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II.

Recent Jurisprudence

Atoc v Camello
[I.P.I. No. 16-241-CA-J. November 29, 2016.]

FACTS:

Complainant, Clemente Atoc, is a resident of Cagayan de Oro City who claimed that
she was affected by the judicial action and decision promulgated by the Associate
Justices of the Court of Appeals – Cagayan de Oro, namely Honourable Justices
Edgardo Camello, Oscar Badelles and Perpetua Atal-Paño, on the Writ of Preliminary
Injunction in favour of Mayor Oscar Moreno.

The case stemmed from the implementation of the Department of Interior and Local
Government (DILG) of the dismissal order from the Ombudsman for Cagayan de Oro
Mayor Oscar Moreno and Acting City Treasurer Glenn Bañez.

On November 12, 2015, the DILG served the order to Mayor Moreno. The Vice Mayor
assumed the position of the mayorship, and was contested by Mayor Moreno by
seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the Court of Appeals. The next day,
Mayor Moreno was granted a TRO by the CA.

On January 12, 2016, a Writ of Preliminary Injuction was issued in favour of Mayor
Moreno by the respondent Justices. The complainant, averring that he was aggrieved
by said promulgation, filed this complaint against the CA Justices.

In their reply, the CA Justices stated that the complainant has also filed against the CA
Justices that rendered the TRO and has recycled the same arguments and raised the
same issues, now against them, namely: gross ignorance of the law, gross violation of
attorney's oath, gross violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, gross
violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, gross violation of professional ethics, gross
violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics, grave abuse of authority, gross misconduct,
manifest partiality, and violation of R.A. No. 3019.

ISSUE/S:

Whether or not there is a cause for the complainant’s administrative action against the
Court of Appeals Justices to prosper.

RULING:

It is clear that the assailed resolutions were issued by respondent Associate Justices in
the proper exercise of their judicial functions. As such, these are not subject to
administrative disciplinary action. Other than complainant's bare allegations, there were
no evidence presented to show any wrong-doings or bad faith on the part of respondent
associate justices. We have settled the rule that a judge may not be administratively
sanctioned from mere errors of judgment in the absence of showing of any bad faith,
fraud, malice, gross ignorance, corrupt purpose, or a deliberate intent to do an injustice
on his or her part. Judicial officers cannot be subjected to administrative disciplinary
actions for their performance of duty in good faith.

To be held liable for gross ignorance of the law, it must be shown that in the issuance of
the assailed resolutions, the justices have committed an error that was gross or patent,
deliberate or malicious. In the instant case, it was shown that the justices based their
findings on existing facts and jurisprudence. There was no proof presented to show that
they were moved by ill-will or malicious intention to violate the law and extend favor to a
party. In fact, their findings were thoroughly discussed in the ratio decidendi of the
resolution.

In assailing the resolutions issued by the CA, complainant failed to realize that
unfavorable rulings are not necessarily erroneous. Moreover, we have explained that
administrative complaints against magistrates cannot be pursued simultaneously with
the judicial remedies accorded to parties aggrieved by the erroneous orders or
judgments of the former.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant administrative complaint filed


by Clemente F. Atoc against Associate Justices Edgardo A. Camello, Oscar V. Badelles
and Perpetua T. Atal-Paño, all of the Court of Appeals, Cagayan de Oro City, is hereby
DISMISSED for lack of merit.

Zalamea v De Guzman
[A.C. No. 7387. November 7, 2016.]

FACTS:

In 2000, petitioner sought respondent’s advice on the properties of their ailing mother.

In September 2001, the Zalameas put up EMZEE FOODS, INC., (EMZEE) a


corporation engaged in lechon business, with De Guzman providing the capital and
operational funds.

Later, Manuel Enrique Zalamea approached De Guzman and convinced him to help in
the reacquisition of the Speaker Perez property, which was owned by Zalamea’s
relatives, from BDO. De Guzman thus negotiated with BDO and was able to secure a
deal over the property for P20 Million. The bank required 10% downpayment of the total
price or P2 Million, to be paid in thirty-six (36) monthly installments, without interest.
Due to lack of funds on Manuel Enrique's part, De Guzman's wife, Angel, agreed to
shoulder the P2 Million downpayment in order not to lose the good opportunity, but
under the condition that the Speaker Perez property would later be transferred in the
name of a new corporation they had agreed to form, the EMZALDEK Venture
Corporation, a combination of the names EMZEE Foods, Zalamea, and Dek de
Guzman.

Not long after, the relationship between the Zalamea brothers and the Spouses De
Guzman turned sour. The Spouses De Guzman wanted reimbursement of the amounts
which they had advanced for the corporation, while the Zalamea brothers claimed sole
ownership over the Speaker Perez property. Hence, the brothers filed a disbarment
case against De Guzman for allegedly buying a client's property which was subject of
litigation.

ISSUE:

Whether or not De Guzman breached his duties for allegedly buying a client’s property
which was a subject of litigation.

RULING:

No, De Guzman did not breach his duties for allegedly buying a client’s property which
was a subject of litigation.

Under Article 1491 of the Civil Code, lawyers are prohibited to acquire by purchase,
even at a public or judicial auction, either in person or through the mediation of another,
their client's property and rights in litigation. Indeed, the purchase by a lawyer of his
client's property or interest in litigation is a breach of professional ethics and constitutes
malpractice. A lawyer is disqualified from acquiring by purchase the property and rights
in litigation because of his fiduciary relationship with such property and rights, as well as
with the client.

However, the prohibition which the Zalameas invoke does not apply where the property
purchased was not involved in litigation. De Guzman clearly never acquired any of his
client's properties or interests involved in litigation in which he may take part by virtue of
his profession. There exists not even an iota of proof indicating that said property has
ever been involved in any litigation in which De Guzman took part by virtue of his
profession. True, they had previously sought legal advice from De Guzman but only on
how to handle their mother's estate, which likewise did not involve the contested
property. Neither was it shown that De Guzman's law firm had taken part in any litigation
involving the Speaker Perez property.

The prohibition which rests on considerations of public policy and interests is intended
to curtail any undue influence of the lawyer upon his client on account of his fiduciary
and confidential relationship with him. De Guzman could not have possibly exerted such
undue influence, as a lawyer, upon the Zalameas, as his clients. In fact, it was Manuel
Enrique who approached the Spouses De Guzman and asked them if they would be
willing to become business partners in a lechon business. It was also Manuel Enrique
who turned to De Guzman for help in order to reacquire the already foreclosed Speaker
Perez property.
Clearly, the relationship between the Spouses De Guzman and the Zalamea brothers is
actually one of business partners rather than that of a lawyer and client. Atty. De
Guzman's acquisition of the Speaker Perez property was a valid consequence of a
business deal, not by reason of a lawyer-client relationship, for which he could not be
penalized by the Court. De Guzman and his wife are very well allowed by law to enter
into such a transaction and their conduct in this regard was not borne out to have been
attended by any undue influence, deceit, or misrepresentation.

Caronan v. Caronan
(A.C. No. 11316; July 12, 2016)

FACTS:

Complainant, Patrick Caronan, and respondent, Richard Caronan, are siblings who both
completed their secondary education at Makati High School. Patrick was able to attain a
degree in Business Administration, whereas Richard, who first enrolled at Pamantasan
ng Lungson ng Maynila but left in order to transfer to the Philippine Military Academy,
was discharged without graduating. The latter was therefore unable to obtain any
college degree since then. A few years later, in 1999, Richard enrolled in St. Mary’s
University’s College of Law and passed the bar examinations in 2004. Although Patrick
was informed by their mother that Richard had used his name and college records in
order to do this, he did not take action as he did not anticipate any adverse
consequences that would primarily affect him.

In 2009, however, Patrick found out that Richard had been using his name to perpetrate
crimes. The former therefore filed a Complaint-Affidavit to stop the alleged use of his
name and identity, as well as the latter’s illegal practice of law. On June 15, 2015, the
IBP Investigating Commissioner issued his Report, finding Richard guilty of illegally and
falsely assuming Patrick’s name, identity, and academic records and recommending
that the name “Patrick A. Caronan” be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys, that Richard A.
Caronan be barred from being admitted as a member of the Bar, and that the IBP
institute appropriate actions against the respondent, Richard Caronan.
ISSUE:

Whether or not the IBP erred in ordering that: a) the name “Patrick A. Caronan” be
stricken off the Roll of Attorneys; and b) the name “Richard A. Caronan” be barred from
being admitted to the Bar.

RULING:

No. As correctly observed by the IBP, complainant has established by clear and
overwhelming evidence that he is the real Patrick A. Caronan and that respondent,
whose real name is Rcihard A. Caronan, merely assumed the latter’s name, identity,
and academic records to enroll at the College of Law at St. Mary’s University, obtain a
law degree, and take the Bar Examinations. The false use of complainant’s name,
identity, and school records to gain admission to the Bar hence led to the court’s
decision that the IBP was correct in recommending that the name “Patrick A. Caronan”
be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys. The IBP was also correct in ordering that
respondent be barred from admission to the Bar. Under Section 6, Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court, no applicant for admission to the Bar Examination shall be admitted
unless he had pursued and satisfactorily completed a pre-law course. In the instant
case, respondent never completed his college degree. Because of this, the respondent
has not completed the requisite pre-law degree.

Assuming the name, identity, and school records of his brother was an indication of
dishonesty and utter lack of moral fitness to be a member of the Bar on the part of the
respondent. He further made a mockery of the legal profession by pretending to have
the necessary qualifications to be a lawyer, and event tarnished their image with his
alleged unscrupulous activities. The Court therefore held that these acts do not have a
place in the legal profession where one of the primary duties of its members is to uphold
its integrity and dignity, thereby effectively prohibiting him from engaging in the practice
of law.

Mariano v. Echanez,
A.C. No. 10373, [May 31, 2016]

FACTS:

On August 25, 2008, Petitioner Mariano filed a complaint affidavit for disbarment against
respondent Atty. Echanez, for violation of the Notarial law by performing notarial acts on
documents without notarial commission. In support of her complaint, Mariano attached
several documents to show proof that Atty. Echanez has indeed performed notarial acts
without a notarial commission.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) ordered


Atty. Echanez to submit his answer to the complaint against him. Atty. Echanez moved
for extension to file his Answer but nevertheless failed to submit his Answer. Thus, the
IBP-CBD, deemed Atty. Echanez to be in default. On July 24, 2009, during the
mandatory conference, only Mariano appeared. The IBP-CBD directed the parties to
submit their position papers but again only Mariano submitted her verified position
paper. In her position paper, Mariano maintained that Atty. Echanez is unauthorized to
perform notarial services. In its Report and Recommendation, the IBP-CBD found Atty.
Echanez liable for malpractice for notarizing documents without a notarial commission.

ISSUE:

WON is Atty. Echanez liable for malpractice for notarizing documents without a notarial
commission?
RULING:

Yes. Time and again, this Court has stressed that notarization is not an empty,
meaningless and routine act. It is invested with substantive public interest that only
those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. It must be emphasized
that the act of notarization by a notary public converts a private document into a public
document making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of
authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face,
and for this reason, notaries public must observe with utmost care the basic
requirements in the performance of their duties.

In the instant case, it is undisputable that Atty. Echanez performed notarial acts on
several documents without a valid notarial commission. The fact of his lack of notarial
commission at the time of the unauthorized notarizations was likewise sufficiently
established by the certi􀀲cations issued by the Executive Judges in the territory where
Atty. Echanez performed the unauthorized notarial acts.

Atty. Anselmo S. Echanez is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2)
years and BARRED PERMANENTLY from being commissioned as Notary Public.

[A.M. No. RTJ-14-2385. April 20, 2016.]


[Formerly A.M. No. 14-4-115-RTC]
Office of the Court Administrator v Judge Romeo B. Casalan
(REPORT ON THE FINANCIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED IN THE REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT [RTC], BRANCHES 13 AND 65, CULASI AND BUGASONG, ANTIQUE)],
respondent.

FACTS:

In a Memorandum dated Aug. 30, 2012, the Judicial Audit Team of the OCA reported
that as of Aug. 8, 2012, Branch 13 RTC of Culasi, Antique, the regular court of Judge
Casalan, has 212 pending cases, 89 criminal cases and 123 civil and other cases. In a
Memo dated Aug. 28, 2012, the judicial audit team also reported that as of Aug. 7,
2012, where Judge Casalan was designated as acting presideng judge in Branch 65 in
the RTC of Bugasong, Antique, he had a case load of 232 pending cases, 153 criminal
and 79 civil and other cases. In a summary, said judge failed to: decide on pending
cases within the reglementary period; civil cases were not decided within the mandatory
period for their resolution; a crim case and other civil cases were not acted upon since
the time of filing; the documents attached to the case folders were not paginated.
Hence, the OCA ordered Judge Casalan to explain his inappropriate acts.

Judge Casalan failed to comply with the OCA directives until he reached the mandatory
retirement age of 70 years old. OCA then recommended that said judge be fined in the
amount equivalent to 3 months’ salary at the time of his retirement for undue delay in
the disposition of cases and for insubordination, to be deducted from his
retirement/gratuity benefits. The OCA stressed that said judge has been remiss in his
duty to dispense justice without delay as required under the Constitution and Canon 6,
Sec. 5 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct.

ISSUE:

WON respondent judge is liable for violation of Canon 6 of the NCJC

RULING:

The Court sustains the findings and recommendation of the OCA. Records show that
Judge Casalan failed to resolve the pending cases before the Branches 13 and 64
despite the OCA’s directives for immediate resolution and also despite the 2 month
extension to comply with the directives.

Failure to resolve cases submitted for decision within the period fixed by law constitutes
a serious violation of Section 16, 11 Article III of the Constitution. Failure to render
decisions and orders within the reglementary period is also a breach of Rule 3.05, 12
Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Section 5, 13 Canon 6 of the New Code of
Judicial Conduct.

In light of the numerous "submitted for decision" cases that Judge Casalan left
undecided within the reglementary period, and the fact that he failed to comply with the
directives in the OCA's memoranda without valid reason despite the grant of his request
for a 2-month extension, the Court upholds the maximum penalty it recommended, i.e.,
a fine in the amount equivalent to Three (3) months' salary at the time of his retirement,
to be deducted from his retirement/gratuity benefits

[A.C. No. 11128. April 6, 2016.]


Pedro Ramos v Atty Maria Nympha Mandagan

FACTS:

Atty. Mandagan demanded from Ramos the amount of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P300,000.00) in connection with the criminal case filed against him for murder before
the Sandiganbayan. According to Ramos, the P300,000.00 shall be used as bail bond in
the event that his petition for bail in the said criminal case is granted. Atty. Mandagan
collected an additional amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) for operating
expenses. In both instances, an Acknowledgment Receipt was issued in his favor as
proof of payment.
Ramos' petition for bail was denied by the Sandiganbayan. Atty. Mandagan withdrew as
his counsel without returning the amount of P300,000.00 despite the demand sent by
Ramos' counsel.
On December 19, 2012, the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP) issued an Order directing Atty. Mandagan to submit her Answer
to Ramos' complaint within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the Order. In her Answer,
Atty. Mandagan argued that the amount of P300,000.00 was not intended for payment
of bail, but as mobilization expenses for preparation of witnesses, defenses, and other
documentary exhibits for both Ramos and his co-accused Gary Silawon. Atty.
Mandagan likewise alleged that Ramos never paid her for acceptance, appearance
fees, and legal services rendered in the entire course of the proceedings until her
withdrawal as counsel.

On April 26, 2013, the IBP-CBD issued a Notice of Mandatory Conference directing the
parties to appear for a mandatory conference. During the mandatory conference, only
Atty. Joselito Frial appeared, as counsel for Ramos, while Atty. Mandagan was absent.

On August 29, 2013, the IBP-CBD issued an Order terminating the mandatory
conference and directed both parties to submit their respective position papers within a
non-extendible period of ten (10) days upon receipt of the said order.

On December 18, 2013, the IBP-CBD issued a Report and Recommendation, finding
Atty. Mandagan liable for gross misconduct and for failure to render an accounting of
funds, and recommended that he be suspended for a period of one (1) year.
Subsequently, the Report and Recommendation of the IBP-CBD was adopted and
approved by the IBP Board of Governors.

A Motion for Reconsideration was filed by Atty. Mandagan, but the same was denied by
the IBP Board of Governors.

ISSUES:

Whether or not Atty. Mandagan is liable for gross misconduct for failure to render an
accounting of funds.

RULING:

The practice of law is considered a privilege bestowed by the State on those who show
that they possess and continue to possess the legal qualifications for the profession. As
such, lawyers are expected to maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency,
morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing, and must perform their four-fold duty to
society, the legal profession, the courts, and their clients, in accordance with the values
and norms embodied in the Code.

Court held that when a lawyer receives money from the client for a particular purpose,
the lawyer must render an accounting to the client showing that the money was spent
for the intended purpose. Consequently, if the lawyer does not use the money for the
intended purpose, the lawyer must immediately return the money to the client.
In the present case, Atty. Mandagan never denied receiving the amount of P300,000.00
from Ramos for the purpose of posting a bond to secure the latter's provisional liberty.
When the petition for bail of Ramos, however, was denied by the Sandiganbayan, Atty.
Mandagan failed to return the amount to Ramos. Worse, she unjustifiably refused to
turn over the amount to Ramos despite demand from Ramos' counsel.

Clearly, Atty. Mandagan failed to act in accordance with the rule stated in Canon 16 of
the CPR, to wit:

Canon 16. A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may
come into his possession.

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

Rule 16.03 A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon
demand. . . .

Court also stated that a lawyer has the duty to deliver his client's funds or properties as
they fall due or upon demand. His failure to return the client's money upon demand
gives rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use to the
prejudice of and in violation of the trust reposed in him by the client. It is a gross
violation of general morality as well as of professional ethics; it impairs public
confidence in the legal profession and deserves punishment. Indeed, it may border on
the criminal as it may constitute a prima facie case of swindling or estafa.

Atty. Mandagan's failure to make an accounting or to return the money to Ramos is a


violation of the trust reposed on her. As a lawyer, Atty. Mandagan should be
scrupulously careful in handling money entrusted to her in her professional capacity
because the CPR exacts a high degree of fidelity and trust from members of the bar.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Maria Nympha C. Mandagan GUILTY
of violating Canon 16, Rule 16.01 and Rule 16.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, and SUSPENDS her from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year
effective upon receipt of this Resolution, with WARNING that a similar offense will be
dealt with more severely.

Florante A. Miano v Ma Ellen M Aguilar


A.M. No. RTJ-15-2408 March 2, 2016

FACTS:

Miano alleged that he filed motions for inhibition in several cases raffled to the sala of
Judge Aguilar, which Aguilar granted. In the Magano case, complainant alleged as
grounds for Aguilar's inhibition is due to him being a personal friend of the latter, as in
fact Miano whom Aguilar called "Florams," a nickname only used by close friends,
would often have dinners and/or lunches together with a common friend at Aguilar's
house. Moreover, prior to respondent's appointment to the judiciary, one of her
colleagues at the City Legal Office of Olongapo City, Leonardo Miano, is a first cousin of
complainant. The OCA was furnished a copy of the Order of Inhibition. Subsequently,
however, respondent issued an Order in the Migano case directing that the proceedings
therein be held in abeyance until such time that a new Presiding Judge will be
appointed by the Court Administrator to hear and decide this case. Miano asserted that
this constitutes ignorance of the rules on inhibition on the part of respondent because
according to A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC, where the judge in a single-branch RTC, is
disqualified or voluntarily inhibits from hearing a case, the Order of Inhibition shall be
transmitted to the pairing judge who shall then hear and decide the case. Also, Miano
contended that due to the issuance of the Order, the proceedings in the Migano case
did not move from the time respondent inhibited therefrom in 2007 up to the filing of the
present administrative complaint. Further, Miano accused respondent of gross
inefficiency, citing various instances where the latter failed to resolve motions for
inhibition within the 90-day period prescribed by law. Finally, he averred that Aguilar
denied his motions for inhibition in cases where the opposing counsel is a certain Atty.
Abasta, who hails from the same province as her. In this regard, complainant claimed
that respondent showed bias as she would usually grant motions for inhibition that he
files before her court, except for the said cases handled by Atty. Abasta.

Aguilar countered that she is aware of the rules on inhibition set forth in A.M. No. 03-8-
02-SC and that the Order in the Migano case was only intended to inform the OCA of
her inhibition therefrom, her Branch Clerk of Court failed to transmit the records of the
said case to the Executive Judge of the multi-sala court of RTC-Alaminos City, resulting
in the delay in the proceedings therein, her failure to resolve the motions filed by
complainant within the 90-day period was due to heavy workload, and complainant's
motions for inhibition in cases where the opposing counsel is Atty. Abasta were pro
forma, for which reason she denied the same, and the mere fact that she and Atty.
Abasta hail from the same province is not enough justification for her inhibition.

ISSUE:

W/N grounds exist to dismiss the respondent from service, as recommended by the
OCA.

RULING:

Respondent was clearly remiss in her duty of familiarizing herself with the rules on
inhibition set forth in A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC. However, the Court finds that such error
cannot be categorized as gross ignorance of the law and/or procedure as records are
devoid of evidence to show that respondent was motivated by bad faith, fraud,
corruption, dishonesty, or egregious error in issuing the October 11, 2007 Order.
With regard, however, to the delay in the resolution of pending motions for inhibition
within the prescribed period, records are bereft of evidence to show that respondent
filed any request for an extension of time within which to resolve them, which the Court
could have granted. The Court is not unmindful of the circumstances that may delay the
speedy disposition of cases assigned to judges, thus, the Court allows extensions of
time within which pending cases may be disposed of, upon a seasonable filing of a
request therefor and sufficient justification. For failing to do so, respondent cannot
evade administrative liability.

The Court finds respondent Ma. Ellen M. Aguilar, Presiding Judge of RTC Burgos
Branch 70 GUILTY of Undue Delay in Issuing Orders in Several Cases and Undue
Delay in Transmitting the Records of a Case, and suspended from office without salary
and other benefits for three months, with a warning that a repetition of the same or
similar act will be dealt with more severely.

Ramiscal v. Orro,
A.C. No. 10945, [February 23, 2016]

FACTS:

Complainants Spouses Angelito Ramiscal and Mercedes Orzame (Ramiscals) engaged


the legal services of respondent Atty. Edgar S. Orro to handle a case in which they were
the defendants. Upon receiving the P10,000.00 acceptance fee from them, the
respondent handled the trial of the case until the Regional Trial Court (RTC) decided it
in their favor. As expected, the plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA), and
they ultimately filed their appellants' brief. Upon receipt of the appellants' brief, the
respondent requested from the complainants an additional amount of P30,000.00 for
the preparation and submission of their appellees' brief in the CA. They obliged and
paid him the amount requested.

Later on, the CA reversed the decision of the RTC. The respondent did not inform the
Ramiscals of the adverse decision of the CA which they only learned about from their
neighbors. When they finally reached him, he asked an additional P7,000.00 from them
as his fee in filing a motion for reconsideration in their behalf, albeit telling them that
such motion would already be belated. Even so, they paid to him the amount sought. To
their dismay, they later discovered that he did not file the motion for reconsideration;
hence, the decision attained finality, eventually resulting in the loss of their property.

Consequently, the Ramiscals brought this administrative complaint against the


respondent. The Court referred the complaint to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for appropriate evaluation, report and recommendation.

ISSUE:

WON the lawyer committed a violation to the Code of Professional Responsibility?


RULING:

YES. SUSPENED from the practice of law for a period of two TWO YEARS and with the
STERN WARNING.

As a member of the Law Profession in the Philippines, the respondent had the foregoing
professional and ethical burdens. But he obviously failed to discharge his burdens to the
best of his knowledge and discretion and with all good fidelity to his clients. By
voluntarily taking up their cause, he gave his unqualified commitment to advance and
defend their interest therein. Even if he could not thereby guarantee to them the
favorable outcome of the litigation, he reneged on his commitment nonetheless because
he did not file the motion for reconsideration in their behalf despite receiving from them
the P7,000.00 he had requested for that purpose. He further neglected to regularly
update them on the status of the case, particularly on the adverse result, thereby
leaving them in the dark on the proceedings that were gradually turning against their
interest. Updating the clients could have prevented their substantial prejudice by
enabling them to engage another competent lawyer to handle their case. As it
happened, his neglect in that respect lost for them whatever legal remedies were then
available. His various omissions manifested his utter lack of professionalism towards
them

Every lawyer, upon becoming a member of the Philippine Bar, solemnly takes the
Lawyer's Oath, by which he vows, among others, that: "I will delay no man for money or
malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and
discretion, with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients." If he should
violate the vow, he contravenes the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly its
Canon 17, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of Canon 18, viz.:

CANON 17 — A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of
the trust and confidence reposed in him.
CANON 18 — A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.
Rule 18.03 — A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.
Rule 18.04 — A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall
respond within a reasonable time to the client's request for information.

Adelpha E. Malabed v Atty Meljohn b. De la Pena


A.C. No. 7594 February 9, 2016

FACTS:

In her Complaint, Malabed charged De la Peña with dishonesty for deliberately and
repeatedly making falsehood that misled the Court. Malabed claimed that the Certificate
to File Action in the complaint filed by De la Peña refers to a different complaint that is
the complaint filed by De la Peña's brother against Fortunato Jadulco. In effect, there
was no Certificate to File Action, which is required for the filing of a civil action, in the
complaint filed by De la Peña on behalf of his client Jadulco. Also, complainant alleged
that respondent did not furnish her counsel with a copy of the free patent covered by
Original Certificate of Title No.1730, but respondent forwarded a copy to the CA.
Malabed claimed that she could not properly defend herself without a copy of the said
title. She also said that the title presented by De la Peña was fabricated. To support,
Malabed presented Certifications from the DENR and the Registry of Deeds, allegedly
confirming that there is no file in their offices of OCT No. 1730. Malabed also alleged
that De la Peña was guilty of conflict of interest when he represented the occupants of
the lot owned by complainant's family, who previously donated a parcel of land to the
Roman Catholic Church, which deed of donation he notarized. Malabed further accused
him of conniving with RTC Branch 16 Judge Enrique C. Asis, who was his former client
in an administrative case, to rule in his clients' favor. Malabed narrated the outcomes in
the cases of Estrellers which were filed in the MCTC and reversed by the RTC, in the
exercise of its appellate jurisdiction to favor De la Peña and his clients.

Complainant charged respondent with grave misconduct when he defied the accessory
penalty of his dismissal as a judge. Respondent worked as Associate Dean and
Professor of the Naval Institute of Technology — University of Eastern Philippines
College of Law, which is a government institution, and received salaries therefor, in
violation of the accessory penalty of dismissal which is his perpetual disqualification
from reemployment in any government office.

In his Comment, De la Peña basically denied the charges against him.

ISSUE:

W/N De la Peña is guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct.

RULING:

Respondent is guilty of gross misconduct under the following grounds:


·Using foul language in pleadings
·Non-submission of certificate to file action
·Failure to furnish opposing counsel with copy of title
·Conflict of interest
·Violation of prohibition on reemployment in government office

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Meljohn B. De la Peña is GUILTY of gross misconduct


and accordingly suspended from the practice of law for two years with a warning that
the commission of the same or similar act or acts shall be dealt with more severely.

Sistual v. Ogena,
A.C. No. 9807, [February 2, 2016]
FACTS:

On June 1, 2006, a complaint was filed before the IBP by the petitioners alleged that the
respondent Atty. Eliordo Ogena, who was the legal counsel of the late father of the
petitioners, Manuel A. Sistual, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsi􀀲ed several
documents which included, among others, a Special Power of Attorney (SPA), Extra-
Judicial Settlement of Estate, Affidavit of Identification of Heirs, Deed of Donation, and a
Deed of Absolute Sale by making it appear that all the children of Manuel and their
mother, Erlinda Sistual (Erlinda), executed the documents; that as a result of the
falsification of the said documents, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 60467,
registered in the name of "Heirs of Martin Sistual, represented by Manuel Sistual," was
cancelled and was subdivided into several lots; and that these lots were sold to
interested buyers.

In his Answer with Affirmative/Special Defenses and Motion to Dismiss, Atty. Ogena
denied the allegations. Atty. Ogena denied that the aforementioned documents were
falsified as they were actually executed and duly signed by all the parties therein; and
that all the signatures of complainants appearing in the aforementioned documents
were identical; that the deeds of donation were duly attested to by Barangay Captain
Conrado Toledo and the barangay kagawads; and that the aforementioned documents
did not in any way prejudiced the complainants. The execution thereof did not defraud
them or any of the heirs of Martin Sistual as the issuance of the nine (9) new and
separate titles in the names of all the heirs, as co-owners, was beneficial and favorable
to all of them.

In its Report and Recommendation, the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) stated
that it is bereft of any jurisdiction to determine whether Atty. Ogena committed forgery in
the aforementioned documents. It, however, found several irregularities in the
documents notarized by Atty. Ogena. First, in the SPA, the signatures of Flordelisa
Sistual and Isidro Sistual were absent and the Community Tax Certificates (CTC) of the
signatories namely: Bernardina Sistual Anson, Jesusa Sistual Español, and Erlinda,
were not indicated.

Thus, the IBP-CBD recommended that Atty. Ogena's notarial commission be revoked
and that he be permanently disqualified from reappointment as Notary Public; and that
he be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year.

ISSUE:

WON the respondent is guilty of falsification of documents and violated the rules on
notarial practice?

RULING:
The Court agrees with the findings of the IBP except as to the penalty it imposed. To
begin with, complainants' allegation of forgery was not clearly substantiated and there
was no concrete proof that the complainants were prejudiced.

Atty. Ogena, however, violated the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice specifically Rule IV,
Section 2 (b), which provides:

Section 2. Prohibitions. — (a) . . .


(b) A person shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved as signatory to the
instrument or document —
(1) is not in the notary's presence personally at the time of the notarization; and
(2) is not personally known to the notary public or otherwise identified by the notary
public through competent evidence of identity as defined by these Rules.

Doubtless, Atty. Ogena was negligent in the performance of his duty as a notary public.
He failed to require the personal presence of the signatories of the documents and
proceeded to notarize the aforementioned documents without the signatures of all the
parties. Likewise, Atty. Ogena failed to comply with the most basic function that a notary
public must do — to require the parties to present their residence certificates or any
other document to prove their identities.

By notarizing the aforementioned documents, Atty. Ogena engaged in unlawful,


dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. His conduct is fraught with dangerous
possibilities considering the conclusiveness on the due execution of a document that
our courts and the public accord to notarized documents. His failure to perform his duty
as a notary public resulted not only in damaging complainants' rights but also in
undermining the integrity of a notary public and in degrading the function of notarization.
Thus, Atty. Ogena should be liable for such negligence, not only as a notary public but
also as a lawyer.

Atty. Eliordo Ogena is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2) years and is
BARRED PERMANENTLY from being commissioned as Notary Public.

In Re: Expiration of Fixed Term of Office of Atty. Saaduddin A. Alauya, Office of


the Jurisconsult, Zamboanga City
A.M. No. 11238-Ret, August 18, 2015, Velasco, Jr., J.

Retirement laws are liberally construed and administered in favor of the persons
intended to be benefited, and all doubts are resolved in favor of the retiree to achieve
their humanitarian purpose.

FACTS:

On August 12, 1996, then President Fidel V. Ramos appointed Atty. Alauya as
Jurisconsult in Islamic Law for a term of seven (7) years. His term of office expired on
August 20, 2003. Atty. Alauya had rendered government service in various government
posts prior to his appointment as jurisconsult. As of August 20, 2003, Atty. Alauya who
was then 65 years old, had already rendered 33 years of government service behind
him, the last seven (7) of which served as Jurisconsult. He filed an application for
retirement to retire under the provisions of RA 910. In terms then of the requirements on
age and length of service in government, Atty. Alauya was qualified to retire under
Section 1 of that law, as amended. The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA),
recommended the denial of Atty. Alauya’s application to so retire under that law on the
postulate that Sec. 1 of RA 910 applies only to justices or Judges. Before Atty. Alauya’s
retirement papers, as Jurisconsult, could be completely processed, however, the Court
en banc, conferred upon him the rank and privileges of a Regional Trial Court (RTC)
judge effective October 1996. In a letter, Atty. Alauya reminded the Court that he was
allowed to and did retire on August 21, 2003 under RA 910 – and thus was entitled to a
lifetime monthly pension after August 2008, or five years after his retirement. In a
Resolution, the Court denied Atty. Alauya’s above request. From the above adverse
action, as subsequently reiterated, Atty. Alauya repeatedly sought reconsideration.
Premised on the Court’s previous denial resolutions, the OCA at first urged the denial of
the desired reconsideration, but later changed its earlier stance and recommended the
approval of Atty. Alauya’s request for a lifetime monthly pension.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the term “privileges of a judge of the RTC” also include in context
lifetime monthly pension.

RULING:

YES. Time and again, the Court has followed the practice of liberal treatment in passing
upon retirement issues and claims, particularly of judges and justices, obviously in
keeping with the beneficial intendment of retirement laws which is to reward satisfactory
past services and at the same time provide the retiree with the means to support himself
and his family in his remaining years. On several occasions, this Court has liberally
interpreted retirement laws in keeping with its purpose. In Government Service
Insurance System v. De Leon: Retirement laws, in particular, are liberally construed in
favor of the retiree because their objective is to provide for the retiree’s sustenance and,
hopefully, even comfort, when he no longer has the capability to earn a livelihood. The
liberal approach aims to achieve the humanitarian purposes of the law in order that
efficiency, security, and well-being of government employees may be enhanced.
Indeed, retirement laws are liberally construed and administered in favor of the persons
intended to be benefited, and all doubts are resolved in favor of the retiree to achieve
their humanitarian purpose. Upon the foregoing perspective, the term “privileges of an
RTC judge” and the conferment thereof must be considered as covering the retirement
benefits under RA 910, meaning a lump-sum payment of five years’ salary and a
monthly pension until death after the 5-year period.
A.M. No. RTJ-15-2417 [Formerly known as OCA IPI No. 10-3466-RTJ], July 22,
2015
Eladio D. Perfecto v Judge Alma Consuelo Esidera

FACTS:

Eladio Perfecto filed an administrative complaint against Judge Alma Consuelo


Desales-Esidera of Branch 20 of the Regional Trial Court of Catarman, Northern Samar
for falsification of public document and dishonesty alleging that Judge Alma Consuelo
Desales-Esidera was first married to Richard Tang Tepace on May 7, 1987

It was discovered that on October 3, 1990, Judge Desales-Esidera gave birth to a


daughter with Renato Verano Esidera at Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City.
However, her marriage to Richard Tang Tepace was later declared void only on
January 27, 1992.

Perfecto further alleged that Judge Desales-Esidera falsified her daughter's birth
certificate to make it appear that she and Esidera were married on March 18, 1990 and
that their daughter was a legitimate child. But it was discovered that no marriage took
place on that date based on a certification of no marriage issued by the Office of the
City Civil Registrar of Paranaque City.

Judge Desales-Esidera filed her Comment with Motion to Dismiss arguing that Perfecto
did not comply with the requirement of personal knowledge under Rule 140, Section 1.
He should have supported his Complaint "with affidavits of persons who knew her
personally or with authenticated copies of documents that supported his allegations."
Otherwise, Perfecto's allegations were nothing more than "tsismis" or hearsay.

ISSUES:

1.WON Judge Desales-Esidera's omission to correct her child's birth certificate is not
sufficient to render her administratively liable
2.WON Judge's acts constitute immorality for purposes of administrative liability
3.WON Judge’s claims of religious freedom can shield her from liability for misconduct
under our laws
4.WON Judge can claim that engaging in sexual relations with another person during
the subsistence of a marriage is an exercise of her religious expression.

RULING:

We find that Judge Desales-Esidera's omission to correct her child's birth certificate is
not sufficient to render her administratively liable under the circumstances. The error in
the birth certificate cannot be attributed to her. It was found that her husband was the
one who decided on the format of the birth certificate and she took no part in making it.
Judge Desales-Esidera is also not guilty of disgraceful and immoral conduct under the
Code of Professional Responsibility.

Morality may be religious and secular. A conduct is religiously moral if it is consistent


with and is carried out in light of the divine set of beliefs and obligations imposed by the
active power. What is good or right at a given circumstance does not derive its basis
from any religious doctrine but from the independent moral sense shared as humans.

To determine the administrative liability of lawyers and judges, "immoral conduct"


should only relate to their conduct as officers of the court. To be guilty of "immorality"
under the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer's conduct must be so depraved
as to reduce the public's confidence in the Rule of Law.

We also do not find that respondent judge's acts constitute immorality for purposes of
administrative liability. Under the circumstances, respondent judge's second marriage
and her alleged affair with her second husband were not of such depravity as to reduce
confidence in the Rule of Law.

While we do not find respondent judge administratively liable for immorality, we can
determine if she is administratively liable for possible misconduct. .

Respondent judge claimed that this marriage was merely a sacramental marriage
entered into only to comply with the requirements of their religious beliefs. It was valid
only under the Roman Catholic Church but has no legal effect. Their solemnizing officer
was not licensed to solemnize marriage from the National Archives or from the civil
government.

Respondent judge's act of participating in the marriage ceremony as governed only by


the rules of her religion is not inconsistent with our law against bigamy. What the law
prohibits is not second marriage during a subsisting marriage per se. What the law
prohibits is a second marriage that would have been valid had it not been for the
subsisting marriage. Under our law, respondent judge's marriage in 1990 was invalid
because of the solemnizing officer's lack of authority.

The lack of authority of the officer that solemnized respondent judge's marriage in 1990
renders such marriage invalid. It is not recognized in our law. Hence, no second
marriage can be imputed against respondent judge while her first marriage subsisted.

However, respondent judge may have disobeyed the law, particularly Article 350 of the
Revised Penal Code, which prohibits knowingly contracting marriages against the
provisions of laws. Article 350 of the Revised Penal Code

Respondent judge knew that the solemnizing officer during her and her husband's
marriage in 1990 had no civil authority to solemnize marriages. It is clear from her
Comment that she and her husband's only consideration for their 1990 marriage was
the recognition from the Roman Catholic Church. She stated that
Thus, unless respondent judge's act of participating in a marriage ceremony according
to her religious beliefs violates other peoples' rights or poses grave and imminent
danger to the society, we cannot rule that respondent judge is administratively liable for
her participation in her religious marriage ceremony.

Claims of religious freedom cannot shield respondent judge from liability for misconduct
under our laws. Respondent judge knowingly entered into a civil marriage with her first
husband. She knew its effects under our laws. She had sexual relations with her second
husband while her first marriage was subsisting.

Respondent judge cannot claim that engaging in sexual relations with another person
during the subsistence of a marriage is an exercise of her religious expression. Legal
implications and obligations attach to any person who chooses to enter civil marriages.
This is regardless of how civil marriages are treated in that person's religion.

Moreover, respondent judge, as a lawyer and even more so as a judge, is expected to


abide by the law. Her conduct affects the credibility of the courts in dispensing justice.
Thus, in finding respondent judge administratively liable for a violation of her marriage
obligations under our laws, this court protects the credibility of the judiciary in
administering justice.

Finally, the Office of the Court Administrator and the Administrators of lower courts
should look into the motives of persons who file complaints against our judges and
officers of court when allegations point to possible administrative violations. This is not
to say that complainants' motives are relevant to their causes of actions. However,
complainants who come to court with unclean hands should not be spared from liability
just because they were the first to submit their accusations.

WHEREFORE, we find respondent Judge Alma Consuelo Desales-Esidera guilty of


violating Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent Judge
Desales-Esidera is SUSPENDED from judicial service for one (1) month with a warning
that repetition of a similar offense will be dealt with more severely. She is STERNLY
WARNED that repetition of the same violations in the future will be dealt with more
severely.

A.M. No. RTJ-13-2366 February 4, 2015


[Formerly OCA IPI No. 11-3740-RTJ]
Jill M. Tormis v Judge Meinrado P. Paredes

FACTS:

Jill was a former student of judge Paredes at Southwestern University College of Law in
Cebu. In his class discussions, Judge Paredes named Jill’s mother, Judge Rosabella
Tormis, then Presiding Judge of Branch 4, Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Cebu
City, as one of the judges involved in the marriage scams in Cebu City. Judge Paredes
also mentioned in his class that Judge Tormis was abusive of her position as a judge,
corrupt, and ignorant of the law; and also, included her brother, Francis Tormis, in his
discussions stating that he was a “court-noted drug addict”. Jill, however, claimed that
Judge Paredes committed an offense worse than that committed by her mother, in
accepting a cash bail bond for the temporary release of an accused in a criminal case.
Thus, she prayed that Judge Paredes be administratively sanctioned for his actuations

Judge Paredes denied the accusations. He stated that Judge Tormis had several
administrative cases, some of which he had investigated as the executive judge; that as
a result of the investigations, he recommended sanctions against Judge Tormis; that
Judge Tormis used Jill, her daughter, to get back at him; that he discussed in his class
the case of Lachica vs. Tormis’ involvement in the marriage scams nor her sanctions as
a result of the investigation conducted by the Court; that ht never personally attacked
Judge Tormis’ dignity and credibility; that the marriage scams in Cebu City constituted a
negative experience for all the judges and should be discussed so that other judges,
court employed and aspiring lawyers would not emulate such misdeeds; that the
marriage scams were aslso discussed during meetings of RTC Judges and in schools
where remedial law and legal ethics were taught; he talked about past and resolved
cases, but not the negative tendencies of Judge Tormis; that there was nothing wrong in
discussing the administrative cases involving Judge Tormis because these cases are
known to the legal community and some were even published in the Supreme Court
Reports Annotated and other legal publications. Judge Paredes further stated that when
Jill was still his student, she did not complain about or dispute his discussions in class;
that the matter was not also brought to the attention of the Dena od Southwestern
University or of the local authorities; that he admitted sating that Judge Tormis had a
son named Francis who was a drug addict and that drug dependents had no place in
the judiciary; and that he suggested that Francis should be removed from the judiciary.

He denied, however, having stated that Francis was appointed as a court employee as
a result of the influence of Judge Tormis.
Regarding the specific act being complained of, Judge Paredes admitted that he
personally accepted a cash bail bond for the temporary release of an accused. He
claimed though that the approval of the bail bond was in accordance with Section 14,
Chapter 5 of A.M. No. 03-8-62-SC which allowed executive judges to act on petitions for
bail and other urgent matters on weekends, official holidays and special days. That he
merely followed procedure, he issued a temporary receipt and on the following business
day, he instructed the Branch Clerk of Court to remit the case bond to the Clerk of Court
to remit the case bond to the Clerk Court. The Clerk Court acknowledged the receipt of
the case bond and issued an official receipt of the cash bond only a week after.
Lastly, Judge Paredes averred that the discussions relative to the administrative cases
of Judge Tormis could not be the subject of an administrative complaint because it was
not done in the performance of his judicial duties.
In Jill’s reply, she claimed that her mother has nothing to do with her filling the
complaint; that Judge Paredes violated the Subjudice Rule when he discussed her
mother’s case in class which was not yet resolved by the Court at that time and thus
was still premature; and that judge Paredes was aware that administrative cases were
confidential in nature. Jill claimed that the intention to humiliate her family was evident
when judge Paredes branded her brother as a “drug addict”.

The Court cannot sustain the assertion of Judge Paredes that he cannot be held
administratively liable for his negative portrayal of Judge Tormis and Francis in his class
discussions. Judge Paredes should be reminded of the ethical conduct expected of him
as a judge not only in the performance of his judicial duties, but in his professional and
private activities as well. Any impropriety on the part of Judge Paredes, whether
committed in or out of the court, should not be tolerated for he is not a judge only
occasionally. It should be emphasized that the Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that
the conduct of a judge must be free of a whiff of impropriety not only with respect to his
performance of his judicial duties, but also to his behavior outside his sala and as a
private individual. There is no dichotomy of morality, a public official is also judged by
his private morals. The Code dictates that a judge, in order to promote public
confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety at
all times. A judge’s official life cannot simply be detached or separated from his
personal existence. Thus, being a subject of constant public scrutiny, a judge should
freely and willingly accept restrictions on conduct that might be viewed as burdensome
by the ordinary citizen. He should personify judicial integrity and exemplify honest public
service. The personal behavior of a judge, both in the performance of official duties and
in private life should be above suspicion.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Judge Paredes may be administratively held liable for his comments
against Judge Tormis and Francis Tormis.

RULING:

The Court cannot sustain the assertion of Judge Paredes that he cannot be held
administratively liable for his negative portrayal of Judge Tormis and Francis in his class
discussions. Judge Paredes should be reminded of the ethical conduct expected of him
as a judge not only in the performance of his judicial duties, but in his professional and
private activities as well. Any impropriety on the part of Judge Paredes, whether
committed in or out of the court, should not be tolerated for he is not a judge only
occasionally. It should be emphasized that the Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that
the conduct of a judge must be free of a whiff of impropriety not only with respect to his
performance of his judicial duties, but also to his behavior outside his sala and as a
private individual. There is no dichotomy of morality, a public official is also judged by
his private morals. The Code dictates that a judge, in order to promote public
confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety at
all times. A judge’s official life cannot simply be detached or separated from his
personal existence. Thus, being a subject of constant public scrutiny, a judge should
freely and willingly accept restrictions on conduct that might be viewed as burdensome
by the ordinary citizen. He should personify judicial integrity and exemplify honest public
service. The personal behavior of a judge, both in the performance of official duties and
in private life should be above suspicion.

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