equal of Judge Vito-Cruz of the Municipal Trial
Court in Cardona, Rizal, as follows: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

With due respect, the principle of "co-equality" between the two courts provided in paragraph 5 of the
motion for reconsideration, to wit, "In essence, the incumbent Presiding Judge cannot over-rule the regular
procedure adopted by her predecessor judge, because they are of the same level," finds no application in
this case because a predecessor's judge orders can be interfered and encroached upon by the incumbent
judge when they are contrary to the principle of equity, existing law and jurisprudence. Moreover, the
predecessor judge, Honorable Josephine A. Vito Cruz is a Municipal Trial Court Judge of Cardona,
Rizal while undersigned is a Metropolitan Trial Court Judge of Pasay City, their salary grades are
not at par with each other so it is quite incorrect with defendant's counsel declaration that the
predecessor judge and the incumbent judge are of the same level.82 (Bold emphasis supplied)
Aside from her failure to accord the respect due her fellow Judges, Judge Yu was overheard uttering
disparaging remarks against Court officers. In one instance, after the OCA SPBLC had recommended Ms.
Tejero Lopez to the position of Branch Clerk of Court, Judge Yu made the following statement against Court
Administrator Marquez, to wit: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Yang si Midas Marquez na iyan napaka-highly incompetent, kung lalaki lang ako sinuntok ko na iyan, basta
gwapo at maganda, mga walang utak. Oh, tandaan nyo yan ha! Iyang OCAD kalaban natin hindi kakampi. 83
Judge Yu also said at another occasion: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Iyang auditor na Cielo na iyan, traidor, sana noong pinakain ko nilagyan ko na lang ng lason.
referring to SC Auditor Cielo Calonia who had earlier denied having informed her about court personnel
profiting from the collection of ex parte fees.84
The complainants claimed that Judge Yu's disrespectful attitude towards her fellow Judges and the Court's
officials constituted a violation of Section 3 of Canon 1, and Section 3 of Canon 2 of The New Code of
Judicial Conduct.

III. Gross ignorance of laws, rules and regulations

The complaining staffmembers averred that Judge Yu: (a) had assigned the duty of correcting draft
decisions, orders and resolutions to on the-job trainees (OJTs) in violation of Memorandum Circular No. 5-
2003 entitled Re: Prohibiting the Accommodation of Students to Undergo On-TheJob Training/Practicum in
the Different Offices of the Court; (b) had designated an Officer-in-Charge (OIC) for Branch 47, who did not
possess the minimum qualifications for the position and without approval from the Court; and (c) had
ordered her staff to advetiise and offer for sale the books she had authored in violation of SC Administrative
Circular No. 09-99.85
The complainants in A.M. No. 11-2399-MTJ and OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ alleged that Judge Yu: (a) had
authorized the prosecution of Criminal Case No. M-PSY-09-08592-CR entitled People v. Ramil Fuentes, et
al.86 without the presence and prior endorsement of the public prosecutor; (b) had allowed the arraignment
of the accused in Criminal Case No. MPSY-11-13957-CR entitled People v. Balwinder Singh,87 and the change
of plea by the accused in Criminal Case No. M-PSY-11-13159-CR entitled People v. Lito Manduriao88 in the
absence of the public prosecutor; 89 (c) had ordered the presentation of ex parte evidence in Civil Case No.
M-PSY-11-12626-CV before the OIC who was not a member of the Bar in violation of Section 9, Rule 30 of
the Rules of Court;90 and (d) had required the plaintiffs in replevin cases to submit receipts of payment of
legal fees under Sections 8(e) and 21(e) of Administrative Circular No. 35-2004, as well as an explanation
why they were making payments to the OIC and stenographers during the ex parte presentation of
evidence.91
Judge Yu was being held to account also for her failure to protect and uphold the dignity of her court by not
castigating the opposing counsels who had physically attacked each other during court proceedings. She was
heard to have remarked: Hindi ko sila kinontempt kasi wala naman akong mabibenefit.92
In her comment,93 Judge Yu denied the accusations, and attributed malice and fraud to all the complainants,
branding their accusation as the manifestation of a "tyranny in numbers." 94 She dismissed the charges
against her as false, frivolous, meritless, and intended to harass her 95 and destroy her reputation. 96 She
declared that she did not know most of the court employees who had executed and signed the complaint;
and warned that they had opened themselves to criminal, civil and administrative liabilities by signing the
complaint.97
Anent the charges of gross ignorance of the law, Judge Yu contended that the students who were OJTs had
sought permission to report to her court in compliance with their school requirements, but they were told
not to carry on judicial tasks; 98 that the memorandum dated November 2, 2010 was not followed, and was
not officially given because of the prohibition against OJTs in the courts; 99 that Ms. Angelica Rosali had acted
only as an observer to comply with her school requirements, as an accommodation of the request of her
(Judge Yu's) parents;100 that her designation of Mr. Santos as an OIC did not violate CSC Memorandum No.
6-2005 because the position of OIC required trust and confidence; 101 that she did not order her
staffmembers to sell and advertise her books; 102 that she had cited the counsels disrupting the court
proceedings with contempt of court and had imposed the corresponding fines on them; 103 that there was
recent jurisprudence allowing a trial to proceed even in the absence of the public prosecutor provided no
prejudice was caused to the State;104 that there was a need to verify the case records with respect to the
allegations that she had allowed the prosecution of criminal cases in the absence of the public prosecutor
because of the complainants' propensity to falsify documents; that the complainants were not the proper
parties to raise any issues related to the criminal proceedings; 105 that there were provisions of the Rules of
Court allowing the waiver of certain rights according to the agreement of the parties; 106 and that the
provision on reception of ex parte evidence is merely directory because of the word "may." 107
As to the charge of oppression, Judge Yu countered that she had always been kind and generous towards
her staffinembers;108 that she did not humiliate Mr. Santos;109 that she did not terrorize her staffmembers,
although she had displayed her anger and displeasure whenever they committed irregularities; 110 that she
had not sown intrigues against her staffmembers, but had constantly reminded them to refrain from
committing any graft and corrupt practices; 111 that in the hearing of the case of Fabra v. Global Classe, she
had only replied to the manifestation made by Atty. Agustin Javellana regarding the false and irresponsible
acts of her court staffmembers;112 that the alleged threat in relation to her licensed firearm was untrue; and
that the entering of the incident in the police blotter was libelous. 113
Judge Yu denied uttering statements against Court Administrator Marquez, and SC Auditor Calonia. 114She
said that as far as the resolution alluding to Judge Vito Cruz was concerned, the court minutes were falsified,
as to which Ms. Soledad Bassig and the lawyers were co-conspirators; that she harbored no ill will towards
Judge Vito-Cruz; that such statement was a rejoinder to the unfair comments of the defendants' lawyer; 115
that the statement "spoke of the truth" and was not, therefore, defamatory; 116 that in not furnishing to her
the memorandum regarding the resolution prior to filing the administrative complaint, Executive Judge
Colasito had deprived her of the opportunity to amend the same "just to suit their whims, caprices and
fancies;" and that the filing of the administrative complaint against her had been done treacherously.117
OCA IPI No. 12-2456-MTJ
(Judge Bibiano G. Colasito, et al., all of the Metropolitan Trial Court [MeTC] Pasay City v. Judge
Eliza B. Yu, MeTC, Branch 47, Pasay City)

This administrative matter concerned the letter dated January 12, 2012 118 signed by MeTC Executive Judge
Colasito, Vice-Executive Judge Bonifacio S. Pascua, Judge Restituto V. Mangalindan, Jr., and Clerk of Court
Miguel C. Infante charging Judge Yu with oppression in issuing the order dated December 1, 2011 119 in
Criminal Case No. M-PSY-09-08592-CR entitled People v. Ramil Fuentes, et al., viz.: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

The stenographer in this case Romer Aviles is directed to make and attach the transcript of stenographic
notes (TSN) dated September 7, 2011 within ten (10) days from receipt of this order copy furnished to
Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez and Assistant Court Administrator Thelma C. Bahia by the
process server Maxima Sayo with corresponding return and proof of service and to surrender the tape
containing the recorded proceedings on said date to the Officer-in-Charge Ferdinand Santos. Failure to
comply with this will compel this Court to issue show cause for contempt of court against the responsible
stenographer. Moreover, he and Executive Judge Bibiano Colasito, et al. who are signatories in the
false and malicious complaint under OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ alleging gross ignorance of the
law of this Court by surreptitiously taking a TSN, minutes and order dated March 22, 2011 of this
case on the absence of public prosecutor, when a trial can proceed without public prosecutor is
allowed under our existing jurisprudence is directed to explain within seventy-two (72) hours
from the receipt of this order why they should not be cited in contempt of court under Rule 71,
Section 3(a) and (d) of the Revised Rules of Court. Process server Maxima Sayo is directed to
personally serve copies of this order to Executive Judge Bibiano Colasito et al., with corresponding return.

Tentatively set the contempt proceedings February 15, 2012 at 8:30a.m.

SO ORDERED. (Bold emphasis supplied)


To avert a crisis and disharmony in the Pasay City MeTCs, the Court suspended Judge Yu from office effective
February 1, 2012.120
In her comment, Judge Yu m'aintains that she validly issued the subject order by virtue of the inherent
contempt powers of the court,121 and in accordance with the rulings in People v. Godoy and Salcedo v.
Hernandez;122 that the complainants should have availed of the appropriate relief in questioning the order
instead of filing the administrative complaint; and that the OCA could not rule on the propriety of issuing the
subject order because doing so was beyond the OCA's power and prerogative. 123
OCA IPI No. 11-2398-MTJ
(Josefina G. Labid v. Judge Eliza B. Yu)

This administrative matter stemmed from the complaint filed by Mrs. Josefina G. Labid charging Judge Yu
with oppression, gross ignorance of the law, and conduct unbecoming of a judge in connection with the fate
of her son, Noel, who had served as Utility Worker I at the MeTC Branch 47. 124
Mrs. Labid narrated that in January 2011, Noel had been diagnosed with "Cancer of the floor of the mouth,
Stage IV-A;" that Noel had then applied for leave of absence covering the period of his treatment from
January 2011 until March 2011, which Judge Yu had approved without any incident; 125 that being the sole
breadwinner of the family, Noel had reported to work on April 4, 2011 against his doctor's advice; that she
(Mrs. Labid) had started noticing that Noel would appear exhausted and weak upon arriving home from
work; that Noel had confided to her that Judge Yu had directed him to go to different offices in the Supreme
Court to deliver copies of her orders and letters, as well as her books or manuals, despite his medical
condition;126 that shortly after arriving home from work on June 7, 2011, Noel had become delirious and
weak due to profuse bleeding in the mouth; that on the following day, she had gone to Branch 47 to inform
the staff that Noel would not be reporting to work; that she had then learned that Noel had moved a heavy
table inside the office upon the instructions of Judge Yu; 127 that Noel had reported back to work on June 10,
2011, but his bleeding had recurred and he had been constantly brought to the hospital since then; 128 that
on June 28, 2011, she had submitted Noel's applications for leave at Judge Yu's office covering the periods
of June 8 and 9, 2011,129 and of June 13-30, 2011;130 that she had returned on July 5, 2011 to the sala of
Judge Yu, and had then learned that the latter had not signed Noel's application; that she was then told by
Court Stenographer Roman Aviles to see and talk with Judge Yu; that she had met with Judge Yu in her
chambers, and during their conversation, Judge Yu had allegedly remarked: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Mabait naman ako sa anak mo. Pag-inuutusan ko siya binibigyan ko pa siya ng pera, siguro aabot ng
P15,000.00 sa isang taon ang maibibigay ko sa kanya. Pero bakil pumirma siya sa petition na nagsasabi na
bobo ako at corrupt? x x x halala pa na dinagdag lang sita ni Emma Sayo kasi di nakatype ang pangalan
nila. Kung ganoon ang tingin nita sa akin, bakit di na lang sila magresign? 131
that Judge Yu had replied that Noel would be in a better position to address her (Mrs. Labid) concern; that
she had begged Judge Yu to sign her son's application for leave, explaining that she had to submit the
document before the deadline in order to claim monetary aid from the Supreme Court Health and Welfare
Fund; that instead of signing, Judge Yu had left her inside the chambers, and had given instructions to Mr.
Santos; that upon her return, Judge Yu had advised that Noel should first submit a medical clearance before
she would sign the application for leave; and that she had then appealed to Judge Yu by leaving a
handwritten letter requesting the approval on Noel's application. 132
Mrs. Labid recalled that she had returned the following day to again plead with Judge Yu, but Mr. Santos had
prevented her from seeing Judge Yu and had instead handed her a memorandum for her son that reads as
follows:
chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Dear Mr. Labid,

You have been consistently absent in this court due to sickness. As per record, your absences with leave due
to treatment of cancer in the court are as follows: for the whole months of February 2011 and March 2011,
you also incur several days absences for April and May 2011 while for the months of June, 2011 you incur
15 days absent (June 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 2011). Being a government
(public servant) employee, you are not suppose to be always absent from your work and if the absences are
due to sickness, you must submit original copy of medical certificate. Your continued absence in your work
affects the performance of this Court that affects also the performance of your co-employees. As per Civil
Service Commission ruling; as a general rule, an employee whose continued absence from his work due to
his lingering illness, the Department Head, if he sees to it that the performance of his office is much affected
because of the continued absence of such the employee, the Department Head in his own discretion, may
ask his superior for a replacement of such employee - thus the affected employee may file for permanent
disability or terminal leave.

In view of the above matters, you are required to submit the following documents: Certificate of Fitn ss to
Work (if not contagious), Duration of Recovery (from illness) and Certificate of discharge from the hospital
(June 17 and 24, 2011) prior to the approval of your leave of absences for the months of June, 2011.

(sgd)
Ferdinand A. Santos
Officer-in-charge133
Mrs. Labid believed that Judge Yu had dictated the contents of the memorandum to Mr. Santos after their
previous conversation; and that Judge Yu's unjustified refusal to sign Noel's application for leave had been
motivated by malice and ill-will, arising from the administrative complaint against her that Noel had signed
and joined. She mentioned that her son had later on died on August 15, 2011. 134
In her comment,135 Judge Yu denied the imputations of Mrs. Labid. She justified her denial of Noel's
application for leave by citing in her undated and unsigned Memorandum 136 the ruling in A.M. No. 2004-41-
SC (January 13, 2005) entitled Re: Memorandum Report of Atty. Thelma C. Bahia against Ms. Dorothy
Salgado. She maintained that Mrs. Labid had not submitted the documents she had required. 137 She denied
having received any handwritten letter from Mrs. Labid; and having known of Noel's condition. She insisted
that Noel had volunteered to lift the table as part of his job as a utility worker.138
A.M. No. MTJ-13-1821
(Hon. Emily L. San Gaspar v. Hon. Eliza B. Yu)

This administrative matter emanated from the Letter-Complaint of Judge Emily L. San Gaspar-Gito of MeTC
Branch 20,139 whereby the latter imputed to Judge Yu conduct unbecoming of a judge for constantly sending
alarming messages with sexual undertones via Facebook and electronic mail.

Judge San Gaspar-Gito and Judge Yu became acquainted in May 2009 when the latter was the public
prosecutor pinch hitting at the MeTC Branch 20 in Manila where the former presided as Judge. They became
Facebook friends upon Judge Yu's initiative, and Judge San Gaspar-Gito accepted her request as a matter of
courtesy.140 Judge San Gaspar-Gito claimed that Judge Yu normally sent long messages that she had ignored
most of the time.141 On August 30, 2009, Judge San Gaspar-Gito received in her Yahoo account a peculiar
message from Judge Yu, as follows: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

NATIONAL HEROES DAY'S THANK YOU Sunday, August 30, 2009 6:02 PM

From: "ELIZA YU"

To: emily_san_gaspar@yahoo.com
1 File (82KB)

(see image p. 37)

MEAL STUB

Hon, thank you for your MEAL STUB ... when and where can I claim it?
take care & love you.142
Judge Yu sent another message to Judge San Gaspar-Gito's Facebook account with the subject Meal Stub, to
wit:
chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

__________________________________ August 31, 2009 __________________________________

Eliza B. Yu 9:20am
MEAL STUB

dear ems, i sent your meal stub at your yahoo account to honor you this national heroes day. it's good you
gave me an idea of your preferred sexual position, there's no need to study that 69, you'll get it
from me spontaneously ... that's easy, pulled down your underwear, and eat what's in between your
thighs ... but you have to pay me $10 first ... He He He! take care and see you later... 143 (Bold emphasis
supplied)
The message contained an attachment similar to the image of a man and a woman juxtaposed in a 69
position appearing in the previous Yahoo message. 144 Judge San Gaspar-Gito ignored both communications,
but Judge Yu continued sending more puzzling messages to the complainant's Face book account, viz.: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

__________________________________ September 1, 2009 __________________________________

Eliza B. Yu 11:21pm
YOUR MEAL STUB ...

giving me FEVER honey ... YOU ARE KEEPING ME WIDE AWAKE. I need a bath no not a bath ... I need a sex
therapist He He He

BLOWN KISS?? I haven't claim yet my meal stub now you are sending me a blown kiss ... why don't you
send me your cell no. asap so we can practice your fave 69?

__________________________________ September 2, 2009 __________________________________

Eliza B. Yu
PRO LOVE (No Jokening Here) 7:43am

YES TO LOVE NO TO LUST!!


Why naman you are heating me up out of your hundreds FB friends?
HHHmmm ... don't fall in love online kasi you
are not supposed to kiss, kiss a pc monitor ... He He He
No dialogues from you lately, are we in a silent "titillating" movie?
Wala ba tayong rehearsals dito? FAMAS award na rin ba tayo?
Buti na lang magaan loob ko sa iyo,
SOUL MATES tayo. Isasauli ko na ang meal stub mo ... wala naman
nakalagay when and
where to claim, wala ring cell phone no. mo (siguro trip mo lang mag send ng lewd pic kasi photographer ka
in your past life, lewd photographer ... He He He).
Dami kong tanong sa iyo, pero impersonal kasi ang
computer kaya wala na akong masyadong tanong online ... maliban sa ano na ba civil status mo, MAINIT KA
MASYADO?? Yung photo profile mo, dina "cute little devil" ...
ikaw ay "red hot and horny"145 na ... tandaan mo
honey NO TO CYBERSEX! NO TO PHONE SEX! PAY ME $10 FIRST BEFORE 69 (prone to HIV AIDS na sexual
position ang 69 kaya sa swimming pool yan ginagawa). Take care and see you later. chanroble svirtuallawlibrary

__________________________________ September 4, 2009 __________________________________

Eliza B. Yu 9:24pm
2 VISITS

hey ems, i really miss you, so i plan to visit you at your chamber this sept. 1 and 21. are you available at
these dates?? pls. reply. take care and see you later.

Eliza B. Yu 9:47pm

hey, wish me good luck for my report tom at justice rene corona's class, it's a "MIXED NUTS" feelings to
have a future chief justice as an audience (he's a "terrorist" ... he he he ... but he did not give me a HIGH
FEVER unlike you! ha ha ha!) pls. tell me what time you will be at your chamber this sept. 7 and 21 so i can
visit you? PREPARE THE $10.x's and o's.146
Confounded, Judge San Gaspar-Gito finally confronted Judge Yu on the messages. Instead of giving a direct
reply, Judge Yu continued sending puzzling messages. Their exchanges ran as follows: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

__________________________________ September 6, 2009 __________________________________

Eliza B. Yu 10:41am
CLUELESS INQUIRER

hey what's that meal stub and 69, got no idea about it? Does my fb send something to everyone? Ami in a
game? huh, m wondering!
Eliza B. Yu 10:44am
A TRIBUTE TO ELVIS PRESLEY

Wise Men say


only fools rush in
but I cant help
falling in love with you

Shall I stay
would it be a sin
if I can't help falling in love with you...

Like a river flows, surely to the sea


Darlin so it goes, somethings are meant to be..
Take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help fallin in love with you...

Like a river flows, surely to the sea


Darlin so it goes, somethings are meant to be..

Take my hand take my whole life too for I can't help


falling in love with you

for I cant help falling in love with .... You. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

xxxxxxxxxxxx

__________________________________ September 12, 2009 __________________________________

Eliza B. Yu 7:07am
MOVIES

hey since you are a movie buff, watch "BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN", you will enjoy the sex between 2 cowboys
in a tent. The 1st sex was made out of lust while the 2nd sex was made out of love! In the movie, the
"measure of love was not jealousy but sacrifice."

__________________________________ September 14, 2009 __________________________________

Eliza B. Yu 8:43am
l'Hymne A l'Amour

Hey, after watching "Brokeback Mountain", I recommend you to watch "When Night Is Falling", there was a
sizzling (red hot) sex between a university literature professor at a religious college and a free-spirited circus
performer inside a tent, too just like "Brokeback Mountain". Certainly, you will enjoy "When Night Is Falling"
more than "Brokeback Mountain" because you liked Edith Piafs "l'Hymne A l'Amour."

xxxxxxxxxxxx

__________________________________ September 17, 2009 __________________________________

Eliza B. Yu 7:23pm
MOVIE AGAIN
Star Cinema's "In My Life," the ABS-CBN Movie outfit's grandest film offering for 2009, earned a record P20
million in ticket sales on its first day of screening. I don't recommend you and Owen this move (but Gener,
Tiya and Yaya would enjoy watching this together ... He He He) TAKE CARE!

__________________________________ September 18, 2009 __________________________________

xxxxxxxxxxxx

Eliza B. Yu 7:00am
Some Kind

honey i'm some kind of sloth at home and enjoy much freedom, and i miss you, tsup! tsup! tsup! take care
always. see you later!

__________________________________ September 18, 2009 __________________________________

Emily San Gaspar 11:18pm

I think i would be watching in my life, have you watched it? Is it nice?

__________________________________ September 19, 2009 __________________________________

xxxxxxxxxxxx

Eliza B. Yu 4:07pm
IN MY LIFE

hey fb sweetie, ems not that i don't want to accompany you in a movie house, it's just that you succeeded
heating me up with that 69 meal stub, it will be dangerous ... to watch this in my life movie together, i may
go down on you in a movie house that would be highly scandalous ... I will give you a dvd/vcd of it, I will go
to video shops for it tomorrow (whether you have watched it or not, even I did not recommend it to you) ...
i am trying to shrug off a fuzzy, groovy feeling with you, OH NO! anyways, take care, take care, take care, i
knew you have convention next week. if you are interested to join with us at GUMBO resto next week, just
say so (dean froilan is a great guy, and a genius, interesting to meet him, this i recommend to you). Oh, i
still have to give you complimentary copies of my articles published in the lawyers review. you gotta wait, i
keep my promises. see you later . x's and o's for you. p.s. movie watching is not my ideal activity with you
(it's at the bottom of the list, i rather watch you than tagalog movies). 147
Judge San Gaspar-Gito decided to deactivate her Facebook account. Yet, the deactivation did not deter
Judge Yu from sending messages to Judge San Gaspar-Gito's Yahoo account to expr ss her disagreement
over the Facebook deactivation, thus: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

[No Subject] Friday, September 25,2009 6:14PM

From: "ELIZA YU"


To: emily_san_gaspar@yahoo.com

Dear Emily, what happened to your FB account?


I told you to rest, I understand that it's so tiring
after travelling, our bodies crave sleep!
If I have your mobile no., I could have flown there
and joined you. Still, I believe there is plenty of time
ahead of us. Anyway, I did not mean you stay away
from Facebook or me... COME ON, tell me, you are joking
giving up Facebook ... you have ovet 190 friends, they will
MISS you. You have my no. still (09175217828), you can contact me,
you should contact me, I am not running away from you, rain or shine.
I will stay even I am a problem. Take care always.
Talk and see you later. Of course, God bless us.148
Facebook Monday, September 28, 2009 5:45PM

From: "ELIZA YU"


To: emily_san_gaspar@yahoo.com

Dear Emily, I raised the issue


before, about 4 months ago, about your
membership in Facebook, your
answer was acceptable...

Your declaration about consensus


in the convention seems to be an
after-thought, logic rejects it
as plausible. But I BELIEVE you.
There is no reason not to TRUST you.
I also understand the consensus.

Because you seemed HAPPY connecting


to your friends particularly those very
far in FB, it's not a smart choice to sacrifice
your happiness at the expense of consensus.
Also, there are ways to circumvent
the consensus' prohibition. You can change your
name to your nickname, and remove traces that
will link it to your work. You blended your
work with your personal life in FB,
of course your work's nature extend to your
personal life, the price you pay, not because of
the demand of your work, it's the price for your
your idealism with your work. It's up to
you what perspective you take, you
are intelligent, you ought to choose the best
option. Your FB speaks a lot about you.
You may not talk much about yourself in mails
but by reading your posts and looking at
your photos, you give clues of yourself,
you leave lots of fingerprints online.
Deactivating it is not the best option,
For now...

By the way, our office told me, I cannot


troubleshoot in your court, because you
have two prosecutors already NO ROOM FOR ME THERE.
I told the staff to call you up about this.
I promised to troubleshoot next month, which
is not possible to happen. I learned that your
court was Hooded, I was at home when notified,
I failed to help you clean up the mess. That's why,
there is the importance of mobile connection.
Besides, I will only call you if I have your cell no.
not text you. An1way, take care always.
God bless you.149
PS Monday, September 28, 2009 6:06PM

From: "ELIZA YU"


To: emily_san_gaspar@yahoo.com

ems, don't be like


MeTC magistrate (one of
Your judges pals according to your FB posting) who
permanently dismissed a case on the ground of
speedy trial when accused
jumped bail.

When there was a MR by


the prosecutor, it was
granted on the basis of
substantive justice.

Of course, there was double jeopardy


already, the MR was granted
correctly. And the pemanent (sic)
dismissal was wrong.

You are intelligent, you


finished your law schooling at
24 years old ranked 5th in your
class ... DO NOT DE-ACTIVATE
YOUR FACEBOOK FOR MORE THAN
3 MONTHS.
Talk and see you later.150
Oh God, I Forgot ... Monday, September 28, 2009 8:47PM

From: "ELIZA YU"


To: emily_san_gaspar@yahoo.com

Tsup! Honey, next time you re-activate your FB,


pls. change your ...
PHOTO PROFILE
DELETE:
Your Status, Birthday,
School, Work,
and all your PHOTOS.
it's OK to be wild online...
Be cautious and prudent.
Take care always.

Couple of weeks, I will be very busy will [sic] school


papers due to ending sem and
my second wind, will re-lobby
for my promotion.
Sept 30, I have lunch with ...
Oct 1, I have dinner with ...
Oct 2, I have appointment with ...
Oct 3, I have my last report
I have dinner at Gumbo for Dean's birthday
Oct 5, I have lunch at Aristocrat
Oct 6, I have cocktail at Manila Hotel
Oct 7, I have appointment at Ajinomoto
Oct 8, I will meet ...
Oct 9, I will meet another ...

I am regular troubleshooter, too.


I will see you later. Of course, I miss you.
God bless. MWAH! tsup ...151
A month after sending the meal stub message, Judge Yu apologized for said message, to wit: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

I AM SO SORRY ... Saturday, October 3, 2009 6:22AM

From: "ELIZA YU"


To: emily_san_gaspar@yahoo.com

Hello there Emily, I found out that Facebook sent


unauthorized gifts (lewd ones) to its account
subscribers, I asked my classmates if they sent
this and that gift applications and they said no.

I am so sorry for my nonsense replies to


that 69 gift application I received from your
Facebook account (which you wondered).
Now, I believe it was not you who sent it to me.
I could have been a Facebook computer system error
or maybe a Facebook prank hacker.

I deleted all your emails. I hope


you will delete my emails to you also
including this email for peace of mind
and as a safety measure.
OH FORGET ALL MY EMAILS TO YOU SINCE JUNE AFTER
READING & RIDDING THIS APOLOGY EMAIL. Deal??
This is our MOA.

It's a good choice to deactivate your Facebook


account - it will bring you good harm.
Sometimes, you have to convince yourself
that your status has changed a lot, you change friends, you change status, change lifestyle and
... leave Face book.

I cannot deactivate my Facebook account,


it was Dean Froilan Bacungan who invited me to
join. I created my Facebook account for him.
Thank you. Take care always.
God bless you.

I'M SO SORRY AGAIN ... I gave you lots


of trashes online. Anyway, emails are easy to delete.152
Judge Yu subsequently sent an e-mail with a subject that read: "CONGRATS 4 UR ELECTION AS P.R.O. CDO
METC NATIONAL CONVENTION, W/ MORE REASON 2 DELETE MY EMAILS 2 U. TY. GOD BLESS," but without
an accompanying message.153
A few weeks later, Judge Yu confronted Judge San Gaspar-Gito regarding the reactivation of her Facebook
account in the following manner: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

CHILL OUT Friday, October 23, 2009 2:13AM

From: "ELIZA YU"


To: emily_san_gaspar@yahoo.com

Hey Milay, I have a trouble shooting assignment


this coming Monday (October 26) in MeTc Branch 23,
I will pass by your court for sure,
I will drop by, unless I'm in a bad mood
like you today! Chill out ... it's basic, when the answer
to the question is obvious DO NOT ANSWER!
Why did you re-activate your Facebook account?
Oh No, you gave a wrong answer!
As expected, you are an Oscar awardee, remember?
Hhhmmm... lots of Oscar trophies you quite
collected at Facebook (He He He).
Nobody can prohibit you in the
exercise of your POLICE POWER in the
Facebook - that's the force of lust (He He He).
Your little siesta wants your photos?

Of course not, you look prettier in person


than in photos. I don't think your
prettiest photo can substitute the real you,
you are so warm in person.
Take care always.154
Judge San Gaspar-Gito was prompted to explain that her sister had used her Facebook account, 155but Judge
Yu apparently disbelieved the explanation and retorted instead: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Be Right Back Friday, October 23, 2009 10:42PM

From: "ELIZA YU"


To: emily_san_gaspar@yahoo.com

Hello there Ems, the sister act explanation was cool! I'm sure it will be accepted by your MeTCJAP in case it
found out you still maintain a Facebook account notwithstanding its express prohibition. Congrats, you
seemed to be a member of the "palusot".com! (He He He)

What is the name of your sister? You mean having same parents? Affinity? Sorority? Job-related? Religious
Organization? I thought you were the youngest child. Did I hear it right, you said while I was looking at your
gold medal on the wall, you have 5 siblings? Going back to your sister, why would she do that? First, isn't
she confident enough to be herself online? Second, she is unaware that it will put you in harm by feigning to
be you? Third, did you not warn her? Fourth, Why did you tolerate her? You could have changed your
password anytime so she cannot have an access.

I thought it was definitely a rude answer(@ yahoo) as to why you re activated you Facebook account? Only,
I cannot judge you or anyone online, ifs not my task to do so. As I said before, it is OK to be wild, wild, wild
online.

Actually, your FB account was checking my FB account at those times you de-activated it. I laughed at
you ... oh no, not you ... now, your sister for it. Still, it was the reason for my writing of "daily activity"
entries at FB that I was doing OK - after you went "PUFF" at FB, without saying any goodbye. Of course, I
may deserve it, you may expect something, I failed to write, like a visit perhaps. But you did not give me
your mobile no. so no seeing, only reading mails. Hhhmmm ... so your sister got my mobile no. also. It's so
cool! There is a possibility, it was your sister, I talked to online or did those stuff which I believed it was you
from June to October. Well, then, I should meet your sister! Is she living with your popsie? What is the name
your father? Let us then visit them.

Anyway, I have to go, I will visit the Franciscan missionary after this. I will donate biscuits and fruit juices
for the abandoned children. I have a favourite cousin, with an awesome academic credentials and very
pretty, who is a miraculous real, real in flesh, real in her words and deed, a sister belonging to the
Franciscan missionary. She was assigned in Italy for almost 10 years as a nun, and she can read, write,
Italian. I have to buy her a cake, it's her birthday today. Doesn't Italy means an abbreviation of I Trust And
Love You?

I will talk to you later. I will drop by at your court on October 26, for sure am to pass by in going or coming
from MeTc Branch 23, my first time to go there. I'm so accessible, so simple. It was you, or it was your
sister, should I say, that make things complicated. The article, "A Tribute to a Great Mentor", it was your
sister who wrote it? Well, Justice Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez is her ideal woman. A tall order. Oh no, no
need to tell me the orientation or preference of the author of the article by mere reading of it. Take care
always. God bless you always. Be right back.156
The following day, Judge Yu sent another lengthy message apologizing for her previous actions. 157But to add
more confusion, Judge Yu sent a message on November 17, 2009 containing a La Paz Bachoy recipe, but
with a notation at the end reading: we shall claim the 69 meal stub in a dirty kitchen.158
Aside from attributing to Judge Yu the sending of messages containing sexual innuendos, Judge San Gaspar-
Gito accused her of creating a fake Facebook account under the name "Rudela San Gaspar." That account
contained captured photographs, including that of the complainant's son allegedly taken from her
deactivated account. Judge San Gaspar-Gito confronted Judge Yu and threatened to initiate an
administrative complaint. This threat prompted the respondent to take down the fake account. 159
The complainant also received a message on April 2, 2010 with an attached image of a boy holding a pair of
scissors,160 and a sign reading Full Brazillian 5.161
The last straw came on July 4, 2010 when Judge San Gaspar-Gito received a message from her friend, Juliet
Tabanao-Galicinao, informing her that a certain Bambi Yu had inquired about her sexual orientation, viz.: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Juliet Tabanao-Galicinao July 4 at 12:15am


(no subject)

Milay: cralawlawlibrary

Some crazy woman e-mailed me. Her name is bambi yu. I accepted her on Facebook because she told me
you were friends. Then last Friday, she sent me a weird message asking if you were bisexual. I promptly
answered her and after that, I deleted her from my facebook list, as well as any common friends we might
have. I am telling you this so you will be warned that there are envious people like this. I am copying here
the contents of our exchange for your own records.

as follows: cralawla wlibrary

bambi yu: cralawlawlibrary

I read your post about judge of the year award to Milay today. I was about to comment but your post
disappeared. She wrote me months ago that she closed her Facebook account because it became a
Pandora's box. I'm curious, is she an AC DC?? (I am actually laughing) You are listed as among her best
friends, you must be competent to answer this inquiry. Rest assured that this is highly confidential. Thanks.
God bless..

Juliet Tabanao-Galicinao July 2 at 8:19am what is an AC DC?

Bambie Yu July 2 at 3:48pm Report


AC DC is non-offensive slang for bisexual. Is she a bisexual? Thanks for replying. Judges have limited
correspondence here at FB..

Juliet Tabanao-Galicinao July 2 at 8:45pm

Hi! Emily is definitely not bisexual. We have been friends and roomates in school for ages and I can honestly
say she is straight. She is also very happily married with one kid. I am not saying this because we are
friends. I am just stating a fact. I am not offended though. Glad I was able to correct a mistake. What made
you think so? (just wondering)

Bambie Yu July 3 at 5:48am Report

What made me think Milay is an AC DC? It does not matter. While I thank you for your honest to goodness
answer, and I would like to return the favor by answering your question but judges have restrictions and
limited correspondence online. Judges are expected to be courteous to fellow judges. I promised not to
speak or write anything about Emily that would put her in bad light. I honor my promises. She has high
aspirations in the judiciary which we should support. Besides, we are enemies for judicial excellence awards.
You can ask her directly the question please. She is the only one who can answer it correctly. My lips are
sealed this time. Have a nice day. Thank you. God bless!

Bambie Yu July 3 at 6:04am Report

PS: Just to take advantage of your generosity, because Emily broke her vow not to open her Facebook
account which she claimed to be Pandora's box, can you do me a little favor, to ask her to delete all my
emails? She told me she kept all my old emails despite my instruction to delete them after reading. Our
emails contained gossips which will lead to our disbarment as honorable members of the bar. Thus, I was
anxious to learn from your post that hinted she opened up her Facebook account again yesterday, this
meant she broke a vow. My emails may still be there, and I have waited for her assurance that she have
deleted all. I did not receive any such assurance from her that my emails are gone except that she closed
her FB account. I was relieved with that closed FB account until yesterday. I kept writing her before to delete
my emails. She does not reply. Anyway, I am not going to speak anything bad against her. I would be glad if
I will get an assurance from you, as her bestfriend, that she already deleted the emails. We are not speaking
to each other because we have a huge misunderstanding and, I said earlier, we are enemies, mortal
enemies for the judicial excellence award.

Thank you again & good day.162


Judge San Gaspar-Gito formally filed the present administrative complaint on July 12, 2010. 163
Judge Yu submitted her comment by way of a compliance dated October 12, 2010, 164 and attached her own
complaint-affidavit charging Judge San Gaspar-Gito with conduct unbecoming of a judge, and requesting the
OCA to conduct a discreet investigation on the complaint. 165 She manifested that she had come upon two
versions of Judge San Gaspar-Gito's complaint.166
The following day, Judge Yu wrote to the OCA expressing her dissatisfaction over the investigation being
conducted by the OCA.167
On October 22, 2010 Judge Yu submitted a supplemental manifestation arguing that Judge San Gaspar-Gito
did not only violate the Code of Judicial Ethics, the Civil Code and the Revised Penal Code, but also Republic
Act No. 8792, specifically Section 32 168 on confidentiality of electronic messages. She described the
complaint letters as poison letters, and denied all the material averments stated therein. 169
Judge San Gaspar-Gito submitted her reply.170
Judge Yu wrote the OCA on March 18, 2011 formally withdrawing her complaint against Judge San Gaspar-
Gito.171
On July 22, 2011, Judge Yu sent a letter to Judge San Gaspar-Gito's brother, Atty. Reynaldo L. San Gaspar, 172
to wit:
chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES


National Capital Judicial Region
METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT
Branch 47, Pasay City
Tel. No. 831-1109

July 22, 2011

Atty. Reynaldo L. San Gaspar


No. 154 P. Talavera St.,
Pakil, 4017, Laguna

Dear Atty. San Gaspar: cralawlawlibrary

Our court is inviting you for a brief conference in our court on August 5, 2011 around 1:00 p.m. to 4:00
p.m. or any available and convenient time and place for you, to clarify matters pertaining to the two (2)
letters both dated July 12, 2010 of your sister Judge Emily L. San Gaspar-Gito. She can come with you if she
wants to.

Your cooperation is highly appreciated.

Thank you.

Very truly yours,

(sgd.)
Judge Eliza B. Yu

Copy furnished:
Judge Emily L. San Gaspar-Gito
Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 20, Manila
In the meantime, the Court referred the matter to the Court of Appeals (CA), 173 and directed Judge San
Gaspar-Gito to allow the Chief of the Management Information System Office (MISO) to gain access to her
Facebook and Yahoo accounts.

Pursuant to the Court's directive, the MISO accessed the Yahoo and Facebook accounts of Judge San
Gaspar-Gito. Later on, Mr. Alexander M. Arevalo, the Acting Chief of the MISO, submitted his report, 174
attaching and certifying to the messages/communications extracted from the Yahoo and Facebook accounts
of Judge San Gaspar-Gito.175
In her memorandum,176 Judge Yu accused Judge San Gaspar-Gito with dishonesty and violation of the right
to privacy.177 She insisted on her innocence, claiming that Judge San Gaspar-Gito had sent her the meal stub
with the attached image; that based on her research, the image was a photo engraving by Felicien Rops for
Le Diable au Corps in 1865,178 which should be treated as an artwork rather than as pornography; 179 that she
had treated the message as a joke, but Judge San Gaspar-Gito would continually send similar graphics
through the Facebook gift section everytime she would ask her to troubleshoot in her sala; 180 that she did
not send some of the messages to Judge San Gaspar-Gito whom she knew to be very much married; 181 that
she had become alarmed upon learning that Judge San Gaspar-Gito had repeatedly read her messages, and
had treated the same as "treasures" that she had refused to delete; 182 and that her messages were intended
to be "double entendres" and should not be considered as having any sexual connotations but instead as
having been innocently uttered.183
In her September 26, 2013 manifestation, 184 Judge Yu attached a copy of her credit card bill supposedly
showing that she had been charged $10.00 when she opened the meal stub sent by Judge San Gaspar-Gito.
She posited that the lewd graphics had originated from Judge San Gaspar-Gito who had tampered the
electronic messages submitted as evidence herein.185
Regarding her exchanges with Ms. Galicinao, Judge Yu invoked the exclusionary rule because she did not
give her consent to use the private messages as evidence. 186
CA Associate Justice Hakim S. Abdulwahid conducted the investigation, and scheduled several hearings. It
appears that despite notice, Judge Yu did not appear in the hearings, and instead manifested her willingness
to submit the matter for decision based on the records. She also waived her attendance, including the right
to cross examine the complainant, 187 in order to avoid generating "hostile feelings and antagonistic views"
upon the entry of appearance as counsel of Atty. Gener Gito, Judge San Gaspar-Gito's husband. 188
Justice Abdulwahid submitted his Report and Recommendation dated September 26, 2013, 189wherein he
recommended the suspension from office of Judge Yu for a period of three months due to simple misconduct
and conduct unbecoming of a judge. He concluded that the barrage of inappropriate messages sent by
Judge Yu, as well as her stalking through the internet, constituted conduct unbecoming of a judge; and that
her use of her court's letterhead to summon the complainant's brother fell under the category of simple
misconduct.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Recommendation and Evaluation of the Office of the Court Administrator

On October 13, 2015, the Court directed the OCA to submit a comprehensive evaluation, report and
recommendation on the consolidated cases.190
The OCA complied through Deputy Court Administrator (DCA) Jenny Lind R. Aldecoa-Delorino 191 by
submitting a Memorandum192 containing the following recommendation: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

RECOMMENDATION: It is respectfully recommended for the consideration of the Honorable Court that
respondent Judge Eliza B. Yu, Branch 47, Metropolitan Trial Court, Pasay City, be found GUILTY of
INSUBORDINATION, GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW, REFUSAL TO PERFORM OFFICIAL
FUNCTIONS, GROSS MISCONDUCT AMOUNTING TO VIOLATION OF THE CODE OF JUDICIAL
CONDUCT, GRAVE ABUSE OF AUTHORITY, OPPRESSION, and CONDUCT UNBECOMING OF A JUDGE,
and be DISMISSED FROM THE SERVICE with forfeiture of all benefits, except accrued leave credits, and
disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any Rublic office including government-owned or
controlled corporations.193
The OCA recommended that the charges of gross ignorance of the law in allowing OJTs to perform judicial
work and directing the court staff to sell the books authored by Judge Yu, as well as the allegation of
malicious utterances against Court Administrator Marquez should be dismissed for being unsubstantiated; 194
and upheld Judge Yu's requiring the plaintiffs with pending replevin cases to pay legal fees for transcripts,
pursuant to her judicial prerogative to ensure that court funds were properly accounted for.195
The OCA declared Judge Yu's refusal to comply with A.M. No. 19-2011 and to honor the appointments of Ms.
Lagman and Ms. Tejero-Lopez as insubordination; Judge Yu's letter to DOT Secretary Lim as gross
misconduct, and a violation of Section 6, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct; Judge Yu's conduct
in relation to the request for sick leave by Noel Labid, and the appointment of Ms. Tejero-Lopez as
oppression;196 regarded as gross ignorance of the law Judge Yu's acts of allowing the criminal proceedings in
her court to continue without the presence of the public prosecutor, and of ordering the reception of
evidence by the OIC who was not a member of the Bar; 197 and considered Judge Yu's issuance of the show
cause order against Executive Judge Colasito, et al. as grave abuse of her authority.198
The OCA agreed with the recommendation and findings of Justice Abdulwahid to consider Judge Yu's
actuations towards Judge San Gaspar Gito as conduct unbecoming of a judge, but clarified that Judge Yu's
use of the official letterhead of her court in summoning the brother of Judge San Gaspar-Gito to a
conference demonstrated her abuse of power, and constituted a violation of Section 8, Canon 4 of the New
Code of Judicial Conduct.199
Ruling of the Court

We agree with the findings and recommendations of the OCA. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

I
Noncompliance with A.O. No. 19-2011

Judge Yu forthwith resisted the implementation of A.O. No. 19-2011 because of her unresolved protest
against the issuance. She explained that her compliance with A.O. No. 19-2011 would render her protest
moot. But her unresolved protest was not a sufficient justification for her to resist the implementation of
A.O. No. 19-2011. She was quite aware that A.O. No. 19-2011 was issued pursuant to Section 6, Article VIII
of the Constitution, which confers to the Court the power of administrative supervision over all courts, 200 and
was for that reason an issuance to be immediately implemented and unquestioningly obeyed by the affected
Judges.

The resistance by Judge Yu to the the implementation of A.O. No. 19-2011 was unexpected. She was quite
aware that A.O. No. 19-2011 was not a mere request for her to comply with only partially, inadequately or
selectively,201 or for her to altogether disregard. At the very least, her resistance to A.O. No. 19-2011
manifested an uncommon arrogance on the part of a Judge of a court of the first-level towards the Court
itself. Such attitude smacked of her unbecoming condescension towards the Court and her judicial superiors.
We cannot tolerate her attitude lest it needlessly sows the seeds of aiTogance in others that can ultimately
destroy the faith and trust in the hierarchy of courts so essential in the effective functioning of the
administration of justice.

Moreover, Judge Yu's resistance to the implementation of A.O. No. 19-2011 disrupted the orderliness of the
other Pasay City MeTCs to the prejudice of public interest. This effect became unavoidable, for Executive
Judge Colasito necessarily required the other courts to render additional night court duties to cope with her
refusal to render night court duties.

Judge Yu compounded her condescension towards the Court and her judicial superiors by her bypassing
them to directly communicate her personal reservations about A.O. No. 19-2011 to Secretary Lim, the
proponent of holding the night courts, and other quarters like the police authority in Pasay City. Her
reservations extended to assailing the legal foundation and the practicality for holding the night courts. Her
doing so broadcast to them the notion that obedience to A.O. No. 19-2011 and similar issuances of the
Court could be deferred at the whim and caprice of a lowly ranked judicial officer like her. Although she
might have regarded her reservations as impressed with outstanding merit, that was no justification for her
to defer or reject the implementation of A.O. No. 19-2011 in her court for any length of time, and to be
public about it. A.O. No. 19-2011 dealt with an administrative matter on the administration of justice and
procedure over which the Court was the supreme and sole authority. She should have the maturity to know
so, and to bow her head before that authority. Her freedom to exercise her constitutional right to free
speech and expression was not a consideration. She had no privilege to disobey; hers was but to follow.

Judge Yu's having directly communicated her misgivings about A.O. No. 19-2011 to Secretary Lim and to
other quarters was beyond forgiving by the Court. She thereby strongly hinted that the Court was altogether
wrong and impractical about holding night courts. What she accomplished from such exercise was to
broadcast how little regard she had for the Court and its issuances. Her attitude constituted an open
insubordination that extensively diminished the respect owed to the Court by the public, especially by the
latter who were directly affected in the implementation of A.O. No. 19-2011. There is no question that when
a Judge becomes the transgressor of the law that she has sworn to uphold, she places her office in
disrepute, encourages disrespect for the law, and impairs public confidence in the integrity of the Judiciary
itself.202
It is timely for the Courrto use this occasion to remind Judge Yu and other judicial officers of the land that
although they may enjoy the freedoms of speech and expression as citizens of the Republic, they should
always conduct themselves, while exercising such freedoms, in a manner that should preserve the dignity of
their judicial offices and the impartiality and independence of the Judiciary. As to this duty to observe self-
restraint, Section 6, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary is clear and
forthright, viz.:
chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Sec. 6. Judges, like any other citizen, are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly,
but in exercising such rights, they shall always conduct themselves in such a manner as to preserve the
dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary.
For sure, Judge Yu's expression of her dissent against A.O. No. 19-2011 was misplaced. We may as well
declare that she did not enjoy the privilege to dissent. Regardless of her reasons for dissenting, she was
absolutely bound to follow A.O. No. 19-2011. Indeed, she did not have the unbridled freedom to publicly
speak against A.O. No. 19-2011 and its implementation, for her being the Judge that she was differentiated
her from the ordinary citizen exercising her freedom of speech and expression who did not swear obedience
to the orders and processes of the Court without delay.203Her resistance to the implementation of A.O. No.
19-2011 constituted gross insubordination and gross misconduct, 204 and put in serious question her fitness
and worthiness of the honor and integrity attached to her judicial office. 205
According to Himalin v. Balderian,206 the refusal of a Judge to comply with any resolution or directive of the
Court constituted insubordination and gross misconduct, viz.: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

[A] judge who deliberately and continuously failed and refused to comply with a resolution of this Court was
held guilty of gross misconduct and insubordination, the Supreme Court being the agency exclusively vested
by our Constitution with administrative supervision over all courts and court personnel from the Presiding
Justice of the Court of Appeals to the lowest municipal trial court clerk. The Court can hardly discharge such
constitutional mandate of overseeing judges and court personnel and taking proper administrative sanction
against them if the judge or personnel concerned does not even recognize its administrative authority.
Insubordination is the refusal to obey some order that a superior officer is entitled to give and to have ob
yed. It imports a willful or intentional disregard of the lawful and reasonable instructions of the employer. 207
Judge Yu's obstinate resistance to A.O. No. 19-2011 displayed both her rebellious character and her disdain
and disrespect for the Court and its directives.

Judge Yu's unwillingness to comply with A.O. No. 19-2011 was also a betrayal of her sworn duty to maintain
fealty to the law,208 and brought dishonor to the Judiciary. In that regard, her conduct amounted to gross
misconduct, defined as follows: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Misconduct means intentional wrongdoing or deliberate violation of a rule of law or standard of behavior in
connection with one's performance of official functions and duties. For grave or gross misconduct to exist,
the judicial act complained of should be corrupt or inspired by the intention to violate the law, or a persistent
disregard of well-known rules. The misconduct must imply wrongful intention and not a mere error of
judgment.209
In all, Judge Yu exhibited an unbecoming arrogance in committing insubordination and gross misconduct. By
her refusal to adhere to and abide by A.O. No. 19-2011, she deliberately disregarded her duty to serve as
the embodiment of the law at all times. She thus held herself above the law by refusing to be bound by the
issuance of the Court as the duly constituted authority on court procedures and the supervision of the lower
courts. To tolerate her insubordination and gross misconduct is to abet lawlessness on her part. She
deserved to be removed from the service because she thereby revealed her unworthiness of being part of
the Judiciary.210
II
Refusal to honor the appointments of court personnel

Although Judge Yu insisted on the irregularity of the appointment of Ms. Tejero-Lopez for lack of personal
endorsement from her as the Presiding Judge, and of the appointment of Ms. Lagman due to a pending
administrative complaint, the appointments of Ms. Tejero-Lopez and Ms. Lagman were valid and regular. As
such, Judge Yu had no good reason to reject the appointments.

To start with, Ms. Tejero-Lopez and other applicants had undergone scrutiny and processing by the duly
constituted committee, and the OCA had then signed and executed the appointment. Nonetheless, the
authority to appoint still emanated from the Court itself.211 Judge Yu's objection to Ms. Tejero-Lopez's
appointment for lack of her personal endorsement was not enough to negate the appointment. Judge Yu had
no right to reject the appointment, making her rejection another instance of gross insubordination by her.
This consequence has been elucidated in Edao v. Asdala,212 as follows: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

[R]espondent Judge Asdala, in insisting on the designation of respondent Nicandro as OIC, blithely and
willfully disregarded the Memorandum of this Court, through the OCA, which approved the designation of
Amy Soneja alone and not in conjunction with respondent Nicandro - as OIC. While the presiding judge,
such as respondent Judge Asdala, can recommend and endorse persons to a particular position,
this recommendation has to be approved by this Court. Again, the respondent judge ought to
know that the Constitution grants this Court administrative supervision over all the courts and
personnel thereof. In the case at bar, despite the Court's approval of Amy Soneja's designation, the
respondent judge allowed, if not insisted on, the continued discharge of the duties of OIC by respondent
Nicandro. Respondent Judge Asdala even had the gall to insist that as presiding judge she has the authority
and discretion to designate "anyone who works under her, as long as that person enjoys her trust and
confidence." Coming from a judge, such arrogance, if not ignorance, is inexcusable. The memorandum from
the OCA regarding the designation of court personnel is no less an order from this Court. Court officials and
personnel, particularly judges, are expected to comply with the same. Respondent judge's gross
insubordination cannot be countenanced.213
Judge Yu could only recommend an applicant for a vacant position in her court for the consideration of the
SPBLC, which then accorded priority to the recommendee if the latter possessed superior qualifications than
or was at least of equal qualifications as the other applicants she did not recommend. 214 The SPBLC
explained to Judge Yu the selection process that had resulted in the appointment of Ms. Tejero-Lopez. She
could not impose her recommendee on the SPBLC which was legally mandated to maintain fairness and
impartiality in its assessment of the applicants 215 based on performance, eligibility, education and training,
experience and outstanding accomplishments, psycho-social attributes and personality traits, and
potentials.216
Secondly, Judge Yu's rejection of the appointment of Ms. Lagman was just as unwarranted.

Under Section 34, Rule II of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (URACCS),217 a
pending administrative complaint shall not disqualifY an employee from promotion, thus: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Section 34. Effect of the Pendency of an Administrative Case. - Pendency of an administrative case shall not
disqualify respondent from promotion or from claiming maternity/paternity benefits.

For this purpose, a pending administrative case shall be construed as follows: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

a. When the disciplining authority has issued a formal charge; or

b. In case of a complaint filed by a private person, a prima facie case is found to exist by the disciplining
authority.
The rule, which is reiterated in Section 42 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service
(RRACCS) of 2011,218 cannot be interpreted otherwise.

Accordingly, Judge Yu's administrative complaint had no bearing on Ms. Lagman's appointment, more so
because Ms. Lagman was held liable only for simple misconduct, a less grave offense that did not merit
termination from public service for the first offense. 219 It is relevant to point out, too, that Judge Yu had no
personality to object to or oppose Ms. Lagman's appointment, considering that only a qualified next-in-rank
employee has been recognized as a party-in-interest to file the protest in accordance with paragraph 1.6.1,
Article IX of the 2002 Revised Manual of Clerks of Court.220
Thirdly, we also take Judge Yu to task for disrespectful language uttered against the Court, no less. She
characterized the appointment of Ms. Tejero-Lopez as "void ab initio" and "a big joke." The use of such
language in assailing the Court's exercise of its absolute power of appointment was highly offensive and
intemperate. She thereby disregarded her obligation to show respect and deference toward the Court and its
officials. She was thereby guilty of another serious misconduct.

And, fourthly, Judge Yu issued verbal threats of filing administrative, civil and criminal charges against Ms.
Tejero-Lopez unless she withdrew her application. Judge Yu reiterated the threats in her letter dated June
14, 2011 addressed to Atty. Pabello.221 Ms. Tejero-Lopez felt intimidated enough because she actually
withdrew her application (although she later went on with it). The making of the verbal threats by Judge Yu
to compel a subordinate to withdraw her application constituted grave abuse of authority on the part of
Judge Yu. Grave abuse of authority is committed by a public officer, who, under color of his office, wrongfully
inflicts upon a person any bodily harm, imprisonment, or other injury; it is an act characterized with cruelty,
severity, or excessive use of authority. Also, the intimidation exerted upon Ms. Tejero-Lopez amounted to
oppression, which refers to an act of cruelty, severity, unlawful exaction, domination or excessive use of
authority.222
III
Issuing a show-cause order against fellow Judges and court personnel
According to the OCA, Judge Yu gravely abused her authority in issuing the show-cause order against his
fellow Judges, the complainants against her in OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ. The OCA rendered its finding
thereon, as follows:chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

This Office finds it absolutely irregular for respondent Judge Yu to require the complainants in
OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ to explain within seventy-two (72) hours upon receipt of notice why
they should not be cited in contempt for surreptitiously taking the TSNs, orders and minutes of
the proceedings in Criminal Case No. M-PSY-09-08592-CR and using these as part of their
attachments to their complaint. As the respondent in OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ, respondent
Judge Yu has no authority to summon the complainants (Executive Judge Colasito, et al.)
because it is only the Supreme Court who has the power to issue directives requiring the parties
in an administrative case to appear and to present their respective arguments in support of their
position.

Not only is her directive misplaced, it also shows respondent Judge Yu's utter lack of respect and disdain for
the Supreme Court. It must be noted that the parties in Criminal Case No. M-PSY-09-08592-CR (the
accused Ramil Fuentes et al. and the plaintiff Republic of the Philippines) are outsiders to the administrative
controversy between respondent Judge Yu and the complainants in OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ. However,
respondent Judge Yu acted as if she was the investigating authority instead of being the
respondent. She took undue advantage of her position as a judge and used the judicial process
for her own benefit. Such action clearly depicts an abusive character which has no place in the
judiciary. (Bold emphasis supplied)223
The issuance of the show-cause order by Judge Yu represented clear abuse of court processes, and revealed
her arrogance in the exercise of her authority as a judicial officer. She thereby knowingly assumed the role
of a tyrant wielding power with unbridled breadth. Based on its supervisory authority over the courts and
their personnel, the Court must chastise her as an abusive member of the Judiciary who tended to forget
that the law and judicial ethics circumscribed the powers and discretion vested in her judicial office.

Nothing extenuated Judge Yu's abuse of authority and arrogance. Instead of accepting the error of her ways,
Judge Yu defended her conduct by insisting on having the authority to initiate contempt proceedings against
her fellow Judges and court personnel. She supported her insistence by citing the rulings in People v.
Godoy,224Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan,225 and Salcedo v. Hernandez.226 But the cited rulings had no relevance
at all. People v. Godoy related to the contemptuous newspaper article involving a case that the trial court
had decided. Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan required the Tanodbayan-Ombudsman, a party in the case, to
explain his contumacious remarks about an ongoing case to the media. Salcedo v. Hernandez concerned the
contemptuous remarks by counsel for the petitioner in a motion filed before the Court. In short, the factual
settings for the cited rulings involved parties or counsel of the parties, while the factual setting in this
administrative matter concerned the act of merely copying the records of Judge Yu's court for purposes of
producing evidence against her in the administrative cases her fellow Judges and the concerned court
employees would be initiating against he. The latter were not parties in any pending case in her court.

Moreover, the Court notes that Judge Yu's issuance of the show-cause order emanated from her desire to
retaliate against her fellow Judges and the concerned court employees considering that the allegedly
contumacious conduct was the copying of court records to be used as evidence in the administrative
complaint against her. She thereby breached her duty to disqualify herself from acting at all on the matter.
Such self-disqualification was required under Section 5, Canon 3, and Section 8 of Canon 4 of the New Code
of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, viz.: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Section 5. Judges shall disqualify themselves from participating in any proceedings in which they are unable
to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a reasonable observer that they are unable to
decide the matter impartially. Such proceedings include, but are not limited to, instances where: cralawla wlibrary

(a) The judge has actual bias or prejudice concerning a party or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary
facts concerning the proceedings; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

xxxx
Section 8. Judges shall not use or lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance their private interest, x x
x.
By insisting on her inherent authority to punish her fellow Judges for contempt of court, Judge Yu wielded a
power that she did not hold. Hence, she was guilty of gross misconduct. chanroble svirtuallawlibrary

IV
Refusal to sign the application for leave of absence and other allegations of oppression

The 2002 Revised Manual for Clerks of Court governs the approval of an application for sick leave by court
"personnel. Paragraphs 2.2.1227 and 2.2.2,228 Chapter X of the 2002 Revised Manual requires the submission
of a medical certificate or proof of sickness prior to the approval of the application for sick leave, thus:
chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

2.2.1 Application for sick leave


All applications for sick leave of absence for one (1) full day or more shall be made on the prescribed form
and shall be filed immediately upon the employee's return from such leave. Notice of absence, however,
should be sent to the immediate supervisor, and/or agency head. Application for sick leave in excess of
five (5) successive days shall be accompanied by a proper medical certificate.

xxxx
2.2.2. Approval of sick leave
Sick leave shall be granted only on account of sickness or disability on the part of the employee concerned
or of any member of his immediate family.

Approval of sick leave, whether with pay or without pay, is mandatory provided proof of sickness
or disability is attached to the application in accordance with the applicable requirements.
Unreasonable delay in the approval thereof or non-approval without justifiable reason shall be a
ground for appropriate sanction against the official concerned. (Emphasis supplied)
Noel Labid complied with the 2002 Revised Manual by submitting the medical certificate and the clinical
abstracts issued and certified by the Medical Records Division of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). The
medical certificate indicated that he had been suffering from "Bleeding submandibular mass in hypovolemic
shock Squamous cell Carcinoma Stage IV floor of mouth,"229while the clinical abstracts dated June 14,
2011230 and June 23, 2011231 indicated the same reason for his hospital admission. However, Judge Yu was
unconvinced by such submissions, and adamantly refused to approve Noel's leave application supposedly
based on the ruling in Re: Memorandum Report of Atty. Thelma C. Bahia against Ms. Dorothy Salgado.232
Judge Yu apparently misapplied the cited ruling.

Re: Memorandum Report of Atty. Thelma C. Bahia against Ms. Dorothy Salgado concerned the habitual
absenteeism of the respondent court personnel, and her belated submission of the medical certificates
proving her illness. Crucial was the finding that despite several attempts by her office to contact the
respondent and to inquire on her situation, she had deliberately failed to inform her superior of her absence
and her condition. This is not the same in the case of Noel.

Under paragraph 2.1.2233 of the 2002 Revised Manual, heads of offices like Judge Yu possessed the authority
to confirm the employee's claim of ill health. Being aware of Noel's true medical condition after having met
with Mrs. Labid who had seen her to plead for the approval of her son's leave application, Judge Yu was not
justified in demanding a prior written notice about Noel's serious medical condition. Neither was she justified
in still requiring Noel to submit the certificate of fitness to work considering that he had yet to report for
work.

Noel's medical certificate and clinical abstracts had sufficiently established the reason for his absence and his
hospital admission. Despite his obvious critical condition, Judge Yu chose to ignore the medical records
certified by a government health institution, and unjustifiably demanded the submission of documents that
the 2002 Revised Manual did not require. Judge Yu did not convincingly establish that her actions came
within the limits of her authority as a court manager, or were sanctioned by existing court regulations and
policies. Her unjustified refusal to approve Noel's leave application exposed her to administrative sanction
under paragraph 2.2.2 of the 2002 Revised Manual. Accordingly, Judge Yu was again guilty of grave abuse of
authority.

It is not hard to believe that Judge Yu deliberately refused to sign Noel's leave application in order to cause
additional hardship to him in retaliation for his joining the administrative complaint against her. We consider
to be credible Mrs. Labid's narration that Judge Yu had expressed her resentment towards Noel for his
signing the complaint against her. By acting so, therefore, Judge Yu was vindictive, and exhibited
indifference to the plight of the critically ill subordinate in urgent need of assistance. She was guilty of
oppression, which is any act of cruelty, severity, unlawful exaction, domination or excessive use of authority
constituting oppression.234 Her oppression did not befit an administrator of justice.

Nonetheless, we dismiss the other allegations of oppression towards the staffmembers of Branch 47 for
failure of the complainants to substantiate the same. In administrative cases, the complainant bears the
burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations in his complaint. 235
V
Charges of gross ignorance of the law

I. Allowing on-the-job-trainees

In OCA IPI No. 11-2399-MTJ, the complainants charged that Judge Yu had allowed on-the-job trainees
(OJTs) to have access to court records. She denied this charge, however, and claimed that the students were
merely "observers" because of the prohibition. The OCA found this charge unsubstantiated.

We do not agree with the OCA's finding.

The memorandum dated November 2, 2010 236 issued by Judge Yu indicated her intention to delegate the
duties of an encoder to a certain Ms. Angelica Rosali, one of the OJTs concerned, thus: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

MEMORANDUM

TO: Mrs. Amor Abad, Officer-in-Charge, Mr. Romer Aviles and Mr. Froilan Robert Tomas, Stenographers, Mrs.
Emelina San Miguel, Records Officer, Mrs. Maxima Sayo, Process Server, and Ms. Angelica Rosali,
Encoder.

RE: Preference of Typing Orders, Encoding of Monthly Report, Submission of Monthly Report, Typing of Pro-
Forma Notices and Orders and Other Related Concerns

In the interest of service, the stenographers are ordered to type first the orders on sentence, dismissal and
archival of cases within the day of issuing the same in open court. Said orders must be placed at the court's
chambers before 2:00 p.m. for signature after checking of the case titles and dates by the office[r]-in-
charge. Thereafter, after (sic) signing of these orders by the undersigned judge, these will be forwarded to
the encoder of the monthly report. The encoder shall encode immediately these orders upon receipt
thereof. The encoder shall be responsible for the typing of newly filed criminal and civil cases,
the cases submitted for decision, and the cases decided, dismissed and archived. Upon receipt of
the newly filed criminal or civil cases within a day, the officer-incharge shall place them, at the court's
chambers. After the evaluation of these cases, the undersigned judge shall instruct the officer-in-charge to
turn over these cases to the encoder for typing. Thereafter, after (sic) these newly filed criminal and civil
cases are typed and printed within the day, a copy shall be furnished to the undersigned judge. The said
cases will be given by the officer-in-charge to the records officer and process server for safekeeping. The
monthly report must be submitted within the 1st week up to the 2ndweek of the following month.

All other orders must be typed within the week after their issuance in open court. Every Friday, the Officer-
in-Charge must see to it that all orders issued within the week are typed within the same week.
After the receipt of the printed copy of the newly filed civil and criminal cases from the encoder, the
undersigned judge shall instruct the officer-in-charge to calendar these cases and to delegate fairly the
typing of the notices of these cases. The officer-in-charge is directed to mimeograph the forms of
subpoenas, summons, other notices, order to file an answer or counter-affidavit in cases covered by the
Rule on Summary Procedure, order for the issuance of warrant of arrest, warrant of arrest, commitment
order, minutes, pre-trial order and such other pro-forma orders as determined by this Court subject to
delegation. With respect to an order on archiving of a case, there must be a corresponding warrant of arrest.
The Officer-in-Charge is responsible for the checking of the correct name of the case title, date,
parties and addresses of these proforma orders subject to delegation. Erroneous typing of case
title, date, parties and addresses, among others is considered gross inefficiency if committed ten
(10) consecutive times, and it calls [f]or an explanation. If re-committed another ten (10)
consecutive times, this merits disciplinary sunction. (Emphasis supplied)

For strict compliance.

Thank you.

(Sgd.) Eliza B. Yu
Judge
That the memorandum was not disseminated to the person concerned, and that it was not implemented
were immaterial to the charge. The fact that Judge Yu issued the memorandum naming Ms. Rosali, a
student, as the encoder and assigning to her court duties similar to those of a regular court employee
signified Judge Yu's intention to treat Ms. Rosali as a trainee instead of as a mere observer. Ms. Rosali denied
in her sinumpaang salaysay237 that she had received the memorandum and performed encoding tasks, but
nonetheless confirmed that she was directed to docket the decisions and staple the returns. The other
student "observers," namely: Ms. Johaira O. Mababaya, Ms. Catherine L. Sarate and Mr. Eduardo M.
Pangilinan III, also attested that they had conducted their court observation as "assistant court
stenographer."

Under the circumstances, Judge Yu could not feign ignorance of the tasks assigned to and performed by the
OJTs. If she had been strict about accepting student trainees, then she should not have assigned court-
related tasks. In this regard, Judge Yu deliberately ignored OCA Circular No. 111-2005 in prohibiting OJTs,
thus:chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

OCA CIRCULAR NO. 111-2005

TO : THE COURT OF APPEALS, SANDIGANBAYAN, COURT OF TAX APPEALS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS,
SHARI'A DISTRICT COURTS, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL
CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS, SHARI'A CIRCUIT COURTS

SUBJECT: MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR NO. 5-2003 Re: PROHIBITING THE ACCOMODATION OF STUDENTS TO
UNDERGO ON-THE-JOB TRAINING/PRACTICUM IN THE DIFFERENT OFFICES OF THE COURT

The Supreme Court En Banc in its Resolution dated 6 September 2005, in A.M. No. 05-7-16-SC, Re: Analysis
of the Current Judicial System Using Information Technology by Student of the De La Salle University,
Resolved to direct the undersigned to CIRCULARIZE to all lower courts Memorandum Circular No. 05-2003
dated 25 June 2003, to wit: cralawlawlibrary

"MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR NO. 5-2003

PROHIBITING THE ACCOMMODATION OF STUDENTS TO UNDERGO ON-THE-JOB TRAINING/PRACTICUM IN


THE DIFFERENT OFFICES OF THE COURT

It is observed that some offices of the Court allow students of different colleges and universities to undergo
on-the-job training/practicum without authority or approval by the Chief Justice.
Due to security reasons which prompted the Court to deny previous requests of colleges and universities for
on-the-job training/practicum, it is noted that the practice of some offices allowing students to undergo on-
the-job training/practicum jeopardizes not only the functions of some offices but also their confidential
records. Notably, the accommodation of these students pose as a security risk.

ACCORDINGLY, in order to ensure the security of officials and employees of the Court as well as its records,
all Chiefs of Offices/Services/Divisions of the Court, including those of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal,
Judicial and Bar Council and the Philippine Judicial Academy, are hereby directed to disallow on-the-job
training/practicum in their respective offices/services/divisions.

xxxx

The provision of the above memorandum shall likewise apply to all trial courts to serve as a
guide for similar requests of students and as reflective of the policy of the Court on the matter.

For the information and guidance of all concerned.

x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
II. Designating an Officer-in-Charge

Judge Yu designated as OIC of Branch 47 of the MeTC Mr. Ferdinand Santos, who occupied the position of
Clerk III. Under the 2002 Revised Manual, the position of Clerk III fell under the first level position with a
minimum educational requirement of two years of college studies, 238 and a career service sub-professional
eligible.239 The position of Clerk of Court III was a second level position with a minimum educational
requirement of a Bachelor of Laws degree, at least one year relevant experience, four hours of relevant
training, and a professional career service eligible.240
On the other hand, the CSC Memorandum Circular No. 06-05 dated February 15, 2005 provides the
following guidelines:
chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

CSC MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR NO. 06-05

TO: All Heads of Constitutional Bodies; Departments, Bureaus and Agencies of the
National Government; Local Government Units; Government-Owned or
Controlled Corporations; and State Universities and Colleges

SUBJECT: Guidelines on Designation

In its Resolution No. 050157 dated February 7, 2005, the Commission has adopted the following guidelines
on Designation in the civil service: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

xxxx

B. Designees can only be designated to positions within the level they are currently occupying. However,
Division Chiefs may be designated to perform the duties of third level positions.

First level personnel cannot be designated to perform the duties of second level positions.

x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
Designating a first-level personnel like Mr. Santos as OIC defied CSC Memorandum Circular No. 06-05
because the position of OIC was reserved for personnel belonging to the second level. It becomes immaterial
whether nobody from Branch 47 opposed the designation because the memorandum circular expressly
prohibits designation of first level personnel to a second level position. It is emphasized that the
memorandum is crafted in the negative; hence, the memorandum is mandatory, and imports that the act
required shall not be done otherwise than designated. 241
Judge Yu's contention that the designation of the OIC was based on trust and confidence had no basis. We
underscore that the OIC referred to here was the acting Branch Clerk of Court (Clerk of Court III). The 2002
Revised Manual enumerates the following duties and responsibilities of a branch clerk of court, viz.:
chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

1.3.1 Adjudicative Support Functions


1.3.1.1 Attends all court sessions

1.3.1.2 Supervises the withdrawal of all records of cases to be heard


and the preparation of the notices of hearings, court's
calendar, reports, minutes, monthly reports, inventory of
cases, index of exhibits, and paging of records of cases;

1.3.1.3 Sees to it that all returns of notices are attached to the


corresponding evidence properly marked during the hearing
as collected in an exhibit folder; and

1.3.1.4 Signs notices of orders and decisions for service to the


parties, release papers of detained prisoners who are
acquitted and/or who filed their corresponding bail bonds
duly approved by the presiding judge.

1.3.2 Non-Adjudicative Functions


1.3.2.1 Plans, directs, supervises and coordinates the activities of all
personnel in a branch of a multiple sala for effectiveness
and efficiency;

1.3.2.2 Keeps tab of the attendance and whereabouts of court


personnel during office hours;

1.3.2.3 Controls and manages all court records, exhibits,


documents, properties and supplies;

1.3.2.4 Administers oath;


1.3.2.5 Issues certificates of appearances and clearances;

1.3.2.6 Drafts/prepares correspondence and indorsements for


signature :of the Judge; and

1.3.2.7 Performs other duties that may be assigned to him.

Clerks of court are officers of the law who perform vital functions in the prompt and sound administration of
justice. Their office is the hub of adjudicative and administrative orders, processes and concerns. They
perform delicate functions as designated custodians of the courts funds, revenues, records, properties and
premises.242 The functions of a clerk of court require a higher degree of education as well as understanding
of the law and court processes, that they cannot be delegated to first level personnel such as Mr. Santos.
The position requires not only trust and confidence, but most importantly, education and experience.
Ineluctably, the respondent ignored the clear import of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 06-05 in designating
Mr. Santos as OIC.

III. Ordering presentation of ex parte evidence before the OIC who was not a member of the Bar

Judge Yu argued that she did not commit any irregularity in ordering the presentation of ex parte evidence
before herOIC who was not a member of the Bar because the rule on the reception of evidence by a
member of the Bar was only directory under Section 9, Rule 30 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure,
which uses the word may.

Judge Yu's argument does not impress.

Section 9, Rule 30 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure expressly requires that only clerks of court who
are members of the Bar can be delegated to receive evidence ex parte, thus: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Section 9. Judge to receive evidence; delegation to clerk of court. - The judge of the court where the
case is pending shall personally receive the evidence to be adduced by the parties. However, in
default or ex parte hearings, and in any case where the parties agree in writing, the court may
delegate the reception of evidence to its clerk of court who is a member of the bar . The clerk of
court shall have no power to rule on objections to any question or to the admission of exhibits, which
objections shall be resolved by the court upon submission of his report and the transcripts within ten (10)
days from termination of the hearing. (Emphasis supplied)
The word may used in the rule related only to the discretion by the trial court of delegating the reception of
evidence to the Clerk of Court, not to the requirement that the Clerk of Court so delegated be a member of
the Bar. The rule on ex parte reception of evidence was unequivocal on this point, and required no
elaboration. Neither the agreement by the parties nor their acquiescence could justify its violation. 243 It
followed that Judge Yu could not validly allow the presentation of evidence ex parte before Mr. Santos who
was a mere OIC because he was not a member of the Bar. Breach of the rule on reception of evidence
represented her ignorance of the rule of procedure in question, and subjected her to administrative liability
for misconduct.244
IV. Allowing criminal proceedings without the actual participation of the public prosecutor

Anent the charge that she allowed the prosecution of criminal actions without the presence of the public
prosecutor, Judge Yu retorted that the complainants were not the proper parties to assail her orders; that
the accused in People v. Manduriao had begged to be arraigned without counsel after being informed of the
penalty for the offense charged; and that the trial of the case could proceed without the public prosecutor, b
ut not in the absence of a judge.245
We are appalled that a Judge like the respondent would explain herself in such a fundamentally wrong
manner.

Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court states: cralawlawlibrary

Section 5. Who must prosecute criminal actions. - All criminal actions commenced by a complaint or
information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the prosecutor. In case of
heavy work schedule or in the event of lack of public prosecutors, the private prosecutor may be
authorized in writing by the Chief of the Prosecution Office or the Regional State Prosecution
Office to prosecute the case subject to the approval of the Court. Once so authorized to prosecute
the criminal action, the private prosecutor shall continue to prosecute the case up to the end of the trial
even in the absence of a public prosecutor, unless the authority is revoked or otherwise withdrawn.

xxxx

Accordingly all criminal actions shall be prosecuted under the control and direction of the public
prosecutor.246 The true reason is that the prosecution of criminal offenses is always a public function. 247 In
People v. Ramos,248 we cautioned that the exception stated in Section 5, supra, should be strictly construed,
thus:chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

The exception provided in Section 5 must be strictly applied as the prosecution of crime is the
responsibility of officers appointed and trained for that purpose. The violation of the criminal
laws is an affront to the People of the Philippines as a whole and not merely the person directly
prejudiced, who is merely the complaining witness. This being so, it is necessary that the
prosecution be handled by persons sldlled in this function instead of being entrusted to private
persons or public officers with little or no preparation for this responsibility. The exception should
be allowed only when the conditions therefor as set forth in Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal
Procedure have been clearly established.
In Pinote v. Ayco,249 the Court castigated the respondent judge for allowing the presentation of the defense
witnesses in the absence of the public prosecutor or the private prosecutor specially designated for the
purpose. A breach of the Rules of Court like that could not be rectified by subsequently giving the
Prosecution the chance to cross-examine the witnesses. Judge Yu committed a flagrant error by allowing the
direct examination of the defense witness without the public prosecutor, or without the private counsel duly
authorized by the public prosecutor in Criminal Case No. M-PSY-09-08592-CR.

In addition, Judge Yu disregarded Section 6, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court when she allowed the change of
plea by the accused in People v. Manduriao without the assistance of counsel. Judge Yu justified herself by
claiming that she had apprised the accused of the penalty for the offense charged, which had then convinced
the accused to change his plea.

The Court cannot accept her justification. In Gamas v. Oco,250 we took the respondent judge to task for
conducting an arraignment without the presence of counsel, and observed: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Section 6 of Rule 116 means that: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

[W]hen a defendant appears [at the arraignment] without [an] attorney, the court has four important duties
to comply with: 1-It must inform the defendant that it[,] is his right to have [an] attorney before being
arraigned; 2-After giving him such information the court must ask him if he desires the aid of attorney; 3-If
he desires and is unable to employ [an] attorney, the court must assign [an] attorney de oficio to defend
him; and 4-If the accused desires to procure an attorney of his own the court must grant him a reasonable
time therefor.
Compliance with these four duties is mandatory. The only instance when the court can arraign an accused
without the benefit of counsel is if the accused waives such right and the court, finding the accused capable,
allows him to represent himself in person. However, to be a valid waiver, the accused must make the waiver
voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. In determining whether the accused can make a valid waiver, the
court must take into account all the relevant circumstances, including the educational attainment of the
accused. In the present case, however, respondent judge contends that complainants waived their right to
counsel and insisted on their immediate arraignment. 251
The justification that the accused had waived his right to counsel, and had changed his plea after the
respondent Judge had explained to him the imposable penalty for the offense did not stand considering that
in order that the waiver by the accused of his right to counsel would be valid, the trial court must ensure
that the accused did so voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently, taking into account the capacity of the
accused to give such consent. We have nothing to show that Judge Yu took the pains to enforce the
safeguards.

Every judge was expected to know the fundamental substantive and procedural requirements on
arraignment and right to counsel. 252 We have always been clear about the right of the accused to counsel
under the Constitution, and about the requirements for the arraignment of an accused under the Rules of
Court. As such, Judge Yu was guilty of gross ignorance of the law, which is ignorance of the law when the
law is so elementary, and when one professes not to know it, or when one acts as if she does not know it.
Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct prescribes that competence is a prerequisite to the due
performance of the judicial office. In Judge Yu's case, her competence was indispensable to her fair and
proper administration of justice in her office. By failing to adhere to and implement existing laws, policies,
and the basic rules of procedure, she seriously compromised her ability to be an effective magistrate.chanroble svirtuallawlibrary

VI
Sending of inappropriate messages was conduct unbecoming of a judicial officer

Judge Yu denied sending the messages to Judge San Gaspar-Gito, and countered that it was the latter who
first sent the "meal stub" message. She maintained that the messages were confidential and inadmissible as
evidence under the exclusionary rule.

Judge Yu's reliance on the exclusionary rule fails.

The exclusionary rule, or the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, presupposes a violation of law on the part
of the agents of the Govemment, 253 and bars the admission of evidence obtained in violation of the right
against unreasonable searches and seizures expressly defined under Section 2, Article III of the
Constitution.254 The exclusionary rule under Section 3(2), Article III of the Constitution refers to the
prohibition against the issuance of general warrants that encourage law e nforcers to go on fishing
expeditions.255
Judge Yu did not specify that the State had unlawfully intruded into her privacy. The subjects of the present
inquiry were the messages sent by her to Judge San Gaspar-Gito. Regardless of the mode of their
transmission, the ownership of the messages pertained to the latter as the recipient. Considering that it was
the latter who granted access to such messages, there was no violation of Judge Yu's right to privacy. As
such, the grant of access by Judge San Gaspar-Gito did not require the consent of Judge Yu as the writer. 256
To recall, the Court directed the MISO to retrieve the messages for purposes of these cases. 257 Based on the
certification issued by the authorized MISO personnel, 258 the messages were extracted from the Yahoo and
Facebook accounts of Judge San Gaspar-Gito with the use of her official workstation. Hence, the
exclusionary rule did not apply.

Judge Yu denied the imputed significance of the messages.

The denial lacked persuasion. In her October 3, 2009 message to Judge San Gaspar-Gito's Yahoo account,
Judge Yu apologized to Judge San Gaspar-Gito, and expressly clarified that Judge San Gaspar-Gito had not
sent the "meal stub." Judge Yu even requested Judge San Gaspar-Gito to "forget all [her] emails ... since
June ..."259 This apologetic tone from Judge Yu rendered her denial of responsibility devoid of substance.

Moreover, the barrage of messages, most of which were sent within the same day, makes us believe that
they had all come from Judge Yu. Although she insisted that Judge San Gaspar-Gito had sent the "meal
stub," Judge Yu did not offer any plausible explanation on the other messages containing sexual innuendos.
It is notable that the Facebook and Yahoo messages started in August 2009 when Judge Yu was still a public
prosecutor. Nonetheless, she could still be disciplined for such acts committed prior to her appointment to
the Judiciary because her internet stalking of Judge San Gaspar-Gito continued after she had herself become
a MeTC Judge in Pasay City on January 12, 2010 and lasted until July 2010.

Our reading of the messages supports the studied conclusions by CA Justice Abdulwahid that they did
contain sexual insinuations that were ostensibly improper for a Judge to write and send to another. The
messages, however they may be read and understood, were at least vexatious and annoying. In any case,
the sender showed her deep-seated proclivities reflective of conduct unbecoming of a member of the
Judiciary.

Finally, the OCA submits that Judge Yu's use of the letterhead of her office or court in summoning to a
conference Atty. Reynaldo San Gaspar, the brother of Judge San Gaspar-Gito, constituted abuse of power,
and violated Section 8, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, thus: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Respondent Judge Yu's use of the letterhead of Branch 47, MeTC, to invite Atty. Reynaldo San Gaspar,
complainant Judge Gito's brother, to her court is no different from the aforecited cases. Respondent Judge
Yu's letter reads as follows:
chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Our court is inviting you for a brief conference in our court on August 5, 2011 around 1:00 p.m. to 4:00
p.m. or any available and convenient time and place for you, to clarify certain matters pertaining to the two
(2) letters both dated July 12, 2010 of your sister Judge Emily L. San Gaspar-Gito. She can come with you if
she wants to.

Your cooperation is highly appreciated.

Thank you.
It is worthy to note that aside from appropriating the court's letterhead, respondent [J]udge Yu used the
words "our court" to invite Atty. San Gaspar for the purpose of clarifying matters relative to the ongoing
controversy between her and complainant Judge Gito. Even for an ordinary layman, receiving a letter from
the court would already create the impression that his presence in the said venue is compulsory. Indeed, the
letter to Atty. San Gaspar is a clear illustration of how respondent Judge Yu abuses her power as a member
of the bench so that others would give in to her wishes. She undoubtedly took advantage of her position and
used the same as a leverage against complainant Judge Gito who filed a case against her. This is patently a
violation of Section 8, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct which mandates that judges shall not
use the prestige of such office to advance their personal interests. 260
The submission is well-founded.

In Ladignon v. Garong,261 we discoursed on the liability of Judges for using their official letterhead to
advance their personal interests, thus: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

x x x In Rosauro v. Kallos, we found the respondent Judge liable for violating Rule 2.03 of the Code of the
Judicial Conduct when he used his stationery for his correspondence on a private transaction with the
complainant and his counsel parties with a pending case in his court. The Court held: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

By using his sala's stationery other than for official purposes, respondent Judge evidently used the prestige
of his office x x x in violation of Rule 2.03 of the Code.
We do not depart from this rule on the use of official stationary. We clarify, however, that the use of a
letterhead should not be considered independently of the surrounding circumstances of the use-the
underlying reason that marks the use with the element of "impropriety" or "appearance of impropriety". In
the present case, the respondent Judge crossed the line of propriety when he used his letterhead to report a
complaint involving an alleged violation of church rules and, possibly, of Philippine laws . Coming from a
judge with the letter addressed to a foreign reader, such report could indeed have conveyed the impression
of official recognition or notice of the reported violation.

The same problem that the use of letterhead poses, occurs in the use of the title of Judge or
Justice in the correspondence of a member of the Judiciary. While the use of the title is an official
designation as well as an honor that an incumbent has earned, a line still has to be drawn based
on the circumstances of the use of the appellation. While the title can be used for social and
other identification purposes, it cannot be used with the intent to use the prestige of his judicial
office to gainfully advance his personal, family or other pecuniary interests. Nor can the prestige of
a judicial office be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, or to convey or permit others to
convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. (Canon 2, Rule 2.03 of the
Code of Judicial Conduct) To do any of these is to cross into the prohibited field of impropriety.262
In the letter in question, Judge Yu used the phrase "our court" in issuing the invitation to Atty. San Gaspar.
She was obviously intending to use her authority as an incumbent Judge to advance her personal interest.
Such conduct was reprehensible because she thereby breached Section 4 of Canon 1 and Section 1 of Canon
4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, viz.: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

CANON 1
INDEPENDENCE

xxxx

SECTION. 4. Judges shall not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or
judgment. The prestige of judicial office shall not be used or lent to advance the private interests of others,
nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the
judge.chanroble svirtuallawlibrary

CANON 4
PROPRIETY

Propriety and the appearance of propriety are essential to the performance of all the activities of a judge.

SECTION 1. Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities.

xxxx
VII
The Penalties

In fine, the administrative offenses Judge Yu committed were the following, to wit: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

1. In A.M. No. MTJ-12-1823, insubordination and gross misconduct for her non-compliance with A.O. No.
19-2011; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

2.
3.
4. In A.M. No. MTJ-13-1836 and A.M. No. MTJ-12-1815, gross insubordination for her unwarranted
refusal to honor the appointments of court personnel and rejection of the appointment of Ms. Lagman;
disrespect toward the Court for her intemperate and disrespectful language in characterizing Ms. Tejero-
Lopez's valid appointment as void ab initio and a big joke; and grave abuse of authority and oppression
for issuing verbal threats of filing administrative, civil and criminal charges against Ms. Tejero-Lopez unless
the latter withdrew her application; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

5.
6.
7. In OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ and OCA IPI No. 12-2456-MTJ, grave abuse of authority and abuse
of court processes for issuing the show-cause order against her fellow Judges and court personnel; and
gross misconduct amounting to violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct for not disqualifying herself
in acting on the supposedly contumacious conduct of her fellow Judges and concerned court personnel in
copying the records of her court; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

8.
9.
10. In OCA IPI No. 12-2398-MTJ, refusal to perform official functions and oppression for refusing to
sign the application for leave of absence despite the employee having complied with the requirements, and
for doing so in retaliation for the employee's having joined as signatory of administrative complaint filed
against her; ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
11.
12.
13. Gross ignorance of the law for: (a) allowing on-the-job trainees and designating an OIC who did not
possess the minimum qualifications for the position and without approval from the Court (OCA IPI No. 11-
2399-MTJ; (b) ordering the presentation of ex parte evidence before the OIC despite his not being a
member of the Bar (OCA IPI No. 11-2378-MTJ); (c) allowing criminal proceedings to be conducted
without the actual participation of the public prosecutor (A.M. No. MTJ-12-1815); and (d) authorizing the
change of plea by the accused without the assistance of counsel; and
14.
15.
16. In A.M. No. MTJ-13-1821, conduct unbecoming of a judicial officer for sending inappropriate
messages with sexual undertones to a fellow female Judge, and for using the official letterhead of her
judicial office in summoning a lawyer to a conference.
17.
In view of the totality of the serious infractions committed by Judge Yu, the OCA recommended her dismissal
from the service with the following ratiocination, to wit:
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In all the cases subject of this consolidated administrative matters, the totality of the infractions committed
by Judge Yu, i.e.. Gross Ignorance of the Law, Insubordination and Refusal to Perform Official Functions,
Gross Misconduct Amounting to Violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Grave Abuse of Authority,
Oppression, and Conduct Unbecoming a Judge, underscores the fact that she is not fit to occupy the position
of a judge. She has done more than enough harm to the reputation of the judiciary and the administration
of justice, exacerbated by the oppression she has inflicted on her subordinates and her utter disrespect for
her superiors.

In similar instances, the Supreme Court did not hesitate to impose upon erring judges the ultimate penalty
of dismissal from service as they have indeed fallen short of the standards required of them as dispensers of
justice. These same standards must be required of respondent Judge Yu, failing which she must be meted
the penalty of dismissal from the service.263
The recommendation of the OCA is well-taken.

Judge Yu unquestionably committed several gross and serious administrative offenses ranging from gross
misconduct and gross ignorance 264 to the lesser offense of conduct unbecoming of a judicial officer.265 Under
Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, either gross misconduct or gross ignorance of the law is
punished by either: (1) dismissal from the service, forfeiture of benefits, and disqualification from
reinstatement to any public office; or (2) suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more
than three months but not exceeding six months; or (3) fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding
P40,000.00.266 Under Section 46B, Rule 10 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service,
either oppression or gross insubordination - also considered grave offenses - is punishable with
suspension from office for a period ranging from six months and one day to one year for the first offense,
and dismissal from the service for the second offense. Under Section 11, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court,
conduct unbecoming of a judicial officer merits either: (1) fine of not less than P1,000.00 but not
exceeding P10,000.00; or (2) censure; or (3) reprimand; or (4) admonition with warning.

The grossness and severity of her offenses taken together demonstrated Judge Yu's unfitness and
incompetence to further discharge the office and duties of a Judge. Her arrogance and insubordination in
challenging A.O. No. 19-2011, and her unyielding rejection of the appointments of court personnel
constituted gross insubordination and gross misconduct, and warranted her immediate dismissal from the
Judiciary. Her requiring her fellow Judges to submit to her authority by virtue of her show cause order,
whereby she revealed her utter disrespect towards and disdain for them, as well as her conduct unbecoming
of a judicial officer aggravated her liability. The administration of justice cannot be entrusted to one like her
who would readily ignore and disregard the laws and policies enacted by the Court to guarantee justice and
fairness for all.
chanroble svirtuallawlibrary

VIII
Disbarment Cannot Be Meted
Without Due Process

The foregoing findings may already warrant Judge Yu's disbarment.

A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC, dated September 17, 2002 and entitled Re: Automatic Conversion of Some
Administrative Cases Against Justices of the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan; Judges of Regular
and Special Courts; and Court Officials Who are Lawyers as Disciplinary Proceedings Against Them Both as
Such Officials and as Members of the Philippine Bar,267 relevantly states:chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Some administrative cases against Justices of the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan; judges of
regular and special courts; and court officials who are lawyers are based on grounds which are likewise
grounds for the disciplinary action of members of the Bar for violation of the Lawyer's Oath, the Code of
Professional Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics, or for such other forms of breaches of
conduct that have been traditionally recognized as grounds for the discipline of lawyers.

In any of the foregoing instances, the administrative case shall also be considered a disciplinary
action against the respondent Justice, judge or court official concerned as a member of the Bar.
The respondent may forthwith be required to comment on the complaint and show cause why he
should not also be suspended, disbarred or otherwise disciplinarily sanctioned aa member of the
Bar. Judgment in both respects may be incorporated in one decision or resolution.
Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, an attorney may be disbarred on the ground of gross
misconduct and willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court. Given her wanton
defiance of the Court's own directives, her open disrespect towards her fellow judges, her blatant abuse of
the powers appurtenant to her judicial office, and her penchant for threatening the defenseless with legal
actions to make them submit to her will, we should also be imposing the penalty of disbarment. The object
of disbarment is not so much to punish the attorney herself as it is to safeguard the administration of
justice, the courts and the public from the misconduct of officers of the court. Also, disbarment seeks to
remove from the Law Profession attorneys who have disregarded their I. awyer's Oath and thereby proved
themselves unfit to continue discharging the trust and respect given to them as members of the Bar.268
The administrative charges against respondent Judge Yu based on grounds that were also grounds for
disciplinary actions against members of the Bar could easily be treated as justifiable disciplinary initiatives
against her as a member of the Bar. This treatment is explained by the fact that her membership in the Bar
was an integral aspect of her qualification for judgeship. Also, her moral and actual unfitness to remain as a
Judge, as found in these cases, reflected her indelible unfitness to remain as a member of the Bar. At the
very least, a Judge like her who disobeyed the basic rules of judicial conduct should not remain as a member
of the Bar because she had thereby also violated her Lawyer's Oath. 269
Indeed, respondent Judge Yu's violation of the fundamental tenets of judicial conduct embodied in the New
Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary would constitute a breach of the following canons of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:
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CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE
RESPECT FOR LAW AND FOR LEGAL PROCESSES.
Rule 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening
confidence in the legal system.
CANON 6 THESE CANONS SHALL APPLY TO LAWYERS IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE IN THE DISCHARGE OF
THEIR OFFICIAL TASKS.
Rule 6.02 - A lawyer in the government service shall not use his public position to promote or advance his
private interests, nor allow the latter to interfere with his public duties.
CANON 11 - A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE AND MAINTAIN THE RESPECT DUE TO THE COURTS AND TO
JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND SHOULD INSIST ON SIMILAR CONDUCT BY OTHERS.
Rule 11.03 - A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the
Courts.
The Court does not take lightly the ramifications of Judge Yu's misbehavior and misconduct as a judicial
officer. By penalizing her with the supreme penalty of dismissal from the service, she should not anymore be
allowed to remain a member of the Law Profession.
However, this rule of fusing the dismissal of a Judge with disbarment does not in any way dispense with or
set aside the respondent's right to due process. As such, her disbarment as an offshoot of A.M. No. 02-9-02-
SC without requiring her to comment on the disbarment would be violative of her right to due process. To
accord due process to her, therefore, she should first be afforded the opportunity to defend her professional
standing as a lawyer before the Court would determine whether or not to disbar her. chanroble svirtuallawlibrary

IX
Final Word

The Court will not hesitate to impose the extreme penalty on any judicial officer who has fallen short of the
responsibilities of her worthy office. Any conduct that violates the norms of public accountability and
diminishes the faith of the people in the judicial system must be condemned. 270 No act or omission by a
Judge or Justice that falls short of the exacting norms of holding the public office of dispensing justice can be
condoned, for the most important thing for every Judge or Justice is to preserve the people's faith and
confidence in the Judiciary as well as in the individuals who dispense justice. The image of the Judiciary
must remain unsullied by the misconduct of its officials. The Court will not shirk from its duty of removing
from the Bench any Judge or Justice who has stained the integrity and dignity of the Judiciary. 271 This is
what must be done now in these consolidated cases.

WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS and PRONOUNCES respondent JUDGE ELIZA B. YU GUILTY of GROSS
INSUBORDINATION; GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW; GROSS MISCONDUCT; GRAVE ABUSE OF
AUTHORITY; OPPRESSION; and CONDUCT UNBECOMING OF A JUDICIAL OFFICIAL; and,
ACCORDINGLY, DISMISSES her from the service EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, with FORFEITURE OF
ALL HER BENEFITS, except accrued leave credits, and further DISQUALIFIES her from.reinstatement or
appointment to any public office or employment, including to one in any government-owned or government-
controlled corporations.

Respondent JUDGE ELIZA B. YU is directed to show cause in writing within ten (10) days from notice why
she should not be disbarred for violation of the Lawyer's Oath, the Code of Professional Responsibility, and
the Canons of Professional Ethics as outlined herein.

Let a copy of this decision be furnished to the Office of the Court Administrator for its information and
guidance.

SO ORDERED. ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Perez, Mendoza, Reyes,
Jardeleza, and Caguioa, JJ., concur.
Brion, J., see Concurring & Dissenting Opinion.
Peralta, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., on official leave.
Leonen, J., I join Justice Brion.