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Ana A. Chua and Marcelina Hsia v. Atty. Simeon M. Mesina Jr.

A.C. 4904, August 12, 2004

Facts:

Atty. Mesina is the lawyer of Spouses Chua for a long time. Incidentally, Spouses
Chua are also the lessor of a building located in Burgos Cabanatuan as well as a parcel of
land (Melencio Property) located in Melencio, Cabanatuan, which were both owned by Atty.
Mesina’s mother. Subsequently, the aforementioned properties were mortgaged to UCPB,
and when Mrs. Mesina failed to pay her obligations, his son, proposed that the spouses
Chua settle the same, in consideration of the sale of the Melencio Property at 850 per
sq./m.

Following a consultation with their business partner, Marcelina Hsia (Hsia), the
spouses agreed to the proposal and paid Mrs. Mesina’s obligation to the bank amounting to
983,925.40. Subsequently, a Deed of Absolute sale was executed on January 19, 1985, in
favor of Spouses Chua and Hsia. Another Deed of absolute sale antedated to February 9,
1979 was executed on February 20, 1986 at the recommendation of Atty. Mesina to evade
Capital Gains Tax.
After the execution of the second Deed of Absolute Sale, one Juanito Tecson
(Tecson) filed an Affidavit dated February 20, 1986 before the Prosecutors Office charging
Mrs. Mesina, the spouses Chua, Hsia and the two witnesses to the said Deed of Absolute
Sale, for Falsification of Public Document and violation of the Internal Revenue Code.
Tecson alleged that he was also a lessee of the Melencio property and was, along with the
Chua spouses, supposed to purchase it but that contrary to their agreement, the property
was sold only to Spouses Chua and Hsia, to his exclusion. Tecson went on to relate that the
second Deed of Absolute Sale did not reflect the true value of the Melencio property and
was antedated to evade payment of capital gains tax.
To dodge the falsification charged, Atty. Mesina then propositioned that a simulated
Deed of Absolute Sale be executed wherein the complainants will resell the land to Mrs.
Mesina. Thereafter when the spouses acceded and the aforementioned deed was completed
and registered, a new title was issued in the name of Mrs. Mesina on April 4, 1986, although
the owner’s duplicate copy remained with Spouses Chua. Tecson on the other hand
eventually desisted from the complaint.
Finally in 1990, Atty. Mesina borrowed the owner’s copy with an undertaking that he
will reconvey the property to the Spouses Chua and Hsia within 4 months from the date of
execution. Meanwhile Mrs. Mesina died in 1991 and despite repeated demands of Spouses
Chua and Hsia, Atty. Mesina failed to reconvey the aforementioned property. Eventually,
they found out that the property was being sold to the public; hence they filed a complaint
in 1992 against Atty. Mesina and his 2 siblings for Declaration of Nullity of Sale and
Reconveyance of Real Property. While the civil case was pending, an administrative
complaint was filed against Atty. Mesina in 1998 for breach of professional ethics, gross
professional misconduct, and culpable malpractice.
Issue:

Whether or not the lawyer is guilty of violation of Canon 1 of the Code of


Professional Responsibility.

Ruling:
YES. This Court finds that indeed, respondent is guilty of gross misconduct. In fine,
respondent violated his oath of office and, more specifically, the following canons of the
Code of Professional Responsibility:

CANON 1. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE
LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.

First, by advising complainants to execute another Deed of Absolute Sale antedated to


1979 to evade payment of capital gains taxes, he violated his duty to promote respect for
law and legal processes, and not to abet activities aimed at defiance of the law; That
respondent intended to, as he did defraud not a private party but the government is
aggravating.
Second, when respondent convinced complainants to execute another document, a
simulated Deed of Absolute Sale wherein they made it appear that complainants
reconveyed the Melencio property to his mother, he committed dishonesty.
Third, when on May 2, 1990 respondent inveigled his own clients, the Chua spouses,
into turning over to him the owners copy of his mothers title upon the misrepresentation
that he would, in four months, have a deed of sale executed by his mother in favor of
complainants, he likewise committed dishonesty.
That the signature of Felicisima M. Melencio in the 1985 document and that in the
1979 document are markedly different is in fact is a badge of falsification of either the 1979
or the 1985 document or even both.
A propos is this Courts following pronouncement in Nakpil v. Valdez
As a rule, a lawyer is not barred from dealing with his client
but the business transaction must be characterized with utmost honesty and go
od faith. The measure of good faith, which an attorney is required to exercise in
his dealings with his
client, is a much higher standard that is required in business dealings where the
parties trade at arms length. Business transactions between an attorney and his
client are disfavored and discouraged by the policy of the law. Hence, courts
carefully watch these transactions to assure that a lawyer takes no advantage
over his client. This rule is founded on public policy for, by virtue of his office;
an attorney is in an easy position to take advantage of the credulity and
ignorance of his client. Thus, no presumption of innocence or improbability of
wrongdoing is considered in an attorneys favor.

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