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ETHICS (Canon 19 Representation with Zeal )|1

A.C. No. 7062 September 26, 2006 backwages from date of dismissal until actual reinstatement
[Formerly CBD Case No. 04-1355] computed as follows:


and FREDILYN BACULBAS, complainants,
ATTY. JOSE A. SUING, respondent.

DECISION Backwages:


Basic Wage:
Complainants, via a complaint1 filed before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), have sought the disbarment of Atty. Jose A. Suing
(respondent) on the grounds of deceit, malpractice, violation of
Lawyer's Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility. 2 2/21/98 10/30/99 = 20.30 mos.
P198.00 x 26 days x 20.30 = P104, 504.40
Herein complainants were among the complainants in NLRC Case No.
00-0403180-98, "Microplast, Inc. Workers Union, Represented by its
Union President Zoilo Ardan, et al. v. Microplast, Incorporated and/or
Johnny Rodil and Manuel Rodil," for Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) and 10/31/99 - 10/31/00 = 12 mos.
Illegal Dismissal, while respondent was the counsel for the therein P223.50 x 26 days x 12 = 69, 732.00
respondents. Said case was consolidated with NLRC Case No. 00-04-
03161-98, "Microplast Incorporated v. Vilma Ardan, et al.," for Illegal
11/01/00 - 8/30/01 = 10 mos.
By Decision of August 29, 2001, Labor Arbiter Ariel Cadiente Santos P250.00 x 26 days x 10 = 65,000.00
dismissed the Illegal Strike case, and declared the employer-clients
of respondent guilty of ULP. Thus, the Labor Arbiter disposed:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the complaint for illegal
strike is dismissed for lack of merit.

Respondents Microplast, Inc., Johnny Rodil and Manuel Rodil 13th Month Pay:
are hereby declared guilty of Unfair Labor Practice for union 1/12 of P239,236.40 = 19,936.36
busting and that the dismissal of the nine (9) complainants
are declared illegal. All the respondents in NLRC Case No. 00-
04-03161-98 for illegal dismissal are directed to reinstate all
the complainants to their former position with full SILP
ETHICS (Canon 19 Representation with Zeal )|2

Total Backwages P2,370,674.38

2/16/98 - 12/31/98 = 10.33 mos. Respondents are jointly and severally liable to pay the above-
P198.00 x 5 days x 10.33/ 12 = 852.22 mentioned backwages including the various monetary claims
stated in the Manifestation dated August 24, 1998 except
payment of overtime pay and to pay 10% attorney's fees of
all sums owing to complainants. 4 (Emphasis and underscoring
1/1/99 - 12/31/99 = 12mos. supplied)
P223.50 x 5 days x 12/12 = 1,117.50
The Decision having become final and executory, the Labor Arbiter
issued on September 2, 2003 a Writ of Execution. 5

1/1/00 - 10/30/01 = 20 mos. In the meantime, on the basis of individual Release Waiver and
P250.00 x 5 days x 20/12 = 2,083.33 4,053.05 Quitclaims dated February 27, 2004 purportedly signed and sworn to
by seven of the complainants in the ULP and Illegal Dismissal case
before Labor Arbiter Santos in the presence of respondent, the Labor
Arbiter dismissed said case insofar as the seven complainants were
concerned, by Order dated March 9, 2004. 6

Herein complainants, four of the seven who purportedly executed

xxxx the Release Waiver and Quitclaims, denied having signed and sworn
to before the Labor Arbiter the said documents or having received
the considerations therefor. Hence, spawned the administrative
complaint at bar, alleging that respondent, acting in collusion with
7. RONALD SAMBAJON his clients Johnny and Manuel Rodil, "frustrated" the implementation
(same as Conos) 263,225.81 of the Writ of Execution by presenting before the Labor Arbiter the
spurious documents.

In a related move, complainants also filed a criminal complaint for

8.FREDELYN BACULBAS Falsification against respondent, together with his clients Johnny and
(same as Conos) 263,225.81
Manuel Rodil, before the Prosecutor's Office of Quezon City where it
was docketed as I.S. No. 04-5203.7

9. RENEIRO SAMBAJON In his Report and Recommendation 8 dated September 27, 2005, IBP
(same as Conos) 263,225.81 Commissioner Salvador B. Hababag, who conducted an investigation
of the administrative complaint at bar, recommended that
ETHICS (Canon 19 Representation with Zeal )|3

respondent be faulted for negligence and that he be reprimanded . . . In the case at bar, the question of whether or not
therefor with warning, in light of his following discussion: respondent actually committed the despicable act would
seem to be fairly debatable under the
The issue to be resolved is whether or not respondent can be circumstances.9 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
disbarred for his alleged manipulation of four alleged
RELEASE WAIVER AND QUITCLAIM by herein complainants The Board of Governors of the IBP, by Resolution No. XVII-2005-226,
who subsequently disclaimed the same as bogus and approved and adopted the Report and Recommendation of
falsified. Commissioner Hababag.

A lawyer takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar. By After the records of the case were forwarded to the Office of the Bar
doing so he thereby becomes an Officer of the Court on Confidant (OBC), the Director for Bar Discipline of the
whose shoulders rests the grave responsibility of assisting the IBP10 transmitted additional records including a Motion to Amend the
courts in the proper, fair, speedy and efficient administration Resolution No. XVII-2005-22611 filed by respondent.
of justice.
One of the complainants, Renerio Sambajon (Sambajon), by
Mindful of the fact that the present proceedings involve, on Petition12 filed before the OBC, assailed the IBP Board Resolution. The
the one hand, the right of a litigant to seek redress against a Petition was filed three days after the 15-day period to assail the IBP
member of the Bar who has, allegedly caused him damaged, Resolution. Sambajon explains that while his counsel received the
either through malice or negligence, while in the performance Resolution on February 27, 2006, he only learned of it when he
of his duties as his counsel, and, on the other, the right of visited on March 16, 2006 his counsel who could not reach him, he
that member of the Bar to protect and preserve his good (Sambajon) having transferred from one residence to another.
name and reputation, we have again gone over and
considered [the] aspects of the case. Giving Sambajon the benefit of the doubt behind the reason for the
3-day delay in filing the present petition, in the interest of justice,
All the cases protesting and contesting the genuineness, this Court gives his petition due course.
veracity and due execution of the questioned RELEASE
WAIVER AND QUITCLAIM namely: Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to In respondent's Motion to Amend the IBP Board Resolution, he does
Recall, Appeal and Falsification are PENDING resolution in not deny that those whom he met face to face before Commissioner
their respective venues. Arbiter Ariel Cadiente Santos, who Hababag were not the same persons whom he saw before Labor
was supposed to know the identities of the herein Arbiter Santos on February 27, 2004. 13 He hastens to add though
complainants is not impleaded by the complainants when it that he was not familiar with the complainants as they were not
was his solemn duty and obligation to ascertain true and real attending the hearings before Arbiter Santos.14 Complainants15 and
identities of person executing Release Waiver with Quitclaim. their former counsel Atty. Rodolfo Capocyan 16 claim otherwise,
however. And the Minutes17 of the proceedings before the National
The old adage that in the performance of an official duty Conciliation Mediation Board in a related case, NCMB-NCR-NS-02-
there is that presumption of regularity unless proven 081-98, "Re: Microplast, Inc., Labor Dispute," which minutes bear
otherwise, such was proven in the January 28, 2005 respondent's and complainants' signatures, belie respondent's claim
clarificatory questioning . . . : that he had not met complainants before.

ETHICS (Canon 19 Representation with Zeal )|4

Respondent, who declared that he went to the Office of the Labor Yes. What made you appear on said date and time
Arbiter on February 27, 2004 on the request of his clients who "told before Arbiter Santos?
him that on February 27, 2004 the seven claimants w[ould] be at the
office of Arbiter Santos [to] submit their respective quitclaims and ATTY. SUING:
waivers," heaps on the Labor Arbiter the responsibility of
ascertaining the identity of the parties who executed the Release I was called by my client to go to the office of Arbiter
Waiver and Quitclaims. But respondent himself had the same Santos, number one, to witness the signing of the
responsibility. He was under obligation to protect his clients' interest, documents of Quitclaim and Waiver; number 2, so that
especially given the amount allegedly given by them in according to them someone as a lawyer will represent
consideration of the execution of the documents. His answers to the them in that proceedings.
clarificatory questions of Commissioner Hababag do not, however,
show that he discharged such obligation.
My query, did it not surprise you that no money was
given to you and yet there would be a signing of
But is it not a fact [that it is] also your duty to ask.. Quitclaim Receipt and Release?
that the money of your client would go to the
deserving employee?
I am not, your Honor, because it happened before and
there were no complaints, Your Honor.
I did not do that anymore, Your Honor, because there
was already as you call it before a precedent in
February of 1998 when my client directly made COMM. HABABAG:
settlement to the nine or eight of the seventeen
original complainants, Your Honor, and I did not Just because it happened before you did not bother to
participate. Hindi po ako nakialam don sa kanilang see to it that there is a voucher so you just rely on
usapan because it is my belief that the best way, Your your precedent, is that what you mean?
Honor, to have a dispute settled between the parties is
that we let them do the discussion, we'll let them do ATTY. SUING:
the settlement because sometimes you know, Your
Honor, sad to say, when lawyers are involved in a Yes, Your Honor, because I always believe that the
matters [sic] of settlement the dispute does not parties who are talking and it is my client who knows
terminate as in this case, Your Honor. them better than I do, Your Honor.


COMM. HABABAG: So, you just followed the instruction of your client to
be present at Arbiter Cadiente Santos office because
ETHICS (Canon 19 Representation with Zeal )|5

there would be signing of Quitclaim Receipt and ATTY. SUING:

Release, it that clear?
I'm referring to my client, Your Honor.
Yes, Your Honor.
They asked me attorney can you please prepare us a
COMM. HABABAG: document of Quitclaim and Waiver or give us a simple
[sic] of Quitclaim and Waiver. I do recall that I made
[You] [d]id not bother to ask your client where is one but this document, Your Honor, is only a single
the money intended for the payment of these document where all the signatories named are present
workers? because my purpose there really, Your Honor, is that
so that each of them will be there together and they
ATTY. SUING: will identify themselves, see each other para ho
siguradong sila-sila yong magkakasama at
magkakakilanlan. x x x x And when the signing took
I did not ask. place in February of 2004 it was made for any [ sic]
individual, Your Honor, no longer the document
COMM. HABABAG: that I prepared when all of the seven will be
signing in one document.
You did not asked [sic] your client who will prepare the
documents? COMM. HABABAG:

ATTY. SUING: Okay. You did not inquire from your client whom [sic]
made the changes?
As far as the documents are concerned, Your Honor.
I did not anymore because, Your Honor, at the time
The Quitclaim Receipt and Release? when I was there, there are already people there, the
seven complainants plus another woman.18 (Emphasis
ATTY. SUING: and underscoring supplied)

Yes, Your Honor, I remember this. They asked me The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
before February of 1998.
When you say they whom are you referring to?
ETHICS (Canon 19 Representation with Zeal )|6

CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH serves his client with diligence by adopting that norm of
COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE. practice expected of men of good intentions. He thus owes
entire devotion to the interest of his client, warm zeal in the
xxxx defense and maintenance of his rights, and the exertion of his
utmost learning, skill, and ability to ensure that nothing shall
Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter be taken or withheld from him, save by the rules of law
entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith legally applied. It is axiomatic in the practice of law that the
shall render him liable. price of success is eternal diligence to the cause of the client.

To be sure, respondent's client Manuel Rodil did not request him to The practice of law does not require extraordinary diligence
go to the Office of Labor Arbiter Cadiente to be a mere passive (exactissima diligentia) or that "extreme measure of care and
witness to the signing of the Release Waiver and Quitclaims. That he caution which persons of unusual prudence and
was requested to go there could only mean that he would exert circumspection use for securing and preserving their
vigilance to protect his clients' interest. This he conceded when he rights. All that is required is ordinary diligence (diligentia) or
acknowledged the purpose of his presence at the Office of Labor that degree of vigilance expected of a bonus pater familias. x
Arbiter Santos, thus: x x21 (Italics in the original; underscoring supplied)

ATTY. SUING: And this Court notes the attempt of respondent to influence the
answers of his client Manuel Rodil when the latter testified before
Commissioner Manuel Hababag:
To go there, Your Honor, and represent them and see
that these document[s] are properly signed and that
these people are properly identified and verified COMM. HABABAG:
them in front of Arbiter Ariel Cadiente
Santos.19 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) May pinirmahan dito na Quitclaim Receipt and
Release. Ito ho ba sinong may gawa nitong Receipt
That there was an alleged precedent in 1998 when a group of Waiver and Quitclaim?
complainants entered into a compromise agreement with his clients
in which he "did not participate" and from which no problem arose MR. RODIL:
did not excuse him from carrying out the admitted purpose of going
to the Labor Arbiter's office "that [the complainants] are properly Sila po.
identified . . . in front of [the] Arbiter."
Besides, by respondent's own information, Labor Arbiter Santos was
entertaining doubts on the true identity of those who executed the Ibig mong sabihin ibinigay sa yo to ng complainant
Release Waiver and Quitclaims.20 That should have alerted him to o sinong nag-abot sa iyo nitong Receipt Waiver and
especially exercise the diligence of a lawyer to protect his clients' Quitclaim?
interest. But he was not and he did not.
Diligence is "the attention and care required of a person in a
given situation and is the opposite of negligence." A lawyer
ETHICS (Canon 19 Representation with Zeal )|7

Si Atty. Suing po. Si attorney po.


In fact, ang tanong sa iyo kung ibinigay daw sa iyo Wait. I did not bring the documents. The Commissioner
yong mga dokumentong ito or what? is asking kung sino ang nagdala ng mga dokumento?


Okay, uulitin ko ha, tagalog na ang tanong ko sa iyo ha Yong mga tao.
hindi na English. Ito bang Release Waiver and
Quitclaim sino ang may gawa nito, sino ang xxxx
nagmakinilya nito?
Simple ang tanong ko ha. Intindihin mo muna. Kanino
Kami yata ang gumawa niyan. mo inabot ang bayad sa nakalagay dito sa Release
waiver and Quitclaim?
Pag sinabi mong kami yata ang may gawa sino sa
inyong mga officer, tauhan o abogado ang gumawa Kay attorney po.
Pag sinabi mong kay attorney sinong tinutukoy mong
Matagal na ho yan eh. attorney?


COMM. HABABAG: Yong ibinigay na pera pambayad saan, yon ang

Okay. Pangalawang gusto kong itanong. Sino ang
naghatid nito kay Ariel Cadiente Santos para pirmahan COMM. HABABAG:
ni Ariel Cadiente Santos?
Sundan mo ang tanong ko ha. Ako ang nagtatanong
MR. RODIL: hindi ang abogado mo.
ETHICS (Canon 19 Representation with Zeal )|8


Opo. Pabayaan mo muna. I'll come to that. Magkano kung

iyong natatandaan ang perang inabot kay Atty. Suing?
Huwag kang tatawa. I'm reminding you serious tayo
dito. Yan ang hindi ko matandaan.

MR. RODIL: x x x x22 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Opo serious po. Thus, not only did respondent try to coach his client or influence him
to answer questions in an apparent attempt not to incriminate him
COMM. HABABAG: (respondent). His client contradicted respondent's claim that the
Release Waiver and Quitclaim which he (respondent) prepared was
Sabi mo may inabutan kang taong pera? not the one presented at the Arbiter's Office, as well as his implied
claim that he was not involved in releasing to the complainants the
money for and in consideration of the execution of the documents.
As an officer of the court, a lawyer is called upon to assist in the
Opo. administration of justice. He is an instrument to advance its cause.
Any act on his part that tends to obstruct, perverts or impedes the
COMM. HABABAG: administration of justice constitutes misconduct.23 While the
Commission on Bar Discipline is not a court, the proceedings therein
Ang sagot mo kay attorney. Sinong attorney ang are nonetheless part of a judicial proceeding, a disciplinary action
tinutukoy mo? being in reality an investigation by the Court into the misconduct of
its officers or an examination into his character.24
In Bantolo v. Castillon, Jr.25 the respondent lawyer was found guilty of
Atty. Suing po. gross misconduct for his attempts to delay and obstruct the
investigation being conducted by the IBP. Nonetheless, this Court
COMM. HABABAG: found that a suspension of one month from the practice of law was
enough to give him "the opportunity to retrace his steps back to the
virtuous path of the legal profession."
While the disbarment of respondent is, under the facts and
ATTY. SUING: circumstances attendant to the case, not reasonable, neither is
reprimand as recommended by the IBP. This Court finds that
Your Honor, respondent's suspension from the practice of law for six months is in
ETHICS (Canon 19 Representation with Zeal )|9

WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Jose A. Suing, is found GUILTY of Complainant rejected the claim as being baseless. Complainant
negligence and gross misconduct and is SUSPENDED from the thereafter sent notices to Hufana for the latter to explain her
practice of law for a period of Six (6) Months, with WARNING that a absences and to return to work. In reply to this return to work notice,
repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more respondent wrote a letter to complainant reiterating his client's claim
severely. for separation pay. The letter also contained the following threat to
the company:
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar
Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and all courts BUT if these are not paid on August 10, 2005, we will be
throughout the country. constrained to file and claim bigger amounts including moral
damages to the tune of millions under established
SO ORDERED. precedence of cases and laws. In addition to other multiple
charges like:

1. Tax evasion by the millions of pesos of income not

reported to the government.
A.C. No. 7298 June 25, 2007
[Formerly CBD Case No. 05-1565]
2. Criminal Charges for Tax Evasion
3. Criminal Charges for Falsification of Documents
4. Cancellation of business license to operate due to
violations of laws.
These are reserved for future actions in case of failure to pay
the above amounts as settlements in the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC).1
In this administrative complaint, a lawyer is charged with violation of
Rule 19.01 of Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for
Believing that the contents of the letter deviated from accepted
writing a demand letter the contents of which threatened
ethical standards, complainant filed an administrative
complainant with the filing of criminal cases for tax evasion and
complaint2 with the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated
falsification of documents.
Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Respondent filed an Answer with
Impleader (Motion to Dismiss and Counterclaims) 3 claiming that Atty.
Atty. Lolito G. Aparicio (respondent) appeared as legal counsel for Emmanuel A. Jocson, complainant's legal counsel, also played an
Grace C. Hufana in an illegal dismissal case before the National important part in imputing the malicious, defamatory, and fabricated
Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Sometime in August 2005, charges against him. Respondent also pointed out that the complaint
complainant Fernando Martin O. Pena, as President of MOF Company, had no certification against forum shopping and was motivated only
Inc. (Subic), received a notice from the Conciliation and Mediation to confuse the issues then pending before the Labor Arbiter. By way
Center of the NLRC for a mediation/conciliation conference. In the of counterclaim, respondent asked for damages and for the
conference, respondent, in behalf of his client, submitted a claim for disbarment of Atty. Jocson. Respondent also asked the IBP to endorse
separation pay arising from her alleged illegal dismissal.
E T H I C S ( C a n o n 1 9 R e p r e s e n t a t i o n w i t h Z e a l ) | 10

the prosecution of Atty. Jocson for Usurpation of Public Functions 4 and said document shows that it was received by the IBP on 21
for violation of the Notarial Law.5 December 2005. The registry receipt attached to the same
document also shows that it was sent by registered mail to
A mandatory conference was held on 6 December 2005 but respondent on the same date. 14
respondent failed to appear.6 Both parties were thereafter required to
submit their position papers. Complainant, however, omitted to offer any explanation in his
petition before this Court for his failure to attach a certification
The Report and Recommendation7 of Investigating Commissioner against forum shopping in his complaint against respondent.
Milagros V. San Juan found that complainant, failed to file his position
paper and to comply with Administrative Circular No. 04-94 requiring The requirement of a certification against forum shopping was
a certificate against forum shopping and, accordingly, recommended originally required by Circular No. 28-91, dated 8 February 1994,
the dismissal of the complaint against respondent. On 26 May 2006, issued by this Court for every petition filed with the Court or the
the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Report and Court of Appeals. Administrative Circular No. 04-94, made effective
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.8 On 10 July on 1 April 1994, expanded the certification requirement to include
2006, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline transmitted to the cases filed in courts and quasi-judicial agencies below this Court and
Supreme Court the notice of said Resolution and the records of the the Court of Appeals. Ultimately, the Court adopted paragraphs (1)
case.9 Thereafter, on 18 August 2006, respondent filed with the IBP a and (2) of Administrative Circular No. 04-94 to become Section 5,
Motion for Reconsideration (for Modification of Decision) 10 reiterating Rule 7 of the
his claim of damages against complainant in the amount of four
hundred million pesos (P400,000,000.00), or its equivalent in dollars, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. 15 Said rule states that a violation
for filing the "false, malicious, defamers [sic], fraudulent, illegal thereof would constitute contempt of court and be cause for the
fabricators [sic], malevolent[,] oppressive, evasive filing [of] a summary dismissal of both petitions without prejudice to the taking
groundless and false suit."11 of appropriate action against the counsel of the party concerned. 16

Complainant thereafter filed this Petition for Review (of the The Investigating Commissioner and the IBP Board of Governors took
Resolution of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline)12alleging that he against complainant his failure to attach the certification against
personally submitted and filed with the IBP his position paper, after forum shopping to his complaint and consequently dismissed his
serving a copy thereof on respondent by registered mail. He further complaint. This Court, however, disagrees and, accordingly, grants
alleges that he was deprived of his right to due process when the IBP the petition. However, a remand of the case to the IBP would unduly
dismissed his complaint without considering his position paper and prolong its adjudication.
without ruling on the merits thereof.
The Court's determination is anchored on the sui generis nature of
Complainant accordingly prays for the reversal and setting aside of disbarment proceedings, the reasons for the certification against
the 26 May 2006 Resolution 13 of the IBP Board of Governors and the forum shopping requirement, complainant's subsequent compliance
remand of the case to the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline for with the requirement, and the merit of complainant's complaint
proper adjudication and disposition on the merits. against respondent.

Based on the records, there is truth to complainant's assertion that The Court, in the case of In re Almacen,17 dwelt on the sui
he filed his position paper on 21 December 2005, after serving a generis character of disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, thus:
copy of the same to respondent. The IBP stamp on the front page of
E T H I C S ( C a n o n 1 9 R e p r e s e n t a t i o n w i t h Z e a l ) | 11

Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui shopping seeks to promote candor and transparency among lawyers
generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, they do and their clients in the pursuit of their cases before the courts to
not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather promote the orderly administration of justice, prevent undue
an investigation by the Court into the conduct of one inconvenience upon the other party, and save the precious time of
of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, it is the courts. It also aims to prevent the embarrassing situation of two
in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is or more courts or agencies rendering conflicting resolutions or
neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. It may be decisions upon the same issue.21
initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its
primary objective, and the real question for It is in this light that we take a further look at the necessity of
determination is whether or not the attorney is still a attaching a certification against forum shopping to a disbarment
fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, complaint. It would seem that the scenario sought to be avoided, i.e.,
in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely the filing of multiple suits and the possibility of conflicting decisions,
calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his rarely happens in disbarment complaints considering that said
actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in proceedings are either "taken by the Supreme Court motu proprio, or
view of preserving the purity of the legal profession by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) upon the verified
and the proper and honest administration of justice by complaint of any person."22 Thus, if the complainant in a disbarment
purging the profession of members who by their case fails to attach a certification against forum shopping, the
misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy pendency of another disciplinary action against the same respondent
to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities may still be ascertained with ease. We have previously held that the
pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such posture, rule requiring a certification of forum shopping to accompany every
there can thus be no occasion to speak of a initiatory pleading, "should not be interpreted with such absolute
complainant or a prosecutor.18 [Emphasis supplied] literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objective or
the goal of all rules of procedurewhich is to achieve substantial
In view of the nature of disbarment proceedings, the certification justice as expeditiously as possible."23
against forum shopping to be attached to the complaint, if one is
required at all in such proceedings, must refer to another At any rate, complainant's subsequent compliance with the
administrative case for disciplinary proceedings against the same requirement cured the supposed defect in the original complaint. The
respondent, because such other proceedings or "action" is one that records show that complainant submitted the required certification
necessarily involves "the same issues" as the one posed in the against forum shopping on 6 December 2006 when he filed his
disbarment complaint to which the certification is supposedly to be Comment/Opposition to respondent's Motion to Dismiss the present
attached. petition.

Further, the rationale for the requirement of a certification against Finally, the intrinsic merit of complainant's case against respondent
forum shopping is to apprise the Court of the pendency of another justifies the grant of the present petition. Respondent does not deny
action or claim involving the same issues in another court, tribunal authorship of the threatening letter to complainant, even spiritedly
or quasi-judicial agency, and thereby precisely avoid the forum contesting the charge that the letter is unethical.
shopping situation. Filing multiple petitions or complaints constitutes
abuse of court processes,19 which tends to degrade the Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that "a
administration of justice, wreaks havoc upon orderly judicial lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the
procedure, and adds to the congestion of the heavily burdened law," reminding legal practitioners that a lawyer's duty is not to his
dockets of the courts.20 Furthermore, the rule proscribing forum client but to the administration of justice; to that end, his client's
E T H I C S ( C a n o n 1 9 R e p r e s e n t a t i o n w i t h Z e a l ) | 12

success is wholly subordinate; and his conduct ought to and must In fact, respondent does not find anything wrong with what he wrote,
always be scrupulously observant of law and ethics. 24 In particular, dismissing the same as merely an act of pointing out massive
Rule 19.01 commands that a "lawyer shall employ only fair and violations of the law by the other party, and, with boldness, asserting
honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall that "a lawyer is under obligation to tell the truth, to report to the
not present, participate in presenting or threaten to present government commission of offenses punishable by the State." 29 He
unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any further asserts that the writing of demand letters is a standard
case or proceeding." Under this Rule, a lawyer should not file or practice and tradition and that our laws allow and encourage the
threaten to file any unfounded or baseless criminal case or cases settlement of disputes.
against the adversaries of his client designed to secure a leverage to
compel the adversaries to yield or withdraw their own cases against Respondent's assertions, however, are misleading, for it is quite
the lawyer's client.25 obvious that respondent's threat to file the cases against
complainant was designed to secure some leverage to compel the
In the case at bar, respondent did exactly what Canon 19 and its latter to give in to his client's demands. It was not respondent's
Rule proscribe. Through his letter, he threatened complainant that intention to point out complainant's violations of the law as he so
should the latter fail to pay the amounts they propose as settlement, gallantly claims. Far from it, the letter even contains an implied
he would file and claim bigger amounts including moral damages, as promise to "keep silent" about the said violations if payment of the
well as multiple charges such as tax evasion, falsification of claim is made on the date indicated.
documents, and cancellation of business license to operate due to
violations of laws. The threats are not only unethical for violating Indeed, the writing of demand letters is a standard practice and
Canon 19, but they also amount to blackmail. tradition in this jurisdiction. It is usually done by a lawyer pursuant to
the principal-agent relationship that he has with his client, the
Blackmail is "the extortion of money from a person by threats of principal. Thus, in the performance of his role as agent, the lawyer
accusation or exposure or opposition in the public prints,obtaining may be tasked to enforce his client's claim and to take all the steps
of value from a person as a condition of refraining from making an necessary to collect it, such as writing a letter of demand requiring
accusation against him, or disclosing some secret calculated to payment within a specified period. However, the letter in this case
operate to his prejudice." In common parlance and in general contains more than just a simple demand to pay. It even contains a
acceptation, it is equivalent to and synonymous with extortion, the threat to file retaliatory charges against complainant which have
exaction of money either for the performance of a duty, the nothing to do with his client's claim for separation pay. The letter was
prevention of an injury, or the exercise of an influence. Not obviously designed to secure leverage to compel complainant to
infrequently, it is extorted by threats, or by operating on the fears or yield to their claims. Indeed, letters of this nature are definitely
the credulity, or by promises to conceal or offers to expose the proscribed by the Code of Professional Responsibility.
weaknesses, the follies, or the crime of the victim.26
Respondent cannot claim the sanctuary provided by the privileged
In Sps. Boyboy v. Atty. Yabut, Jr.,27 we held that "[a]n accusation for communication rule under which a private communication executed
blackmail and extortion is a very serious one which, if properly in the performance of a legal duty is not actionable. The privileged
substantiated, would entail not only respondent's disbarment from nature of the letter was removed when respondent used it to
the practice of law, but also a possible criminal prosecution." 28 While blackmail complainant and extort from the latter compliance with
the respondent in Boyboy was exonerated for lack of evidence, the the demands of his client.
same may not be said of respondent in the present case for he
admits to writing the offensive letter. However, while the writing of the letter went beyond ethical
standards, we hold that disbarment is too severe a penalty to be
E T H I C S ( C a n o n 1 9 R e p r e s e n t a t i o n w i t h Z e a l ) | 13

imposed on respondent, considering that he wrote the same out of The material portions of the subject Decision provide:
his overzealousness to protect his client's interests. Accordingly, the
more appropriate penalty is reprimand. Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the respondent committed
various acts of professional misconduct and thereby failed to live up
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is granted. The 26 to the exacting ethical standards imposed on members of the Bar.
May 2006 Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors is hereby We cannot, agree, however, that only a penalty of one-year
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondent Atty. Lolito G. Aparicio is suspension from the practice of law should be imposed. Neither
hereby found liable for violation of Rule 19.01 of Canon 19 of the should we limit ourselves to the originally recommendedpenalty of
Code of Professional Responsibility, and is accordingly meted out the suspension for two (2) years.
penalty of REPRIMAND, with the STERN WARNING that a repetition of
the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. Given the respondents multiple violations, his past record as
previously discussed, and the nature of these violations which shows
SO ORDERED. the readiness to disregard court rules and to gloss over concerns for
the orderly administration of justice,we believe and so hold that the
appropriate action of this Court is to disbar the respondent to keep
him away from the law profession and from any significant role in the
administration of justice which he has disgraced. He is a continuing
A.C. No.7054 November 11, 2014 risk, too, to the public that the legal profession serves. Not even his
ardor and overzealousness in defending the interests of his client
CONRADO N. QUE, Complainant, can save him. Such traits at the expense of everything else,
vs. particularly the integrity of the profession and the orderly
ATTY. ANASTACIO E. REVILLA, JR., Respondent. administration of justice, this Court cannot accept nor tolerate.

RESOLUTION Additionally, disbarment is merited because this is not the

respondents first ethical infraction of the same nature. We penalized
PER CURIAM: him in Plus Builders, Inc. and Edgardo Garcia versus Atty. Anastacio
E. Revilla for his willful and intentional falsehood before the court; for
For the Court's consideration is the Profound Appeal for Judicial misuse of court procedures and processes to delay the execution of a
Clemency1 filed by Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr. (respondent), who judgment; and for collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal
seeks to be reinstated as a member of the Philippine Bar. practice of law. We showed leniency then by reducing his penalty to
suspension for six (6) months. We cannot similarly treat the
respondent this time; it is clear that he did not learn any lesson from
Factual Background
his past experience and since then has exhibited traits of
incorrigibility. It is time to put a finis to the respondents professional
In a Decision2 dated December 4, 2009, this Court disbarred the legal career for the sake of the public, the profession and the interest
respondent from the practice of law on the following grounds: abuse of justice.
of court procedures and processes; filing of multiple actions and
forum-shopping; willful, intentional and deliberate resort to falsehood
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby AFFIRM Resolution No.
and deception before the courts; maligning the name of his fellow
XVII-2005-164 dated December 17, 2005 and Resolution No. XVII-
lawyer; and fraudulent and unauthorized appearances in court.
2008-657 dated December 11, 2008 of the Board of Governors of the
IBP Committee on Bar Discipline insofar as respondent Atty.
E T H I C S ( C a n o n 1 9 R e p r e s e n t a t i o n w i t h Z e a l ) | 14

Anastacio Revilla, Jr. is found liable for professional misconduct for lift the order of disbarment. He alleged among others that for more
violations of the Lawyers Oath; Canon 8; Rules 10.01 and 10.03, than three years that he has been disbarred in the practice of law, he
Canon 10; Rules 12.02 and 12.04, Canon 12; and Rule 19.01, Canon has never been involved in any immoral or illegal activities, has
19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility;and Sections 20(d), 21 devoted himself in the services of St. Peter Parish and Shrine,
and 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. However, we modify the CommonwealthAvenue as Eucharistic Minister leader, has conducted
penalty the IBP imposed, and hold that the respondent should be regular monthly lectures on the subject of marriage at the Diocese of
DISBARREDfrom the practice of law. Novaliches, and has participated as monthly financial contributor to
Mr. Carmel Church, Lucena City. He also begged the Court to no
SO ORDERED. longer prolong his penalty since it had already served its purpose.
The plea was also denied on July 3, 2012.12
On July 8, 2010, the respondent filed a Petition for Judicial Clemency
and Compassion3 praying that his license to practice law be restored On August 30, 2012, the respondent once more prayed for his
based on humanitarian considerations, but the Court En reinstatement professing repentance and remorse for what he
Bancresolved to deny the petition for lack of merit. did.13 He pleaded for the Courts consideration, and vowed that he
will no longer misuse the rules of procedure but instead, devote his
The respondent subsequently filed on January 11, 2011, an Appeal time and energy for its proper observance and implementation. He
for Grace, Succor, and Mercy4 asking the Court to take a second look also stated that for almost three years of being disbarred from the
at the penalty imposed upon him. He maintained that Conrado N. practice of law, he has never been involved in any unlawful,
Que (complainant) failed to establish by clear and convincing dishonest, and immoral activities. He promised to maintain at all
evidence that he committed grossly immoral conduct meriting the times a high degree of legal proficiency, morality, integrity, and fair
severe penalty of disbarment. He also attempted to pass the blame dealings to the courts, clients, and the legal profession in accordance
on another individual (a certain Gerolin Piedad, General Manager of with the values and morals embodied in the Code of Professional
Kalayaan Development Corporation) to free himself from liability by Responsibility.
claiming that one of the charges leading to his disbarment was not of
his own doing. In a Resolution14 dated October 9, 2012, the Court denied his petition
for lack of merit. Aggrieved, the respondent filed on March 27, 2013
In a Resolution5 dated February 8, 2011, the Court denied the a letter15 pleading the Court to revisit his previousrequests for
appeal. reinstatement.

The respondent again wrote the Court on July 13, 2011, reiterating Treating his letter as a motion for the reconsideration of the
his pleas for the Courts compassion and mercy. 6 He sought the resolutions dated August 2, 2011, July3, 2012, and October 9, 2012,
Courts forgiveness stating that he has learned his lesson; but at the the Court, on June 4, 2013 deniedthe motion with finality. 16 On July
same time, questioning the Courts finding for lackof factual support. 18, 2014, the respondent filed a Profound Appeal for Judicial
He appended to his appeal proofs of his updated payment of IBP Clemency17 reiterating his apologies to the Court. He stressed that
membership dues,7 MCLE compliance,8 and a letter from the Bishop the penalty of disbarment has already taken its toll on his health; he
of Marinduque.9 His appeal, however, was denied by a has now become most frail and weak; and he had been diagnosed
Resolution10 dated August 2, 2011. with chronic kidney disease at stage five (5) and undergoing dialysis
thrice weekly. He also stressed that in the years that he had been
excluded from the practice of law, he devoted his time to Christian
On May 17, 2012, the respondent sent a letter11 addressed to the and charity pursuits serving with all humility as a Lay Minister and a
Members of the Court En Banc once again reiterating his prayer to
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regular lecturer on Legal Aspect of Marriage at St. Peter Church, character of the charge/s for which he or she was disbarred, his or
Quezon City. her conduct subsequent to the disbarment, and the time that has
elapsed in between the disbarment and the application for
The respondent also pleads for clemency, not because he intends to reinstatement.25
practice law again, but to be made whole, to recover from being
shattered, and to finally have peace of mind. Heexpressed his In the present case, we note that before his admission to the Bar, the
sincere repentance and deep remorse by taking full responsibility for respondent had demonstrated an active involvement and
his misdemeanor. He also prayed that his disbarment be lifted and participation in community and church activities by joining Youth For
that he be reinstated as a member of the Philippine bar. As part of Christ, Catechism, and Bible Study and Sharing. Likewise, upon
his petition, he submitted a Medical Abstract18evidencing his admission to the Bar, the respondent worked as Municipal Attorney
diagnosis for chronic kidney disease, and a certification 19 from St. in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque rendering free legal assistance to his
Peter Parish, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, proving that he townmates who were inneed of legal service. Thereafter, the
and his family are dedicated parishioners. respondentwas appointed as a Municipal Administrator and had
continued extending assistance to the indigent residents.
The Court's Ruling
The respondent also actively engaged and participated in various
We deny the present appeal. community projects, through the Marinduque Jaycees, where he
served as President from 1980 to 1981, and the Integrated Bar of the
Membership in the Bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. 20 It is Philippines Marinduque Chapter, where he served as a member,
not a natural, absolute or constitutional right granted to everyone Director, and President from 1982 to 1987.
who demands it, but rather, a special privilege granted and
continued only to those who demonstrate special fitness In his present appeal for judicial clemency, the respondent
inintellectual attainment and in moral character. 21 The same acknowledged his indiscretions and claimed to have taken full
reasoning applies to reinstatement of a disbarred lawyer. When responsibility for his misdemeanor. Unlike in his previous
exercising its inherent power to grant reinstatement, the Court petitions/appeal for judicial clemency, the respondent no
should see to it that only those who establish their present moral longerquestioned the Courts decision. According to him, he has long
fitness and knowledge of the law will be readmitted to the Bar. Thus, expressed deep remorse and genuine repentance.
though the doors to the practice of law are never permanently closed
on a disbarred attorney, the Court owes a duty to the legal The respondent also claimed that the long period of his disbarment
profession as well as to the general public to ensure that if the doors gave him sufficient time to reflect on his professional conduct, to
are opened,it is done so only as a matter of justice.22 show remorse and repentance, and to realize the gravity of his
mistakes. After his disbarment, the respondent continued lending
The basic inquiry in a petition for reinstatementto the practice of law assistance, and deviated his time and effort in pursuing civic and
is whether the lawyer has sufficiently rehabilitated himself or herself religious work that significantly contributed to his character
in conduct and character.23 Whether the applicant shall be reinstated reformation.He professed that during his almost five (5) years of
in the Roll of Attorneys rests to a great extent on the sound disbarment, he has been an active member of the Couples for Christ,
discretion of the Court.24 The lawyer has to demonstrate and prove Marriage Encounter, and Knights of Columbus; and through his
by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is again worthy of affiliations with these groups, he had served in the ecclesial affairs in
membership in the Bar. The Court will take into consideration his or his parish as an Extraordinary Minister for Holy Communion and a
her character and standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and lecturer on Legal Aspect of Marriage Pre-Cana and Marriage
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Preparation Seminar at the Parish Church of St. Peter in In all these cases, the Court considered the conduct of the disbarred
Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. attorney before and after his disbarment, the time that had elapsed
from the disbarment and the application for reinstatement, and more
Although the Court believes that the respondent is not inherently importantly, the disbarred attorneys sincere realization and
lacking in moral fiber as shown by his conduct prior to his acknowledgement of guilt.
disbarment, we are not convinced that he had sufficiently achieved
moral reformation. In the present case, we are not fully convinced that the passage of
more than four (4) years is sufficient to enable the respondent to
In Rodolfo M. Bernardo v. Atty. Ismael F. Mejia, 26 the Court, in reflect and to realize his professional transgressions.
deciding whether or not to reinstate Atty. Mejia, considered that 15
years had already elapsed from the time hewas disbarred, which We emphasize that this is the second timethat the respondent was
gave him sufficient time to acknowledge his infractions and to accused and was found guilty of gross misconduct.1wphi1 The
repent. The Court also took into account the fact that Atty. Mejiais respondent, in an earlier case of Plus Builders, Inc. v. Atty. Anastacio
already of advanced years, has long repented, and suffered enough. E. Revilla,Jr.,29 was likewise found guilty of gross misconduct for
The Court also notedthat he had made a significant contribution by committing willful and intentional falsehood before the court;
putting up the Mejia Law Journal containing his religious and social misusing court procedure and processes to delay the execution of a
writings; and the religious organization named "El Cristo Movement judgment; and collaborating with nonlawyers in the illegal practice of
and Crusade on Miracle of the Heart and Mind." Furthermore, the law mostly the same grounds on which the Decision dated
Court considered that Atty. Mejia committed no other transgressions December 4, 2009 (2nd disbarment) was based. In Plus Builders, we
since he was disbarred. granted the respondents motion for reconsideration and reduced the
penalty of suspension from the practice of law from two (2) years to
Similarly in Adez Realty, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 27 the Court granted six (6) months out of compassion to the respondent.
the reinstatement of the disbarred lawyer (found to be guilty of
intercalating a material fact in a CA decision) and considered the Considering the respondents earlier disbarment case(and
period of three (3) years as sufficient time to do soul-searching and subsequent reduction of the penalty imposed as an act of clemency),
to prove that he is worthy to practice law. In that case, the Court and another disbarment case against him still pending review by the
took into consideration the disbarred lawyers sincere admission of Court, we are not fully and convincingly satisfied that the respondent
guilt and repeated pleas for compassion. has already reformed. The period of five (5) years is likewise not
considerably long considering the nature and perversityof the
Also in Valencia v. Antiniw,28 the Court reinstated Atty. Antiniw (who respondents misdeeds. We believe that it is still early for the Court
was found guilty of malpractice in falsifying a notarized deed of sale to consider the respondents reinstatement.
and subsequently introducing the document in court) after
considering the long period of his disbarment (almost 15 years). The Furthermore, we are not persuaded by the respondent's sincerity in
Court considered that during Atty. Antiniws disbarment, he has been acknowledging his guilt.1wphi1 While he expressly stated in his
persistent in reiterating his apologies to the Court, has engaged appeal that he had taken full responsibility of his misdemeanor, his
inhumanitarian and civic services, and retained an unblemished previous inclination to pass the blame to other individuals, to invoke
record as an elected public servant, as shown by the testimonials of self-denial, and to make alibis for his wrongdoings, contradicted his
the numerous civic and professional organizations, government assertion. The respondent also failed to submit proof satisfactorily
institutions, and members of the judiciary. showing his contrition. He failed to establish by clear and convincing
evidence that he is again worthy of membership in the legal
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profession. We thus entertain serious doubts that the respondent On October 13, 2001, Valeriana U. Dalisay, complainant, engaged
had completely reformed. respondents services as counsel in Civil Case No. 00-044, entitled
"Lucio De Guzman, etc., complainants, v. Dalisay U. Valeriana,
As a final word, while the Court sympathizes with the respondent's respondent," pending before the Municipal Trial Court, Branch 1,
unfortunate physical condition, we stress that in considering his Binangonan, Rizal. Notwithstanding his receipt of documents and
application for reinstatement to the practice of law, the duty of the attorneys fees in the total amount of P56,000.00 from complainant,
Court is to determine whether he has established moral reformation respondent never rendered legal services for her. As a result, she
and rehabilitation, disregarding its feeling of sympathy or pity. Surely terminated the attorney-client relationship and demanded the return
at this point, this requirement was not met. Until such time when the of her money and documents, but respondent refused.
respondent can demonstrate to the Court that he has completely
rehabilitated himself and deserves to resume his membership in the On January 13, 2004, Investigating Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro of
Bar, Our decision to disbar him from the practice of law stands. the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar
Discipline, found that "for the amount of P56,000.00 paid by the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Profound Appeal for Judicial complainant x x x, no action had been taken nor any
Clemency filed by Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr. is hereby DENIED. pleadings prepared by the respondent except his alleged
conferences and opinions rendered when complainant
SO ORDERED. frequented his law office." She recommended that respondent be
required to refund the amount of P56,000.00 to the complainant, and
surprisingly, that the complaint be dismissed.

On February 27, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution

A.C. No. 5655 January 23, 2006 No. XVI-2004-121, adopting and approving in toto Commissioner
Navarros Report and Recommendation.
vs. On April 22, 2005, we rendered the assailed Decision.
Incidentally, upon learning of our Decision, respondent went to the
RESOLUTION MTC, Branch I, Binangonan, Rizal to verify the status of Civil Case No.
00-044. There, he learned of the trial courts Decision dated
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: December 6, 2001 holding that "the tax declarations and title"
submitted by complainant "are not official records of the Municipal
At bar is a motion for reconsideration of our Decision dated April 22, Assessor and the Registry of Deed." Thereupon, respondent filed a
2005 finding Atty. Melanio "Batas" Mauricio, Jr., respondent, guilty of Sworn Affidavit Complaint1 against complainant charging her with
malpractice and gross misconduct and imposing upon him the violations of Article 1712 and 172,3 and/or Article 1824 of the Revised
penalty of suspension from the practice of law for a period of six (6) Penal Code. He alleged that complainant offered tampered evidence.
In this motion for reconsideration, respondent raises the following
A brief revisit of facts is imperative, thus: arguments:
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First, complainant did not engage his services as counsel in Civil to show that he (respondent) entered his appearance as
Case No. 00-044. She hired him for the purpose of filing two new counsel of record for complainant in Civil Case No. 00-044."
petitions, a petition for declaration of nullity of title and a petition for Neither is there any evidence nor pleading submitted to show that
review of a decree. he initiated new petitions.

Second, Civil Case No. 00-044 was "considered submitted for With ingenuity, respondent now claims that "complainant did not
decision" as early as August 6, 2001, or more than two months prior engage his services for Civil Case No. 00-044" but, instead, she
to October 13, 2001, the date he was engaged as counsel, hence, engaged him for the filing of two new petitions. This is obviously a
"he could not have done anything anymore" about it. last-ditch attempt to evade culpability. Respondent knows very well
that if he can successfully disassociate himself as complainants
Third, complainant refused to provide him with documents related counsel in Civil Case No.00-044, he cannot be held guilty of any
to the case, preventing him from doing his job. dereliction of duties.

And fourth, complainant offered tampered evidence in Civil Case But respondents current assertion came too late in the day. He is
No. 00-004, prompting him to file falsification cases against her. already bound by his previous statements. In his Verified Comment
on the Affidavit-Complaint,7 he categorically stated that complainant
In her opposition to the motion, complainant contends engaged his services in Civil Case No. 00-044, originally handled by
that: (1) respondent violated the principle of confidentiality between Atty. Oliver Lozano, thus:
a lawyer and his client when he filed falsification charges against
her; (2) respondent should have returned her 4.a. Complainant was referred to the Respondent by Atty.
money; (3) respondent should have verified the authenticity of her Oliver Lozano.
documents earlier if he really believed that they are falsified;
and (4) his refusal to return her money despite this Courts directive 4.b. The referral intrigued Respondent no end, simply
constitutes contempt. because Atty. Oliver Lozano is a bright lawyer and is very
much capable of handling Civil Case No. 00-044.
We deny respondents motion for reconsideration.
4.c. Respondent-out of respect from Atty. Oliver Lozano did
It is axiomatic that no lawyer is obliged to act either as adviser or not inquire the reason for the referral. But he was made to
advocate for every person who may wish to become his client. He understand that he was being referred because Atty. Oliver
has the right to decline employment. But once he accepts money Lozano believed that Respondent would be in a better
from a client, an attorney-client relationship is established, giving position to prosecute and/or defend the Complainant in Civil
rise to the duty of fidelity to the clients cause. 5 From then on, he is Case No. 00-044.
expected to be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.
He must serve the client with competence and diligence, and xxxxxx
champion the latters cause with wholehearted devotion.6
5.c. Complainant went to the law office of Respondent on October
Respondent assumed such obligations when he received the amount 13, 2001 and demanded that he provides her with free legal service.
of P56,000.00 from complainant and agreed to handle Civil Case No.
00-044. Unfortunately, he had been remiss in the performance of his xxxxxx
duties. As we have ruled earlier, "there is nothing in the records
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5.e. Respondent, however, told Complainant that the case 5.r. Complainant then returned to the office of the Respondent on
(Civil Case No. 00-044) would not entitle her to a free legal October 20, 2001. The latter then informed the former of his
service and advised her to just re-engage the services of conversation with Atty. Oliver Lozano and his (respondents) decision
Atty. Oliver Lozano. to reduce the acceptance fee.

5.f. Undaunted, Complainant asked Respondent to assess her case 5.s. Complainant was very grateful at the time, even
and how she and her lawyer should go prosecuting and/or defending shedding a tear or two simply because Respondent had
her position therein. agreed to handle her case at a greatly reduced acceptance
5.g. Honestly believing that Complainant was no longer
represented by counsel in Civil Case No. 00-044 at that time, Statements of similar tenor can also be found in
Respondent gave his professional opinion on the factual and respondents Memorandum8 filed with the IBP.
legal matters surrounding the said case.
Undoubtedly, respondents present version is a flagrant departure
5.h. Apparently impressed with the opinion of the from his previous pleadings. This cannot be countenanced. A party
Respondent, Complainant became even more adamant in should decide early what version he is going to advance. A change of
asking the former to represent her in Civil Case No. 00-044. theory in the latter stage of the proceedings is objectionable, not due
to the strict application of procedural rules, but because it is contrary
5.i. Respondent then told Complainant that she would be charged as to the rules of fair play, justice and due process.9 The present
a regular client is she insists in retaining his services. administrative case was resolved by the IBP on the basis of
respondents previous admission that complainant engaged his legal
5.j. It was at this juncture that Complainant asked Respondent about services in Civil Case No. 00-044. He cannot now unbind himself from
his fees. such admission and its consequences. In fact, if anything at all has
been achieved by respondents inconsistent assertions, it is his
dishonesty to this Court.
5.k. After re-assessing Civil Case No. 00-044, Respondent
told Complainant that he will have to charge her with an
acceptance fee of One Hundred Thousand Pesos At any rate, assuming arguendo that complainant indeed engaged
(P100,000.00), aside form being charged for respondents services in filing the two (2) new petitions, instead of
papers/pleadings that may have to be prepared and filed in Civil Case No. 00-044, still, his liability is unmistakable. There is
court in connection with the aforesaid case. nothing in the records to show that he filed any petition. The ethics
of the profession demands that, in such a case, he should
immediately return the filing fees to complainant. In Parias v.
xxxxxx Paguinto,10 we held that "a lawyer shall account for all money or
property collected from the client. Money entrusted to a
5.n. A few days after, Respondent got a call from Atty. Oliver Lozano. lawyer for a specific purpose, such as for filing fee, but not
The said Atty. Oliver Lozano interceded for and in behalf of used for failure to file the case must immediately be
Complainant and asked that the acceptance fee that Respondent returned to the client on demand." Per records, complainant
was charging the Complainant be reduced. made repeated demands, but respondent is yet to return the money.

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Neither do we find merit in respondents second argument. The fact relationship with such client in accordance with the Rules of
that Civil Case No. 00-044 was already "submitted for decision" does Court.
not justify his inaction. After agreeing to handle Civil Case No. 00-
044, his duty is, first and foremost, to enter his appearance. Sadly, As a lawyer, respondent is expected to know this Rule. Instead of
he failed to do this simple task. He should have returned inaction, he should have confronted complainant and ask her to
complainants money. Surely, he cannot expect to be paid for rectify her fraudulent representation. If complainant refuses, then he
doing nothing. should terminate his relationship with her.

In his third argument, respondent attempts to evade responsibility Understandably, respondent failed to follow the above-cited Rule.
by shifting the blame to complainant. He claims that she refused to This is because there is no truth to his claim that he did not render
provide him with documents vital to the case. He further claims that legal service to complainant because she falsified the documentary
he would be violating the Code of Professional Responsibility by evidence in Civil Case No.00-044. This brings us to
handling a case without adequate preparation. This is preposterous. the second reason why we cannot sustain his fourth argument. The
When a lawyer accepts a case, his acceptance is an implied pleadings show that he learned of the alleged falsification long after
representation that he possesses the requisite academic learning, complainant had terminated their attorney-client relationship. It was
skill and ability to handle the case.11 As a lawyer, respondent knew a result of his active search for a justification of his negligence in
where to obtain copies of the certificates of title. As a matter of fact, Civil Case No. 00-044. As a matter of fact, he admitted that he
he admitted that his Law Office, on its own, managed to verify the verified the authenticity of complainants title only after the "news
authenticity of complainants title. It bears reiterating that of his suspension spread in the legal community." To our mind,
respondent did not take any action on the case despite having been there is absurdity in invoking subsequent knowledge of a fact as
paid for his services. This is tantamount to abandonment of his justification for an act or omission that is fait accompli.
duties as a lawyer and taking undue advantage of his client.
Obviously, in filing falsification charges against complainant,
Finally, in an ironic twist of fate, respondent became the accuser of respondent was motivated by vindictiveness.
complainant. In his fourth argument,respondent accuses her of
offering falsified documentary evidence in Civil Case No. 00-004, In fine, let it be stressed that the authority of an attorney begins with
prompting him to file falsification cases against her. He thus justifies his or her retainer.12 It gives rise to a relationship between an
his inability to render legal services to complainant. attorney and a client that is highly fiduciary in nature and of a very
delicate, exacting, and confidential character, requiring a high
Assuming that complainant indeed offered falsified documentary degree of fidelity and good faith. 13 If much is demanded from an
evidence in Civil Case No. 00-044, will it be sufficient to exonerate attorney, it is because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries
respondent? We believe not. First, Canon 19 outlines the procedure with it the correlative duties not only to the client but also to the
in dealing with clients who perpetrated fraud in the course of a legal court, to the bar, and to the public. A lawyer who performs his duty
proceeding. Consistent with its mandate that a lawyer shall with diligence and candor not only protects the interest of his client;
represent his client with zeal and only within the bounds of the law, he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the bar, and helps
Rule 19.02 of the same Canon specifically provides: maintain the respect of the community to the legal
profession.14 Indeed, law is an exacting goddess demanding of her
Rule 19.02 A lawyer who has received information that his clients votaries not only intellectual but also moral discipline.
has, in the course of the representation, perpetrated a fraud upon a
person or tribunal, shall promptly call upon the client to rectify
the same, and failing which he shall terminate the
E T H I C S ( C a n o n 1 9 R e p r e s e n t a t i o n w i t h Z e a l ) | 21

WHEREFORE, we DENY respondents motion for reconsideration. The disbarment complaint arose when respondent filed a counter-
Our Decision dated April 22, 2005 is immediately executory. charge for perjury5 against complainant. Respondent, in his affidavit-
Respondent is directed to report immediately to the Office of the Bar complaint, stated that:
Confidant his compliance with our Decision.
5. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT dated September 11, 1995 was
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to his personal record and prepared and notarized by me under the following
copies furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office circumstances:
of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts.
A. Mr. Duane O. Stier is the owner and long-time resident of a
SO ORDERED. real property located at No. 33 Don Jose Street, Bgy. San
Roque, Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City.

B. Sometime in September 1995, Mr. Stier a U.S. citizen

and thereby disqualified to own real property in his
A.C. No. 6057 June 27, 2006
name agreed that the property be transferred in the name
of Mr. Donton, a Filipino.
PETER T. DONTON, Complainant,
C. Mr. Stier, in the presence of Mr. Donton, requested me to
prepare several documents that would guarantee recognition
of him being the actual owner of the property despite the
DECISION transfer of title in the name of Mr. Donton.

CARPIO, J.: D. For this purpose, I prepared, among others, the

OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT, recognizing Mr. Stiers free and
The Case undisturbed use of the property for his residence and
business operations. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT was tied
This is a disbarment complaint against respondent Atty. Emmanuel up with a loan which Mr. Stier had extended to Mr. Donton.6
O. Tansingco ("respondent") for serious misconduct and deliberate
violation of Canon 1,1 Rules 1.012 and 1.023 of the Code of Complainant averred that respondents act of preparing the
Professional Responsibility ("Code"). Occupancy Agreement, despite knowledge that Stier, being a foreign
national, is disqualified to own real property in his name, constitutes
The Facts serious misconduct and is a deliberate violation of the Code.
Complainant prayed that respondent be disbarred for advising Stier
In his Complaint dated 20 May 2003, Peter T. Donton ("complainant") to do something in violation of law and assisting Stier in carrying out
stated that he filed a criminal complaint for estafa thru falsification a dishonest scheme.
of a public document4 against Duane O. Stier ("Stier"), Emelyn A.
Maggay ("Maggay") and respondent, as the notary public who In his Comment dated 19 August 2003, respondent claimed that
notarized the Occupancy Agreement. complainant filed the disbarment case against him upon the
instigation of complainants counsel, Atty. Bonifacio A.
Alentajan,7 because respondent refused to act as complainants
E T H I C S ( C a n o n 1 9 R e p r e s e n t a t i o n w i t h Z e a l ) | 22

witness in the criminal case against Stier and Maggay. Respondent A lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client
admitted that he "prepared and notarized" the Occupancy which will involve defiance of the laws which he is bound to uphold
Agreement and asserted its genuineness and due execution. and obey.9 A lawyer who assists a client in a dishonest scheme or
who connives in violating the law commits an act which justifies
In a Resolution dated 1 October 2003, the Court referred the matter disciplinary action against the lawyer.10
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report
and recommendation. By his own admission, respondent admitted that Stier, a U.S. citizen,
was disqualified from owning real property.11Yet, in his motion for
The IBPs Report and Recommendation reconsideration,12 respondent admitted that he caused the transfer
of ownership to the parcel of land to Stier. Respondent, however,
In her Report dated 26 February 2004 ("Report"), Commissioner aware of the prohibition, quickly rectified his act and transferred the
Milagros V. San Juan ("Commissioner San Juan") of the IBP title in complainants name. But respondent provided "some
Commission on Bar Discipline found respondent liable for taking part safeguards" by preparing several documents,13including the
in a "scheme to circumvent the constitutional prohibition against Occupancy Agreement, that would guarantee Stiers recognition as
foreign ownership of land in the Philippines." Commissioner San Juan the actual owner of the property despite its transfer in complainants
recommended respondents suspension from the practice of law for name. In effect, respondent advised and aided Stier in circumventing
two years and the cancellation of his commission as Notary Public. the constitutional prohibition against foreign ownership of lands 14 by
preparing said documents.
In Resolution No. XVI-2004-222 dated 16 April 2004, the IBP Board of
Governors adopted, with modification, the Report and recommended Respondent had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thus, he violated
respondents suspension from the practice of law for six months. his oath and the Code when he prepared and notarized the
Occupancy Agreement to evade the law against foreign ownership of
lands. Respondent used his knowledge of the law to achieve an
On 28 June 2004, the IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to unlawful end. Such an act amounts to malpractice in his office, for
the Court as provided under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B 8 of the Rules which he may be suspended.15
of Court.
In Balinon v. De Leon,16 respondent Atty. De Leon was suspended
On 28 July 2004, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration before from the practice of law for three years for preparing an affidavit that
the IBP. Respondent stated that he was already 76 years old and virtually permitted him to commit concubinage. In In re:
would already retire by 2005 after the termination of his pending Santiago,17 respondent Atty. Santiago was suspended from the
cases. He also said that his practice of law is his only means of practice of law for one year for preparing a contract which declared
support for his family and his six minor children. the spouses to be single again after nine years of separation and
allowed them to contract separately subsequent marriages.
In a Resolution dated 7 October 2004, the IBP denied the motion for
reconsideration because the IBP had no more jurisdiction on the case WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Emmanuel O.
as the matter had already been referred to the Court. Tansingco GUILTY of violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent
The Ruling of the Court Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco from the practice of law for SIX
MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision.
The Court finds respondent liable for violation of Canon 1 and Rule
1.02 of the Code.
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Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar a consideration of Eighty Thousand Pesos (P80,000.00), Atty.
Confidant to be appended to respondents personal record as an Macalalad accepted the task to be completed within a period of eight
attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of (8) months. Atty. Macalalad received Fifty Thousand Pesos
Justice, and all courts in the country for their information and (P50,000.00) as initial payment; the remaining balance of Thirty
guidance. Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) was to be paid when Atty. Solidon
received the certificate of title to the property.
Atty. Macalalad has not filed any petition for registration over the
property sought to be titled up to the present time.

In the Complaint, Position Papers 5 and documentary evidence

A.C. No. 8158 February 24, 2010
submitted, Atty. Solidon claimed that he tried to contact Atty.
Macalalad to follow-up on the status of the case six (6) months after
ATTY. ELMER C. SOLIDON, Complainant, he paid the initial legal fees. He did this through phone calls and text
vs. messages to their known acquaintances and relatives, and, finally,
ATTY. RAMIL E. MACALALAD, Respondent. through a letter sent by courier to Atty. Macalalad. However, he did
not receive any communication from Atty. Macalalad.
In the Answer,6 Position Paper,7 and affidavits of witnesses, Atty.
BRION, J.: Macalalad posited that the delay in the filing of the petition for the
titling of the property was caused by his clients failure to
In a verified complaint1 before the Commission on Bar Discipline of communicate with him. He also explained that he had no intention of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP Commission on Bar reneging on his obligation, as he had already prepared the draft of
Discipline), Atty. Elmer C. Solidon (Atty. Solidon) sought the the petition. He failed to file the petition simply because he still
disbarment of Atty. Ramil E. Macalalad (Atty. Macalalad) for violations lacked the needed documentary evidence that his clients should
of Rule 16.01,2 Rule 18.03,3 and Rule 18.044 of the Code of have furnished him. Lastly, Atty. Macalalad denied that Atty. Solidon
Professional Responsibility involving negligence in handling a case. tried to communicate with him.

The Facts The Findings of the IBP

Atty. Macalalad is the Chief of the Legal Division of the Department In his Report and Recommendation dated June 25, 2008,
of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Regional Office 8, Investigating Commissioner Randall C. Tabayoyong made the
Tacloban City. Although he is in public service, the DENR Secretary following finding of negligence against Atty. Macalalad:
has given him the authority to engage in the practice of law.
complainant submitted in his position paper the affidavit of
While on official visit to Eastern Samar in October 2005, Atty. Flordeliz Cabo-Borata, the mutual acquaintance of both complainant
Macalalad was introduced to Atty. Solidon by a mutual acquaintance, and respondent. In the said affidavit, Mrs. Cabo-Borata described
Flordeliz Cabo-Borata (Ms. Cabo-Borata). Atty. Solidon asked Atty. how she repeatedly followed-up the matter with respondent and how
Macalalad to handle the judicial titling of a parcel of land located in respondent turned a deaf ear towards the same. There is nothing on
Borongan, Eastern Samar and owned by Atty. Solidons relatives. For record which would prompt this Office to view the allegations therein
E T H I C S ( C a n o n 1 9 R e p r e s e n t a t i o n w i t h Z e a l ) | 24

with caution. In fact, considering that the allegations corroborate the presented and we are fully satisfied that the complainants evidence,
undisputed facts of the instant case... as outlined above, fully satisfies the required quantum of proof in
proving Atty. Macalalads negligence.
As respondent has failed to duly present any reasonable excuse for
the non-filing of the application despite the lapse of about a year Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
from the time his services were engaged, it is plain that his provides for the rule on negligence and states:
negligence in filing the application remains uncontroverted. And
such negligence is contrary to the mandate prescribed in Rule 18.03, Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter
Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which enjoins a entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith
lawyer not to neglect a legal matter entrusted to him. In fact, Rule shall render him liable.
18.03 even provides that his negligence in connection therewith
shall render him liable. This Court has consistently held, in construing this Rule, that the
mere failure of the lawyer to perform the obligations due to the client
Acting on this recommendation, the Board of Governors of the IBP is considered per se a violation.
Commission on Bar Discipline passed Resolution No. XVIII-2008-336
dated July 17, 2008, holding that: Thus, in Villafuerte v. Cortez, 9 we held that a lawyer is negligent if he
failed to do anything to protect his clients interest after receiving his
RESOLVED TO ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously acceptance fee. In In Re: Atty. Briones, 10 we ruled that the failure of
ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and the counsel to submit the required brief within the reglementary
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above- period (to the prejudice of his client who languished in jail for more
entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution and, finding the than a year) is an offense that warrants disciplinary action. In Garcia
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the v. Atty. Manuel, we penalized a lawyer for failing to inform the
applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondents violation of client of the status of the case, among other matters.11
Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Ramil E.
Macalalad is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three Subsequently, in Reyes v. Vitan, 12 we reiterated that the act of
(3) months and Ordered to Return the amount of Fifty Thousand receiving money as acceptance fee for legal services in handling the
Pesos (P50,000) with 12% interest per annum to complainant complainants case and, subsequently, in failing to render the
services, is a clear violation of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
The case is now before this Court for our final action pursuant to Responsibility. We made the same conclusion in Canoy v.
Section 12(b), Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, considering that the Ortiz13 where we emphatically stated that the lawyers failure to file
IBP Commission on Bar Discipline imposed the penalty of suspension the position paper was per se a violation of Rule 18.03 of the Code of
on Atty. Macalalad. Professional Responsibility.

The Courts Ruling The circumstance that the client was also at fault does not exonerate
a lawyer from liability for his negligence in handling a case. In Canoy,
We agree with the IBPs factual findings and legal conclusions. we accordingly declared that the lawyer cannot shift the blame to his
client for failing to follow up on his case because it was the lawyers
In administrative cases against lawyers, the quantum of proof duty to inform his client of the status of the case.14 Our rulings
required is preponderance of evidence which the complainant has in Macarilay v. Seria,15 in Heirs of Ballesteros v. Apiag,16 and in
the burden to discharge.8 We fully considered the evidence Villaflores v. Limos17 were of the same tenor. In Villaflores, we opined
E T H I C S ( C a n o n 1 9 R e p r e s e n t a t i o n w i t h Z e a l ) | 25

that even if the client has been equally at fault for the lack of action and initiate communication with his clients. He had been
communication, the main responsibility remains with the lawyer to given initial payment and should have at least undertaken initial
inquire and know the best means to acquire the required delivery of his part of the engagement.
information. We held that as between the client and his lawyer, the
latter has more control in handling the case. We further find that Atty. Macalalads conduct refutes his claim of
willingness to perform his obligations. If Atty. Macalalad truly wanted
All these rulings drive home the fiduciary nature of a lawyers duty to to file the petition, he could have acquired the necessary information
his client once an engagement for legal services is accepted. A from Atty. Solidon to enable him to file the petition even pending the
lawyer so engaged to represent a client bears the responsibility of IBP Commission on Bar Discipline investigation. As matters now
protecting the latters interest with utmost diligence.18 The lawyer stand, he did not take any action to initiate communication. These
bears the duty to serve his client with competence and diligence, omissions unequivocally point to Atty. Macalalads lack of due care
and to exert his best efforts to protect, within the bounds of the law, that now warrants disciplinary action.
the interest of his or her client.19 Accordingly, competence, not only
in the knowledge of law, but also in the management of the cases by In addition to the above finding of negligence, we also find Atty.
giving these cases appropriate attention and due preparation, is Macalalad guilty of violating Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional
expected from a lawyer.201avvphi1 Responsibility which requires a lawyer to account for all the money
received from the client. In this case, Atty. Macalalad did not
The records in this case tell us that Atty. Macalalad failed to act as he immediately account for and promptly return the money he received
committed when he failed to file the required petition. He cannot from Atty. Solidon even after he failed to render any legal service
now shift the blame to his clients since it was his duty as a lawyer to within the contracted time of the engagement. 22
communicate with them. At any rate, we reject Atty. Macalalads
defense that it was his clients who failed to contact him. Although no The Penalty
previous communication transpired between Atty. Macalalad and his
clients, the records nevertheless show that Atty. Solidon, who Based on these considerations, we modify the IBP Commission on
contracted Atty. Macalalads services in behalf of his relatives, tried Bar Disciplines recommended penalty by increasing the period of
his best to reach him prior to the filing of the present disbarment Atty. Macalalads suspension from the practice of law from three (3)
case. Atty. Solidon even enlisted the aid of Ms. Cabo-Borata to follow- months, to six (6) months.23 In this regard, we follow the Courts lead
up on the status of the registration application with Atty. Macalalad. in Parias v. Paguinto24 where we imposed on the respondent lawyer
suspension of six (6) months from the practice of law for violations of
As narrated by Ms. Cabo-Borata in her affidavit, 21 she succeeded Rule 16.01 and Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
several times in getting in touch with Atty. Macalalad and on those
occasions asked him about the progress of the case. To use Ms. WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby AFFIRM WITH
Cabo-Boratas own words, she received "no clear-cut answers from MODIFICATION Resolution No. XVIII-2008-336 dated July 17, 2008
him"; he just informed her that everything was "on process." We give of the Board of Governors of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline.
credence to these narrations considering Atty. Macalalads failure to We impose on Atty. Ramil E. Macalalad the penalty of SIX (6)
contradict them or deny their veracity, in marked contrast with his MONTHS SUSPENSION from the practice of law for violations of Rule
vigorous denial of Atty. Solidons allegations. 16.03 and Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
effective upon finality of this Decision. Atty. Macalalad is STERNLY
We consider, too, that other motivating factors specifically, the WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt
monetary consideration and the fixed period of performance should with more severely.
have made it more imperative for Atty. Macalalad to promptly take
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Atty. Macalalad is also ORDERED to RETURN to Atty. Elmer C. Solidon

the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) with interest of
twelve percent (12%) per annum from the date of promulgation of
this Decision until the full amount is returned.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar

Confidant and noted in Atty. Macalalads record as a member of the