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G.R. No.

100113 September 3, 1991 of legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It
embraces all advice to clients and all actions taken for them in matters
RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner, connected with the law. An attorney engages in the practice of law by
vs. maintaining an office where he is held out to be-an attorney, using a
CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. SALONGA, COMMISSION ON letterhead describing himself as an attorney, counseling clients in legal
APPOINTMENT, and HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his capacity as Secretary matters, negotiating with opposing counsel about pending litigation, and
of Budget and Management, respondents. fixing and collecting fees for services rendered by his associate. (Black's
Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.)
Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf.
Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano co-counsel for petitioner. The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. (Land Title Abstract
and Trust Co. v. Dworken, 129 Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) A person is also
PARAS, J.: considered to be in the practice of law when he:

We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching proportions. While ostensibly ... for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person,
only legal issues are involved, the Court's decision in this case would indubitably have firms, associations or corporations as to their rights under the law, or
a profound effect on the political aspect of our national existence. appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings pending
or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board, body,
committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to settle
The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C: controversies and there, in such representative capacity performs any act or
acts for the purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of their clients under
There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in
Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the business of advising clients as to their rights under the law, or while so
the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, holders of a engaged performs any act or acts either in court or outside of court for that
college degree, and must not have been candidates for any elective position purpose, is engaged in the practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S.
in the immediately preceding -elections. However, a majority thereof, Dudley and Co., 102 S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852)
including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have
been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. (Emphasis This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v.Agrava, (105 Phil.
supplied) 173,176-177) stated:

The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article XII-C of the 1973 The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court;
Constitution which similarly provides: it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions
and special proceedings, the management of such actions and proceedings
There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveying. In
and eight Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in
the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age and holders of a college matters connected with the law incorporation services, assessment and
degree. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the condemnation services contemplating an appearance before a judicial body,
Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.' the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in
(Emphasis supplied) bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in
attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to
Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what constitutes constitute law practice, as do the preparation and drafting of legal
practice of law as a legal qualification to an appointive office. instruments, where the work done involves the determination by the trained
legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263).
(Emphasis supplied)
Black defines "practice of law" as:
Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no small part of work
The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of legal performed outside of any court and having no immediate relation to
principles and technique to serve the interest of another with his consent. It proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal advice
is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting in the conduct on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation and execution of legal
of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and other papers instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust relations and
incident to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation other affairs. Although these transactions may have no direct connection
with court proceedings, they are always subject to become involved in quoting from the provision "who have been engaged in the practice of law
litigation. They require in many aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide for at least ten years".
experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for adaptation to difficult
and complex situations. These customary functions of an attorney or To avoid any misunderstanding which would result in excluding members of the Bar
counselor at law bear an intimate relation to the administration of justice by who are now employed in the COA or Commission on Audit, we would like to make
the courts. No valid distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the clarification that this provision on qualifications regarding members of the Bar
the order, can be drawn between that part of the work of the lawyer which does not necessarily refer or involve actual practice of law outside the COA We have
involves appearance in court and that part which involves advice and to interpret this to mean that as long as the lawyers who are employed in the COA are
drafting of instruments in his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the using their legal knowledge or legal talent in their respective work within COA, then
public that these manifold customary functions be performed by persons they are qualified to be considered for appointment as members or commissioners,
possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and even chairman, of the Commission on Audit.
acting at all times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests
upon all attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953
ed.] , p. 665-666, citing In re Opinion of the Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313, This has been discussed by the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and
quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179 A. Agencies and we deem it important to take it up on the floor so that this interpretation
139,144). (Emphasis ours) may be made available whenever this provision on the qualifications as regards
members of the Philippine Bar engaging in the practice of law for at least ten years is
taken up.
The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting orientation briefing for new
lawyers (1974-1975) listed the dimensions of the practice of law in even broader
terms as advocacy, counselling and public service. MR. OPLE. Will Commissioner Foz yield to just one question.

One may be a practicing attorney in following any line of employment in the MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
profession. If what he does exacts knowledge of the law and is of a kind
usual for attorneys engaging in the active practice of their profession, and he MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect, saying that service in the COA by a lawyer is
follows some one or more lines of employment such as this he is a practicing equivalent to the requirement of a law practice that is set forth in the Article
attorney at law within the meaning of the statute. (Barr v. Cardell, 155 NW on the Commission on Audit?
MR. FOZ. We must consider the fact that the work of COA, although it is
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of auditing, will necessarily involve legal work; it will involve legal work. And,
law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. "To engage in the practice therefore, lawyers who are employed in COA now would have the necessary
of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, qualifications in accordance with the Provision on qualifications under our
to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service provisions on the Commission on Audit. And, therefore, the answer is yes.
requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23)
MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the construction given to this is that this is
The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show that it has adopted equivalent to the practice of law.
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 manifestation
which I forgot to do during our review of the provisions on the Commission MR. OPLE. Thank you.
on Audit. May I be allowed to make a very brief statement?

... ( Emphasis supplied)


Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides, among others, that the
The Commissioner will please proceed. Chairman and two Commissioners of the Commission on Audit (COA) should either
be certified public accountants with not less than ten years of auditing practice, or
MR. FOZ. This has to do with the qualifications of the members of the members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at
Commission on Audit. Among others, the qualifications provided for by least ten years. (emphasis supplied)
Section I is that "They must be Members of the Philippine Bar" I am
Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in many ways processes, legal institutions, clients, and other interested parties. Even the increasing
synonymous with the word "lawyer." Today, although many lawyers do not engage in numbers of lawyers in specialized practice wig usually perform at least some legal
private practice, it is still a fact that the majority of lawyers are private practitioners. services outside their specialty. And even within a narrow specialty such as tax
(Gary Munneke, Opportunities in Law Careers [VGM Career Horizons: Illinois], [1986], practice, a lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as advice-giving to an
p. 15). importantly different one such as representing a client before an administrative
agency. (Wolfram, supra, p. 687).
At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, as commonly
understood, means "an individual or organization engaged in the business of By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the lawyer is one of the
delivering legal services." (Ibid.). Lawyers who practice alone are often called "sole relatively rare types a litigator who specializes in this work to the exclusion of much
practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called "firms." The firm is usually a partnership else. Instead, the work will require the lawyer to have mastered the full range of
and members of the firm are the partners. Some firms may be organized as traditional lawyer skills of client counselling, advice-giving, document drafting, and
professional corporations and the members called shareholders. In either case, the negotiation. And increasingly lawyers find that the new skills of evaluation and
members of the firm are the experienced attorneys. In most firms, there are younger mediation are both effective for many clients and a source of employment. (Ibid.).
or more inexperienced salaried attorneyscalled "associates." (Ibid.).
Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in litigation work that is
The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas of law practice is constrained in very important ways, at least theoretically, so as to remove from it
essentially tautologous, unhelpful defining the practice of law as that which lawyers some of the salient features of adversarial litigation. Of these special roles, the most
do. (Charles W. Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics [West Publishing Co.: Minnesota, prominent is that of prosecutor. In some lawyers' work the constraints are imposed
1986], p. 593). The practice of law is defined as the performance of any acts . . . in or both by the nature of the client and by the way in which the lawyer is organized into a
out of court, commonly understood to be the practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v. social unit to perform that work. The most common of these roles are those of
Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863, 870 [1958] corporate practice and government legal service. (Ibid.).
[quoting Grievance Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, 626 [1941]).
Because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein below quoted are
governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too global to be emerging trends in corporate law practice, a departure from the traditional concept of
workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.). practice of law.

The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at once the most We are experiencing today what truly may be called a revolutionary
publicly familiar role for lawyers as well as an uncommon role for the average lawyer. transformation in corporate law practice. Lawyers and other professional
Most lawyers spend little time in courtrooms, and a large percentage spend their groups, in particular those members participating in various legal-policy
entire practice without litigating a case. (Ibid., p. 593). Nonetheless, many lawyers do decisional contexts, are finding that understanding the major emerging
continue to litigate and the litigating lawyer's role colors much of both the public image trends in corporation law is indispensable to intelligent decision-making.
and the self perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.).
Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems of today requires an
In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind reflects history, not accurate understanding of the nature and implications of the corporate law
reality. (Ibid.). Why is this so? Recall that the late Alexander SyCip, a corporate research function accompanied by an accelerating rate of information
lawyer, once articulated on the importance of a lawyer as a business counselor in this accumulation. The recognition of the need for such improved corporate legal
wise: "Even today, there are still uninformed laymen whose concept of an attorney is policy formulation, particularly "model-making" and "contingency planning,"
one who principally tries cases before the courts. The members of the bench and bar has impressed upon us the inadequacy of traditional procedures in many
and the informed laymen such as businessmen, know that in most developed decisional contexts.
societies today, substantially more legal work is transacted in law offices than in the
courtrooms. General practitioners of law who do both litigation and non-litigation work
also know that in most cases they find themselves spending more time doing what [is] In a complex legal problem the mass of information to be processed, the
loosely desccribe[d] as business counseling than in trying cases. The business lawyer sorting and weighing of significant conditional factors, the appraisal of major
has been described as the planner, the diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the trends, the necessity of estimating the consequences of given courses of
surgeon. I[t] need not [be] stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be action, and the need for fast decision and response in situations of acute
avoided where internal medicine can be effective." (Business Star, "Corporate danger have prompted the use of sophisticated concepts of information flow
Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4). theory, operational analysis, automatic data processing, and electronic
computing equipment. Understandably, an improved decisional structure
must stress the predictive component of the policy-making process, wherein
In the course of a working day the average general practitioner wig engage in a a "model", of the decisional context or a segment thereof is developed to test
number of legal tasks, each involving different legal doctrines, legal skills, legal
projected alternative courses of action in terms of futuristic effects flowing In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling of being isolated
therefrom. from the action, or not understanding how one's work actually fits into the
work of the orgarnization. This can be frustrating to someone who needs to
Although members of the legal profession are regularly engaged in see the results of his work first hand. In short, a corporate lawyer is
predicting and projecting the trends of the law, the subject of corporate sometimes offered this fortune to be more closely involved in the running of
finance law has received relatively little organized and formalized attention in the business.
the philosophy of advancing corporate legal education. Nonetheless, a
cross-disciplinary approach to legal research has become a vital necessity. Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may sometimes be engaged by a
multinational corporation (MNC). Some large MNCs provide one of the few
Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions by those opportunities available to corporate lawyers to enter the international law
trained primarily in the law can be improved through an early introduction to field. After all, international law is practiced in a relatively small number of
multi-variable decisional context and the various approaches for handling companies and law firms. Because working in a foreign country is perceived
such problems. Lawyers, particularly with either a master's or doctorate by many as glamorous, tills is an area coveted by corporate lawyers. In most
degree in business administration or management, functioning at the legal cases, however, the overseas jobs go to experienced attorneys while the
policy level of decision-making now have some appreciation for the concepts younger attorneys do their "international practice" in law libraries. (Business
and analytical techniques of other professions which are currently engaged Star, "Corporate Law Practice," May 25,1990, p. 4).
in similar types of complex decision-making.
This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the lawyer in the realm of
Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate finance problems would finance. To borrow the lines of Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce Wassertein,
require the services of an astute attorney because of the complex legal to wit: "A bad lawyer is one who fails to spot problems, a good lawyer is one
implications that arise from each and every necessary step in securing and who perceives the difficulties, and the excellent lawyer is one who surmounts
maintaining the business issue raised. (Business Star, "Corporate Finance them." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs a "shot in the arm,"
In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is assiduously referred to so to speak. No longer are we talking of the traditional law teaching method
as the "abogado de campanilla." He is the "big-time" lawyer, earning big of confining the subject study to the Corporation Code and the Securities
money and with a clientele composed of the tycoons and magnates of Code but an incursion as well into the intertwining modern management
business and industry. issues.

Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers, many people could not Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily with three (3) types
explain what it is that a corporate lawyer does. For one, the number of of learning: (1) acquisition of insights into current advances which are of
attorneys employed by a single corporation will vary with the size and type of particular significance to the corporate counsel; (2) an introduction to usable
the corporation. Many smaller and some large corporations farm out all their disciplinary skins applicable to a corporate counsel's management
legal problems to private law firms. Many others have in-house counsel only responsibilities; and (3) a devotion to the organization and management of
for certain matters. Other corporation have a staff large enough to handle the legal function itself.
most legal problems in-house.
These three subject areas may be thought of as intersecting circles, with a
A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a lawyer who handles the shared area linking them. Otherwise known as "intersecting managerial
legal affairs of a corporation. His areas of concern or jurisdiction may jurisprudence," it forms a unifying theme for the corporate counsel's total
include, inter alia: corporate legal research, tax laws research, acting out as learning.
corporate secretary (in board meetings), appearances in both courts and
other adjudicatory agencies (including the Securities and Exchange Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences affect the counsel's
Commission), and in other capacities which require an ability to deal with the role. For that matter, the corporate lawyer reviews the globalization process,
law. including the resulting strategic repositioning that the firms he provides
counsel for are required to make, and the need to think about a
At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume responsibilities other than the corporation's; strategy at multiple levels. The salience of the nation-state is
legal affairs of the business of the corporation he is representing. These being reduced as firms deal both with global multinational entities and
include such matters as determining policy and becoming involved in simultaneously with sub-national governmental units. Firms increasingly
management. ( Emphasis supplied.) collaborate not only with public entities but with each other often with
those who are competitors in other arenas.
Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in decision-making within the settlement, and minimize the cost and risk involved in managing a portfolio
corporation is rapidly changing. The modem corporate lawyer has gained a of cases. (Emphasis supplied)
new role as a stakeholder in some cases participating in the organization
and operations of governance through participation on boards and other Third Modeling for Negotiation Management. Computer-based models can
decision-making roles. Often these new patterns develop alongside existing be used directly by parties and mediators in all lands of negotiations. All
legal institutions and laws are perceived as barriers. These trends are integrated set of such tools provide coherent and effective negotiation
complicated as corporations organize for global operations. ( Emphasis support, including hands-on on instruction in these techniques. A simulation
supplied) case of an international joint venture may be used to illustrate the point.

The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with governmental policies [Be this as it may,] the organization and management of the legal function,
toward the promotion and management of technology. New collaborative concern three pointed areas of consideration, thus:
arrangements for promoting specific technologies or competitiveness more
generally require approaches from industry that differ from older, more
adversarial relationships and traditional forms of seeking to influence Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires special skills that
governmental policies. And there are lessons to be learned from other comprise a major part of the general counsel's responsibilities. They differ
countries. In Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are examples of collaborative from those of remedial law. Preventive lawyering is concerned with
efforts between governmental and business Japan's MITI is world famous. minimizing the risks of legal trouble and maximizing legal rights for such
(Emphasis supplied) legal entities at that time when transactional or similar facts are being
considered and made.
Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office of the Corporate
Counsel comprises a distinct group within the managerial structure of all Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within which are
kinds of organizations. Effectiveness of both long-term and temporary undertaken those activities of the firm to which legal consequences attach. It
groups within organizations has been found to be related to indentifiable needs to be directly supportive of this nation's evolving economic and
factors in the group-context interaction such as the groups actively revising organizational fabric as firms change to stay competitive in a global,
their knowledge of the environment coordinating work with outsiders, interdependent environment. The practice and theory of "law" is not
promoting team achievements within the organization. In general, such adequate today to facilitate the relationships needed in trying to make a
external activities are better predictors of team performance than internal global economy work.
group processes.
Organization and Functioning of the Corporate Counsel's Office. The general
In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of the corporate lawyer counsel has emerged in the last decade as one of the most vibrant subsets
vis-a-vis the managerial mettle of corporations are challenged. Current of the legal profession. The corporate counsel hear responsibility for key
research is seeking ways both to anticipate effective managerial procedures aspects of the firm's strategic issues, including structuring its global
and to understand relationships of financial liability and insurance operations, managing improved relationships with an increasingly diversified
considerations. (Emphasis supplied) body of employees, managing expanded liability exposure, creating new and
varied interactions with public decision-makers, coping internally with more
complex make or by decisions.
Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three factors
are apropos:
This whole exercise drives home the thesis that knowing corporate law is not
enough to make one a good general corporate counsel nor to give him a full
First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics has been found an sense of how the legal system shapes corporate activities. And even if the
effective tool for new managerial thinking regarding both planning and corporate lawyer's aim is not the understand all of the law's effects on
pressing immediate problems. An understanding of the role of feedback corporate activities, he must, at the very least, also gain a working
loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow, enable users to simulate all sorts of knowledge of the management issues if only to be able to grasp not only the
systematic problems physical, economic, managerial, social, and basic legal "constitution' or makeup of the modem corporation. "Business
psychological. New programming techniques now make the system Star", "The Corporate Counsel," April 10, 1991, p. 4).
dynamics principles more accessible to managers including corporate
counsels. (Emphasis supplied)
The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the bench) is to have more
than a passing knowledge of financial law affecting each aspect of their
Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make better decisions work. Yet, many would admit to ignorance of vast tracts of the financial law
involving complexity and uncertainty. In the context of a law department, it territory. What transpires next is a dilemma of professional security: Will the
can be used to appraise the settlement value of litigation, aid in negotiation
lawyer admit ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he feign understanding Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty. Monsod used to be a
and risk exposure? (Business Star, "Corporate Finance law," Jan. 11, 1989, member.
p. 4).
In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel acts as a team, and
Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino to the which is adequately constituted to meet the various contingencies that arise
position of Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received by the Secretariat of the during a negotiation. Besides top officials of the Borrower concerned, there
Commission on Appointments on April 25, 1991. Petitioner opposed the nomination are the legal officer (such as the legal counsel), the finance manager, and
because allegedly Monsod does not possess the required qualification of having been an operations officer (such as an official involved in negotiating the
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. contracts) who comprise the members of the team. (Guillermo V. Soliven,
"Loan Negotiating Strategies for Developing Country Borrowers," Staff Paper
On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the nomination of No. 2, Central Bank of the Philippines, Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis
Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18, 1991, he took his oath of office. supplied)
On the same day, he assumed office as Chairman of the COMELEC.
After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's Constitution; it lays
Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of down the law as far as the loan transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat of
Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer, filed the instant petition for any Loan Agreement can be compartmentalized into five (5) fundamental
certiorari and Prohibition praying that said confirmation and the consequent parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's representation; (3) conditions of
appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null closing; (4) covenants; and (5) events of default. (Ibid., p. 13).
and void.
In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any debt restructuring
Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the bar program. For aside from performing the tasks of legislative drafting and legal
examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86-55%. He has been a dues paying member of advising, they score national development policies as key factors in
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has also been maintaining their countries' sovereignty. (Condensed from the work paper,
paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten years. (p. 124, Rollo) entitled "Wanted: Development Lawyers for Developing Nations," submitted
by L. Michael Hager, regional legal adviser of the United States Agency for
International Development, during the Session on Law for the Development
After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled the bar, Atty. of Nations at the Abidjan World Conference in Ivory Coast, sponsored by the
Monsod worked in the law office of his father. During his stint in the World Bank World Peace Through Law Center on August 26-31, 1973). ( Emphasis
Group (1963-1970), Monsod worked as an operations officer for about two years in supplied)
Costa Rica and Panama, which involved getting acquainted with the laws of member-
countries negotiating loans and coordinating legal, economic, and project work of the
Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he worked with the Meralco Group, Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more so than purely
served as chief executive officer of an investment bank and subsequently of a renegotiation policies, demand expertise in the law of contracts, in legislation
business conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered services to various companies and agreement drafting and in renegotiation. Necessarily, a sovereign lawyer
as a legal and economic consultant or chief executive officer. As former Secretary- may work with an international business specialist or an economist in the
General (1986) and National Chairman (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved formulation of a model loan agreement. Debt restructuring contract
being knowledgeable in election law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation agreements contain such a mixture of technical language that they should be
hearings before the Comelec. In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in his personal carefully drafted and signed only with the advise of competent counsel in
capacity and as former Co-Chairman of the Bishops Businessmen's Conference for conjunction with the guidance of adequate technical support personnel. (See
Human Development, has worked with the under privileged sectors, such as the International Law Aspects of the Philippine External Debts, an unpublished
farmer and urban poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in affirmative dissertation, U.S.T. Graduate School of Law, 1987, p. 321). ( Emphasis
action for the agrarian reform law and lately the urban land reform bill. Monsod also supplied)
made use of his legal knowledge as a member of the Davide Commission, a quast
judicial body, which conducted numerous hearings (1990) and as a member of the A critical aspect of sovereign debt restructuring/contract construction is the
Constitutional Commission (1986-1987), and Chairman of its Committee on set of terms and conditions which determines the contractual remedies for a
Accountability of Public Officers, for which he was cited by the President of the failure to perform one or more elements of the contract. A good agreement
Commission, Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma for "innumerable amendments to reconcile must not only define the responsibilities of both parties, but must also state
government functions with individual freedoms and public accountability and the the recourse open to either party when the other fails to discharge an
party-list system for the House of Representative. (pp. 128-129 Rollo) ( Emphasis obligation. For a compleat debt restructuring represents a devotion to that
supplied) principle which in the ultimate analysis is sine qua non for foreign loan
agreements-an adherence to the rule of law in domestic and international
affairs of whose kind U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its consent to the nomination
once said: "They carry no banners, they beat no drums; but where they are, of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections is mandated by Section 1(2)
men learn that bustle and bush are not the equal of quiet genius and serene Sub-Article C, Article IX of the Constitution which provides:
mastery." (See Ricardo J. Romulo, "The Role of Lawyers in Foreign
Investments," Integrated Bar of the Philippine Journal, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be appointed by the President
Third and Fourth Quarters, 1977, p. 265). with the consent of the Commission on Appointments for a term of seven
years without reappointment. Of those first appointed, three Members shall
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice of law". hold office for seven years, two Members for five years, and the last
particularly the modern concept of law practice, and taking into consideration the Members for three years, without reappointment. Appointment to any
liberal construction intended by the framers of the Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of the predecessor. In no case
work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of shall any Member be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting
industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich and capacity.
the poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement that he has been
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion, suffice it to say that his
definition of the practice of law is the traditional or stereotyped notion of law
Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, 143 SCRA 327, practice, as distinguished from the modern concept of the practice of law,
the Court said: which modern connotation is exactly what was intended by the eminent
framers of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's definition would
Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be performed by require generally a habitual law practice, perhaps practised two or three
the officer in which it is vested according to his best lights, the only condition times a week and would outlaw say, law practice once or twice a year for ten
being that the appointee should possess the qualifications required by law. If consecutive years. Clearly, this is far from the constitutional intent.
he does, then the appointment cannot be faulted on the ground that there
are others better qualified who should have been preferred. This is a political Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz states that in my
question involving considerations of wisdom which only the appointing written opinion, I made use of a definition of law practice which really means nothing
authority can decide. (emphasis supplied) because the definition says that law practice " . . . is what people ordinarily mean by
the practice of law." True I cited the definition but only by way of sarcasm as evident
No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v. Civil Service from my statement that the definition of law practice by "traditional areas of law
Commission, 171 SCRA 744) where it stated: practice is essentially tautologous" or defining a phrase by means of the phrase itself
that is being defined.
It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified, as in this case, and all
the other legal requirements are satisfied, the Commission has no alternative Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers almost all
but to attest to the appointment in accordance with the Civil Service Law. situations, most individuals, in making use of the law, or in advising others on what
The Commission has no authority to revoke an appointment on the ground the law means, are actually practicing law. In that sense, perhaps, but we should not
that another person is more qualified for a particular position. It also has no lose sight of the fact that Mr. Monsod is a lawyer, a member of the Philippine Bar,
authority to direct the appointment of a substitute of its choice. To do so who has been practising law for over ten years. This is different from the acts of
would be an encroachment on the discretion vested upon the appointing persons practising law, without first becoming lawyers.
authority. An appointment is essentially within the discretionary power of
whomsoever it is vested, subject to the only condition that the appointee Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify an elected
should possess the qualifications required by law. ( Emphasis supplied) President of the Philippines, say, on the ground that he lacks one or more
qualifications. This matter, I greatly doubt. For one thing, how can an action or petition
The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at bar, consists of four be brought against the President? And even assuming that he is indeed disqualified,
(4) stages: (1) nomination; (2) confirmation by the Commission on Appointments; (3) how can the action be entertained since he is the incumbent President?
issuance of a commission (in the Philippines, upon submission by the Commission on
Appointments of its certificate of confirmation, the President issues the permanent We now proceed:
appointment; and (4) acceptance e.g., oath-taking, posting of bond, etc. . . . (Lacson
v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949; Gonzales, Law on Public Officers, p. 200) The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public hearings on
Monsod's confirmation, implicitly determined that he possessed the necessary
qualifications as required by law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in the
exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference except only
upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of Sarmiento, J., is on leave.
jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such grave abuse of Regalado, and Davide, Jr., J., took no part.
discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commission's judgment.
In the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court's corrective
power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to
lack or excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for
has been clearly shown.

Additionally, consider the following:

(1) If the Commission on Appointments rejects a nominee by the President,

may the Supreme Court reverse the Commission, and thus in
effect confirm the appointment? Clearly, the answer is in the negative.

(2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom the
Commission has confirmed? The answer is likewise clear.

(3) If the United States Senate (which is the confirming body in the U.S.
Congress) decides to confirm a Presidential nominee, it would be incredible
that the U.S. Supreme Court would still reverse the U.S. Senate.

Finally, one significant legal maxim is:

We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that giveth life.

Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the procurator of Judea
asked Delilah (who was Samson's beloved) for help in capturing Samson. Delilah
agreed on condition that

No blade shall touch his skin;

No blood shall flow from his veins.

When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the procurator placed an
iron rod burning white-hot two or three inches away from in front of Samson's eyes.
This blinded the man. Upon hearing of what had happened to her beloved, Delilah
was beside herself with anger, and fuming with righteous fury, accused the procurator
of reneging on his word. The procurator calmly replied: "Did any blade touch his skin?
Did any blood flow from his veins?" The procurator was clearly relying on the letter,
not the spirit of the agreement.

In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED.


Fernan, C.J., Grio-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.

Feliciano, J., I certify that he voted to dismiss the petition. (Fernan, C.J.)
Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993 It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements above reproduced are
champterous, unethical, demeaning of the law profession, and destructive of the
MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner, confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar and that, as a
vs. member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and offended by the said
THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent. advertisements, hence the reliefs sought in his petition as hereinbefore quoted.

R E SO L U T I O N In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of publication of said
advertisement at its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in the practice of law
but in the rendering of "legal support services" through paralegals with the use of
REGALADO, J.: modern computers and electronic machines. Respondent further argues that
assuming that the services advertised are legal services, the act of advertising these
Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to cease and desist from issuing services should be allowed supposedly
advertisements similar to or of the same tenor as that of annexes "A" and "B" (of said in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs. State Bar of
petition) and to perpetually prohibit persons or entities from making advertisements Arizona,2 reportedly decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 7, 1977.
pertaining to the exercise of the law profession other than those allowed by law."
Considering the critical implications on the legal profession of the issues raised
The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner are as follows: herein, we required the (1) Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), (2) Philippine Bar
Association (PBA), (3) Philippine Lawyers' Association (PLA), (4) U.P. Womens
Annex A Lawyers' Circle (WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers Association of the Philippines
(WLAP), and (6) Federacion International de Abogadas (FIDA) to submit their
respective position papers on the controversy and, thereafter, their memoranda. 3 The
SECRET MARRIAGE? said bar associations readily responded and extended their valuable services and
P560.00 for a valid marriage. cooperation of which this Court takes note with appreciation and gratitude.
The main issues posed for resolution before the Court are whether or not the services
offered by respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as advertised by it constitutes practice
THE Please call: 521-0767 LEGAL 5217232, 5222041 CLINIC, of law and, in either case, whether the same can properly be the subject of the
INC. 8:30 am 6:00 pm 7-Flr. Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Mla. advertisements herein complained of.

Annex B Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the merits of this case, we deem it
proper and enlightening to present hereunder excerpts from the respective position
GUAM DIVORCE. papers adopted by the aforementioned bar associations and the memoranda
submitted by them on the issues involved in this bar matter.
1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines:
an Attorney in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce
through The Legal Clinic beginning Monday to Friday during office xxx xxx xxx
Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which respondent
Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Problems, Visa endeavored to distinguish the two terms, i.e., "legal support
Ext. Quota/Non-quota Res. & Special Retiree's Visa. Declaration of services" vis-a-vis "legal services", common sense would readily
Absence. Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees. Adoption. Investment in dictate that the same are essentially without substantial distinction.
the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call Marivic. For who could deny that document search, evidence gathering,
assistance to layman in need of basic institutional services from
government or non-government agencies like birth, marriage,
THE 7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave., LEGAL Ermita, Manila nr. US
property, or business registration, obtaining documents like
Embassy CLINIC, INC.1 Tel. 521-7232; 521-7251; 522-2041; 521-
clearance, passports, local or foreign visas, constitutes practice of
xxx xxx xxx services as any lawyer actively engaged in law practice does. And it
becomes unnecessary to make a distinction between "legal
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) does not wish to make services" and "legal support services," as the respondent would
issue with respondent's foreign citations. Suffice it to state that the have it. The advertisements in question leave no room for doubt in
IBP has made its position manifest, to wit, that it strongly opposes the minds of the reading public that legal services are being offered
the view espoused by respondent (to the effect that today it is by lawyers, whether true or not.
alright to advertise one's legal services).
B. The advertisements in question are meant to induce the
The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain terms its opposition to performance of acts contrary to law, morals, public order and public
respondent's act of establishing a "legal clinic" and of concomitantly policy.
advertising the same through newspaper publications.
It may be conceded that, as the respondent claims, the
The IBP would therefore invoke the administrative supervision of advertisements in question are only meant to inform the general
this Honorable Court to perpetually restrain respondent from public of the services being offered by it. Said advertisements,
undertaking highly unethical activities in the field of law practice as however, emphasize to Guam divorce, and any law student ought
aforedescribed.4 to know that under the Family Code, there is only one instance
when a foreign divorce is recognized, and that is:
xxx xxx xxx
Article 26. . . .
A. The use of the name "The Legal Clinic, Inc." gives the
impression that respondent corporation is being operated by Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and
lawyers and that it renders legal services. a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is
thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the
While the respondent repeatedly denies that it offers legal services Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry
to the public, the advertisements in question give the impression under Philippine Law.
that respondent is offering legal services. The Petition in fact simply
assumes this to be so, as earlier mentioned, apparently because
this (is) the effect that the advertisements have on the reading It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family Code (defines) a
public. marriage as follows:

The impression created by the advertisements in question can be Article 1. Marriage is special contract of
traced, first of all, to the very name being used by respondent permanent union between a man and woman
"The Legal Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is respectfully submitted entered into accordance with law for the
connotes the rendering of legal services for legal problems, just like establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the
a medical clinic connotes medical services for medical problems. foundation of the family and an inviolable social
More importantly, the term "Legal Clinic" connotes lawyers, as the institution whose nature, consequences, and
term medical clinic connotes doctors. incidents are governed by law and not subject to
stipulation, except that marriage settlements may
fix the property relation during the marriage within
Furthermore, the respondent's name, as published in the the limits provided by this Code.
advertisements subject of the present case, appears with (the)
scale(s) of justice, which all the more reinforces the impression that
it is being operated by members of the bar and that it offers legal By simply reading the questioned advertisements, it is obvious that
services. In addition, the advertisements in question appear with a the message being conveyed is that Filipinos can avoid the legal
picture and name of a person being represented as a lawyer from consequences of a marriage celebrated in accordance with our law,
Guam, and this practically removes whatever doubt may still remain by simply going to Guam for a divorce. This is not only misleading,
as to the nature of the service or services being offered. but encourages, or serves to induce, violation of Philippine law. At
the very least, this can be considered "the dark side" of legal
practice, where certain defects in Philippine laws are exploited for
It thus becomes irrelevant whether respondent is merely offering the sake of profit. At worst, this is outright malpractice.
"legal support services" as claimed by it, or whether it offers legal
Rule 1.02. A lawyer shall not counsel or abet not be stifled but instead encouraged. However, when the conduct
activities aimed at defiance of the law or at of such business by non-members of the Bar encroaches upon the
lessening confidence in the legal system. practice of law, there can be no choice but to prohibit such
In addition, it may also be relevant to point out that advertisements
such as that shown in Annex "A" of the Petition, which contains a Admittedly, many of the services involved in the case at bar can be
cartoon of a motor vehicle with the words "Just Married" on its better performed by specialists in other fields, such as computer
bumper and seems to address those planning a "secret marriage," experts, who by reason of their having devoted time and effort
if not suggesting a "secret marriage," makes light of the "special exclusively to such field cannot fulfill the exacting requirements for
contract of permanent union," the inviolable social institution," which admission to the Bar. To prohibit them from "encroaching" upon the
is how the Family Code describes marriage, obviously to legal profession will deny the profession of the great benefits and
emphasize its sanctity and inviolability. Worse, this particular advantages of modern technology. Indeed, a lawyer using a
advertisement appears to encourage marriages celebrated in computer will be doing better than a lawyer using a typewriter, even
secrecy, which is suggestive of immoral publication of applications if both are (equal) in skill.
for a marriage license.
Both the Bench and the Bar, however, should be careful not to
If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be reviewed, it can readily allow or tolerate the illegal practice of law in any form, not only for
be concluded that the above impressions one may gather from the the protection of members of the Bar but also, and more
advertisements in question are accurate. The Sharon Cuneta- importantly, for the protection of the public. Technological
Gabby Concepcion example alone confirms what the development in the profession may be encouraged without
advertisements suggest. Here it can be seen that criminal acts are tolerating, but instead ensuring prevention of illegal practice.
being encouraged or committed
(a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las Vegas) with impunity There might be nothing objectionable if respondent is allowed to
simply because the jurisdiction of Philippine courts does not extend perform all of its services, but only if such services are made
to the place where the crime is committed. available exclusively to members of the Bench and Bar.
Respondent would then be offering technical assistance, not legal
Even if it be assumed, arguendo, (that) the "legal support services" services. Alternatively, the more difficult task of carefully
respondent offers do not constitute legal services as commonly distinguishing between which service may be offered to the public
understood, the advertisements in question give the impression that in general and which should be made available exclusively to
respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it members of the Bar may be undertaken. This, however, may
offers legal services, as earlier discussed. Thus, the only logical require further proceedings because of the factual considerations
consequence is that, in the eyes of an ordinary newspaper reader, involved.
members of the bar themselves are encouraging or inducing the
performance of acts which are contrary to law, morals, good It must be emphasized, however, that some of respondent's
customs and the public good, thereby destroying and demeaning services ought to be prohibited outright, such as acts which tend to
the integrity of the Bar. suggest or induce celebration abroad of marriages which are
bigamous or otherwise illegal and void under Philippine law. While
xxx xxx xxx respondent may not be prohibited from simply disseminating
information regarding such matters, it must be required to include,
It is respectfully submitted that respondent should be enjoined from in the information given, a disclaimer that it is not authorized to
causing the publication of the advertisements in question, or any practice law, that certain course of action may be illegal under
other advertisements similar thereto. It is also submitted that Philippine law, that it is not authorized or capable of rendering a
respondent should be prohibited from further performing or offering legal opinion, that a lawyer should be consulted before deciding on
some of the services it presently offers, or, at the very least, from which course of action to take, and that it cannot recommend any
offering such services to the public in general. particular lawyer without subjecting itself to possible sanctions for
illegal practice of law.
The IBP is aware of the fact that providing computerized legal
research, electronic data gathering, storage and retrieval, If respondent is allowed to advertise, advertising should be directed
standardized legal forms, investigators for gathering of evidence, exclusively at members of the Bar, with a clear and unmistakable
and like services will greatly benefit the legal profession and should
disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law or perform legal and the lawyers who act for it are subject to court discipline. The
services. practice of law is not a profession open to all who wish to engage in
it nor can it be assigned to another (See 5 Am. Jur. 270). It is
The benefits of being assisted by paralegals cannot be ignored. But a personal right limited to persons who have qualified themselves
nobody should be allowed to represent himself as a "paralegal" for under the law. It follows that not only respondent but also all the
profit, without such term being clearly defined by rule or regulation, persons who are acting for respondent are the persons engaged in
and without any adequate and effective means of regulating his unethical law practice.6
activities. Also, law practice in a corporate form may prove to be
advantageous to the legal profession, but before allowance of such 3. Philippine Lawyers' Association:
practice may be considered, the corporation's Article of
Incorporation and By-laws must conform to each and every The Philippine Lawyers' Association's position, in answer to the
provision of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Rules issues stated herein, are wit:
of Court.5
1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law;
2. Philippine Bar Association:
2. Such practice is unauthorized;
xxx xxx xxx.
3. The advertisements complained of are not only unethical, but
Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged in the practice of law but also misleading and patently immoral; and
engaged in giving legal support services to lawyers and laymen,
through experienced paralegals, with the use of modern computers
and electronic machines" (pars. 2 and 3, Comment). This is absurd. 4. The Honorable Supreme Court has the power to supress and
Unquestionably, respondent's acts of holding out itself to the public punish the Legal Clinic and its corporate officers for its
under the trade name "The Legal Clinic, Inc.," and soliciting unauthorized practice of law and for its unethical, misleading and
employment for its enumerated services fall within the realm of a immoral advertising.
practice which thus yields itself to the regulatory powers of the
Supreme Court. For respondent to say that it is merely engaged in xxx xxx xxx
paralegal work is to stretch credulity. Respondent's own
commercial advertisement which announces a certain Atty. Don Respondent posits that is it not engaged in the practice of law. It
Parkinson to be handling the fields of law belies its pretense. From claims that it merely renders "legal support services" to answers,
all indications, respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." is offering and litigants and the general public as enunciated in the Primary
rendering legal services through its reserve of lawyers. It has been Purpose Clause of its Article(s) of Incorporation. (See pages 2 to 5
held that the practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in of Respondent's Comment). But its advertised services, as
court, but includes drawing of deeds, incorporation, rendering enumerated above, clearly and convincingly show that it is indeed
opinions, and advising clients as to their legal right and then take engaged in law practice, albeit outside of court.
them to an attorney and ask the latter to look after their case in
court See Martin, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1984 ed., p. 39).
As advertised, it offers the general public its advisory services on
Persons and Family Relations Law, particularly regarding foreign
It is apt to recall that only natural persons can engage in the divorces, annulment of marriages, secret marriages, absence and
practice of law, and such limitation cannot be evaded by adoption; Immigration Laws, particularly on visa related problems,
a corporation employing competent lawyers to practice for it. immigration problems; the Investments Law of the Philippines and
Obviously, this is the scheme or device by which respondent "The such other related laws.
Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself to the public and solicits
employment of its legal services. It is an odious vehicle for
deception, especially so when the public cannot ventilate any Its advertised services unmistakably require the application of the
grievance for malpractice against the business conduit. Precisely, aforesaid law, the legal principles and procedures related thereto,
the limitation of practice of law to persons who have been duly the legal advices based thereon and which activities call for legal
admitted as members of the Bar (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Revised Rules training, knowledge and experience.
of Court) is to subject the members to the discipline of the Supreme
Court. Although respondent uses its business name, the persons
Applying the test laid down by the Court in the aforecited Agrava Respondent's allegations are further belied by the very admissions
Case, the activities of respondent fall squarely and are embraced in of its President and majority stockholder, Atty. Nogales, who gave
what lawyers and laymen equally term as "the practice of law." 7 an insight on the structure and main purpose of Respondent
corporation in the aforementioned "Starweek" article."9
4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle:
5. Women Lawyer's Association of the Philippines:
In resolving, the issues before this Honorable Court, paramount
consideration should be given to the protection of the general public Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are clearly advertisements to
from the danger of being exploited by unqualified persons or solicit cases for the purpose of gain which, as provided for under
entities who may be engaged in the practice of law. the above cited law, (are) illegal and against the Code of
Professional Responsibility of lawyers in this country.
At present, becoming a lawyer requires one to take a rigorous four-
year course of study on top of a four-year bachelor of arts or Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in that it is an
sciences course and then to take and pass the bar examinations. advertisement to solicit cases, but it is illegal in that in bold letters it
Only then, is a lawyer qualified to practice law. announces that the Legal Clinic, Inc., could work out/cause the
celebration of a secret marriage which is not only illegal but immoral
While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in many jurisdiction as an in this country. While it is advertised that one has to go to said
aid to the administration of justice, there are in those jurisdictions, agency and pay P560 for a valid marriage it is certainly fooling the
courses of study and/or standards which would qualify these public for valid marriages in the Philippines are solemnized only by
paralegals to deal with the general public as such. While it may now officers authorized to do so under the law. And to employ an
be the opportune time to establish these courses of study and/or agency for said purpose of contracting marriage is not necessary.
standards, the fact remains that at present, these do not exist in the
Philippines. In the meantime, this Honorable Court may decide to No amount of reasoning that in the USA, Canada and other
make measures to protect the general public from being exploited countries the trend is towards allowing lawyers to advertise their
by those who may be dealing with the general public in the guise of special skills to enable people to obtain from qualified practitioners
being "paralegals" without being qualified to do so. legal services for their particular needs can justify the use of
advertisements such as are the subject matter of the petition, for
In the same manner, the general public should also be protected one (cannot) justify an illegal act even by whatever merit the illegal
from the dangers which may be brought about by advertising of act may serve. The law has yet to be amended so that such act
legal services. While it appears that lawyers are prohibited under could become justifiable.
the present Code of Professional Responsibility from advertising, it
appears in the instant case that legal services are being advertised We submit further that these advertisements that seem to project
not by lawyers but by an entity staffed by "paralegals." Clearly, that secret marriages and divorce are possible in this country for a
measures should be taken to protect the general public from falling fee, when in fact it is not so, are highly reprehensible.
prey to those who advertise legal services without being qualified to
offer such services. 8 It would encourage people to consult this clinic about how they
could go about having a secret marriage here, when it cannot nor
A perusal of the questioned advertisements of Respondent, should ever be attempted, and seek advice on divorce, where in
however, seems to give the impression that information regarding this country there is none, except under the Code of Muslim
validity of marriages, divorce, annulment of marriage, immigration, Personal Laws in the Philippines. It is also against good morals and
visa extensions, declaration of absence, adoption and foreign is deceitful because it falsely represents to the public to be able to
investment, which are in essence, legal matters , will be given to do that which by our laws cannot be done (and) by our Code of
them if they avail of its services. The Respondent's name The Morals should not be done.
Legal Clinic, Inc. does not help matters. It gives the impression
again that Respondent will or can cure the legal problems brought In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the Supreme Court held
to them. Assuming that Respondent is, as claimed, staffed purely that solicitation for clients by an attorney by circulars of
by paralegals, it also gives the misleading impression that there are advertisements, is unprofessional, and offenses of this character
lawyers involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc., as there are doctors in justify permanent elimination from the Bar. 10
any medical clinic, when only "paralegals" are involved in The Legal
Clinic, Inc.
6. Federacion Internacional de Abogados: It is largely a matter of degree and of custom.

xxx xxx xxx If it were usual for one intending to erect a

building on his land to engage a lawyer to advise
1.7 That entities admittedly not engaged in the practice of law, such him and the architect in respect to the building
as management consultancy firms or travel agencies, whether run code and the like, then an architect who
by lawyers or not, perform the services rendered by Respondent performed this function would probably be
does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that Respondent is not considered to be trespassing on territory reserved
unlawfully practicing law. In the same vein, however, the fact that for licensed attorneys. Likewise, if the industrial
the business of respondent (assuming it can be engaged in relations field had been pre-empted by lawyers,
independently of the practice of law) involves knowledge of the law or custom placed a lawyer always at the elbow of
does not necessarily make respondent guilty of unlawful practice of the lay personnel man. But this is not the case.
law. The most important body of the industrial
relations experts are the officers and business
agents of the labor unions and few of them are
. . . . Of necessity, no one . . . . acting as a lawyers. Among the larger corporate employers,
consultant can render effective service unless he it has been the practice for some years to
is familiar with such statutes and regulations. He delegate special responsibility in employee
must be careful not to suggest a course of matters to a management group chosen for their
conduct which the law forbids. It seems . . . .clear practical knowledge and skill in such matter, and
that (the consultant's) knowledge of the law, and without regard to legal thinking or lack of it. More
his use of that knowledge as a factor in recently, consultants like the defendants have the
determining what measures he shall recommend, same service that the larger employers get from
do not constitute the practice of law . . . . It is not their own specialized staff.
only presumed that all men know the law, but it is
a fact that most men have considerable
acquaintance with broad features of the law . . . . The handling of industrial relations is growing into
Our knowledge of the law accurate or a recognized profession for which appropriate
inaccurate moulds our conduct not only when courses are offered by our leading universities.
we are acting for ourselves, but when we are The court should be very cautious about
serving others. Bankers, liquor dealers and declaring [that] a widespread, well-established
laymen generally possess rather precise method of conducting business is unlawful, or
knowledge of the laws touching their particular that the considerable class of men who
business or profession. A good example is the customarily perform a certain function have no
architect, who must be familiar with zoning, right to do so, or that the technical education
building and fire prevention codes, factory and given by our schools cannot be used by the
tenement house statutes, and who draws plans graduates in their business.
and specification in harmony with the law. This is
not practicing law. In determining whether a man is practicing law,
we should consider his work for any particular
But suppose the architect, asked by his client to client or customer, as a whole. I can imagine
omit a fire tower, replies that it is required by the defendant being engaged primarily to advise as
statute. Or the industrial relations expert cites, in to the law defining his client's obligations to his
support of some measure that he recommends, a employees, to guide his client's obligations to his
decision of the National Labor Relations Board. employees, to guide his client along the path
Are they practicing law? In my opinion, they are charted by law. This, of course, would be the
not, provided no separate fee is charged for the practice of the law. But such is not the fact in the
legal advice or information, and the legal question case before me. Defendant's primarily efforts are
is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal along economic and psychological lines. The law
problem. only provides the frame within which he must
work, just as the zoning code limits the kind of
building the limits the kind of building the architect
may plan. The incidental legal advice or his work, defendant may lawfully do whatever the
information defendant may give, does not Labor Board allows, even arguing questions
transform his activities into the practice of law. purely legal. (Auerbacher v. Wood, 53 A. 2d 800,
Let me add that if, even as a minor feature of his cited in Statsky, Introduction to Paralegalism
work, he performed services which are [1974], at pp. 154-156.).
customarily reserved to members of the bar, he
would be practicing law. For instance, if as part of 1.8 From the foregoing, it can be said that a person engaged in a
a welfare program, he drew employees' wills. lawful calling (which may involve knowledge of the law) is not
engaged in the practice of law provided that:
Another branch of defendant's work is the
representations of the employer in the adjustment (a) The legal question is subordinate and incidental to a major non-
of grievances and in collective bargaining, with or legal problem;.
without a mediator. This is not per se the practice
of law. Anyone may use an agent for negotiations
and may select an agent particularly skilled in the (b) The services performed are not customarily reserved to
subject under discussion, and the person members of the bar; .
appointed is free to accept the employment
whether or not he is a member of the bar. Here, (c) No separate fee is charged for the legal advice or information.
however, there may be an exception where the
business turns on a question of law. Most real All these must be considered in relation to the work for any
estate sales are negotiated by brokers who are particular client as a whole.
not lawyers. But if the value of the land depends
on a disputed right-of-way and the principal role
of the negotiator is to assess the probable 1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer and non-lawyer, the Code
outcome of the dispute and persuade the of Professional Responsibility succintly states the rule of conduct:
opposite party to the same opinion, then it may
be that only a lawyer can accept the assignment. Rule 15.08 A lawyer who is engaged in another profession or
Or if a controversy between an employer and his occupation concurrently with the practice of law shall make clear to
men grows from differing interpretations of a his client whether he is acting as a lawyer or in another capacity.
contract, or of a statute, it is quite likely that
defendant should not handle it. But I need not
1.10. In the present case. the Legal Clinic appears to render
reach a definite conclusion here, since the
wedding services (See Annex "A" Petition). Services on routine,
situation is not presented by the proofs.
straightforward marriages, like securing a marriage license, and
making arrangements with a priest or a judge, may not constitute
Defendant also appears to represent the practice of law. However, if the problem is as complicated as that
employer before administrative agencies of the described in "Rx for Legal Problems" on the Sharon Cuneta-Gabby
federal government, especially before trial Concepcion-Richard Gomez case, then what may be involved is
examiners of the National Labor Relations Board. actually the practice of law. If a non-lawyer, such as the Legal
An agency of the federal government, acting by Clinic, renders such services then it is engaged in the unauthorized
virtue of an authority granted by the Congress, practice of law.
may regulate the representation of parties before
such agency. The State of New Jersey is without
1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears to give information on divorce,
power to interfere with such determination or to
absence, annulment of marriage and visas (See Annexes "A" and
forbid representation before the agency by one
"B" Petition). Purely giving informational materials may not
whom the agency admits. The rules of the
constitute of law. The business is similar to that of a bookstore
National Labor Relations Board give to a party
where the customer buys materials on the subject and determines
the right to appear in person, or by counsel, or by
on the subject and determines by himself what courses of action to
other representative. Rules and Regulations,
September 11th, 1946, S. 203.31. 'Counsel' here
means a licensed attorney, and ther
representative' one not a lawyer. In this phase of
It is not entirely improbable, however, that aside from purely giving concerning particular problems which might arise
information, the Legal Clinic's paralegals may apply the law to the in the preparation and presentation of the
particular problem of the client, and give legal advice. Such would purchaser's asserted matrimonial cause of action
constitute unauthorized practice of law. or pursuit of other legal remedies and assistance
in the preparation of necessary documents (The
It cannot be claimed that the publication of a legal injunction therefore sought to) enjoin conduct
text which publication of a legal text which constituting the practice of law, particularly with
purports to say what the law is amount to legal reference to the giving of advice and counsel by
practice. And the mere fact that the principles or the defendant relating to specific problems of
rules stated in the text may be accepted by a particular individuals in connection with a divorce,
particular reader as a solution to his problem separation, annulment of separation agreement
does not affect this. . . . . Apparently it is urged sought and should be affirmed. (State v. Winder,
that the conjoining of these two, that is, the text 348, NYS 2D 270 [1973], cited in
and the forms, with advice as to how the forms Statsky, supra at p. 101.).
should be filled out, constitutes the unlawful
practice of law. But that is the situation with many 1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its services are "strictly
approved and accepted texts. Dacey's book is non-diagnostic, non-advisory. "It is not controverted, however, that
sold to the public at large. There is no personal if the services "involve giving legal advice or counselling," such
contact or relationship with a particular individual. would constitute practice of law (Comment, par. 6.2). It is in this
Nor does there exist that relation of confidence light that FIDA submits that a factual inquiry may be necessary for
and trust so necessary to the status of attorney the judicious disposition of this case.
assumes to offer general advice on common 2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically objectionable in that it can give
problems, and does not purport to give personal the impression (or perpetuate the wrong notion) that there is a
advice on a specific problem peculiar to a secret marriage. With all the solemnities, formalities and other
designated or readily identified person. Similarly requisites of marriages (See Articles 2, et seq., Family Code), no
the defendant's publication does not purport to Philippine marriage can be secret.
give personal advice on a specific problem
peculiar to a designated or readily identified 2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically objectionable. The
person in a particular situation in their second paragraph thereof (which is not necessarily related to the
publication and sale of the kits, such publication first paragraph) fails to state the limitation that only "paralegal
and sale did not constitutes the unlawful practice services?" or "legal support services", and not legal services, are
of law . . . . There being no legal impediment available." 11
under the statute to the sale of the kit, there was
no proper basis for the injunction against A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase "practice of law" becomes
defendant maintaining an office for the purpose of exigent for the proper determination of the issues raised by the petition at bar. On this
selling to persons seeking a divorce, separation, score, we note that the clause "practice of law" has long been the subject of judicial
annulment or separation agreement any printed construction and interpretation. The courts have laid down general principles and
material or writings relating to matrimonial law or doctrines explaining the meaning and scope of the term, some of which we now take
the prohibition in the memorandum of into account.
modification of the judgment against defendant
having an interest in any publishing house
publishing his manuscript on divorce and against Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of
his having any personal contact with any law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice
prospective purchaser. The record does fully of law is to perform those acts which are characteristic of the profession. Generally, to
support, however, the finding that for the change practice law is to give advice or render any kind of service that involves legal
of $75 or $100 for the kit, the defendant gave knowledge or skill. 12
legal advice in the course of personal contacts
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. It includes legal the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative capacity,
advice and counsel, and the preparation of legal instruments and contract by which engages in the business of advising clients as to their rights under
legal rights are secured, although such matter may or may not be pending in a the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court
court. 13 or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of
law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S. W. 2d
In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law generally engages in three 895, 340 Mo. 852).
principal types of professional activity: legal advice and instructions to clients to inform
them of their rights and obligations, preparation for clients of documents requiring This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers Association v. Agrava (105 Phil. 173,
knowledge of legal principles not possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for 176-177),stated:
clients before public tribunals which possess power and authority to determine rights
of life, liberty, and property according to law, in order to assist in proper interpretation The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation
and enforcement of law. 14 in court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers
incident to actions and special proceedings, the management of
When a person participates in the a trial and advertises himself as a lawyer, he is in such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges
the practice of law. 15 One who confers with clients, advises them as to their legal and courts, and in addition, conveying. In general, all advice to
rights and then takes the business to an attorney and asks the latter to look after the clients, and all action taken for them in matters connected with the
case in court, is also practicing law. 16 Giving advice for compensation regarding the law incorporation services, assessment and condemnation services
legal status and rights of another and the conduct with respect thereto constitutes a contemplating an appearance before a judicial body, the
practice of law. 17 One who renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in
statute, and receives pay for it, is, to that extent, practicing law. 18 bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting
proceedings in attachment, and in matters or estate and
In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, 19 after citing the doctrines in several guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the
cases, we laid down the test to determine whether certain acts constitute "practice of preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done
law," thus: involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal
effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263).
Black defines "practice of law" as:
Practice of law under modern conditions consists in no small part of
work performed outside of any court and having no immediate
The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the relation to proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the
application of legal principles and technique to serve the interest of giving of legal advice on a large variety of subjects and the
another with his consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or preparation and execution of legal instruments covering an
advising and assisting in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the extensive field of business and trust relations and other affairs.
preparation of pleadings, and other papers incident to actions and Although these transactions may have no direct connection with
special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of legal court proceedings, they are always subject to become involved in
instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. litigation. They require in many aspects a high degree of legal skill,
It embraces all advice to clients and all actions taken for them in a wide experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for
matters connected with the law. adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These customary
functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases on court.(Land Title Abstract relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid
and Trust Co. v. Dworken , 129 Ohio St. 23, 193N. E. 650). A person is also distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the order,
considered to be in the practice of law when he: can be drawn between that part of the work of the lawyer which
involves appearance in court and that part which involves advice
. . . . for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising and drafting of instruments in his office. It is of importance to the
person, firms, associations or corporations as to their right under welfare of the public that these manifold customary functions be
the law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in performed by persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of
proceedings, pending or prospective, before any court, sound moral character, and acting at all times under the heavy trust
commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or commission obligations to clients which rests upon all attorneys. (Moran,
constituted by law or authorized to settle controversies and there, in Comments on the Rules o Court, Vol. 3 [1973 ed.], pp. 665-666,
such representative capacity, performs any act or acts for the citing In Re Opinion of the Justices [Mass], 194 N. E. 313, quoted in
purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of their clients under Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 197 A.
139, 144).
The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of activities in and out of court. practice, as the weight of authority holds, is not limited merely giving legal advice,
Applying the aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, we agree with the perceptive contract drafting and so forth.
findings and observations of the aforestated bar associations that the activities of
respondent, as advertised, constitute "practice of law." The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an article published in the
January 13, 1991 issue of the Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of the Philippines
The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal support services can neither Star, entitled "Rx for Legal Problems," where an insight into the structure, main
be seriously considered nor sustained. Said proposition is belied by respondent's own purpose and operations of respondent corporation was given by its own "proprietor,"
description of the services it has been offering, to wit: Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales:

Legal support services basically consists of giving ready information This is the kind of business that is transacted everyday at The
by trained paralegals to laymen and lawyers, which are strictly non- Legal Clinic, with offices on the seventh floor of the Victoria Building
diagnostic, non-advisory, through the extensive use of computers along U. N. Avenue in Manila. No matter what the client's problem,
and modern information technology in the gathering, processing, and even if it is as complicated as the Cuneta-Concepcion domestic
storage, transmission and reproduction of information and situation, Atty. Nogales and his staff of lawyers, who, like doctors
communication, such as computerized legal research; encoding are "specialists" in various fields can take care of it. The Legal
and reproduction of documents and pleadings prepared by laymen Clinic, Inc. has specialists in taxation and criminal law, medico-legal
or lawyers; document search; evidence gathering; locating parties problems, labor, litigation, and family law. These specialist are
or witnesses to a case; fact finding investigations; and assistance to backed up by a battery of paralegals, counsellors and attorneys.
laymen in need of basic institutional services from government or
non-government agencies, like birth, marriage, property, or Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in 1984. Inspired by the trend
business registrations; educational or employment records or in the medical field toward specialization, it caters to clients who
certifications, obtaining documentation like clearances, passports, cannot afford the services of the big law firms.
local or foreign visas; giving information about laws of other
countries that they may find useful, like foreign divorce, marriage or
adoption laws that they can avail of preparatory to emigration to the The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in clients. "when they come,
foreign country, and other matters that do not involve we start by analyzing the problem. That's what doctors do also.
representation of clients in court; designing and installing computer They ask you how you contracted what's bothering you, they take
systems, programs, or software for the efficient management of law your temperature, they observe you for the symptoms and so on.
offices, corporate legal departments, courts and other entities That's how we operate, too. And once the problem has been
engaged in dispensing or administering legal services. 20 categorized, then it's referred to one of our specialists.

While some of the services being offered by respondent corporation merely involve There are cases which do not, in medical terms, require surgery or
mechanical and technical knowhow, such as the installation of computer systems and follow-up treatment. These The Legal Clinic disposes of in a matter
programs for the efficient management of law offices, or the computerization of of minutes. "Things like preparing a simple deed of sale or an
research aids and materials, these will not suffice to justify an exception to the affidavit of loss can be taken care of by our staff or, if this were a
general rule. hospital the residents or the interns. We can take care of these
matters on a while you wait basis. Again, kung baga sa hospital,
out-patient, hindi kailangang ma-confine. It's just like a common
What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives out legal information to cold or diarrhea," explains Atty. Nogales.
laymen and lawyers. Its contention that such function is non-advisory and non-
diagnostic is more apparent than real. In providing information, for example, about
foreign laws on marriage, divorce and adoption, it strains the credulity of this Court Those cases which requires more extensive "treatment" are dealt
that all the respondent corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy with accordingly. "If you had a rich relative who died and named
thereof to the client, and stop there as if it were merely a bookstore. With its attorneys you her sole heir, and you stand to inherit millions of pesos of
and so called paralegals, it will necessarily have to explain to the client the intricacies property, we would refer you to a specialist in taxation. There would
of the law and advise him or her on the proper course of action to be taken as may be be real estate taxes and arrears which would need to be put in
provided for by said law. That is what its advertisements represent and for the which order, and your relative is even taxed by the state for the right to
services it will consequently charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely within the transfer her property, and only a specialist in taxation would be
jurisprudential definition of "practice of law." Such a conclusion will not be altered by properly trained to deal with the problem. Now, if there were other
the fact that respondent corporation does not represent clients in court since law heirs contesting your rich relatives will, then you would need a
litigator, who knows how to arrange the problem for presentation in
court, and gather evidence to support the case. 21
That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to carry out its services is not education, while there are none in the Philippines. 28As the concept of the
controlling. What is important is that it is engaged in the practice of law by virtue of the "paralegals" or "legal assistant" evolved in the United States, standards and
nature of the services it renders which thereby brings it within the ambit of the guidelines also evolved to protect the general public. One of the major standards or
statutory prohibitions against the advertisements which it has caused to be published guidelines was developed by the American Bar Association which set up Guidelines
and are now assailed in this proceeding. for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education Programs (1973). Legislation has even
been proposed to certify legal assistants. There are also associations of paralegals in
Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P. WILOCI, said reported the United States with their own code of professional ethics, such as the National
facts sufficiently establish that the main purpose of respondent is to serve as a one- Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal Association. 29
stop-shop of sorts for various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal
services from simple documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings. In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and limited acceptance of what
Most of these services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather, may be considered as paralegal service. As pointed out by FIDA, some persons not
are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of law. 22 duly licensed to practice law are or have been allowed limited representation in behalf
of another or to render legal services, but such allowable services are limited in scope
It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services being offered by private and extent by the law, rules or regulations granting permission therefor. 30
respondent which constitute practice of law cannot be performed by paralegals. Only
a person duly admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial policy that, in the absence of
accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Court, and who is in good and regular constitutional or statutory authority, a person who has not been admitted as an
standing, is entitled to practice law. 23 attorney cannot practice law for the proper administration of justice cannot be
hindered by the unwarranted intrusion of an unauthorized and unskilled person into
Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly the practice of law. 31 That policy should continue to be one of encouraging persons
qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyers is who are unsure of their legal rights and remedies to seek legal assistance only from
an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper persons licensed to practice law in the state. 32
standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the
court, the client and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of
to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the court. 24 Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services
shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of
The same rule is observed in the american jurisdiction wherefrom respondent would facts. 33 He is not supposed to use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent,
wish to draw support for his thesis. The doctrines there also stress that the practice of misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim
law is limited to those who meet the requirements for, and have been admitted to, the regarding his qualifications or legal services. 34 Nor shall he pay or give something of
bar, and various statutes or rules specifically so provide. 25 The practice of law is not value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity
a lawful business except for members of the bar who have complied with all the to attract legal business. 35 Prior to the adoption of the code of Professional
conditions required by statute and the rules of court. Only those persons are allowed Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics had also warned that lawyers
to practice law who, by reason of attainments previously acquired through education should not resort to indirect advertisements for professional employment, such as
and study, have been recognized by the courts as possessing profound knowledge of furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his photograph to be
legal science entitling them to advise, counsel with, protect, or defend the rights published in connection with causes in which the lawyer has been or is engaged or
claims, or liabilities of their clients, with respect to the construction, interpretation, concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the
operation and effect of law. 26 The justification for excluding from the practice of law importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation. 36
those not admitted to the bar is found, not in the protection of the bar from
competition, but in the protection of the public from being advised and represented in The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's advertisement of his
legal matters by incompetent and unreliable persons over whom the judicial talents. A lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of his profession. advertise his
department can exercise little control.27 talents or skill as in a manner similar to a merchant advertising his goods. 37 The
prescription against advertising of legal services or solicitation of legal business rests
We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's position that the concept in on the fundamental postulate that the that the practice of law is a profession. Thus, in
the United States of paralegals as an occupation separate from the law profession be the case of The Director of Religious Affairs. vs. Estanislao R. Bayot 38 an
adopted in this jurisdiction. Whatever may be its merits, respondent cannot but be advertisement, similar to those of respondent which are involved in the present
aware that this should first be a matter for judicial rules or legislative action, and not of proceeding, 39 was held to constitute improper advertising or solicitation.
unilateral adoption as it has done.
The pertinent part of the decision therein reads:
Paralegals in the United States are trained professionals. As admitted by respondent,
there are schools and universities there which offer studies and degrees in paralegal
It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant magazine, trade journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be
violation by the respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a published in a law list the conduct, management or contents of which are calculated
brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower the dignity or standing of
127 expressly provides among other things that "the practice of the profession. 43
soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or
thru paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may
unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected
merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. with, address, telephone number and special branch of law practiced. The publication
The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and of a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the
adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or partnership, associates, firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the
offering them to the public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed in a telephone
temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers directory but not under a designation of special branch of law. 44
of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worthy and
effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . . is
the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional Verily, taking into consideration the nature and contents of the advertisements for
capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the which respondent is being taken to task, which even includes a quotation of the fees
outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.). charged by said respondent corporation for services rendered, we find and so hold
that the same definitely do not and conclusively cannot fall under any of the above-
mentioned exceptions.
We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that the best advertising possible for a
lawyer is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, which
must be earned as the outcome of character and conduct. Good and efficient service The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of Arizona, 45 which is repeatedly
to a client as well as to the community has a way of publicizing itself and catching invoked and constitutes the justification relied upon by respondent, is obviously not
public attention. That publicity is a normal by-product of effective service which is right applicable to the case at bar. Foremost is the fact that the disciplinary rule involved in
and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no artificial stimulus to generate it said case explicitly allows a lawyer, as an exception to the prohibition against
and to magnify his success. He easily sees the difference between a normal by- advertisements by lawyers, to publish a statement of legal fees for an initial
product of able service and the unwholesome result of propaganda. 40 consultation or the availability upon request of a written schedule of fees or an
estimate of the fee to be charged for the specific services. No such exception is
provided for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our former Canons of Professional
Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are prohibited. The canons of the Ethics or the present Code of Professional Responsibility. Besides, even the
profession enumerate exceptions to the rule against advertising or solicitation and disciplinary rule in the Bates case contains a proviso that the exceptions stated
define the extent to which they may be undertaken. The exceptions are of two broad therein are "not applicable in any state unless and until it is implemented by such
categories, namely, those which are expressly allowed and those which are authority in that state." 46 This goes to show that an exception to the general rule,
necessarily implied from the restrictions. 41 such as that being invoked by herein respondent, can be made only if and when the
canons expressly provide for such an exception. Otherwise, the prohibition stands, as
The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law lists, in a manner in the case at bar.
consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canons, of brief biographical
and informative data. "Such data must not be misleading and may include only a It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the American Bar Association after the
statement of the lawyer's name and the names of his professional associates; decision in Bates, on the attitude of the public about lawyers after viewing television
addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and commercials, it was found that public opinion dropped significantly 47 with respect to
place of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation, these characteristics of lawyers:
degrees and other educational distinction; public or quasi-public offices; posts of
honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar
associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal Trustworthy from 71% to 14%
fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of Professional from 71% to 14%
references; and, with their written consent, the names of clients regularly Honest from 65% to 14%
represented." 42 Dignified from 45% to 14%

The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it cannot Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present situation of our legal and judicial
be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical systems, to allow the publication of advertisements of the kind used by respondent
which is published principally for other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not would only serve to aggravate what is already a deteriorating public opinion of the
properly publish his brief biographical and informative data in a daily paper, legal profession whose integrity has consistently been under attack lately by media
and the community in general. At this point in time, it is of utmost importance in the
face of such negative, even if unfair, criticisms at times, to adopt and maintain that
level of professional conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert all efforts to
regain the high esteem formerly accorded to the legal profession.

In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of the lawyer, subject to

disciplinary action, to advertise his services except in allowable instances 48 or to aid
a layman in the unauthorized practice of law. 49 Considering that Atty. Rogelio P.
Nogales, who is the prime incorporator, major stockholder and proprietor of The Legal
Clinic, Inc. is a member of the Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded, with a
warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts which are involved in this
proceeding will be dealt with more severely.

While we deem it necessary that the question as to the legality or illegality of the
purpose/s for which the Legal Clinic, Inc. was created should be passed upon and
determined, we are constrained to refrain from lapsing into an obiter on that aspect
since it is clearly not within the adjudicative parameters of the present proceeding
which is merely administrative in nature. It is, of course, imperative that this matter be
promptly determined, albeit in a different proceeding and forum, since, under the
present state of our law and jurisprudence, a corporation cannot be organized for or
engage in the practice of law in this country. This interdiction, just like the rule against
unethical advertising, cannot be subverted by employing some so-called paralegals
supposedly rendering the alleged support services.

The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition by respondent is the concern
and province of the Solicitor General who can institute the corresponding quo
warranto action, 50 after due ascertainment of the factual background and basis for
the grant of respondent's corporate charter, in light of the putative misuse thereof.
That spin-off from the instant bar matter is referred to the Solicitor General for such
action as may be necessary under the circumstances.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN and ENJOIN herein respondent,

The Legal Clinic, Inc., from issuing or causing the publication or dissemination of any
advertisement in any form which is of the same or similar tenor and purpose as
Annexes "A" and "B" of this petition, and from conducting, directly or indirectly, any
activity, operation or transaction proscribed by law or the Code of Professional Ethics
as indicated herein. Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Office of the Solicitor General for
appropriate action in accordance herewith.

Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Davide, Jr., Romero,
Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ., concur.
B.M. No. 44 February 24, 1992 without merit considering that in his Petition of 28 June 1988,
respondent had discussed said cases quite lengthily.
EUFROSINA Y. TAN, complainant,
vs. On 27 April 1989, Complainant Tan also manifested that
NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent. Complainant Benjamin Cabigon in BM No. 59 and Complainant
Cornelio Agnis in SBC No. 624, had passed away so that they are
SBC No. 609 February 24, 1992 in no position to submit their respective Comments.
MOISES B. BOQUIA, complainant,
vs. One of the considerations we had taken into account in allowing
NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent. respondent to take his oath, was a testimonial from the IBP
Zamboanga del Norte Chapter, dated 29 December 1986, certifying
SBC No. 616 February 24, 1992 that respondent was "acting with morality and has been careful in
his actuations in the community."
HERVE DAGPIN, complainant,
vs. Complainant Tan maintains that said IBP testimonial was signed
NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent. only by the then President of the IBP, Zamboanga del Norte
Chapter, Atty. Senen O. Angeles, without authorization from the
Nelbert T. Paculan for respondent. Board of Officers of said Chapter; and that Atty. Angeles was
Moises B. Boquia for himself and Herve Dagpin. respondent's own counsel as well as the lawyer of respondent's
parents-in-law in CAR Case No. 347, Ozamiz City. Attached to
RESOLUTION Complainant's Motion for Reconsideration was a Certification,
dated 24 February 1989, signed by the IBP Zamboanga del Norte
Chapter President, Atty. Norberto L. Nuevas, stating that "the
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.: present Board of Officers with the undersigned as President had
not issued any testimonial attesting to the good moral character and
On 29 November 1983, * this Court sustained the charge of unauthorized practice of civic consciousness of Mr. Nicolas Sabandal."
law filed against respondent Sabandal and accordingly denied the latter's petition to
be allowed to take the oath as member of the Philippine Bar and to sign the Roll of In his Comment, received by the Court on 27 March 1989,
Attorneys. respondent states that the IBP testimonial referred to by
Complainant Tan must have been that signed by the former IBP
From 1984-1988, Sabandal filed Motions for Reconsideration of the aforesaid Zamboanga del Norte Chapter President, Atty. Senen O. Angeles,
Resolution, all of which were either denied or "Noted without action." The Court, addressed to the Chief Justice, dated 29 December 1986, and that
however, on 10 February 1989, after considering his plea for mercy and forgiveness, he himself had not submitted to the Court any certification from the
his willingness to reform and the several testimonials attesting to his good moral IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter Board of Officers of 1988-1989.
character and civic consciousness, reconsidered its earlier Resolution and finally
allowed him to take the lawyer's oath "with the Court binding him to his assurance that Under the circumstances, the Court has deemed it best to require
he shall strictly abide by and adhere to the language, meaning and spirit of the the present Board of Officers of the IBP, Zamboanga del Norte
Lawyer's Oath and the highest standards of the legal profession" (Yap Tan v. Chapter, to MANIFEST whether or not it is willing to give a
Sabandal, 10 February 1989, 170 SCRA 211). testimonial certifying to respondent's good moral character as to
entitle him to take the lawyer's oath, and if not, the reason therefor.
However, before a date could be set for Sabandal's oath-taking, complainants Tan, The Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga del
Dagpin and Boquia each filed separate motions for reconsideration of the Resolution Norte is likewise required to submit a COMMENT on respondent's
of 10 February 1989. These were acted upon in the Resolution of 4 July 1989 moral fitness to be a member of the Bar.
hereunder quoted, in part, for ready reference:
Compliance herewith is required within ten (10) days from notice.
On 7 April 1989, Complainant Herve Dagpin in SBC No. 616, and
Complainant Moises Boquia in SBC No. 609 also filed a Motion for Pursuant to the aforesaid Resolution, Judge Pelagio R. Lachica, Executive Judge of
Reconsideration of our Resolution allowing respondent to take his the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga del Norte, filed his Comment, dated 4 August
oath. They alleged that respondent had deliberately and maliciously 1989, and received on 25 August 1989, pertinently reading:
excluded them in his Petition of 28 June 1988. That, of course, is
The undersigned, who is not well acquainted personally with the been restored," as he had asked forgiveness for what has been done to her and that
respondent, is not aware of any acts committed by him as would she finds no necessity in pursuing her case against him. Complainant Tan further
disqualify him from admission to the Bar. It might be relevant to stated that she sees no further reason to oppose his admission to the Bar as he had
mention, however, that there is Civil Case No. 3747 entitled shown sincere repentance and reformation which she believes make him morally fit to
Republic of the Philippines, Represented by the Director of Lands, become a member of the Philippine Bar. "In view of this development," the letter
Plaintiff, versus Nicolas Sabandal, Register of Deeds of stated, "we highly recommend him for admission to the legal profession and request
Zamboanga del Norte and Rural Bank of Pinan, (Zamboanga del this Honorable Court to schedule his oath-taking at a time most convenient." This
Norte), Inc., for Cancellation of Title and/or Reversion pending in letter was Noted in the Resolution of 2 October 1990, which also required a comment
this Court in which said respondent, per complaint filed by the on Tan's letter from complainants Boquia and Dagpin.
Office of the Solicitor General, is alleged to have secured a free
patent and later a certificate of title to a parcel of land which, upon Moises Boquia, for himself, and complainant Dagpin, in their comment, dated 5
investigation, turned out to be a swampland and not susceptible of November 1990, stated thus:
acquisition under a free patent, and which he later mortgaged to the
Rural Bank of Pinan (ZN) Inc. The mortgage was later foreclosed
and the land sold at public auction and respondent has not Eufrosina Yap Tan's letter dated 15 August 1990 is a private
redeemed the land until the present. (Emphasis Supplied) personal disposition which raises the question whether personal
forgiveness is enough basis to exculpate and obliterate these
cases. On our part, we believe and maintain the importance and
The IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter also submitted a Certification, dated 2 finality of the Honorable Supreme Court's resolutions in these
February 1990, signed by its Secretary Peter Y. Co and attested to by its President cases. . . .
Gil L. Batula, to wit:
It is not within the personal competence, jurisdiction and discretion
This is to certify that based on the certifications issued by the Office of any party to change or amend said final resolutions which are
of the Clerk of CourtMunicipal Trial Court in the City of Dipolog; already res judicata. Viewed in the light of the foregoing final and
Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga del Norte and the Office of the executory resolutions, these cases therefore should not in the least
Provincial and City Prosecutors, Mr. Nicolas E. Sabandal has not be considered as anything which is subject and subservient to the
been convicted of any crime, nor is there any pending derogatory changing moods and dispositions of the parties, devoid of any
criminal case against him. Based on the above findings, the Board permanency or finality. Respondent's scheming change in tactics
does not find any acts committed by the petitioner to disqualify him and strategy could not improve his case.
from admission to the Philippine Bar.
The above was "Noted" in the Resolution of 29 November 1990.
We required the complainants to comment on the aforesaid IBP Certification and to
reply to Executive Judge Pelagio Lachica's comment in our Resolution of 15 February
1990. In compliance with the Resolution of 2 October 1990, Judge Pacifico M. Garcia,
Regional Trial Court Judge of Branch 8, Dipolog City (who apparently succeeded
Judge Pelagio Lachica, the latter having availed of optional retirement on 30 June
On 17 April 1990, after taking note of the unrelenting vehement objections of 1990) submitted to this Court, on 17 December 1990, a copy of the "Judgment," dated
complainants Tan (in BM 44) and Boquia (in SBC 616) and the Certification by 12 December 1990, in Civil Case 3747, entitled "Republic of the Philippines v. Nicolas
Executive Judge Lachica, dated 4 August 1989, that there is a pending case before Sabandal et al" for Cancellation of Title and/or Reversion, which, according to him,
his Court involving respondent Sabandal, this Court resolved to DEFER the setting of was already considered closed and terminated.
a date for the oath-taking of respondent Sabandal and required Judge Lachica to
inform this Court of the outcome of the case entitled Republic v. Sabandal, (Civil Case
3747), pending before his "Sala" as soon as resolved. Said judgment reveals that an amicable settlement, dated 24 October 1990, had been
reached between the principal parties, approved by the Trial Court, and conformed to
by the counsel for defendant Rural Bank of Pinan.
In the meantime, on 18 April 1990, the Court received another Comment, dated 13
March 1990, by complainant Herve Dagpin in SBC 609, vehemently objecting to the
oath-taking of respondent Sabandal and describing his actuations in Civil Case 3747 Briefly, the said amicable settlement cancelled the Original Certificate of Title under
as manipulative and surreptitious. This comment was Noted in the Resolution of 22 Free Patent in Sabandal's name and the latter's mortgage thereof in favor of the Rural
May 1990. Bank of Pinan; provided for the surrender of the certificate of title to the Register of
Deeds for proper annotation; reverted to the mass of public domain the land covered
by the aforesaid Certificate of' Title with defendant Sabandal refraining from
In a letter, addressed to the Chief Justice, dated 15 August 1990, complainant Tan in exercising acts of possession or ownership over said land; caused the defendant
Bar Matter 44, informed the Court that her relationship with Sabandal has "already
Sabandal to pay defendant Rural Bank of Pinan the sum of P35,000 for the loan and prayed that judgment be rendered in accordance therewith, "as the amicable
interest; and the Rural Bank of Pinan to waive its cross-claims against defendant settlement may amount to a confession by the defendant" (Rollo, supra). It must also
Nicolas Sabandal. be stressed that in 1985, at the time said case was instituted, Sabandal's petition to
take the lawyer's oath had already been denied on 29 November 1983 and he was
Judge Pacifico Garcia's letter and the afore-mentioned Judgment were NOTED in our then submitting to this Court motions for reconsideration alleging his good moral
Resolution of 29 January 1991. In the same Resolution, complainants Tan, Boquia character without, however, mentioning the pendency of that civil case against him.
and Dagpin were required to comment on the same.
In view of the nature of that case and the circumstances attending its termination, the
Upon request of Sabandal, a certification, dated 20 December 1990, was sent by Court now entertains second thoughts about respondent's fitness to become a
Executive judge Jesus Angeles of the RTC of Zamboanga del Norte, certifying that member of the Bar.
Sabandal has no pending case with his Court and that he has no cause to object to
his admission to the Philippine Bar. This was "Noted" in the Resolution of 26 February It should be recalled that Sabandal worked as Land Investigator at the Bureau of
1991. Lands. Said employment facilitated his procurement of the free patent title over
property which he could not but have known was public land. This was manipulative
Meanwhile, Sabandal reiterated his prayer to be allowed to take the lawyer's oath in a on his part and does not speak well of his moral character. It is a manifestation of
Motion dated 8 June 1991. In our Resolution of 1 August 1991, we deferred action on gross dishonesty while in the public service, which can not be erased by the
the aforesaid Motion pending compliance by the complainants with the Resolution of termination of the case filed by the Republic against him where no determination of
29 January 1991 requiring them to comment on the letter of Judge Pacifico M. Garcia. his guilt or innocence was made because the suit had been compromised. Although
as the Solicitor General had pointed out, the amicable settlement was tantamount to a
confession on his part. What is more, he could not but have known of the intrinsic
To date, only complainant Tan has complied with the said Resolution by submitting a invalidity of his title and yet he took advantage of it by securing a bank loan,
Comment, dated 29 August 1991, stating that the termination of Civil Case No. 3747 mortgaging it as collateral, and notwithstanding the foreclosure of the mortgage and
is "proof of Sabandal's sincere reformation, of his repentance with restitution of the the sale of the land at public auction, he did not lift a finger to redeem the same until
rights of complainants he violated," and that "there is no more reason to oppose his the civil case filed against him was eventually compromised. This is a sad reflection
admission to the Bar." This was "Noted" in the Resolution of 24 September 1991. on his sense of honor and fair dealing. His failure to reveal to this Court the pendency
of the civil case for Reversion filed against him during the period that he was
In a Manifestation, dated 6 December 1991, Sabandal reiterates his plea to be submitting several Motions for Reconsideration before us also reveal his lack of
allowed to take the Lawyer's Oath. candor and truthfulness.

His plea must be DENIED. There are testimonials attesting to his good moral character, yes. But these were
confined to lack of knowledge of the pendency of any criminal case against him and
In our Resolution of 10 February 1989, Sabandal was allowed to take the oath, ten were obviously made without awareness of the facts and circumstances surrounding
(10) years having elapsed from the time he took and passed the 1976 Bar the case instituted by the Government against him. Those testimonials can not,
examinations, after careful consideration of his show of contrition and willingness to therefore, outweigh nor smother his acts of dishonesty and lack of good moral
reform. Also taken cognizance of were the several testimonials attesting to his good character.
moral character and civic consciousness. At that time, we had not received the
objections from complainant Tan to Sabandal's taking the oath nor were we aware of That the other complainants, namely, Moises Boquia (in SBC 606) and Herve Dagpin
the gravity of the civil case against him. (in SBC 619) have not submitted any opposition to his motion to take the oath, is of
no moment. They have already expressed their objections in their earlier comments.
It turns out that Civil Case No. 3747 entitled "Republic of the Philippines v. Nicolas That complainant Tan has withdrawn her objection to his taking the oath can neither
Sabandal" was instituted by the Government in 1985 and was brought about because tilt the balance in his favor, the basis of her complaint treating as it does of another
of respondent's procurement of a certificate of free patent over a parcel of land subject matter.
belonging to the public domain and its use as security for a mortgage in order to
obtain a loan. At that time, Sabandal was an employee of the Bureau of Lands. He did Time and again, it has been held that the practice of law is not a matter of right. It is a
not submit any defense and was declared it default by order of the RTC dated 26 privilege bestowed upon individuals who are not only learned in the law but who are
November 1986. The controversy was eventually settled by mere compromise with also known to possess good moral character:
respondent surrendering the bogus certificate of title to the government and paying-off
the mortgagor, "to buy peace and forestall further expenses of litigation incurred by The Supreme Court and the Philippine Bar have always tried to
defendants" (Rollo, Judgment in Civil Case No. 3747). The Office of the Solicitor maintain a high standard for the legal profession, both in academic
General interposed no objection to the approval of the said amicable settlement and preparation and legal training as well as in honesty and fair dealing.
The Court and the licensed lawyers themselves are vitally
interested in keeping this high standard; and one of the ways of
achieving this end is to admit to the practice of this noble profession
only those persons who are known to be honest and to possess
good moral character. . . . (In re Parazo, 82 Phil. 230).

Although the term "good moral character" admits of broad dimensions, it has been
defined as "including at least common honesty" (Royong v. Oblena, Adm. Case No.
376, April 30, 1963, 7 SCRA 859; In re Del Rosario, 52 Phil. 399 [1928]). It has also
been held that no moral qualification for bar membership is more important than
truthfulness or candor (Fellner v. Bar Association of Baltimore City, 131 A. 2d 729).

WHEREFORE, finding respondent Sabandal to be unfit to become a member of the

BAR, this Court's Resolution, dated 10 February 1989 is RECALLED and his prayer
to be allowed to take the lawyer's oath is hereby denied.


Narvasa, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino,
Medialdea, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero and Nocon, JJ., concur.
G.R. No. L-77691 August 8,1988 Sometime thereafter, the petitioner and the private respondent met to discuss relief
for the latter with respect to his liability to L & R Corporation on the one hand, and his
PATERNO R. CANLAS, petitioner, obligation to the petitioner on the other. The petitioner contends that the private
vs. respondent "earnestly implored" 6 him to redeem the said properties; the private
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, and FRANCISCO HERRERA, respondents. respondent maintains that it was the petitioner himself who 'offered to advance the
money," 7 provided that he, the private respondent, executed a "transfer of
mortgage" 8 over the properties in his favor. Who implored whom is a bone of
Paterno R. Canlas Law Offices for petitioner. contention, but as we shall see shortly, we are inclined to agree with the private
Abalos, Gatdula & Bermejo for private respondent. respondent's version, considering primarily the petitioner's moral ascendancy over his
client and the private respondent's increasing desperation.
The records further show that the parties, pursuant to their agreement, executed a
The case dramatizes the unpleasant spectacle of a lawyer tangling with his own "Deed of Sale and Transfer of Rights of Redemption and/or to Redeem," a document
client, more often than not, in the matter of fees. The lawyer, the petitioner himself, that enabled the petitioner, first, to redeem the parcels in question, and secondly, to
would have his petition decided on pure questions of procedure, yet, the Court cannot register the same in his name. The private respondent alleges that he subsequently
let pass unnoticed the murkier face of the controversy, wherein the law is corrupted to filed loan applications with the Family Savings Bank to finance a wet market project
promote a lawyer's selfseeking ends, and the law profession, debased into a simple upon the subject premises to find, according to him, and to his dismay, the properties
business dealing. Accordingly, we resolve it on the basis not only of the questions already registered in the name of the petitioner. He likewise contends that the "Deed
raised by the petitioner pertaining to procedure, but considering its serious ethical of Sale and Transfer of Rights of Redemption and/or to Redeem" on file with the
implications, on its merits as well. Register of Deeds (for Quezon City) had been falsified as follows:

We turn to the facts. WHEREFORE, for and in full settlement of the attorney's fees of
The private respondent was the registered owner of eight (six, according to the PESOS (Pl00,000.00) I, FRANCISCO HERRERA, hereby transfer,
petitioner) parcels of land located in Quezon City. 1 Between 1977 and 1978, 2 he assign and convey unto TRANSFEREE, Atty. Paterno R. Canlas,
obtained various loans from the L & R Corporation, a financing institution, in various any and all my rights of the real properties and/or to redeem from
sums totalling P420,000.00 As security therefor, he executed deeds of mortgage in the Mortgagee, L & R Corporation my mortgaged properties
favor of the corporation over the parcels aforesaid. On August 28,1979, and upon the foreclosed and sold at public auction by the Sheriff of Quezon City
maturing of said loans, the firm caused an extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage and subject matter of the above Compromise Agreement in Civil
following his failure to pay, as a consequence of which, the said eight (six, according Case No. Q30679 ... 9
to the petitioner) parcels of land were disposed of at public auction, and in which L &
R Corporation was itself the highest bidder. whereas it originally reads:

Pending redemption, the private respondent filed a complaint for injunction against L WHEREFORE, for and in full settlement of the attorney's fees of
& R Corporation, to enjoin consolidation of title in its name, in which he succeeded in TRANSFEREE in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND
obtaining preliminary injunctive relief. He was represented by the petitioner. Two PESOS (P100,000.00), I, FRANCISCO HERRERA, hereby
years later, and with no imminent end to the litigation in sight, the parties entered into transfer, assign and convey unto TRANSFEREE, Atty. Paterno R.
a compromise agreement whereby L & R Corporation accorded the private Canlas, any and all my rights of equity of redemption and/or to
respondent another year to redeem the foreclosed properties subject to payment of redeem from the Mortgagee, L & R Corporation my mortgaged
P600,000.00, with interest thereon at one per cent per month. They likewise properties foreclosed and sold at public auction by the Sheriff of
stipulated that the petitioner shall be entitled to attorney's fees of P100,000.00. On Quezon City and subject matter of the above Compromise
November 19, 1982, the court 3 approved the compromise. Agreement in Civil Case No. Q30679. . .10

The private respondent, however, remained in dire financial straits a fact the As a consequence, the private respondent caused the annotation of an adverse claim
petitioner himself concede 4 for which reason he failed to acquire the finding to upon the respective certificates of title embracing the properties. Upon learning of the
repay the loans in question, let alone the sum of P100,000.00 in attorney's fees same, the petitioner moved for the cancellation of the adverse claim and for the
demanded by the petitioner. That notwithstanding, the petitioner moved for execution issuance of a writ of possession. The court granted both motions. The private
insofar as his fees were concemed. The court granted execution, although it does not respondent countered with a motion for a temporary restraining order and later, a
appear that the sum was actually collected. 5 motion to recall the writ of possession. He likewise alleges that he commenced
disbarment proceedings before this Court against the petitioner 11 as well as various
criminal complaints for estafa, falsification, and "betrayal of trust" 12 with the PETITION FOR CERTIORARI FILED OUT OF TIME AND SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN
Department of Justice. On December 1, 1983, finally, he instituted an action for DUE COURSE.
reconveyance and reformation of document, 13praying that the certificates of title
issued in the name of the petitioner be cancelled and that "the Deed of Sale and II.
Transfer of Rights of Equity of Redemption and/or to Redeem dated May 3, 1983 ...
be reformed to reflect the true agreement of Francisco Herrera and Paterno R.
Canlas, of a mortgage." 14 He vehemently maintains that the petitioner's "agreement THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ABUSE [sic] ITS DISCRETION IN NOT
with [him] was that the latter would lend the money to the former for a year, so that DISMISSING AC G.R. NO. 07860 ON THE GROUND OF RES JUDICATA
[petitioner] would have time to look for a loan for the wet market which [the petitioner]
intended to put up on said property." 15 Predictably, the petitioner moved for III.
The trial court, however, denied the private respondent's petition. It held that the CONSIDERING AC G. R. 07860 AS MOOT AND ACADEMIC SINCE PETITIONER
alteration complained of did not change the meaning of the contract since it was "well HAD DISPOSED OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTIES LONG BEFORE THE FILING OF
within [the petitioner's] rights" 16 "to protect and insure his interest of P654,000.00 THIS SUIT.
which is the redemption price he has paid;" 17 secondly, that the petitioner himself had
acquired an interest in the properties subject of reconveyance based on the IV
compromise agreement approved by Judge Castro in the injunction case, pursuant to
Section 29(b), of Rule 39, of the Rules of Court, that had, consequently, made him a
judgment creditor in his own right; thirdly, that the private respondent had lost all THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN NOT
rights over the same arising from his failure to redeem them from L & R Corporation DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO DISMISS SOLELY ON THE GROUND THAT
within the extended period; and finally, that the petitioner cannot be said to have THE ARGUMENT RAISED THEREIN ARE BUT REHASH OF THE ARGUMENTS IN
violated the ban against sales of properties in custodia legis to lawyers by their HIS COMMENT TO THE PETITION. 21
clients pendente lite, since the sale in question took place after judgment in the
injunction case abovesaid had attained finality. The complaint was consequently The petitioner argues that the petition pending with the respondent court "is actually a
dismissed, a dismissal that eventually attained a character of finality. petition for certiorari," 22disguised as a pleading for annulment of judgment and that in
such a case, it faces alleged legal impediments (1) It had been filed out of time,
Undaunted, the private respondent, on December 6, 1985, filed a suit for "Annulment allegedly two years from the issuance of the assailed orders, and (2) It was not
Of Judgment 18 in the respondent Court of Appeals, 19 praying that the orders of preceded by a motion for reconsideration. He adds that assuming annulment of
Judge Castro: (1). granting execution over the portion of the compromise agreement judgment were proper, no judgment allegedly exists for annulment, the aforesaid two
obliging the private respondent to pay the petitioner P100,000.00 as attorney's fees; orders being in the nature of interlocutory issuances.
(2) denying the private respondent's prayer for a restraining order directed against the
execution: and (3) denying the motion to recall writ of possession, all be set aside. On purely technical grounds, the petitioner's arguments are impressive. Annulment of
judgment, we have had occasion to rule, rests on a single ground: extrinsic fraud.
The petitioner filed a comment on the petition, but followed it up with a motion to What "extrinsic fraud" means is explained in Macabingkil v. People's Homesite and
dismiss. On December 8, 1986, the respondent Court of Appeals promulgated the Housing Corporation : 23
first of its challenged resolutions, denying the motion to dismiss. On March 3, 1987,
the Appellate Court denied reconsideration. 20 xxx xxx xxx

Hence the instant petition. It is only extrinsic or collateral fraud, as distinguished from intrinsic
fraud, however, that can serve as a basis for the annulment of
As we stated, the petitioner assails these twin resolutions on grounds of improper judgment. Fraud has been regarded as extrinsic or collateral, within
procedure. Specifically, he assigns the following errors: the meaning of the rule, "where it is one the effect of which
prevents a party from having a trial, or real contest, or from
presenting all of his case to the court, or where it operates upon
I. matters pertaining, not to the judgment itself, but of the manner in
which it was procured so that there is not a fair submission of the
THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ABUSE [sic] ITS DISCRETION IN NOT controversy." In other words, extrinsic fraud refers to any fraudulent
DISMISSING AC G.R. NO. 07860 ON THE GROUND THAT IT IS IN REALITY A act of the prevailing party in the litigation which is committed
outside of the trial of the case, whereby the defeated party has
been prevented from exhibiting fully his side of the case, by fraud or Art. 1330. A contract where consent is given through mistake,
deception practiced on him by his opponent. 24 violence, intimidation, undue influence, or fraud is voidable.

A perusal of the petition of therein private respondent Herrera pending before the in relation to its provisions on avoidance of'contracts. 30 The court notes that he had,
respondent Court reveals no cause of action for annulment of judgment. In the first for this purpose, gone to the Regional Trial Court, a vain effort as we stated, and in
place, and as herein petitioner Canlas correctly points out, the judgment itself is not which the decision had become final.
assailed, but rather, the orders merely implementing it. Secondly, there is no showing
that extrinsic fraud, as Makabingkil defines it, indeed vitiated the proceedings We, however, sustain Atty. Canlas' position-on matters of procedure for the
presided over by Judge Castro. On the contrary, Herrera's petition in the respondent enlightenment solely of the bench and the bar. It does not mean that we find merit in
court will show that he was privy to the incidents he complains of, and in fact, had his petition. As we have intimated, we cannot overlook the unseemlier side of the
entered timely oppositions and motions to defeat Atty. Canlas' claims under the proceeding, in which a member of the bar would exploit his mastery of procedural law
compromise agreement. to score a "technical knockout" over his own client, of all people. Procedural rules,
after all, have for their object assistance unto parties "in obtaining just, speedy, and
What he objects to is his suspected collusion between Atty. Canlas and His Honor to inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding." 31If procedure were to be
expedite the former's collection of his fees. He alleges that his counsel had an impediment to such an objective, "it deserts its proper office as an aid to justice
deliberately, and with malevolent designs, postponed execution to force him (Herrera) and becomes its great hindrance and chief enemy." 32 It was almost eight decades
to agree to sell the properties in controversy to him (Atty. Canlas) subject to ago that the Court held:
redemption. ("...[I]t was understandable that respondent Atty. Paterno R. Canlas did
not implement the writ of execution, instead he contacted petitioner in order that ... A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more
petitioner would sign the questioned documents. This was the clincher of the plan of deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and
respondent Atty, Paterno R. Canlas to divest petitioner of his properties. For this position, entraps and destroys the other. It is, rather, a contest in
purpose, it is obvious that respondent Atty. Paterno R. Canlas had to conspire with which each contending party fully and fairly lays before the court
the respondent court judge to achieve his plan." 25) Aside from being plain the facts in issue and then, brushing aside as wholly trivial and
speculation, it is no argument to justify annulment. Clearly, it does not amount to indecisive all imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure,
extrinsic fraud as the term is defined in law. asks that justice be done upon the merits. Lawsuits, unlike duels,
are not to be won by the a rapier's thrust ... 33
Neither is it proper for the extraordinary remedy of certiorari. Certiorari presupposes
the absence of an appeal 26 and while there is no appeal from execution of judgment, It is a ruling that almost eight decades after it was rendered, holds true as ever.
appeal lies in case of irregular implementation of the writ. 27 In the case at bar, there
is no irregular execution to speak of As a rule, "irregular execution" means the failure
of the writ to conform to the decree of the decision executed. 28 In the instant case, By Atty. Canlas' own account, "due to lack of paying capacity of respondent Herrera,
respondent Herrera's charges, to wit, that Judge Castro had erred in denying his no financing entity was willing to extend him any loan with which to pay the
motions for temporary restraining order and to recall writ of possession, or that His redemption price of his mortgaged properties and petitioner's P100,000.00 attorney's
Honor had acted hastily (". . . that respondent court/judge took only one [1) day to fees awarded in the Compromise Judgment," 34 a development that should have
resolve petitioner's motion for issuance of [a] [restraining] order. . ." 29) in denying his tempered his demand for his fees. For obvious reasons, he placed his interests over
twofold motions, do not make out a case for irregular execution. The orders impugned and above those of his client, in opposition to his oath to "conduct himself as a lawyer
are conformable to the letter of the judgment approving the parties'compromise ... with all good fidelity ... to [his] clients." 35 The Court finds the occasion fit to stress
agreement. that lawyering is not a moneymaking venture and lawyers are not merchants, a
fundamental standard that has, as a matter of judicial notice, eluded not a few law
advocates. The petitioner's efforts partaking of a shakedown" of his own client are not
The lengths the private respondent, Francisco Herrera, would go to in a last-ditch bid becoming of a lawyer and certainly, do not speak well of his fealty to his oath to
to hold on to his lands and constraints of economic privation have not been lost on us. "delay no man for money." 36
It is obvious that he is uneasy about the judgment on compromise itself, as well as the
subsequent contract between him and his lawyer. In such a case, Article 2038 of the
Civil Code applies: It is true that lawyers are entitled to make a living, in spite of the fact that the practice
of law is not a commercial enterprise; but that does not furnish an excuse for plain lust
for material wealth, more so at the expense of another. Law advocacy, we reiterate, is
Art. 2038. A compromise in which there is mistake, fraud, violence not capital that yields profits. The returns it births are simple rewards for a job done or
intimidation, undue influence, or falsity of documents, is subject to service rendered. It is a calling that, unlike mercantile pursuits which enjoy a greater
the provisions of article 1330 of this Code ... deal of freedom from government interference, is impressed with a public interest, for
which it is subject to State regulation. 37 Anent attomey's fees, section 24, of Rule
in relation to Article 1330 thereof: 138, of the Rules, provides in part as follows:
SEC. 24. Compensation of attorneys, agreement as to fees. An The Court notes a hidden agenda in the petitioner's haste to execute the compromise
attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client no agreement and subsequently, to force the transfer of the properties to himself. As we
more than a reasonable compensation for his services, with a view have observed, in spite of the issuance of the writ of execution, it does not appear
to the importance of the subject matter of the controversy, the that the petitioner took pains to implement it. We find this perplexing given his
extent of the services rendered, and the professional standing of passionate and persistent pleas that he was entitled to the proceeds. There can
the attorney... A written contract for services shall control the indeed be no plausible explanation other than to enable him to keep an "ace" against
amount to be paid therefor unless found by the court to be the private respondent that led finally, to the conveyance of the properties in his favor.
unconscionable or unreasonable. To be sure, he would have us beheve that by redeeming the same from the
mortgagee and by in fact parting with his own money he had actually done the private
So also it is decreed by Article 2208 of the Civil Code, reproduced in part, as follows: respondent a favor, but this is to assume that he did not get anything out of the
transaction. Indeed, he himself admits that "[t]itles to the properties have been issued
to the new owners long before the filing of private respondents [sic] petition for
Art. 2208 ... annulment." 41 To say that he did not profit therefrom is to take either this Court or the
petitioner for naive, a proposition this Court is not prepared to accept under the
In all cases, the attorney's fees and expenses of litigation must be circumstances.
We are likewise convinced that it was the petitioner who succeeded in having the
We do not find the petitioner's claim of attorney's fees in the sum of P100,000.00 private respondent sign the "Deed of Sale and Transfer of Rights of Equity of
reasonable. We do not believe that it satisfies the standards set forth by the Rules. Redemption and/or to Redeem," a pre-prepared document apparently, that allowed
The extent of the services he had rendered in Civil Case No. 30679, and as far as the him (the petitioner) to exercise the right of redemption over the properties and to all
records will yield, is not impressive to justify payment of such a gargantuan amount. intents and purposes, acquire ownership thereof. As we have earlier averred, the
The case itself moreover did not involve complex questions of fact or law that would private respondent, by reason of bankruptcy, had become an easy quarry to his
have required substantial effort as to research or leg work for the petitioner to warrant counsel's moral influence and ascendancy. We are hard put to believe that it was the
his demands. The fact that the properties subject thereof commanded quite private respondent who "earnestly implored" 42 him to undertake the redemption amid
handsome prices in the market should not be a measure of the importance or non- the former's obstinate attempts to keep his lands that have indeed led to the multiple
importance of the case. We are not likewise persuaded that the petitioner's stature suits the petitioner now complains of, apart from the fact that the latter himself had
warrants the sum claimed. something to gain from the transaction, as alluded to above. We are of the opinion
that in ceding his right of redemption, the private respondent had intended merely to
All things considered, we reduce the petitioner's fees, on a quantum meruit basis, to forestall the total loss of the parcels to the mortgagee upon the understanding that his
P20,000.00. counsel shall acquire the same and keep them therefore within reach, subject to
redemption by his client under easier terms and conditions. Surely, the petitioner
himself would maintain that he agreed to make the redemption"in order that [he] may
It is futile to invoke the rule granting attorneys a lien upon the things won in litigation already be paid the P100,000.00 attorney's fees awarded him in the Compromise
similar to that vested upon redemptioners. 38 To begin with, the rule refers to realty Agreement," 43 and if his sole concern was his fees, there was no point in keeping the
sold as a result of execution in satisfaction of judgment. In this case, however, properties in their entirety.
redemption was decreed by agreement (on compromise) between the mortgagor and
mortgagee. It did not give the petitioner any right to the properties themselves, much
less the right of redemption, although provisions for his compensation were The Court simply cannot fag for the petitioner's pretensions that he acquired the
purportedly provided. It did not make him a redemptioner for the plain reason that he properties as a gesture of magnanimity and altruism He denies, of course, having
was not named one in the amicable settlement. To this extent, we reverse Judge made money from it, but what he cannot dispute is the fact that he did resell the
Pedro Santiago's ruling in Civil Case No. 40066, recognizing Atty. Canlas' "legal right, properties. 44
independent of the questioned deed of sale and transfer which was executed
subsequently on May 3, 1983, to redeem the subject realty from the L & R But if he did not entertain intents of making any profit, why was it necessary to reword
Corporation pursuant to Sec. 29 (b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court." 39 Whatever right the conveyance document executed by the private respondent? It shall be recalled
he had, it was, arguably with respect alone to his renumeration. It did not extend to that the deed, as originally drafted, provided for conveyance of the private
the lands. respondent's "rights of equity of redemption and/or redeem" 45 the properties in his
favor, whereas the instrument registered with the Register of Deeds purported to
Secondly, and assuming that such a right exists, it must be in proportion to the transfer "any and all my rights of the real properties and/or to redeem," 46 in his favor.
"just fees and disbursements" 40 due him. It is still subject to the tempering hand of He admits having entered the intercalations in question but argues that he did so "to
this Court. facilitate the registration of the questioned deed with the Register of Deeds" 47 and
that it did not change the meaning of the paper, for which Judge Santiago acquitted
him of any falsification charges. 48 To start with, the Court is at a loss how such an
alteration could "facilitate" registration. Moreover, if it did not change the tenor of the Ababa 51 however, we said that the prohibition does not apply to contingent contracts,
deed, why was it necessary then? And why did he not inform his client? At any rate, in which the conveyance takes place after judgment, so that the property can no
the agreement is clearly a contract of adhesion. Its provisions should be read against longer be said to be "subject of litigation."
the party who prepared it.
In the instant case, the Court observes that the "Deed of Sale and Transfer of Rights
But while we cannot hold the petitioner liable for falsification this is not the proper of Equity of Redemption and/or to Redeem" was executed following the finality of the
occasion for it we condemn him nonetheless for infidelity to his oath "to do no decision approving the compromise agreement. It is actually a new contract not
falsehood" 49 one in pursuance of what had been agreed upon on compromise in which, as we
said, the petitioner purportedly assumed redemption rights over the disputed
This brings us to the final question: Whether or not the conveyance in favor of the properties (but in reality, acquired absolute ownership thereof). By virtue of such a
petitioner is subject to the ban on acquisition by attorneys of things in litigation. The subsequent agreement, the lands had ceased to be properties which are "the object
pertinent provisions of the Civil Code state as follows: of any litigation." Parenthetically, the Court states that a writ of possession is improper
to eject another from possession unless sought in connection with: (1) a land
registration proceeding; (2) an extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage of real property;
Art. 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even (3) in a judicial foreclosure of property provided that the mortgagor has possession
at a public or judicial action, either in person or through the and no third party has intervened; and (4) in execution sales. 52 It is noteworthy that in
mediation of another: this case, the petitioner moved for the issuance of the writ pursuant to the deed of
sale between him and the private respondent and not the judgment on compromise.
(1) The guardian, the property of the person or persons who may (He was, as we said, issued a writ of execution on the compromise agreement but as
be under his guardianship; we likewise observed, he did not have the same enforced. The sale agreement
between the parties, it should be noted, superseded the compromise.) The writ does
(2) Agents, the property whose administration or sale may have not lie in such a case. His remedy is specific performance.
been intrusted to them, unless the consent of the principal have
been given; At any rate, the transfer, so we hold, is not subject to the injunction of Article 1491 of
the Civil Code. But like all voidable contracts, it is open to annulment on the ground of
(3) Executors and administrators, the property of the estate under mistake, fraud, or undue influence, 53 which is in turn subject to the right of innocent
administration; purchasers for value. 54

(4) Public officers and employees, the property of the State or of For this reason, we invalidate the transfer in question specifically for undue influence
any subdivision thereof, or of any government owned or controlled as earlier detailed. While the respondent Herrera has not specifically prayed for
corporation, or institution, the administration of which has been invalidation, this is the clear tenor of his petition for annulment in the Appellate Court.
instrusted to them; this provision shall apply to judges and It appearing, however, that the properties have been conveyed to third persons whom
government experts who, in any manner whatsoever, take part in we presume to be innocent purchasers for value, the petitioner, Atty. Paterno Canlas,
the sale; must be held liable, by way of actual damages, for such a loss of properties.

(5) Justice judges prosecuting attorneys clerks of superior and We are not, however, condoning the private respondent's own shortcomings. In
inferior courts, and other officers and employees connected with the condemning Atty. Canlas monetarily, we cannot overlook the fact that the private
administration of justice, the property and rights in litigation or respondent has not settled his hability for payment of the properties. To hold Atty.
levied upon an execution before the court within whose jurisdiction Canlas alone liable for damages is to enrich said respondent at the expense of his
or territory they exercise their respective functions; this prohibition lawyer. The parties must then set off their obligations against the other. To obviate
includes the act of acquiring by assignment and shall apply to debate as the actual amounts owing by one to the other, we hold Francisco Herrera,
lawyers, with respect to the property and rights which may be the the private respondent, liable to Atty. Paterno Canlas, the petitioner, in the sum of
object of any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their P654,000.00 representing the redemption price of the properties, 55 in addition to the
profession. sum of P20,000. 00 as and for attomey's fees. We order Atty. Canlas, in turn, to pay
the respondent Herrera the amount of P1,000,000.00, the sum he earned from the
resale thereof, 56 such that he shall, after proper adjustments, be indebted to his client
(6) Any others specially disqualified by law.** in the sum of P326,000.00 as and for damages.

In Rubias v. Batiller, 50 we declared such contracts to be void by force of Article 1409, Needless to say, we sustain the action of the respondent Court of Appeals in taking
paragraph (7), of the Civil Code, defining inexistent contracts. In Director of Lands v. cognizance of the petition below. But as we have stated, we are compelled, as the
final arbiter of justiciable cases and in the highest interests ofjustice, to write finis to
the controversy that has taxed considerably the dockets of the inferior courts.

Let the Court further say that while its business is to settle actual controversies and as
a matter of general policy, to leave alone moot ones, its mission is, first and foremost,
to dispense justice. At the outset, we have made clear that from a technical vantage
point, certiorari, arguably lies, but as we have likewise stated, the resolution of the
case rests not only on the mandate of technical rules, but if the decision is to have
any real meaning, on the merits too. This is not the first time we would have done so;
in many cases we have eschewed the rigidity of the Rules of Court if it would
establish a barrier upon the administration ofjustice. It is especially so in the case at
bar, in which no end to suit and counter-suit appears imminent and for which it is high
time that we have the final say. We likewise cannot, as the overseer of good conduct
in both the bench and the bar, let go unpunished what convinces us as serious
indiscretions on the part of a lawyer.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered.

1. ORDERING the petitioner, Atty. Patemo Canlas, to pay to the private respondent,
Francisco Herrera, the sum of P326,000.00, as and for damages;

2. ORDERING the petitioner to SHOW CAUSE why no disciplinary action may be

imposed on him for violation of his oath, as a lawyer, within ten (10) days from notice,
after which the same will be consolidated with AC No. 2625;

3. DISMISSING this petition and REMANDING the case to the respondent Court of
Appeals for execution; and

4. ORDERING the petitioner to pay costs.


Melencio-Herrera (Chairperson) and Medialdea, ** JJ., concur.

Paras and Padilla, JJ., took no part.
G.R. No. L-23815 June 28, 1974 was allegedly committed on February 17, 1962, with the proceedings having started
in the municipal court of Cadiz on July 11, 1962. Then respondent Judge spoke of his
ADELINO H. LEDESMA, petitioner, order of October 16, 1964 which reads thus: "In view of the objection of the
vs. prosecution to the motion for postponement of October 15, 1964 (alleging that
HON. RAFAEL C. CLIMACO, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of counsel for the accused cannot continue appearing in this case without the express
Negros Occidental, Branch I, Silay City, respondent. authority of the Commission on Elections); and since according to the prosecution
there are two witnesses who are ready to take the stand, after which the government
would rest, the motion for postponement is denied. When counsel for the accused
Adelino H. Ledesma in his own behalf. assumed office as Election Registrar on October 13, 1964, he knew since October 2,
Hon. Rafael C. Climaco in his own behalf. 1964 that the trial would be resumed today. Nevertheless, in order not to prejudice the
civil service status of counsel for the accused, he is hereby designated counsel de
FERNANDO, J.: oficio for the accused. The defense obtained postponements on May 17, 1963, June
13, 1963, June 14, 1963, October 28, 1963, November 27, 1963, February 11, 1964,
What is assailed in this certiorari proceeding is an order of respondent Judge denying March 9, 1964, June 8, 1964 July 26, 1964, and September 7, 1964." 4 Reference was
a motion filed by petitioner to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio.1One of the then made to another order of February 11, 1964: "Upon petition of Atty. Adelino H.
grounds for such a motion was his allegation that with his appointment as Election Ledesma, alleging indisposition, the continuation of the trial of this case is hereby
Registrar by the Commission on Elections, he was not in a position to devote full time transferred to March 9, 1964 at 8:30 in the morning. The defense is reminded that at
to the defense of the two accused. The denial by respondent Judge of such a plea, its instance, this case has been postponed at least eight (8) times, and that the
notwithstanding the conformity of the defendants, was due "its principal effect [being] government witnesses have to come all the way from Manapala." 5 After which, it was
to delay this case."2 It was likewise noted that the prosecution had already rested and noted in such order that there was no incompatibility between the duty of petitioner to
that petitioner was previously counsel de parte, his designation in the former category the accused and to the court and the performance of his task as an election registrar
being precisely to protect him in his new position without prejudicing the accused. It of the Commission on Elections and that the ends of justice "would be served by
cannot be plausibly asserted that such failure to allow withdrawal of de oficio counsel allowing and requiring Mr. Ledesma to continue as counsel de oficio, since the
could ordinarily be characterized as a grave abuse of discretion correctible by prosecution has already rested its case."6
certiorari. There is, however, the overriding concern for the right to counsel of the
accused that must be taken seriously into consideration. In appropriate cases, it 2. What is readily apparent therefore, is that petitioner was less than duly mindful of
should tilt the balance. This is not one of them. What is easily discernible was the his obligation as counsel de oficio. He ought to have known that membership in the
obvious reluctance of petitioner to comply with the responsibilities incumbent on the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. It could be that for some lawyers,
counsel de oficio. Then, too, even on the assumption that he continues in his position, especially the neophytes in the profession, being appointed counsel de oficio is an
his volume of work is likely to be very much less at present. There is not now the irksome chore. For those holding such belief, it may come as a surprise that counsel
slightest pretext for him to shirk an obligation a member of the bar, who expects to of repute and of eminence welcome such an opportunity. It makes even more
remain in good standing, should fulfill. The petition is clearly without merit. manifest that law is indeed a profession dedicated to the ideal of service and not a
mere trade. It is understandable then why a high degree of fidelity to duty is required
According to the undisputed facts, petitioner, on October 13, 1964, was appointed of one so designated. A recent statement of the doctrine is found in People v.
Election Registrar for the Municipality of Cadiz, Province of Negros Occidental. Then Daban:7 "There is need anew in this disciplinary proceeding to lay stress on the
and there, he commenced to discharge its duties. As he was counsel de parte for one fundamental postulate that membership in the bar carries with it a responsibility to live
of the accused in a case pending in the sala of respondent Judge, he filed a motion to up to its exacting standard. The law is a profession, not a trade or a craft. Those
withdraw as such. Not only did respondent Judge deny such motion, but he also enrolled in its ranks are called upon to aid in the performance of one of the basic
appointed him counsel de oficio for the two defendants. Subsequently, on November purposes of the State, the administration of justice. To avoid any frustration thereof,
3, 1964, petitioner filed an urgent motion to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de especially in the case of an indigent defendant, a lawyer may be required to act as
oficio, premised on the policy of the Commission on Elections to require full time counsel de oficio. The fact that his services are rendered without remuneration should
service as well as on the volume or pressure of work of petitioner, which could not occasion a diminution in his zeal. Rather the contrary. This is not, of course, to
prevent him from handling adequately the defense. Respondent Judge, in the ignore that other pressing matters do compete for his attention. After all, he has his
challenged order of November 6, 1964, denied said motion. A motion for practice to attend to. That circumstance possesses a high degree of relevance since
reconsideration having proved futile, he instituted this certiorari proceeding.3 a lawyer has to live; certainly he cannot afford either to neglect his paying cases.
Nonetheless, what is incumbent upon him as counsel de oficio must be fulfilled."8

As noted at the outset, the petition must fail.

So it has been from the 1905 decision of In re Robles Lahesa,9 where respondent
was de oficio counsel, the opinion penned by Justice Carson making clear: "This
1. The assailed order of November 6, 1964 denying the urgent motion of petitioner to Court should exact from its officers and subordinates the most scrupulous
withdraw as counsel de oficiospeaks for itself. It began with a reminder that a crime performance of their official duties, especially when negligence in the performance of
those duties necessarily results in delays in the prosecution of criminal cases WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is dismissed. Costs against petitioner.
...."10 Justice Sanchez in People v. Estebia11reiterated such a view in these words: "It
is true that he is a court-appointed counsel. But we do say that as such counsel de Zaldivar (Chairman), Antonio, Fernandez and Aquino, JJ., concur.
oficio, he has as high a duty to the accused as one employed and paid by defendant Barredo, J., took no part.
himself. Because, as in the case of the latter, he must exercise his best efforts and
professional ability in behalf of the person assigned to his care. He is to render
effective assistance. The accused-defendant expects of him due diligence, not mere
perfunctory representation. For, indeed a lawyer who is a vanguard in the bastion of
justice is expected to have a bigger dose of social conscience and a little less of self-

The weakness of the petition is thus quite evident.

3. If respondent Judge were required to answer the petition, it was only due to the
apprehension that considering the frame of mind of a counsel loath and reluctant to
fulfill his obligation, the welfare of the accused could be prejudiced. His right to
counsel could in effect be rendered nugatory. Its importance was rightfully stressed by
Chief Justice Moran in People v. Holgado in these words: "In criminal cases there can
be no fair hearing unless the accused be given an opportunity to be heard by counsel.
The right to be heard would be of little avail if it does not include the right to be heard
by counsel. Even the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the
science of law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and; without counsel, he may be
convicted not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to establish his
innocence. And this can happen more easily to persons who are ignorant or
uneducated. It is for this reason that the right to be assisted by counsel is deemed so
important that it has become a constitutional right and it is so implemented that under
rules of procedure it is not enough for the Court to apprise an accused of his right to
have an attorney, it is not enough to ask him whether he desires the aid of an
attorney, but it is essential that the court should assign one de oficio for him if he so
desires and he is poor or grant him a reasonable time to procure an attorney of his
own."13 So it was under the previous Organic Acts.14 The present Constitution is even
more emphatic. For, in addition to reiterating that the accused "shall enjoy the right to
be heard by himself and counsel," 15 there is this new provision: "Any person under
investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to remain silent and
to counsel, and to be informed of such right. No force, violence, threat, intimidation, or
any other means which vitiates the free will shall be used against him. Any confession
obtained in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in evidence." 16

Thus is made manifest the indispensable role of a member of the Bar in the defense
of an accused. Such a consideration could have sufficed for petitioner not being
allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. For he did betray by his moves his lack of
enthusiasm for the task entrusted to him, to put matters mildly. He did point though to
his responsibility as an election registrar. Assuming his good faith, no such excuse
could be availed now. There is not likely at present, and in the immediate future, an
exorbitant demand on his time. It may likewise be assumed, considering what has
been set forth above, that petitioner would exert himself sufficiently to perform his task
as defense counsel with competence, if not with zeal, if only to erase doubts as to his
fitness to remain a member of the profession in good standing. The admonition is
ever timely for those enrolled in the ranks of legal practitioners that there are times,
and this is one of them, when duty to court and to client takes precedence over the
promptings of self-interest.
AC No. 99-634 June 10, 2002 "That I had grown impatient on the case, considering that I am told to wait
[every time] I asked; and in my last visit to Atty. Magulta last May 25, 1999,
DOMINADOR P. BURBE, complainant, he said that the court personnel had not yet acted on my case and, for my
vs. satisfaction, he even brought me to the Hall of Justice Building at Ecoland,
ATTY. ALBERTO C. MAGULTA, respondent. Davao City, at about 4:00 p.m., where he left me at the Office of the City
Prosecutor at the ground floor of the building and told to wait while he
personally follows up the processes with the Clerk of Court; whereupon,
PANGANIBAN, J.: within the hour, he came back and told me that the Clerk of Court was
absent on that day;
After agreeing to take up the cause of a client, a lawyer owes fidelity to both cause
and client, even if the client never paid any fee for the attorney-client relationship. "That sensing I was being given the run-around by Atty. Magulta, I decided
Lawyering is not a business; it is a profession in which duty to public service, not to go to the Office of the Clerk of Court with my draft of Atty. Magulta's
money, is the primary consideration. complaint to personally verify the progress of my case, and there told that
there was no record at all of a case filed by Atty. Alberto C. Magulta on my
The Case behalf, copy of the Certification dated May 27, 1999, attached as Annex C;

Before us is a Complaint for the disbarment or suspension or any other disciplinary "That feeling disgusted by the way I was lied to and treated, I confronted
action against Atty. Alberto C. Magulta. Filed by Dominador P. Burbe with the Atty. Alberto C. Magulta at his office the following day, May 28, 1999, where
Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on June he continued to lie to with the excuse that the delay was being caused by the
14, 1999, the Complaint is accompanied by a Sworn Statement alleging the following: court personnel, and only when shown the certification did he admit that he
has not at all filed the complaint because he had spent the money for the
"x x x xxx xxx filing fee for his own purpose; and to appease my feelings, he offered to
reimburse me by issuing two (2) checks, postdated June 1 and June 5,
1999, in the amounts of P12,000.00 and P8,000.00, respectively, copies of
"That in connection with my business, I was introduced to Atty. Alberto C. which are attached as Annexes D and E;
Magulta, sometime in September, 1998, in his office at the Respicio, Magulta
and Adan Law Offices at 21-B Otero Building, Juan de la Cruz St., Davao
City, who agreed to legally represent me in a money claim and possible civil "That for the inconvenience, treatment and deception I was made to suffer, I
case against certain parties for breach of contract; wish to complain Atty. Alberto C. Magulta for misrepresentation, dishonesty
and oppressive conduct;"

"That consequent to such agreement, Atty. Alberto C. Magulta prepared for

me the demand letter and some other legal papers, for which services I have xxx xxx x x x.1
accordingly paid; inasmuch, however, that I failed to secure a settlement of
the dispute, Atty. Magulta suggested that I file the necessary complaint, On August 6, 1999, pursuant to the July 22, 1999 Order of the IBP Commission on
which he subsequently drafted, copy of which is attached as Annex A, the Bar Discipline,2 respondent filed his Answer3 vehemently denying the allegations of
filing fee whereof will require the amount of Twenty Five Thousand Pesos complainant "for being totally outrageous and baseless." The latter had allegedly
(P25,000.00); been introduced as a kumpadre of one of the former's law partners. After their
meeting, complainant requested him to draft a demand letter against Regwill
"That having the need to legally recover from the parties to be sued I, on Industries, Inc. -- a service for which the former never paid. After Mr. Said Sayre, one
January 4, 1999, deposited the amount of P25,000.00 to Atty. Alberto C. of the business partners of complainant, replied to this letter, the latter requested that
Magulta, copy of the Receipt attached as Annex B, upon the instruction that I another demand letter -- this time addressed to the former -- be drafted by
needed the case filed immediately; respondent, who reluctantly agreed to do so. Without informing the lawyer,
complainant asked the process server of the former's law office to deliver the letter to
the addressee.
"That a week later, I was informed by Atty. Alberto C. Magulta that the
complaint had already been filed in court, and that I should receive notice of
its progress; Aside from attending to the Regwill case which had required a three-hour meeting,
respondent drafted a complaint (which was only for the purpose of compelling the
owner to settle the case) and prepared a compromise agreement. He was also
"That in the months that followed, I waited for such notice from the court or requested by complainant to do the following:
from Atty. Magulta but there seemed to be no progress in my case, such that
I frequented his office to inquire, and he would repeatedly tell me just to wait;
1. Write a demand letter addressed to Mr. Nelson Tan "x x x [I]t is evident that the P25,000 deposited by complainant with the
Respicio Law Office was for the filing fees of the Regwill complaint. With
2. Write a demand letter addressed to ALC Corporation complainant's deposit of the filing fees for the Regwill complaint, a
corresponding obligation on the part of respondent was created and that was
to file the Regwill complaint within the time frame contemplated by his client,
3. Draft a complaint against ALC Corporation the complainant. The failure of respondent to fulfill this obligation due to his
misuse of the filing fees deposited by complainant, and his attempts to cover
4. Research on the Mandaue City property claimed by complainant's wife up this misuse of funds of the client, which caused complainant additional
damage and prejudice, constitutes highly dishonest conduct on his part,
All of these respondent did, but he was never paid for his services by complainant. unbecoming a member of the law profession. The subsequent
reimbursement by the respondent of part of the money deposited by
complainant for filing fees, does not exculpate the respondent for his
Respondent likewise said that without telling him why, complainant later on withdrew misappropriation of said funds. Thus, to impress upon the respondent the
all the files pertinent to the Regwill case. However, when no settlement was reached, gravity of his offense, it is recommended that respondent be suspended from
the latter instructed him to draft a complaint for breach of contract. Respondent, the practice of law for a period of one (1) year."4
whose services had never been paid by complainant until this time, told the latter
about his acceptance and legal fees. When told that these fees amounted
The Court's Ruling
to P187,742 because the Regwill claim was almost P4 million, complainant promised
to pay on installment basis.
We agree with the Commission's recommendation.
On January 4, 1999, complainant gave the amount of P25,000 to respondent's
secretary and told her that it was for the filing fee of the Regwill case. When informed Main Issue:
of the payment, the lawyer immediately called the attention of complainant, informing Misappropriation of Client's Funds
the latter of the need to pay the acceptance and filing fees before the complaint could
be filed. Complainant was told that the amount he had paid was a deposit for the Central to this case are the following alleged acts of respondent lawyer: (a) his non-
acceptance fee, and that he should give the filing fee later. filing of the Complaint on behalf of his client and (b) his appropriation for himself of
the money given for the filing fee.
Sometime in February 1999, complainant told respondent to suspend for the
meantime the filing of the complaint because the former might be paid by another Respondent claims that complainant did not give him the filing fee for the Regwill
company, the First Oriental Property Ventures, Inc., which had offered to buy a parcel complaint; hence, the former's failure to file the complaint in court. Also, respondent
of land owned by Regwill Industries. The negotiations went on for two months, but the alleges that the amount delivered by complainant to his office on January 4, 1999 was
parties never arrived at any agreement. for attorney's fees and not for the filing fee.

Sometime in May 1999, complainant again relayed to respondent his interest in filing We are not persuaded. Lawyers must exert their best efforts and ability in the
the complaint. Respondent reminded him once more of the acceptance fee. In prosecution or the defense of the client's cause. They who perform that duty with
response, complainant proposed that the complaint be filed first before payment of diligence and candor not only protect the interests of the client, but also serve the
respondent's acceptance and legal fees. When respondent refused, complainant ends of justice. They do honor to the bar and help maintain the respect of the
demanded the return of the P25,000. The lawyer returned the amount using his own community for the legal profession.5 Members of the bar must do nothing that may
personal checks because their law office was undergoing extensive renovation at the tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, the honesty,
time, and their office personnel were not reporting regularly. Respondent's checks and integrity of the profession.6
were accepted and encashed by complainant.
Respondent wants this Court to believe that no lawyer-client relationship existed
Respondent averred that he never inconvenienced, mistreated or deceived between him and complainant, because the latter never paid him for services
complainant, and if anyone had been shortchanged by the undesirable events, it was rendered. The former adds that he only drafted the said documents as a personal
he. favor for the kumpadre of one of his partners.

The IBP's Recommendation We disagree. A lawyer-client relationship was established from the very first moment
complainant asked respondent for legal advice regarding the former's business. To
In its Report and Recommendation dated March 8, 2000, the Commission on Bar constitute professional employment, it is not essential that the client employed the
Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) opined as follows: attorney professionally on any previous occasion. It is not necessary that any retainer
be paid, promised, or charged; neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not that lawyers must be scrupulously careful in handling money entrusted to them in their
afterward handle the case for which his service had been sought. professional capacity.15 Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states
that lawyers shall hold in trust all moneys of their clients and properties that may
If a person, in respect to business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults a lawyer come into their possession.
with a view to obtaining professional advice or assistance, and the attorney voluntarily
permits or acquiesces with the consultation, then the professional employment is Lawyers who convert the funds entrusted to them are in gross violation of
established.7 professional ethics and are guilty of betrayal of public confidence in the legal
profession.16 It may be true that they have a lien upon the client's funds, documents
Likewise, a lawyer-client relationship exists notwithstanding the close personal and other papers that have lawfully come into their possession; that they may retain
relationship between the lawyer and the complainant or the nonpayment of the them until their lawful fees and disbursements have been paid; and that they may
former's fees.8 Hence, despite the fact that complainant was kumpadre of a law apply such funds to the satisfaction of such fees and disbursements. However, these
partner of respondent, and that respondent dispensed legal advice to complainant as considerations do not relieve them of their duty to promptly account for the moneys
a personal favor to the kumpadre, the lawyer was duty-bound to file the complaint he they received. Their failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct. 17 In any
had agreed to prepare -- and had actually prepared -- at the soonest possible time, in event, they must still exert all effort to protect their client's interest within the bounds
order to protect the client's interest. Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional of law.
Responsibility provides that lawyers should not neglect legal matters entrusted to
them. If much is demanded from an attorney, it is because the entrusted privilege to practice
law carries with it correlative duties not only to the client but also to the court, to the
This Court has likewise constantly held that once lawyers agree to take up the cause bar, and to the public.18 Respondent fell short of this standard when he converted into
of a client, they owe fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and his legal fees the filing fee entrusted to him by his client and thus failed to file the
confidence reposed in them.9 They owe entire devotion to the interest of the client, complaint promptly. The fact that the former returned the amount does not exculpate
warm zeal in the maintenance and the defense of the client's rights, and the exertion him from his breach of duty.
of their utmost learning and abilities to the end that nothing be taken or withheld from
the client, save by the rules of law legally applied.10 On the other hand, we do not agree with complainant's plea to disbar respondent
from the practice of law. The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution.
Similarly unconvincing is the explanation of respondent that the receipt issued by his Only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and the
office to complainant on January 4, 1999 was erroneous. The IBP Report correctly character of the bar will disbarment be imposed as a penalty. 19
noted that it was quite incredible for the office personnel of a law firm to be prevailed
upon by a client to issue a receipt erroneously indicating payment for something else. WHEREFORE, Atty. Alberto C. Magulta is found guilty of violating Rules 16.01 and
Moreover, upon discovering the "mistake" -- if indeed it was one -- respondent should 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is hereby SUSPENDED from the
have immediately taken steps to correct the error. He should have lost no time in practice of law for a period of one (1) year, effective upon his receipt of this Decision.
calling complainant's attention to the matter and should have issued another Let copies be furnished all courts as well as the Office of the Bar Confidant, which is
receipt indicating the correct purpose of the payment. instructed to include a copy in respondent's file.

The Practice of Law -- a SO ORDERED.

Profession, Not a Business
Puno, J.*, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio, JJ., concur.
In this day and age, members of the bar often forget that the practice of law is a
profession and not a business.11Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-
making venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields
profits.12 The gaining of a livelihood is not a professional but a secondary
consideration.13 Duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be
the primary consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or
what they owe to themselves. The practice of law is a noble calling in which
emolument is a byproduct, and the highest eminence may be attained without making
much money.14

In failing to apply to the filing fee the amount given by complainant -- as evidenced by
the receipt issued by the law office of respondent -- the latter also violated the rule
A.C. No. 5161 April 14, 2004 2. The respondent participated in, consented to, and failed to advise against,
the forgery of complainants signature in a purported Deed of Extrajudicial
ISIDRA TING-DUMALI, complainant, Settlement dated 17 March 1995 involving Lot 1603 when he knew that she
vs. was in Italy at that time working as an overseas contract worker. He even
ATTY. ROLANDO S. TORRES, respondent. presented the falsified document to the Register of Deeds of Cavite to
transfer the title over the property in favor of his wife Felicisima and sister-in-
RESOLUTION law Marcelina. The forgery or falsification was made to enable them to sell
Lot 1603 to Antel Holdings, Inc. Payment was received and misappropriated
PER CURIAM: by Felicisima and Marcelina.

In a Complaint-Affidavit1 filed on 22 October 1999 with this Court, complainant Isidra 3. In LRC Rec. No. 5964 entitled In Re:Petition for Judicial Reconstitution of
Ting-Dumali charges respondent Atty. Rolando S. Torres with presentation of false the Original Copy and Owners Duplicate Copy of TCT No. T-1869 Covering
testimony; participation in, consent to, and failure to advise against, the forgery of Lot No. 1605 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of Cavite, filed by
complainants signature in a purported Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement; and gross complainants sisters Marcelina and Felicisima on 24 October 1995, the
misrepresentation in court for the purpose of profiting from such forgery, thereby respondent made gross misrepresentation and offered false testimony to the
violating his oath as a lawyer and the canons of legal and judicial ethics. effect that Marcelina and Felicisima are the only children and legal heirs of
the late spouses Vicente Ting and Julita Reynante for the purpose of
The complainant is one of the six children of the late spouses Julita Reynante and obtaining a new title in their names. With the reconstituted title, and with the
Vicente Ting. Her siblings are Marcelina T. Rivera; Miriam T. Saria; Felicisima T. express conformity of the respondent, Felicisima and Marcelina were able to
Torres, who is married to herein respondent; Vicente Ting, Jr.; and Eliseo Ting. Their sell Lot 1605 to Antel Holdings, Inc., for P2,213,100 and profited from the
parents died intestate and left several parcels of land, to wit: sale to the exclusion of their other siblings. Partial payment was even
received pending the reconstitution proceedings.
a) One half of Lot 1586 of the San Francisco de Malabon Estate, containing
an area of 43,908 square meters more or less, and covered at that time by 4. On 20 November 1996, the respondent made gross and false
TCT No. (T-6203) RT-19151 of the Registry of Deeds of Cavite; misrepresentations for the purpose of profiting therefrom when he requested
the buyer through a certain Mrs. Ong to release the full payment for Lot 1605
under the pretense that the order of reconstitution would be released within a
b) Lot 1603 of the San Francisco de Malabon Estate, containing an area of month when he knew that it would be impossible because he presented
16,073 square meters, more or less, and covered at that time by TCT No. (T- evidence in the reconstitution case only on 12 August 1997. To facilitate the
6425) RT-7688 of the Registry of Deeds of Cavite; release of the money, he even used the stationery of the Philippine National
Bank, of which he was an employee.
c) Lot 1605 of the San Francisco de Malabon Estate, containing an area of
22,131 square meters, more or less and covered at that time by TCT No. T- In his Comment,2 the respondent denies the allegations of the complaint and asserts
1869 of the Registry of Deeds of Cavite. that he did not take advantage of his profession to deprive any of the co-heirs of his
wife of the estate left by his parents-in-law.
According to the complainant, the respondent took advantage of his relationship with
her and her brothers and used his profession to deprive them of what was lawfully Insofar as Lot 1586 is concerned, the respondent affirms that Felicisima and Miriam
due them even if it involved the commission of an illegal, unlawful, or immoral act. were not motivated by any desire to solely profit from the sale. Neither can he be
She attributes to the respondent the following acts or omissions: faulted by the execution of the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement dated 17 March 1995
involving Lot 1603 because he had no part in the execution of the document. All the
1. The respondent participated in, consented to, and failed to advise against, while he believed in good faith that the Ting sisters had already agreed on how to
the perjury committed by his wife Felicisima and his sister-in-law Miriam dispose of the said lot. If ever complainants signature was affixed on that document,
when they executed a Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate dated 11 it was done in good faith.
November 1986, wherein the two made it appear that they were the sole
heirs of the late spouses Julita Reynante and Vicente Ting, knowing fully The respondent admits that he was the counsel of Marcelina Ting Rivera, et. al., in
well that the same was false. He presented that document to the Register of LRC Case No. 5964 for the reconstitution of TCT No. T-1869. The false testimony of
Deeds of Cavite for the transfer of the title over Lot No. 1586 in the names of Marcelina in that case that she and Felicisima were the only children of spouses
his wife and Miriam. The lot was later sold to Antel Holdings Inc. for Vicente Ting and Julita Reynante could not be faulted on him because such was a
P1,195,400. Payment was already made to, and received by, Felicisima and clear oversight. Moreover, the sale of Lot 1605 to Antel Holdings, Inc., was the
Miriam. decision of Marcelina and his wife. His conformity through his signature was pro-
forma because the property was a paraphernal property of Marcelina and his wife. consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will
Anent his alleged gross and false misrepresentation that the order of reconstitution conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and
would be released by the end of November 1996, suffice it to say that the assurance discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I
was made by the Clerk of Court, Mr. Rosauro Morabe. Besides, petitions for impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation
reconstitution are usually uncontested and granted by courts. or purpose of evasion.

Finally, the respondent believes that complainant intended to harass him in SO HELP ME GOD.
bombarding him with numerous lawsuits, i.e., this administrative case; Civil Case No.
TM-855 for "Annulment of Documents, Titles, and Reconveyance plus Damages"; This oath to which all lawyers have subscribed in solemn agreement to dedicate
and a criminal case for Estafa and Falsification of Public Documents. themselves to the pursuit of justice is not a mere ceremony or formality for practicing
law to be forgotten afterwards; nor is it mere words, drift and hollow, but a sacred trust
In her reply, the complainant denies the presence of toka or verbal will allegedly made that lawyers must uphold and keep inviolable at all times. By swearing the lawyers
by her mother and allegedly implemented by their eldest brother Eliseo in view of the oath, they become guardians of truth and the rule of law, as well as instruments in the
following circumstances: (1) her mother met a sudden death in 1967; and partition of fair and impartial dispensation of justice.6 This oath is firmly echoed and reflected in
the properties in total disregard of their father was morally reprehensible, since the the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides:
latter was still alive; (2) when their mother died, four of the siblings were still minors
including respondents wife herself; (3) on 5 February 2000, Eliseo wrote his siblings, CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the
in response to the previous letter of Felicisima, Marcelina, and Miriam, denying the land and promote respect for law and for legal processes.
existence of a toka. She further states that the respondent was not merely a passive
onlooker but, as he admitted, the administrator of the properties of the Ting spouses.
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.
On 14 June 2000, this Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation or decision. 3
Rule 1.02 A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance
of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system.
On 9 January 2003, after due hearing and consideration of the issues presented by
both parties, Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan of the Commission on
Bar Discipline of the IBP found the actuations of the respondent to be violative of ...
Rules 1.01 and 1.02 of Canon 1 and Rule 10.01 of Canon 10 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Thus she recommended that the respondent be disbarred CANON 7 A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the
from the practice of law.4 legal profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.

In its Resolution No. XV-2003-3335 of 21 June 2003, the Board of Governors of the
IBP approved and adopted Commissioner San Juans report, but reduced the penalty
to suspension from the practice of law for six years. Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on
his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life,
We fully agree with the Investigating Commissioner in her findings of facts and behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
conclusion of culpability. The respondent has sufficiently demonstrated that he is
morally and legally unfit to remain in the exclusive and honorable fraternity of the legal ...
profession. In his long years as a lawyer, he must have forgotten his sworn pledge as
a lawyer. It is time once again that the Court inculcate in the hearts of all lawyers that
pledge; thus: CANON 10 A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.

LAWYER'S OATH Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing
of any in court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any
I, , do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the
Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey the laws
as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do All of these underscore the role of a lawyer as the vanguard of our legal system.
no falsehood, nor consent to its commission; I will not wittingly or willingly When the respondent took the oath as a member of the legal profession, he made a
promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit nor give aid nor
solemn promise to so stand by his pledge. In this covenant, respondent miserably asked Marcelina whether she has brothers and sisters other than Felicisima, the latter
failed. said none. The transcript of that hearing reads:

The records show that Felicisima and Miriam stated in the Extrajudicial Settlement of ATTY. TORRES:
Estate dated 11 November 1986 that they are the children of Julita Reynante and
thus adjudicated only between them Lot No. 1586 to the exclusion of their other Q Madame Witness, are you the only child or daughter of the deceased Sps.
siblings.7 There was concealment of the fact that there were other compulsory heirs to Vicente Ting, Jr. and Julita Reynante?
the estate of the deceased. Significantly, the respondent is the brother-in-law of
complainant. Being married to complainants sister, he knew of his wifes siblings. In
fact, he declared that the complainant stayed with them while she was in the WITNESS:
Philippines.8 Yet, the respondent presented that document to the Register of Deeds of
General Trias, Cavite, to effect the transfer of the title of the lot in question in the A No, sir. We are two, Felicisima Torres and I.
name of his wife and his sister-in-law Miriam.
Q Do you have other brothers and sisters?
It also bears noting that the respondent was consulted9 regarding the falsification of
complainants signature in the Extrajudicial Settlement 10 dated 17 March 1995 A None, sir.23
involving Lot 1603, which contains a purported waiver by the complainant of her right
over the property. Marcelina admitted that she signed complainants name in that
document.11 Such act of counterfeiting the complainants signature to make it appear The respondent allowed Marcelina to commit a crime by giving false testimony 24 in
that the complainant had participated in the execution of that document is tantamount court, and he never corrected the same despite full knowledge of the true facts and
to falsification of a public document.12 circumstances of the case.25 Moreover, in knowingly offering in evidence such false
testimony, he himself may be punished as guilty of false testimony. 26
Instead of advising Marcelina to secure a written special power of attorney and
against committing falsification, he presented13 such document to the Registry of Moreover, under Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer owes
Deeds to secure a new title for the lot in favor of Marcelina and his wife. 14 He himself, candor, fairness, and good faith to the court. He shall "not do any falsehood, nor
therefore, may also be held liable for knowingly using a falsified document to the consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be
damage of the complainant and her other co-heirs.15 Notably, he also admitted in an misled by any artifice."27 This Rule was clearly and openly violated by the respondent
affidavit dated 22 May 1995 that he prepared the legal documents for the transfer of when he permitted Marcelina to falsely testify that she had no siblings aside from
Lot 1603.16 Felicisima and when he offered such testimony in the petition for reconstitution of the
title involving Lot 1605.
Respondent did not advise his wife and his sisters-in-law from doing acts which are
contrary to law. He must have kept in mind the first and foremost duty of a lawyer, The respondent must have forgotten that as an attorney he is an officer of the court
which is to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, uphold the called upon to assist in the administration of justice. Like the court itself, he is an
Constitution, and obey the laws of the land. The Code of Professional Responsibility instrument to advance its cause. For this reason, any act on his part that obstructs
underscores the primacy of such duty by providing as its canon that a lawyer shall and impedes the administration of justice constitutes misconduct and justifies
uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respect for law and disciplinary action against him.28
legal processes.17 For a lawyer is the servant of the law and belongs to a profession
to which society has entrusted the administration of law and the dispensation of It may not be amiss to mention that to further support the reconstitution, he offered in
justice.18 As such, he should make himself more an exemplar for others to evidence an Affidavit of Loss, which was executed by Marcelina and notarized by him.
emulate.19 He should not, therefore, engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or During the hearing of this administrative case, Marcelina admitted that her statement
deceitful conduct.20 He makes himself unfit to remain in the profession who commits in that affidavit that the title was in her possession was false, as she was never in
any such unbecoming act or conduct.21 possession of the title29 and would not, therefore, know that the same was lost.

Respondents argument that the non-declaration by his wife and his sister- in-law Moreover, in a letter dated 20 November 1996 addressed to a certain Mrs. Ong, the
Marcelina of the other siblings in LRC Rec. No. 5964 for the reconstitution of title respondent requested the release of 50% of the remaining balance for the sale of Lot
involving Lot 1605 was a mere oversight does not deserve credence in view of the 1605, relaying to Antel Holdings, Inc., through Mrs. Ong that he was assured by the
following circumstances: First, the petition clearly names only Felicisima and Clerk of Court that the order directing the reconstitution of title for Lot 1605 would be
Marcelina as the petitioners when there were six siblings who were heirs of the released within the month.30 Respondents information was misleading because he
unpartitioned lot.22 Second, during the hearing of said case when the respondent presented evidence only on 12 August 1997, or almost a year after he sent the
letter.31 Such act, therefore, shows lack of candor and honesty on the part of the SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-
Respondents acts or omissions reveal his moral flaws and doubtless bring intolerable Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna,
dishonor to the legal profession. They constitute gross misconduct for which he may and Tinga, JJ., concur.
be disbarred or suspended pursuant to Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court,
which provides:

Sec. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court; grounds

therefor. -- A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his
office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other
gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath
which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a willful
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or
willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do
so. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either
personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.

In the determination of the imposable disciplinary sanction against an erring lawyer,

we take into account the primary purpose of disciplinary proceedings, which is to
protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important
function shall be competent, honorable, and reliable men in whom courts and clients
may repose confidence.32 While the assessment of what sanction may be imposed is
primarily addressed to our sound discretion, the sanction should neither be arbitrary
or despotic, nor motivated by personal animosity or prejudice. Rather, it should ever
be controlled by the imperative need to scrupulously guard the purity and
independence of the bar.33

Thus, the supreme penalty of disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of
misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer
of the court and member of the bar. We will not hesitate to remove an erring attorney
from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers where the evidence calls for it. 34 Verily,
given the peculiar factual circumstances prevailing in this case, we find that
respondents gross misconduct calls for the severance of his privilege to practice law
for life, and we therefore adopt the penalty recommended by the Investigating

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, we find respondent Atty. Rolando S. Torres

guilty of gross misconduct and violation of the lawyers oath, as well as Canons 1 and
10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, thereby rendering him unworthy of
continuing membership in the legal profession. He is thus ordered DISBARRED from
the practice of law, and his name is ordered stricken off the Roll of Attorneys, effective

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, which shall
forthwith record it in the personal files of the respondent; all the courts of the
Philippines; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which shall disseminate copies
thereof to all its Chapters; and all administrative and quasi-judicial agencies of the
Republic of the Philippines.
A.M. No. RTJ-08-2119 June 30, 2008 In his Comments3 dated June 14, 2006 on the complaint filed in compliance with the
[Formerly A.M. O.C.A. IPI No. 07-2709-RTJ] Ist Indorsement dated May 31, 20064 of the OCA, respondent alleged that
complainant filed on December 15, 2005 an "Urgent Motion to Inhibit,"5paragraph
ATTY. MELVIN D.C. MANE, complainant, 36 of which was malicious and "a direct assault to the integrity and dignity of the Court
vs. and of the Presiding Judge" as it "succinctly implied that [he] issued the order dated
JUDGE MEDEL ARNALDO B. BELEN, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 36, 27 September 2005 for [a] consideration other than the merits of the case." He thus
CALAMBA CITY, respondent. could not "simply sit idly and allow a direct assault on his honor and integrity."

RESOLUTION On the unacted motion to direct the stenographer to furnish complainant with a copy
of the "unedited" tape recording of the proceedings, respondent quoted paragraphs 4
and 37 of the motion which, to him, implied that the trial court was "illegally, unethically
CARPIO MORALES, J.: and unlawfully engaged in 'editing' the transcript of records to favor a party litigant
against the interest of [complainant's] client."
By letter-complaint dated May 19, 20061 which was received by the Office of the
Court Administrator (OCA) on May 26, 2006, Atty. Melvin D.C. Mane (complainant) Respondent thus claimed that it was on account of the two motions that he ordered
charged Judge Medel Arnaldo B. Belen (respondent), Presiding Judge of Branch 36, complainant, by separate orders dated June 5, 2006, to explain within 15 days 8 why
Regional Trial Court, Calamba City, of "demean[ing], humiliat[ing] and berat[ing]" him he should not be cited for contempt.
during the hearing on February 27, 2006 of Civil Case No. 3514-2003-C, "Rural Bank
of Cabuyao, Inc. v. Samuel Malabanan, et al" in which he was counsel for the plaintiff.
Complainant later withdrew his complaint, by letter of September 4, 2006, 9 stating that
it was a mere result of his impulsiveness.
To prove his claim, complainant cited the remarks made by respondent in the course
of the proceedings conducted on February 27, 2006 as transcribed by stenographer
Elenita C. de Guzman, viz: In its Report dated November 7, 2007,10 the OCA came up with the following
. . . Sir, are you from the College of Law of the University of the . . . The withdrawal or desistance of a complainant from pursuing an
Philippines? administrative complaint does not divest the Court of its disciplinary authority
ATTY. MANE: over court officials and personnel. Thus, the complainant's withdrawal of the
No[,] [Y]our Honor[,] from Manuel L. Quezon University[,] [Y]our instant complaint will not bar the continuity of the instant administrative
Honor. proceeding against respondent judge.
No, you're not from UP. The issue presented before us is simple: Whether or not the statements and
ATTY. MANE: actions made by the respondent judge during the subject February 27, 2006
I am very proud of it. hearing constitute conduct unbecoming of a judge and a violation of the
COURT: Code of Judicial Conduct.
Then you're not from UP. Then you cannot equate yourself to
me because there is a saying and I know this, not all law students After a cursory evaluation of the complaint, the respondent's comment and
are created equal, not all law schools are created equal, not all the documents at hand, we find that there is no issue as to what actually
lawyers are created equal despite what the Supreme Being that we transpired during the February 27th hearing as evidenced by the
all are created equal in His form and substance.2 (Emphasis stenographic notes. The happening of the incident complained of by herein
supplied) complainant was never denied by the respondent judge. If at all, respondent
judge merely raised his justifications for his complained actuations.
Complainant further claimed that the entire proceedings were "duly recorded in a tape
recorder" by stenographer de Guzman, and despite his motion (filed on April 24, xxxx
2006) for respondent to direct her to furnish him with a copy of the tape recording, the
motion remained unacted as of the date he filed the present administrative complaint
on May 26, 2006. He, however, attached a copy of the transcript of stenographic . . . [A] judge's official conduct and his behavior in the performance of judicial
notes taken on February 27, 2006. duties should be free from the appearance of impropriety and must be
beyond reproach. A judge must at all times be temperate in his
language. Respondent judge's insulting statements which tend to
question complainant's capability and credibility stemming from the
fact that the latter did not graduated [sic] from UP Law school is The OCA thus recommended that respondent be reprimanded for violation of Canon
clearly unwarranted and inexcusable. When a judge indulges in 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct with a warning that a repetition of the same shall be
intemperate language, the lawyer can return the attack on his person and dealt with more severely.12
character, through an administrative case against the judge, as in the instant
case. By Resolution of January 21, 2008,13 this Court required the parties to manifest
whether they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the
Although respondent judge's use in intemperate language may be pleadings already filed. Respondent complied on February 26, 2008, 14manifesting in
attributable to human frailty, the noble position in the bench demands from the affirmative.
him courteous speech in and out of the court. Judges are demanded to be
always temperate, patient and courteous both in conduct and language. The pertinent provision of the Code of Judicial Conduct reads:

xxxx Rule 3.04. - A judge should be patient, attentive, and courteous to lawyers,
especially the inexperienced, to litigants, witnesses, and others appearing
Judge Belen should bear in mind that all judges should always observe before the court. A judge should avoid unconsciously falling into the attitude
courtesy and civility. In addressing counsel, litigants, or witnesses, the judge of mind that the litigants are made for the courts, instead of the courts for the
should avoid a controversial tone or a tone that creates animosity. Judges litigants.
should always be aware that disrespect to lawyers generates disrespect to
them. There must be mutual concession of respect. Respect is not a one- An author explains the import of this rule:
way ticket where the judge should be respected but free to insult
lawyers and others who appear in his court. Patience is an essential part
of dispensing justice and courtesy is a mark of culture and good breeding. If Rule 3.04 of the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that a judge should be
a judge desires not to be insulted, he should start using temperate language courteous to counsel, especially to those who are young and inexperienced
himself; he who sows the wind will reap a storm. and also to all those others appearing or concerned in the administration of
justice in the court. He should be considerate of witnesses and others in
attendance upon his court. He should be courteous and civil, for it
It is also noticeable that during the subject hearing, not only did respondent is unbecoming of a judge to utter intemperate language during the
judge make insulting and demeaning remarks but he also engaged in hearing of a case. In his conversation with counsel in court, a judge should
unnecessary "lecturing" and "debating". . . be studious to avoid controversies which are apt to obscure the merits of the
dispute between litigants and lead to its unjust disposition. He should not
xxxx interrupt counsel in their arguments except to clarify his mind as to their
positions. Nor should he be tempted to an unnecessary display of
Respondent should have just ruled on the propriety of the motion to inhibit learning or premature judgment.
filed by complainant, but, instead, he opted for a conceited display of
arrogance, a conduct that falls below the standard of decorum expected of a A judge without being arbitrary, unreasonable or unjust may endeavor to
judge. If respondent judge felt that there is a need to admonish complainant hold counsel to a proper appreciation of their duties to the courts, to their
Atty. Mane, he should have called him in his chambers where he can advise clients and to the adverse party and his lawyer, so as to enforce due
him privately rather than battering him with insulting remarks and diligence in the dispatch of business before the court. He may utilize his
embarrassing questions such as asking him from what school he came opportunities to criticize and correct unprofessional conduct of
from publicly in the courtroom and in the presence of his clients. Humiliating attorneys, brought to his attention, but he may not do so in an insulting
a lawyer is highly reprehensible. It betrays the judge's lack of patience and manner.15 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
temperance. A highly temperamental judge could hardly make decisions with
equanimity. The following portions of the transcript of stenographic notes, quoted verbatim,
taken during the February 27, 2006 hearing show that respondent made sarcastic and
Thus, it is our view that respondent judge should shun from lecturing the humiliating, even threatening and boastful remarks to complainant who is admittedly
counsels or debating with them during court hearings to prevent suspicions "still young," "unnecessary lecturing and debating," as well as unnecessary display of
as to his fairness and integrity. While judges should possess proficiency in learning:
law in order that they can competently construe and enforce the law, it is
more important that they should act and behave in such manner that the COURT:
parties before them should have confidence in their impartiality. 11 (Italics in xxx
the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Sir do you know the principle or study the stare decisis? COURT:
No, sir.
Ah, with due respect your ATTY. MANE:
Yes your Honor . . .
Tell me, what is your school? COURT:
No sir unless you apologize to the Court I will hale you to the IBP
ATTY. MANE: Because hindi naman ako ganon. I am not that vindictive but if this
I am proud graduate of Manuel L. Quezon University. remains. You cannot take cover from the instruction of your client
because even if the instruction of a client is "secret." Upon
COURT: consideration, the language of the pleader must still conform with
Were you taught at the MLQU College of Law of the principle of the decorum and respect to the Court. Sir, that's the rule of
Stare Decisis and the interpretation of the Supreme Court of practice. In my twenty (20) years of practice I've never been haled
the rules of procedure where it states that if there is already a by a judge to any question of integrity. Because even if I believed
decision by the Supreme Court, when that decision shall be that the Court committed error in judgment or decision or grave
complied with by the Trial Court otherwise non-compliance abuse of discretion, I never imputed any malicious or unethical
thereof shall subject the Courts to judicial sanction, and I quote behavior to the judge because I know and I believe that anyone can
the decision. That's why I quoted the decision of the Supreme Court commit errors. Because no one is like God. Sir, I hope sir you
Sir, because I know the problem between the bank and the third understand that this Court, this Judge is not God but this Judge is
party claimants and I state, "The fair market value is the price at human when challenge on his integrity and honor is lodged. No
which a property may be sold by a seller, who is not compelled to matter how simple it is because that is the only thing I have now.
sell, and bought by a buyer, who is not compelled to buy." Sir, that's Atty. Bantin, can you please show him my statement of assets and
very clear, that is what fair market value and that is not assessment liabilities?
value. In fact even you say assessment value, the Court further
state, "the assessed value is the fair market value multiplied. Not ATTY. MANE:
mere the basic assesses value. Sir that is the decision of the I think that is not necessary your Honor.
Supreme Court, am I just reading the decision or was I inventing it?
ATTY. MANE: No counsel because the imputations are there, that's why I want
May I be allowed to proceed. you to see. Show him my assets and liabilities for the proud
graduate of MLQU. Sir, look at it. Sir, I have stock holdings in the
COURT: U.S. before I joined the bench. And it was very clear to everyone, I
Sir, you tell me. Was I inventing the Supreme Court decision which would do everything not be tempted to accept bribe but I said I have
I quoted and which you should have researched too or I was merely spent my fifteen (15) years and that's how much I have worked in
imagining the Supreme Court decision sir? Please answer it. fifteen (15) years excluding my wife's assets which is more than
what I have may be triple of what I have. May be even four fold of
ATTY. MANE: what I have. And look at my assets. May be even your bank can
No your Honor. consider on cash to cash basis my personal assets. That is the
reason I am telling you Atty. Mane. Please, look at it. If you want I
COURT: can show you even the Income Tax Return of my wife and you will
Please answer it. be surprised that my salary is not even her one-half month salary.
xxxx Sir, she is the Chief Executive Officer of a Multi-National Publishing
Company. That's why I have the guts to take this job because doon
COURT: po sa salary niya umaasa na lamang po ako sa aking asawa. Atty.
That's why. Sir second, and again I quote from your own Mane, please you are still young. Other judges you would already
pleadings, hale me to the Supreme Court otherwise I will hale you be haled to the IBP. Take that as a lesson. Now that you are saying
to the bar. Prove to me that I am grossly ignorant or corrupt. that I was wrong in the three-day notice rule, again the Supreme
Court decision validates me, PNB vs. Court of Appeals, you want
ATTY. MANE: me to cite the quotation again that any pleadings that do not
Your Honor when this representation, your Honor . . . conform with the three-day notice rule is considered as useless
scrap of paper and therefore not subject to any judicial cognizance.
You know sir, you would say but I was the one subject because the pagharap ko sa inyo at sa publiko hindi po ako magmumukhang
judge was belligerent. No sir, you can go on my record and you will tanga. Sir, please have the decency, not the respect, not to me but
see that even prior to my rulings on your case I have already to the Court. Because if you are a lawyer who cannot respect the
thrown out so many motion for non-compliance of a three-day Court then you have no business appearing before the Court
notice rule. If I will give you an exception because of this, then I because you don't believe in the Court system. That's why one of
would be looked upon with suspicion. So sir again, please look my classmates never appeared before Court because he doesn't
again on the record and you will see how many motions I threw out believe in that system. He would rather stay in their airconditioned
for non-compliance with the three-day notice rule. It is not only room because they say going to Court is useless. Then, to them I
your case sir, because sir you are a practitioner and a proud salute, I give compliment because in their own ways they know the
graduate of the MLQU which is also the Alma Mater of my futility and they respect the Court, in that futility rather than be a
uncle. And I supposed you were taught in thought that the hypocrite. Atty. Mane hindi mo ako kilala, I've never disrespect
three-day notice rule is almost sacrosanct in order to give the the courts and I can look into your eyes. Kaya po dito ko gusto kasi
other party time to appear and plead. In all books, Moran, di po ako dito nagpractice para po walang makalapit sa akin. Pero
Regalado and all other commentators state that non- kung ako po naman ay inyong babastusin ng ganyang handa po
compliance with the three-day notice rule makes the pleading akong lumaban kahit saan, miski saan po. And you can quote me,
and motion a useless scrap of paper. If that is a useless scrap you can go there together to the Supreme Court. Because the only
of paper, sir, what would be my ground to grant exception to sir, the only treasure I have is my name and my integrity. I could
your motion? Tell me. have easily let it go because it is the first time, but the second time
is too much too soon. Sir, masyado pong kwan yon, sinampal na po
xxxx ninyo ako nung primero, dinuran pa po ninyo ako ng pangalawa.
That's adding insult to the injury po. Hindi ko po sana gagawin ito
COURT: pero ayan po ang dami diyang abugado. I challenge anyone to file
Procedural due process. See. So please sir don't confuse the a case against me for graft and corruption, for incompetence.
Court. Despite of being away for twenty years from the college of
law, still I can remember my rules, In your motion you said . . . xxxx
imputing things to the Court. Sir please read your rules.
Familiarize yourself, understand the jurisprudence before you COURT:
be the Prince Valiant or a Sir Gallahad in Quest of the Holy
Grail. Sir, ako po ay mahirap na tao, karangalan ko lang po ang I will ask the lawyer to read the statement and if they believe that
aking kayang ibigay sa aking mga anak at iyan po ay hindi ko you are not imputing any wrong doing to me I will apologize to you.
palalampasin maski kanino pa. Sir, have you ever heard of anything
about me in this Court for one year. Ask around, ask around. You Atty. Hildawa please come over. The Senior, I respect the old
know, if you act like a duck, walk like a duck, quack like a practitioner, whose integrity is unchallenged.
duck, you are a duck. But have you ever heard anything against Sir you said honest. Sir ganoon po ako. You still want to defend
the court. Sir in a judicial system, in a Court, one year is time your position, so be it.
enough for the practitioner to know whether a judge is what,
dishonest; 2), whether the judge is incompetent; and 3) whether the Atty. Hildawa I beg your indulgence, I am sorry but I know that you
judge is just playing loco. And I have sat hear for one year sir and are an old practitioner hammered out by years of practice and
please ask around before you charge into the windmill. I am a whose integrity by reputation precedes you. Please read what your
proud product of a public school system from elementary to college. younger companero has written to this Honorable Court in pleading
And my only, and my only, the only way I can repay the taxpayers and see for yourself the implications he hurled to the Court in his
is a service beyond reproach without fear or favor to anyone. Not honest opinion. Remember he said honest. That implication is your
even the executive, not even the one sitting in Malacanang, not honest opinion of an implication sir.
even the Supreme Court if you are right. Sir, sana po naman inyo
ring igalang ang Hukuman kasi po kami, meron nga po, tinatanggap Sir 1, 2 and 3. Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3. If that is your honest opinion.
ko, kung inyo pong mamarapatin, meron pong mga corrupt, maaari Remember the word you said honest opinion.
pong nakahanap na kayo ng corrupt na Judge pero hindi po lahat
kami ay corrupt. Maaari ko rin pong tanggapin sa inyong abang Alam mo Atty. Mane I know when one has to be vigilant and
lingcod na merong mga Hukom na tanga pero hindi po naman lahat vigorous in the pursue of pride. But if you are vigilant and vigor, you
kami ay tanga. Ako po ay 8:30 or before ay nandito po ako sa should never crossed the line.
husgado ko. Aalis po ako dito sa hapon, babasahin ko lahat ang
kaso ko para ko po malaman kung any po ang kaso, para po Sir, what is your interpretation to the first three paragraphs?
than P1,000 but not exceeding P10,000; (2) censure; (3) reprimand; and (4)
ATTY. HILDAWA: admonition with warning, the Court imposes upon him the penalty of reprimand.
There will be some . . .
WHEREFORE, respondent, Judge Medel Arnaldo B. Belen, Presiding Judge of the
COURT: Regional Trial Court, Branch 36, Calamba City, is found GUILTY of conduct
What sir? unbecoming of a judge and is REPRIMANDED therefor. He is further warned that a
repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely.
. . . indiscretion.
Indiscretion. See, that is the most diplomatic word that an old CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
practitioner could say to the Court because of respect. Associate Justice
Sir, salamat po.


Kita po ninyo, iyan po ang matatandang abogado. Indiscretion
na lang. Now you say that is your honest opinion and the old
practitioner hammered through years of practice could only say
indiscretion committed by this judge. Much more I who sits in this

Now is that your honest opinion?16 (Emphasis and underscoring


The Court thus finds the evaluation by the OCA well-taken.

An alumnus of a particular law school has no monopoly of knowledge of the law. By

hurdling the Bar Examinations which this Court administers, taking of the Lawyer's
oath, and signing of the Roll of Attorneys, a lawyer is presumed to be competent to
discharge his functions and duties as, inter alia, an officer of the court, irrespective of
where he obtained his law degree. For a judge to determine the fitness or
competence of a lawyer primarily on the basis of his alma mater is clearly an
engagement in an argumentum ad hominem.

A judge must address the merits of the case and not on the person of the counsel. If
respondent felt that his integrity and dignity were being "assaulted," he acted properly
when he directed complainant to explain why he should not be cited for contempt. He
went out of bounds, however, when he, as the above-quoted portions of the transcript
of stenographic notes show, engaged on a supercilious legal and personal discourse.

This Court has reminded members of the bench that even on the face of boorish
behavior from those they deal with, they ought to conduct themselves in a manner
befitting gentlemen and high officers of the court.17

Respondent having exhibited conduct unbecoming of a judge, classified as a light

charge under Section 10, Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, which is penalized
under Section 11(c) of the same Rule by any of the following: (1) a fine of not less
B. M. No. 1154 June 8, 2004 same parties as "closed and terminated." Moreover, Meling denies the charges and
adds that the acts complained of do not involve moral turpitude.
MELING IN THE 2002 BAR EXAMINATIONS AND FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION As regards the use of the title "Attorney," Meling admits that some of his
AS MEMBER OF THE PHILIPPINE SHARIA BAR, ATTY. FROILAN R. communications really contained the word "Attorney" as they were, according to him,
MELENDREZ, petitioner. typed by the office clerk.

RESOLUTION In its Report and Recommendation4 dated December 8, 2003, the OBC disposed of
the charge of non-disclosure against Meling in this wise:
The reasons of Meling in not disclosing the criminal cases filed against him
The Court is here confronted with a Petition that seeks twin reliefs, one of which is in his petition to take the Bar Examinations are ludicrous. He should have
ripe while the other has been rendered moot by a supervening event. known that only the court of competent jurisdiction can dismiss cases, not a
retired judge nor a law professor. In fact, the cases filed against Meling are
still pending. Furthermore, granting arguendo that these cases were already
The antecedents follow. dismissed, he is still required to disclose the same for the Court to ascertain
his good moral character. Petitions to take the Bar Examinations are made
On October 14, 2002, Atty. Froilan R. Melendrez (Melendrez) filed with the Office of under oath, and should not be taken lightly by an applicant.
the Bar Confidant (OBC) a Petition1 to disqualify Haron S. Meling (Meling) from taking
the 2002 Bar Examinations and to impose on him the appropriate disciplinary penalty The merit of the cases against Meling is not material in this case. What matters is his
as a member of the Philippine Sharia Bar. act of concealing them which constitutes dishonesty.

In the Petition, Melendrez alleges that Meling did not disclose in his Petition to take In Bar Matter 1209, the Court stated, thus:
the 2002 Bar Examinations that he has three (3) pending criminal cases before the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Cotabato City, namely: Criminal Cases Noa.
15685 and 15686, both for Grave Oral Defamation, and Criminal Case No. 15687 for It has been held that good moral character is what a person really is, as
Less Serious Physical Injuries. distinguished from good reputation or from the opinion generally entertained
of him, the estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he is
known. Moral character is not a subjective term but one which corresponds
The above-mentioned cases arose from an incident which occurred on May 21, 2001, to objective reality. The standard of personal and professional integrity is not
when Meling allegedly uttered defamatory words against Melendrez and his wife in satisfied by such conduct as it merely enables a person to escape the
front of media practitioners and other people. Meling also purportedly attacked and hit penalty of criminal law. Good moral character includes at least common
the face of Melendrez wife causing the injuries to the latter. honesty.

Furthermore, Melendrez alleges that Meling has been using the title "Attorney" in his The non-disclosure of Meling of the criminal cases filed against him makes
communications, as Secretary to the Mayor of Cotabato City, despite the fact that he him also answerable under Rule 7.01 of the Code of Professional
is not a member of the Bar. Attached to the Petition is an indorsement letter which Responsibility which states that "a lawyer shall be answerable for knowingly
shows that Meling used the appellation and appears on its face to have been received making a false statement or suppressing a material fact in connection with
by the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Cotabato City on November 27, 2001. his application for admission to the bar."5

Pursuant to this Courts R E S O L U T I O N2 dated December 3, 2002, Meling filed As regards Melings use of the title "Attorney", the OBC had this to say:
his Answer with the OBC.
Anent the issue of the use of the appellation "Attorney" in his letters, the
In his Answer,3 Meling explains that he did not disclose the criminal cases filed explanation of Meling is not acceptable. Aware that he is not a member of
against him by Melendrez because retired Judge Corocoy Moson, their former the Bar, there was no valid reason why he signed as "attorney" whoever may
professor, advised him to settle his misunderstanding with Melendrez. Believing in have typed the letters.
good faith that the case would be settled because the said Judge has moral
ascendancy over them, he being their former professor in the College of Law, Meling
considered the three cases that actually arose from a single incident and involving the Although there is no showing that Meling is engaged in the practice of law,
the fact is, he is signing his communications as "Atty. Haron S. Meling"
knowing fully well that he is not entitled thereto. As held by the Court in Bar therein, an executive clerk of court of the 4th Judicial Sharia District in Marawi City,
Matter 1209, the unauthorized use of the appellation "attorney" may render a used the title "Attorney" in several correspondence in connection with the rescission
person liable for indirect contempt of court.6 of a contract entered into by him in his private capacity. The Court declared that:

Consequently, the OBC recommended that Meling not be allowed to take the persons who pass the Sharia Bar are not full-fledged members of the
Lawyers Oath and sign the Roll of Attorneys in the event that he passes the Bar Philippine Bar, hence, may only practice law before Sharia courts. While
Examinations. Further, it recommended that Melings membership in the Sharia Bar one who has been admitted to the Sharia Bar, and one who has been
be suspended until further orders from the Court.7 admitted to the Philippine Bar, may both be considered "counselors," in the
sense that they give counsel or advice in a professional capacity, only the
We fully concur with the findings and recommendation of the OBC. Meling, however, latter is an "attorney." The title "attorney" is reserved to those who, having
did not pass the 2003 Bar Examinations. This renders the Petition, insofar as it seeks obtained the necessary degree in the study of law and successfully taken the
to prevent Meling from taking the Lawyers Oath and signing the Roll of Attorneys, Bar Examinations, have been admitted to the Integrated Bar of the
moot and academic. Philippines and remain members thereof in good standing; and it is they only
who are authorized to practice law in this jurisdiction. 12
On the other hand, the prayer in the same Petition for the Court to impose the
appropriate sanctions upon him as a member of the Sharia Bar is ripe for resolution The judiciary has no place for dishonest officers of the court, such as Meling in this
and has to be acted upon. case. The solemn task of administering justice demands that those who are privileged
to be part of service therein, from the highest official to the lowliest employee, must
not only be competent and dedicated, but likewise live and practice the virtues of
Practice of law, whether under the regular or the Sharia Court, is not a matter of right honesty and integrity. Anything short of this standard would diminish the public's faith
but merely a privilege bestowed upon individuals who are not only learned in the law in the Judiciary and constitutes infidelity to the constitutional tenet that a public office
but who are also known to possess good moral character. 8 The requirement of good is a public trust.
moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the practice of law,
its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law. 9
In Leda v. Tabang, supra, the respondent concealed the fact of his marriage in his
application to take the Bar examinations and made conflicting submissions before the
The standard form issued in connection with the application to take the 2002 Bar Court. As a result, we found the respondent grossly unfit and unworthy to continue in
Examinations requires the applicant to aver that he or she "has not been charged with the practice of law and suspended him therefrom until further orders from the Court.
any act or omission punishable by law, rule or regulation before a fiscal, judge, officer
or administrative body, or indicted for, or accused or convicted by any court or tribunal
of, any offense or crime involving moral turpitude; nor is there any pending case or WHEREFORE, the Petition is granted insofar as it seeks the imposition of appropriate
charge against him/her." Despite the declaration required by the form, Meling did not sanctions upon Haron S. Meling as a member of the Philippine Sharia Bar.
reveal that he has three pending criminal cases. His deliberate silence constitutes Accordingly, the membership of Haron S. Meling in the Philippine Sharia Bar is
concealment, done under oath at that. hereby SUSPENDED until further orders from the Court, the suspension to take effect
immediately. Insofar as the Petition seeks to prevent Haron S. Meling from taking the
Lawyers Oath and signing the Roll of Attorneys as a member of the Philippine Bar,
The disclosure requirement is imposed by the Court to determine whether there is the same is DISMISSED for having become moot and academic.
satisfactory evidence of good moral character of the applicant. 10 The nature of
whatever cases are pending against the applicant would aid the Court in determining
whether he is endowed with the moral fitness demanded of a lawyer. By concealing Copies of this Decision shall be circulated to all the Sharia Courts in the country for
the existence of such cases, the applicant then flunks the test of fitness even if the their information and guidance.
cases are ultimately proven to be unwarranted or insufficient to impugn or affect the
good moral character of the applicant. SO ORDERED.

Melings concealment of the fact that there are three (3) pending criminal cases Davide, Jr., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-
against him speaks of his lack of the requisite good moral character and results in the Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo,
forfeiture of the privilege bestowed upon him as a member of the Sharia Bar. Sr., and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Moreover, his use of the appellation "Attorney", knowing fully well that he is not
entitled to its use, cannot go unchecked. In Alawi v. Alauya,11 the Court had the
occasion to discuss the impropriety of the use of the title "Attorney" by members of
the Sharia Bar who are not likewise members of the Philippine Bar. The respondent
B.M. No. 1678 December 17, 2007 The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.2 It is so delicately affected
with public interest that it is both a power and a duty of the State (through this Court)
PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW, to control and regulate it in order to protect and promote the public welfare.3
BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner.
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of
RESOLUTION morality, faithful observance of the rules of the legal profession, compliance with the
mandatory continuing legal education requirement and payment of membership fees
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are the conditions required for
CORONA, J.: membership in good standing in the bar and for enjoying the privilege to practice law.
Any breach by a lawyer of any of these conditions makes him unworthy of the trust
This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay for leave to and confidence which the courts and clients repose in him for the continued exercise
resume the practice of law. of his professional privilege.4

Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He practiced law until he Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:
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 SECTION 1. Who may practice law. Any person heretofore duly admitted
program. His application was approved and he became a Canadian citizen in May as a member of the bar, or thereafter admitted as such in accordance with
2004. the provisions of this Rule, and who is in good and regular standing, is
entitled to practice law.
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, Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the Philippine bar in
he took his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate accordance with the statutory requirements and who is in good and regular standing
General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he returned to the Philippines and now is entitled to practice law.
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. Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of Court mandates that
an applicant for admission to the bar be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-
one years of age, of good moral character and a resident of the Philippines.5 He must
In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the Bar Confidant cites Section 2, also produce before this Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character and that
Rule 138 (Attorneys and Admission to Bar) of the Rules of Court: no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in
any court in the Philippines.6
SECTION 2. Requirements for all applicants for admission to the bar.
Every applicant for admission as a member of the bar must be a citizen of Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as furnishing
the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, satisfactory proof of educational, moral and other qualifications; 7 passing the bar
and a resident of the Philippines; and must produce before the Supreme examinations;8 taking the lawyers oath9 and signing the roll of attorneys and
Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character, and that no charges receiving from the clerk of court of this Court a certificate of the license to practice.10
against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any
court in the Philippines.
The second requisite for the practice of law membership in good standing is a
continuing requirement. This means continued membership and, concomitantly,
Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant opines that, by virtue of his payment of annual membership dues in the IBP; 11 payment of the annual professional
reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, in 2006, petitioner has again met all the tax;12 compliance with the mandatory continuing legal education
qualifications and has none of the disqualifications for membership in the bar. It requirement;13 faithful observance of the rules and ethics of the legal profession and
recommends that he be allowed to resume the practice of law in the Philippines, being continually subject to judicial disciplinary control.14
conditioned on his retaking the lawyers oath to remind him of his duties and
responsibilities as a member of the Philippine bar.
Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino citizenship still practice
law in the Philippines? No.
We approve the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant with certain
The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the Philippines shall
be limited to Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law. 15 Since Filipino
citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates
membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege to engage in the
practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino citizenship ipso jure terminates the
privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to

The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as a

citizen of another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is
because "all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall
be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of [RA
9225]."17Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country is
deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in
accordance with RA 9225. 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

(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.


Puno, C.J., Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-

Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Reyes, Leonardo-de
Castro, JJ., concur.
Quisumbing, J., on leave.
BAR MATTER NO. 730 June 13, 1997 1. to ensure that there will be no miscarriage of justice as
a result of incompetence or inexperience of law students,
Gentlemen: who, not having as yet passed the test of professional
competence, are presumably not fully equipped to act a
counsels on their own;
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated
June 10, 1997.
2. to provide a mechanism by which the accredited law
school clinic may be able to protect itself from any
IN RE: NEED THAT LAW STUDENT PRACTICING UNDER RULE 138-A BE potential vicarious liability arising from some culpable
ACTUALLY SUPERVISED DURING TRIAL (BAR MATTER NO. 730). action by their law students; and

The issue in this Consulta is whether a law student who appears before the court 3. to ensure consistency with the fundamental principle
under the Law Student Practice Rule (Rule 138-A) should be accompanied by a that no person is allowed to practice a particular
member of the bar during the trial. This issue was raised by retired Supreme Court profession without possessing the qualifications,
Justice Antonio P. Barredo, counsel for the defendant in Civil Case No. BCV-92-11 particularly a license, as required by law.
entitled Irene A. Caliwara v. Roger T. Catbagan filed before the Regional Trial Court
of Bacoor, Cavite.
The matter of allowing a law student to appear before the court unaccompanied by a
supervising lawyer cannot be left to the discretion of the presiding judge. The rule
The records show that the plaintiff in civil Case No. BCV-92-11 was represented by clearly states that the appearance of the law student shall be under the direct control
Mr. Cornelio Carmona, Jr., an intern at the Office of Legal Aid, UP-College of Law and supervision of a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited
(UP-OLA). Mr. Carmona conducted hearings and completed the presentation of the by law schools. The rule must be strictly construed because public policy demands
plaintiff's evidence-in-chief without the presence of a supervising lawyer. Justice that legal work should be entrusted only to those who possess tested qualifications,
Barredo questioned the appearance of Mr. Carmona during the hearing because the are sworn to observe the rules and ethics of the legal profession and subject to
latter was not accompanied by a duly accredited lawyer. On December 15, 1994, judicial disciplinary control. 4 We said in Bulacan v. Torcino: 5
Presiding Judge Edelwina Pastoral issued an Order requiring Mr. Carmona to be
accompanied by a supervising lawyer on the next hearing. In compliance with said
Order, UP-OLA and the Secretary of Justice executed a Memorandum of Agreement Court procedures are often technical and may prove like snares to the
directing Atty. Catubao and Atty. Legayada of the Public Attorney's Office to ignorant or the unwary. In the past, our law has allowed non-lawyers to
supervise Mr. Carmona during the subsequent hearings. appear for party litigants in places where duly authorized members of the bar
are not available (U.S. vs. Bacansas, 6 Phil. 539). For relatively simple
litigation before municipal courts, the Rules still allow a more educated or
Justice Barredo asserts that a law student appearing before the trial court under Rule capable person in behalf of a litigant who cannot get a lawyer. But for the
138-A should be accompanied by a supervising lawyer. 1 On the other hand, UP- protection of the parties and in the interest of justice, the requirement for
OLA, through its Director, Atty. Alfredo F. Tadiar, submits that "the matter of allowing appearances in regional trial courts and higher courts is more stringent.
a law intern to appear unaccompanied by a duly accredited supervising lawyer should
be . . . left to the sound discretion of the court after having made at least one
supervised appearance." 2 The Law Student Practice Rule is only an exception to the rule. Hence, the presiding
judge should see to it that the law student appearing before the court is properly
guided and supervised by a member of the bar.
For the guidance of the bench and bar, we hold that a law student appearing before
the Regional Trial Court under Rule 138-A should at all times be accompanied by a
supervising lawyer. Section 2 of Rule 138-A provides. The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before an inferior court,
where the issues and procedure are relatively simple. In inferior courts, a law student
may appear in his personal capacity without the supervision of a lawyer. Section 34
Section 2. Appearance. The appearance of the law student authorized by this rule, Rule 138 provides;
shall be under the direct supervision and control of a member of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines duly accredited by the law school. Any and all pleadings, motions,
briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed, must be signed the by supervising Section 34. By whom litigation is conducted. In the court of a justice of the
attorney for and in behalf of the legal clinic. peace, a party may conduct his litigation in 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, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an
The phrase "direct supervision and control" requires no less than the physical attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly
presence of the supervising lawyer during the hearing. This is in accordance with the authorized member of the bar.
threefold rationale behind the Law Student Practice Rule, to wit: 3
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.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, we hold that a law student appearing before the Regional Trial
Court under the authority of Rule 138-A must be under the direct control and
supervision of a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by
the law school and that said law student must be accompanied by a supervising
lawyer in all his appearance.

Padilla and Francisco, J.J., on leave.

G.R. No. 154207 April 27, 2007 On April 2, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Petition for Certiorari and
Mandamus with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order
FERDINAND A. CRUZ, Petitioner, against the private respondent and the public respondent MeTC.
ALBERTO MINA, HON. ELEUTERIO F. GUERRERO and HON. ZENAIDA After hearing the prayer for preliminary injunction to restrain public respondent MeTC
LAGUILLES, Respondents. Judge from proceeding with Criminal Case No. 00-1705 pending the Certiorari
proceedings, the RTC, in a Resolution dated May 3, 2002, resolved to deny the
DECISION issuance of an injunctive 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, there
being no claim for civil indemnity, and that therefore, the intervention of a private
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: prosecutor is not legally tenable.

Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, On May 9, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Motion for Reconsideration. The
grounded on pure questions of law, with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction assailing the petitioner argues that nowhere does the law provide that the crime of Grave Threats
Resolution dated May 3, 2002 promulgated by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch has no civil aspect. And last, petitioner cites Bar Matter No. 730 dated June 10, 1997
116, Pasay City, in Civil Case No. 02-0137, which denied the issuance of a writ of which expressly provides for the appearance of a non-lawyer before the inferior
preliminary injunction against the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 45, Pasay courts, as an agent or friend of a party litigant, even without the supervision of a
City, in Criminal Case No. 00-1705;1 and the RTCs Order dated June 5, 2002 member of the bar.
denying the Motion for Reconsideration. No writ of preliminary injunction was issued
by this Court.
Pending the resolution of the foregoing Motion for Reconsideration before the RTC,
the petitioner filed a Second Motion for Reconsideration dated June 7, 2002 with the
The antecedents: MeTC seeking the reversal of the March 4, 2002 Denial Order of the said court, on
the strength of Bar Matter No. 730, and a Motion to Hold In Abeyance the Trial dated
On September 25, 2000, Ferdinand A. Cruz (petitioner) filed before the MeTC a June 10, 2002 of Criminal Case No. 00-1705 pending the outcome of the certiorari
formal Entry of Appearance, as private prosecutor, in Criminal Case No. 00-1705 for proceedings before the RTC.
Grave Threats, where his father, Mariano Cruz, is the complaining witness.
On June 5, 2002, the RTC issued its Order denying the petitioners Motion for
The petitioner, describing himself as a third year law student, justifies his appearance Reconsideration.
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- Likewise, in an Order dated June 13, 2002, the MeTC denied the petitioners Second
lawyer may appear before the inferior courts as an agent or friend of a party litigant. Motion for Reconsideration and his Motion to Hold in Abeyance the Trial on the
The petitioner furthermore avers that his appearance was with the prior conformity of ground that the RTC had already denied the Entry of Appearance of petitioner before
the public prosecutor and a written authority of Mariano Cruz appointing him to be his the MeTC.
agent in the prosecution of the said criminal case.
On July 30, 2002, the petitioner directly filed with this Court, the instant Petition and
However, in an Order dated February 1, 2002, the MeTC denied permission for assigns the following errors:
petitioner to appear as private prosecutor on the ground that Circular No. 19
governing limited law student practice in conjunction with Rule 138-A of the Rules of
Court (Law Student Practice Rule) should take precedence over the ruling of the I.
Court laid down in Cantimbuhan; and set the case for continuation of trial.3
the respondent regional trial court abused its discretion when it resolved to deny the
On February 13, 2002, petitioner filed before the MeTC a Motion for Reconsideration prayer for the writ of injunction of the herein petitioner despite petitioner having
seeking to reverse the February 1, 2002 Order alleging that Rule 138-A, or the Law established the necessity of granting the writ;
Student Practice Rule, does not have the effect of superseding Section 34 of Rule
138, for the authority to interpret the rule is the source itself of the rule, which is the II.
Supreme Court alone.
In an Order dated March 4, 2002, the MeTC denied the Motion for Reconsideration. IGNORANCE OF THE LAW, WHEN IT RESOLVED TO DENY THE PRAYER FOR
FOR RECONSIDERATION OF THE HEREIN PETITIONER ON THE BASIS THAT administrative case before any trial court, tribunal, board or officer, to represent
[GRAVE] THREATS HAS NO CIVIL ASPECT, FOR THE SAID BASIS OF DENIAL IS indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law school.
Sec. 2. Appearance. The appearance of the law student authorized by this rule,
III. shall be under the direct supervision and control of a member of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines duly accredited by the law school. Any and all pleadings, motions,
THE RESPONDENT METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed, must be signed by the supervising
WHEN IT DENIED THE MOTION TO HOLD IN ABEYANCE TRIAL, WHEN WHAT attorney for and in behalf of the legal clinic.
ISSUANCE OF THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION and WHEN THE However, in Resolution6 dated June 10, 1997 in Bar Matter No. 730, the Court En
The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before an inferior court,
IV. where the issues and procedure are relatively simple. In inferior courts, a law student
may appear in his personal capacity without the supervision of a lawyer. Section 34,
CANTIMBUHAN AND BULACAN CASES, AS WELL AS BAR MATTER NO. 730, Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. - In the court of a justice of the peace, a
PROVIDING FOR THE APPEARANCE OF NON-LAWYERS BEFORE THE LOWER party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed
COURTS (MTCS).4 by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may
conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be
This Court, in exceptional cases, and for compelling reasons, or if warranted by the either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
nature of the issues reviewed, may take cognizance of petitions filed directly before
it.5 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 (Emphasis supplied)
Considering that this case involves the interpretation, clarification, and implementation
of Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, Bar Matter No. 730, Circular No. 19 The phrase "In the court of a justice of the peace" in Bar Matter No. 730 is
governing law student practice and Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, and the ruling of subsequently changed to "In the court of a municipality" as it now appears in Section
the Court in Cantimbuhan, the Court takes cognizance of herein petition. 34 of Rule 138, thus:8

The basic question is whether the petitioner, a law student, may appear before an SEC. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. In the Court of a municipality a party
inferior court as an agent or friend of a party litigant. may conduct his litigation in 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, a party may
The courts a quo held that the Law Student Practice Rule as encapsulated in Rule conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney and his appearance must be
138-A of the Rules of Court, prohibits the petitioner, as a law student, from entering either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar. (Emphasis supplied)
his appearance in behalf of his father, the private complainant in the criminal case
without the supervision of an attorney duly accredited by the law school. which is the prevailing rule at the time the petitioner filed his Entry of Appearance with
the MeTC on September 25, 2000. No real distinction exists for under Section 6, Rule
Rule 138-A or the Law Student Practice Rule, provides: 5 of the Rules of Court, the term "Municipal Trial Courts" as used in these Rules shall
include Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial
Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.
RULE 138-A
There is really no problem as to the application of Section 34 of Rule 138 and Rule
138-A. In the former, the appearance of a non-lawyer, as an agent or friend of a party
Section 1. Conditions for Student Practice. A law student who has successfully litigant, is expressly allowed, while the latter rule provides for conditions when a law
completed his 3rd year of the regular four-year prescribed law curriculum and is student, not as an agent or a friend of a party litigant, may appear before the courts.
enrolled in a recognized law school's clinical legal education program approved by the
Supreme Court, may appear without compensation in any civil, criminal or
Petitioner expressly anchored his appearance on Section 34 of Rule 138. The court a
quo must have been confused by the fact that petitioner referred to himself as a law
student in his entry of appearance. Rule 138-A should not have been used by the
courts a quo in denying permission to act as private prosecutor against petitioner for
the simple reason that Rule 138-A is not the basis for the petitioners appearance.

Section 34, Rule 138 is clear that appearance before the inferior courts by a non-
lawyer is allowed, irrespective of whether or not he is a law student. As succinctly
clarified in Bar Matter No. 730, by virtue of Section 34, Rule 138, a law student may
appear, as an agent or a friend of a party litigant, without the supervision of a lawyer
before inferior courts.

Petitioner further argues that the RTC erroneously held that, by its very nature, no
civil liability may flow from the crime of Grave Threats, and, for this reason, the
intervention of a private prosecutor 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
therefore, petitioners appearance as private prosecutor appears to be legally

Under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, every person criminally liable for a
felony is also civilly liable except in instances when no actual damage results from an
offense, such as espionage, violation of neutrality, flight to an enemy country, and
crime against popular representation.9 The basic rule applies in the instant case, such
that when a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability
arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with criminal action,
unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it
separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.10

The petitioner is correct in stating that there being no reservation, waiver, nor prior
institution of the civil aspect in Criminal Case No. 00-1705, it follows that the civil
aspect arising from Grave Threats is deemed instituted with the criminal action, and,
hence, the private prosecutor may rightfully intervene to prosecute the civil aspect.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution and Order of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 116, Pasay City are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 45, Pasay City is DIRECTED to ADMIT the Entry of
Appearance of petitioner in Criminal Case No. 00-1705 as a private prosecutor under
the direct control and supervision of the public prosecutor.

No pronouncement as to costs.



Associate Justice
G.R. No. L-51813-14 November 29, 1983 behalf from conducting any proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 58549 (People of the
Philippines vs. Danilo San Antonio) and 58559 (People of the Philippines vs. Rodolfo
ROMULO CANTIMBUHAN, NELSON B. MALANA, and ROBERT V. Diaz) of the Municipal Court of Paraaque, Metro Manila on November 15, 1979 as
LUCILA, petitioners, scheduled or on any such dates as may be fixed by said respondent judge.
HON. NICANOR J. CRUZ, JR., Presiding Judge of the Municipal Court of Basis of this petition is Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court which states:
Paraaque, Metro Manila, and FISCAL LEODEGARIO C.
QUILATAN, respondents. SEC. 34. By whom litigation conducted. In the court of a justice
of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the
Froilan M. Bacungan and Alfredo F. Tadiar for petitioners. aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with
The Solicitor General for respondents. the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his
litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance
RELOVA, J.: must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.

Appeal from the Order, dated August 16, 1979, of respondent Judge Nicanor J. Cruz, Thus, a non-member of the Philippine Bar a party to an action is authorized to
Jr., of the then Municipal Court of Paraaque, Metro Manila, disallowing the appear in court and conduct his own case; and, in the inferior courts, the litigant may
appearances of petitioners Nelson B. Malana and Robert V. Lucila as private be aided by a friend or agent or by an attorney. However, in the Courts of First
prosecutors in Criminal Cases Nos. 58549 and 58550, both for less serious physical Instance, now Regional Trial Courts, he can be aided only by an attorney.
injuries, filed against Pat. Danilo San Antonio and Pat. Rodolfo Diaz, respectively, as
well as the Order, dated September 4, 1979, denying the motion for reconsideration On the other hand, it is the submission of the respondents that pursuant to Sections 4
holding, among others, that "the fiscal's claim that appearances of friends of party- and 15, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, it is the fiscal who is empowered to determine
litigants should be allowed only in places where there is a scarcity of legal who shall be the private prosecutor as was done by respondent fiscal when he
practitioner, to be well founded. For, if we are to allow non-members of the bar to objected to the appearances of petitioners Malana and Lucila. Sections 4 and 15,
appear in court and prosecute cases or defend litigants in the guise of being friends of Rule 110 of the Rules of Court provide: t.hqw
the litigants, then the requirement of membership in the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and the additional requirement of paying professional taxes for a lawyer to SEC. 4. Who must prosecute criminal actions. All criminal
appear in court, would be put to naught. " (p. 25, Rollo) actions either commenced by complaint or by information shall be
prosecuted under the direction and control of the fiscal.
Records show that on April 6, 1979, petitioner Romulo Cantimbuhan filed separate
criminal complaints against Patrolmen Danilo San Antonio and Rodolfo Diaz for less xxx xxx xxx
serious physical injuries, respectively, and were docketed as Criminal Cases Nos.
58549 and 58550 in the then Municipal Court of Paraaque, Metro Manila.
SEC. 15. Intervention of the offended party in criminal action.
Unless the offended party has waived the civil action or expressly
Petitioners Nelson B. Malana and Robert V. Lucila, in 1979, were senior law students reserved the right to institute it separately from the criminal action,
of the U.P.assistance to the needy clients in the Office of the Legal Aid. Thus, in and subject to the provisions of section 4 hereof, he may intervene,
August 1979, petitioners Malana and Lucila filed their separate appearances, as personally or by attorney, in the prosecution of the offense.
friends of complainant-petitioner Cantimbuhan. Herein respondent Fiscal Leodegario
C. Quilatan opposed the appearances of said petitioners, and respondent judge, in an
Order dated August 16, 1979, sustained the respondent fiscal and disallowed the And, they contend that the exercise by the offended party to intervene is subject to
appearances of petitioners Malana and Lucila, as private prosecutors in said criminal the direction and control of the fiscal and that his appearance, no less than his active
cases. Likewise, on September 4, 1979, respondent Judge issued an order denying conduct of the case later on, requires the prior approval of the fiscal.
petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
We find merit in the petition. Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, clearly
Hence, this petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition with prayers, among provides that in the municipal court a party may conduct his litigation in person with
others, that the Orders of respondent judge, dated August 16, 1979 and September 4, the aid of an agent appointed by him for the purpose. Thus, in the case of Laput vs.
1979, be set aside as they are in plain violation of Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules Bernabe, 55 Phil. 621, a law student was allowed to represent the accused in a case
of Court and/or were issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of pending before the then Municipal Court, the City Court of Manila, who was charged
jurisdiction. Upon motion, the Court, on November 8, 1979, issued a temporary for damages to property through reckless imprudence. "It is accordingly our view that
restraining order "enjoining respondent judge and all persons acting for and in his error was committed in the municipal court in not allowing Crispiniano V. Laput to act
as an agent or friend of Catalino Salas to aid the latter in conducting his defense."
The permission of the fiscal is not necessary for one to enter his appearance as
private prosecutor. In the first place, the law does not impose this condition. What the
fiscal can do, if he wants to handle the case personally is to disallow the private
prosecutor's participation, whether he be a lawyer or not, in the trial of the case. On
the other hand, if the fiscal desires the active participation of the private prosecutor,
he can just manifest to the court that the private prosecutor, with its approval, will
conduct the prosecution of the case under his supervision and control. Further, We
may add that if a non-lawyer can appear as defense counsel or as friend of the
accused in a case before the municipal trial court, with more reason should he be
allowed to appear as private prosecutor under the supervision and control of the trial

In the two criminal cases filed before the Municipal Court of Paraaque, petitioner
Cantimbuhan, as the offended party, did not expressly waive the civil action nor
reserve his right to institute it separately and, therefore, the civil action is deemed
impliedly instituted in said criminal cases. Thus, said complainant Romulo
Cantimbuhan has personal interest in the success of the civil action and, in the
prosecution of the same, he cannot be deprived of his right to be assisted by a friend
who is not a lawyer.

WHEREFORE, the Orders issued by respondent judge dated August 16, 1979 and
September 4, 1979 which disallowed the appearances of petitioners Nelson B.
Malana and Robert V. Lucila as friends of party-litigant petitioner Romulo
Cantimbuhan. are hereby SET ASIDE and respondent judge is hereby ordered to
ALLOW the appearance and intervention of petitioners Malana and Lucila as friends
of Romulo Cantimbuhan. Accordingly, the temporary restraining order issued on
November 8, 1979 is LIFTED.

SO ORDERED.1wph1.t

Fernando, C.J., Makasiar, Concepcion Jr., Guerrero, Abad Santos, Plana, Escolin
and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.
G.R. No. L-8320 December 20, 1955 Paras, C. J., Bengzon, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Jugo, Bautista Angelo, Labrador,
Concepcion, and Reyes, J. B. L., JJ., concur.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
SIM BEN, defendant-appellant.

Vicente Jayme and Celso C. Veloso for appellant.

Office of the Solicitor General Juan Liwag, Assistant Solicitor General Guillermo E.
Torres and Solicitor Antonio A. Torres for appellee.


Sim Ben appeals from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Cebu finding him
guilty of violating paragraph 3, Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, for having
exhibit cinematographic films of indecent or immoral scenes inside his establishment,
a restaurant which is a place open to public view in the City of Cebu, on the sole
ground that he entered a plea of guilty to the information without the aid of counsel.

The minutes of the session of the Court on 31 January 1953 disclose that when the
case was called for trial, the appellant was informed by the Court of his right to have
counsel and asked if he desired the aid of one. He replied that he did not. Then the
Court asked if he was agreeable to have the information read to him even without the
assistance of counsel. His answer was in the affirmative. The court interpreter
translated the information to him in the local dialect and after the translation he
entered a plea of guilty. He was asked whether he knew that because of the plea of
guilty the punishment as provided for by law would be imposed upon him and he
answered "Yes, sir." The Court asked him if he insisted on his plea of guilty and he
answered "Yes, sir." At this juncture the fiscal recommended that a fine of P200 be
imposed upon the defendant. Thereupon, the Court sentenced him to suffer 6 months
and 1 day of prision correccional and to pay the costs.lawphi1.net

What transpired when the appellant was arraigned shows that his rights were fully
protected and safeguarded. The Court complied with its duly when it informed the
appellant that it was his right to have the aid of counse. And before pronouncing the
sentence the Court took pains to ascertain whether he was aware of the
consequences of the plea he had entered. Notwithstanding this precaution and
warning, he waived his right to have the aid of counsel and entered a plea of guilty to
the information.

Appellant claims that he entered the plea of guilty because the fiscal promised him
that only a fine would be imposed. The recommendation of the fiscal that only a fine
be imposed upon the appellant seems to bear out his claim; but such
recommendation or one of leniency does not mean that the appellant is not guilty of
the crime charged against him. A promise to recommend a specific penalty such as
fine does not render the sentence void if the Court ignores the recommendation and
metes out to the defendant a penalty which is provided by law.

The sentence appealed from is affirmed, with cost against the appellant.
G.R. No. L-1582 October 10, 1947 attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly
authorized member of the bar.lawphil.net
TEOFILO PAAR, petitioner,
vs. It is clear form these provisions that in Manila where there are many members of the
FORTUNATO V. BORROMEO ET AL., respondents. bar, defendants in the People's Court may be assisted only by members of the bar.

The petitioner in his own behalf. Petition denied, without costs.

First Assistant Solicitor General Roberto A. Gianzon and Solicitor Francisco Carreon
for respondents. Paras, Feria, Perfecto, Hilado, Bengzon, Briones, Padilla, and Tuason, JJ., concur.


Teofilo Paar is charge in Manila with treason before the People's Court, and prayed
that he be assisted in his defense by Andres R. Camasura who is not a member of
the bar. The People's Court denied the petition, hence, this action for mandamus.

Section 3 and 4 Rule 112 are as follows:

SEC. 3. Duty of court to inform defendant of his right to have attorney. If

the defendant appears without a attorney, he must be informed by the court
that it is his right to have attorney before being arraigned, and must be asked
if he desires the aid of attorney. If he desires and is unable to employ
attorney, the court must assign attorney de oficio to defend him. A
reasonable time must be allowed for procuring attorney.

SEC. 4. Who may be appointed attorney `de oficio'. The attorney so

employed or assigned must be a duty authorized member of the Bar. But in
provinces where duly authorized members of the bar are not available, the
court may, in its discretion, admit or assign a person, resident in the province
and of good repute for probity and ability, to aid the defendant in his defense,
although the person so admitted or assigned be not a duly authorized
member of the Bar.

Section 29 and 31 of Rule 127 read:

SEC. 29. Attorney for destitute litigants. "A superior court may assign an
attorney to render professional aid free of charge to any party in a case, if
upon investigation it appears that the party is destitute and unable to employ
an attorney, and that the services of counsel are necessary to secure the
ends of justice and to protect the rights of the party. It shall be the duty of the
attorney so assigned to render the required service, unless he is excused
there from by the court for sufficient cause shown."

SEC. 31. By whom litigation conducted. In the court of a justice of the

peace a party may conduct his litigation in 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 a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an
G.R. No. 169517 March 14, 2006 Respondent claims that he had no intention of misrepresenting himself as a practicing
vs. In their Reply,9 petitioners reiterate that respondent should be made liable for indirect
BENEDICTO M. BALAJADIA, Respondent. contempt for having made untruthful statements in the complaint-affidavit and that he
cannot shift the blame to Atty. Aquinos secretary.
The sole issue for resolution is whether respondent is liable for indirect contempt.
Section 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court provides:
Before us is an original petition1 for contempt filed by petitioners Rogelio Tan, Norma
Tan and Maliyawao Pagayokan against respondent Benedicto Balajadia. Section 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. After a
charge in writing has been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to
Petitioners allege that on May 8, 2005, respondent filed a criminal case against them comment thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court and to be heard by
with the Office of the City of Prosecutor of Baguio City for usurpation of authority, himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for
grave coercion and violation of city tax ordinance due to the alleged illegal collection indirect contempt:
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 xxxx
office address at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio
City."2 However, certifications issued by the Office of the Bar Confidant 3 and the (e) Assuming to be an attorney or an officer of a court, and acting as such without
Integrated Bar of the Philippines4 showed that respondent has never been admitted to authority;
the Philippine Bar. Hence, petitioners claim that respondent is liable for indirect
contempt for misrepresenting himself as a lawyer.
x x x x.
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 In several cases,10 we have ruled that the unauthorized practice of law by assuming
that the secretary of Atty. Paterno Aquino prepared the subject complaint-affidavit to be an attorney and acting as such without authority constitutes indirect contempt
which was patterned after Atty. Aquinos complaint-affidavit.6 It appears that Atty. which is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. The liability for the unauthorized
Aquino had previously filed a complaint-affidavit against petitioners involving the practice of law under Section 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court is in the nature of
same subject matter. criminal contempt and the acts are punished because they are an affront to the dignity
and authority of the court, and obstruct the orderly administration of justice. In
determining liability for criminal contempt, well-settled is the rule that intent is a
Respondent claims that two complaint-affidavits were drafted by the same secretary; necessary element, and no one can be punished unless the evidence makes it clear
one for the May 5, 2005 parking incident at 10:00 oclock in the morning and another that he intended to commit it.11
for the parking incident on the same date but which occurred at 1:00 oclock in the
afternoon. Respondent insists that the complaint-affidavit regarding the 1:00 oclock
parking incident correctly alleged that he is "a businessman with office address at In the case at bar, a review of the records supports respondents claim that he never
Room B-204, 2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio City."7 However, the intended to project himself as a lawyer to the public. It was a clear inadvertence on
complaint-affidavit regarding the 10:00 oclock parking incident, which is the subject of the part of the secretary of Atty Aquino. The affidavit of Liza Laconsay attesting to the
the instant petition, erroneously referred to him as a practicing lawyer because Atty. circumstances that gave rise to the mistake in the drafting of the complaint-affidavit
Aquinos secretary copied verbatim paragraph 5 of Atty. Aquinos complaint-affidavit. conforms to the documentary evidence on record. Taken together, these
Hence, it was inadvertently alleged that respondent is a "practicing lawyer based in circumstances show that the allegation in paragraph 5 of respondents complaint-
Baguio City with office address at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, affidavit was, indeed, the result of inadvertence.
Baguio City," which statement referred to the person of Atty. Aquino and his law office
address. Respondent has satisfactorily shown that the allegation that he is a practicing lawyer
was the result of inadvertence and cannot, by itself, establish intent as to make him
Liza Laconsay, Atty. Aquinos secretary, executed an affidavit8 admitting the mistake liable for indirect contempt. In the cases where we found a party liable for the
in the preparation of the complaint-affidavit. Respondent alleged that he did not read unauthorized practice of law, the party was guilty of some overt act like signing court
the complaint-affidavit because he assumed that the two complaint-affidavits pleadings on behalf of his client;12 appearing before court hearings as an
contained the same allegations with respect to his occupation and office address. attorney;13 manifesting before the court that he will practice law despite being
previously denied admission to the bar;14 or deliberately attempting to practice law
and holding out himself as an attorney through circulars with full knowledge that he is
not licensed to do so.15

In the case at bar, no evidence was presented to show that respondent acted as an
attorney or that he intended to practice law. Consequently, he cannot be made liable
for indirect contempt considering his lack of intent to illegally practice law.

However, while the evidence on record failed to prove respondents deliberate intent
to misrepresent himself as an attorney and act as such without authority, he is hereby
warned to be more careful and circumspect in his future actions.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. Respondent is WARNED to be more

careful and circumspect in his future actions.


Associate Justice
A.C. No. 5829 October 28, 2003 Attorney6 authorizing respondent and/or Garcia to bring any action against
Metropolitan Insurance for the satisfaction of complainants claim as well as to
DANIEL LEMOINE, complainant, "negotiate, sign, compromise[,] encash and receive payment" from it. The Special
vs. Power of Attorney was later dated December 23, 1998 on which same date
ATTY. AMADEO E. BALON, JR., respondent. Metropolitan Insurance issued a Chinabank Check No. 841172 payable to
complainant in the amount of P525,000.00 as full settlement of the claim.7 The check
was received by respondent.
In the meantime, complainant returned to the Philippines in early January 1999 but
PER CURIAM: left again on the 24th of the same month.8 On inquiry about the status of his claim,
Garcia echoed to complainant what respondent had written him (Garcia) in
On December 17, 1999, complainant Daniel Lemoine, a French national, filed a respondents letter9 of March 26, 1999 that the claim was still pending with
verified complaint1 against respondent Atty. Amadeo E. Balon, Jr., for estafa and Metropolitan Insurance and that it was still subject of negotiations in which
misconduct before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The case, docketed as CBD Metropolitan Insurance offered to settle it for P350,000.00representing fifty percent
Case No. 99-679, was referred by the Commission on Bar Discipline to an thereof. In the same letter to Garcia, respondent suggested the acceptance of the
Investigator for investigation, report and recommendation. offer of settlement to avoid a protracted litigation.

The facts that spawned the filing of the complaint are as follows: On December 6, 1999, on complainants personal visit to the office of Metropolitan
Insurance, he was informed that his claim had long been settled via a December 23,
In early 1998, complainant filed a car insurance claim with the Metropolitan Insurance 1998 check given to respondent the year before. 10 Complainant lost no time in going
Company (Metropolitan Insurance), the insurer of his vehicle which was lost. As to the law office of respondent who was not around, however, but whom he was able
complainant encountered problems in pursuing his claim which was initially to talk by telephone during which he demanded that he turn over the proceeds of his
rejected,2 his friend, a certain Jesus "Jess" Garcia (Garcia), arranged for the claim.11
engagement of respondents services.
Respondent thereupon faxed to complainant a December 7, 1999 letter 12 wherein he
By letter3 ofOctober 21, 1998 addressed to Elde Management, Inc., "ATTN: Mr. acknowledged having in his possession the proceeds of the encashed check which
Daniel Lemoine," under whose care complainant could be reached, respondent he retained, however, as attorneys lien pending complainants payment of his
advised complainant, whom he had not before met, that for his legal services he was attorneys fee, equivalent to fifty percent (50%) of entire amount collected. In the
charging "25% of the actual amount being recovered. . . payable upon successful same letter, respondent protested what he branded as the "uncivilized and
recovery;" an advance payment of P50,000.00 "to be charged [to complainant] to be unprofessional behavior" complainant "reportedly demonstrated" at respondents
deducted from whatever amount [would] be successfully collected;" P1,000.00 "as office. Respondent winded up his letter as follows, quoted verbatim:
appearance and conference fee for each and every court hearings, conferences
outside our law office and meetings before the Office of the Insurance Commission We would like to make it clear that we cannot give you the aforesaid amount until and
which will be also charged to our 25% recovery fee;" and legal expenses "such as but unless our attorneys fees will be forthwith agreed and settled. In the same manner,
not limited to filing fee, messengerial and postage expenses . . . and other should you be barbaric and uncivilized with your approached, we will not hesitate to
miscellaneous but related expenses," to be charged to complainants account which make a proper representation with the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation for the
would be reimbursed upon presentation of statement of account. authenticity of your visa, Department of Labor and Employment for your working
status, Bureau of Internal Revenue for your taxation compliance and the National
The letter-proposal of respondent regarding attorneys fees does not bear Bureau of Investigation [with] which we have a good network...
complainants conformity, he not having agreed therewith.
While it [is your] prerogative to file a legal action against us, it is also our prerogative
It appears that Metropolitan Insurance finally offered to settle complainants claim, for to file a case against you. We will rather suggest if you could request your lawyer to
by letter4 of December 9, 1998addressed to it, respondent confirmed his acceptance just confer with us for the peaceful settlement of this matter. (Underscoring and
of its offer to settle the claim of complainant "in an ex-gratia basis of 75% of his policy emphasis supplied)
coverage which is therefore FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND
(P525,000.00) PESOS." As despite written demands,13 respondent refused to turn over the proceeds of the
insurance claim and to acknowledge the unreasonableness of the attorneys fees he
A day or a few days before December 23, 1998 when complainant left for France,5 he, was demanding, complainant instituted the administrative action at bar on December
on the advice of respondent, signed an already prepared undated Special Power of 17, 1999.
In his Complaint-Affidavit, complainant alleged that "[i]t appears that there was entitled to receive less attorneys fees and expenses. 26 Thus, respondent claimed that
irregularity with the check," it having been issued payable to him, but "and/or he gave Garcia the amount of P30,000.00 on May 31, 1999 at Dulcinea Restaurant in
AMADEO BALON" was therein intercalated after his (complainants) Greenbelt, Makati; the amounts of P50,000.00, P20,000.00 and P30,000.00 on
name.14 1awphi1.nt different occasions at his (respondents) former address through his executive
secretary Sally I. Leonardo; the amount of P20,000.00 at the office of his
Maintaining that respondent was entitled to only P50,000.00 in attorneys (respondents) former employer Commonwealth Insurance Company through his
fees,15 complainant decried respondents continued possession of the proceeds of his subordinate Glen V. Roxas; and several other payments at Dulcinea, and at Manila
claim16 and his misrepresentations that the recovery thereof was fraught with Intercontinental Hotels coffee shop sometime in October 1999.27 Respondent
difficulties.17 submitted the separate sworn statements of Leonardo and Roxas. 28

In his Counter-Affidavit18 of February 18, 2000, respondent asserted that his Explaining why no written memorandum of the turn over of various payments to
continued retention of the proceeds of complainants claim is in lawful exercise of his Garcia was made, respondent alleged that there was no need therefor since he very
lien for unpaid attorneys fees. He expressed readiness, however, to account for and well knew Garcia who is a co-Rotarian and co-attorney-in-fact and whom he really
turn them over once he got paid fifty percent (50%) thereof, he citing the so called dealt with regarding complainants claim.29
contingent fee billing method of "no cure, no pay" adopted by practicing lawyers in the
insurance industry as the basis of the amount of his attorneys fees, 19 which to him Respondent furthermore declared that he rejected complainants offer to pay him
was justified in the absence of an attorney-client contract between him and P50,000.00 for his services, insisting that since there had been no clear-cut
complainant, the latter having rejected respondents letter-proposal of October 21, agreement on his professional fees and it was through him that Metropolitan
1998.20 Insurance favorably reconsidered its initial rejection of complainants claim, he is
entitled to a contingent fee of 50% of the net proceeds thereof. 30
Respondent also highlighted the value of the time and efforts he extended in pursuing
complainants claim and the expenses he incurred in connection therewith. He went Finally, respondent declared that he, in connection with his follow-up of the insurance
on to assert that his inability to contact complainant whose whereabouts he did not claim, incurred representation expenses of P35,000.00, entertainment and other
know prompted him to encash the check and keep the proceeds thereof in conformity representation expenses on various occasions of P10,000.00, and transportation and
with the Special Power of Attorney executed in his favor.21 gasoline expenses and parking fees of P5,000.00; 31 and that his retention of
complainants money was justified in light of his apprehension that complainant, being
During the hearings conducted by the IBP Investigator, complainant echoed his an alien without a valid working permit in the Philippines, might leave the country
allegations in his Complaint-Affidavit and stressed that he turned down as anytime without settling his professional fees.32
unreasonable respondents proposal in his October 21, 1998 letter that he be paid
25% of the actual amount collected for his legal services. 22 And he presented The Investigating Commissioner, by Report and Recommendation 33 of October 26,
documentary evidence, including the March 26, 1999 letter of respondent informing 2001, found respondent guilty of misconduct and recommended that he be disbarred
his co-attorney-in-fact Garcia of the supposedly still unrecovered claim and and directed to immediately turn over to complainant the sum of P475,000.00
suggesting acceptance of the purported offer of Metropolitan Insurance to settle representing the amount of the P525,000.00 insurance claim less respondents
complainants claim at P350,000.00. professional fees of P50,000.00, as proposed by complainant.

Explaining how his above-mentioned March 26, 1999 letter to Garcia came about, The Board of Govenors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, acting on the
respondent declared that it was made upon Garcias request, intended for a certain Investigators Report, issued Resolution No. XV-2002-40134 on August 3,2002,
Joel Ramiscal (Ramiscal) who was said to be Garcias business partner.23 reading:

Respondent later submitted a June 13, 2001 Supplement24 to his Counter- RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED,
Affidavit reiterating his explanation that it was on Garcias express request that he the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-
wrote the March 26, 1999 letter, which was directed to the fax number of entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A"; and, finding
Ramiscal.1vvphi1.nt the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable
laws and rules, with modification, and considering respondents dishonesty which
Additionally, respondent declared that in the first week of May 1999, on the amounted to grave misconduct and grossly unethical behavior which caused
representation of Garcia that he had talked to complainant about respondents dishonor, not merely to respondent but the noble profession to which he belongs,
retention of fifty percent (50%) of the insurance proceeds for professional fees less Respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months with
expenses,25 he gave Garcia, on a staggered basis, the total amount of P233,000.00 the directive to turn over the amount of Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand
which, so respondent averred, is the amount of insurance claim complainant is (P525,000.00) Pesos to the complainant without prejudice to respondents right to
claim attorneys fees which he may collect in the proper forum. (Underscoring CANON 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful
supplied) of the trust and confidence in him.

The records of the case are before this Court for final action. xxx

Respondent, by a Motion for Reconsideration35 filed with this Court, assails the RULE 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and
Investigating Commissioners Report and Recommendation as not supported by shall respond within a reasonable time to the clients request for information.
clear, convincing and satisfactory proof. He prays for the reopening of the case and
its remand to the Investigator so that Garcia can personally appear for his xxx
(respondents) confrontation.
RULE 21.02 - A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his client, use information
There is no need for a reopening of the case. The facts material to its resolution are acquired in the course of employment, nor shall he use the same to his advantage or
either admitted or documented. that of a third person, unless the client with full knowledge of the circumstances
consents thereto.
This Court is in full accord with the findings of the IBP Investigator that respondent
violated the following provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit: Specifically with respect to above-quoted provision of Canon 16 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, the Filipino lawyers principal source of ethical rules,
RULE 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful which Canon 16 bears on the principal complaint of complainant, a lawyer must hold
conduct. in trust all moneys and properties of his client that he may come to possess. This
commandment entails certain specific acts to be done by a lawyer such as rendering
xxx an accounting of all money or property received for or from the client 36 as well as
delivery of the funds or property to the client when due or upon
demand.37 Respondent breached this Canon when after he received the proceeds of
CANON 15 - A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings complainants insurance claim, he did not report it to complainant, who had a given
and transactions with his clients. address in Makati, or to his co-attorney-in-fact Garcia who was his contact with
respect to complainant.
RULE 15.06 - A lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able to influence any public
official, tribunal or legislative body. In fact, long after respondent received the December 23, 1998 check
for P525,000.00 he, by his letter of March 26, 1999 to Garcia, had even the temerity
xxx to state that the claim was still pending and recommend "acceptance of the 50% offer
. . . which is P350,000.00 pesos." His explanation that he prepared and sent this letter
CANON 16 - A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that on Garcias express request is nauseating. A lawyer, like respondent, would not and
may come into his possession. should not commit prevarication, documented at that, on the mere request of a friend.

RULE 16.01 - A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received By respondents failure to promptly account for the funds he received and held for the
for or from the client. benefit of his client, he committed professional misconduct. 38 Such misconduct is
reprehensible at a greater degree, for it was obviously done on purpose through the
employment of deceit to the prejudice of complainant who was kept in the dark about
RULE 16.02 - A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his the release of the check, until he himself discovered the same, and has to date been
own and those of others kept by him. deprived of the use of the proceeds thereof.

RULE 16.03 - A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or A lawyer who practices or utilizes deceit in his dealings with his client not only violates
upon demand. However, he shall have a lien over the funds and may apply so much his duty of fidelity, loyalty and devotion to the clients cause but also degrades himself
thereof as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving and besmirches the fair name of an honorable profession. 39
notice promptly thereafter to his client. He shall also have a lien to the same extent on
all judgments and executions he has secured for his client as provided for in the
Rules of Court. That respondent had a lien on complainants funds for his attorneys fees did not
relieve him of his duty to account for it.40 The lawyers continuing exercise of his
retaining lien presupposes that the client agrees with the amount of attorneys fees to
xxx be charged. In case of disagreement or when the client contests that amount for
being unconscionable, however, the lawyer must not arbitrarily apply the funds in his It bears noting that for close to five long years respondent has been in possession of
possession to the payment of his fees.41 He can file, if he still deems it desirable, the complainants funds in the amount of over half a million pesos. The deceptions and
necessary action or proper motion with the proper court to fix the amount of such lies that he peddled to conceal, until its discovery by complainant after about a year,
fees.42 his receipt of the funds and his tenacious custody thereof in a grossly oppressive
manner point to his lack of good moral character. Worse, by respondents turnaround
In respondents case, he never had the slightest attempt to bring the matter of his in his Supplement to his Counter-Affidavit that he already delivered to complainants
compensation for judicial determination so that his and complainants sharp friend Garcia the amount of P233,000.00 which, so respondent claims, is all that
disagreement thereon could have been put to an end. Instead, respondent stubbornly complainant is entitled to, he in effect has declared that he has nothing more to turn
and in bad faith held on to complainants funds with the obvious aim of forcing over to complainant. Such incredible position is tantamount to a refusal to remit
complainant to agree to the amount of attorneys fees sought. This is an appalling complainants funds, and gives rise to the conclusion that he has misappropriated
abuse by respondent of the exercise of an attorneys retaining lien which by no means them.45
is an absolute right and cannot at all justify inordinate delay in the delivery of money
and property to his client when due or upon demand. In fine, by respondents questioned acts, he has shown that he is no longer fit to
remain a member of the noble profession that is the law.
Respondent was, before receiving the check, proposing a 25% attorneys
fees. After he received the check and after complainant had discovered its release to WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Amadeo E. Balon, Jr., is found GUILTY of
him, he was already asking for 50%, objection to which complainant communicated to malpractice, deceit and gross misconduct in the practice of his profession as a lawyer
him. Why respondent had to doubly increase his fees after the lapse of about one and he is hereby DISBARRED. The Office of the Clerk of Court is directed to strike
year when all the while he has been in custody of the proceeds of the check defies out his name from the Roll of Attorneys and to inform all courts and the Integrated Bar
comprehension. At any rate, it smacks of opportunism, to say the least. of the Philippines of this Decision.

As for respondents claim in his June 2001 Supplement to his Counter-Affidavit that Respondent is ordered to turn over to complainant, Daniel Lemoine, the amount of
he had on several occasions from May 1999 to October 1999 already delivered a total P525,000.00 within thirty (30) days from notice, without prejudice to whatever judicial
of P233,000.00 out of the insurance proceeds to Garcia in trust for complainant, this action he may take to recover his attorneys fees and purported expenses incurred in
does not persuade, for it is bereft of any written memorandum thereof. It is difficult to securing the release thereof from Metropolitan Insurance.
believe that a lawyer like respondent could have entrusted such total amount of
money to Garcia without documenting it, especially at a time when, as respondent SO ORDERED.
alleged, he and Garcia were not in good terms. 43 Not only that. As stated earlier,
respondents Counter-Affidavit of February 18, 2000 and his December 7, 1999 letter
to complainant unequivocally contained his express admission that the total amount Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Sandoval-
of P525,000.00 was in his custody. Such illogical, futile attempt to exculpate himself Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna,
only aggravates his misconduct. Respondents claim discredited, the affidavits of and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Leonardo and Roxas who, acting allegedly for him, purportedly gave Garcia some
amounts forming part of the P233,000.00 are thus highly suspect and merit no Ynares-Santiago, J., on leave.

The proven ancillary charges against respondent reinforce the gravity of his
professional misconduct.

The intercalation of respondents name to the Chinabank check that was

issued payable solely in favor of complainant as twice certified by Metropolitan
Insurance44 is clearly a brazen act of falsification of a commercial document which
respondent resorted to in order to encash the check.

Respondents threat in his December 7, 1999 letter to expose complainant to possible

sanctions from certain government agencies with which he bragged to have a "good
network" reflects lack of character, self-respect, and justness.
G.R. No. 111682 February 6, 1997 her right to do so.6 But the hearing on June 5, 1989 had to be rescheduled again
because petitioner's counsel, Atty. Tenorio, was absent. 7
ZENAIDA REYES, petitioner,
vs. On July 10, 1989, the new date of hearing, both petitioner and Atty. Tenorio were
COURT OF APPEALS and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. absent, so that on motion of private prosecutor, the court declared petitioner to have
waived the right to present her evidence.8 Four days later (on July 14, 1989),
MENDOZA, .: petitioner gave a medical certificate9 stating that she was suffering from hypertension
and rheumatism which required bed rest for at least 5-7 days. The court merely noted
the medical certificate but maintained its previous order, on the ground that "the same
RESOLUTION is not a motion and [as] counsel was also not in Court during the last hearing, the
Order of the Court dated July 10, 1989 to the effect that the presentation of defense
This is a motion for reconsideration of the resolution dated November 29, 1995, of the evidence is considered waived, stands. " 10
Court, denying the petition for review of the decision, dated May 28, 1993, and the
resolution, dated August 30, 1993, of the Court of Appeals 1 in CA-G.R. CR. No. Petitioner by herself moved for reconsideration, alleging that she failed to appear in
08410, affirming the conviction of petitioner Zenaida P. Reyes of falsification of public court on July 10, 1989 because she was indisposed and had been unable to contact
document. Petitioner's motion is based on her contention that because of her Atty. Tenorio. She asked for permission to present her evidence. Her motion,
counsel's unexplained absences at the trial she was prevented from presenting however, was denied by the court in its order of August 29, 1989 11 in which it also
evidence in her defense and therefore denied the due process of law. scheduled the promulgation of judgment on September 29, 1989.

The facts are as follows: On September 29, 1989, the court rendered its decision 12 finding petitioner guilty of
falsification and sentencing her to 4 months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to 4 years
In an information filed on April 7, 1986 with the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan and and 2 months of prision correccional, as maximum, and to pay a fine of P5,000.00.
later assigned to Branch 22 thereof as Criminal Case No. 9252-M, petitioner Zenaida
Reyes was accused of falsifying a deed of sale of four (4) parcels of land "by feigning Petitioner through a new counsel, Atty. Ronolfo S. Pasamba, filed a notice of
and signing the name of Pablo Floro, who could not affix his signature anymore due appeal. 13 On May 9, 1990, petitioner by herself filed a motion in the Court of Appeals
to age infirmity, on the said document as seller and causing it to appear that said for extension of 30 days to file her brief as appellant. 14 About the same time Atty.
Pablo Floro [had] participated in the execution of the said document when in truth and Pasamba also filed a motion for an extension of 45 days for the same purpose, but
in fact, as said accused well knew, said deed of sale was not executed and signed by later asked to be relieved as petitioner's counsel on the ground that despite his
the said Pablo Floro, nor did he ever appear before any notary public for the purpose request, petitioner did not give him the records of the case and confer with him but
of acknowledging the deed above mentioned." 2 instead acted as her own counsel by filing her own motion for time to file brief.

Upon being arraigned, petitioner pleaded not guilty. Trial on the merits then followed. The Court of Appeals granted Atty. Pasamba's motion and required petitioner to
After the prosecution had rested its case, the presentation of the defense evidence submit the name and address of her new counsel within ten (10) days from notice.
was scheduled on February 6, 1989, which, however, was reset "for the last time" to Petitioner instead filed a motion for new trial in lieu of appellant's brief, claiming that
March 10, 1989 due to petitioner's illness.3 The hearing on March 10, 1989 was, because of the negligence of her counsel, she had been deprived of her right to
however, cancelled also because of the absence of both the private prosecutor and present evidence on her behalf in the trial court.
defense counsel, Atty. Analuz Cristal-Tenorio. The new schedule was April 12,
1989.4 However, Atty. Tenorio was again absent on April 12, 1989. Petitioner was
also absent, but her husband appeared and submitted to the court a medical After the Solicitor General filed his comment, the Court of Appeals in its resolution
certificate that she was sick. The hearing on that date was therefore postponed to dated January 15, 1992 denied petitioner's motion for new trial and gave her 30 days
May 17, 1989 "[f]or the last time. "5 within which to file her appellant's brief.15 The appellate court held:

On May 11, 1989, Atty. Tenorio moved for the postponement of the hearing from May All that appellant is invoking as ground for new trial is the policy of
17, 1989 to June 5, 1989, allegedly because she had to leave for Malaybalay, liberality in the application of the rules and the alleged negligence of
Bukidnon to assist in the prosecution of her brother-in-law's killers. The trial court, her counsel.
while noting that the hearing on May 17, 1989 was "intransferrable in character,"
nonetheless granted Atty. Tenorio's motion and postponed the hearing to June 5, Appellant, who has, in fact, prepared the motion herself, without the
1989 over the objection of the private prosecutor. Petitioner was warned that if she assistance of counsel, is probably a member of the Bar. If she is
did not present her evidence on that date, she would be considered to have waived not, she must have gone through law school as her handiwork is
written in forensic style and is even better than the pleadings of
some licensed advocates who are handling appealed cases or administration of justice that certainly can not and should not be
original special civil actions before this Court. condoned. (PP vs. Angco, 103 Phil. 33; PP vs. Dichoso, 96 SCRA
Under the Rules the grounds for new trial are
Petitioner filed a "very urgent motion" for 90 days from February 22, 1992 to secure
(a) That errors of law or services of counsel to file her appellant's brief. The Court of Appeals gave petitioner
irregularities have been 15 days from February 22, 1992, the last day of the extension previously granted her.
committed during the trial The Court of Appeals stated that it had given petitioner notice to file brief as early as
prejudicial to the substantial March 27, 1990, but "petitioner has been trifling with our judicial processes long
nights of the accused; and enough."

(b) That new and material On March 6, 1992, without the assistance of counsel, accused-appellant filed an
evidence has been discovered appellant's brief. Thereafter the Solicitor General filed the appellee's brief to which
which the accused could not petitioner filed a reply brief. On May 28, 1993, the Court of Appeals rendered its
with reasonable diligence have decision, affirming the trial court's ruling. On August 30, 1993 it denied
discovered and produced at the reconsideration.
trial, and which if introduced
and admitted, would probably Petitioner filed this case for review on certiorari, claiming that her conviction by the
change the judgment. (Rule trial court was void because she was denied due process, since she was denied the
121, Section 2) opportunity to present evidence in her behalf. The Solicitor General filed his comment
to which petitioner filed a reply. On November 29, 1995 this Court denied the petition
There is not even a wee bit of a hint about the second ground. for lack of merit. Hence this motion for reconsideration.

So, in effect, what the accused would want of Us is to bend over After due consideration of the motion and its supplement and the separate comments
backwards and in a gesture of liberality consider as an error of law thereto by the respondents as well as petitioner's replies and private respondent's
or as an irregularity the trial court's conclusion that she was consolidated rejoinder, the Court now resolves to grant petitioner's motion for
deemed to have waived her right to present evidence in her reconsideration.
defense. In connection with this course of action she already filed
before the trial court a motion for reconsideration: this was denied, First. The issue in this case is whether the trial court properly held petitioner to have
whereupon the trial court proceeded to rendition of the judgment waived the right to present evidence because of her failure to proceed despite several
appealed from by the accused to this court. postponements granted to her. To be sure, the postponement of the trial of a case to
allow the presentation of evidence of a party is a matter which lies in the discretion of
We have meticulously gone over the entire record, and We find that the trial court, but it is a discretion which must be exercised wisely, considering the
accused appellant was not at all deprived of her day in court or peculiar circumstances obtaining in each case and with a view to doing substantial
denied due process. She was afforded ample opportunity to present justice. 16 In the case at bar, hearings were scheduled for die presentation of
evidence in her defense. petitioner's evidence on six different dates, to wit: (1) February 6, 1989; (2) March 10,
1989; (3) April 12, 1989; (4) May 17, 1989; (5) June 5, 1989; and (6) July 10, 1989.
Petitioner was absent thrice, i.e., on February 6, 1989, April 12, 1989, and July 10,
Regardless of the nature of the offense charged, a criminal case, 1989. On the first date, petitioner could not come because she was sick and her
even if it involves only a light offense, the penalty for which might counsel so informed the court. She was absent also on June 5, 1989 and July 10,
be mere censure, is a serious matter that deserves equally serious 1989 because of illness (hypertension and rheumatism). Thus, while petitioner's
attention by the one accused. The appellant, it seems never gave to absences were explained, those of her counsel were not. Atty. Tenorio simply
this case while it was still at the lower court the serious attention disappeared without a trace, despite warning to counsel that her failure to present
that it deserves. For good reason repeated absences of the evidence for her client on June 5, 1989 would be considered a waiver of the latter's
accused and her counsel the trial court was eventually right to present her evidence. But counsel failed to heed the warning. Petitioner had to
constrained to consider the accused to have waived the soldier on and, by herself, had to plead with the court for a chance to present her
presentation of evidence in her defense. As pointed out by the evidence. Contrary to what the appellate court thought in affirming petitioner's
Solicitor General, it is settled in our jurisprudence that dilatory conviction, this was not the case of a woman who treated the criminal proceedings
moves by the accused that tend to defeat the expeditious against her with cavalier disdain. Indeed, we do not think that petitioner's absences
termination of a criminal case is tantamount to trifling with the were so many, capricious, or egregious as to indubitably indicate an attempt to stall
the proceedings of the criminal case as was the case in People conviction had been brought about by his counsel's gross ignorance of law and
v. Angco 17 and People v. Dichoso. 18 Petitioner might have tried to delay the filing of procedure. The Court held:
her appellant's brief, but her effort can be attributed to an understandable desire to be
allowed to present her evidence. Hence, the filing of a motion for new trial. Even in Petitioner's present dilemma is certainly not something reducible to
her present petition before this Court petitioner's prayer is not that she be exonerated pesos and centavos. No less than his liberty is at stake here. And
but only that she be given the chance to prove her innocence by being allowed to he is just about to lose it simply because his former lawyers
present her evidence. pursued a carelessly contrived procedural strategy of insisting on
what has already become an imprudent remedy, which thus
Respondent People and the counsel for the private respondent oppose petitioner's forbade petitioner from offering his evidence all the while available
motion. They point out that, unlike the cases 19 which petitioner cites in support of her for presentation before the Sandiganbayan. Under the
motion, petitioner herself was negligent. They contend that she could not have been circumstances, higher interests of justice and equity demand that
unaware of the absences of her lawyer but despite that she did nothing to protect her petitioner be not penalized for the costly importunings of his
interests. Private respondent argues that "if granted a second chance to present her previous lawyers based on the same principles why this Court had,
side, nothing will stop the petitioner from once again engaging the services of her on many occasions where it granted new trial, excused parties from
erstwhile absentee counsel. Anyway, after another 10 years of litigation, she can the negligence or mistakes of counsel. To cling to the general rule
easily sound her reliable refrain: 'I was denied due process! I was ready to present my in this case is only to condone rather than rectify a serious injustice
evidence, but my lawyer was absent for five consecutive times'. . . ." to petitioners whose only fault was to repose his faith and entrust
his innocence to his previous lawyers. . . .
Private respondent's contention is exaggerated. Of course there is a limit to
petitioner's credibility should she repeat what had happened here just for delay, not to The Court remanded the case to the Sandiganbayan for reception and appreciation of
mention that she would be taking a big risk of losing her defense. As for the private petitioner's evidence.
respondent's argument that petitioner should have gotten another lawyer, only with
the benefit of hindsight does this course appear to be the only tenable one to take. In another case, People v. Del Mundo, 22 in which the accused was convicted of rape
Petitioner might have thought that her counsel would be more sedulous in her behalf. in six cases and sentenced to reclusion perpetua on five of them and to death on the
Or perhaps petitioner tried to get another counsel, but failed and, left with no choice, sixth, this Court ordered a new trial after it was shown that complainant had executed
stuck it out with Atty. Tenorio and simply hoped for the best rather than be left without prior to accused's conviction an affidavit of desistance, while an NBI medico-legal
a counsel. In any case, the fact that on May 17, 1989 and June 5, 1989 petitioner was report given after such conviction found that complainant's "physical virginity
present even when counsel was absent tends to negate an intention to delay the preserved." The report belied the contrary finding of the city health officer on which
criminal proceedings. the trial court relied in convicting the accused. Although the NBI report did not
constitute newly-discovered evidence, a new trial was nonetheless ordered "on the
It was Atty. Tenorio's absences, then, rather than petitioner's, which appear to be the broader ground of substantial justice [as] the rule for granting a motion for new trial,
cause for the defense's failure to present its evidence. Atty. Tenorio's negligence did among others, should be liberally construed to assist the parties in obtaining a just
not consist in error of procedure or even a lapse in strategy but something as basic as and speedy determination of their rights. . . . Court litigations are primarily for the
failing to appear in court despite clear warning that such failure would amount to search for truth, and a liberal interpretation of the rules by which both parties are
waiver of her client's right to present evidence in her defense. given the fullest opportunity to adduce proofs is the best way to ferret out such truth."

Keeping in mind that this case involves personal liberty, the negligence of counsel Reconsideration of the resolution in this case is compelled by these precedents.
was certainly so gross that it should not be allowed to prejudice petitioner's Indeed, to deny petitioner the opportunity to present her evidence on the merest
constitutional right to be heard. The judicial conscience certainly cannot rest easy on chance that she might be innocent would be to disregard the wisdom that it is better
a conviction based solely on the evidence of the prosecution just because the to acquit ten guilty individuals than to convict one innocent person. The Court is as
presentation of the defense evidence had been barred by technicality. Rigid aware as anyone of the need for the speedy disposition of cases. At the same time,
application of rules must yield to the duty of courts to render justice where justice is however, it has ever been mindful of its responsibility as the highest tribunal of justice
due to secure to every individual all possible legal means to prove his innocence of to see to it that the paramount interests of justice are not sacrificed for the sake of
a crime with which he or she might be speed and efficiency. As Justice Teehankee wrote: 23
charged. 20
The Court has consistently maintained that although a speedy
Only last year, this Court set aside its decision after finding that the right of the determination of an action implies a speedy trial, speed is not the
accused to due process had been violated. In De Guzman v. Sandiganbayan, 21 this chief objective of a trial. Careful and deliberate consideration for the
Court set aside its decision affirming petitioner's conviction by the Sandiganbayan administration of justice, a genuine respect for the rights of all
and its resolution denying reconsideration, after being shown that petitioner's parties and the requirements of procedural due process and an
adherence to the Court's standing admonition that the discretion
granted judges in the granting or denial of motions for
postponement and the setting aside of denial orders previously
issued "should always be predicated on the consideration that more
than the mere convenience of the courts or of the parties in the
case, the ends of justice and fairness would be served thereby" are
more important than a race to end the trial.

Second. In denying petitioner's plea for a chance to present her evidence, the Court
of Appeals observed that petitioner has more than a layman's acquaintance with the
law, having been able to prepare and file her own motion for new trial and appellant's
brief, to be given the benefit of the doubt. But even lawyers, who are parties in a case,
need the guiding hand of counsel. Skill in drafting pleadings (which is practically the
only "lawyerly" thing petitioner did) is vastly different from skill needed in the
courtroom. Preparing pleadings can be done at leisure with the luxury of consultation,
either of books or of people. Trial work, however, demands more. It requires the
ability to think fast on one's feet and the psychologist's feel for the witness' mood and
motive. As then Chief Justice Moran said for the Court in People v. Holgado: 24

Even the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the
science of the law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and,
without counsel, he may be convicted not because he is guilty but
because he does not know how to establish his innocence.

It is entirely probable that, forced to be her own lawyer, petitioner nonetheless felt
some inadequacy and experienced some moments of doubt whether she could go
through the ordeal of presenting her evidence by her lonesome, and that could be the
reason why she hesitated from doing so when she found herself without the
assistance of counsel and not because petitioner tried to delay the proceedings and
obstruct the course of justice.

In sum, it is better to allow petitioner another chance to present her evidence than to
let her conviction stand based solely on the evidence of the prosecution. In
accordance with Rule 121, 6, 25 the evidence of the prosecution shall be understood
preserved, subject to the right of the prosecution to supplement it and/or to rebut the
evidence which petitioner may present.

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration of the resolution of November 29, 1995
is GRANTED and the decision dated May 28, 1993 of the Court of Appeals and that
of the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan, Branch 22 dated September 29, 1989 in
Criminal Case No. 9252-M are SET ASIDE and this case is REMANDED to the
Regional Trial Court of Bulacan for a new trial for the purpose of allowing petitioner to
present evidence in her defense with directive to the court thereafter to decide the
case with all deliberate speed.


Regalado, Romero, Puno and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 191531 March 6, 2013 In the face of PEZAs insistence on the governments ownership of Lot Nos. 4522 and
4525 as well as its refusal to heed their claim for just compensation for the use of the
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES represented by PHILIPPINE ECONOMIC ZONE land, respondents Heirs of Cecilio and Moises Cuizon brought the matter to the
AUTHORITY, Petitioner, attention of the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industries (DTI)10 and the
vs. Office of the Ombudsman.11 Stymied by PEZAs 10 April 2006 reply which reiterated
HEIRS OF CECILIO AND MOISES CUIZON, Respondents. its position, respondents eventually wrote a letter dated 20 September 2006,
apprising the Office of the President of their claim. Docketed as O.P. Case No. 07-C-
081,12 respondents letter was treated as an appeal by the Office of the President
DECISION which, accordingly, directed PEZA to file its Comment.13 On 14 October 2008, the
Office of the President rendered a decision directing PEZA to recognize respondents
PEREZ, J.: rights over the subject parcels and to negotiate for the just compensation claimed by
the latter.14 PEZAs motion for reconsideration of the decision was denied for lack of
Assailed in this petition for review filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the merit in the 9 March 2009 Resolution issued in the case. 15
Decision1 dated 30 October 2009 rendered by the Fourth Division of the Court of
Appeals (L/1) in CA-G.R. SP No. 108085, dismissing without prejudice the petition On 1 April 2009, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in representation of PEZA,
filed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) for the review of the 14 filed with the CA a motion for an extension of fifteen days or until 16 April 2009 within
October 2008 Decision of the Office of the President in O.P. Case No. 07-C-081.2 which to file a petition for review under Rule 43.16 Instead of the OSG, however, it
was the lawyers from PEZAs Legal Affairs Group who, on 16 April 2009, filed the
The Facts Rule 43 petition for review which was docketed before the CA as CA-G.R. SP No.
108085.17 Served with a copy thereof, respondents moved for the denial of the
petition on the ground, among others, that PEZAs lawyers failed to state the material
On 19 September 2001, the counsel of Cecilio and Moises Cuizon (the Cuizons) dates18 and to secure authorization from the OSG as the "principal law officer and
wrote PEZA Director General Lilia B. De Lima, offering said agency the priority to buy legal defender of the government."19 Directed to do so in the CAs 2 July 2009
Lot Nos. 4522 and 4525 of the Opon Cadastre, with an aggregate area of 12,124 Resolution,20 respondents filed their 4 August 2009 Comment reiterating their
square meters.3 Although presently situated within the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ), objections to and praying for the dismissal of the petition. 21 In its 7 September 2009
the subject lots were previously registered in the names of the Cuizons reply, however, PEZA asserted, that as members of its Legal Affairs Group, its
predecessors-in-interest, the Spouses Pedro and Eugenia Tunacao, under Original lawyers not only had legal authority to file the petition but were constrained to do so
Certificate of Title (OCT) Nos. RO-2428 and RO-2429 of the Lapu-Lapu City on account of the "different position taken by the handling OSG lawyers." 22
registry.4 By means of a Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement and Sale executed by the
Heirs of the Spouses Tunacao on 11 June 1975,5 it appears that the subject parcels
were transferred in favor of the Cuizons, in whose names the same were On 30 October 2009, the CA rendered the herein assailed decision, dismissing
subsequently registered under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. 42755 and PEZAs petition on the ground that its lawyers had no authority to file the same absent
50430.6 showing that they were so authorized under the PEZA Charter, Republic Act No.
791623 and that they were duly deputized by the OSG. The CA ruled that, as "the
statutory counsel of the government, its agencies and officials who are in the
In a letter dated 17 October 2001, PEZA declined the offer on the ground that, in performance of their official functions, the OSG is the only law firm, save those for the
1958, the same lots were sold by Eugenia Tunacao in favor of the then Civil Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, who can represent the government to
Aeronautics Administration (CAA), the predecessor of the Bureau of Air the exclusion of others." Brushing aside PEZAs claim of a stand contrary to that
Transportation (BAT) and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA). taken by the OSG, the CA likewise enunciated that the OSG is "endowed with broad
Maintaining that the titles to the property were not transferred to CAA because OCT perspective that spans the legal interest of virtually the entire government officialdom"
Nos. RO-2428 and RO-2429 were reported lost or destroyed, PEZA informed the and "may transcend the parochial concerns of a particular client agency and instead,
Cuizons that the deeds of sale executed in favor of CAA were nevertheless registered promote and protect the public weal."24 Aggrieved, PEZA filed a motion for
under Act reconsideration25 which was duly opposed by respondents.26

3344, as amended.7 In their 8 November 2001 reply, the Cuizons, in turn, called On 18 January 2010, the OSG filed a manifestation informing the CA that it differed
PEZAs attention to the fact, among other matters, that BAT was considered to have with PEZA only with respect to the remedy to be taken from the 14 October 2008
abandoned its opposition to the reconstitution of said OCTs. On the strength of the decision in O.P. Case No. 07-C-081. While it was in accord with the substance of the
opinion issued by the Land Registration Authority (LRA) in Consulta No. 2887 that petition, the OSG maintained that, as opposed to the Rule 43 petition for review filed
CAAs registration of the sale in its favor produced no legal effect, the sale of the by PEZA, it believed that a mere administrative clarification was appropriate since the
subject parcels to the Cuizons was registered 8 and served as basis for the issuance decision rendered by the Office of the President was "not based on a prior
of TCT Nos. 42755 and 50430.9 decision/order/resolution of an administrative agency in the exercise of quasi-judicial
functions."27 On 4 March 2010, the CA issued its Resolution denying PEZAs motion xxxx
for reconsideration for lack of merit,28 hence, this petition.
Unlike a practicing lawyer who can decline employment, it has been ruled that the
The Issue Solicitor General cannot refuse to perform his duty to represent the government, its
agencies, instrumentalities, officials and agents without a just and valid
Dissatisfied, the OSG filed the petition at bench, 29 seeking the reversal of the CAs reason.34 Resolving a challenge against the Solicitor Generals withdrawal of his
assailed decision and resolution on the following ground: appearance from cases involving the Philippine Commission on Good Government
(PCGG) in Gonzales v. Chavez,35 the Court traced the statutory origins and
transformation of the OSG and concluded that the performance of its vested functions
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT DENIED [PEZAS] and duties is mandatory and compellable by mandamus.36 The Court ratiocinated
PETITION ON THE GROUND THAT THERE WAS NO EXPRESS AUTHORITY that, "sound management policies require that the government's approach to legal
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE problems and policies formulated on legal issues be harmonized and coordinated by
a specific agency."37 Finding that that the Solicitor Generals withdrawal of his
SOLICITOR GENERAL ALLOWING THE PEZA DIRECTOR GENERAL OR ANY OF appearance was "beyond the scope of his authority in the management of a case,"
ITS LAWYERS TO SIGN THE PETITION OR REPRESENT PEZA BEFORE THE the Court enunciated that the enjoinment of the formers duty is not an interference
COURT OF APPEALS.30 with his discretion in handling the case but a directive to prevent the failure of
The Courts Ruling
Considering that only the Solicitor General can bring or defend actions on behalf of
We find the petition bereft of merit. the Republic of the Philippines, the rule is settled that actions filed in the name of the
latter not initiated by the OSG are susceptible to summary dismissal.39 Extended to
include actions filed in the name of agencies or instrumentalities of the
As correctly ruled by the CA, the OSG, as principal law officer and legal defender of government,40 the rule admits of an exception under Section 35 (8) Chapter 12, Title
the government,31 possesses the unequivocal mandate to appear for and in its behalf III, Book IV of the Administrative Code which empowers the OSG to "deputize legal
in legal proceedings.32 Described as an "independent and autonomous office officers of government departments, bureaus, agencies and offices to assist the
attached to the Department of Justice" under Sec. 34, Book IV, Title III, Chapter 12, Solicitor General and appear or represent the Government in cases involving their
Executive Order 292,33 the OSG, with the Solicitor General at its helm, is vested with respective offices, brought before the courts and exercise supervision and control
the following powers and functions, among others, to wit: over such legal officers with respect to such cases."41 In Civil Service Commission v.
Asensi,42 the Court clarified, however, that this exception should be strictly construed
SECTION 35. Powers and Functions.The Office of the Solicitor General shall and is subject to the following conditions precedent: "First, there must be an express
represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and authorization by the Office of the Solicitor General, naming therein the legal officers
its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring who are being deputized. Second, the cases must involve the respective offices of the
the services of a lawyer. When authorized by the President or head of the office deputized legal officers. And finally, despite such deputization, the OSG should retain
concerned, it shall also represent government-owned or controlled corporations. The supervision and control over such legal officers with respect to the cases." 43
Office of the Solicitor General shall constitute the law office of the Government and,
as such, shall discharge duties requiring the services of a lawyer. It shall have the Another exception is also recognized when the OSG takes a position different from
following specific powers and functions: that of the agency it is duty bound to represent. As an independent office, after all, the
OSG is "not shackled by the cause of its client agency" and has, for its primordial
(1) Represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in all concern, the "best interest of the government" which, in its perception, can run
criminal proceedings; represent the Government and its officers in the Supreme counter to its client agencys position in certain instances.44 The exception is traced to
Court, the Court of Appeals, and all other courts or tribunals in all civil actions and the following pronouncements handed down by this Court in Orbos v. Civil Service
special proceedings in which the Government or any officer thereof in his official Commission,45 to wit:
capacity is a party.
In the discharge of this task, the Solicitor General must see to it that the best interest
xxxx of the government is upheld within the limits set by law. When confronted with a
situation where one government office takes an adverse position against another
government agency, as in this case, the Solicitor General should not refrain from
8) Deputize legal officers of government departments, bureaus, agencies and offices
performing his duty as the lawyer of the government. It is incumbent upon him to
to assist the Solicitor General and appear or represent the Government in cases
present to the court what he considers would legally uphold the best interest of the
involving their respective offices, brought before the courts, and exercise supervision
government although it may run counter to a client's position. In such an instance the
and control over such legal Officers with respect to such cases." (Italics supplied)
government office adversely affected by the position taken by the Solicitor General, if complying with the directive to file its comment and by filing its motion for
it still believes in the merit of its case, may appear in its own behalf through its legal reconsideration of the 14 October 2008 Decision rendered in the case. While it may
personnel or representative.46 (Italics supplied) be true that PEZA was not exercising a quasi-judicial function in rejecting the Cuizons
offer to sell the subject lots and claim of just compensation, it cannot be gainsaid that
While the OSG primarily invokes the second of the above-discussed exceptions in the Office of the President was exercising a quasi-judicial function when it rendered
seeking the reversal of the CAs 30 October 2009 Decision, the record shows that it its decision. Having initially filed a motion for extension of time within which to file a
was said office which filed on 1 April 2009 a motion for extension of time within which Rule 43 petition on behalf of PEZA, the least that the OSG could have done was to
to file a Rule 43 petition for review on behalf of PEZA. On the last day of the period of immediately inform the CA of its supposed change of position for the same to be
extension sought by the OSG, however, it was the lawyers from PEZAs Legal Affairs properly considered by the Court.
Group who, without being deputized to do so, eventually filed the petition for review
assailing the 14 October 2008 Decision in O.P. Case No. 07-C-081. Confronted with In arguing that its filing of the aforesaid manifestation on 18 January 2010 effectively
respondents challenge of the unexplained change of representation and prayer for cured the PEZA lawyers lack of authorization, the OSG clearly espouses a
dismissal of the petition, PEZA filed a 7 September 2009 reply, claiming that its procedural shortcut egregiously contrary to the Courts pronouncement in the Asensi
lawyers had authority to represent the agency under its organizational chart. Without case. Granted that the case before the CA involved PEZA, deputation of its lawyers
any elaboration, PEZA also alleged for the first time that the OSGs non-participation not only requires express authorization from the OSG but also its retention of
in the case was attributable to the "different position taken by the handling OSG supervision and control over the lawyer deputized. In Republic v. Hon. Aniano
lawyers." Desierto,48 this Court admittedly gave due course to the petition filed by the PCGG
despite the initial lack of participation by the OSG, on the ground that the latters
Given the lack of authorization from the OSG and the absence of a specific provision subsequent signature as co-counsel in the Consolidated Reply filed in the case
in PEZAs Charter authorizing the agencys representation by lawyers from its Legal effectively cured the defect of authorization. Without belaboring the fact that the
Affairs Group, we find that the CA cannot be faulted for rejecting PEZAs bare OSGs manifestation in this case was filed after the CA already dismissed PEZAs
assertion of the contrary stand supposedly taken by the handling OSG lawyers. Even petition, said ruling cannot, however, detract us from the principle that exceptions
in cases of disagreement with its client agency, it cannot be over-emphasized that it is made to the OSGs mandate should be strictly construed.
still incumbent upon the OSG to present to the Court the position that will legally
uphold the best interests of the Government.47 In the Orbos case which the OSG now To Our mind, the fact that OSG now finds itself in the queer position of defending a
cites as justification for PEZAs filing of its own petition before the CA, the Court mode of appeal it priorly claimed to be improper in the premises only serves to
significantly stated that it "appreciates the participation of the Solicitor General in emphasize the importance of strict adherence to its statutory mandate and
many proceedings and his continued fealty to his assigned task. He should not compliance with the requirements for exceptions thereto. By and of itself, even the
therefore desist from appearing before this Court even in those cases he finds his OSGs very act of filing of the petition at bench is, in fact, a telling commentary on the
opinion inconsistent with the Government or any of its agents he is expected to PEZA lawyers lack of authority to represent said agency. Owing to the mandatory
represent. The Court must be advised of his position just as well." character of the exercise of its functions, it stands to reason that the OSG cannot
arbitrarily abdicate the same in the course of proceedings involving a client-agency
After signifying its intention to file a Rule 43 petition for review with its filing of a and only insist on the performance thereof in the event that the handling of the case
motion for extension of time to file the same, however, the OSG did not advise the CA by the lawyers of the client agency results in an adverse decision. As with the
of its alleged difference in opinion with PEZA. It was only after the CA had rendered allowance of the OSGs withdrawal from a case without justifiable reason, for such an
the herein assailed 30 October 2009 decision and with PEZAs motion for action to remain unchallenged could well signal the laying down of the novel and
reconsideration therefom already pending that, on 18 January 2010, the OSG filed its unprecedented doctrine that the representation by the Solicitor General of the
manifestation to the effect that it actually agreed with the substance of the petition Government enunciated by law is, after all, not mandatory but merely directory. 49
filed by PEZAs lawyers. The OSG belatedly clarified that it was of the belief that a
Rule 43 petition for review was not the proper remedy from the 14 October 2008 At any rate, it bears pointing out that the dismissal of PEZAs petition was specifically
decision in O.P. Case No. 07-C-081. On the theory that said decision was not "based characterized by the CA to be without prejudice. Contrasted from a dismissal with
on a prior decision/order/resolution of an administrative agency in the exercise of prejudice which disallows and bars the filing of a complaint or initiatory pleading, 50 a
quasi-judicial functions," the OSG maintained that a mere administrative clarification dismissal without prejudice - while by no means any less final51 - plainly indicates that
was, instead, proper under the circumstances.1wphi1 the re-filing of the petition is not barred.52 While it is true that the petition for review
under Rule 43 is required to be filed "within fifteen (15) days from notice of the award,
Considering that a petition for review under Rule 43 is the prescribed mode for appeal judgment, final order or resolution x x x or of the denial of petitioners motion for new
from a decision rendered by the Office of the President, the OSGs stand is, to say the trial or reconsideration duly filed in accordance with the governing law of the court or
least, incomprehensible. Aside from the fact that respondents 20 September 2006 agency a quo,"53 we find that the OSG, in the interest of substantial justice, may be
letter was clearly treated by said office as an appeal, the record shows that PEZA granted a fresh period of fifteen ( 15) days within which to re-file the petition before
actively participated in the proceedings conducted in connection therewith by the CA. In the exercise of its equity jurisdiction, this Court may, after all, relax the
stringent application of the technical rules where, as here, strong considerations of
substantial justice are manifest. 54 We find this pro hac vice pronouncement
necessary if only to emphasize the fact that the OSG's performance of its functions is

In fine, the Solicitor General is the government officer mandated to "represent the
Government and its officers in the Supreme Comi, the Court of Appeals, and all other
courts or tribunals in all civil actions and special proceedings in which the
Government or any officer thereof in his official capacity is a party." 55 Absent showing
of authority under the PEZA Chmier and or proper deputation from the OSG, we find
that the petition for review filed by the lawyers from PEZA's Legal Affairs Group was
correctly dismissed, albeit without prejudice, by the CA. The fact that the OSG and
PEZA differed with respect to the choice of remedy to be pursued in the premises
Heitl1er automatically excused the former's non-involvement in the case nor authorize
the latter to pursue the same on its own. Even if it differs with its client-agency anent
the substance of case or the procedure to be taken with respect thereto, the OSG is
nevertheless duty bound to present its position to the Court as an officer thereof and
in compliance with its ineluctable mandate.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The
OSG is given a fresh period of fifteen ( 15) days from notice within which to file its
petition before the CA.

A.C. No. 5878. March 21, 2005 (RTC), Branch 36, Manila a complaint for specific performance, injunction, and
damages against NEA, docketed as Civil Case No. 01-102000.
JESUS E. SANTAYANA, Complainant,
vs. Respondents law firm entered its appearance as counsel for NEA in Civil Case No.
ATTY. ELISEO B. ALAMPAY, Respondent. 01-10200. Nerwin filed a motion for the disqualification of respondents law firm as
counsel for NEA. This was opposed by respondent.
On December 10, 2001, the RTC issued an Order disqualifying respondents law firm
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: from appearing as counsel for NEA, thus:

Before us is a verified complaint1 for disbarment filed by Jesus E. Santaya against "WHEREFORE, the Court hereby rules as follows: (1) the motion to dismiss is denied,
Atty. Eliseo B. Alampay for malpractice and violation of the Attorneys Oath. and (2) the motion to disqualify the Alampay, Gatchalian, Mawis and Alampay Law
Office is granted thus this Courts recognition of the appearance and representation
for and in behalf of NEA of ALAMPAY, GATCHALIAN, MAWIS and ALAMPAY Law
Jesus E. Santayana, complainant herein, alleged in his complaint that respondent Office is discontinued and terminated.
lawyer is a member of the Board of Administrators of the National Electrification
Administration (NEA), a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC). The
laws provide that NEA shall be represented in all judicial proceedings by the following The Chief of the Legal Division of NEA is directed to enter his appearance and to
legal counsel: (1) the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC); (2) the represent NEA in this case unless NEA chooses to avail of the services of the Office
Chief or any lawyer of the NEA Legal Division; and (3) the Office of the Solicitor of the Government Corporate Counsel or the Office of the Solicitor General.
General (OSG).
Furnish copies of this Order to plaintiffs counsel and the lawyers of the three (3) sets
Under Memorandum Circular No. 9 issued by the Office of the President on August of defendants in this case.
27, 1998, the GOCCs are barred from hiring private lawyers or law firms to represent
them in law suits and to handle their legal matters, except in exceptional Let copies of this Order be served likewise on NEA, The Chief of the Legal
circumstances with the written conformity of the Solicitor General or Government Department/Division of the NEA, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel
Corporate Counsel. This conformity shall be with the written concurrence of the and the Office of the Solicitor General.
Commission on Audit.
The petitioner further alleged that NEA is tasked with the implementation of the
governments foreign-funded Rural Electrification Program. One of the components of Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration but this was denied by the trial court in
this Program is the IPB 80 Project requiring NEA to purchase, through public bidding, its Order dated February 15, 2002.
60,000 pieces of wooden poles and 20,000 pieces of cross arms to be used in the
rural electric distribution network.
Respondent then filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, docketed as
CA-G.R. SP No. 70355, assailing the Orders of the trial court dated December 10,
In 1999, NEA conducted a public bidding for the purchase of poles and cross arms. In 2001 and February 15, 2002.
December 2000, Nerwin Industries Corporation (Nerwin) was declared the lowest
bidder. Hence, the NEA Board of Administrators passed Resolution No. 32 approving
the award to Nerwin of fifty percent (50%) of the IPB 80 project requirements. On September 24, 2002, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition, holding that:

However, NEA disqualified Nerwin and instead granted the award to a losing bidder. "In the absence of a written conformity from the duly mandated government lawyers
Seeking a legal justification for its action, NEA twice asked the opinion of the OGCC. appointed by law, and a written concurrence from the Commission on Audit, the Court
In both instances, the OGCC pointed out that NEAs action is in violation of the law. finds no legal basis for the law office of Alampay, Gatchalian, Mawis, and Alampay to
represent the petitioners in this case."3
Respondent, despite his knowledge that NEA is represented by legal counsel
specifically provided by law, had his law firm Alampay, Gatchalian, Mawis & Complainant thus charged respondent with: (1) violation of Section 20(a) of Rule 138
Alampay rendered a legal opinion adverse to that of the OGCC. As a result, NEA of the Revised Rules of Court by usurping for himself and his law firm the authority of
nullified the award to Nerwin, prompting the latter to file with the Regional Trial Court the legal counsel of NEA; (2) malpractice and violation of Section 27 of Rule 138, by
willfully appearing, without lawful authority, as NEAs counsel on record in Civil Case
No. 01-102000; (3) malpractice by rendering a legal opinion for NEA without authority; by law. In the exercise of such control and supervision, the Government Corporate
and (4) violation of the Attorneys Oath by appearing as counsel for NEA just to delay, Counsel shall promulgate rules and regulations to effectively implement the objectives
injure, and damage the rights of Nerwin. of this Office."

In his answer, respondent prayed for the outright dismissal of the complaint. He The above provision lays down the rule that with respect to GOCCs, their principal
claimed that complainant did not state his interest or position in Nerwin nor his counsel shall be the OGCC. Corollarily, Section 61 of Presidential Decree No. 269,
authority to file this complaint. Furthermore, all the allegations therein are hearsay the charter of the NEA, provides:
and distortions of the truth.
"SEC. 61. NEA Counsel. The Chief of the legal division or any other lawyer of
Respondent also averred that Resolution No. 38 dated October 11, 2001 of the NEA the NEA shall represent the same in all judicial proceedings. It shall be the duty
Board of Administrators authorized his law firm Alampay, Gatchalian, Mawis, and of the Solicitor General to represent NEA in any judicial proceedings if, for special
Alampay to represent NEA in Civil Case No. 01-102000 sans attorneys fees. Since reasons, the administrators shall request his intervention."
the OGCC took a stance adverse to that of NEA with respect to IBP 80 Project, the
latter could engage the services of other counsel. Moreover, the NEA Charter does Section 61 of the NEA Charter must be construed as an exception to the provision of
not prohibit its engagement of other counsel. the Administrative Code quoted earlier. This is in accordance with the rule of statutory
construction that where two statutes are of equal theoretical application to a particular
On April 21, 2003, we issued a Resolution referring the instant case to the Integrated case, the one designed therefore specially should prevail. 5
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
Pertinent also is Memorandum Circular No. 9 issued by the Office of the President on
In her Report and Recommendation dated February 24, 2004, IBP Commissioner August 27, 1998 which reads:
Milagros V. San Juan found that respondent violated Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and Rule 1.02 of the same Canon and recommended that "SEC. 1. All legal matters pertaining to government-owned or controlled corporations,
said respondent be reprimanded and warned, thus: their subsidiaries, other corporate offspring and government acquired asset
corporations (GOCCs) shall be exclusively referred to and handled by the Office of
"It is submitted that the above actions of respondent are in violation of Canon 1 of the the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).
Code of Professional Responsibility which reads: "A lawyer shall uphold the
Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal GOCCs are hereby enjoined from referring their cases and legal matters to the Office
processes" and Rule 1.02 of Canon 1 which reads: "A lawyer shall not counsel or of the Solicitor General (OSG) unless their respective corporate charters expressly
abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or lessening confidence in the legal name the Office of the Solicitor General as their legal counsel.
system." Thus, it is recommended that respondent be meted the administrative
penalty of reprimand with a warning that similar actions in the future shall be dealt
with more severely. However, under exceptional circumstances, the OSG may represent the GOCC
concerned, Provided: This is authorized by the President or by the Head of the office
concerned and approved by the President.
Respectfully submitted."4
SEC. 2. All pending cases of GOCCs being handled by the OSG and all pending
On April 16, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XVI-2004-223 requests for opinions and contract review which have been referred by said GOCCs
adopting and approving the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner San Juan. to the OSG, may be retained and acted upon by the OSG, but the latter shall inform
the OGCC of the said pending cases, requests for opinions and contract reviews, if
We sustain the Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors. any, to ensure proper monitoring and coordination.

Section 10, Chapter 3, Title III, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987 provides: SEC. 3. GOCCs are likewise enjoined to refrain from hiring private lawyers or
law firms to handle their cases and legal matters. But in exceptional cases, the
"SEC. 10. Office of the Government Corporate Counsel. The Office of the written conformity and acquiescence of the Solicitor General or the Government
Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) shall act as the principal law office of Corporate Counsel, as the case may be, and the written concurrence of the
all government-owned or controlled corporations, their subsidiaries, other Commission on Audit shall first be secured before the hiring or employment of a
corporate offspring and government acquired asset corporations and shall private lawyer or law firm."
exercise control and supervision over all legal departments or divisions maintained
separately and such powers and functions as are now or may hereafter be provided
From all the foregoing legal provisions, it is evident that in all judicial proceedings,
NEA shall be represented by the chief or any attorney of its Legal Division. However,
for special reasons and where the NEA Board of Administrators requests in writing, it
shall be the duty of the Solicitor General to represent NEA. NEA can hire or employ a
private lawyer or law firm only in exceptional cases with (1) the conformity and
acquiescence in writing of the Solicitor General or the OGCC; and (2) with the written
concurrence of the Commission on Audit.

We carefully examined Resolution No. 38 dated October 11, 2001 of the NEA Board
of Administrators which respondent claims is the source of his authority to represent
NEA in Civil Case No. 01-102000. Nothing therein indicates that the written
conformity of the Solicitor General or the OGCC has been obtained nor is there any
written concurrence by the Commission on Audit. Indeed, Resolution No. 38 is legally
infirm. Hence, there can be no other conclusion than that respondents law firm,
including himself, willfully appeared as counsel for NEA in the said case without
authority to do so. Pertinent is Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court
which provides:

"SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds

therefore. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct
in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which is he is required to take
before admission to practice, for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a
superior court or for corruptly and willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to
a case without authority to do so. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the
purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes
malpractice (Stress supplied)."

However, there is no indication in the records that respondent acted in bad faith. In
fact, his law firms services for NEA were pro bono.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Eliseo B. Alampay is hereby FINED in the amount of 5,000.00

for appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so and
WARNED that a repetition of similar infraction in the future shall be dealt with more
severely. Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant
and the Office of the Court Administrator to be distributed to all courts of the land for
their information and guidance.


Panganiban, (Chairman), Corona, Carpio-Morales, and Garcia, JJ., concur.

A.C. No. 5688 June 4, 2009 4. That the application for commission was on the condition that respondent cannot
charge fees for documents required by the Office to be presented and under oath. 10
FELIPE E. ABELLA, Complainant,
vs. Respondent contended that when she filed her petition for commission as a notary
ATTY. ASTERIA E. CRUZABRA, Respondent. public, the requirement of approval from the DOJ Secretary was still the subject of a
pending query by one of the Registrars and this fact was not known to
RESOLUTION respondent.11 Respondent maintained that she had no intention to violate any rule of
law. Respondent, as a new lawyer relying on the competence of her superior,
CARPIO, J.: admitted that an honest mistake may have been committed but such mistake was
committed without willfulness, malice or corruption.12
Felipe E. Abella (complainant) filed a complaint for violation of Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and Section 7(b)(2) of Republic Act No. 6713 1 (RA 6713) Respondent argued that she was not engaged in illegal practice as a notary public
or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees because she was duly commissioned by the court.13 Respondent denied that she
against Atty. Asteria E. Cruzabra (respondent). In his affidavit-complaint2 dated 8 May violated Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713 because she was authorized by her superior to
2002, complainant charged respondent with engaging in private practice while act as a notary public. Respondent reasoned that her being a notary public
employed in the government service. complemented her functions as Deputy Register of Deeds because respondent could
immediately have documents notarized instead of the registrants going out of the
office to look for a notary public. Respondent added that she did not charge fees for
Complainant alleged that respondent was admitted to the Philippine Bar on 30 May the documents required by the office to be presented under oath. 14lawphi1
1986 and was appointed as Deputy Register of Deeds of General Santos City on 11
August 1987.3 Complainant asserted that as Deputy Register of Deeds, respondent
filed a petition for commission as a notary public and was commissioned on 29 Respondent insisted that contrary to complainants claims, she only notarized 135
February 1988 without obtaining prior authority from the Secretary of the Department documents as certified by the Clerk of Court of the 11th Judicial Region, General
of Justice (DOJ).4Complainant claimed that respondent has notarized some 3,000 Santos City.15
documents.5 Complainant pointed out that respondent only stopped notarizing
documents when she was reprimanded by the Chief of the Investigation Division of In her Report and Recommendation (Report) dated 25 January 2005, Investigating
the Land Registration Authority.6 Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro recommended to the IBP Board of Governors the
dismissal of the complaint against respondent for lack of merit. The Report reads in
Complainant contended that respondent could not justify her act by pretending to be part:
in good faith because even non-lawyers are not excused from ignorance of the law.
Complainant branded as incredible respondents claim that she was merely motivated However, the fact that she applied for commission as Notary Public without securing
by public service in notarizing 3,000 documents. Complainant pointed out that the approval of the proper authority although she was allowed to do so by her
respondent spent money to buy the Notarial Register Books and spent hours going superior officer, was not her own undoing for having relied on the ample authority of
over the documents subscribed before her, thereby prejudicing her efficiency and her superior officer, respondent being a neophyte in the law profession for having
performance as Deputy Register of Deeds. Complainant believed that even if newly passed the bar a year after at that time.
respondent had obtained authority from the DOJ, respondent would still be guilty of
violating Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713 because her practice as a notary public conflicts Records further showed that after having been reprimanded by Atty. Flestado for said
with her official functions.7 mistake which was done in good faith respondent ceased and desisted to perform
notarial work since then up to the present as could be gleaned from the Certification
In her Comment, respondent admitted that she was a notary public from 29 February issued by Clerk of Court VI Atty. Elmer D. Lastimosa of the 11th Judicial Region
1988 to 31 December 1989.8Respondent stated that she was authorized by her General Santos City; dated December 23, 2004 that 135 documents have been
superior, the Register of Deeds, to act as a notary public. Respondent pointed out notarized by the respondent from February 29, 1988 to December 31 1989 and there
that the Register of Deeds, Atty. Pelagio T. Tolosa, also subscribed petitions and was no record of any notarized documents from January 19, 1990 to December 21,
documents that were required to be registered.9 Respondent explained that the 1991.16
Register of Deeds imposed the following conditions for her application as a notary
public: In a Resolution dated 12 March 2005, the IBP Board of Governors, in adopting and
approving the Report, dismissed the case for lack of merit.
Complainant claims that in dismissing the complaint for "lack of merit" despite Subject to any additional conditions which the head of the office deems necessary in
respondents admission that she acted as a notary public for two years, the IBP Board each particular case in the interest of the service, as expressed in the various
of Governors committed a serious error amounting to lack of jurisdiction or authority. 17 issuances of the Civil Service Commission. (Boldfacing supplied)

Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713 provides: It is clear that when respondent filed her petition for commission as a notary public,
she did not obtain a written permission from the Secretary of the DOJ. Respondents
Section 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. - In addition to acts and omissions of superior, the Register of Deeds, cannot issue any authorization because he is not the
public officials and employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, head of the Department. And even assuming that the Register of Deeds authorized
the following shall constitute prohibited acts and transactions of any public official and her, respondent failed to present any proof of that written permission. Respondent
employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful: cannot feign ignorance or good faith because respondent filed her petition for
commission as a notary public after Memorandum Circular No. 17 was issued in
In Yumol, Jr. v. Ferrer Sr.,19 we suspended a lawyer employed in the Commission on
(b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. - Public officials and Human Rights (CHR) for failing to obtain a written authority and approval with a duly
employees during their incumbency shall not: approved leave of absence from the CHR. We explained:

xxx Crystal clear from the foregoing is the fact that private practice of law by CHR lawyers
is not a matter of right. Although the Commission allows CHR lawyers to engage in
(2) Engage in the private practice of their profession unless authorized by the private practice, a written request and approval thereof, with a duly approved leave of
Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with absence for that matter are indispensable. In the case at bar, the record is bereft of
their official functions; or any such written request or duly approved leave of absence. No written authority nor
approval of the practice and approved leave of absence by the CHR was ever
xxx presented by respondent. Thus, he cannot engage in private practice.

Memorandum Circular No. 1718 of the Executive Department allows government As to respondents act of notarizing documents, records show that he applied for
employees to engage directly in the private practice of their profession provided there commission as notary public on 14 November 2000, before the Regional Trial Court
is a written permission from the Department head. It provides: (RTC) of San Fernando, Pampanga, Branch 42. This was granted by RTC Executive
Judge Pedro M. Sunga, Jr., on 01 December 2000. However, the CHR authorized
respondent to act as notary public only on 29 October 2001. Considering the acts of
The authority to grant permission to any official or employee shall be granted by the notarization are within the ambit of the term "practice of law," for which a prior written
head of the ministry or agency in accordance with Section 12, Rule XVIII of the request and approval by the CHR to engage into it are required, the crucial period to
Revised Civil Service Rules, which provides: be considered is the approval of the CHR on 29 October 2001 and not the approval of
the RTC on 04 December 2000.20
"Sec. 12. No officer or employee shall engage directly in any private business,
vocation, or profession or be connected with any commercial, credit, agricultural, or In Muring, Jr. v. Gatcho,21 we suspended a lawyer for having filed petitions for
industrial undertaking without a written permission from the head of Department; commission as a notary public while employed as a court attorney. We held:
Provided, That this prohibition will be absolute in the case of those officers and
employees whose duties and responsibilities require that their entire time be at the
disposal of the Government: Provided, further, That if an employee is granted Atty. Gatcho should have known that as a government lawyer, he was prohibited from
permission to engage in outside activities, the time so devoted outside of office hours engaging in notarial practice, or in any form of private legal practice for that matter.
should be fixed by the chief of the agency to the end that it will not impair in any way Atty. Gatcho cannot now feign ignorance or good faith, as he did not seek to
the efficiency of the other officer or employee: And provided, finally, That no exculpate himself by providing an explanation for his error. Atty. Gatchos filing of the
permission is necessary in the case of investments, made by an officer or employee, petition for commission, while not an actual engagement in the practice of law,
which do not involve any real or apparent conflict between his private interests and appears as a furtive attempt to evade the prohibition.22
public duties, or in any way influence him in the discharge of his duties, and he shall
not take part in the management of the enterprise or become an officer or member of Under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, engaging in the
the board of directors", private practice of profession, when unauthorized, is classified as a light offense
punishable by reprimand.23
Wherefore, we find Atty. Asteria E. Cruzabra guilty of engaging in notarial practice
without the written authority from the Secretary of the Department of Justice, and
accordingly we REPRIMAND her. She is warned that a repetition of the same or
similar act in the future shall merit a more severe sanction.


Associate Justice
A.C. No. 5738 February 19, 2008 Elizabeth and Pastor in the ejectment case filed against them by Regina and Antonio.
In the course thereof, he prepared and signed pleadings including the answer with
WILFREDO M. CATU, complainant, counterclaim, pre-trial brief, position paper and notice of appeal. By so doing,
vs. respondent violated Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
Rule 6.03 - A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept
RESOLUTION engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he
intervened while in said service.
Furthermore, as an elective official, respondent contravened the prohibition under
Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713:8
Complainant Wilfredo M. Catu is a co-owner of a lot1and the building erected thereon
located at 959 San Andres Street, Malate, Manila. His mother and brother, Regina
Catu and Antonio Catu, contested the possession of Elizabeth C. Diaz-Catu2 and SEC. 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. - In addition to acts and
Antonio Pastor3 of one of the units in the building. The latter ignored demands for omissions of public officials and employees now prescribed in the
them to vacate the premises. Thus, a complaint was initiated against them in Constitution and existing laws, the following shall constitute prohibited acts
the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay 723, Zone 79 of the 5th District of and transactions of any public official ands employee and are hereby
Manila4 where the parties reside. declared to be unlawful:

Respondent, as punong barangay of Barangay 723, summoned the parties to xxx xxx xxx
conciliation meetings.5 When the parties failed to arrive at an amicable settlement,
respondent issued a certification for the filing of the appropriate action in court. (b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. - Public officials
and employees during their incumbency shall not:
Thereafter, Regina and Antonio filed a complaint for ejectment against Elizabeth and
Pastor in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 11. Respondent entered his xxx xxx xxx
appearance as counsel for the defendants in that case. Because of this, complainant
filed the instant administrative complaint,6 claiming that respondent committed an act (2) Engage in the private practice of profession unless
of impropriety as a lawyer and as a public officer when he stood as counsel for the authorized by the Constitution or law, provided that such
defendants despite the fact that he presided over the conciliation proceedings practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official
between the litigants as punong barangay. functions; xxx (emphasis supplied)

In his defense, respondent claimed that one of his duties as punong barangay was to According to the IBP-CBD, respondent's violation of this prohibition constituted a
hear complaints referred to the barangay's Lupong Tagapamayapa. As such, he breach of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
heard the complaint of Regina and Antonio against Elizabeth and Pastor. As head of
the Lupon, he performed his task with utmost objectivity, without bias or partiality
towards any of the parties. The parties, however, were not able to amicably settle CANON 1. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE
their dispute and Regina and Antonio filed the ejectment case. It was then that LAWS OF THE LAND,PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL
Elizabeth sought his legal assistance. He acceded to her request. He handled her PROCESSES. (emphasis supplied)
case for free because she was financially distressed and he wanted to prevent the
commission of a patent injustice against her. For these infractions, the IBP-CBD recommended the respondent's suspension from
the practice of law for one month with a stern warning that the commission of the
The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. 9 This was adopted and approved
investigation, report and recommendation. As there was no factual issue to thresh by the IBP Board of Governors.10
out, the IBP's Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) required the parties to submit their
respective position papers. After evaluating the contentions of the parties, the IBP- We modify the foregoing findings regarding the transgression of respondent as well
CBD found sufficient ground to discipline respondent. 7 as the recommendation on the imposable penalty.

According to the IBP-CBD, respondent admitted that, as punong barangay, he Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility Applies Only to Former
presided over the conciliation proceedings and heard the complaint of Regina and Government Lawyers
Antonio against Elizabeth and Pastor. Subsequently, however, he represented
Respondent cannot be found liable for violation of Rule 6.03 of the Code of (c) Doctors of medicine may practice their profession even during official
Professional Responsibility. As worded, that Rule applies only to a lawyer who hours of work only on occasions of emergency: Provided, That the officials
has left government service and in connection "with any matter in which he intervened concerned do not derive monetary compensation therefrom.
while in said service." In PCGG v. Sandiganbayan,11 we ruled that Rule
6.03 prohibits former government lawyers from accepting "engagement or This is a special provision that applies specifically to the practice of profession by
employment in connection with any matter in which [they] had intervened while in said elective local officials. As a special law with a definite scope (that is, the practice of
service." profession by elective local officials), it constitutes an exception to Section 7(b)(2) of
RA 6713, the general law on engaging in the private practice of profession by public
Respondent was an incumbent punong barangay at the time he committed the act officials and employees. Lex specialibus derogat generalibus.13
complained of. Therefore, he was not covered by that provision.
Under RA 7160, elective local officials of provinces, cities, municipalities and
Section 90 of RA 7160, Not Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713, Governs The Practice of barangays are the following: the governor, the vice governor and members of
Profession of Elective Local Government Officials the sangguniang panlalawigan for provinces; the city mayor, the city vice mayor and
the members of the sangguniang panlungsod for cities; the municipal mayor, the
Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713 prohibits public officials and employees, during their municipal vice mayor and the members of the sangguniang bayan for municipalities
incumbency, from engaging in the private practice of their profession "unless and the punong barangay, the members of the sangguniang barangay and the
authorized by the Constitution or law, provided that such practice will not conflict or members of the sangguniang kabataan for barangays.
tend to conflict with their official functions." This is the general law which applies to all
public officials and employees. Of these elective local officials, governors, city mayors and municipal mayors are
prohibited from practicing their profession or engaging in any occupation other than
For elective local government officials, Section 90 of RA 7160 12 governs: the exercise of their functions as local chief executives. This is because they are
required to render full time service. They should therefore devote all their time and
attention to the performance of their official duties.
SEC. 90. Practice of Profession. - (a) All governors, city and municipal
mayors are prohibited from practicing their profession or engaging in any
occupation other than the exercise of their functions as local chief On the other hand, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang
executives. panlungsod or sangguniang bayanmay practice their professions, engage in any
occupation, or teach in schools except during session hours. In other words, they may
practice their professions, engage in any occupation, or teach in schools outside their
(b) Sanggunian members may practice their professions, engage in any session hours. Unlike governors, city mayors and municipal mayors, members of
occupation, or teach in schools except during session hours: Provided, the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan are
That sanggunian members who are members of the Bar shall not: required to hold regular sessions only at least once a week. 14Since the law itself
grants them the authority to practice their professions, engage in any occupation or
(1) Appear as counsel before any court in any civil case wherein a teach in schools outside session hours, there is no longer any need for them to
local government unit or any office, agency, or instrumentality of the secure prior permission or authorization from any other person or office for any of
government is the adverse party; these purposes.

(2) Appear as counsel in any criminal case wherein an officer or While, as already discussed, certain local elective officials (like governors, mayors,
employee of the national or local government is accused of an provincial board members and councilors) are expressly subjected to a total or partial
offense committed in relation to his office; proscription to practice their profession or engage in any occupation, no such
interdiction is made on the punong barangay and the members of the sangguniang
(3) Collect any fee for their appearance in administrative barangay. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.15 Since they are excluded from any
proceedings involving the local government unit of which he is an prohibition, the presumption is that they are allowed to practice their profession. And
official; and this stands to reason because they are not mandated to serve full time. In fact,
the sangguniang barangay is supposed to hold regular sessions only twice a month. 16

(4) Use property and personnel of the Government except when

the sanggunian member concerned is defending the interest of the Accordingly, as punong barangay, respondent was not forbidden to practice his
Government. profession. However, he should have procured prior permission or authorization from
the head of his Department, as required by civil service regulations.
A Lawyer In Government Service Who Is Not Prohibited To Practice Law Must CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY
Secure Prior Authority From The Head Of His Department AND THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE
A civil service officer or employee whose responsibilities do not require his time to be
fully at the disposal of the government can engage in the private practice of law only Indeed, a lawyer who disobeys the law disrespects it. In so doing, he disregards legal
with the written permission of the head of the department concerned. 17 Section 12, ethics and disgraces the dignity of the legal profession.
Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules provides:
Public confidence in the law and in lawyers may be eroded by the irresponsible and
Sec. 12. No officer or employee shall engage directly in any private improper conduct of a member of the bar.18 Every lawyer should act and comport
business, vocation, or profession or be connected with any commercial, himself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the legal
credit, agricultural, or industrial undertaking without a written permission profession.19
from the head of the Department: Provided, That this prohibition will be
absolute in the case of those officers and employees whose duties and A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as an attorney for
responsibilities require that their entire time be at the disposal of the violation of the lawyer's oath20 and/or for breach of the ethics of the legal profession
Government; Provided, further, That if an employee is granted permission to as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.
engage in outside activities, time so devoted outside of office hours should
be fixed by the agency to the end that it will not impair in any way the
efficiency of the officer or employee: And provided, finally, that no permission WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Vicente G. Rellosa is hereby found GUILTY of
is necessary in the case of investments, made by an officer or employee, professional misconduct for violating his oath as a lawyer and Canons 1 and 7 and
which do not involve real or apparent conflict between his private interests Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is
and public duties, or in any way influence him in the discharge of his duties, therefore SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six months effective
and he shall not take part in the management of the enterprise or become an from his receipt of this resolution. He is sternly WARNED that any repetition of similar
officer of the board of directors. (emphasis supplied) acts shall be dealt with more severely.

As punong barangay, respondent should have therefore obtained the prior written Respondent is strongly advised to look up and take to heart the meaning of the
permission of the Secretary of Interior and Local Government before he entered his word delicadeza.
appearance as counsel for Elizabeth and Pastor. This he failed to do.
Let a copy of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and entered
The failure of respondent to comply with Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil into the records of respondent Atty. Vicente G. Rellosa. The Office of the Court
Service Rules constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer: to obey the laws. Administrator shall furnish copies to all the courts of the land for their information and
Lawyers are servants of the law, vires legis, men of the law. Their paramount duty to guidance.
society is to obey the law and promote respect for it. To underscore the primacy and
importance of this duty, it is enshrined as the first canon of the Code of Professional SO ORDERED.
In acting as counsel for a party without first securing the required written permission, Associate Justice
respondent not only engaged in the unauthorized practice of law but also violated civil
service rules which is a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional

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

deceitful conduct. (emphasis supplied)

For not living up to his oath as well as for not complying with the exacting ethical
standards of the legal profession, respondent failed to comply with Canon 7 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility:
G.R. No. L-19450 May 27, 1965 Court as an agent or friend of the offended party. It does not appear that he
was being paid for his services or that his appearance was in a professional
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, capacity. As Assistant City Attorney of San Pablo he had no control or
vs. intervention whatsoever in the prosecution of crimes committed in the
SIMPLICIO VILLANUEVA, defendant-appellant. municipality of Alaminos, Laguna, because the prosecution of criminal cases
coming from Alaminos are handled by the Office of the Provincial Fiscal and
not by the City Attornev of San Pablo. There could be no possible conflict in
Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. the duties of Assistant City Attorney Fule as Assistant City Attorney of San
Magno T. Buese for defendant-appellant. Pablo and as private prosecutor in this criminal case. On the other hand, as
already pointed out, the offended party in this criminal case had a right to be
PAREDES, J.: represented by an agent or a friend to protect her rights in the civil action
which was impliedly instituted together with the criminal action.
On September 4, 1959, the Chief of Police of Alaminos, Laguna, charged Simplicio
Villanueva with the Crime of Malicious Mischief before the Justice of the Peace Court In view of the foregoing, this Court holds that Asst. City Attorney Ariston D.
of said municipality. Said accused was represented by counsel de officio but later on Fule may appear before the Justice of the Peace Court of Alaminos, Laguna
replaced by counsel de parte. The complainant in the same case was represented by as private prosecutor in this criminal case as an agent or a friend of the
City Attorney Ariston Fule of San Pablo City, having entered his appearance as offended party.
private prosecutor, after securing the permission of the Secretary of Justice. The
condition of his appearance as such, was that every time he would appear at the trial WHEREFORE, the appeal from the order of the Justice of the Peace Court
of the case, he would be considered on official leave of absence, and that he would of Alaminos, Laguna, allowing the apprearance of Ariston D. Fule as private
not receive any payment for his services. The appearance of City Attorney Fule as prosecutor is dismissed, without costs.
private prosecutor was questioned by the counsel for the accused, invoking the case
of Aquino, et al. vs. Blanco, et al.,
L-1532, Nov. 28, 1947, wherein it was ruled that "when an attorney had been The above decision is the subject of the instant proceeding.
appointed to the position of Assistant Provincial Fiscal or City Fiscal and therein
qualified, by operation of law, he ceased to engage in private law practice." Counsel The appeal should be dismissed, for patently being without merits.1wph1.t
then argued that the JP Court in entertaining the appearance of City Attorney Fule in
the case is a violation of the above ruling. On December 17, 1960 the JP issued an Aside from the considerations advanced by the learned trial judge, heretofore
order sustaining the legality of the appearance of City Attorney Fule. reproduced, and which we consider plausible, the fallacy of the theory of defense
counsel lies in his confused interpretation of Section 32 of Rule 127 (now Sec. 35,
Under date of January 4, 1961, counsel for the accused presented a "Motion to Inhibit Rule 138, Revised Rules), which provides that "no judge or other official or employee
Fiscal Fule from Acting as Private Prosecutor in this Case," this time invoking Section of the superior courts or of the office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in private
32, Rule 27, now Sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court, which bars certain practice as a member of the bar or give professional advice to clients." He claims that
attorneys from practicing. Counsel claims that City Attorney Fule falls under this City Attorney Fule, in appearing as private prosecutor in the case was engaging in
limitation. The JP Court ruled on the motion by upholding the right of Fule to appear private practice. We believe that the isolated appearance of City Attorney Fule did not
and further stating that he (Fule) was not actually enagaged in private law practice. constitute private practice within the meaning and contemplation of the Rules.
This Order was appealed to the CFI of Laguna, presided by the Hon. Hilarion U. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary
Jarencio, which rendered judgment on December 20, 1961, the pertinent portions of actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual
which read: exercise (State vs. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law
to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually
The present case is one for malicious mischief. There being no reservation holding one's self out to the public, as customarily and demanding payment for such
by the offended party of the civil liability, the civil action was deemed services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644, 647). The appearance as counsel
impliedly instituted with the criminal action. The offended party had, on one occasion is not conclusive as determinative of engagement in the private
therefore, the right to intervene in the case and be represented by a legal practice of law. The following observation of the Solicitor General is noteworthy:
counsel because of her interest in the civil liability of the accused.
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have
Sec. 31, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court provides that in the court of a justice presented himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal
of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an profession and that his professional services are available to the public for a
agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said
attorney. Assistant City Attorney Fule appeared in the Justice of the Peace services.
For one thing, it has never been refuted that City Attorney Fule had been given
permission by his immediate superior, the Secretary of Justice, to represent the
complainant in the case at bar, who is a relative.

CONFORMABLY WITH ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from should
be, as it is hereby affirmed, in all respects, with costs against appellant..

Bengzon, C.J., Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal,

Bengzon, J.P., and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.
Bautista Angelo, J., took no part.
G.R. No. 155311 March 31, 2004 was rendered by the RTC. In light of said compromise, the Court of Appeals
dismissed CA-G.R. S.P. No. 22727 for mootness.
DOY MERCANTILE, INC., petitioner,
vs. DOY, however, refused to satisfy Atty. Gabriel, Jr.s attorneys fees, prompting the
AMA COMPUTER COLLEGE and ERNESTO RIOVEROS, respondents. lawyer to file with the RTC a Motion to Allow Commensurate Fees and to Annotate
Attorneys Lien on T.C.T. Nos. 68951 and 68952. At this point, DOY had already
RESOLUTION obtained the services of a new counsel to attend to the enforcement of
the Judgment of the RTC.
On December 27, 1991, the RTC fixed Atty. Gabriel, Jr.s fees at 200,000.00 and
ordered that a lien be annotated on the TCTs. A Writ of Execution was later issued by
On June 1, 1990, petitioner Doy Mercantile, Inc. (DOY) through its then counsel, the trial court in Atty. Gabriel, Jr.s favor.
respondent Atty. Eduardo P. Gabriel, Jr., filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Cebu City a Complaint for Annulment of Contract, Damages with Preliminary
Injunction against AMA Computer College, Inc. (AMA) and one Ernesto Rioveros. Upon Atty. Gabriel Jr.s motion for reconsideration, the RTC increased his fees to
500,000.00. It then issued another Writ of Execution to enforce the new award but
denied the Motion to Annotate the Award at the back of the TCTs.
Petitioner alleged that it owns Lots 2-A and 2-B, and the improvements thereon,
located at No. 640 Osmea Boulevard, Cebu City, covered by Transfer Certificate of
Title (TCT) Nos. 68951 and 68952. DOY assailed the Deed of Conditional DOY, for its part, filed several petitions with the Court of Appeals to set aside the
Sale supposedly executed by one of DOYs directors, Dionisio O. Yap, in favor of RTC Orders involving the award of attorneys fees. Eventually, the Court of Appeals
AMA. Dionisio allegedly sold the properties to AMA without proper authorization from rendered a Decision,1 fixing Atty. Gabriel, Jr.s fees at 200,000.00 and affirming the
DOYs Board of Directors. DOY also questioned the Secretarys Certificate which was subsequent Order of the RTC not to annotate such award on the TCTs.
executed by DOY Corporate Secretary Francisco P. Yap, authorizing Dionisio to sell
the properties and to sign the contract in behalf of DOY. This Decision is now the subject of the present petition.

Through Atty. Gabriel, Jr., DOY filed an Urgent Ex Parte Motion for the Issuance of a DOY contends that the Decision is not consistent with the guidelines prescribed by
Restraining Order, which was granted by the RTC on June 14, 1990. On June 23, Section 24, Rule 1382 of the Rules of Court and Rule 20.013 of the Code of
1990, Atty. Gabriel also filed an Answer to Defendants Counterclaim. On July 2, Professional Responsibility. DOY avers that except for the statement that the
1990, he filed DOYs Formal Rejoinder to AMAs Opposition for Issuance of Writ of compromise agreement benefited DOY and that Atty. Gabriel, Jr., was a competent
Preliminary Injunction. He also filed on July 24, 1990, an Omnibus Motion seeking (1) lawyer, the Court of Appeals made no pronouncement as to the importance of the
the reconsideration of the order denying DOYs application for a writ of preliminary subject matter in controversy, the extent of services rendered and the professional
injunction, (2) the setting of the case for pre-trial and trial on the merits, and (3) the standing of Atty. Gabriel, Jr., DOY also submits that the Court of Appeals should not
imposition of disciplinary sanctions to Atty. Winston Garcia, who notarized the Deed have merely relied on the value of the properties involved as the basis for its award.
of Conditional Sale and the Secretarys Certificate. On August 31, 1990, Atty. Gabriel Furthermore, while Atty. Gabriel admitted that he already received Eighty Two
also filed a Rejoinder to AMAs Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration, etc. Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty Pesos (82,950.00) from DOY for incidental and partial
attorneys fees, a fact affirmed by the Court of Appeals, the latter still awarded
During this period, that is, before pre-trial, DOY filed a Petition for Certiorari, 200,000.00 to him.
Prohibition with a Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction (CA-G.R. S.P. No. 22727)
with the Court of Appeals. It questioned the Order of the RTC dated July 5, 1990, Atty. Gabriel, Jr., comments, however, that the attorneys fees awarded by the
denying DOYs prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and appellate court were commensurate and, perhaps, even less than, the value of the
dissolving the temporary restraining order previously issued. DOY also assailed services he rendered. He then enumerates the pleadings he drafted and the
the Order dated August 10, 1990, which denied DOYs Omnibus Motion. Atty. Gabriel, appearances he made to dispose of the main case.
Jr., signed the petition together with Atty. Enrique C. Andres of the law firm of
Salonga, Andres, Hernandez and Allado. Atty. Gabriel, Jr., also alleges that he handled interrelated cases for DOY. He
purportedly prepared and filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Cebu City the
During pre-trial, AMA proposed to enter into a compromise agreement with DOY, following: a case for Illegal Detainer with Damages, an Opposition to Motion to
which proposal the parties later agreed to adopt. The agreement was signed by Dismiss, an Opposition to Defendants Motion for Reconsideration, and a Motion to
Fernando Yap in behalf of DOY, with the assistance of Atty. Gabriel, Jr. and Atty. Dismiss.
Andres. On November 29, 1990, a Judgment based on the compromise agreement
Atty. Gabriel, Jr., also draws attention to the criminal case filed by Rolando Piedad, . While it is true that Civil Case No. CEB 9043 was terminated by virtue of
director of AMA, before the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor charging Dionisio Yap a compromise agreement by the parties, this is still to be taken as beneficial
and Francisco Yap with estafa through falsification of public document. He claims that to DMI as the dispute was finally resolved without having to resort to a full-
it was he who prepared and filed with said Office the Joint Affidavit of Messrs. blown trial on the merits which often would take time before the light at the
Dionisio and Francisco Yap against Rolando Piedad for Perjury, as well as the end of the tunnel may be seen.
Yaps Counter-Affidavit in the criminal case. The case was eventually dismissed by
the fiscal. .

Finally, Atty. Gabriel, Jr., stresses that, through his efforts and resourcefulness, AMA DMI also assails the use of the value of the property involved in the litigation
had no choice but to concede to the compromise agreement resulting in the to serve as a basis or standard in computing and awarding attorneys fees. A
cancellation of the Deed of Conditional Sale between DOY and AMA. According to simple perusal of the provisions of Section 24, Rule 138 of the Revised
him, AMA was operating a school on the property, which did not have an area of at Rules of Court, as well as Canon 20, Rule 20.01 of the Code of Professional
least 1,000 square meters as required of a school campus, in violation of the Responsibility, would show that "the value of the property" was not
directives of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS). AMA also did enumerated as one of the factors but instead they used "the importance of
not have a business permit from the city government. Atty. Gabriel thus made formal the subject matter" as a determinant of the amount of award of attorneys
representations with the DECS and the City of Cebu, which ordered AMA to cease fees. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has included as one of the
operations. Atty. Gabriel, Jr., also verified from the Philippine National Bank whether determinants for the reasonableness of the award of attorneys fees "the
AMA applied for a loan with which to pay DOY as stipulated in the Deed of value of the property affected by the controversy." .
Conditional Sale, and was informed that AMAs application was held in abeyance due
to its poor credit reputation.
The petition has no merit. It is not accurate for petitioner to state that the Court of
Appeals did not take into account the time spent and the extent of the services The issue of the reasonableness of attorneys fees based on quantum
rendered by Atty. Gabriel Jr. The Court of Appeals found that: meruit is a question of fact and well-settled is the rule that conclusions and
findings of fact by the lower courts are entitled to great weight on appeal and
will not be disturbed except for strong and cogent reasons.
That Atty. Gabriel, Jr. was the counsel of DMI [DOY] up to the time the compromise
agreement was confirmed by the trial court. He only withdrew his appearance as
counsel for co-plaintiffs Fred and Felipe Yap, who were eventually dropped as parties The trial courts initial award of 2000,00.00 as attorneys fees of Atty.
to the case, along with the other individual defendants, as it was held that only DMI Gabriel, Jr. is reasonable. On the other hand, the increased award of
was the real-party-in-interest. 500,000.00 cannot be justified, taking into account the recognized
parameters of quantum meruit.6
It is evident that Atty. Gabriel, Jr. served as co-counsel together with Atty. Enrique C.
Andres. DMI was assisted by the former. Evidence of which was the service of a copy The Court of Appeals then ended on this note:
of the Judgment Based on Compromise Agreement, including the Decision dated
January 30, 1991, which dismissed C.A.-G.R. S.P. No. 22727, on Atty. Gabriel, Jr.. Lastly, we take this occasion to reiterate the fact that while the practice of
law is not a business, the attorney plays a vital role in the administration of
A perusal of the pleadings enumerated by the plaintiff-appellant reveals the justice and, hence, the need to secure to him his honorarium lawfully earned
competence of Atty. Gabriel, Jr. in handling the case. The degree and extent of as a means to preserve the decorum and respectability of the legal
service rendered by an attorney for a client is best measured in terms other than the profession. A lawyer is as much entitled to judicial protection against
mere number of sheets of paper.4 injustice or imposition on the part of his client just as the client can claim
protection against abuse on the part of his counsel. The duty of the court is
not alone to see that a lawyer acts in a proper and lawful manner, it is also
Indeed, the assailed Decision even contains an enumeration of the pleadings filed by its duty to see that a lawyer is paid his just fees. With his capital consisting
counsel in behalf of his client.5 only of his brains and with his skill acquired at tremendous cost not only in
money but in expenditure of time and energy, he is entitled to the protection
In fixing the award of attorneys fees, the Court of Appeals also considered the of any judicial tribunal against any attempt on the part of his client to escape
amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client from the payment of his just compensation. It would be ironic if, after putting forth the
service in fixing Atty. Gabriel, Jr.s fees, thus: best in him to secure justice for his client, he himself would not get his due.7

This Court finds no reversible error in the above disquisition.

Petitioners contention that the appellate court should also have taken into account
the importance of the subject matter in controversy and the professional standing of
counsel in determining the latters fees is untenable. Although Rule 138 of the Rules
of Court and Rule 20.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility list several other
factors in setting such fees, these are mere guides in ascertaining the real value of
the lawyers service.8 Courts are not bound to consider all these factors in fixing
attorneys fees.

While a lawyer should charge only fair and reasonable fees, 9 no hard and fast rule
maybe set in the determination of what a reasonable fee is, or what is not. That must
be established from the facts in each case.10 As the Court of Appeals is the final
adjudicator of facts, this Court is bound by the formers findings on the propriety of the
amount of attorneys fees.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DENY the Petition and AFFIRM

the Decision of the Court of Appeals.


Puno, Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.

A.M. No. 1437 April 25, 1989 the hearing of the case was set for 14 January 1976. The records show that the
second hearing took place on 18 April 1988 but do not indicate the reason for the 12-
HILARIA TANHUECO, complainant, year interregnum. By then, complainant Tanhueco had died. There was no
vs. appearance at the second hearing by complainant Jose Florencio Tanhueco but
JUSTINIANO G. DE DUMO, respondent. respondent de Dumo was then present.

A.M. No. 1683 April 25, 1989 The report of the Solicitor General, dated June 15, 1988 in Administrative Case No.
1437 summarized the evidence for the complainant in the following manner:
HILARIA TANHUECO, complainant,
JUSTINIANO G. DE DUMO, respondent.
Complainant Hilaria Tanhueco testified that she secured the legal
R E S O L U T I ON services of respondent to collect indebtedness from her different
debtors. Although she offered to execute a document evidencing
their lawyer-client relationship, respondent told her that it was not
PER CURIAM: necessary. She nonetheless offered to give him 15% of what he
may be able to collect from the debtors (pp. 4-7. tsn, Dec. 3, 1975).
On 24 February 1975, complainant Hilaria Tanhueco filed before the Court a Petition
for Disbarment (docketed as Administrative Case No. 1437) against respondent Complainant also declared that respondent borrowed from her
Justiniano G. de Dumo for having violated the Canons of Professional Ethics by his P2,000.00, Pl,300.00, and P3,000.00 on three separate occasions,
(a) refusal to remit to her money collected by him from debtors of the complainant; but she could not remember when she gave those amounts.
and (b) refusal to return documents entrusted to him as counsel of complainant in Respondent did not pay those loans (pp. 8-9, tsn, Id.).
certain collection cases.
She confirmed that respondent filed cases against her debtors and
In his Answer and Counter-Petition 1 filed on 3 April 1975, respondent denied the that one of them, Constancia Maosca paid P12,500.00 to
charges. Complainant filed a Rejoinder [should be Reply] to Answer with Counter- respondent. Informed of such payment by Maosca herself,
Petition, on 18 April 1975. By a Resolution 2 dated 16 June 1975, the Court referred complainant confronted respondent but the latter denied having
this case to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation. received payment from any of her debtors. Complainant then
brought the matter to the attention of Malacaang which referred
A year later, on 25 June 1976, one Jose Florencio N. Tanhueco claiming to be the her to Camp Crame. Notwithstanding subsequent demands of
nephew and representative of the complainant, addressed a sworn letter complaint to complainant for the money, respondent had refused to give her the
Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos against the respondent for (a) refusal to remit the money amount (pp. 11 -15, tsn, Id.).
collected by respondent from debtors of complainant's aunt, Mrs. Hilaria Tanhueco
Vda. de David; (b) refusal to return documents entrusted to him in his capacity as The Solicitor General then summed up the evidence for the respondent in the
counsel in certain cases; and (c) abandonment of cases in respect of which his following terms:
professional services had been engaged. On 24 August 1976, the letter complaint
was forwarded by the then Public Information Assistance Staff, Department of Public
Information, to this Court for appropriate action (and docketed as Administrative Case EVIDENCE FOR RESPONDENT
No. 1683). After respondent had filed his Answer, the Court, by a Resolution 3 dated
9 December 1976, referred this case to then Acting Judicial Consultant Ricardo C. Respondent Atty. Justiniano G. de Dumo testified that complainant
Puno for study, report and recommendation. indeed secured his legal services to collect from her debtors, with
the agreement that he gets 50% of what he may be able to collect.
Since Administrative Case No. 1683 and Administrative Case No. 1437 involved the He thus filed collection cases against Tipace Maosca Morena, Jr.,
same parties and the same subject matter, Hon. Ricardo C. Puno referred the former and others, and was able to obtain favorable judgment in the cases
case to the Office of the Solicitor General for consolidation with the latter one. against Maosca, Tipace, and Leonila Mendoza. The initial
payments made by these judgment-debtors were all given to
complainant. With respect to Maosca respondent obtained a
The Office of the Solicitor General held two (2) hearings, one on 3 December 1975 judgment for P19,000.00 although the debt was only P12,000.00
and another on 18 April 1988. In the first hearing, respondent de Dumo was absent (pp. 3-9, tsn, April 18, 1988).
although he had been notified thereof. At the end of the first hearing, continuation of
Respondent also declared that complainant, who was then already 1140; Albano v. Coloma, G.R. Adm. Case No. 528, Oct. 11, 1967).
old and sickly, was influenced by her debtors, who were also her This countervailing rule mitigates the actions of respondent.
friends into distrusting him. Ultimately, because complainant filed a
complaint against him with Malacaang which referred the matter to As regards the charges that respondent received documents
Camp Crame, he terminated his relationship with complainant and evidencing the debts to complainant and had refused to return them
demanded his attorney's fees equivalent to 50% of what he had to the latter, and that respondent also borrowed some amounts
collected. Complainant refused to pay him, hence, he did not also from her, there [is] no competent, conclusive evidence to support
turn over to her the P12,000.00 initial payment of Maosca which them. Perforce, such allegations have no factual basis. (Emphasis
he considered, or applied, as part payment of his attorney's fee (pp. supplied)
9-19, tsn., Id.). Respondent estimated his attorney's fee due from
complainant in the amount of P17,000.00 (p. 20, tsn, Id.)
The Solicitor General then recommended that:
Respondent denied having borrowed the amounts of P2,000.00,
P1,300.00, P3,000.00 and P1,000.00, pointing out that complainant For failure to turn over the amount of P12,000.00 to the
did not even have money to pay him so that he handled the cases complainant, and applying it as his attorney's fees, respondent Atty.
for her on contingent basis (p. 17, tsn, Id.) He also denied having Justiniano G. de Dumo be severely reprimanded and admonished
received documentary evidence from complainant. What evidence that repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more
he had were all gathered by him on his initiative (pp. 4-7, tsn, Id.). severely.

The Solicitor General then set out the following: We find the findings of fact of the Solicitor General supported by the evidence of
record. We are, however, unable to accept his recommendation.
Moneys collected by an attorney on a judgment rendered in favor of his client,
constitute trust funds and must, be immediately paid over to the client. 4 Canon 11 of
There is in the case at bar clear admissions by both complainant the Canons of Professional Ethics 5 then in force, provides as follows:
and respondent of an attorney-client relationship between them,
specifically in the collection of debts owing
complainant. Respondent also admitted, in his answer to the 11. Dealing with trust property.
complaint and in his testimony, having received P12,000.00 from
indebtor Constancia Manosca without turning over the amount to The lawyer should refrain from any action whereby for his personal
his client, complainant herein, and applying it instead as part of his benefit or gain he abuses or takes advantage of the confidence
attorney's fees. It has been held that the money collected by a reposed in him by his client.
lawyer in pursuance of a judgement in favor of his client held in
trust (Aya v. Bigonia,57 Phil.8;Daroy v..Legaspi 65 SCRA 304), and Money of the client or collected for the client or other trust property
that the attorney should promptly account for all funds and property coming into the possession of the lawyer should be reported
received or held by him for the client's benefit (Daroy v. and accounted for promptly and should not under any circumstance
Legaspi, supra; In re Bamberger, 49 Phil. 962). The circumstance be comingled with his own or be used by him. (Emphasis supplied)
that an attorney has a lien for his attorney's fees on the money in
his hands collected for his client does not relieve him from the
obligation to make a prompt accounting (Domingo l v. Doming[o] When respondent withheld and refused to deliver the money received by him for his
G.R. No. 30573, Oct. 29, 1971; Daroy v. client, the deceased complainant Hilaria Tanhueco, he breached the trust reposed
Legaspi, supra). Undoubtedly, respondent's failure to account for upon him.The claim of the respondent that complainant had failed to pay his
the P12,000.00, representing payment of the judgement debt of attorney's fees, is not an excuse for respondent's failure to deliver any amount to the
Maosca constitutes unprofessional conduct and subjects him to complainants. 6 It is of course true that under Section 37 of Rule 138 of the Revised
disciplinary action. Nonetheless, it has likewise been recognized Rules of Court, an attorney has-
that a lawyer is as much entitled to judicial protection against
injustice, imposition or fraud on the part of his client; and that the a lien upon the funds, documents and papers of his client which
attorney is entitled to be paid his just fees. The attorney should be have lawfully come into his possession and may retain the same
protected against any attempt on the part of his client to escape until his lawful fees and disbursements have been paid, and may
payment of his just compensation (Fernandez v. Bello, 107 Phil. apply such funds to the satisfaction thereof. He shall also have a
lien to the same extent upon all judgments for the payment of
money and executions issued in pursuance of such judgments, 7. That the understanding between Hilaria Tanhueco and me was
which he has secured in a litigation of his client, from and after the a fifty- fifty on collected principal and interests. The lawyer has the
time when he shall have caused a statement of his claim of such right to charge attorney's fees to the other party-defendant and that
lien to be entered upon the records of the court rendering such Hilaria Tanhueco shall not interfere nor be included in the
judgment, or issuing such execution, and shall have caused written computation.
notice thereof to be delivered to his client and to the adverse party;
and he shall have the same right and power over such judgments That of the cases filed, the following made payments:
and executions as his client would have to enforce his lien and
secure the payment of his just fees and disbursements.
a. Hilaria Tanhueco vs. Constancia Maosca
The fact that a lawyer has a lien for fees on moneys in his hands collected for his
client, does not relieve him from his duty promptly to account for the moneys Amount Collectible
received; his failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct. 7 (principal)............................................. P12,000.00

In the present case, what respondent could have properly done was to make an Interest added from May 1972 o Nov/73 at 1% a
account with his client, the complainant, deduct his attorney's fees due in respect of month.. P 2,280.00
the amount actually collected by him, and turn over the remaining balance to the
complainant. The Court notes that the services of respondent de Dumo were engaged Attorney's fees charged to the defendant and not to be included
by the complainant on a number of cases and that these were on differing stages of in the computation...................................................... P 4,720.00
completion. Respondent was not entitled to hold on to the entire amount of
P12,000.00 collected by him until all his fees for the other cases had also been paid TOTAL and Amount specified in the Compromise Agreement
and received by him. There was not enough evidence in the record to show how and Subject of the Decision.. P19,000.00
much money, if any, respondent had in fact previously (i.e., other than the P12,000.00
from Maosca) collected for and turned over to complainant (thereby waiving his lien
thereon) without deducting therefrom his claimed contingent fees in respect of such b. Hilaria Tanhueco vs. Melchor Tipace et al.
Principal amount collectible ....... P7,100.00
The relationship of attorney and client has always been rightly regarded as one of
special trust and confidence. An attorney must exercise the utmost good faith and Interest at 1 % per month starting June/71 to
fairness in all his relationships vis-a-vis his client. Respondent fell far short of this Sept./74...........................................................................2,840.00
standard when he failed to render an accounting for the amount actually received by
him and when he refused to turn over any portion of such amount received by him on
Attorney's fees charged to the defendant and not included in the
behalf of his client upon the pretext that his attorney's fees had not all been paid.
computation................................................................... 1,450.00
Respondent had in fact placed his private and personal interest above that of his
client. Respondent's act constitutes a breach of his lawyer's oath and a mere
reprimand is not an adequate sanction. TOTAL P ll,390.00.

There is another aspect to this case which the Court cannot gloss over. Respondent c. Hilaria Tanhueco vs. Estimo
claimed that he charged complainant, his client, a contingent fee of fifty percent (50%)
of the amount collected by him, plus interest and whatever attorney's fees may be Principal Amount collectible......... Pl,000.00
awarded by the trial court chargeable to the other party. In this jurisdiction, contingent
fees are not per se prohibited by law. 8 But when it is shown that a contract for a
contingent fee are obtained by undue influence exercised by the attorney upon his
client or by any fraud or imposition, or that the compensation is clearly excessive, the
Court must and will protect the aggrieved party. 9
From the Answer of respondent de Dumo it appears that in three (3) collection cases
filed by him for the complainant and which were decided in favor of the complainant, MAOSCA CASE:
the awards totalled P31,390.00. Respondent asserted that he was entitled to
attorney's fees amounting to Pl8,840. 00 out of the aggregate total of P31,390.00:
Attorney's fees to be paid by Maosca and not to be included in shows that an unfair advantage was taken of the client and legal fraud and imposition
the computation.................................. P 4,840.00 perpetrated upon her.

Fifty per cent on the principal amount collectible plus The complainant was an old and sickly woman and, in respondent's own words,
interests......................................... . P 7,080.00 "penniless." She was at the time she filed her complaint in 1976, already seventy-six
(76) years old. In her circumstances, and given her understandable desire to realize
TOTAL AMOUNT RECEIVABLE P11,920.00 upon debts owed to her before death overtook her, she would easily succumb to the
demands of respondent attorney regarding his attorney's fees. It must be stressed
that the mere fact that an agreement had been reached between attorney and client
TIPACES CASE: fixing the amount of the attorney's fees, does not insulate such agreement from
review and modification by the Court where the fees clearly appear to be excessive or
Attorney's fees to be paid by Tipace and not to be included in unreasonable. In Mambulao Lumber Company v. Philippine National Bank, et
the computation............................. Pl,450.00 al., 12 this Court stressed:

Fifty per cent on the principal amount collectible from Tipace The principle that courts should reduce stipulated attorney's fees whenever it is found
plus interests.................................. 4,970.00 under the circumstances of the case that the same is unreasonable, is now deeply
rooted in this jurisdiction to entertain any serious objection to it. Thus, this Court has
TOTAL AMOUNT RECEIVABLE... P6,420.00 explained:

8. The total amount which I ought to receive as attorney's fees But the principle that it may be lawfully stipulated that the legal expenses involved in
under paragraph seven, sub-paragraph a, b and c is: the collection of a debt shall be defrayed by the debtor does not imply that such
stipulations must be enforced in accordance with the terms, no matter how injurious
or oppressive they may be. The lawful purpose to be accomplished by such a
Pll,920. 00 stipulation is to permit the creditor to receive the amount due him under his contract
without a deduction of the expenses caused by the delinquency of the debtor. It
P6,420.00 should not be permitted for him to convert such a stipulation into a source of
speculative profit at the expense of the debtor.
P500. 00
xxx xxx xxx
P18,840. 00 TOTAL 10
Since then this Court has invariably fixed counsel fees on a quantum meruit basis
whenever the fees stipulated appear excessive, unconscionable, or unreasonable,
We note that respondent attorney claimed as his contingent fee the following:
because a lawyer is primarily a court officer charged with the duty of assisting the
court in administering impartial justice between the parties, and hence, the fees
1) fifty percent (50%) of the sum of principal and interest collectible from different should be subject to judicial control. Nor should it be ignored that sound public policy
debtors; and demands that courts disregard stipulations for counsel fees, whenever they appear to
be a source of speculative profit at the expense of the debtor or mortgagor(See,
2) attorney's fees charged to the defendant (presumably under promissory notes or Gorospe, et al. v. Gochangco, supra). And it is not material that the present action is
written agreements) and "not to be included in the computation." between attorney and client. As courts have power to fix the fee as between attorney
and client, it must necessarily have the right to say whether a stipulation like this,
inserted in a mortgage contract, is valid (Bachrach vs. Golingco, supra).
Under this scheme, respondent was actually collecting as attorney's fees sixty
percent (60%) or more than half of the total amount due from defendant debtors;
indeed, he was appropriating for himself more than what he was, according to him, to xxx xxx xxx 13
turn over to his client.
This Court has power to guard a client, 14 especially an aged and necessitous
We believe and so hold that the contingent fee here claimed was, under the facts client, 15 against such a contract. We hold that on a quantum meruit basis, no
obtaining in this case, grossly excessive and unconscionable. 11 Such a fee circumstances of special difficulty attending the collection cases having been shown
structure, when considered in conjunction with the circumstances of this case, also by respondent, respondent attorney's fees should be reduced from sixty percent
(60%) to ten percent (15%) of the total amount (including attorney's fees stipulated as
chargeable to the debtors) collected by him on behalf of his client.

With respect to charges of refusal to return documents entrusted to respondent

lawyer and abandonment of cases in which his services had been engaged, we
accept the findings of the Solicitor General that the evidence of record is not sufficient
to prove these allegations.

WHEREFORE, the Court Resolved that:

1. respondent is guilty of violation of the attorneys' oath and of serious professional

misconduct and shall be SUSPENDED from the practice law for six (6) months and
WARNED that repetition of the same or similar offense will be more severely dealt

2. the attorney's fees that respondent is entitled to in respect of the collection cases
here involved shall be an amount equivalent to fifteen percent (15%) of the total
amount collected by respondent from the debtors in those cases;

3. respondent shall return forthwith to the estate of complainant Hilaria Tanhueco the
P12,000.00 respondent received on behalf of his client less attorney's fees due to him
in respect of that amount (P l2,000.00 less fifteen percent [15%] thereof) or a net
amount of P10,200.00; and

4. respondent shall return to the estate of complainant Hilaria Tanhueco any

documents and papers received by him from the deceased complainant in connection
with the collection cases for which he was retained. If he has in fact made any other
collections from deceased complainant's debtors, he shall promptly account therefor
to complainant's estate and shall be entitled to receive in respect thereof the fifteen
percent (15%) attorney's fees provided for herein.

Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished each to the Bar Confidant and spread on
the personal record of respondent attorney, and to the Integrated Bar of the

Fernan C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano,

Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado,
JJ., concur.