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Republic of the Philippines The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article XII-

SUPREME COURT C of the 1973 Constitution which similarly provides:


Manila
There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of
SECOND DIVISION a Chairman and eight Commissioners who shall be natural-born
citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at
G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991
least thirty-five years of age and holders of a college degree.
RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner, However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be
vs. members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the
CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. SALONGA, practice of law for at least ten years.' (Emphasis supplied)
COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENT, and HON. GUILLERMO
CARAGUE, in his capacity as Secretary of Budget and Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what
constitutes practice of law as a legal qualification to an appointive
Management, respondents.
office.
Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf. Black defines "practice of law" as:
Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano co-counsel for The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the
petitioner. application of legal principles and technique to serve the
interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to
PARAS, J.: appearing in court, or advising and assisting in the conduct of
litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and
We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching proportions. other papers incident to actions and special proceedings,
While ostensibly only legal issues are involved, the Court's decision conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all
in this case would indubitably have a profound effect on the political kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces
aspect of our national existence. all advice to clients and all actions taken for them in matters
connected with the law. An attorney engages in the practice of
The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C: law by maintaining an office where he is held out to be-an
attorney, using a letterhead describing himself as an attorney,
There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a counseling clients in legal matters, negotiating with opposing
Chairman and six Commissioners who shall be natural-born counsel about pending litigation, and fixing and collecting
citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their fees for services rendered by his associate. (Black's Law
appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, holders of a Dictionary, 3rd ed.)
college degree, and must not have been candidates for any
elective position in the immediately preceding -elections. The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court.
However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be (Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken, 129 Ohio St. 23, 193
members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the N.E. 650) A person is also considered to be in the practice of law
practice of law for at least ten years. (Emphasis supplied) when he:

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... for valuable consideration engages in the business of immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces
advising person, firms, associations or corporations as to their conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a large variety of
rights under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as subjects, and the preparation and execution of legal
an advocate in proceedings pending or prospective, before instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust
any court, commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may
commission constituted by law or authorized to settle have no direct connection with court proceedings, they are
controversies and there, in such representative capacity always subject to become involved in litigation. They require
performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or in many aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide
defending the rights of their clients under the law. Otherwise experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for
stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These
business of advising clients as to their rights under the law, or customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear
while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or an intimate relation to the administration of justice by the
outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of courts. No valid distinction, so far as concerns the question
law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 set forth in the order, can be drawn between that part of the
S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852) work of the lawyer which involves appearance in court and
that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments in
This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v.Agrava, his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that
(105 Phil. 173,176-177) stated: these manifold customary functions be performed by persons
possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound moral
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or character, and acting at all times under the heavy trust
litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings obligations to clients which rests upon all attorneys. (Moran,
and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , p. 665-
the management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of 666, citing In re Opinion of the Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E.
clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveying. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service
In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them Assoc. [R.I.] 179 A. 139,144). (Emphasis ours)
in matters connected with the law incorporation services,
assessment and condemnation services contemplating an The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting
appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a orientation briefing for new lawyers (1974-1975) listed the
mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and dimensions of the practice of law in even broader terms as advocacy,
insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in counselling and public service.
attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have
been held to constitute law practice, as do the preparation and One may be a practicing attorney in following any line of
drafting of legal instruments, where the work done involves employment in the profession. If what he does exacts
the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect knowledge of the law and is of a kind usual for attorneys
of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). (Emphasis engaging in the active practice of their profession, and he
supplied) follows some one or more lines of employment such as this he
is a practicing attorney at law within the meaning of the
Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no small statute. (Barr v. Cardell, 155 NW 312)
part of work performed outside of any court and having no
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Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires This has been discussed by the Committee on Constitutional
the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and Commissions and Agencies and we deem it important to take it up on
experience. "To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts the floor so that this interpretation may be made available whenever
which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law this provision on the qualifications as regards members of the
is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or Philippine Bar engaging in the practice of law for at least ten years is
service requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill." taken up.
(111 ALR 23)
MR. OPLE. Will Commissioner Foz yield to just one
The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show question.
that it has adopted a liberal interpretation of the term "practice of
law." MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. FOZ. Before we suspend the session, may I make a MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect, saying that service in the COA by
manifestation which I forgot to do during our review of the a lawyer is equivalent to the requirement of a law practice
provisions on the Commission on Audit. May I be allowed to that is set forth in the Article on the Commission on Audit?
make a very brief statement?
MR. FOZ. We must consider the fact that the work of COA,
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). although it is auditing, will necessarily involve legal work; it
will involve legal work. And, therefore, lawyers who are
The Commissioner will please proceed. employed in COA now would have the necessary
qualifications in accordance with the Provision on
MR. FOZ. This has to do with the qualifications of the qualifications under our provisions on the Commission on
members of the Commission on Audit. Among others, the Audit. And, therefore, the answer is yes.
qualifications provided for by Section I is that "They must be
Members of the Philippine Bar" I am quoting from the MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the construction given to this is that
provision "who have been engaged in the practice of law this is equivalent to the practice of law.
for at least ten years".
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
To avoid any misunderstanding which would result in excluding
members of the Bar who are now employed in the COA or MR. OPLE. Thank you.
Commission on Audit, we would like to make the clarification that
this provision on qualifications regarding members of the Bar does ... ( Emphasis supplied)
not necessarily refer or involve actual practice of law outside the
COA We have to interpret this to mean that as long as the lawyers Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides, among
who are employed in the COA are using their legal knowledge or others, that the Chairman and two Commissioners of the Commission
legal talent in their respective work within COA, then they are on Audit (COA) should either be certified public accountants with
qualified to be considered for appointment as members or not less than ten years of auditing practice, or members of the
commissioners, even chairman, of the Commission on Audit. Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at
least ten years. (emphasis supplied)
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Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind
many ways synonymous with the word "lawyer." Today, although reflects history, not reality. (Ibid.). Why is this so? Recall that the late
many lawyers do not engage in private practice, it is still a fact that Alexander SyCip, a corporate lawyer, once articulated on the
the majority of lawyers are private practitioners. (Gary Munneke, importance of a lawyer as a business counselor in this wise: "Even
Opportunities in Law Careers [VGM Career Horizons: Illinois], today, there are still uninformed laymen whose concept of an attorney
[1986], p. 15). is one who principally tries cases before the courts. The members of
the bench and bar and the informed laymen such as businessmen,
At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, know that in most developed societies today, substantially more legal
as commonly understood, means "an individual or organization work is transacted in law offices than in the courtrooms. General
engaged in the business of delivering legal services." (Ibid.). Lawyers practitioners of law who do both litigation and non-litigation work
who practice alone are often called "sole practitioners." Groups of also know that in most cases they find themselves spending more
lawyers are called "firms." The firm is usually a partnership and time doing what [is] loosely desccribe[d] as business counseling than
members of the firm are the partners. Some firms may be organized in trying cases. The business lawyer has been described as the
as professional corporations and the members called shareholders. In planner, the diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t] need
either case, the members of the firm are the experienced attorneys. In not [be] stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be
most firms, there are younger or more inexperienced salaried avoided where internal medicine can be effective." (Business Star,
attorneyscalled "associates." (Ibid.). "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).

The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas of In the course of a working day the average general practitioner wig
law practice is essentially tautologous, unhelpful defining the practice engage in a number of legal tasks, each involving different legal
of law as that which lawyers do. (Charles W. Wolfram, Modern Legal doctrines, legal skills, legal processes, legal institutions, clients, and
Ethics [West Publishing Co.: Minnesota, 1986], p. 593). The practice other interested parties. Even the increasing numbers of lawyers in
of law is defined as the performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, specialized practice wig usually perform at least some legal services
commonly understood to be the practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v. outside their specialty. And even within a narrow specialty such as
Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863, 870 tax practice, a lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as
[1958] [quoting Grievance Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d advice-giving to an importantly different one such as representing a
623, 626 [1941]). Because lawyers perform almost every function client before an administrative agency. (Wolfram, supra, p. 687).
known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a definition
would obviously be too global to be workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.). By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the
lawyer is one of the relatively rare types a litigator who
The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at specializes in this work to the exclusion of much else. Instead, the
once the most publicly familiar role for lawyers as well as an work will require the lawyer to have mastered the full range of
uncommon role for the average lawyer. Most lawyers spend little traditional lawyer skills of client counselling, advice-giving,
time in courtrooms, and a large percentage spend their entire practice document drafting, and negotiation. And increasingly lawyers find
without litigating a case. (Ibid., p. 593). Nonetheless, many lawyers that the new skills of evaluation and mediation are both effective for
do continue to litigate and the litigating lawyer's role colors much of many clients and a source of employment. (Ibid.).
both the public image and the self perception of the legal profession.
(Ibid.). Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in litigation
work that is constrained in very important ways, at least theoretically,
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so as to remove from it some of the salient features of adversarial the predictive component of the policy-making process,
litigation. Of these special roles, the most prominent is that of wherein a "model", of the decisional context or a segment
prosecutor. In some lawyers' work the constraints are imposed both thereof is developed to test projected alternative courses of
by the nature of the client and by the way in which the lawyer is action in terms of futuristic effects flowing therefrom.
organized into a social unit to perform that work. The most common
of these roles are those of corporate practice and government legal Although members of the legal profession are regularly
service. (Ibid.). engaged in predicting and projecting the trends of the law, the
subject of corporate finance law has received relatively little
In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein below organized and formalized attention in the philosophy of
quoted are emerging trends in corporate law practice, a departure advancing corporate legal education. Nonetheless, a cross-
from the traditional concept of practice of law. disciplinary approach to legal research has become a vital
necessity.
We are experiencing today what truly may be called a
revolutionary transformation in corporate law practice. Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions
Lawyers and other professional groups, in particular those by those trained primarily in the law can be improved through
members participating in various legal-policy decisional an early introduction to multi-variable decisional context and
contexts, are finding that understanding the major emerging the various approaches for handling such problems. Lawyers,
trends in corporation law is indispensable to intelligent particularly with either a master's or doctorate degree in
decision-making. business administration or management, functioning at the
legal policy level of decision-making now have some
Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems of today appreciation for the concepts and analytical techniques of
requires an accurate understanding of the nature and other professions which are currently engaged in similar types
implications of the corporate law research function of complex decision-making.
accompanied by an accelerating rate of information
accumulation. The recognition of the need for such improved Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate finance
corporate legal policy formulation, particularly "model- problems would require the services of an astute attorney
making" and "contingency planning," has impressed upon us because of the complex legal implications that arise from each
the inadequacy of traditional procedures in many decisional and every necessary step in securing and maintaining the
contexts. business issue raised. (Business Star, "Corporate Finance
Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
In a complex legal problem the mass of information to be
processed, the sorting and weighing of significant conditional In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is
factors, the appraisal of major trends, the necessity of assiduously referred to as the "abogado de campanilla." He is
estimating the consequences of given courses of action, and the "big-time" lawyer, earning big money and with a clientele
the need for fast decision and response in situations of acute composed of the tycoons and magnates of business and
danger have prompted the use of sophisticated concepts of industry.
information flow theory, operational analysis, automatic data
processing, and electronic computing equipment. Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers, many
Understandably, an improved decisional structure must stress people could not explain what it is that a corporate lawyer
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does. For one, the number of attorneys employed by a single overseas jobs go to experienced attorneys while the younger
corporation will vary with the size and type of the attorneys do their "international practice" in law libraries.
corporation. Many smaller and some large corporations farm (Business Star, "Corporate Law Practice," May 25,1990, p. 4).
out all their legal problems to private law firms. Many others
have in-house counsel only for certain matters. Other This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the lawyer in
corporation have a staff large enough to handle most legal the realm of finance. To borrow the lines of Harvard-educated
problems in-house. lawyer Bruce Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is one who
fails to spot problems, a good lawyer is one who perceives the
A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a lawyer difficulties, and the excellent lawyer is one who surmounts
who handles the legal affairs of a corporation. His areas of them." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11,
concern or jurisdiction may include, inter alia: corporate legal 1989, p. 4).
research, tax laws research, acting out as corporate secretary
(in board meetings), appearances in both courts and other Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs a "shot
adjudicatory agencies (including the Securities and Exchange in the arm," so to speak. No longer are we talking of the
Commission), and in other capacities which require an ability traditional law teaching method of confining the subject study
to deal with the law. to the Corporation Code and the Securities Code but an
incursion as well into the intertwining modern management
At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume responsibilities issues.
other than the legal affairs of the business of the corporation
he is representing. These include such matters as determining Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily with
policy and becoming involved in management. ( Emphasis three (3) types of learning: (1) acquisition of insights into
supplied.) current advances which are of particular significance to the
corporate counsel; (2) an introduction to usable disciplinary
In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling of skins applicable to a corporate counsel's management
being isolated from the action, or not understanding how one's responsibilities; and (3) a devotion to the organization and
work actually fits into the work of the orgarnization. This can management of the legal function itself.
be frustrating to someone who needs to see the results of his
work first hand. In short, a corporate lawyer is sometimes These three subject areas may be thought of as intersecting
offered this fortune to be more closely involved in the running circles, with a shared area linking them. Otherwise known as
of the business. "intersecting managerial jurisprudence," it forms a unifying
theme for the corporate counsel's total learning.
Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may sometimes be
engaged by a multinational corporation (MNC). Some large Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences affect
MNCs provide one of the few opportunities available to the counsel's role. For that matter, the corporate lawyer
corporate lawyers to enter the international law field. After reviews the globalization process, including the resulting
all, international law is practiced in a relatively small number strategic repositioning that the firms he provides counsel for
of companies and law firms. Because working in a foreign are required to make, and the need to think about a
country is perceived by many as glamorous, tills is an area corporation's; strategy at multiple levels. The salience of the
coveted by corporate lawyers. In most cases, however, the nation-state is being reduced as firms deal both with global
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multinational entities and simultaneously with sub-national In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of the
governmental units. Firms increasingly collaborate not only corporate lawyer vis-a-vis the managerial mettle of
with public entities but with each other often with those corporations are challenged. Current research is seeking
who are competitors in other arenas. ways both to anticipate effective managerial procedures and
to understand relationships of financial liability and insurance
Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in decision- considerations. (Emphasis supplied)
making within the corporation is rapidly changing. The
modem corporate lawyer has gained a new role as a Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three
stakeholder in some cases participating in the organization factors are apropos:
and operations of governance through participation on
boards and other decision-making roles. Often these new First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics has
patterns develop alongside existing legal institutions and laws been found an effective tool for new managerial thinking
are perceived as barriers. These trends are complicated as regarding both planning and pressing immediate problems.
corporations organize for global operations. ( Emphasis An understanding of the role of feedback loops, inventory
supplied) levels, and rates of flow, enable users to simulate all sorts of
systematic problems physical, economic, managerial,
The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with social, and psychological. New programming techniques now
governmental policies toward the promotion and management make the system dynamics principles more accessible to
of technology. New collaborative arrangements for promoting managers including corporate counsels. (Emphasis
specific technologies or competitiveness more generally supplied)
require approaches from industry that differ from older, more
adversarial relationships and traditional forms of seeking to Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make better
influence governmental policies. And there are lessons to be decisions involving complexity and uncertainty. In the context
learned from other countries. In Europe, Esprit, Eureka and of a law department, it can be used to appraise the settlement
Race are examples of collaborative efforts between value of litigation, aid in negotiation settlement, and minimize
governmental and business Japan's MITI is world famous. the cost and risk involved in managing a portfolio of cases.
(Emphasis supplied) (Emphasis supplied)

Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office of the Third Modeling for Negotiation Management. Computer-
Corporate Counsel comprises a distinct group within the based models can be used directly by parties and mediators in
managerial structure of all kinds of organizations. all lands of negotiations. All integrated set of such tools
Effectiveness of both long-term and temporary groups within provide coherent and effective negotiation support, including
organizations has been found to be related to indentifiable hands-on on instruction in these techniques. A simulation case
factors in the group-context interaction such as the groups of an international joint venture may be used to illustrate the
actively revising their knowledge of the environment point.
coordinating work with outsiders, promoting team
achievements within the organization. In general, such [Be this as it may,] the organization and management of the
external activities are better predictors of team performance legal function, concern three pointed areas of consideration,
than internal group processes. thus:
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Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires special The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the bench) is to
skills that comprise a major part of the general counsel's have more than a passing knowledge of financial law
responsibilities. They differ from those of remedial law. affecting each aspect of their work. Yet, many would admit to
Preventive lawyering is concerned with minimizing the risks ignorance of vast tracts of the financial law territory. What
of legal trouble and maximizing legal rights for such legal transpires next is a dilemma of professional security: Will the
entities at that time when transactional or similar facts are lawyer admit ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he feign
being considered and made. understanding and risk exposure? (Business Star, "Corporate
Finance law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within
which are undertaken those activities of the firm to which Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon
legal consequences attach. It needs to be directly supportive C. Aquino to the position of Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter
of this nation's evolving economic and organizational fabric received by the Secretariat of the Commission on Appointments on
as firms change to stay competitive in a global, April 25, 1991. Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly
interdependent environment. The practice and theory of "law" Monsod does not possess the required qualification of having been
is not adequate today to facilitate the relationships needed in engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
trying to make a global economy work.
On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the
Organization and Functioning of the Corporate Counsel's nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18,
Office. The general counsel has emerged in the last decade as 1991, he took his oath of office. On the same day, he assumed office
one of the most vibrant subsets of the legal profession. The as Chairman of the COMELEC.
corporate counsel hear responsibility for key aspects of the
firm's strategic issues, including structuring its global Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on
operations, managing improved relationships with an Appointments of Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a citizen and
increasingly diversified body of employees, managing taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and Prohibition
expanded liability exposure, creating new and varied praying that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of
interactions with public decision-makers, coping internally Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared
with more complex make or by decisions. null and void.

This whole exercise drives home the thesis that knowing Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having
corporate law is not enough to make one a good general passed the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86-55%. He has
corporate counsel nor to give him a full sense of how the legal been a dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
system shapes corporate activities. And even if the corporate since its inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his
lawyer's aim is not the understand all of the law's effects on professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten years. (p. 124,
corporate activities, he must, at the very least, also gain a Rollo)
working knowledge of the management issues if only to be
able to grasp not only the basic legal "constitution' or makeup After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled
of the modem corporation. "Business Star", "The Corporate the bar, Atty. Monsod worked in the law office of his father. During
Counsel," April 10, 1991, p. 4). his stint in the World Bank Group (1963-1970), Monsod worked as
an operations officer for about two years in Costa Rica and Panama,
8
which involved getting acquainted with the laws of member-countries Bank of the Philippines, Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis
negotiating loans and coordinating legal, economic, and project supplied)
work of the Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he
worked with the Meralco Group, served as chief executive officer of After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's
an investment bank and subsequently of a business conglomerate, Constitution; it lays down the law as far as the loan
and since 1986, has rendered services to various companies as a transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat of any Loan
legal and economic consultant or chief executive officer. As former Agreement can be compartmentalized into five (5)
Secretary-General (1986) and National Chairman (1987) of fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's
NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved being knowledgeable in election representation; (3) conditions of closing; (4) covenants; and
law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation hearings before (5) events of default. (Ibid., p. 13).
the Comelec. In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in his personal
capacity and as former Co-Chairman of the Bishops Businessmen's In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any debt
Conference for Human Development, has worked with the under restructuring program. For aside from performing the tasks of
privileged sectors, such as the farmer and urban poor groups, in legislative drafting and legal advising, they score national
initiating, lobbying for and engaging in affirmative action for the development policies as key factors in maintaining their
agrarian reform law and lately the urban land reform bill. Monsod countries' sovereignty. (Condensed from the work paper,
also made use of his legal knowledge as a member of the Davide entitled "Wanted: Development Lawyers for Developing
Commission, a quast judicial body, which conducted numerous Nations," submitted by L. Michael Hager, regional legal
hearings (1990) and as a member of the Constitutional Commission adviser of the United States Agency for International
(1986-1987), and Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of Development, during the Session on Law for the
Public Officers, for which he was cited by the President of the Development of Nations at the Abidjan World Conference in
Commission, Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma for "innumerable Ivory Coast, sponsored by the World Peace Through Law
amendments to reconcile government functions with individual Center on August 26-31, 1973). ( Emphasis supplied)
freedoms and public accountability and the party-list system for the
House of Representative. (pp. 128-129 Rollo) ( Emphasis supplied) Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more so
than purely renegotiation policies, demand expertise in the
Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty. law of contracts, in legislation and agreement drafting and in
Monsod used to be a member. renegotiation. Necessarily, a sovereign lawyer may work with
an international business specialist or an economist in the
In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel acts as a formulation of a model loan agreement. Debt restructuring
team, and which is adequately constituted to meet the various contract agreements contain such a mixture of technical
contingencies that arise during a negotiation. Besides top language that they should be carefully drafted and signed only
officials of the Borrower concerned, there are the legal officer with the advise of competent counsel in conjunction with the
(such as the legal counsel), the finance manager, and an guidance of adequate technical support personnel. (See
operations officer (such as an official involved in negotiating International Law Aspects of the Philippine External Debts,
the contracts) who comprise the members of the team. an unpublished dissertation, U.S.T. Graduate School of Law,
(Guillermo V. Soliven, "Loan Negotiating Strategies for 1987, p. 321). ( Emphasis supplied)
Developing Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No. 2, Central

9
A critical aspect of sovereign debt restructuring/contract considerations of wisdom which only the appointing authority
construction is the set of terms and conditions which can decide. (emphasis supplied)
determines the contractual remedies for a failure to perform
one or more elements of the contract. A good agreement must No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v. Civil
not only define the responsibilities of both parties, but must Service Commission, 171 SCRA 744) where it stated:
also state the recourse open to either party when the other
fails to discharge an obligation. For a compleat debt It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified, as in
restructuring represents a devotion to that principle which in this case, and all the other legal requirements are satisfied, the
the ultimate analysis is sine qua non for foreign loan Commission has no alternative but to attest to the
agreements-an adherence to the rule of law in domestic and appointment in accordance with the Civil Service Law. The
international affairs of whose kind U.S. Supreme Court Commission has no authority to revoke an appointment on the
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said: "They carry no ground that another person is more qualified for a particular
banners, they beat no drums; but where they are, men learn position. It also has no authority to direct the appointment of a
that bustle and bush are not the equal of quiet genius and substitute of its choice. To do so would be an encroachment
serene mastery." (See Ricardo J. Romulo, "The Role of on the discretion vested upon the appointing authority. An
Lawyers in Foreign Investments," Integrated Bar of the appointment is essentially within the discretionary power of
Philippine Journal, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and Fourth whomsoever it is vested, subject to the only condition that the
Quarters, 1977, p. 265). appointee should possess the qualifications required by law.
(Emphasis supplied)
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice
of law". particularly the modern concept of law practice, and taking The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at bar,
into consideration the liberal construction intended by the framers of consists of four (4) stages: (1) nomination; (2) confirmation by the
the Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past work experiences as a lawyer- Commission on Appointments; (3) issuance of a commission (in the
economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a Philippines, upon submission by the Commission on Appointments of
lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the its certificate of confirmation, the President issues the permanent
rich and the poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional appointment; and (4) acceptance e.g., oath-taking, posting of bond,
requirement that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at etc. . . . (Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949; Gonzales,
least ten years. Law on Public Officers, p. 200)

Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its consent to
143 SCRA 327, the Court said: the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on
Elections is mandated by Section 1(2) Sub-Article C, Article IX of
Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must the Constitution which provides:
be performed by the officer in which it is vested according to
his best lights, the only condition being that the appointee The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be appointed by
should possess the qualifications required by law. If he does, the President with the consent of the Commission on
then the appointment cannot be faulted on the ground that Appointments for a term of seven years without
there are others better qualified who should have been reappointment. Of those first appointed, three Members shall
preferred. This is a political question involving hold office for seven years, two Members for five years, and
10
the last Members for three years, without reappointment. We now proceed:
Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired
term of the predecessor. In no case shall any Member be The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public
appointed or designated in a temporary or acting capacity. hearings on Monsod's confirmation, implicitly determined that he
possessed the necessary qualifications as required by law. The
Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion, suffice it to judgment rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an
say that his definition of the practice of law is the traditional acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference except only
or stereotyped notion of law practice, as distinguished from upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion amounting to
the modern concept of the practice of law, which modern lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus,
connotation is exactly what was intended by the eminent only where such grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the
framers of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's Court interfere with the Commission's judgment. In the instant case,
definition would require generally a habitual law practice, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court's corrective power,
perhaps practised two or three times a week and would outlaw since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion, that would
say, law practice once or twice a year for ten consecutive amount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the
years. Clearly, this is far from the constitutional intent. issuance of the writs prayed, for has been clearly shown.

Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz Additionally, consider the following:
states that in my written opinion, I made use of a definition of law
practice which really means nothing because the definition says that (1) If the Commission on Appointments rejects a nominee by
law practice " . . . is what people ordinarily mean by the practice of the President, may the Supreme Court reverse the
law." True I cited the definition but only by way of sarcasm as Commission, and thus in effect confirm the appointment?
evident from my statement that the definition of law practice by Clearly, the answer is in the negative.
"traditional areas of law practice is essentially tautologous" or
defining a phrase by means of the phrase itself that is being defined. (2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom
the Commission has confirmed? The answer is likewise clear.
Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers
almost all situations, most individuals, in making use of the law, or in (3) If the United States Senate (which is the confirming body
advising others on what the law means, are actually practicing law. In in the U.S. Congress) decides to confirm a Presidential
that sense, perhaps, but we should not lose sight of the fact that Mr. nominee, it would be incredible that the U.S. Supreme Court
Monsod is a lawyer, a member of the Philippine Bar, who has been would still reverse the U.S. Senate.
practising law for over ten years. This is different from the acts of
persons practising law, without first becoming lawyers. Finally, one significant legal maxim is:

Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify an We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the
elected President of the Philippines, say, on the ground that he lacks spirit that giveth life.
one or more qualifications. This matter, I greatly doubt. For one
thing, how can an action or petition be brought against the President? Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the
And even assuming that he is indeed disqualified, how can the action procurator of Judea asked Delilah (who was Samson's beloved) for
be entertained since he is the incumbent President? help in capturing Samson. Delilah agreed on condition that
11
No blade shall touch his skin; After considering carefully respondent Monsod's comment, I am even
more convinced that the constitutional requirement of "practice of
No blood shall flow from his veins. law for at least ten (10) years" has not been met.

When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the The procedural barriers interposed by respondents deserve scant
procurator placed an iron rod burning white-hot two or three inches consideration because, ultimately, the core issue to be resolved in this
away from in front of Samson's eyes. This blinded the man. Upon petition is the proper construal of the constitutional provision
hearing of what had happened to her beloved, Delilah was beside requiring a majority of the membership of COMELEC, including the
herself with anger, and fuming with righteous fury, accused the Chairman thereof to "have been engaged in the practice of law for at
procurator of reneging on his word. The procurator calmly replied: least ten (10) years." (Art. IX(C), Section 1(1), 1987 Constitution).
"Did any blade touch his skin? Did any blood flow from his veins?" Questions involving the construction of constitutional provisions are
The procurator was clearly relying on the letter, not the spirit of the best left to judicial resolution. As declared in Angara v. Electoral
agreement. Commission, (63 Phil. 139) "upon the judicial department is thrown
the solemn and inescapable obligation of interpreting the Constitution
In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED. and defining constitutional boundaries."

SO ORDERED. The Constitution has imposed clear and specific standards for a
COMELEC Chairman. Among these are that he must have been
"engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years." It is the
bounden duty of this Court to ensure that such standard is met and
Separate Opinions complied with.

PADILLA, J., dissenting: What constitutes practice of law? As commonly understood,


"practice" refers to the actual performance or application of
The records of this case will show that when the Court first knowledge as distinguished from mere possession of knowledge; it
deliberated on the Petition at bar, I voted not only to require the connotes an active, habitual, repeated or customary action.1 To
respondents to comment on the Petition, but I was the sole vote for "practice" law, or any profession for that matter, means, to exercise or
the issuance of a temporary restraining order to enjoin respondent pursue an employment or profession actively, habitually, repeatedly
Monsod from assuming the position of COMELEC Chairman, while or customarily.
the Court deliberated on his constitutional qualification for the office.
My purpose in voting for a TRO was to prevent the inconvenience Therefore, a doctor of medicine who is employed and is habitually
and even embarrassment to all parties concerned were the Court to performing the tasks of a nursing aide, cannot be said to be in the
finally decide for respondent Monsod's disqualification. Moreover, a "practice of medicine." A certified public accountant who works as a
reading of the Petition then in relation to established jurisprudence clerk, cannot be said to practice his profession as an accountant. In
already showed prima facie that respondent Monsod did not possess the same way, a lawyer who is employed as a business executive or a
the needed qualification, that is, he had not engaged in the practice of corporate manager, other than as head or attorney of a Legal
law for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment as COMELEC Department of a corporation or a governmental agency, cannot be
Chairman. said to be in the practice of law.

12
As aptly held by this Court in the case of People vs. Villanueva:2 Villanueva, supra). Hence, charging for services such as
preparation of documents involving the use of legal
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists knowledge and skill is within the term "practice of law"
in frequent or customary actions, a succession of acts of the (Ernani Pao, Bar Reviewer in Legal and Judicial Ethics,
same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise 1988 ed., p. 8 citing People v. People's Stockyards State Bank,
(State vs- Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). 176 N.B. 901) and, one who renders an opinion as to the
Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is to
been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's that extent, practicing law (Martin, supra, p. 806 citing
self out to the public as a lawyer and demanding payment for Mendelaun v. Gilbert and Barket Mfg. Co., 290 N.Y.S. 462) If
such services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. compensation is expected, all advice to clients and all action
644,647.) ... (emphasis supplied). taken for them in matters connected with the law; are
practicing law. (Elwood Fitchette et al., v. Arthur C. Taylor,
It is worth mentioning that the respondent Commission on 94A-L.R. 356-359)
Appointments in a Memorandum it prepared, enumerated several
factors determinative of whether a particular activity constitutes 3. Application of law legal principle practice or procedure
"practice of law." It states: which calls for legal knowledge, training and experience is
within the term "practice of law". (Martin supra)
1. Habituality. The term "practice of law" implies customarily
or habitually holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer 4. Attorney-client relationship. Engaging in the practice of
(People vs. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. Boyen, 4 law presupposes the existence of lawyer-client relationship.
S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when one sends a circular Hence, where a lawyer undertakes an activity which requires
announcing the establishment of a law office for the general knowledge of law but involves no attorney-client relationship,
practice of law (U.S. v. Ney Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when such as teaching law or writing law books or articles, he
one takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary public, cannot be said to be engaged in the practice of his profession
and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it or a lawyer (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 ed., p. 30).3
of his intention to practice law in all courts in the country
(People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968). The above-enumerated factors would, I believe, be useful aids in
determining whether or not respondent Monsod meets the
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in constitutional qualification of practice of law for at least ten (10)
frequent or customary action, a succession of acts of the same years at the time of his appointment as COMELEC Chairman.
kind. In other words, it is a habitual exercise (People v.
Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 The following relevant questions may be asked:
Kan, 864).
1. Did respondent Monsod perform any of the tasks which are
2. Compensation. Practice of law implies that one must have peculiar to the practice of law?
presented himself to be in the active and continued practice of
the legal profession and that his professional services are 2. Did respondent perform such tasks customarily or habitually?
available to the public for compensation, as a service of his
livelihood or in consideration of his said services. (People v.
13
3. Assuming that he performed any of such tasks habitually, did he do Of the fourteen (14) member Court, 5 are of the view that Mr.
so HABITUALLY FOR AT LEAST TEN (10) YEARS prior to his Christian Monsod engaged in the practice of law (with one of these 5
appointment as COMELEC Chairman? leaving his vote behind while on official leave but not expressing his
clear stand on the matter); 4 categorically stating that he did not
Given the employment or job history of respondent Monsod as practice law; 2 voting in the result because there was no error so
appears from the records, I am persuaded that if ever he did perform gross as to amount to grave abuse of discretion; one of official leave
any of the tasks which constitute the practice of law, he did not do so with no instructions left behind on how he viewed the issue; and 2
HABITUALLY for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment as not taking part in the deliberations and the decision.
COMELEC Chairman.
There are two key factors that make our task difficult. First is our
While it may be granted that he performed tasks and activities which reviewing the work of a constitutional Commission on Appointments
could be latitudinarianly considered activities peculiar to the practice whose duty is precisely to look into the qualifications of persons
of law, like the drafting of legal documents and the rendering of legal appointed to high office. Even if the Commission errs, we have no
opinion or advice, such were isolated transactions or activities which power to set aside error. We can look only into grave abuse of
do not qualify his past endeavors as "practice of law." To become discretion or whimsically and arbitrariness. Second is our belief that
engaged in the practice of law, there must be a continuity, or a Mr. Monsod possesses superior qualifications in terms of executive
succession of acts. As observed by the Solicitor General in People vs. ability, proficiency in management, educational background,
Villanueva:4 experience in international banking and finance, and instant
recognition by the public. His integrity and competence are not
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one questioned by the petitioner. What is before us is compliance with a
must have presented himself to be in the active and continued specific requirement written into the Constitution.
practice of the legal profession and that his professional
services are available to the public for a compensation, as a Inspite of my high regard for Mr. Monsod, I cannot shirk my
source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said constitutional duty. He has never engaged in the practice of law for
services. even one year. He is a member of the bar but to say that he has
practiced law is stretching the term beyond rational limits.
ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to declare
respondent Monsod as not qualified for the position of COMELEC A person may have passed the bar examinations. But if he has not
Chairman for not having engaged in the practice of law for at least dedicated his life to the law, if he has not engaged in an activity
ten (10) years prior to his appointment to such position. where membership in the bar is a requirement I fail to see how he can
claim to have been engaged in the practice of law.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:
Engaging in the practice of law is a qualification not only for
When this petition was filed, there was hope that engaging in the COMELEC chairman but also for appointment to the Supreme Court
practice of law as a qualification for public office would be settled and all lower courts. What kind of Judges or Justices will we have if
one way or another in fairly definitive terms. Unfortunately, this was there main occupation is selling real estate, managing a business
not the result. corporation, serving in fact-finding committee, working in media, or
operating a farm with no active involvement in the law, whether in

14
Government or private practice, except that in one joyful moment in 3. 1970-1973: Meralco Group Executive of various
the distant past, they happened to pass the bar examinations? companies, i.e., Meralco Securities Corporation, Philippine
Petroleum Corporation, Philippine Electric Corporation
The Constitution uses the phrase "engaged in the practice of law for
at least ten years." The deliberate choice of words shows that the 4. 1973-1976: Yujuico Group President, Fil-Capital
practice envisioned is active and regular, not isolated, occasional, Development Corporation and affiliated companies
accidental, intermittent, incidental, seasonal, or extemporaneous. To
be "engaged" in an activity for ten years requires committed 5. 1976-1978: Finaciera Manila Chief Executive Officer
participation in something which is the result of one's decisive
choice. It means that one is occupied and involved in the enterprise; 6. 1978-1986: Guevent Group of Companies Chief
one is obliged or pledged to carry it out with intent and attention Executive Officer
during the ten-year period.
7. 1986-1987: Philippine Constitutional Commission
I agree with the petitioner that based on the bio-data submitted by Member
respondent Monsod to the Commission on Appointments, the latter
has not been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. In 8. 1989-1991: The Fact-Finding Commission on the
fact, if appears that Mr. Monsod has never practiced law except for December 1989 Coup Attempt Member
an alleged one year period after passing the bar examinations when
he worked in his father's law firm. Even then his law practice must 9. Presently: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive
have been extremely limited because he was also working for M.A. Officer of the following companies:
and Ph. D. degrees in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania
during that period. How could he practice law in the United States a. ACE Container Philippines, Inc.
while not a member of the Bar there?
b. Dataprep, Philippines
The professional life of the respondent follows:
c. Philippine SUNsystems Products, Inc.
1.15.1. Respondent Monsod's activities since his passing the
Bar examinations in 1961 consist of the following: d. Semirara Coal Corporation

1. 1961-1963: M.A. in Economics (Ph. D. candidate), e. CBL Timber Corporation


University of Pennsylvania
Member of the Board of the Following:
2. 1963-1970: World Bank Group Economist, Industry
Department; Operations, Latin American Department; a. Engineering Construction Corporation of the Philippines
Division Chief, South Asia and Middle East, International
Finance Corporation b. First Philippine Energy Corporation

c. First Philippine Holdings Corporation

15
d. First Philippine Industrial Corporation teacher, policeman, farmer, fisherman, market vendor, and student to
name only a few. And yet, can these people honestly assert that as
e. Graphic Atelier such, they are engaged in the practice of law?

f. Manila Electric Company The Constitution requires having been "engaged in the practice of
law for at least ten years." It is not satisfied with having been "a
g. Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc. member of the Philippine bar for at least ten years."

h. Philippine Electric Corporation Some American courts have defined the practice of law, as follows:

i. Tarlac Reforestation and Environment Enterprises The practice of law involves not only appearance in court in
connection with litigation but also services rendered out of
j. Tolong Aquaculture Corporation court, and it includes the giving of advice or the rendering of
any services requiring the use of legal skill or knowledge,
k. Visayan Aquaculture Corporation such as preparing a will, contract or other instrument, the
legal effect of which, under the facts and conditions involved,
l. Guimaras Aquaculture Corporation (Rollo, pp. 21-22) must be carefully determined. People ex rel. Chicago Bar
Ass'n v. Tinkoff, 399 Ill. 282, 77 N.E.2d 693; People ex rel.
There is nothing in the above bio-data which even remotely indicates Illinois State Bar Ass'n v. People's Stock Yards State Bank,
that respondent Monsod has given the law enough attention or a 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901, and cases cited.
certain degree of commitment and participation as would support in
all sincerity and candor the claim of having engaged in its practice It would be difficult, if not impossible to lay down a formula
for at least ten years. Instead of working as a lawyer, he has lawyers or definition of what constitutes the practice of law.
working for him. Instead of giving receiving that legal advice of legal "Practicing law" has been defined as "Practicing as an
services, he was the oneadvice and those services as an executive but attorney or counselor at law according to the laws and
not as a lawyer. customs of our courts, is the giving of advice or rendition of
any sort of service by any person, firm or corporation when
The deliberations before the Commission on Appointments show an the giving of such advice or rendition of such service requires
effort to equate "engaged in the practice of law" with the use of legal the use of any degree of legal knowledge or skill." Without
knowledge in various fields of endeavor such as commerce, industry, adopting that definition, we referred to it as being
civic work, blue ribbon investigations, agrarian reform, etc. where substantially correct in People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n
such knowledge would be helpful. v. People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901.
(People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773, 776)
I regret that I cannot join in playing fast and loose with a term, which
even an ordinary layman accepts as having a familiar and customary For one's actions to come within the purview of practice of law they
well-defined meaning. Every resident of this country who has should not only be activities peculiar to the work of a lawyer, they
reached the age of discernment has to know, follow, or apply the law should also be performed, habitually, frequently or customarily, to
at various times in his life. Legal knowledge is useful if not necessary wit:
for the business executive, legislator, mayor, barangay captain,
16
xxx xxx xxx Strictly, these professional persons are attorneys at law, and
non-professional agents are properly styled "attorney's in
Respondent's answers to questions propounded to him were fact;" but the single word is much used as meaning an
rather evasive. He was asked whether or not he ever prepared attorney at law. A person may be an attorney in facto for
contracts for the parties in real-estate transactions where he another, without being an attorney at law. Abb. Law Dict.
was not the procuring agent. He answered: "Very seldom." In "Attorney." A public attorney, or attorney at law, says
answer to the question as to how many times he had prepared Webster, is an officer of a court of law, legally qualified to
contracts for the parties during the twenty-one years of his prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of
business, he said: "I have no Idea." When asked if it would be clients. "The principal duties of an attorney are (1) to be true
more than half a dozen times his answer was I suppose. Asked to the court and to his client; (2) to manage the business of his
if he did not recall making the statement to several parties that client with care, skill, and integrity; (3) to keep his client
he had prepared contracts in a large number of instances, he informed as to the state of his business; (4) to keep his secrets
answered: "I don't recall exactly what was said." When asked confided to him as such. ... His rights are to be justly
if he did not remember saying that he had made a practice of compensated for his services." Bouv. Law Dict. tit.
preparing deeds, mortgages and contracts and charging a fee "Attorney." The transitive verb "practice," as defined by
to the parties therefor in instances where he was not the Webster, means 'to do or perform frequently, customarily, or
broker in the deal, he answered: "Well, I don't believe so, that habitually; to perform by a succession of acts, as, to practice
is not a practice." Pressed further for an answer as to his gaming, ... to carry on in practice, or repeated action; to
practice in preparing contracts and deeds for parties where he apply, as a theory, to real life; to exercise, as a profession,
was not the broker, he finally answered: "I have done about trade, art. etc.; as, to practice law or medicine,' etc...." (State
everything that is on the books as far as real estate is v. Bryan, S.E. 522, 523; Emphasis supplied)
concerned."
In this jurisdiction, we have ruled that the practice of law denotes
xxx xxx xxx frequency or a succession of acts. Thus, we stated in the case of
People v. Villanueva (14 SCRA 109 [1965]):
Respondent takes the position that because he is a real-estate
broker he has a lawful right to do any legal work in xxx xxx xxx
connection with real-estate transactions, especially in drawing
of real-estate contracts, deeds, mortgages, notes and the like. ... Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in
There is no doubt but that he has engaged in these practices frequent or customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind.
over the years and has charged for his services in that In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State v. Cotner, 127,
connection. ... (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773) p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within
the prohibition of statute has been interpreted as customarily or
xxx xxx xxx habitually holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and
demanding payment for such services. ... . (at p. 112)
... An attorney, in the most general sense, is a person
designated or employed by another to act in his stead; an It is to be noted that the Commission on Appointment itself
agent; more especially, one of a class of persons authorized to recognizes habituality as a required component of the meaning of
appear and act for suitors or defendants in legal proceedings. practice of law in a Memorandum prepared and issued by it, to wit:
17
l. Habituality. The term 'practice of law' implies the Constitution in prescribing the specific qualification of having
customarilyor habitually holding one's self out to the public as engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years for the
a lawyer (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. position of COMELEC Chairman has ordered that he may not be
Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when one sends a confirmed for that office. The Constitution charges the public
circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the respondents no less than this Court to obey its mandate.
general practice of law (U.S. v. Noy Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or
when one takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary I, therefore, believe that the Commission on Appointments
public, and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court committed grave abuse of discretion in confirming the nomination of
informing it of his intention to practice law in all courts in the respondent Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC.
country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968).
I vote to GRANT the petition.
Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in
frequent or customary action, a succession of acts of the same
kind. In other words, it is a habitual exercise (People v.
Villanueva, 14 SCRA 1 09 citing State v. Cotner, 1 27, p. 1,
87 Kan, 864)." (Rollo, p. 115)

xxx xxx xxx

While the career as a businessman of respondent Monsod may have


profited from his legal knowledge, the use of such legal knowledge is
incidental and consists of isolated activities which do not fall under
the denomination of practice of law. Admission to the practice of law
was not required for membership in the Constitutional Commission
or in the Fact-Finding Commission on the 1989 Coup Attempt. Any
specific legal activities which may have been assigned to Mr.
Monsod while a member may be likened to isolated transactions of
foreign corporations in the Philippines which do not categorize the
foreign corporations as doing business in the Philippines. As in the
practice of law, doing business also should be active and continuous.
Isolated business transactions or occasional, incidental and casual
transactions are not within the context of doing business. This was
our ruling in the case of Antam Consolidated, Inc. v. Court of
appeals, 143 SCRA 288 [1986]).

Respondent Monsod, corporate executive, civic leader, and member


of the Constitutional Commission may possess the background,
competence, integrity, and dedication, to qualify for such high offices
as President, Vice-President, Senator, Congressman or Governor but
18
City, in Civil Case No. 02-0137, which denied the issuance of a writ
of preliminary injunction against the Metropolitan Trial Court
(MeTC), Branch 45, Pasay City, in Criminal Case No. 00-1705; 1 and
the RTCs Order dated June 5, 2002 denying the Motion for
Reconsideration. No writ of preliminary injunction was issued by this
Court.

The antecedents:

On September 25, 2000, Ferdinand A. Cruz (petitioner) filed before


the MeTC a formal Entry of Appearance, as private prosecutor, in
Criminal Case No. 00-1705 for Grave Threats, where his father,
Mariano Cruz, is the complaining witness.

The petitioner, describing himself as a third year law student, justifies


his appearance as private prosecutor on the bases of Section 34 of
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and the ruling of the Court En Banc in
Cantimbuhan v. Judge Cruz, Jr.2 that a non-lawyer may appear before
Republic of the Philippines the inferior courts as an agent or friend of a party litigant. The
SUPREME COURT petitioner furthermore avers that his appearance was with the prior
Baguio City conformity of the public prosecutor and a written authority of
Mariano Cruz appointing him to be his agent in the prosecution of the
THIRD DIVISION said criminal case.

G.R. No. 154207 April 27, 2007 However, in an Order dated February 1, 2002, the MeTC denied
permission for petitioner to appear as private prosecutor on the
FERDINAND A. CRUZ, Petitioner, ground that Circular No. 19 governing limited law student practice in
vs. conjunction with Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court (Law Student
ALBERTO MINA, HON. ELEUTERIO F. GUERRERO and Practice Rule) should take precedence over the ruling of the Court
HON. ZENAIDA LAGUILLES, Respondents. laid down in Cantimbuhan; and set the case for continuation of trial.3

DECISION On February 13, 2002, petitioner filed before the MeTC a Motion for
Reconsideration seeking to reverse the February 1, 2002 Order
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: alleging that Rule 138-A, or the Law Student Practice Rule, does not
have the effect of superseding Section 34 of Rule 138, for the
Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the authority to interpret the rule is the source itself of the rule, which is
Rules of Court, grounded on pure questions of law, with Prayer for the Supreme Court alone.
Preliminary Injunction assailing the Resolution dated May 3, 2002
promulgated by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 116, Pasay
19
In an Order dated March 4, 2002, the MeTC denied the Motion for Hold in Abeyance the Trial on the ground that the RTC had already
Reconsideration. denied the Entry of Appearance of petitioner before the MeTC.

On April 2, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Petition for On July 30, 2002, the petitioner directly filed with this Court, the
Certiorari and Mandamus with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and instant Petition and assigns the following errors:
Temporary Restraining Order against the private respondent and the
public respondent MeTC. I.

After hearing the prayer for preliminary injunction to restrain public the respondent regional trial court abused its discretion when it
respondent MeTC Judge from proceeding with Criminal Case No. resolved to deny the prayer for the writ of injunction of the herein
00-1705 pending the Certiorari proceedings, the RTC, in a Resolution petitioner despite petitioner having established the necessity of
dated May 3, 2002, resolved to deny the issuance of an injunctive granting the writ;
writ on the ground that the crime of Grave Threats, the subject of
Criminal Case No. 00-1705, is one that can be prosecuted de oficio, II.
there being no claim for civil indemnity, and that therefore, the
intervention of a private prosecutor is not legally tenable. THE RESPONDENT TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION,
TANTAMOUNT TO IGNORANCE OF THE LAW, WHEN IT
On May 9, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Motion for RESOLVED TO DENY THE PRAYER FOR THE WRIT OF
Reconsideration. The petitioner argues that nowhere does the law PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND THE SUBSEQUENT
provide that the crime of Grave Threats has no civil aspect. And last, MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF THE HEREIN
petitioner cites Bar Matter No. 730 dated June 10, 1997 which PETITIONER ON THE BASIS THAT [GRAVE] THREATS HAS
expressly provides for the appearance of a non-lawyer before the NO CIVIL ASPECT, FOR THE SAID BASIS OF DENIAL IS NOT
inferior courts, as an agent or friend of a party litigant, even without IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW;
the supervision of a member of the bar.
III.
Pending the resolution of the foregoing Motion for Reconsideration
before the RTC, the petitioner filed a Second Motion for THE RESPONDENT METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT ABUSED
Reconsideration dated June 7, 2002 with the MeTC seeking the ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT DENIED THE MOTION TO HOLD
reversal of the March 4, 2002 Denial Order of the said court, on the IN ABEYANCE TRIAL, WHEN WHAT WAS DENIED BY THE
strength of Bar Matter No. 730, and a Motion to Hold In Abeyance RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IS THE ISSUANCE
the Trial dated June 10, 2002 of Criminal Case No. 00-1705 pending OF THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION and WHEN
the outcome of the certiorari proceedings before the RTC. THE RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IS YET TO
DECIDE ON THE MERITS OF THE PETITION FOR
On June 5, 2002, the RTC issued its Order denying the petitioners CERTIORARI;
Motion for Reconsideration.
IV.
Likewise, in an Order dated June 13, 2002, the MeTC denied the
petitioners Second Motion for Reconsideration and his Motion to THE RESPONDENT COURT[s] ARE CLEARLY IGNORING THE
LAW WHEN THEY PATENTLY REFUSED TO HEED TO [sic]
20
THE CLEAR MANDATE OF THE LAPUT, CANTIMBUHAN Sec. 2. Appearance. The appearance of the law student authorized
AND BULACAN CASES, AS WELL AS BAR MATTER NO. 730, by this rule, shall be under the direct supervision and control of a
PROVIDING FOR THE APPEARANCE OF NON-LAWYERS member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by
BEFORE THE LOWER COURTS (MTCS).4 the law school. Any and all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or
other papers to be filed, must be signed by the supervising attorney
This Court, in exceptional cases, and for compelling reasons, or if for and in behalf of the legal clinic.
warranted by the nature of the issues reviewed, may take cognizance
of petitions filed directly before it.5 However, in Resolution6 dated June 10, 1997 in Bar Matter No. 730,
the Court En Banc clarified:
Considering that this case involves the interpretation, clarification,
and implementation of Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before an
Bar Matter No. 730, Circular No. 19 governing law student practice inferior court, where the issues and procedure are relatively simple.
and Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, and the ruling of the Court in In inferior courts, a law student may appear in his personal capacity
Cantimbuhan, the Court takes cognizance of herein petition. without the supervision of a lawyer. Section 34, Rule 138 provides:

The basic question is whether the petitioner, a law student, may Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. - In the court of a
appear before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a party justice of the peace, a party may conduct his litigation in
litigant. person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for
that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court,
The courts a quo held that the Law Student Practice Rule as a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an
encapsulated in Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, prohibits the attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a
petitioner, as a law student, from entering his appearance in behalf of duly authorized member of the bar.
his father, the private complainant in the criminal case without the
supervision of an attorney duly accredited by the law school. Thus, a law student may appear before an inferior court as an agent
or friend of a party without the supervision of a member of the bar.7
Rule 138-A or the Law Student Practice Rule, provides: (Emphasis supplied)

RULE 138-A The phrase "In the court of a justice of the peace" in Bar Matter No.
LAW STUDENT PRACTICE RULE 730 is subsequently changed to "In the court of a municipality" as it
now appears in Section 34 of Rule 138, thus:8
Section 1. Conditions for Student Practice. A law student who has
successfully completed his 3rd year of the regular four-year SEC. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. In the Court of
prescribed law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law a municipality a party may conduct his litigation in person,
school's clinical legal education program approved by the Supreme with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that
Court, may appear without compensation in any civil, criminal or purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a
administrative case before any trial court, tribunal, board or officer, to party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an
represent indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law attorney and his appearance must be either personal or by a
school. duly authorized member of the bar. (Emphasis supplied)

21
which is the prevailing rule at the time the petitioner filed his Entry therefore, petitioners appearance as private prosecutor appears to be
of Appearance with the MeTC on September 25, 2000. No real legally untenable.
distinction exists for under Section 6, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court,
the term "Municipal Trial Courts" as used in these Rules shall include Under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, every person
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable except in instances
Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts. when no actual damage results from an offense, such as espionage,
violation of neutrality, flight to an enemy country, and crime against
There is really no problem as to the application of Section 34 of Rule popular representation.9 The basic rule applies in the instant case,
138 and Rule 138-A. In the former, the appearance of a non-lawyer, such that when a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the
as an agent or friend of a party litigant, is expressly allowed, while recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall be
the latter rule provides for conditions when a law student, not as an deemed instituted with criminal action, unless the offended party
agent or a friend of a party litigant, may appear before the courts. waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or
institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.10
Petitioner expressly anchored his appearance on Section 34 of Rule
138. The court a quo must have been confused by the fact that The petitioner is correct in stating that there being no reservation,
petitioner referred to himself as a law student in his entry of waiver, nor prior institution of the civil aspect in Criminal Case No.
appearance. Rule 138-A should not have been used by the courts a 00-1705, it follows that the civil aspect arising from Grave Threats is
quo in denying permission to act as private prosecutor against deemed instituted with the criminal action, and, hence, the private
petitioner for the simple reason that Rule 138-A is not the basis for prosecutor may rightfully intervene to prosecute the civil aspect.
the petitioners appearance.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution
Section 34, Rule 138 is clear that appearance before the inferior and Order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 116, Pasay City are
courts by a non-lawyer is allowed, irrespective of whether or not he is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Metropolitan Trial Court,
a law student. As succinctly clarified in Bar Matter No. 730, by virtue Branch 45, Pasay City is DIRECTED to ADMIT the Entry of
of Section 34, Rule 138, a law student may appear, as an agent or a Appearance of petitioner in Criminal Case No. 00-1705 as a private
friend of a party litigant, without the supervision of a lawyer before prosecutor under the direct control and supervision of the public
inferior courts. prosecutor.

Petitioner further argues that the RTC erroneously held that, by its No pronouncement as to costs.
very nature, no civil liability may flow from the crime of Grave
Threats, and, for this reason, the intervention of a private prosecutor SO ORDERED.
is not possible.

It is clear from the RTC Decision that no such conclusion had been
intended by the RTC. In denying the issuance of the injunctive court,
the RTC stated in its Decision that there was no claim for civil
liability by the private complainant for damages, and that the records
of the case do not provide for a claim for indemnity; and that

22
Petitioners allege that on May 8, 2005, respondent filed a criminal
case against them with the Office of the City of Prosecutor of Baguio
City for usurpation of authority, grave coercion and violation of city
tax ordinance due to the alleged illegal collection of parking fees by
petitioners from respondent. In paragraph 5 of the complaint-
affidavit, respondent asserted that he is a "practicing lawyer based in
Baguio City with office address at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building,
Session Road, Baguio City."2 However, certifications issued by the
Office of the Bar Confidant3 and the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines4 showed that respondent has never been admitted to the
Philippine Bar. Hence, petitioners claim that respondent is liable for
indirect contempt for misrepresenting himself as a lawyer.

In his Comment,5 respondent avers that the allegation in paragraph 5


of the complaint-affidavit that he is a practicing lawyer was an honest
mistake. He claims that the secretary of Atty. Paterno Aquino
prepared the subject complaint-affidavit which was patterned after
Atty. Aquinos complaint-affidavit.6 It appears that Atty. Aquino had
previously filed a complaint-affidavit against petitioners involving
the same subject matter.

Respondent claims that two complaint-affidavits were drafted by the


same secretary; one for the May 5, 2005 parking incident at 10:00
oclock in the morning and another for the parking incident on the
G.R. No. 169517 March 14, 2006 same date but which occurred at 1:00 oclock in the afternoon.
Respondent insists that the complaint-affidavit regarding the 1:00
ROGELIO A. TAN, NORMA TAN and MALIYAWAO oclock parking incident correctly alleged that he is "a businessman
PAGAYOKAN, Petitioners, with office address at Room B-204, 2/F Lopez Building, Session
vs. Road, Baguio City."7 However, the complaint-affidavit regarding the
BENEDICTO M. BALAJADIA, Respondent. 10:00 oclock parking incident, which is the subject of the instant
petition, erroneously referred to him as a practicing lawyer because
DECISION Atty. Aquinos secretary copied verbatim paragraph 5 of Atty.
Aquinos complaint-affidavit. Hence, it was inadvertently alleged that
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: respondent is a "practicing lawyer based in Baguio City with office
address at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio
Before us is an original petition1 for contempt filed by petitioners City," which statement referred to the person of Atty. Aquino and his
Rogelio Tan, Norma Tan and Maliyawao Pagayokan against law office address.
respondent Benedicto Balajadia.

23
Liza Laconsay, Atty. Aquinos secretary, executed an orderly administration of justice. In determining liability for criminal
affidavit8 admitting the mistake in the preparation of the complaint- contempt, well-settled is the rule that intent is a necessary element,
affidavit. Respondent alleged that he did not read the complaint- and no one can be punished unless the evidence makes it clear that he
affidavit because he assumed that the two complaint-affidavits intended to commit it.11
contained the same allegations with respect to his occupation and
office address. Respondent claims that he had no intention of In the case at bar, a review of the records supports respondents claim
misrepresenting himself as a practicing lawyer. that he never intended to project himself as a lawyer to the public. It
was a clear inadvertence on the part of the secretary of Atty Aquino.
In their Reply,9 petitioners reiterate that respondent should be made The affidavit of Liza Laconsay attesting to the circumstances that
liable for indirect contempt for having made untruthful statements in gave rise to the mistake in the drafting of the complaint-affidavit
the complaint-affidavit and that he cannot shift the blame to Atty. conforms to the documentary evidence on record. Taken together,
Aquinos secretary. these circumstances show that the allegation in paragraph 5 of
respondents complaint-affidavit was, indeed, the result of
The sole issue for resolution is whether respondent is liable for inadvertence.
indirect contempt.
Respondent has satisfactorily shown that the allegation that he is a
Section 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court provides: practicing lawyer was the result of inadvertence and cannot, by itself,
establish intent as to make him liable for indirect contempt. In the
Section 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and cases where we found a party liable for the unauthorized practice of
hearing. After a charge in writing has been filed, and an law, the party was guilty of some overt act like signing court
opportunity given to the respondent to comment thereon pleadings on behalf of his client;12 appearing before court hearings as
within such period as may be fixed by the court and to be an attorney;13 manifesting before the court that he will practice law
heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the despite being previously denied admission to the bar; 14 or deliberately
following acts may be punished for indirect contempt: attempting to practice law and holding out himself as an attorney
through circulars with full knowledge that he is not licensed to do
xxxx so.15

(e) Assuming to be an attorney or an officer of a court, and acting as In the case at bar, no evidence was presented to show that respondent
such without authority; acted as an attorney or that he intended to practice law. Consequently,
he cannot be made liable for indirect contempt considering his lack of
x x x x. intent to illegally practice law.

In several cases,10 we have ruled that the unauthorized practice of law However, while the evidence on record failed to prove respondents
by assuming to be an attorney and acting as such without authority deliberate intent to misrepresent himself as an attorney and act as
constitutes indirect contempt which is punishable by fine or such without authority, he is hereby warned to be more careful and
imprisonment or both. The liability for the unauthorized practice of circumspect in his future actions.
law under Section 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court is in the nature
of criminal contempt and the acts are punished because they are an WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. Respondent is
affront to the dignity and authority of the court, and obstruct the WARNED to be more careful and circumspect in his future actions.
24
SO ORDERED. MAKALINTAL, J.:

Respondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez is a member of the Philippine


Bar, admitted to it on October 5, 1945. In criminal case No. R-793 of
the Court of First Instance of Oriental Mindoro he was convicted of
the murder of Filemon Samaco, former municipal mayor of Calapan,
and together with his co-conspirators was sentenced to the penalty of
death. Upon review by this Court the judgment of conviction was
affirmed on June 30, 1956 (G.R. No. L-17101), but the penalty was
changed to reclusion perpetua. After serving a portion of the sentence
respondent was granted a conditional pardon by the President on
August 19, 1958. The unexecuted portion of the prison term was
remitted "on condition that he shall not again violate any of the penal
laws of the Philippines."

On October 9, 1958 the widow of the deceased Filemon Samaco,


victim in the murder case, filed a verified complaint before this Court
praying that respondent be removed from the roll of lawyers pursuant
to Rule 127, section 5. Respondent presented his answer in due time,
admitting the facts alleged by complainant regarding pardon in
defense, on the authority of the decision of this Court in the case of In
re Lontok, 43 Phil. 293.

Under section 5 of Rule 127, a member of the bar may be removed


suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court by
reason of his conviction of a crime insolving moral turpitude. Murder
Republic of the Philippines is, without doubt, such a crime. The term "moral turpitude" includes
SUPREME COURT everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or
Manila good morals. In re Carlos S. Basa, 41 Phil. 275. As used in
disbarment statutes, it means an act of baseness, vileness, or
EN BANC depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his
fellowmen or to society in general, contrary to the accepted rule of
A.M. No. L-363 July 31, 1962 right and duty between man and man. State ex rel. Conklin v.
Buckingham, 84 P. 2nd 49; 5 Am. Jur. Sec. 279. pp. 428-429.
IN RE: DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ATTY.
DIOSDADO Q. GUTIERREZ, respondent. The only question to be resolved is whether or not the conditional
pardon extended to respondent places him beyond the scope of the
Victoriano A. Savellano for complaint. rule on disbarment aforecited. Reliance is placed by him squarely on
Nestor M. Andrada for respondent. the Lontok case. The respondent therein was convicted of bigamy
25
and thereafter pardoned by the Governor-General. In a subsequent restores him to all his civil rights it makes him, as it were, a
viction, this Court decided in his favor and held: "When proceedings new man, and gives him a new credit and capacity.
to strike an attorney's name from the rolls the fact of a conviction for
a felony ground for disbarment, it has been held that a pardon The pardon granted to respondent here is not absolute but
operates to wipe out the conviction and is a bar to any proceeding for conditional, and merely remitted the unexecuted portion of his term.
the disbarment of the attorney after the pardon has been granted." It does not reach the offense itself, unlike that in Ex parte Garland,
which was "a full pardon and amnesty for all offense by him
It is our view that the ruling does not govern the question now before committed in connection with rebellion (civil war) against
us. In making it the Court proceeded on the assumption that the government of the United States."
pardon granted to respondent Lontok was absolute. This is implicit in
the ratio decidendi of the case, particularly in the citations to support The foregoing considerations rendered In re Lontok are inapplicable
it, namely. In Re Emmons, 29 Cal. App. 121; Scott vs. State, 6 Tex. here. Respondent Gutierrez must be judged upon the fact of his
Civ. App. 343; and Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 380. Thus in Scott vs. conviction for murder without regard to the pardon he invokes in
State the court said: defense. The crime was qualified by treachery and aggravated by its
having been committed in hand, by taking advantage of his official
We are of opinion that after received an unconditional pardon position (respondent being municipal mayor at the time) and with the
the record of the felony conviction could no longer be used as use of motor vehicle. People vs. Diosdado Gutierrez, supra. The
a basis for the proceeding provided for in article 226. The degree of moral turpitude involved is such as to justify his being
record, when offered in evidence, was met with an purged from the profession.
unconditional pardon, and could not, therefore, properly be
said to afford "proof of a conviction of any felony." Having The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who
been thus cancelled, all its force as a felony conviction was measure up to certain rigid standards of mental and moral fitness. For
taken away. A pardon falling short of this would not be a the admission of a candidate to the bar the Rules of Court not only
pardon, according to the judicial construction which that act prescribe a test of academic preparation but require satisfactory
of executive grace was received. Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, testimonials of good moral character. These standards are neither
344; Knote v. U.S., 95 U.S. 149, and cases there cited; Young dispensed with nor lowered after admission: the lawyer must
v. Young, 61 Tex. 191. continue to adhere to them or else incur the risk of suspension or
removal. As stated in Ex parte Wall, 107 U.S. 263, 27 Law ed., 552,
And the portion of the decision in Ex parte Garland quoted with 556: "Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly
approval in the Lontok case is as follows: bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of
all men in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to trample
A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the them under foot and to ignore the very bonds of society, argues
offense and the guilt of the offender; and when the pardon is recreancy to his position and office and sets a pernicious example to
full, it releases the punishment and blots out the existence of the insubordinate and dangerous elements of the body politic.
guilt, so that in the eye of the law the offender is as innocent
as if he had never committed the offense. It granted before WHEREFORE, pursuant to Rule 127, Section 5, and considering the
conviction, it prevents any of the penalties and disabilities, nature of the crime for which respondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez has
consequent upon conviction, from attaching; if granted after been convicted, he is ordered disbarred and his name stricken from
conviction, it removes the penalties and disabilities, and the roll of lawyers.
26
Bengzon, C.J., Labrador, Concepcion, Barrera, Paredes, Dizon and In a Motion to Lift Order of Suspension dated 12 July 1989,
Regala, JJ., concur. respondent Fe T. Tuanda, a member of the Philippine Bar, asks this
Padilla, J., took no part. Court to lift the suspension from the practice of law imposed upon
her by a decision of the Court of Appeals dated 17 October 1988 in
C.A.-G.R. CR No. 05093.

On 17 December 1983, respondent received from one Herminia A.


Marquez several pieces of jewelry, with a total stated value of
P36,000.00, for sale on a commission basis, with the condition that
the respondent would turn over the sales proceeds and return the
unsold items to Ms. Marquez on or before 14 February 1984.
Sometime in February 1984, respondent, instead of returning the
unsold pieces of jewelry which then amounted to approximately
P26,250.00, issued three checks: (a) a check dated 16 February 1984
for the amount of P5,400.00; (b) a check dated 23 February 1984 also
for the amount of P5,400.00; and (c) a check dated 25 February 1984
for the amount of P15,450.00. Upon presentment for payment within
ninety (90) days after their issuance, all three (3) checks were
dishonored by the drawee bank, Traders Royal Bank, for
insufficiency of funds. Notwithstanding receipt of the notice of
dishonor, respondent made no arrangements with the bank
concerning the honoring of checks which had bounced and made no
effort to settle her obligations to Ms. Marquez.

Republic of the Philippines Consequently, four (4) informations were filed against respondent
SUPREME COURT with the Regional Trial Court of Manila: (a) one for estafa, docketed
Manila as Criminal Case No. 85-38358; and (b) three (3) for violation of B.P.
Blg. 22, docketed respectively as Criminal Cases Nos. 85-38359, 85-
EN BANC 38360 and 85-38361. In due time, after trial, the trial court rendered a
decision dated 25 August 1987 which:
A.M. No. 3360 January 30, 1990
(a) acquitted respondent of the charge of estafa; and
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, complainant
vs. (b) convicted respondent of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in all
ATTY. FE T. TUANDA, respondent. three (3) cases, and sentenced respondent to pay a fine of
P6,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency and to indemnify the complainant in the amount of
P5,400.00 in Criminal Case No. 8538359;
PER CURIAM:
27
to pay a fine of P 6,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of executory upon expiration of the period for filing a petition for
insolvency and to indemnify the complainant in the amount of review on certiorari on 16 December 1988. In that Resolution, the
P5,400.00, in Criminal Case No. 85-38360; and Court found that respondent had lost her right to appeal by certiorari
when she posted with this Court a Notice of Appeal instead of filing a
to pay a fine of P16,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of petition for review on certiorari under Section 1, Rule 45 of the
insolvency, and to indemnify the complainant in the amount of Revised Rules of Court within the reglementary period.
P15,450.00, in Criminal Case No. 85-38361, and to pay the costs in
all three (3) cases. In the instant Motion to Lift Order of Suspension, respondent states:

On appeal, the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CR No. 05093 that suspension from the practice of law is indeed a harsh if
affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court but, in addition, not a not painful penalty aggravating the lower court's penalty
suspended respondent Tuanda from the practice of law. The pertinent of fine considering that accused-appellant's action on the case
portion of the decision read as follows: during the trial on the merits at the lower court has always
been motivated purely by sincere belief that she is innocent of
For reasons above stated and finding the evidence sufficient the offense charged nor of the intention to cause damage to
to sustain the conviction, the judgment is hereby AFFIRMED the herein plaintiff-appellee.
subject to this modification.
We read the above statement as a claim by the respondent that, she
It appearing from the records that the accused Fe Tuanda is a had not violated her oath as a member of the Philippine Bar upon the
member of the Bar, and the offense for (sic) which she is ground that when she issued the checks which bounced, she did not
found guilty involved moral turpitude, she is hereby ordered intend to cause damage to complainant Ms. Marquez.
suspended from the practice of law and shall not practice her
profession until further action from the Supreme Court, in The Court affirms the suspension from the practice of law imposed
accordance with Sections 27 and 28 of Rule 138 of the Rules by the Court of Appeals upon respondent Tuanda. The Court of
of Court. A copy of this decision must be forwarded to the Appeals correctly ruled that "the offense [of] which she is found
Supreme Court as required by Section 29 of the same Rule. guilty involved moral turpitude." We should add that violation of B.P.
Blg. 22 is a serious criminal offense which deleteriously affects
SO ORDERED. 1 public interest and public order. In Lozano v. Martinez,2 the Court
explained the nature of the offense of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in the
On 16 December 1988, respondent filed a Notice of Appeal with the following terms:
Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals, in a Resolution dated 9
January 1989, noted respondent's Notice of Appeal and advised her xxx xxx xxx
"to address her Notice of Appeal to the Honorable Supreme Court,
the proper forum." On 1 February 1989, respondent filed with this The gravamen of the offense punished by B.P. Blg. 22 is the
Court a Notice of Appeal. act of making and issuing a worthless check or a check that is
dishonored upon its presentation for payment. . . . The thrust
In a Resolution dated 31 May 1989, the Supreme Court noted without of the law is to prohibit under pain of penal sanctions, the
action respondent's Notice of Appeal and declared that the Court of making of worthless checks and putting them in circulation.
Appeals' decision of 17 October 1988 had become final and Because of its deleterious effects on the public interest, the
28
practice is prescribed by the law. The law punishes the act not any of the causes named in the last preceding section, and
as an offense against property but an offense against public after such suspension such attorney shall not practice his
order. profession until further action of the Supreme Court in the
premises. (Italics supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
We should add that the crimes of which respondent was convicted
The effects of the issuance of a worthless check transcends also import deceit and violation of her attorney's oath and the Code of
the private interests of the parties directly involved in the Professional Responsibility under both of which she was bound to
transaction and touches the interests of the community at "obey the laws of the land." Conviction of a crime involving moral
large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee turpitude might not (as in the instant case, violation of B.P. Blg. 22
or holder, but also an injury to the public. The harmful does not) relate to the exercise of the profession of a lawyer;
practice of putting valueless commercial papers in circulation, however, it certainly relates to and affects the good moral character of
multiplied a thousandfold, can very well pollute the channels a person convicted of such offense. In Melendrez v. Decena, 4 this
of trade and commerce, injure the banking system and Court stressed that:
eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest.
3(Italics supplied) the nature of the office of an attorney at law requires that she
shall be a person of good moral character.1wphi1 This
Respondent was thus correctly suspended from the practice of law qualification is not only a condition precedent to an
because she had been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude. admission to the practice of law; its continued possession is
Sections 27 and 28 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court also essential for remaining in the practice of law. 5
provide as follows:
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DENY the Motion to Lift
Sec. 27. Attorneys renewed or suspended by Supreme Court Order of Suspension. Respondent shall remain suspended from the
on what grounds. A member of the bar may be removed or practice of law until further orders from this Court. A copy of this
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court Resolution shall be forwarded to the Bar Confidant and to the
of any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such Integrated Bar of the Philippines and spread on the record of
office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his respondent.
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any
violation of the oath which he is required to take before Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano,
admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience of any Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes and Grio-Aquino, JJ.,
lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully concur.
appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without Gutierrez, Jr., Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., in the result.
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. (Italics supplied)

Sec. 28. Suspension of attorney by the Court of Appeals or a


Court of First Instance. The Court of Appeals or a Court
of First Instance may suspend an attorney from practice for
29
CORONA, J.:

This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M.


Dacanay for leave to resume the practice of law.

Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He


practiced law until he migrated to Canada in December 1998 to seek
medical attention for his ailments. He subsequently applied for
Canadian citizenship to avail of Canadas free medical aid program.
His application was approved and he became a Canadian citizen in
May 2004.

On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship


Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003), petitioner reacquired his
Philippine citizenship.1 On that day, he took his oath of allegiance as
a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto,
Canada. Thereafter, he returned to the Philippines and now intends to
resume his law practice. There is a question, however, whether
petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay lost his membership in the
Philippine bar when he gave up his Philippine citizenship in May
2004. Thus, this petition.

In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the Bar Confidant
cites Section 2, Rule 138 (Attorneys and Admission to Bar) of the
Rules of Court:

Republic of the Philippines SECTION 2. Requirements for all applicants for admission to
SUPREME COURT the bar. Every applicant for admission as a member of the
Manila bar must be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one
years of age, of good moral character, and a resident of the
EN BANC Philippines; and must produce before the Supreme Court
satisfactory evidence of good moral character, and that no
B.M. No. 1678 December 17, 2007 charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been
filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines.
PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW,
BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner. Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant opines that,
by virtue of his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, in 2006,
R E S OLUTIO N petitioner has again met all the qualifications and has none of the
disqualifications for membership in the bar. It recommends that he be
30
allowed to resume the practice of law in the Philippines, conditioned before this Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character and
on his retaking the lawyers oath to remind him of his duties and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been
responsibilities as a member of the Philippine bar. filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines.6

We approve the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as
with certain modifications. furnishing satisfactory proof of educational, moral and other
qualifications;7 passing the bar examinations;8 taking the lawyers
The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.2 It is so oath9 and signing the roll of attorneys and receiving from the clerk of
delicately affected with public interest that it is both a power and a court of this Court a certificate of the license to practice.10
duty of the State (through this Court) to control and regulate it in
order to protect and promote the public welfare.3 The second requisite for the practice of law membership in good
standing is a continuing requirement. This means continued
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the membership and, concomitantly, payment of annual membership
highest degree of morality, faithful observance of the rules of the dues in the IBP;11 payment of the annual professional tax; 12
legal profession, compliance with the mandatory continuing legal compliance with the mandatory continuing legal education
education requirement and payment of membership fees to the requirement;13 faithful observance of the rules and ethics of the legal
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are the conditions required for profession and being continually subject to judicial disciplinary
membership in good standing in the bar and for enjoying the control.14
privilege to practice law. Any breach by a lawyer of any of these
conditions makes him unworthy of the trust and confidence which the Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino
courts and clients repose in him for the continued exercise of his citizenship still practice law in the Philippines? No.
professional privilege.4
The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the
Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides: Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens save in cases
prescribed by law.15 Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for
SECTION 1. Who may practice law. Any person heretofore admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the
duly admitted as a member of the bar, or thereafter admitted Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege to engage in the
as such in accordance with the provisions of this Rule, and practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino citizenship ipso
who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice jure terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The
law. practice of law is a privilege denied to foreigners.16

Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the Philippine The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of
bar in accordance with the statutory requirements and who is in good naturalization as a citizen of another country but subsequently
and regular standing is entitled to practice law. reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because "all Philippine
citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not
Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of [RA
Court mandates that an applicant for admission to the bar be a citizen 9225]."17 Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of
of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine
character and a resident of the Philippines. 5 He must also produce citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225.
31
Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his membership
in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume law practice
accrues.

Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in


the Philippines and he reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to
its provisions "(he) shall apply with the proper authority for a license
or permit to engage in such practice." 18 Stated otherwise, before a
lawyer who reacquires Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can
resume his law practice, he must first secure from this Court the
authority to do so, conditioned on:

(a) the updating and payment in full of the annual


membership dues in the IBP;

(b) the payment of professional tax;

(c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory


continuing legal education; this is specially significant to
refresh the applicant/petitioners knowledge of Philippine
laws and update him of legal developments and

(d) the retaking of the lawyers oath which will not only
remind him of his duties and responsibilities as a lawyer and
as an officer of the Court, but also renew his pledge to
maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

Compliance with these conditions will restore his good standing as a


member of the Philippine bar.

WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Benjamin M. Dacanay is


hereby GRANTED, subject to compliance with the conditions stated
above and submission of proof of such compliance to the Bar
Confidant, after which he may retake his oath as a member of the
Philippine bar.

SO ORDERED.

32
Despite variations in the specific standards and provisions, one
requirement remains constant in all the jurisdictions where the
practice of law is regulated: the candidate must demonstrate that he
or she has "good moral character," and once he becomes a lawyer he
should always behave in accordance with the standard. In this
jurisdiction too, good moral character is not only a condition
precedent1 to the practice of law, but an unending requirement for all
the members of the bar. Hence, when a lawyer is found guilty of
grossly immoral conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred.2

In an Affidavit-Complaint3 dated June 6, 2001, filed with the


Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Emma T. Dantes, sought the
disbarment of her husband, Atty. Crispin G. Dantes on the ground of
immorality, abandonment, and violation of professional ethics and
law. The case was docketed as CBD Case No. 01-851.

Complainant alleged that respondent is a philanderer. Respondent


purportedly engaged in illicit relationships with two women, one
after the other, and had illegitimate children with them. From the time
respondents illicit affairs started, he failed to give regular support to
complainant and their children, thus forcing complainant to work
abroad to provide for their childrens needs. Complainant pointed out
that these acts of respondent constitute a violation of his lawyers
oath and his moral and legal obligation to be a role model to the
community.

On July 4, 2001, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline issued an


Order4 requiring respondent to submit his answer to the Affidavit-
Complaint.

A.C. No. 6486 September 22, 2004 Respondent submitted his Answer5 on November 19, 2001. Though
admitting the fact of marriage with the complainant and the birth of
EMMA T. DANTES, complainant, their children, respondent alleged that they have mutually agreed to
vs. separate eighteen (18) years before after complainant had abandoned
ATTY. CRISPIN G. DANTES, respondent. him in their Balintawak residence and fled to San Fernando,
Pampanga. Respondent claimed that when complainant returned after
DECISION eighteen years, she insisted that she be accommodated in the place
where he and their children were residing. Thus, he was forced to live
PER CURIAM: alone in a rented apartment.
33
Respondent further alleged that he sent their children to the best surnamed Dantes, and the affidavits of respondent and his paramour 13
school he could afford and provided for their needs. He even bought to prove the fact that respondent sired three illegitimate children out
two lots in Pampanga for his sons, Dandelo and Dante, and gave of his illicit affairs with two different women. Letters of
complainant adequate financial support even after she had abandoned complainants legitimate children likewise support the allegation that
him in 1983. respondent is a womanizer.14

Respondent asserted that complainant filed this case in order to force In an Order dated April 17, 2002, respondent was deemed to have
him to remit seventy percent (70%) of his monthly salary to her. waived his right to cross-examine complainant, after he failed to
appear during the scheduled hearings despite due notice. He,
Subsequently, the IBP conducted its investigation and hearings on the however, submitted his Comment/Opposition to the Complainants
complaint. Complainant presented her evidence, both oral and Formal Offer of Evidence with Motion to Exclude the Evidence from
documentary,6 to support the allegations in her Affidavit-Complaint. the Records of the Proceedings15 on August 1, 2002.

From the evidence presented by the complainant, it was established Subsequently, on May 29, 2003, respondent submitted a Motion to
that on January 19, 1979, complainant and respondent were married 7 Adopt Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism. Respondents
and lived with the latters mother in Balintawak. At that time, motion was denied because it was filed after the complainant had
respondent was just a fourth year law student. To make ends meet, already presented her evidence.16 Respondent was given a final
complainant engaged in the buy and sell business and relied on dole- chance to present his evidence on July 11, 2003. Instead of presenting
outs from the respondents mother. evidence, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion
to Dismiss, which was likewise denied for being a prohibited
Three children were born to the couple, namely, Dandelo, Dante and pleading under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar
Daisy, who were born on February 20, 1980,8 October 14, 19819 and Discipline. Respondent submitted his Position Paper on August 4,
August 11, 1983,10 respectively. Complainant narrated that their 2003.
relationship was marred by frequent quarrels because of respondents
extra-marital affairs.11 Sometime in 1983, she brought their children In respondents Position Paper,17 he reiterated the allegations in his
to her mother in Pampanga to enable her to work because respondent Answer except that this time, he argued that in view of the resolution
had failed to provide adequate support. From 1986 to 2001, of the complaint for support with alimony pendente lite18 filed against
complainant worked abroad as a domestic helper. him by the complainant before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Quezon City,19 the instant administrative case should be dismissed for
Denying that there was a mutual agreement between her and lack of merit.
respondent to live separately, complainant asseverated that she was
just compelled to work abroad to support their children. When she On July 7, 2004, the IBP submitted to us through the Office of the
returned to the Philippines, she learned that respondent was living Bar Confidant its Report20 and Resolution No. XVI-2004-230
with another woman. Respondent, then bluntly told her, that he did involving CBD Case No. 01-851.21 The IBP recommended that the
not want to live with her anymore and that he preferred his respondent be suspended indefinitely from the practice of law.
mistresses.
Except for the penalty, we find the above recommendation well-
Complainant presented documentary evidence consisting of the birth taken.
certificates of Ray Darwin, Darling, and Christian Dave, 12 all
34
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: It should be noted that the requirement of good moral character has
three ostensible purposes, namely: (i) to protect the public; (ii) to
"Rule 1.01- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, protect the public image of lawyers; and (iii) to protect prospective
immoral or deceitful conduct." clients. A writer added a fourth: to protect errant lawyers from
themselves.26
"Canon 7- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and
dignity of the legal profession, and support the activities of Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only
the Integrated Bar." upon admission to the Bar but also throughout their legal

"Rule 7.03- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that career, in order to maintain their good standing in this exclusive and
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, honored fraternity.27 They may be suspended from the practice of law
whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private
manner to the discredit of the legal profession." activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character,
honesty, probity or good demeanor.28
The Code of Professional Responsibility forbids lawyers from
engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Undoubtedly, respondents acts of engaging in illicit relationships
Immoral conduct has been defined as that conduct which is so with two different women during the subsistence of his marriage to
willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the opinion the complainant constitutes grossly immoral conduct warranting the
of good and respectable members of the community.22 To be the basis imposition appropriate sanctions. Complainants testimony, taken in
of disciplinary action, the lawyers conduct must not only be conjunction with the documentary evidence, sufficiently established
immoral, but grossly immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to respondents commission of marital infidelity and immorality.
constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a Evidently, respondent had breached the high and exacting moral
high degree23 or committed under such scandalous or revolting standards set for members of the law profession. He has made a
circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency.24 mockery of marriage which is a sacred institution demanding respect
and dignity.29
In Barrientos vs. Daarol,25 we ruled that as officers of the court,
lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must In Toledo vs. Toledo,30 we disbarred respondent for abandoning his
also be seen to be of good moral character and leading lives in lawful wife and cohabiting with another woman who had borne him a
accordance with the highest moral standards of the community. More child. Likewise, in Obusan vs. Obusan,31 we ruled that abandoning
specifically, a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only ones wife and resuming carnal relations with a paramour fall within
required to refrain from adulterous relationships or keeping that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which
mistresses but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing shows moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable
the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral members of the community.
standards. If the practice of law is to remain an honorable profession
and attain its basic ideals, those enrolled in its ranks should not only We reiterate our ruling in Cordova vs. Cordova,32 that moral
master its tenets and principles but should also, in their lives, accord delinquency which affects the fitness of a member of the bar to
continuing fidelity to them. The requirement of good moral character continue as such, includes conduct that outrages the generally
is of much greater import, as far as the general public is concerned, accepted moral standards of the community as exemplified by
than the possession of legal learning.
35
behavior which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution A.C. No. 407 August 15, 1967
of marriage.
IN RE ATTORNEY JOSE AVANCEA, respondent.
The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and only in
a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and J. Gonzales and Orense for respondent.
character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court and as a member of Office of the Solicitor General for complainant.
the bar.33 Where a lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension, could
accomplish the end desired, disbarment should never be decreed. 34 ANGELES, J.:
However, in the present case, the seriousness of the offense compels
the Court to wield its power to disbar as it appears to be the most On January 12, 1951, the Supreme Court entered a resolution as
appropriate penalty. follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing Atty. Crispin G. Dantes is In Administrative Case No. 407, In re Atty. Jose Avancea, it
hereby DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN appearing that respondent was convicted in criminal case No.
from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in 10220 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled People
the respondents record as a member of the Bar, and notice of the of the Philippines vs. Jose Avancea, of the crime of
same be served on the Integrated Bar of the falsification of public document under Art. 172 of the Revised
Penal Code, and that in the decision rendered to that effect the
Philippines, and on the Office of the Court Administrator for Court has found that said respondent has taken advantage of
circulation to all courts in the country. the law profession in committing said crime to defraud his
clients, the Court ordered that respondent be, as he is hereby,
SO ORDERED. provisionally suspended from the practice of law, pending
final termination of the criminal case No. 10220, now pending
appeal in the Court of Appeals.

Jose Avancea, a member of the Bar, was charged with falsification


of public document before the Court of First Instance of Manila, in
criminal case No. 10220. After trial, he was found guilty as charged
and was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of two years to
six years of prision correccional, to pay a fine of P5,000.00, with
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.
The trial court also found that he took advantage of the law
profession in committing the crime of falsification of public
Republic of the Philippines document to defraud his clients. A copy of the decision was sent to
SUPREME COURT the Supreme Court for whatever the action it may deem appropriate
Manila to take in the premises. Conformably thereto, the Supreme Court
adopted the resolution hereinabove quoted.
EN BANC

36
From the decision of the lower court, Jose Avancea appealed to the La conclusion es, pues, que el apelante fue quien preparo el
Court of Appeals. On February 28, 1962, the Court of Appeals exhibito A; fue quien falsifico las firmas de los hermanos Jao
affirmed the decision of the lower court. que aparecen en dicho document; y, fue quien Ilevo dicho
documento a la oficina del notario Tumblos para su
On a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals to the ratificacion.
Supreme Court, the latter Court, on June 13, 1962, dismissed the
petition for lack of merit. EN SU VIRTUD, habiendose probado fuera de toda duda
racional la culpabilidad del apelante, y la decision apelada
On January 21, 1963, Jose Avancea was committed to prison at the estando de conformidad con las pruebas y la ley, la misma se
National Penitentiary.1wph1.t confirmation in toto, con las costas contra el apelante.

On September 25, 1963, the President of the Philippines extended There can, therefore, be no doubt, that Jose Avancea has committed
conditional pardon to Jose Avancea. the crime of falsification of public document against his clients with
grave abuse of confidence, having been found guilty thereof by final
On October 1, 1963, Jose Avancea was discharged from judgment of competent jurisdiction. His acts amount to deceit,
confinement. malpractice or misconduct in office as an attorney, which constitute
grounds for removal from office under Section 27, Rule 138 of the
In the decision of the trial court, the following is said: Rules of Court, not to mention conviction by final judgment of a
crime involving moral turpitude.
The evidence on record conclusively establish the guilt of the
accused beyond reasonable doubt as the author of the The fact that the respondent was extended conditional pardon by the
falsification of the Power of Attorney (Exhibit A), with grave Chief Executive is of no moment. Such conditional pardon merely
abuse of confidence. The accused is a lawyer and has taken partially relieved him of the penal consequences of his act, but did
advantage of the law profession in committing the crime of not operate as a bar to his disbarment, especially so when he is being
falsification of a public document to defraud his clients. A disbarred on the ground of professional misconduct for which he had
lawyer of the type of the accused is a disgrace to the law been convicted by final judgment. (Cf. In re Lontok, 43 Phil. 293.)
profession and should be disbarred.
Wherefore, judgment is hereby entered declaring Jose Avancea
In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals said: disbarred from the practice of law, and striking his name from the roll
of attorneys.
A la vista de los datos expuestos el Juzgado cree y asi
concluye que el apelante no ha explicado satisfactoriamente Reyes, J.B.L., Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro
como Ilego a su posesion el poder especial Exhibito A; la and Fernando, JJ., concur.
presuncion es concluyente que aquel es el autor de la Concepcion, C.J. and Dizon, J., are on leave.
falsification de las firmas de los hermanos Joa que aparecen
en el poder especial Exhibito A. (People vs. Astudillo, 60
Phil. 338).

37
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 147824 August 2, 2007

ROSA YAP PARAS, petitioner,


vs.
JUSTO J. PARAS, respondent.

DECISION

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

This case presents another occasion to reiterate this Courts ruling


that the Guidelines set forth in Republic v. Court of Appeals and
Ronidel Olaviano Molina1 "do not require that a physician should
examine the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated.
What is important is the presence of evidence that can adequately
establish the partys psychological condition."2

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the


1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, are the (a) Decision 3
dated December 8, 2000 and (b) Resolution 4 dated April 5, 2001 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 49915, entitled "Rosa Yap-
Paras, Plaintiff-Appellant vs. Justo J. Paras, Defendant-Appellee."

On May 21, 1964, petitioner Rosa Yap married respondent Justo J.


Paras in Bindoy, Negros Oriental. They begot four (4) children,
namely: Raoul (+), Cindy Rose (+), Dahlia, and Reuel.

Twenty-nine (29) years thereafter, or on May 27, 1993, Rosa filed


with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 31, Dumaguete City, a
complaint for annulment of her marriage with Justo, under Article 36
of the Family Code, docketed as Civil Case No. 10613. She alleged
that Justo is psychologically incapacitated to exercise the essential
obligations of marriage as shown by the following circumstances:
38
(a) he dissipated her business assets and forged her signature To cope with the death of the children, the entire family went to the
in one mortgage transaction; United States. Her sisters supported them throughout their two-year
stay there. However, after three months, Justo abandoned them and
(b) he lived with a concubine and sired a child with her; left for the Philippines. Upon her return to the Philippines, she was
shocked to find her "Botica" and other businesses heavy in debt. She
(c) he did not give financial support to his children; and then realized Justo was a profligate. At one time, he disposed without
her consent a conjugal piece of land.16 At other times, he permitted
(d) he has been remiss in his duties both as a husband and as a the municipal government to take gasoline from their gas station free
father. of charge.

To substantiate her charges, Rosa offered documentary and She endured all of Justos shortcomings, but his act of maintaining a
testimonial evidence. mistress and siring an illegitimate child was the last straw that
prompted her to file the present case. She found that after leaving
This is her story. She met Justo in 1961 in Bindoy. She was then a their conjugal house in 1988, Justo lived with Jocelyn Ching. Their
student of San Carlos University, Cebu City.5 He courted her, cohabitation resulted in the birth of a baby girl, Cyndee Rose,
frequently spending time at her "Botica."6 Eventually, in 1964, obviously named after her (Rosa) and Justos deceased daughter
convinced that he loved her, she agreed to marry him. Their wedding Cindy Rose Paras.17
was considered one of the "most celebrated" marriages in Bindoy.7
As expected, Justo has a different version of the story.
After the wedding, she and Justo spent one (1) week in Davao for
their honeymoon.8 Upon returning to Bindoy, they resided at her He met Rosa upon his return to Bindoy after taking the bar
parents house. It was their residence for three (3) years until they examinations in Manila.18 He frequently spent time in her store. 19
were able to build a house of their own.9 For the first five (5) years of Believing he loved her, he courted her and later on, they became
their marriage, Justo did not support her and their children because he sweethearts. In 1963, they decided to get married. However, it was
shouldered his sisters schooling.10 Consequently, she was the one postponed because her family demanded a dowry. Their marriage
who spent for all their family needs, using the income from her took place in 1964 upon his mothers signing a deed of conveyance
"Botica" and store.11 involving 28 hectares of coconut land in favor of Rosa.20

Justo lived the life of a bachelor. 12 His usual routine was to spend He blamed the subsequent dissipation of their assets from the slump
time with his "barkadas" until the wee hours of the morning. of the price of sugar and not to his alleged profligacy. 21 Due to his
Oftentimes, he would scold her when she sent for him during business ventures, he and Rosa were able to acquire a 10-room
lunchtime.13 He also failed to provide for their childrens well- family house, expand their store, establish their gasoline station, and
being.14 Sometime in 1975, their daughter Cindy Rose was afflicted purchase several properties. He also denied forging her signature in
with leukemia. It was her family who paid for her medication. Also, one mortgage transaction. He maintained that he did not dispose of a
in 1984, their son Raoul was electrocuted while Justo was in their rest conjugal property and that he and Rosa personally signed the
house with his "barkadas." He did not heed her earlier advice to renewal of a sugar crop loan before the banks authorized
bring Raoul in the rest house as the latter has the habit of climbing employee.22
the rooftop.15

39
As to their marital relationship, he noticed the change in Rosas infidelity is unsubstantiated.31 The RTC observed that the relationship
attitude after her return from the United States. She became detached, between the parties started well, negating the existence of
cold, uncaring, and overly focused on the familys businesses. 23 He psychological incapacity on either party at the time of the celebration
tried to reach her but Rosa was steadfast in her "new attitudinal of their marriage.32 And lastly, it ruled that there appeared to be a
outlook." Before other people, he merely pretended that their collusion between them as both sought the declaration of nullity of
relationship was blissful.24 their marriage.33

He did not abandon his family in the United States. It happened that Justo interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals.
they only had tourist visas. When they were there, their childrens
tourist visas were converted into study visas, permitting them to stay In the interim, Rosa filed with this Court a petition for disbarment
longer. For his part, he was granted only three (3) months leave as against Justo, docketed as A.C. No. 5333, premised on the same
municipal mayor of Bindoy, thus, he immediately returned to the charges alleged in her complaint for declaration of nullity of
Philippines.25 marriage. On October 18, 2000, this Court rendered its Decision
finding him guilty of falsifying Rosas signature in bank
He spent for his childrens education. At first, he resented supporting documents, immorality, and abandonment of his family. He was
them because he was just starting his law practice and besides, their suspended from the practice of law, thus:
conjugal assets were more than enough to provide for their needs. He
admitted though that there were times he failed to give them financial In the light of the foregoing, respondent is hereby
support because of his lack of income.26 SUSPENDED from the practice of law for SIX (6)
MONTHS on the charge of falsifying his wifes signature in
What caused the inevitable family break-out was Rosas act of bank documents and other related loan instruments; and for
embarrassing him during his birthday celebration in 1987. She did ONE (1) YEAR from the practice of law on the charges of
not prepare food for the guests. When confronted, she retorted that immorality and abandonment of his own family, the
she has nothing to do with his birthday. This convinced him of her penalties to be served simultaneously. Let notice of this
lack of concern.27 This was further aggravated when she denied his Decision be spread in respondents record as an attorney, and
request for engine oil when his vehicle broke down in a mountainous notice of the same served on the Integrated Bar of the
and NPA-infested area.28 Philippines and on the Office of the Court Administrator for
circulation to all the courts concerned.
As to the charge of concubinage, he alleged that Jocelyn Ching is not
his mistress, but her secretary in his Law Office. She was SO ORDERED.
impregnated by her boyfriend, a certain Grelle Leccioness. Cyndee
Rose Ching Leccioness is not his daughter. On December 8, 2000 or nearly two months after this Court
promulgated the Decision in A.C. No. 5333, the Court of Appeals
After trial or on February 28, 1995, the RTC rendered a Decision affirmed the RTC Decision in the present case, holding that "the
upholding the validity of the marriage. It found that: (a) Justo did not evidence of the plaintiff (Rosa) falls short of the standards required
abandon the conjugal home as he was forced to leave after Rosa by law to decree a nullity of marriage." It ruled that Justos alleged
posted guards at the gates of their house;29 (b) the conjugal assets defects or idiosyncracies "were sufficiently explained by the
were sufficient to support the family needs, thus, there was no need evidence," thus:
for Justo to shell out his limited salary;30 and (c) the charge of
40
Certainly, we cannot ignore what is extant on the record No. 5333 as it was decided merely on the bases of pleadings and
first, the income which supported their children came from documents.
the earnings of their conjugal properties and not singularly
from Rosas industry; second, Justo gave his share of the The parties opposing contentions lead us to the following three (3)
support to his children in the form of allowances, albeit vital issues:
smaller than that derived from the conjugal property; third, he
was booted out from their conjugal dwelling after he lost his first, whether the factual findings of this Court in A.C. No.
bid for re-election and as such did not voluntarily abandon his 5333 are conclusive on the present case;
home; and fourth, although unjustifiable in the eyes of the law
and morality, Justos alleged infidelity came after he was second, whether a remand of this case to the RTC for
driven out of his house by Rosa. x x x. reception of expert testimony on the root cause of Justos
alleged psychological incapacity is necessary; and
The Court of Appeals likewise held that Rosas inability to offer the
testimony of a psychologist is fatal to her case, being in violation of third, whether the totality of evidence in the case shows
the tenets laid down by this Court in Molina. 34 Thus, she failed to psychological incapacity on the part of Justo.
substantiate her allegation that Justo is psychologically incapacitated
from complying with the essential obligations of marriage.35 The petition is bereft of merit.

Rosa filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied. Hence, the I
instant petition for review on certiorari.
Whether the factual findings of this Court in
Rosa contends that this Courts factual findings in A.C. No. 5333 for A.C. No. 5333 are conclusive on the present case.
disbarment are conclusive on the present case. Consequently, the
Court of Appeals erred in rendering contrary factual findings. Also, Rosa, sad to say, had made much ado about nothing. A reading of the
she argues that she filed the instant complaint sometime in May, Court of Appeals Decision shows that she has no reason to feel
1993, well before this Courts pronouncement in Molina relied upon aggrieved. In fact, the appellate court even assumed that her charges
by the Court of Appeals. She states that she could have presented an "are true," but concluded that they are insufficient to declare the
expert to prove the root cause of Justos psychological incapacity had marriage void on the ground of psychological incapacity. The
she been required to do so. For relief, she prays that her marriage pertinent portion of the Decision reads:
with Justo be annulled on the bases of the Courts conclusive factual
findings in A.C. No. 5333; or in the alternative, remand this case to Applying these parameters to the sifted evidence, we find that
the court a quo for reception of expert testimony in the interest of due even if we assume Justos alleged infidelity, failure to support his
process. family and alleged abandonment of their family home are true,
such traits are at best indicators that he is unfit to become an
In his comment on the petition, Justo asserts that the present case is a ideal husband and father. However, by themselves, these grounds
"new matter completely foreign and removed" from A.C. No. are insufficient to declare the marriage void due to an incurable
5333; hence, the factual findings of this Court therein are not psychological incapacity. These grounds, we must emphasize, do not
conclusive on this case. Besides, no hearing was conducted in A.C. manifest that he was truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants
that he must assume and discharge as a married person. While they
41
may manifest the "gravity" of his alleged psychological incapacity, Jurisprudence abounds that administrative cases against lawyers
they do not necessarily show incurability, such that while his acts belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and may
violated the covenants of marriage, they do not necessarily show that proceed independently of civil and criminal cases. The basic
such acts show an irreparably hopeless state of psychological premise is that criminal and civil cases are altogether different
incapacity which prevents him from undertaking the basic obligations from administrative matters, such that the disposition in the first
of marriage in the future.36 two will not inevitably govern the third and vice versa.39 The
Courts exposition in In re Almacen40 is instructive, thus:
The Court of Appeals pointed this out in its Resolution denying
Rosas motion for reconsideration, thus: x x x Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui
generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, they do not
Even as we are fully cognizant of the findings of the Supreme involve a trial of an action or a suit, but are rather
Court in the disbarment case appellant filed against her investigations by the Court into the conduct of one of its
husband, namely, appellees falsification of documents to officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, [they are]
obtain loans and his infidelity, these facts, by themselves, do in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is
not conclusively establish appellees psychological incapacity neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. [They] may be
as contemplated under Article 36 of the Family Code. In fact, initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is [their]
we already went as far as to presume the existence of such primary objective, and the real question for determination is
seeming depravities in appellees character in our earlier whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed
judgment. However, as we emphasized in our Decision, the the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its
existence of such eventualities is not necessarily conclusive disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a
of an inherent incapacity on the part of appellee to discern member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an
and perform the rudiments of marital obligations as officer of the Court with the end in view of preserving the
required under Article 36.37 purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest
administration of justice by purging the profession of
Clearly, Rosas insistence that the factual findings in A.C. No. 5333 members who by their misconduct have prove[n]
be considered "conclusive" on the present case is unmeritorious. The themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the
Court of Appeals already "went as far as to presume the existence" of duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an
Justos depravities, however, even doing so could not bring about her attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to
(Rosas) desired result. As Rosas prayer for relief suggests, what she speak of a complainant or a prosecutor.
wants is for this Court to annul her marriage on the bases of its
findings in A.C. No. 5333.38 Obviously, she is of the impression that Accordingly, ones unfitness as a lawyer does not automatically
since her charges in A.C. No. 5333 were found to be true, justifying mean ones unfitness as a husband or vice versa.41 The yardsticks for
the suspension of Justo from the practice of law, the same charges are such roles are simply different. This is why the disposition in a
also sufficient to prove his psychological incapacity to comply with disbarment case cannot be conclusive on an action for declaration of
the essential marital obligations. nullity of marriage. While Rosas charges sufficiently proved Justos
unfitness as a lawyer, however, they may not establish that he is
Her premise is of course non-sequitur. psychologically incapacitated to perform his duties as a husband. In
the disbarment case, "the real question for determination is whether
or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as
42
such." Its purpose is "to protect the court and the public from the In the 2000 case of Marcos v. Marcos,43 the Court clarified that the
misconduct of officers of the court." On the other hand, in an action above Guideline does not require that the respondent should be
for declaration of nullity of marriage based on the ground of examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non
psychological incapacity, the question for determination is whether for the declaration of the nullity of marriage. What is important is
the guilty party suffers a grave, incurable, and pre-existing mental "the presence of evidence that can adequately establish the
incapacity that renders him truly incognitive of the basic marital partys psychological condition."
covenants. Its purpose is to free the innocent party from a
meaningless marriage. In this case, as will be seen in the following Interestingly, in the same year (2000) that Marcos was decided, the
discussion, Justos acts are not sufficient to conclude that he is Court backtracked a bit when it held in Republic v. Dagdag44 that,
psychologically incapacitated, albeit such acts really fall short of "the root cause of psychological incapacity must be medically or
what is expected from a lawyer. clinically identified and sufficiently proven by experts" and this
requirement was not deemed complied with where no psychiatrist or
II medical doctor testified on the alleged psychological incapacity of
one party.
Whether a remand of this case to the RTC is necessary.
Significantly, the New Rules on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of
The presentation of an expert witness to prove psychological Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages,45 promulgated
incapacity has its origin in Molina.42 One of the Guidelines set forth by this Court on March 15, 2003, geared towards the relaxation of the
therein states: requirement of expert opinion. Section 2, paragraph (d) states:

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) (d) What to allege.- A petition under Article 36 of the Family
medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the Code shall specifically allege the complete facts showing that
complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts, and (d) clearly either or both parties were psychologically incapacitated from
explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code complying with the essential marital obligations of marriage
requires that the incapacity must be psychological -- not at the time of the celebration of marriage even if such
physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be incapacity becomes manifest only after its celebration.
physical. The evidence must convince the court that the
parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such The complete facts should allege the physical
an extent that the person could not have known the manifestations, if any, as are indicative of psychological
obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not incapacity at the time of the celebration of the marriage
have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of but expert opinion need not be alleged.
such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the
application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem In Barcelona v. Court of Appeals,46 this Court categorically explained
generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a that under the New Rules, a petition for declaration of nullity under
psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully Article 36 of the Family Code need not allege expert opinion on the
explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychological incapacity or on its root cause. What must be alleged
psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. are the physical manifestations indicative of said incapacity. The
Court further held that the New Rules, being procedural in nature,
apply to actions pending and unresolved at the time of their adoption.
43
Later, in 2005, the Court reiterated the Marcos doctrine in Republic v. of the law. The latter as so interpreted and construed
Iyoy.47 Thus: would thus constitute a part of the law as of the date the
statute is enacted. It is only when a prior ruling of this Court
A later case, Marcos v. Marcos, further clarified that there finds itself later overruled, and a different view is adopted,
is no requirement that the defendant/respondent spouse that the new doctrine may have to be applied prospectively in
should be personally examined by a physician or favor of parties who have relied on the old doctrine and have
psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the acted in good faith in accordance therewith under the familiar
declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological rule of lex prospicit, non replicit.
incapacity. Accordingly, it is no longer necessary to allege
expert opinion in a petition under Article 36 of the Family The Court then opted to examine the evidence. It affirmed that the
Code of the Philippines. Such psychological incapacity, wife failed, both in her allegations in the complaint and in her
however, must be established by the totality of the evidence evidence, to make out a case of psychological incapacity on the part
presented during the trial. of her husband. The Court then concluded that "emotional
immaturity and irresponsibility" cannot be equated with
Significantly, the present case is exactly akin to Pesca v. Pesca.48 psychological incapacity.
Pesca stemmed from a complaint for declaration of nullity of
marriage under Article 36 filed by a battered wife sometime in April Applying the foregoing cases, Marcos, Barcelona, Iyoy, and Pesca, to
1994. The trial court, in its Decision dated November 15, 1995, the instant case, there is no reason to remand it to the trial court. The
decreed the marriage void ab initio on the ground of psychological records clearly show that there is sufficient evidence to establish the
incapacity on the part of the husband. The Court of Appeals reversed psychological condition of Justo.
the trial courts Decision, applying the Guidelines set forth in Santos
v. Court of Appeals49 and Molina.50 When the matter was brought to III
this Court, the wife argued that Santos and Molina should not have
retroactive application, the Guidelines being merely advisory and not Whether the totality of evidence in the case
mandatory in nature. She submitted that the proper application of shows psychological incapacity on the part of Justo
Santos and Molina warranted only a remand of her case to the trial as to justify the declaration of nullity of marriage.
court for further proceedings, not a dismissal. The Court declined to
remand Pesca51 on the premise that the Santos and Molina Guidelines The last issue left for this Courts consideration is whether the totality
"constitute a part of the law as of the date the statute is enacted," of the evidence is sufficient to sustain a finding of psychological
thus: incapacity on the part of Justo so as to justify the dissolution of the
marriage in question.
The doctrine of stare decisis, ordained in Article 8 of the
Civil Code, expresses that judicial decisions applying or At this juncture, it is imperative that the parties be reminded of the
interpreting the law shall form part of the legal system of the States policy on marriage. Article XV of the Constitution mandates
Philippines. The rule follows the settled legal maxim legis that:
interpretado legis vim obtinet that the interpretation placed
upon the written law by a competent court has the force of SEC. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the
law. The interpretation or construction placed by the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its
courts establishes the contemporaneous legislative intent solidarity and actively promote its total development.
44
SEC. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against
foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State. its dissolution and nullity. x x x.

This State policy on the inviolability of marriage has been enshrined (2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a)
in Article 1 of the Family Code which states that: medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint,
(c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in
ART. 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union, the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the
between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with incapacity must be psychological -- not physical, although its
law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The
foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of
whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by them, were mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that
law, and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage the person could not have known the obligations he was
settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
within the limits provided by this Code. assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity
need be given here so as not to limit the application of the
Given the foregoing provisions of constitutional and statutory law, provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless
this Court has held fast to the position that any doubt as to the such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness
validity of a marriage is to be resolved in favor of its validity. 52 and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence
Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio. may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical
psychologists.
Of course, the law recognizes that not all marriages are made in
heaven. Imperfect humans more often than not create imperfect (3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time
unions. Thus, when the imperfection is psychological in nature and of the celebration" of the marriage. The evidence must show
renders a person incapacitated to comply with the essential marital that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their
obligations, the State provides refuge to the aggrieved spouse under "I dos." The manifestation of the illness need not be
Article 36 of the Family Code which reads: perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have
attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
ART. 36. A marriage contracted by a party who, at the time of
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with (4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or
the essential marital obligations of marriage shall likewise be clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be
void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse,
solemnization. not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex.
Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the
In Molina,53 the Court laid down the Guidelines for the interpretation assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those
and application of Article 36, thus: not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or
employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine
belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to

45
procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon
obligation of marriage. 1095.

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the The foregoing Guidelines incorporate the basic requirements
disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of mandated by the Court in Santos,54 to reiterate: psychological
marriage. Thus, "mild characteriological peculiarities, mood incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity; (b) juridical
changes, occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted antecedence; and (c) incurability.
as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright
incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, A review of the complaint, as well as the testimonial and
much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or documentary evidence, shows that Rosas main grounds in seeking
supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral the declaration of nullity of her marriage with Justo are his infidelity,
element in the personality structure that effectively profligacy which includes the falsification of her signature in one
incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby of the loan documents, failure to support the children, and
complying with the obligations essential to marriage. abandonment of the family. Both the courts below found the
charges unsubstantiated and untrue. However, this Court, in A.C. No.
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced 5333 for disbarment, found the evidence sufficient to support Rosas
by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the charges of sexual infidelity, falsification of her signature, and
husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the abandonment of family, thus:
same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-
complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the ON THE CHARGE OF FALSIFICATION OF
petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the COMPLAINANTS SIGNATURE
decision.
The handwriting examination conducted by the National Bureau of
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Investigation on the signatures of complainant Rosa Yap Paras and
Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the respondent Justo de Jesus Paras vis--vis the questioned signature
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given "Rosa Y. Paras" appearing in the questioned bank loan documents,
great respect by our courts. contracts of mortgage and other related instrument, yielded the
following results:
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or
fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the CONCLUSION:
state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor
General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the 1. The questioned and the standard sample signatures
decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement JUSTO J. PARAS were written by one and the same
or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The person.
Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall
submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days 2. The questioned and the standard sample signatures
from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of ROSA YAP PARAS were not written by one and the
the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent same person. (Annex "B", Rollo, p. 26, emphasis
ours;)
46
The NBI did not make a categorical statement that respondent totality of the evidence is not sufficient to show that Justo is
forged the signatures of complainant. However, an analysis of psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital
the above findings lead to no other conclusion than that the obligations.
questioned or falsified signatures of complainant Rosa Y.
Paras were authored by respondent as said falsified signatures The records indicate that the marriage between the parties had a good
were the same as the sample signatures of respondent. start, resulting in the birth of their four (4) children. The early days of
their cohabitation were blissful and harmonious. Justo was deeply in
To explain this anomaly, respondent presented a Special love with Rosa, even persuading his mother to give her a dowry.
Power of Attorney (SPA) executed in his favor by They were able to build a 10-room family home and acquire several
complainant to negotiate for an agricultural or crop loan from properties, thus, proving themselves to be responsible couple. Even
the Bais Rural Bank of Bais City. Instead of exculpating Rosa admitted that Justo took care of their children when they were
respondent, the presence of the SPA places him in hot water. young. Unfortunately, the passage of time appeared to have taken its
For if he was so authorized to obtain loans from the banks, toll on their relationship. The acts committed by Justo appeared to
then why did he have to falsify his wifes signatures in the have been the result of irreconcilable differences between them
bank loan documents? The purpose of an SPA is to especially caused by the death of their two (2) children and financial difficulties
authorize the attorney-in-fact to sign for and on behalf of the due to his failure to win the mayoralty election and to sustain his law
principal using his own name. practice. Furthermore, the superior business acumen of Rosa, as well
as the insolent attitude of her family towards Justo, busted his ego
ON THE CHARGE OF IMMORALITY AND and lowered his self-esteem.
CONCUBINAGE
There is no evidence that Justos "defects" were present at the
The evidence against respondent is overwhelming. The inception of the marriage. His "defects" surfaced only in the latter
affidavit-statements of his children and three other persons years when these events took place; their two children died; he lost in
who used to work with him and have witnessed the acts the election; he failed in his business ventures and law practice; and
indicative of his infidelity more than satisfy this Court that felt the disdain of his wife and her family. Surely, these
respondent has strayed from the marital path. The baptismal circumstances explain why Rosa filed the present case only after
certificate of Cyndee Rose Paras where respondent was almost 30 years of their marriage.
named as the father of the child (Annex "J", Rollo, p. 108);
his naming the child after his deceased first-born daughter Equally important is that records fail to indicate that Justos "defects"
Cyndee Rose; and his allowing Jocelyn Ching and the child to are incurable or grave.
live in their house in Dumaguete City bolster the allegation
that respondent is carrying on an illicit affair with Ms. Ching, The following catena of cases provides an adequate basis why the
the mother of his illegitimate child. marriage between Justo and Rosa should not be annulled.

While this Court is convinced that the charges hurled against Justo by
Rosa, such as sexual infidelity, falsification of her signature,
abandonment and inadequate support of children, are true,
nonetheless, there is nothing in the records showing that they were
caused by a psychological disorder on his part. In other words, the
47
In Dedel v. Court of Appeals55 which involved a promiscuous wife the time of marriage; and that irreconcilable differences,
who left her family to live with one of her many paramours, this conflicting personalities, emotional immaturity, and
Court ruled that the acts of sexual infidelity and abandonment do irresponsibility, physical abuse, habitual alcoholism, sexual
not constitute psychological incapacity absent a showing of the infidelity or perversion, and abandonment per se do not warrant
presence of such promiscuity at the inception of the marriage, a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36.
thus:
What is clear in this case is a husband who has gone astray from the
x x x. In this case, respondents sexual infidelity can hardly path of marriage because of a conflicting relationship with his wife
qualify as being mentally or physically ill to such an extent and her family and repeated lifes setbacks. While these do not justify
that she could not have known the obligations she was his sins, they are not sufficient to establish that he is psychologically
assuming, or knowing them, could not have given a valid incapacitated.
assumption thereof. It appears that respondents
promiscuity did not exist prior to or at the inception of the It is worthy to emphasize that Article 36 contemplates downright
marriage. What is, in fact, disclosed by the records is a incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and assume the basic
blissful marital union at its celebration, later affirmed in marital obligations, not a mere refusal, neglect or difficulty, much
church rites, and which produced four children. less, ill will, on the part of the errant spouse.59 As this Court
repeatedly declares, Article 36 of the Family Code is not to be
Respondents sexual infidelity or perversion and confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the
abandonment do not by themselves constitute psychological causes thereof manifest themselves. It refers to a serious
incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code. psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of
Neither could her emotional immaturity and irresponsibility the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive
be equated with psychological incapacity. It must be shown one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial
that these acts are manifestations of a disordered personality bond one is about to assume. These marital obligations are those
which make respondent completely unable to discharge the provided under Articles 68 to 71, 220, 221 and 225 of the Family
essential obligations of the marital state, not merely due to her Code.60
youth, immaturity, or sexual promiscuity.
Neither should Article 36 be equated with legal separation, in which
In Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco,56 the wifes inability to conceive the grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on
led her husband to other women so he could fulfill his ardent wish to physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil
have a child of his own flesh and blood. This Court ruled that this is interdiction, drug addiction, sexual infidelity, and abandonment,
not a manifestation of psychological incapacity in the contemplation and the like. At best the evidence presented by petitioner refers only
of the Family Code. In Choa v. Choa,57 this Court declared that a to grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a marriage void.61
mere showing of irreconcilable differences and conflicting
personalities does not constitute psychological incapacity. And, In sum, this Court finds no cogent reason to reverse the ruling of the
again, in Iyoy,58 a Filipina left her husband, married an American and Court of Appeals. While this Court commiserates with Rosas plight,
had a family by him, which she flaunted to her former husband. This however, it has no choice but to apply the law. Dura lex sed lex.
Court ruled that these acts, while embarrassing and hurting to the
latter, did not satisfactorily establish a serious or grave
psychological or mental defect of an incurable nature present at
48
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 49915 are
AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.C. No. 266 April 27, 1963

PAZ ARELLANO TOLEDO, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. JESUS B. TOLEDO, respondent.

PADILLA, J.:

49
This is a disbarment proceedings under Rule 128 of the Rules of case was received by the Office of the Solicitor General. On 19
Court. November 1956, 10 December 1956, 7, 8, 14, and 15 February 1957,
18 March 1957 and 5 August 1957, the office of the Solicitor General
On 9 July 1956 Paz Arellano Toledo filed in this Court a sworn conducted hearings during which the complainant presented her
complaint in the form of a letter alleging that she is the wife of Jesus evidence both oral and documentary and the respondent, who
B. Toledo, a member of the Bar;1 that they were married on 27 appeared in his own behalf, cross-examined her witnesses. The
December 1946 while he was still a second year student of law; that respondent did not present evidence in his behalf but reserved the
she supported him and spent for his studies; that after passing the bar right to present it under the provisions of Section 6, Rule 128. After
examination and becoming a full-fledged member of the Bar he finding that there is sufficient ground to proceed against the
abandoned her; that he is at present employed in the Bureau of respondent, on 24 July 1958 the Solicitor General filed a complaint in
Mines2 and stationed at Cagayan de Oro City; and that he is this Court charging the respondent with abandonment of his wife and
cohabiting with another woman who had borne him three children. immorality for cohabiting with another woman by whom he has a
She prayed that the respondent be disbarred from the practice of law. child, and praying that he be disbarred or suspended from the practice
On 11, July 1956, this Court directed the respondent to answer the of law. On 30 July 1958 the Clerk of Court sent to the respondent by
complaint within ten days from receipt of notice and a copy of the mail a copy of the complaint filed by the Solicitor General and
complaint.3 The respondent mailed his answer in the form of a letter, directed him to answer the same within 15 days from receipt thereof,
which was received in this Court on 4, October 1956, averring that pursuant to Section 5, Rule 128. On 28 August 1958 the respondent
the complaint was not in due form because "It does not set out filed in this Court a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground
distinctly, clearly and concisely the legal causes for the suspension or "that the charges contained therein are not based on and supported by
disbarment of a member of the Philippine Bar as provided in the the facts and evidence adduced at the investigation conducted by the
Rules of Court hence his "answer could not be made in the logical Office of the Solicitor General." On 2 September 1958 this Court set
sequence of a formal pleading;" that there seems to be an irregularity the case for hearing on 17 September 1958 at 9:30 o'clock in the
in the filing of the complaint because while the letter-complaint was morning. On 13 September 1958 the respondent filed a motion
dated 25, June 1956, and received at the Docket Section of this Court praying that his motion to dismiss filed on 28 August 1958 be first
on 2, July 1956, by an employee whose initials are "A.L." 4 It was resolved or, that, should it be denied, he be given a period of ten days
subscribed and sworn to before a notary public on a later date, 5 July within which to file an answer; that upon receipt of his answer the
1956; and the alleged information furnished by Esperanza D. case be returned to the Solicitor General for reception of his evidence
Almonte that the respondent was cohabiting with another woman pursuant to Section 6, Rule 128; and that the hearing of the case set
who had borne him three children is not true because her very for 17 September 1958 at 9:30 o'clock in the morning be held in
informant, whose true name is Leoncia D. Almonte, executed an abeyance pending resolution of his motion. At the hearing of the case
affidavit to the effect that the respondent was employed in the Bureau on 17 September 1958, counsel for the respondent appeared and was
of Lands, not in the Bureau of Mines, and that the three children given a period of 15 days within which to submit a written
referred to by the complainant were the children of Mr. and Mrs. memorandum in lieu of oral argument, and the Solicitor General the
Ruperto Ll. Jose, with whom the respondent was boarding. Attached same period of time from receipt of a copy of the respondent's
to his answer are the affidavit of Leoncia D. Almonte and a copy of memorandum within which to reply. On 22 October 1958, within the
his answer to a complaint filed by the complainant with the Director extension of time previously granted, the respondent filed his
of Lands for abandonment and immorality. In 9 October 1956, this memorandum and on 17 November 1958, also within the extension
Court referred the case to the Solicitor General for investigation, of time previously granted, the Solicitor General, his memorandum in
report and recommendation and on 11 October 1956 the record of the reply.
50
Section 6, Rule 128, provides: three or four months before his graduation. On the day of his
graduation, he showed her indifference and humiliated and
The evidence produced before the Solicitor General in his embarrassed her by calling her a "provinciana" and telling her that
investigation may be considered, by the Supreme Court in the she was a nuisance whenever she came to see him. Nevertheless,
final decision of the case, if the respondent had an opportunity being his wife, she continued to see him while he was reviewing for
to object and cross-examine. If in the respondent's answer no the bar examinations. She specifically mentioned that three days
statement is made as to any intention of introducing before the last examination, she came to see him. A week after the bar
additional evidence, the case shall be set down for hearing, examinations, she again came to see him. Since then they became
upon the filing of such answer or upon the expiration of the actually separated and she never saw him again until the hearing of
time to file the same. (Emphasis supplied) the case. Through Mrs. Esperanza Almonte, she learned that the
respondent was employed in the Bureau of Lands and stationed at
The above-quoted rule in no uncertain terms requires the respondent Cagayan de Oro City. The respondent never wrote to her and asked
in disbarment or suspension proceedings from the practice of law to her to follow him at his place of work and she did not care to either.
file an answer to the complaint filed by the Solicitor General after
investigation and, should he desire to present evidence in his behalf, Marina Payot gave the following testimony: From 28 February to 3
to expressly say so in the answer. Instead of doing what the rule June 1955 she lived and worked as maid, laundress and cook for the
requires, the respondent filed a motion to dismiss without stating that respondent, his family composed of himself, Mrs. Corazon Toledo
he intended to present evidence in his behalf, thereby waiving his and their child in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. The respondent and
right. The fact that at the close of the hearing conducted by the Corazon Toledo lived as husband and wife, and have a child named
Solicitor General, he made of record his desire to present evidence in Angie who was less than a year old at the time she lived with them.
his behalf, is not sufficient. The correct manner and proper time for The couple slept together in the same room with their daughter Angie
him to make known his intention is by and in the answer seasonably and ate their meals together although sometimes Corazon ate alone
filed in this Court. when the respondent was out somewhere. The respondent used to call
Corazon "Honey" and Corazon used to call the respondent "Jess".
The complainant testified as follows: On 27 December 1946 she, a Corazon Toledo is not the same person as the complainant.
dentist by profession, and the respondent, then a second year law
student, were married civilly in Camiling, Tarlac, by the Justice of the Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation
Peace (Exhibit A). For a period of two weeks after their wedding, of facts be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without
they lived in the house of her parents at No. 76 General del Pilar prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to prove their case
street in Camiling. After two weeks, the respondent went to Manila to not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1wph1.t
resume his studies at the Far Eastern University, 5 and she remained in
Camiling to practice her profession. While the respondent was still Lino Domingo testified in the following manner: He is employed as
studying, he either returned to Camiling once a week or she came to operator-mechanic in the Bureau of Public Highways in Malaybalay,
Manila twice a week to visit with each other. Sometimes the Bukidnon, and has resided there since 1952. He knows the
respondent stayed with her in Camiling for a week, and when she respondent because he headed a survey party that surveyed public
came to Manila to buy dental materials she slept with him at his lands in Malaybalay for distribution to the landless. Sometime in
boarding house or at the house on Economia street where he on lived March 1955 he went to the respondent's place of residence and office
with his brother Cleto and Aniceto and cousin Felisa Bacera, who at Moreno street, where his friend Mr. Nieva, an Ilocano, also resided
cooked their meals for them. They were in good terms until about to apply for a parcel of public land, and about ten times he went to
51
the respondent's place of residence and office. Among those who they paid regularly her salary of P15 a month; that they bought her a
lived with the respondent were Mrs. Corazon Toledo, Mr. Nieva, a dress during the town fiesta on May 15; that Corazon never scolded
maid and Mr. Abad (the latter only slept at the place whenever he was her for she was a woman of few words, was kind and did not know
in town). He knew that Corazon Toledo, who is not the same person how to get angry; and that the reason she left them was because she
as Paz Arellano Toledo, was the wife of the respondent. At the just felt lonesome for her parents. Further testing her credibility, the
respondent's place of residence and office, he saw a room where the Solicitor asked how the respondent's paramour looked, and she
respondent, Corazon and a baby slept and where man's pajamas and described her as a woman of fair complexion. Comparing her
shirts were hung. One day at about 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon, (Corazon) to the complainant, she said that the complainant was more
while the respondent and his (the witness') friend Mr. Abad were beautiful but Corazon was not ugly and that the latter had a nicer
repairing the front mudguard and seats of a station wagon behind the figure, because she was stouter and taller than the complainant. To
respondent's place of residence and office, his friend Mr. Abad find out if it was another and not the respondent who lived with
introduced him to the respondent. He helped Abad place the seats of Corazon, the Solicitor asked her if she had not seen Teodoro Nieva,
the station wagon in their proper places and while he was helping who lived with the respondent and Corazon in the same house, kiss or
Abad, he heard the respondent address Corazon as "Mama" and ask embrace Corazon, and she replied that she had not.
her for money to buy cigarettes. His friends Nieva and Abad used to
address Corazon as "Mrs. Toledo." Testing the credibility of Lino Domingo, the investigating Solicitor
asked him whether he was related to Claudio Arellano, brother of the
The respondent admits that he is married to the complainant (p. 14, complainant, and Lino readily answered that he is his brother-in-law
t.s.n.).The fact that he is cohabiting with another woman who had and added that he (Lino) is the cousin of the wife of Claudio. Asked
borne him a child has been established by the testimony of Marina if he had been asked by the complainant to testify at the hearing, he
Payot and Lino Domingo, whose sincerity and truthfulness have been frankly answered in the affirmative. Questioned as to the description
put to a severe and searching test by the investigating Solicitor in the of the respondent's paramour, the witness stated that Corazon is fair
presence of the respondent who appeared in his own behalf and in complexion, five feet tall; that she is taller and fairer in
cross-examined the witnesses during the investigation. Asked by the complexion, more beautiful and has a nicer figure than the
investigating Solicitor how she came to testify at the investigation, or complainant.
whether anybody taught or coached her on what to testify or whether
she testified because of any promise of reward or consideration, The testimony of these two witnesses are worthy of credence. Marina
Marina Payot without hesitation and in a straight forward manner Payot is a simple girl of eighteen years, a mere maid, scant in
answered that the complainant, Mr. Domingo and Mr. Reyes (the education, and understands little English. She did not even finish the
latter is the complainant's counsel) spoke to her and told her to tell sixth grade of the elementary course. The sharp and incisive
nothing but the truth about the respondent's affair with his paramour questions propounded to her by the investigating Solicitor and the
in Malaybalay; that nobody taught or coached her on what to testify lengthy cross-examination to which she was subjected by the
at the investigation; and that she was not promised anything by way respondent himself would have revealed herself if she was lying. The
of reward or consideration or given money for testifying. Going apparent inconsistencies in her answers may be attributed to her
further in his investigation, the Solicitor asked the witness how she innocence and simple-mindedness and her failure to understand the
was treated by the respondent to find out if she harbors any ill-feeling questions propounded to her. Moreover, she could not be expected to
or grudge against him and his alleged paramour, which could be a remember the dates asked of her in the same way that a person of
motive for falsely testifying against them, and she answered that she more than average intelligence would. Add to this the fact that she
was well treated by the Toledos; that they considered her a sister; that was subjected to a thorough examination by three lawyers and her
52
confusion was compounded. Lino Domingo's frank and ready
answers to the questions propounded by the Solicitor show sincerity
and do not reveal any intention to pervert the truth. And even if his
testimony be discarded, still the testimony of Marina Payot stands
unrebutted.

The annexes attached to the respondent's memorandum cannot be


taken into consideration for they were not properly introduced in
evidence during the investigation.

The respondent, by abandoning his lawful wife and cohabiting with


another woman who had borne him a child, has failed to maintain the
highest degree of morality expected and required of a member of the
Bar.6

THEREFORE, the respondent is disbarred from the practice of law.

Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera,


Paredes, Dizon, Regala and Makalintal, JJ., concur.
Bengzon, C.J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.M. No. 3249 November 29, 1989

53
SALVACION DELIZO CORDOVA, complainant, In a telegraphic message dated 6 April 1989, complainant informed
vs. the Commission that she and her husband had already "reconciled".
ATTY. LAURENCE D. CORDOVA, respondent. In an order dated 17 April 1989, the Commission required the parties
(respondent and complainant) to appear before it for confirmation
RESOLUTION and explanation of the telegraphic message and required them to file
a formal motion to dismiss the complaint within fifteen (15) days
from notice. Neither party responded and nothing was heard from
either party since then.
PER CURIAM:
Complainant having failed to submit her evidence ex parte before the
In an unsworn letter-complaint dated 14 April 1988 addressed to then Commission, the IBP Board of Governors submitted to this Court its
Mr. Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee, complainant Salvacion Delizo report reprimanding respondent for his acts, admonishing him that
charged her husband, Atty. Laurence D. Cordova, with immorality any further acts of immorality in the future will be dealt with more
and acts unbecoming a member of the Bar. The letter-complaint was severely, and ordering him to support his legitimate family as a
forwarded by the Court to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, responsible parent should.
Commission on Bar Discipline ("Commission"), for investigation,
report and recommendation. The findings of the IBP Board of Governors may be summed up as
follows:
The Commission, before acting on the complaint, required
complainant to submit a verified complaint within ten (10) days from Complainant and respondent Cordova were married on 6 June 1976
notice. Complainant complied and submitted to the Commission on and out of this marriage, two (2) children were born. In 1985, the
27 September 1988 a revised and verified version of her long and couple lived somewhere in Quirino Province. In that year, respondent
detailed complaint against her husband charging him with immorality Cordova left his family as well as his job as Branch Clerk of Court of
and acts unbecoming a member of the Bar. the Regional Trial Court, Cabarroguis, Quirino Province, and went to
Mangagoy, Bislig, Surigao del Sur with one Fely G. Holgado. Fely
In an Order of the Commission dated 1 December 1988, respondent G. Holgado was herself married and left her own husband and
was declared in default for failure to file an answer to the complaint children to stay with respondent. Respondent Cordova and Fely G.
within fifteen (15) days from notice. The same Order required Holgado lived together in Bislig as husband and wife, with
complainant to submit before the Commission her evidence ex parte, respondent Cordova introducing Fely to the public as his wife, and
on 16 December 1988. Upon the telegraphic request of complainant Fely Holgado using the name Fely Cordova. Respondent Cordova
for the resetting of the 16 December 1988 hearing, the Commission gave Fely Holgado funds with which to establish a sari-sari store in
scheduled another hearing on 25 January 1989. The hearing the public market at Bislig, while at the same time failing to support
scheduled for 25 January 1989 was rescheduled two (2) more times- his legitimate family.
first, for 25 February 1989 and second, for 10 and 11 April 1989. The
hearings never took place as complainant failed to appear. On 6 April 1986, respondent Cordova and his complainant wife had
Respondent Cordova never moved to set aside the order of default, an apparent reconciliation. Respondent promised that he would
even though notices of the hearings scheduled were sent to him. separate from Fely Holgado and brought his legitimate family to
Bislig, Surigao del Sur. Respondent would, however, frequently come
home from beerhouses or cabarets, drunk, and continued to neglect
54
the support of his legitimate family. In February 1987, complainant an attorney at law. The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a
found, upon returning from a trip to Manila necessitated by member of the bar to continue as such includes conduct that outrages
hospitalization of her daughter Loraine, that respondent Cordova was the generally accepted moral standards of the community, conduct for
no longer living with her (complainant's) children in their conjugal instance, which makes "a mockery of the inviolable social institution
home; that respondent Cordova was living with another mistress, one or marriage." 3 In Mortel, the respondent being already married,
Luisita Magallanes, and had taken his younger daughter Melanie wooed and won the heart of a single, 21-year old teacher who
along with him. Respondent and his new mistress hid Melanie from subsequently cohabited with him and bore him a son. Because
the complinant, compelling complainant to go to court and to take respondent's conduct in Mortel was particularly morally repulsive,
back her daughter by habeas corpus. The Regional Trial Court, involving the marrying of his mistress to his own son and thereafter
Bislig, gave her custody of their children. cohabiting with the wife of his own son after the marriage he had
himself arranged, respondent was disbarred.
Notwithstanding respondent's promises to reform, he continued to
live with Luisita Magallanes as her husband and continued to fail to In Royong v. Oblena, 4 the respondent was declared unfit to continue
give support to his legitimate family. as a member of the bar by reason of his immoral conduct and
accordingly disbarred. He was found to have engaged in sexual
Finally the Commission received a telegram message apparently relations with the complainant who consequently bore him a son; and
from complainant, stating that complainant and respondent had been to have maintained for a number of years an adulterous relationship
reconciled with each other. with another woman.

After a review of the record, we agree with the findings of fact of the In the instant case, respondent Cordova maintained for about two (2)
IBP Board. We also agree that the most recent reconciliation between years an adulterous relationship with a married woman not his wife,
complainant and respondent, assuming the same to be real, does not in full view of the general public, to the humiliation and detriment of
excuse and wipe away the misconduct and immoral behavior of the his legitimate family which he, rubbing salt on the wound, failed or
respondent carried out in public, and necessarily adversely reflecting refused to support. After a brief period of "reform" respondent took
upon him as a member of the Bar and upon the Philippine Bar itself. up again with another woman not his wife, cohabiting with her and
An applicant for admission to membership in the bar is required to bringing along his young daughter to live with them. Clearly,
show that he is possessed of good moral character. That requirement respondent flaunted his disregard of the fundamental institution of
is not exhausted and dispensed with upon admission to membership marriage and its elementary obligations before his own daughter and
of the bar. On the contrary, that requirement persists as a continuing the community at large.
condition for membership in the Bar in good standing.
WHEREFORE, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from
In Mortel v. Aspiras,1 this Court, following the rule in the United the practice of law indefinitely and until farther orders from this
States, held that "the continued possession ... of a good moral Court. The Court will consider lifting his suspension when
character is a requisite condition for the rightful continuance in the respondent Cordova submits proof satisfactory to the Commission
practice of the law ... and its loss requires suspension or disbarment, and this Court that he has and continues to provide for the support of
even though the statutes do not specify that as a ground for his legitimate family and that he has given up the immoral course of
disbarment. " 2 It is important to note that the lack of moral character conduct that he has clung to.
that we here refer to as essential is not limited to good moral
character relating to the discharge of the duties and responsibilities of
55
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano,
Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Grio-Aquino,
Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

56
Republic of the Philippines On September 2, 1974, the Court Resolved to refer the case to the
SUPREME COURT Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation.
Manila
The findings of the Solicitor General is summarized as follows:
EN BANC
EVIDENCE FOR THE COMPLAINANT
A.M. No. 1334 November 28, 1989
Complainant Rosario delos Reyes testified that:
ROSARIO DELOS REYES, complainant,
vs. 1) she was a second year medical
ATTY. JOSE B. AZNAR, respondent. student of the Southwestern University,
the Chairman of the Board of which
Federico A. Blay for complainant. was respondent Jose B. Aznar (pp. 11,
15, tsn, June 6, 1975);
Luciano Babiera for respondent.
2) she however failed in her Pathology
RESOLUTION subject which prompted her to
approach respondent in the latter's
house who assured her that she would
pass the said subject (pp. 15,16, 26, 33,
PER CURIAM: tsn, June 6, 1975);

This is a complaint for disbarment filed against respondent on the 3) despite this assurance, however, she
ground of gross immorality. failed (p. 33, tsn, June 6, 1975);

Complainant, a second year medical student of the Southwestern 4) sometime in February, 1973,
University (Cebu), alleged in her verified complaint that respondent respondent told her that she should go
Atty. Jose B. Aznar, then chairman of said university, had carnal with him to Manila, otherwise, she
knowledge of her for several times under threat that she would fail in would flunk in all her subjects (pp. 42,
her Pathology subject if she would not submit to respondent's lustful 50, tsn, June 6, 1975); ... ... ... ;
desires. Complainant further alleged that when she became pregnant,
respondent, through a certain Dr. Gil Ramas, had her undergo forced 5) on February 12, 1973, both
abortion. respondent and complainant boarded
the same plane (Exh. "A") for Manila;
In compliance with the Resolution of the Court dated July 9, 1974, from the Manila Domestic Airport, they
respondent filed his Answer denying any personal knowledge of proceeded to Room 905, 9th Floor of
complainant as well as all the allegations contained in the complaint the Ambassador Hotel where they
and by way of special defense, averred that complainant is a woman stayed for three days (Exhs. "K", "K-1"
of loose morality. to "K-6"; p. 55, tsn, June 6, 1 975);
57
6) after arriving at the Ambassador an inhalation mask was placed on her
Hotel, they dined at a Spanish mouth and nose (pp. 88-90, tsn, July
restaurant at San Marcelino, Malate, 17, 1 975);
Manila for around three hours (pp 56-
57, tsn, June 6, 1975); 13) as a result, she lost consciousness
and when she woke up, an abortion had
7) they returned to the hotel at around already been performed upon her and
twelve o'clock midnight, where she was weak, bleeding and felt pain all
respondent had carnal knowledge of over her body (pp. 90-91, tsn, July 17,
her twice and then thrice the next 1975); ... ... ... (Rollo, pp. 38-40)
morning (p. 59, tsn, June 6, 1975; pp.
154, 155 & 157, tsn, July 18, 1975); Monica Gutierrez Tan testified that she met
complainant and a man whom complainant introduced
8) complainant consented to the sexual as Atty. Aznar in front of the Ambassador Hotel (pp.
desires of respondent because for her, 183-184, tsn, Sept. 10, 1975; Rollo, p. 41).
she would sacrifice her personal honor
rather than fail in her subjects (p.6l, tsn, Dr. Rebecca Gucor and Dr. Artemio Ingco, witnesses for the
June 6, 1975); ... ... ...; complainant, testified that abdominal examinations and x-ray
examination of the lumbro-sacral region of complainant showed no
9) sometime in March, 1973, signs of abnormality (Rollo, p. 42).
complainant told respondent that she
was suspecting pregnancy because she The evidence for the respondent as reported by the Solicitor General
missed her menstruation (p. 76, tsn, is summarized as follows:
July 17, 1975); ... ... ...;
Edilberto Caban testified that:
10) later, she was informed by Dr.
Monsanto (an instructor in the college 1. In December, 1972, respondent Atty.
of medicine) that respondent wanted Aznar stayed at Ambassador Hotel with
that an abortion be performed upon her his wife and children; respondent never
(p.82, tsn, July l7, 1975); ... ... ... ; came to Manila except in December,
1972; (pp. 8-9,. tsn, Nov. 24, 1977);
11) thereafter, Ruben Cruz, a confidant
of respondent, and Dr. Monsato fetched 2. He usually slept with respondent
her at her boarding house on the pretext everytime the latter comes to Manila
that she would be examined by Dr. Gil (p. 13, tsn, Nov. 24, 1977; Rollo, pp.
Ramas (pp. 87-88, tsn, July 17, 1975); 42-43).

12) upon reaching the clinic of Dr. Oscar Salangsang, another witness for the respondent
Ramas she was given an injection and stated that:
58
1. In February, 1973, he went to Medicine, complainant had every reason to believe
Ambassador Hotel to meet respondent; him.
the latter had male companions at the
hotel but he did not see any woman It has been established also that complainant was
companion of respondent Aznar; brought by respondent to Ambassador Hotel in Manila
for three days where he repeatedly had carnal
2. He usually slept with respondent at knowledge of her upon the threat that if she would not
the Ambassador Hotel and ate with him give in to his lustful desires, she would fail in her
outside the hotel together with Caban Pathology subject (Exhs. "A", "K", "K-1" to "K-6" pp.
(pp. 8-9, 13-15, tsn, Jan. 13, 1978; 51, 52, 55-59, tsn, June 6, 1975);
Rollo, p. 43).
xxx xxx xxx
The Court notes that throughout the period of the investigation
conducted by the Solicitor General, respondent Aznar was never On the other hand, respondent did not bother to appear
presented to refute the allegations made against him. during the hearing. It is true that he presented
Edilberto Caban and Oscar Salangsang who testified
In his Answer, respondent Aznar alleges that he does not have any that respondent usually slept with them every time the
knowledge of the allegations in the complaint. As special defense, latter came to Manila, but their testimony (sic) is not
respondent further alleged that the charge levelled against him is in much of help. None of them mentioned during the
furtherance of complainant's vow to wreck vengeance against hearing that they stayed and slept with respondent on
respondent by reason of the latter's approval of the recommendation February 12 to February 14, 1973 at Ambassador
of the Board of Trustees barring complainant from enrollment for the Hotel. ... ... ... Besides, Edilberto Caban testified that
school year 1973-1974 because she failed in most of her subjects. It respondent stayed at Ambassador Hotel with his wife
is likewise contended that the defense did not bother to present and children in December, 1972. The dates in
respondent in the investigation conducted by the Solicitor General question, however, are February 12 to 14, 1973,
because nothing has been shown in the hearing to prove that inclusive. His (Caban's) testimony, therefore, is
respondent had carnal knowledge of the complainant. immaterial to the present case" (Rollo, pp. 43-44).

Contrary to respondent's averments, the Solicitor General made a In effect, the Solicitor General found that the charge of immorality
categorical finding to the effect that respondent had carnal knowledge against respondent Aznar has been substantiated by sufficient
of complainant, to wit: evidence both testimonial and documentary; while finding
insufficient and uncorroborated the accusation of intentional abortion.
From the foregoing, it is clear that complainant was The Solicitor General then recommends the suspension of respondent
compelled to go to Manila with respondent upon the from the practice of law for a period of not less than three (3) years.
threat of respondent that if she failed to do so, she
would flunk in all her subjects and she would never On March 16, 1989, the Court Resolved to require the parties to
become a medical intern (pp. 42, 50, tsn, June 6, Move in the premises to determine whether any intervening event
1975). As respondent was Chairman of the College of occurred which would render the case moot and academic (Rollo, p.
69).
59
On April 12, 1989, the Solicitor General filed a manifestation and expected of him. ... In the case of United States v.
motion praying that the case at bar be considered submitted for Tria, 17 Phil. 303, Justice Moreland, speaking for the
decision on the bases of the report and recommendation previously Court, said:
submitted together with the record of the case and the evidence
adduced (Rollo, p. 75). An accused person sometimes owes a duty to himself
if not to the State. If he does not perform that duty, he
After a thorough review of the records, the Court agrees with the may not always expect the State to perform it for him.
finding of the Solicitor General that respondent Aznar, under the facts If he fails to meet the obligation which he owes to
as stated in the Report of the investigation conducted in the case, is himself, when to meet it is the easiest of easy things,
guilty of "grossly immoral conduct" and may therefore be removed or he is hardy indeed if he demand and expect that same
suspended by the Supreme Court for conduct unbecoming a member full and wide consideration which the State voluntarily
of the Bar (Sec. 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court). gives to those who by reasonable effort seek to help
themselves. This is particularly so when he not only
Respondent failed to adduce evidence sufficient to engender doubt as declines to help himself but actively conceals from the
to his culpability of the offense imputed upon him. With the State the very means by which it may assist him
exception of the self-serving testimonies of two witnesses presented (Quingwa SCRA 439 [1967]).
on respondent's behalf, the records are bereft of evidence to exonerate
respondent of the act complained of, much less contradict, on The Solicitor General recommends that since the complainant is
material points, the testimonies of complainant herself. partly to blame for having gone with respondent to Manila knowing
fully well that respondent is a married man ,with children, respondent
While respondent denied having taken complainant to the should merely be suspended from the practice of law for not less than
Ambassador Hotel and there had sexual intercourse with the latter, he three (3) years (Rollo, p. 47).
did not present any evidence to show where he was at that date.
While this is not a criminal proceeding, respondent would have done On the other hand, respondent in his manifestation and motion dated
more than keep his silence if he really felt unjustly traduced. April 18, 1989 alleges that since a period of about ten (10) years had
already elapsed from the time the Solicitor General made his
It is the duty of a lawyer, whenever his moral character is put in recommendation for a three (3) years suspension and respondent is
issue, to satisfy this Court that he is a fit and proper person to enjoy not practicing his profession as a lawyer, the court may now consider
continued membership in the Bar. He cannot dispense with nor the respondent as having been suspended during the said period and
downgrade the high and exacting moral standards of the law the case dismissed for being moot and academic.
profession (Go v. Candoy, 21 SCRA 439 [1967]). As once
pronounced by the Court: We disagree.

When his integrity is challenged by evidence, it is not Complainant filed the instant case for disbarment not because
enough that he denies the charges against him; he respondent reneged on a promise to marry (Quingwa v. Puno, supra).
must meet the issue and overcome the evidence for the More importantly. complainant's knowledge of of respondent's
relator (Legal and Judicial Ethics, by Malcolm, p. 93) marital status is not at issue in the case at bar. Complainant submitted
and show proofs that he still maintains the highest to respondent's solicitation for sexual intercourse not because of a
degree of morality and integrity, which at all times is desire for sexual gratification but because of respondent's moral
60
ascendancy over her and fear that if she would not accede, she would straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that
flunk in her subjects. As chairman of the college of medicine where warrants disbarment.
complainant was enrolled, the latter had every reason to believe that
respondent could make good his threats. Moreover, as counsel for Immoral conduct has been defined as 'that which is
respondent would deem it "worthwhile to inform the the Court that willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a
the respondent is a scion of a rich family and a very rich man in his moral indifference to the opinion of the good and
own right and in fact is not practicing his profession before the court" respectable members of the community' (7 C.J.S. 959).
(Rollo, p. 70), mere suspension for a limited period, per se, would
therefore serve no redeeming purpose. The fact that he is a rich man Where an unmarried female dwarf possessing the
and does not practice his profession as a lawyer, does not render intellect of a child became pregnant by reason of
respondent a person of good moral character. Evidence of good moral intimacy with a married lawyer who was the father of
character precedes admission to bar (Sec.2, Rule 138, Rules of Court) six children, disbarment of the attorney on the ground
and such requirement is not dispensed with upon admission thereto. of immoral conduct was justified (In re Hicks 20 Pac.
Good moral character is a continuing qualification necessary to 2nd 896).
entitle one to continue in the practice of law. The ancient and learned
profession of law exacts from its members the highest standard of In the present case, it was highly immoral of respondent, a married
morality (Quingwa v. Puno, supra). man with children, to have taken advantage of his position as
chairman of the college of medicine in asking complainant, a student
Under Section 27, Rule 138, "(a) member of the bar may be removed in said college, to go with him to Manila where he had carnal
or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for knowledge of her under the threat that she would flunk in all her
any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, subjects in case she refused.
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 WHEREFORE, respondent Jose B. Aznar is hereby DISBARRED
required to take before admission to practice, ... " In Arciga v. and his name is ordered stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys.
Maniwang (106 SCRA 591, [1981]), this Court had occasion to
define the concept of immoral conduct, as follows: SO ORDERED.

A lawyer may be disbarred for grossly immoral


conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude. A member of the bar should
have moral integrity in addition to professional
probity.

It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an


inflexible standard as to what is grossly immoral
conduct or to specify the moral delinquency and
obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of
continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies
that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the
61
On November 9, 1987, the Office of the Solicitor General submitted
its Report and Recommendation, viz.:
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT Evidence of the complainant:
Manila
. . . complainant Victoria Barrientos was single and a
EN BANC resident of Bonifacio St., Dipolog City; that when she
was still a teenager and first year in college she came
to know respondent Transfiguracion Daarol in 1969 as
he used to go to their house being a friend of her sister
A.C. No. 1512 January 29, 1993 Norma; that they also became friends, and she knew
the respondent as being single and living alone in
VICTORIA BARRIENTOS, complainant, Galas, Dipolog City; that he was the General Manager
vs. of Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc.
TRANSFIGURACION DAAROL, respondent. (ZANECO) and subsequently transferred his residence
to the ZANECO compound at Laguna Blvd. at Del
RESOLUTION Pilar St., Dipolog City (pp. 109-111, tsn, September
30, 1976).

That on June 27, 1973, respondent came to their house


PER CURIAM: and asked her to be one of the usherettes in the
Mason's convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City, from
In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on August 20, 1975, June 28 to 30, 1973 and, she told respondent to ask the
complainant Victoria C. Barrientos seeks the disbarment of permission of her parents, which respondent did, and
respondent Transfiguracion Daarol, ** a member of the Philippine her father consented; that for three whole days she
Bar, on grounds of deceit and grossly immoral conduct. served as usherette in the convention and respondent
picked her up from her residence every morning and
After respondent filed his answer (Rollo, p. 12), the Court Resolved took her home from the convention site at the end of
to refer the case to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and each day (pp. 112-114, tsn, id.).
recommendation (Rollo, p. 18).
That in the afternoon of July 1, 1973, respondent came
As per recommendation of the Solicitor General and for the to complainant's house and invited her for a joy ride
convenience of the parties and their witnesses who were residing in with the permission of her mother who was a former
the province of Zamboanga del Norte, the Provincial Fiscal of said classmate of respondent; that respondent took her to
province was authorized to conduct the investigation and to submit a Sicayab in his jeep and then they strolled along the
report, together with transcripts of stenographic notes and exhibits beach, and in the course of which respondent proposed
submitted by the parties, if any (Rollo, p. 20). his love to her; that respondent told her that if she
would accept him, he would marry her within six (6)
months from her acceptance; complainant told
62
respondent that she would think it over first; that from home (pp.
then on respondent used to visit her in their house 122-124, tsn, id.).
almost every night, and he kept on courting her and
pressed her to make her decision on respondent's After August 20, 1973, respondent continued to invite
proposal; that on July 7, 1973, she finally accepted her to eat outside usually at the Honeycomb
respondent's offer of love and respondent continued Restaurant in Dipolog City about twice or three times
his usual visitations almost every night thereafter; they a week, after which he would take her to the airport
agreed to get married in December 1973 (pp. 115-119, where they would have sexual intercourse; that they
tsn, id.). had this sexual intercourse from August to October
1973 at the frequency of two or three times a week,
That in the morning of August 20, 1973, respondent and she consented to all these things because she
invited her, with the consent of her father, to a party at loved him and believed in all his promises (pp. 125-
the Lopez Skyroom; that at 7:00 p.m. of that day 127, tsn, id.).
respondent fetched her from her house and went to the
Lopez Skyroom (pp. 119-121, tsn, id); that at about Sometime in the middle part of September, 1973
10:00 p.m. of that evening they left the party at the complainant noticed that her menstruation which
Lopez Skyroom, but before taking her home usually occurred during the second week of each
respondent invited her for a joy ride and took her to month did not come; she waited until the end of the
the airport at Sicayab, Dipolog City; respondent month and still there was no menstruation; she
parked the jeep by the beach where there were no submitted to a pregnancy test and the result was
houses around; that in the course of their conversation positive; she informed respondent and respondent
inside the jeep, respondent reiterated his promise to suggested to have the fetus aborted but she objected
marry her and then started caressing her downward and respondent did not insist; respondent then told her
and his hand kept on moving to her panty and down to not to worry because they would get married within
her private parts (pp. 121-122, tsn. id.); that she then one month and he would talk to her parents about their
said: "What is this Trans?", but he answered: "Day, do marriage (pp. 129-132, tsn, id.).
not be afraid of me. I will marry you" and reminded
her also that "anyway, December is very near, the On October 20, 1973, respondent came to
month we have been waiting for" ([p], 122, tsn, id.), complainant's house and talked to her parents about
then he pleaded, "Day, just give this to me, do not be their marriage; it was agreed that the marriage would
afraid" (ibid), and again reiterated his promise and be celebrated in Manila so as not to create a scandal as
assurances, at the same time pulling down her panty; complainant was already pregnant; complainant and
that she told him that she was afraid because they her mother left for Manila by boat on October 22,
were not yet married, but because she loved him she 1973 while respondent would follow by plane; and
finally agreed to have sexual intercourse with him at they agreed to meet in Singalong, Manila, in the house
the back seat of the jeep; that after the intercourse she of complainant's sister Delia who is married to Ernesto
wept and respondent again reiterated his promises and Serrano (pp. 132-135, tsn, id.).
assurances not to worry because anyway he would
marry her; and at about 12:00 midnight they went
63
On October 26, 1973, when respondent came to see respondent did not come to see her (tsn. 48-150, tsn,
complainant and her mother at Singalong, Manila, id.); she consulted a lawyer and filed an administrative
respondent told them that he could not marry case against respondent with the National
complainant because he was already married (p. 137, Electrification Administration; the case was referred to
tsn, id.); complainant's mother got mad and said: the Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative
"Trans, so you fooled my daughter and why did you (ZANECO) and it was dismissed and thus she filed the
let us come here in Manila?" (p. 138, tsn, id.). Later present administrative case (pp. 150-151, tsn, id.).
on, however, respondent reassured complainant not to
worry because respondent had been separated from his Evidence for the Respondent
wife for 16 years and he would work for the
annulment of his marriage and, subsequently marry
complainant (p. 139, tsn, id.); respondent told
complainant to deliver their child in Manila and
assured her of a monthly support of P250.00 (p. 140,
tsn, id.); respondent returned to Dipolog City and
actually sent the promised support; he came back to
Manila in January 1974 and went to see complainant;
when asked about the annulment of his previous
marriage, he told complainant that it would soon be
approved (pp. 141-142, tsn, id.); he came back in
February and in March 1974 and told complainant the
same thing (p. 142, tsn, id.); complainant wrote her
mother to come to Manila when she delivers the child,
but her mother answered her that she cannot come as
nobody would be left in their house in Dipolog and
instead suggested that complainant go to Cebu City
which is nearer; complainant went to Cebu City in
April 1974 and, her sister Norma took her to the Good
Shepherd Convent at Banawa Hill; she delivered a
baby girl on June 14, 1974 at the Perpetual Succor
Hospital in Cebu City; and the child was registered as
"Dureza Barrientos" (pp. 143-148, tsn, id.).

In the last week of June 1974 complainant came to


Dipolog City and tried to contact respondent by phone
and, thru her brother, but to no avail; as she was
ashamed she just stayed in their house; she got sick
and her father sent her to Zamboanga City for medical
treatment; she came back after two weeks but still
64
The evidence of the respondent consists of his sole the airport, only two of them, they started the usual
testimony and one exhibit, the birth certificate of the kisses and they were carried by their passion; they
child (Exh. 1). Respondent declared substantially as forgot themselves and they made love; that before
follows: that he was born on August 6, 1932 in Liloy, midnight he took her home; that thereafter they
Zamboanga del Norte; that he married Romualda indulged in sexual intercourse many times whenever
Sumaylo in Liloy in 1955; that he had a son who is they went on joy riding in the evening and ended up in
now 20 years old; that because of incompatibility he the airport which was the only place they could be
had been estranged from his wife for 16 years; that in alone
1953 he was baptized as a moslem and thereby (p. 195, tsn, id.).
embraced the Islam Religion (pp.
173-180 tsn, Jan. 13, 1977); that he came to know That it was sometime in the later part of October 1973
complainant's father since 1952 because he was his that complainant told him of her pregnancy; that they
teacher; likewise he knew complainant's mother agreed that the child be delivered in Manila to avoid
because they were former classmates in high school; scandal and respondent would take care of expenses;
that he became acquainted with complainant when he that during respondent's talk with the parents of
used to visit her sister, Norma, in their house; they complainant regarding the latter's pregnancy, he told
gradually became friends and often talked with each him he was married but estranged from his wife; that
other, and even talked about their personal problems; when complainant was already in Manila, she asked
that he mentioned to her his being estranged from his him if he was willing to marry her, he answered he
wife; that with the consent of her parents he invited could not marry again, otherwise, he would be charged
her to be one of the usherettes in the Masonic with bigamy but he promised to file an annulment of
Convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City held on June 28- his marriage as he had been separated from his wife
30, 1973 (pp. 185-192, tsn, id.); that the arrangement for 16 years; that complainant consented to have
was for him to fetch her from her residence and take sexual intercourse with him because of her love to him
her home from the convention site; that it was during and he did not resort to force, trickery, deceit or
this occasion that they became close to each other and cajolery; and that the present case was filed against
after the convention, he proposed his love to her on him by complainant because of his failure to give the
July 7, 1973; that (sic) a week of courtship, she money to support complainant while in Cebu waiting
accepted his proposal and since then he used to invite for the delivery of the child and, also to meet
her (pp. 193-194, tsn, id.). complainant's medical expenses when she went to
Zamboanga City for medical check-up (pp. 198-207,
That in the evening of August 20, 1973, respondent tsn, id.).
invited complainant to be his partner during the
Chamber of Commerce affair at the Lopez Skyroom; FINDING OF FACTS
that at about 10:00 p.m. of that evening after the affair,
complainant complained to him of a headache, so he From the evidence adduced by the parties, the
decided to take her home but once inside the jeep, she following facts are not disputed:
wanted to have a joy ride, so he drove around the city
and proceeded to the airport; that when they were at
65
1. That the complainant, Victoria Barrientos, is single, respondent's partner during the Chamber of
a college student, and was about 20 years and 7 Commerce affair at the Lopez Skyroom in the Dipolog
months old during the time (July-October 1975) of her City, and at about 10:00 o'clock that evening, they left
relationship with respondent, having been born on the place but before going home, they went to the
December 23, 1952; while respondent Transfiguracion airport at Sicayab, Dipolog City and parked the jeep at
Daarol is married, General Manager of Zamboanga the beach, where there were no houses around; that
del Norte Electric Cooperative, and 41 years old at the after the usual preliminaries, they consummated the
time of the said relationship, having been born on sexual act and at about midnight they went home; that
August 6, 1932; after the first sexual act, respondent used to have joy
ride with complainant which usually ended at the
2. That respondent is married to Romualda A. airport where they used to make love twice or three
Sumaylo with whom be has a son; that the marriage times a week; that as a result of her intimate relations,
ceremony was solemnized on September 24, 1955 at complainant became pregnant;
Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte by a catholic priest, Rev.
Fr. Anacleto Pellamo, Parish Priest thereat; and that 5. That after a conference among respondent,
said respondent had been separated from his wife for complainant and complainant's parents, it was agreed
about 16 years at the time of his relationship with that complainant would deliver her child in Manila,
complainant; where she went with her mother on October 22, 1973
by boat, arriving in Manila on the 25th and, stayed
3. That respondent had been known by the Barrientos with her brother-in-law Ernesto Serrano in Singalong,
family for quite sometime, having been a former Manila; that respondent visited her there on the 26th,
student of complainant's father in 1952 and, a former 27th and 28th of October 1973, and again in February
classmate of complainant's mother at the Andres and March 1974; that later on complainant decided to
Bonifacio College in Dipolog City; that he became deliver the child in Cebu City in order to be nearer to
acquainted with complainant's sister, Norma in 1963 Dipolog City, and she went there in April 1974 and her
and eventually with her other sisters, Baby and Delia sister took her to the Good Shepherd Convent at
and, her brother, Boy, as he used to visit Norma at her Banawa Hill, Cebu City; that on June 14, 1974, she
residence; that he also befriended complainant and delivered a baby girl at the Perpetual Succor Hospital
who became a close friend when he invited her, with in Cebu City and, named her "Dureza Barrientos"; that
her parents' consent, to be one of the usherettes during about the last week of June 1974 she went home to
the Masonic Convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City Dipolog City; that during her stay here in Manila and
from June 28 to 30, 1973, and he used to fetch her at later in Cebu City, the respondent defrayed some of
her residence in the morning and took her home from her expenses; that she filed an administrative case
the convention site after each day's activities; against respondent with the National Electrification
Administration; which complaint, however, was
4. That respondent courted complainant, and after a dismissed; and then she instituted the present
week of courtship, complainant accepted respondent's disbarment proceedings against respondent.
love on July 7, 1973; that in the evening of August 20,
1973, complainant with her parents' permission was xxx xxx xxx
66
In view of the foregoing, the undersigned respectfully January 13, 1977; Rollo, p. 47) Worse, he even suggested abortion.
recommend that after hearing, respondent Truly, respondent's moral sense is so seriously impaired that we
Transfiguracion Daarol be disbarred as a lawyer. cannot maintain his membership in the Bar. In Pangan v. Ramos (107
(Rollo, pp. 28-51). SCRA 1 [1981]), we held that:

After a thorough review of the case, the Court finds itself in full (E)ven his act in making love to another woman while
accord with the findings and recommendation of the Solicitor his first wife is still alive and their marriage still valid
General. and existing is contrary to honesty, justice, decency
and morality. Respondent made a mockery of marriage
From the records, it appears indubitable that complainant was never which is a sacred institution demanding respect and
informed by respondent attorney of his real status as a married dignity.
individual. The fact of his previous marriage was disclosed by
respondent only after the complainant became pregnant. Even then, Finally, respondent even had the temerity to allege that he is a
respondent misrepresented himself as being eligible to re-marry for Moslem convert and as such, could enter into multiple marriages and
having been estranged from his wife for 16 years and dangled a has inquired into the possibility of marrying complainant (Rollo, p.
marriage proposal on the assurance that he would work for the 15). As records indicate, however, his claim of having embraced the
annulment of his first marriage. It was a deception after all as it Islam religion is not supported by any evidence save that of his self-
turned out that respondent never bothered to annul said marriage. serving testimony. In this regard, we need only to quote the finding of
More importantly, respondent knew all along that the mere fact of the Office of the Solicitor General, to wit:
separation alone is not a ground for annulment of marriage and does
not vest him legal capacity to contract another marriage.

Interestingly enough. respondent lived alone in Dipolog City though


his son, who was also studying in Dipolog City, lived separately from
him. He never introduced his son and went around with friends as
though he was never married much less had a child in the same
locality. This circumstance alone belies respondent's claim that
complainant and her family were aware of his previous marriage at
the very start of his courtship. The Court is therefore inclined to
believe that respondent resorted to deceit in the satisfaction of his
sexual desires at the expense of the gullible complainant. It is not in
accordance with the nature of the educated, cultured and respectable,
which complainant's family is, her father being the Assistant
Principal of the local public high school, to allow a daughter to have
an affair with a married man.

But what surprises this Court even more is the perverted sense of
respondent's moral values when he said that: "I see nothing wrong
with this relationship despite my being married." (TSN, p. 209,
67
When respondent was asked to marry complainant he possession is also essential for remaining in the
said he could not because he was already married and practice of law (People v. Tuanda, Adm. Case No.
would open him to a charge of bigamy (p. 200, tsn, 3360, 30 January 1990, 181 SCRA 692). As aptly put
January 13, 1977). If he were a moslem convert by Mr. Justice George A. Malcolm: "As good
entitled to four (4) wives, as he is now claiming, why character is an essential qualification for admission of
did he not marry complainant? The answer is supplied an attorney to practice, when the attorney's character is
by respondent himself. He said while he was a bad in such respects as to show that he is unsafe and
moslem, but, having been married in a civil ceremony, unfit to be entrusted with the powers of an attorney,
he could no longer validly enter into another civil the court retains the power to discipline him (Piatt v.
ceremony without committing bigamy because the Abordo, 58 Phil. 350 [1933]).
complainant is a christian (p. 242, tsn, January 13,
1977). Consequently, if respondent knew, that Only recently, another disbarment proceeding was resolved by this
notwithstanding his being a moslem convert, he Court against a lawyer who convinced a woman that her prior
cannot marry complainant, then it was grossly marriage to another man was null and void ab initio and she was still
immoral for him to have sexual intercourse with legally single and free to marry him (the lawyer), married her, was
complainant because he knew the existence of a legal supported by her in his studies, begot a child with her, abandoned her
impediment. Respondent may not, therefore, escape and the child, and married another woman (Terre vs. Terre, Adm.
responsibility thru his dubious claim that he has Case No. 2349, July 3, 1992).
embraced the Islam religion. (Rollo,
p. 49). Here, respondent, already a married man and about 41 years old,
proposed love and marriage to complainant, then still a 20-year-old
By his acts of deceit and immoral tendencies to appease his sexual minor, knowing that he did not have the required legal capacity.
desires, respondent Daarol has amply demonstrated his moral Respondent then succeeded in having carnal relations with
delinquency. Hence, his removal for conduct unbecoming a member complainant by deception, made her pregnant, suggested abortion,
of the Bar on the grounds of deceit and grossly immoral conduct breached his promise to marry her, and then deserted her and the
(Sec. 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court) is in order. Good moral character child. Respondent is therefore guilty of deceit and grossly immoral
is a condition which precedes admission to the Bar (Sec. 2, Rule 138, conduct.
Rules of Court) and is not dispensed with upon admission thereto. It
is a continuing qualification which all lawyers must possess (People The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who
v. Tuanda, 181 SCRA 682 [1990]; Delos Reyes v. Aznar, 179 SCRA measure up to the exacting standards of mental and moral fitness.
653 [1989]), otherwise, a lawyer may either be suspended or Respondent having exhibited debased morality, the Court is
disbarred. constrained to impose upon him the most severe disciplinary action
disbarment.
As we have held in Piatt v. Abordo (58 Phil. 350 [1933], cited in
Leda v. Tabang, 206 SCRA 395 [1992]):

It cannot be overemphasized that the requirement of


good character is not only a condition precedent to
admission to the practice of law; its continued
68
The ancient and learned profession of law exacts from its members
the highest standard of morality. The members are, in fact, enjoined
to aid in guarding the Bar against the admission of candidates unfit or
unqualified because deficient either moral character or education (In
re Puno, 19 SCRA 439, [1967]; Pangan vs. Ramos, 107 SCRA 1
[1981]).

As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good


moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral character
and must lead a life in accordance with the highest moral standards of
the community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and an officer
of the Court is not only required to refrain from adulterous
relationships or the keeping of mistresses but must also behave
himself in such a manner as to avoid scandalizing the public by
creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards (Tolosa
vs. Cargo, 171 SCRA 21, 26 [1989], citing Toledo vs. Toledo, 7
SCRA 757 [1963] and Royong vs. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859 [1963]).

In brief, We find respondent Daarol morally delinquent and as such,


should not be allowed continued membership in the ancient and
learned profession of law (Quingwa v. Puno, 19 SCRA 439 [1967]).

ACCORDINGLY, We find respondent Transfiguracion Daarol guilty


of grossly immoral conduct unworthy of being a member of the Bar
and is hereby ordered DISBARRED and his name stricken off from
the Roll of Attorneys. Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to all
courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of
the Bar Confidant and spread on the personal record of respondent
Daarol.

SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-22304 July 30, 1968

69
SAMAR MINING CO., INC., petitioner-appellant, A reconsideration of said decision having been denied, on March 24,
vs. 1960, petitioner commenced Civil Case No. 42836 of the Court of
FRANCISCO P. ARNADO, POMPEYO V. TAN and RUFINO First Instance of Manila, for a writ of certiorari and prohibition, with
ABUYEN, respondents-appellees. preliminary injunction, against Francisco P. Arnado, as Regional
Administrator of said office, Pompeyo V. Tan, as the writer of said
Benedicto G. Arcinas for petitioner-appellant. decision, and claimant Abuyen, upon the ground that Tan had acted
Villavieja and Zapanta for respondents-appellees. without jurisdiction in hearing said claim and rendering decision
thereon, and that Arnado had committed a grave abuse of discretion
CONCEPCION, C.J.: in sustaining and upholding said acts of Tan. Sustaining respondents'
objection, upon the ground of wrong venue, the case was, however,
Appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, dismissed by said court, the decision of which was, on June 30, 1961,
dismissing this case, with costs against the petitioner, and lifting the affirmed by Us.
writ of preliminary injunction therein issued.
On July 21, 1961, petitioner commenced, against the same
Acting upon a claim for compensation, under Act No. 3428, filed by respondents in said Case No. 42836, the present action for certiorari
Rufino Abuyen, on June 18, 1956, for a disease allegedly contracted and prohibition, with preliminary injunction, in the Court of First
in the course of his employment, as foreman of the Samar Mining Instance of Cebu. Upon the filing of the case, said court issued a
Co., Inc. hereinafter referred to as the petitioner and docketed restraining order, which was, later, followed by a writ of preliminary
as WC Case No. R-VI-217, decision was rendered, on October 14, injunction, upon the filing and approval of the requisite bond. After
1958, by Pompeyo V. Tan an officer of Regional Office No. VI of appropriate proceedings, said court subsequently rendered the
the Department of Labor sentencing petitioner herein: decision mentioned in the opening paragraph hereof, dismissing the
petition, upon the ground that respondent Tan had authority to hear
1. To provide continued medical treatment and hospitalization and pass upon the aforementioned claim of Abuyen, and dissolving
to the claimant in accordance with Section 13 of the Act until the writ of preliminary injunction issued meanwhile. Hence, this
his tuberculosis is cured or arrested; appeal by petitioner herein, who insists: 1) that, being merely a labor
attorney, respondent Tan had no authority to make the award
2. To pay to the claimant a lump sum of TWO THOUSAND complained of; 2) that as Regional Administrator, respondent Arnado
FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY THREE (P2,523.00) PESOS could not delegate said authority to respondent Tan; and 3) that no
and a weekly compensation of P17.40 from date hereof until such delegation of authority to him has been made.
he is cured or his pulmonary tuberculosis is arrested as
certified by a competent physician but the total compensation It is not disputed that respondent Tan is a labor attorney, assigned to
should not exceed P4,000.00; payment to be made, thru the Regional Office No. VI of the Department of Labor, and that, as such,
Regional Office No. VI of the Department of Labor; he has no authority to hear claims for compensation under Act No.
3428 and to render decisions thereon. Based, however, upon Plan No.
3. To pay to the workmen's compensation fund the amount of 20-A, submitted to the President of the Philippines by the
P26.00 as administrative costs pursuant to Section of 55 of Government Survey and Reorganization Commission, and Executive
Act 3428, as amended. Order No. 218, dated December 10, 1956, particularly section 32
thereof 1 as well as on Rule 21, section 1, of the Rules of Procedure
promulgated by the Workmen's Compensation Commission, 2
70
pursuant to section 12, of Article III of said Plan No. 20-A, and As regards the first alleged error, it appears that petitioner had asked
section 45 of Act No. 3428, as amended by Republic Act No. 772,3 the lower court to render judgment on the pleadings; that, thereafter,
we have held, as early as August 21, 1961 both parties submitted their respective memoranda; that, in order to
bolster up their contention, respondents attached to their
... that a regional office of the Department of Labor has Memorandum, as Annex 1, the alleged designation of respondent Tan
original jurisdiction to hear and determine claims for by Regional Administrator Arnado that petitioner, however, objected
compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act. If a to the consideration of said Annex 1; that, accordingly, the lower
claim is controverted, it shall be heard and decided only by a court deemed it best to reopen the case for the introduction of
regularly appointed hearing officer or any other employee additional evidence and the determination of the admissibility in
duly designated by the Regional Administrator to act as evidence of said Annex 1; and that the same was identified, marked
hearing officer. But when the claim is uncontroverted and and admitted as Exhibit 1 at the rehearing.
there is no necessity of requiring the claimant to present
further evidence, the Regional Administrator may enter an In this connection, it should be noted that trial courts have
award or deny the claim. Furthermore, an employer is duty discretionary power to reopen a case either before or after rendition
bound to controvert a claim within 14 days from the date of of judgment, for the introduction of additional evidence, so as to
the accident or illness of the laborer or within 10 days after he dispel doubts on material points. Such power is controlled by no
or his representative first acquired knowledge of the said other rule than that of the paramount interest of justice, and its
accident or sickness. Failure to do so within the period exercise will not be reviewed on appeal in the absence of clear abuse
provided will result in the renunciation of his right to thereof.6 No such abuse has been committed in the case at bar. On the
controvert the claim. But an employer may reinstate his right contrary, the exercise of said power by his Honor, the trial Judge,
to controvert the claim by filing a petition under oath served to promote the interest of justice, by clarifying the question
specifying the reasons for his failure to do so. 4 . whether or not respondent Tan had been given the aforementioned
designation.
We have repeatedly reiterated this view,5 which is now well settled.
In the case at bar, respondents-appellees contend and have introduced As a matter of fact, said Exhibit 1 merely confirmed the allegation in
evidence to the effect that Regional Administrator Arnado had by respondents' answer to the effect that respondent Tan had acted "not
virtue of an office order, dated November 29, 1957, and marked as as Labor Attorney but as Hearing Officer designated pursuant to the
Exhibit 1 designated respondent Tan who is a duly qualified authority granted him by the previous Regional Labor Administrator
Member of the Philippine Bar "as Hearing Officer in the case of to try and hear the merits of the compensation case ... WCC Case No.
Rufino Abuyen vs. Samar Mining Co., WCC Case No. 44238 (R-VI- R-VI-217, Rufino Abuyen vs. Samar Mining Co., Inc." Moreover,
217)." As a consequence, the only issue for determination is whether pursuant to the very cases cited by petitioner, 7 the truth of this
or not there has been such designation in his favor. allegation had been deemed impliedly admitted by the petitioner,
when it submitted the case for judgment on the pleadings.8
Petitioner assails the evidence thereon upon the theory:
Independently of the foregoing, the second alleged error is obviously
1) that the lower court erred in reopening the case, after its devoid of merit, the signature of Regional Administrator Arnado on
submission for decision, for the reception of said evidence; and 2) said Exhibit 1 having been identified by one of his subordinates, who,
that the same is insufficient to establish the designation as such, as familiar therewith.
aforementioned.
71
One other point must be stressed. The illness on which Abuyen's
claim is based took place in 1956. Yet, through the present case,
and Civil Case No. 42836 of the Court of First Instance of Manila
petitioner has succeeded in prolonging the litigation, for the
compensation involved therein, for twelve (12) years. What is more,
petitioner's contention was based upon a theory that had been rejected
by this Court as early as August, 1961. Then again, the
compensability of Abuyen's disability had never been questioned by
petitioner herein. Hence, it is manifest that the purpose of this case,
like the previous one, has been merely to delay, a policy "Often
resorted to" in the language of Mr. Justice Reyes (J.B.L.) "as a
means of draining the resources of the poorer party" in this case a
tuberculosis patient "and of compelling it to submit out of sheer
exhaustion."9 Thus, the conduct of petitioner's counsel is hardly
compatible with the duty of the Bar to assist in the Administration of
Justice, not to obstruct or defeat the same.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with


treble costs, jointly and severally, against the petitioner and its
counsel, Attorney Benedicto G. Arcinas and let certified copy of this
decision be attached to the personal record of the latter, as a Member
of the Bar. It is so ordered.

Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Angeles and


Fernando JJ., concur.
Castro, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

72
EN BANC 6. Causing undue injury to a party, the GSIS [or] Government
through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross
A.C. No. 3056 August 16, 1991 inexcusable negligence.

FERNANDO T. COLLANTES, complainant, 7. Gross ignorance of the law and procedure. (p. 10, Rollo.)
vs.
ATTY. VICENTE C. RENOMERON respondent. As early as January 15, 1987, V & G had requested the respondent
Register of Deeds to register some 163 deeds of sale with assignment
(in favor of the GSIS) of lots of the V & G mortgaged to GSIS by the
lot buyers. There was no action from the respondent.
PER CURIAM:p
Another request was made on February 16, 1987 for him to approve
This complaint for disbarment is related to the administrative case or deny registration of the uniform deeds of absolute sale with
which complainant Attorney Fernando T. Collantes, house counsel assignment. Still no action except to require V & G to submit proof
for V & G Better Homes Subdivision, Inc. (V & G for short), filed of real estate tax payment and to clarify certain details about the
against Attorney Vicente C. Renomeron, Register of Deeds of transactions.
Tacloban City, for the latter's irregular actuations with regard to the
application of V & G for registration of 163 pro forma Deeds of Although V & G complied with the desired requirements, respondent
Absolute Sale with Assignment of lots in its subdivision. The present Renomeron suspended the registration of the documents pending
complaint charges the respondent with the following offenses: compliance by V & G with a certain "special arrangement" between
them, which was that V & G should provide him with a weekly round
1. Neglecting or refusing inspite (sic) repeated requests and trip ticket from Tacloban to Manila plus P2,000.00 as pocket money
without sufficient justification, to act within reasonable time per trip, or, in lieu thereof, the sale of respondent's Quezon City
(sic) the registration of 163 Deeds of Absolute Sale with house and lot by V & G or GSIS representatives.
Assignment and the eventual issuance and transfer of the
corresponding 163 transfer certificates of titles to the GSIS, On May 19, 1987, respondent confided to the complainant that he
for the purpose of obtaining some pecuniary or material would act favorably on the 163 registrable documents of V & G if the
benefit from the person or persons interested therein. latter would execute clarificatory affidavits and send money for a
round trip plane ticket for him.
2. Conduct unbecoming of public official.
The plane fare amounting to P800 (without the pocket money of
3. Dishonesty. P2,000) was sent to respondent through his niece.

4. Extortion. Because of V & G's failure to give him pocket money in addition to
plane fare, respondent imposed additional registration requirements.
5. Directly receiving pecuniary or material benefit for himself Fed up with the respondent's extortionate tactics, the complainant
in connection with pending official transaction before him. wrote him a letter on May 20, 1987 challenging him to act on all
pending applications for registration of V & G within twenty-four
(24) hours.
73
On May 22, 1987, respondent formally denied registration of the Although an investigator was appointed by NLTDRA Administrator
transfer of 163 certificates of title to the GSIS on the uniform ground Bonifacio to hear Attorney Collantes' charges against him, Attorney
that the deeds of absolute sale with assignment were ambiguous as to Renomeron waived his right to a formal investigation. Both parties
parties and subject matter. On May 26, 1987, Attorney Collantes submitted the case for resolution based on the pleadings.
moved for a reconsideration of said denial, stressing that:
The investigator, Attorney Leonardo Da Jose, recommended dropping
... since the year 1973 continuously up to December 1986 for the charges of: (1) dishonesty; (2) causing undue injury to a party
a period of nearly fifteen (15) years or for a sum total of more through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable
than 2,000 same set of documents which have been repeatedly negligence; and (3) gross ignorance of the law and procedure. He
and uniformly registered in the Office of the Register of opined that the charge of neglecting or refusing, in spite repeated
Deeds of Tacloban City under Attys. Modesto Garcia and requests and without sufficient justification, to act within a
Pablo Amascual Jr., it is only during the incumbency of Atty. reasonable time on the registration of the documents involved, in
Vicente C. Renomeron, that the very same documents of the order to extort some pecuniary or material benefit from the interested
same tenor have been refused or denied registration ... (p. 15, party, absorbed the charges of conduct unbecoming of a public
Rollo.) official, extortion, and directly receiving some pecuniary or material
benefit for himself in connection with pending official transactions
On May 27, 1987, respondent elevated the matter en consulta to the before him.
Administrator, National Land Titles and Deeds Registration
Administration (NLTDRA) (now the Land Registration Authority Brushing aside the investigator's recommendation, NLTDRA
[LRA]). In a Resolution dated July 27,1987 (Consulta No. 1579), the Administrator Teodoro G. Bonifacio on February 22, 1988,
NLTDRA ruled that the questioned documents were registrable. recommended to Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoez that the
Heedless of the NLTDRA's opinion, respondent continued to sit on V respondent: (1) be found guilty of simple neglect of duty: (2) be
& Gs 163 deeds of sale with assignment. reprimanded to act with dispatch on documents presented to him for
registration; and (3) be warned that a repetition of similar infraction
Exasperated by respondent's conduct, the complainant filed with the will be dealt with more severely.
NLTDRA on June 4, 1987 administrative charges (docketed as Adm.
Case No. 87-15), against respondent Register of Deeds. After due investigation of the charges, Secretary Ordoez found
respondent guilty of grave misconduct.
Upon receipt of the charges, NLTDRA Administrator Teodoro G.
Bonifacio directed respondent to explain in writing why no Our study and consideration of the records of the case
administrative disciplinary action should be taken against him. indicate that ample evidence supports the Investigating
Respondent was further asked whether he would submit his case on Officer's findings that the respondent committed grave
the basis of his answer, or be heard in a formal investigation. misconduct.

In his answer dated July 9, 1987, respondent denied the charges of The respondent unreasonably delayed action on the
extortion and of directly receiving pecuniary or material benefit for documents presented to him for registration and,
himself in connection with the official transactions awaiting his notwithstanding representations by the parties interested for
action. expeditious action on the said documents, he continued with
his inaction.
74
The records indicate that the respondent eventually formally Less than two weeks after filing his complaint against Renomeron in
denied the registration of the documents involved; that he the NLTDRA, Attorney Collantes also filed in this Court on June 16,
himself elevated the question on the registrability of the said 1987, a disbarment complaint against said respondent.
documents to Administrator Bonifacio after he formally
denied the registration thereof, that the Administrator then The issue in this disbarment proceeding is whether the respondent
resolved in favor of the registrability of the said documents in register of deeds, as a lawyer, may also be disciplined by this Court
question; and that, such resolution of the Administrator for his malfeasances as a public official. The answer is yes, for his
notwithstanding, the respondent still refused the registration misconduct as a public official also constituted a violation of his oath
thereof but demanded from the parties interested the as a lawyer.
submission of additional requirements not adverted to in his
previous denial. The lawyer's oath (Rule 138, Section 17, Rules of Court; People vs.
De Luna, 102 Phil. 968), imposes upon every lawyer the duty to
xxx xxx xxx delay no man for money or malice. The lawyer's oath is a source of
his obligations and its violation is a ground for his suspension,
In relation to the alleged 'special arrangement,' although the disbarment or other disciplinary action (Legal Ethics, Ruben E.
respondent claims that he neither touched nor received the Agpalo, 1983 Edition, pp. 66-67).
money sent to him, on record remains uncontroverted the
circumstance that his niece, Ms. de la Cruz, retrieved from As the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro said:
him the amount of P800.00 earlier sent to him as plane fare,
not in the original denomination of P100.00 bills but in A person takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar which
P50.00 bills. The respondent had ample opportunity to clarify is designed to impress upon him his responsibilities. He
or to countervail this related incident in his letter dated 5 thereby becomes an "officer of the court" on whose shoulders
September 1987 to Administrator Bonifacio but he never did rests the grave responsibility of assisting the courts in the
so. proper. fair, speedy, and efficient administration of justice. As
an officer of the court he is subject to a rigid discipline that
... We believe that, in this case, the respondent's being new in demands that in his every exertion the only criterion he that
office cannot serve to mitigate his liability. His being so truth and justice triumph. This discipline is what as given the
should have motivated him to be more aware of applicable law profession its nobility, its prestige, its exalted place. From
laws, rules and regulations and should have prompted him to a lawyer, to paraphrase Justice Felix Frankfurter, are
do his best in the discharge of his duties. (pp. 17-18, Rollo.) expected those qualities of truth-speaking, a high sense of
honor, full candor, intellectual honesty, and the strictest
Secretary Ordoez recommended to President Corazon C. Aquino observance of fiduciary responsibility all of which,
that Renomeron be dismissed from the service, with forfeiture of throughout the centuries, have been compendiously described
leave credits and retirement benefits, and with prejudice to re- as moral character.
employment in the government service, effective immediately.
Membership in the Bar is in the category of a mandate to
As recommended by the Secretary of Justice, the President of the public service of the highest order.1wphi1 A lawyer is an
Philippines, by Adm. Order No. 165 dated May 3, 1990, dismissed oath-bound servant of society whose conduct is clearly
the respondent from the government service (pp. 1419, Rollo). circumscribed by inflexible norms of law and ethics, and
75
whose primary duty is the advancement of the quest of truth WHEREFORE, it is hereby ordered that Attorney Vicente C.
and justice, for which he has sworn to be a fearless crusader. Renomeron be disbarred from the practice of law in the Philippines,
(Apostacy in the Legal Profession, 64 SCRA 784, 789- 790; and that his name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys
emphasis supplied.)
SO ORDERED.
The Code of Professional Responsibility applies to lawyers in
government service in the discharge of their official tasks (Canon 6).
Just as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public
Officials requires public officials and employees to process
documents and papers expeditiously (Sec. 5, subpars. [c] and [d] and
prohibits them from directly or indirectly having a financial or
material interest in any transaction requiring the approval of their
office, and likewise bars them from soliciting gifts or anything of
monetary value in the course of any transaction which may be
affected by the functions of their office (See. 7, subpars. [a] and [d]),
the Code of Professional Responsibility forbids a lawyer to engage in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01, Code
of Professional Responsibility), or delay any man's cause "for any
corrupt motive or interest" (Rule 103).

A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects


on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public
or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit
of the legal profession. (Rule 7.03, Code of Professional
Responsibility.)

This Court has ordered that only those who are "competent,
honorable, and reliable" may practice the profession of law (Noriega
vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293) for every lawyer must pursue "only the
highest standards in the practice of his calling" (Court Administrator
vs. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269, 278).

The acts of dishonesty and oppression which Attorney Renomeron


committed as a public official have demonstrated his unfitness to
practice the high and noble calling of the law (Bautista vs. Judge
Guevarra, 142 SCRA 632; Court Administrator vs. Rodolfo G.
Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269). He should therefore be disbarred. Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
76
EN BANC but he failed to do so. Respondent made several promises to
return the money which he never complied. Neither had he
A.M. No. 35 September 30, 1949 done anything to transfer the titles of the land in the name of
the heirs of Esteban Henson up to the present (p. 9, t. s. n.). In
In re Attorney FELIX P. DAVID, petitioner. view of this failure of the respondent, the complainant was
ultimately forced to pay the taxes out of his own pocket (p. 8,
Felix P. David in his own behalf. t.s.n.).
Office of the Solicitor General Felix Angelo Bautista and Solicitor
Estrella Abad Santos for the Government. Required to answer the complaint formulated by the Solicitor General
on the basis of his report, respondent failed to do so. And despite due
REYES, J.: notice he likewise failed to appear at the hearing before this Court.
Indeed, we note from the Solicitor General's report that respondent,
The respondent, Felix P. David, a member of a Philippine Bar, is instead of welcoming every opportunity for hearing, seems to have
charged with the malpractice for misappropriating funds entrusted to wanted to avoid it. On this point the report says:
him by his client, the complainant Briccio S. Henson. Respondent
having answered denying the charge, the complaint was referred to At the hearing held on May 26, 1948, both parties appeared
the Solicitor General for investigation. After the investigation the and the complainant had testified, the hearing was set for
Solicitor General rendered his report finding the respondent guilty of continuance the following day. Both parties agreed in the
professional misconduct and recommending disciplinary action. The presence of the investigator to postpone said hearing for June
Solicitor General reports the following facts to have been 5, 1948. On June 5, 1948, complainant appeared, but
conclusively established: respondent did not show up, so to give the respondent a
chance, the investigator postponed the continuation of the
. . . that on February 15, 1947, respondent obtained P840 from hearing to June 17. Both parties were duly subpoenaed
his client Briccio Henson to be applied to the payment of (attached to the records). On June 15th, respondent sent a
inheritance and real estate taxes due from the estate of letter (attached to the records) to Assistant Solicitor General
Esteban Henson for 1945, 1946 and 1947 (p. 3, t. s. n.), for Ruperto Kapunan, asking that the hearing be postponed to
which he signed a receipt (Annex 'A'; p. 3, t. s. n.). On several June 25, 1948. According to the request, both parties were
occasions, complainant asked the respondent to show him the again duly subpoenaed for June 25, 1948 (attached to the
official tax receipt evidencing the payment of said taxes, to record). In the subpoena sent to respondent, his attention was
which the latter answered that he had already paid them, but invited to Rule 127, section 28, of the Rules of Court, which
the receipts were left with his friend in San Fernando. provides that if he fails to appear and answer the charge, the
Respondent promised to give the receipt later. Complainant Solicitor in charge will proceed to hear the case ex parte. In
waited patiently for it but it was never delivered. After the spite of this, on the morning of June 25, he again sent another
respondent had failed to deliver the receipt, complainant letter (attached to the records) to Assistant Solicitor General
became suspicious and inquired from the provincial treasurer Kapunan, asking that the hearing be transferred to July 7, or
of Pampanga about the matter. Said official gave the 8, 1948. In order that the respondent be given all the chances
information that the taxes were never paid. Consequently, to defend himself, his request was granted. In the subpoena
complainant requested the respondent to refund the money sent him setting the hearing for July 8, 1948, as requested, the
given him for the payment of said taxes (p. 7, t. s. n., OSG), following remark was stated:
77
Failure on your part to appear will cause the investigator to Failure on my part to deliver to him the official
proceed with the investigation and to file the corresponding receipts corresponding to the above mentioned
recommendation to the Supreme Court. No further amount, I promise to return to him the whole amount
postponement will be entertained. of P840 not later than April 16, 1947 without any
obligation on his part.
It is worthwhile mentioning that every time the case was set
for hearing the complainant made his appearance. A separate amount of one hundred and ten (P110)
pesos and a sack of rice was paid to me for my
On the morning of July 8, 1948, both parties appeared; expenses and fee.
respondent made a formal request in person to the investigator
asking that the hearing be postponed to 2 o'clock p.m. of the
same day. Out of consideration to him, even to the (Sgd.) Atty. FELIX DAVID.
discomfiture of complainant, respondent's request was again
granted. But contrary to his assurance, the respondent again
failed to appear.
Respondent did not care to testify. But through his unverified answer,
There is no question that respondent received from he would make it appear that he was entitled to and had been
complainant the sum of P840 for the specific purpose of promised a legal fee for his services and that, as this promise was not
applying the same to the payment of taxes due from the estate complied with, he "saw it fit to withhold said amount (the P840 for
which he was engaged to settle. The receipt which he issued taxes) until he is paid." This explanation is obviously an afterthought
for said amount as well as for the sum of P110 and a sack of and clearly unfounded. For the established fact is that respondent at
rice paid to him for his expenses and fee reads as follows: . . . first made complainant believe that the sum in question had already
been applied by him to the payment of taxes, and, as testified to by
complainant, for the little that respondent was able to do in
connection with the case entrusted to him, he has already received his
February 15, 1947. fee as shown by the above-copied receipt. The conclusion is therefore
irresistible that respondent misappropriated the money of his client.
This makes him guilty of unprofessional conduct.
Received from Mr. Briccio S. Henson the sum of eight
hundred and forty (P840) pesos to be paid as follows: In view of the gravity of the misconduct committed, the respondent
Felix P. David is hereby ordered suspended from the practice of law
for a period of five years from the date this decision become final,
P210 -Inheritance tax of the heirs of the late Don without prejudice to a more severe action if the sum misappropriated
Esteban Henson. is not refunded within one month from the same date.

Moran, C. J., Ozaeta, Feria, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor,


and Torres, JJ., concur.
P630 -Land taxes for 1945-1947.

78
79