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A.C. No.

6732, October 22, 2013

ATTY. OSCAR L. EMBIDO, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL BUREAU OF


INVESTIGATION, WESTERN VISAYAS, REGIONAL OFFICE (NBI-WEVRO),
FOR SAN PEDRO, ILOILO CITY, Complainant, v. ATTY. SALVADOR N. PE, JR.,
ASSISTANT PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR, SAN JOSE, ANTIQUE, Respondent.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

A lawyer who forges a court decision and represents it as that of a court of law is
guilty of the gravest misconduct and deserves the supreme penalty of disbarment.

The Case

Before this Court is the complaint for disbarment against Assistant Provincial
Prosecutor Atty. Salvador N. Pe, Jr. (respondent) of San Jose, Antique for his having
allegedly falsified an inexistent decision of Branch 64 of the Regional Trial Court
stationed in Bugasong, Antique (RTC) instituted by the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI), Western Visayas Regional Office, represented by Regional
Director Atty. Oscar L. Embido.

Antecedent

On July 7, 2004, Atty. Ronel F. Sustituya, Clerk of Court of the RTC, received a written
communication from Mr. Ballam Delaney Hunt, a Solicitor in the United Kingdom
(UK). The letter requested a copy of the decision dated February 12, 1997 rendered
by Judge Rafael O. Penuela in Special Proceedings Case No. 084 entitled In the Matter
of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna, whose petitioner was one
Shirley Quioyo.1

On September 9, 2004, the RTC received another letter from Mr. Hunt, reiterating
the request for a copy of the decision in Special Proceedings Case No. 084 entitled In
the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna.2

Judge Penuela instructed the civil docket clerk to retrieve the records of Special
Proceedings Case No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive
Death of Rey Laserna. It was then discovered that the RTC had no record of Special
Proceedings No. 084 wherein Shirley Quioyo was the petitioner. Instead, the court
files revealed that Judge Penuela had decided Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In
the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rolando Austria, whose
petitioner was one Serena Catin Austria.

Informed that the requested decision and case records did not exist,3 Mr. Hunt sent
a letter dated October 12, 2004 attaching a machine copy of the purported decision
in Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of
Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna that had been presented by Shirley Quioyo in court
proceedings in the UK.4

After comparing the two documents and ascertaining that the document attached to
the October 12, 2004 letter was a falsified court document, Judge Penuela wrote Mr.
Hunt to apprise him of the situation.5

The discovery of the falsified decision prompted the Clerk of Court to communicate
on the situation in writing to the NBI, triggering the investigation of the falsification.6

In the meanwhile, Dy Quioyo, a brother of Shirley Quioyo, executed an affidavit on


March 4, 2005,7wherein he stated that it was the respondent who had facilitated the
issuance of the falsified decision in Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In the Matter
of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna for a fee of P60,000.00. The
allegations against the respondent were substantially corroborated by Mary Rose
Quioyo, a sister of Shirley Quioyo, in an affidavit dated March 20, 2005. 8

The NBI invited the respondent to explain his side,9 but he invoked his constitutional
right to remain silent. The NBI also issued subpoenas to Shirley Quioyo and Dy Quioyo
but only the latter appeared and gave his sworn statement.

After conducting its investigation, the NBI forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman
for Visayas the records of the investigation, with a recommendation that the
respondent be prosecuted for falsification of public document under Article 171, 1
and 2, of the Revised Penal Code, and for violation of Section 3(a) of Republic Act
3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).10 The NBI likewise recommended to
the Office of the Court Administrator that disbarment proceedings be commenced
against the respondent.11 Then Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (now a
Member of the Court) officially endorsed the recommendation to the Office of the Bar
Confidant.12

Upon being required by the Court, the respondent submitted his counter-
affidavit,13 whereby he denied any participation in the falsification. He insisted that
Dy Quioyo had sought his opinion on Shirley’s petition for the annulment of her
marriage; that he had given advice on the pertinent laws involved and the different
grounds for the annulment of marriage; that in June 2004, Dy Quioyo had gone back
to him to present a copy of what appeared to be a court decision;14 that Dy Quioyo
had then admitted to him that he had caused the falsification of the decision; that he
had advised Dy Quioyo that the falsified decision would not hold up in an
investigation; that Dy Quioyo, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), had previously
resorted to people on Recto Avenue in Manila to solve his documentation problems
as an OFW; and that he had also learned from Atty. Angeles Orquia, Jr. that one Mrs.
Florencia Jalipa, a resident of Igbalangao, Bugasong, Antique, had executed a sworn
statement before Police Investigator Herminio Dayrit with the assistance of Atty.
Orquia, Jr. to the effect that her late husband, Manuel Jalipa, had been responsible
for making the falsified document at the instance of Dy Quioyo.15

Thereafter, the Court issued its resolution16 treating the respondent’s counter-
affidavit as his comment, and referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.

The IBP’s Report and Recommendation

In a report and recommendation dated June 14, 2006,17 Atty. Lolita A. Quisumbing,
the IBP Investigating Commissioner, found the respondent guilty of serious
misconduct and violations of the Attorney’s Oath and Code of Professional
Responsibility, and recommended his suspension from the practice of law for one
year. She concluded that the respondent had forged the purported decision of Judge
Penuela by making it appear that Special Proceedings No. 084 concerned a petition
for declaration of presumptive death of Rey Laserna, with Shirley Quioyo as the
petitioner, when in truth and in fact the proceedings related to the petition for
declaration of presumptive death of Rolando Austria, with Serena Catin Austria as
the petitioner;18 and that the respondent had received P60,000.00 from Dy Quioyo
for the falsified decision. She rationalized her conclusions
thusly:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Respondent’s denials are not worthy of merit. Respondent contends that it was one
Manuel Jalipa (deceased) who facilitated the issuance and as proof thereof, he
presented the sworn statement of the widow of Florencia Jalipa (sic). Such a
contention is hard to believe. In the first place, if the decision was obtained in Recto,
Manila, why was it an almost verbatim reproduction of the authentic decision on file
in Judge Penuela’s branch except for the names and dates? Respondent failed to
explain this. Secondly, respondent did not attend the NBI investigation and merely
invoked his right to remain silent. If his side of the story were true, he should have
made this known in the investigation. His story therefore appears to have been a
mere afterthought. Finally, there is no plausible reason why Dy Quioyo and his sister,
Mary Rose Quioyo would falsely implicate him in this incident.19

In its Resolution No. XVII-2007-063 dated February 1, 2007,20 the IBP Board of
Governors adopted and approved, with modification, the report and recommendation
of the Investigating Commissioner by suspending the respondent from the practice
of law for six years.

On December 11, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XVIII-
2008-70921 denying the respondent’s motion for reconsideration and affirming
Resolution No. XVII-2007-063. The IBP Board of Governors then forwarded the case
to the Court in accordance with Section 12(b), Rule 139-B22 of the Rules of Court.

On January 11, 2011, the Court resolved: (1) to treat the respondent’s
comment/opposition as his appeal by petition for review; (2) to consider the
complainant’s reply as his comment on the petition for review; (3) to require the
respondent to file a reply to the complainant’s comment within 10 days from notice;
and (4) to direct the IBP to transmit the original records of the case within 15 days
from notice.

Ruling
We affirm the findings of the IBP Board of Governors. Indeed, the respondent was
guilty of grave misconduct for falsifying a court decision in consideration of a sum of
money.

The respondent’s main defense consisted in blanket denial of the imputation. He


insisted that he had had no hand in the falsification, and claimed that the falsification
had been the handiwork of Dy Quioyo. He implied that Dy Quioyo had resorted to the
shady characters in Recto Avenue in Manila to resolve the problems he had
encountered as an OFW, hinting that Dy Quioyo had a history of employing
unscrupulous means to achieve his ends.

However, the respondent’s denial and his implication against Dy Quioyo in the illicit
generation of the falsified decision are not persuasive. Dy Quioyo’s categorical
declaration on the respondent’s personal responsibility for the falsified decision,
which by nature was positive evidence, was not overcome by the respondent’s
blanket denial, which by nature was negative evidence.23 Also, the imputation of
wrongdoing against Dy Quioyo lacked credible specifics and did not command
credence. It is worthy to note, too, that the respondent filed his counter-affidavit only
after the Court, through the en banc resolution of May 10, 2005, had required him to
comment.24 The belatedness of his response exposed his blanket denial as nothing
more than an afterthought.

The respondent relied on the sworn statement supposedly executed by Mrs. Jalipa
that declared that her deceased husband had been instrumental in the falsification of
the forged decision. But such reliance was outrightly worthless, for the sworn
statement of the wife was rendered unreliable due to its patently hearsay character.
In addition, the unworthiness of the sworn statement as proof of authorship of the
falsification by the husband is immediately exposed and betrayed by the falsified
decision being an almost verbatim reproduction of the authentic decision penned by
Judge Penuela in the real Special Proceedings Case No. 084.

In light of the established circumstances, the respondent was guilty of grave


misconduct for having authored the falsification of the decision in a non-existent court
proceeding. Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility demands that all
lawyers should uphold at all times the dignity and integrity of the Legal Profession.
Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that “a lawyer shall not
engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he
whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of
the legal profession.” Lawyers are further required by Rule 1.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility not to engage in any unlawful, dishonest and immoral or
deceitful conduct.

Gross immorality, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or fraudulent


transactions can justify a lawyer’s disbarment or suspension from the practice of
law.25 Specifically, the deliberate falsification of the court decision by the respondent
was an act that reflected a high degree of moral turpitude on his part. Worse, the act
made a mockery of the administration of justice in this country, given the purpose of
the falsification, which was to mislead a foreign tribunal on the personal status of a
person. He thereby became unworthy of continuing as a member of the Bar.

It then becomes timely to remind all members of the Philippine Bar that they should
do nothing that may in any way or degree lessen the confidence of the public in their
professional fidelity and integrity.26 The Court will not hesitate to wield its heavy hand
of discipline on those among them who wittingly and willingly fail to meet the
enduring demands of their Attorney’s Oath for them to:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

x x x support [the] Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the
duly constituted authorities therein; xxx do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of
any in court; x x x not wittingly or willingly promote or sue on groundless, false or
unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; x x x delay no man for money
or malice, and x x x conduct [themselves as lawyers] according to the best of [their]
knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [their]
clients x x x.

No lawyer should ever lose sight of the verity that the practice of the legal profession
is always a privilege that the Court extends only to the deserving, and that the Court
may withdraw or deny the privilege to him who fails to observe and respect the
Lawyer’s Oath and the canons of ethical conduct in his professional and private
capacities. He may be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law not only for
acts and omissions of malpractice and for dishonesty in his professional dealings, but
also for gross misconduct not directly connected with his professional duties that
reveal his unfitness for the office and his unworthiness of the principles that the
privilege to practice law confers upon him.27Verily, no lawyer is immune from the
disciplinary authority of the Court whose duty and obligation are to investigate and
punish lawyer misconduct committed either in a professional or private capacity.28The
test is whether the conduct shows the lawyer to be wanting in moral character,
honesty, probity, and good demeanor, and whether the conduct renders the lawyer
unworthy to continue as an officer of the Court.29ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS AND PRONOUNCES ASST. PROVINCIAL


PROSECUTOR SALVADOR N. PE, JR. guilty of violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, and
Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and DISBARS him
effective upon receipt of this decision.

The Court DIRECTS the Bar Confidant to remove the name of ASST. PROVINCIAL
PROSECUTOR SALVADOR N. PE, JR. from the Roll of Attorneys.

This decision is without prejudice to any pending or contemplated proceedings to be


initiated against ASST. PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR SALVADOR N. PE, JR.

Let copies of this decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Office
of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts of the country, and to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 8000 August 5, 2014

CHAMELYN A. AGOT, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. LUIS P. RIVERA, Respondent.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

For the Court's resolution is a Complaint-Affidavit1 dated August 30, 2008 filed by
complainant Chamelyn A. Agot (complainant) against respondent Atty. Luis P. Rivera
(respondent), charging him of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR)
and the lawyer's oath for misrepresentation, deceit, and failure to account for and
return her money despite several demands.

The Facts

In her Complaint-Affidavit, complainant alleged that she was invited as maid of honor
in her best friend’s wedding on December 9, 2007 at the United States of America.
To facilitate the issuance of her United States (US) visa, complainant sought the
services of respondent who represented himself as an immigration lawyer. Thus, on
November 17, 2007, they entered into a Contract of Legal Services
(Contract),2 whereby respondent undertook to facilitate and secure the release of a
US immigrant visa in complainant’s favor prior to the scheduled wedding. In
consideration therefor, complainant paid respondent the amount of ₱350,000.00 as
downpayment and undertook to pay the balance of ₱350,000.00 after the issuance
of the US visa.3 The parties likewise stipulated that should complainant’s visa
application be denied for any reason other than her absence on the day of the
interview and/or for records of criminal conviction and/or any court-issued hold
departure order, respondent is obligated to return the said downpayment.4 However,
respondent failed to perform his undertaking within the agreed period. Worse,
complainant was not even scheduled for interview in the US Embassy. As the demand
for refund of the downpayment was not heeded, complainant filed a criminal
complaint for estafa and the instant administrative complaint against respondent.5

In his Comment6 dated December 5, 2008, respondent claimed that his failure to
comply with his obligation under the Contract was due to the false pretenses of a
certain Rico Pineda (Pineda), who he had believed to be a consul for the US Embassy
and to whom he delivered the amount given by the complainant. Respondent
elaborated that he had a business relationship with Pineda on the matter of facilitating
the issuance of US visas to his friends and family, including himself. He happened to
disclose this to a certain Joseph Peralta, who in turn referred his friend, the
complainant, whose previous US visa application had been denied, resulting in the
execution of the Contract. Respondent claimed that Pineda reneged on his
commitments and could no longer be located but, nonetheless, assumed the
responsibility to return the said amount to complainant.7 To buttress his claims,
respondent attached pictures supposedly of his friends and family with Pineda as well
as electronic mail messages (e-mails) purportedly coming from the latter.8

The IBP’s Report and Recommendation

In a Report and Recommendation9 dated April 17, 2010, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) Investigating Commissioner found respondent administratively
liable, and accordingly, recommended that he be meted the penalty of suspension
for a period of four (4) months, with a warning that a repetition of the same would
invite a stiffer penalty.10

The Investigating Commissioner found respondent guilty of engaging in deceitful


conduct for: (a) misrepresenting himself as an immigration lawyer; (b) failing to
deliver the services he contracted; and (c) being remiss in returning complainant’s
downpayment of ₱350,000.00. The Investigating Commissioner did not lend credence
to respondent’s defense anent his purported transactions with Pineda considering
that the latter’s identity was not proven and in light of respondent’s self-serving
evidence, i.e., photographs and e-mails, which were bereft of any probative value.11

In a Resolution dated December 14, 2012, the IBP Board of Governors unanimously
adopted and approved the aforesaid report and recommendation with the
modification increasing the period of suspension to six (6) months and ordering
respondent to return the amount of ₱350,000.0012 to complainant within thirty (30)
days from receipt of notice, with legal interest from the date of demand.13

The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held
administratively liable for violating the CPR.

The Court’s Ruling

After a judicious perusal of the records, the Court concurs with the IBP’s findings,
subject to the modification of the recommended penalty to be imposed upon
respondent.

As officers of the court, lawyers are bound to maintain not only a high standard of
legal proficiency, but also of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing.14 In this
regard, Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR, provides:

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

Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.
In the instant case, respondent misrepresented himself as an immigration lawyer,
which resulted to complainant seeking his assistance to facilitate the issuance of her
US visa and paying him the amount of ₱350,000.00 as downpayment for his legal
services. In truth, however, respondent has no specialization in immigration law but
merely had a contact allegedly with Pineda, a purported US consul, who supposedly
processes US visa applications for him. However, respondent failed to prove Pineda’s
identity considering that the photographs and e-mails he submitted were all self-
serving and thus, as correctly observed by the Investigating Commissioner, bereft of
any probative value and consequently cannot be given any credence. Undoubtedly,
respondent’s deception is not only unacceptable, disgraceful, and dishonorable to the
legal profession; it reveals a basic moral flaw that makes him unfit to practice law.15

Corollary to such deception, respondent likewise failed to perform his obligations


under the Contract, which is to facilitate and secure the issuance of a US visa in favor
of complainant. This constitutes a flagrant violation of Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the
CPR, to wit:

CANON 18 – A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND


DILIGENCE. Rule 18.03 – A lawyer shall not neglecta legal matter entrusted to him,
and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Under Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the CPR, once a lawyer takes up the cause of his
client, he is duty-bound to serve the latter with competence, and to attend to such
client’s cause with diligence, care, and devotion whether he accepts it for a fee or for
free. He owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and
confidence reposed upon him.16 Therefore, a lawyer’s neglect of a legal matter
entrusted to him by his client constitutes inexcusable negligence for which he must
be held administratively liable,17 as in this case.

Furthermore, respondent violated Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the CPR when
he failed to refund the amount of ₱350,000.00 that complainant paid him, viz.:

CANON 16 – A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF


HIS CLIENTTHAT 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.

xxxx

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

Verily, the relationship between a lawyer and his client is highly fiduciary and
prescribes on a lawyer a great fidelity and good faith.18 The highly fiduciary nature of
this relationship imposes upon the lawyer the duty to account for the money or
property collected or received for or from his client.19 Thus, a lawyer’s failure to return
upon demand the funds held by him on behalf of his client, as in this case, gives rise
to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use in violation of
the trust reposed in him by his client. Such act is a gross violation of general morality
as well as of professional ethics.20

Anent the proper penalty for respondent’s acts, jurisprudence provides that in similar
cases where lawyers neglected their client’s affairs and, at the same time, failed to
return the latter’s money and/or property despite demand, the Court imposed upon
them the penalty of suspension from the practice of law. In Segovia-Ribaya v.
Lawsin,21 the Court suspended the lawyer for a period of one (1) year for his failure
to perform his undertaking under his retainership agreement with his client and to
return the money given to him by the latter. Also, in Jinon v. Jiz,22 the Court
suspended the lawyer for a period of two (2) years for his failure to return the amount
his client gave him for his legal services which he never performed. In this case, not
only did respondent fail to facilitate the issuance of complainant’s US visa and return
her money, he likewise committed deceitful acts in misrepresenting himself as an
immigration lawyer, resulting in undue prejudice to his client. Under these
circumstances, a graver penalty should be imposed upon him. In view of the
foregoing, the Court deems it appropriate to increase the period of suspension from
the practice of law of respondent from six (6) months, as recommended by the IBP,
to two (2) years.

Finally, the Court sustains the IBP's recommendation ordering respondent to return
the amount of ₱350,000.00 he received from complainant as downpayment. It is well
to note that "while the Court has previously held that disciplinary proceedings should
only revolve around the determination of the respondent-lawyer's administrative and
not his civil liability, it must be clarified that this rule remains applicable only to
claimed liabilities which are purely civil in nature - for instance, when the claim
involves moneys received by the lawyer from his client in a transaction separate and
distinct [from] and not intrinsically linked to his professional engagement."23 Hence,
since respondent received the aforesaid amount as part of his legal fees, the Court
finds the return thereof to be in order.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Luis P. Rivera (respondent) is found guilty of violating


Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, Rules 16.01 and 16.03 of Canon 16, and Rule 18.03 of Canon
18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years, effective upon the finality of
this Decision, with a stem warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will
be dealt with more severely.1âwphi1

Furthermore, respondent is ORDERED to return to complainant Chamelyn A. Agot the


legal fees he received from the latter in the amount of ₱350,000.00 within ninety
(90) days from the finality of this Decision. Failure to comply with the foregoing
directive will warrant the imposition of a more severe penalty.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondent's record in this Court as


attorney. Further, let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator, which is directed to circulate
them to all the courts in the country for their information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.
PILAR IBANA-ANDRADE and CLARE SINFOROSA ANDRADECASILIHAN,
Complainants, - versus - ATTY. EVA PAITA-MOYA, Respondent. 7'iME: -·---
~.fl£. ~ --· __ _ A.C. No. 8313 Present: SERENO, CJ., CARPIO,* VELASCO,
JR., LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, BRION,* PERALTA, BERSAMIN, ., DEL
CASTILLO, VILLARAMA, JR., PEREZ, MENDOZA, REYES* ' PERLAS-BERNABE,
LEONEN, and JARDELEZA, * JJ. Promulgated: July 14, 2015 ¥1~~~-~ x-----
----------------------------------------------x DECISION SERENO, CJ:

This is an administrative case filed against Atty. Eva Paita-Moya by Pilar Ibana-
Andrade and Clare Sinforosa Andrade-Casilihan. On 7 December 2009, this Court,
through the First Division, issued a Resolution 1 referring the case to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation or decision
within ninety (90) days from the receipt of records. •On leave. 1 Rollo, p. 51. (
Decision 2 A.C. No. 8313 After the proceedings, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
transmitted to the Supreme Court on 18 November 2013 its Notice of Resolution,2
alongside the Records of the case.

The IBP Board of Governors also passed a Resolution3 on 13 February 2013 adopting
and approving the Report and Recommendation4 of the Investigating Commissioner
for this case. The Report and Recommendation summarizes the facts of this case as
follows: Here is complainants’ version. On October 3, 2007, complainant Pilar
Andrade, stockholder and Treasurer of Mabini College Inc. filed Civil Case No. 7617
for Injunction, Mandamus and Damages before the Regional Trial Court of Daet,
Camarines Norte when she was illegally suspended by Luz Ibana-Garcia, Marcel
Lukban and respondent Atty. Eva Paita-Moya. In the said case then pending before
the Honorable Executive Judge Arniel Dating, respondent Atty. Eva Paita-Moya
appeared as counsel for all respondents. Complainant Clare Sinforosa I. Andrade-
Casilihan likewise filed an illegal dismissal case against Mabini College Inc. and now
pending before the Honorable Court of Appeals. In the said labor case, respondent
stood as counsel for Mabini College, Inc. and co-respondent Luz I. Garcia and Marcel
Lukban. In another illegal dismissal case filed by Alven Bernardo I. Andrade on
September 28, 2005 currently pending before the Court of Appeals, respondent acted
as counsel for Mabini College, Inc. Luz I. Garcia and Marcel Lukban.

After the aforementioned cases were filed, complainants had found out that on June
27, 2008, the Honorable Supreme Court promulgated a resolution in the case entitled
Wilson Cham versus Atty. Eva Paita-Moya docketed as A.C. No. 7484 suspending
respondent from the practice of law for one month. Complainants were surprised.
They later got a copy of the Office of the Bar Confidant’s certification confirming that
until date (apparently May 6, 2009, the dare [sic] OR No. 0304748 was issued)
respondent’s suspension order has not yet been lifted. On June 2, 2009, complainants
were able to obtain a copy of the Supreme Court Circular No. 51-2009 informing all
courts that respondent was suspended from the practice of law for one month and
said suspension was received by respondent on June 15, 2008.
However, despite of the subject June 27, 2009 Resolution on July 15, 2008 and
despite knowledge of her suspension from the practice of law, the said resolution
having been further posted in the website of the Supreme Court and is available in
CD Asia’s Lex Libris, respondent continued to practice law in wilful disobedience of
the Supreme Court’s suspension order in A.C. No. 7494. 2 Id. at 149. 3 Id. at 151. 4
Id. at 152-158. Decision 3 A.C. No. 8313 In fact from June 27, 2008 until May 2009,
respondent filed the following papers and pleadings as counsel in Civil Case No. 7617,
to wit: Comment to Motion for Voluntary Inhibition dated July 15, 2008.

Motion to Admit Answer which was undated but submitted on November 12, 2008.
An undated Comments/Opposition to the Petitioner’s Formal Offer of Evidence in
Support of the Application for Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction which was
received by petitioners’ counsel on November 26, 2008.Motion to Admit Amended
Motion for Reconsideration dated February 9, 2009 which was received by petitioners’
counsel on February 12, 2009. Motion for Reconsideration dated January 23, 2009.
Motion to File Position Paper dated April 13, 2009; and Pre-Trial Brief for Respondents
dated May 13, 2009. Also in connection with complainant Casahilan’s Petition for
Certiorari with the Court of Appeals, respondent never withdrew her appearance.

The same is true in the case of Alven Bernardo Andrade. Respondent never withdrew
her appearance therein. Likewise and notwithstanding such suspension, respondent
continued to practice law and respondent clients in other cases before the four (4)
branches of the Regional Trial Court in Daet, Camarines Norte. Supporting this
truthful assertion are the following: CERTIFICATIO Decision 4 A.C. No. 8313 her
Manifestation and Motion to Suspend Proceedings7 dated 30 September 2010. She
likewise alleged therein that she had filed with the Supreme Court in December 2009
an Urgent Motion to Lift Order of Suspension with the Supreme Court, which was
unresolved as of the date of her Manifestation.8 Additionally, she argued that the
resolution of the initial administrative case docketed as A.M. No. 7464 was material
to her position in this particular case.9

The issue in this case falls solely on the question of whether Respondent engaged in
the unauthorized practice of law, that is, the practice of law despite the clear language
of this Court’s suspension order. The Report and Recommendation recommended
that Respondent be found liable. We adopt the same, with modification. The
suspension order was received by Respondent on July 15, 2008.10 Despite this, she
continued to practice law in various cases, as shown by the pleadings she filed and
the certifications noted by the Report.11 In fact, she continued receiving various fees
for her services throughout the duration of her suspension.12

It is important to note that her defense consists of an admission that she was indeed
suspended, and allegedly served her suspension.13 She claimed that she never
received the resolution that had allegedly suspended her.14 By logical inference
therefore, her sole defense is ignorance of the resolution that suspended her.
However, the records of this very Court belie her statements. Office of the Court
Administrator Circular No. 51-2009 stated the following: For your information and
guidance, quoted hereunder is the dispositive portion of the Resolution of the Third
Division dated 27 June 2008, in Administrative Case No. 7494 entitled, “Wilson Cham
vs. Atty. Eva Paita-Moya”, to wit:

WHEREFORE, Atty. Eva Paita-Moya is found guilty of gross misconduct and hereby
SUSPENDED for one month from the practice of law, effective upon her receipt of this
Decision. She is warned that a repetition of the same or a similar act will be dealt
with more severely. 7 Id. at 140-142. 8 Id. at 140. 9 Id. at 141. 10Id. at 65. 11 Id.
at 156-157. 12 Id. at 96-138. 13 Id. at 47. 14 Id. at 43-44. Decision 5 A.C. No. 8313
On 15 July 2008, Atty. Moya received the said resolution as per Registry Return
Receipt No. 2320. (Emphases supplied)15 Moreover, the Office of the Bar Confidant
issued a Certification dated 8 May 2009 that the suspension of Atty. Paita-Moya in
A.C. No. 7494 had not yet been lifted. 16

We had laid down guidelines in Maniago v. De Dios, IN LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING,


it is hereby RESOLVED that the following guidelines be observed in the matter of the
lifting of an order suspending a lawyer from the practice of law: 1) After a finding
that respondent lawyer must be suspended from the practice of law, the Court shall
render a decision imposing the penalty; 2) Unless the Court explicitly states that the
decision is immediately executory upon receipt thereof, respondent has 15 days
within which to file a motion for reconsideration thereof. The denial of said motion
shall render the decision final and executory; 3) Upon the expiration of the period of
suspension, respondent shall file a Sworn Statement with the Court, through the
Office of the Bar Confidant, stating therein that he or she has desisted from the
practice of law and has not appeared in any court during the period of his or her
suspension; 4) Copies of the Sworn Statement shall be furnished to the Local Chapter
of the IBP and to the Executive Judge of the courts where respondent has pending
cases handled by him or her, and/or where he or she has appeared as counsel; 5)
The Sworn Statement shall be considered as proof of respondents compliance with
the order of suspension; 6) Any finding or report contrary to the statements made
by the lawyer under oath shall be a ground for the imposition of a more severe
punishment, or disbarment, as may be warranted.

17 This case is not without precedent.18 Previously, we had already stated the
standard for discipline upon erring lawyers who continue practicing despite being
suspended by the Court, viz: Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, willful
disobedience to any lawful order of a superior court is a ground for disbarment or
suspension from the practice of law:

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


— A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended 15 OCA Circular No. 51-
2009. 16 Rollo, at 7. 17 A.C. No. 7472, 30 March 2010. 18 Feliciano v. Bautista-
Lozada, A.C. No. 7593, 11 March 2015.

Decision 6 A.C. No. 8313 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 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 so to do.
The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. In Molina v. Atty. Magat,
this court suspended further Atty. Ceferino R. Magat from the practice of law for six
months for practicing his profession despite this court's previous order of suspension.
We impose the same penalty on Atty. Baliga for holding his position as Regional
Director despite lack of authority to practice law. 19 The Commissioner recommended
the suspension of respondent from the active practice of law for six ( 6) months with
stem warning that any similar infraction in the future would be dealt with more
severely. 20 In light of this and the jurisprudence already cited, we adopt the
recommendation.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, ATTY. EVA PAITA-MOYA is found GUILTY of


violating Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, and is hereby SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for an additional period of six ( 6) months from her one ( 1) month
suspension, totaling seven (7) months from service of this resolution, with a
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense will warrant a more severe
penalty. Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts, the Office of the Bar
Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for their information and
guidance. The Office of the Bar Confidant is DIRECTED to append a copy of this
Decision to respondent's record as member of the Bar. Atty. Paita-Moya is DIRECTED
to infonn the Court of the date of her receipt of this Decision, to determine the
reckoning point when her suspension shall take effect. This Decision is immediately
executory. SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 7593, March 11, 2015

ALVIN S. FELICIANO, Complainant, v. ATTY. CARMELITA BAUTISTA-


LOZADA, Respondents.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Before us is a Petition for Disbarment1 dated August 2, 2007 filed by Alvin S. Feliciano
(complainant) against respondent Atty. Carmelita Bautista-Lozada (Atty. Lozada) for
violation of Section 27,2 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.

The facts of the case, as culled from the records, are as


follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

On December 13, 2005, the Court en banc promulgated a Resolution in A.C. No. 6656
entitled “Bobie Rose V. Frias vs. Atty. Carmencita Bautista Lozada”3 suspending Atty.
Lozada for violation of Rules 15.03 and 16.04 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, the dispositive portion of which reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Carmencita Bautista Lozada is hereby found guilty
of violating Rules 15.03 and 16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and of
willfully disobeying a final and executory decision of the Court of Appeals. She is
hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years from
notice, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be
dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished all courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, as well as the Office of the Bar Confidant, for their information and
guidance, and let it be entered in respondent's personal records.

SO ORDERED.4
On May 4, 2006, the Court denied with finality Atty. Lozada's motion for
reconsideration.5chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

However, on June 5, 2007, in an action for injunction with prayer for issuance of a
temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction docketed as Civil
Case no. 101-V-07 entitled “Edilberto Lozada, et.al. vs. Alvin S. Feliciano, et al.,”
where complainant was one of the respondents, complainant lamented that Atty.
Lozada appeared as counsel for the plaintiff and her husband, Edilberto Lozada, and
actively participated in the proceedings of the case before Branch 75 of the Regional
Trial Court of Valenzuela City. To prove his allegation, complainant submitted certified
true copies of the minutes of the hearings, dated June 12, 2007, July 3, 2007 and
July 6, 2007, wherein Atty. Lozada signed her name as one of the counsels,6 as well
as the transcript of stenographic notes showing that Atty. Lozada conducted direct
examination and cross-examination of the witnesses during the trial
proceedings.7chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Complainant argued that the act of Atty. Lozada in appearing as counsel while still
suspended from the practice of law constitutes willfull disobedience to the resolutions
of the Court which suspended her from the practice of law for two (2) years.

On September 12, 2007, the Court resolved to require Atty. Lozada to comment on
the complaint against him.8chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In her Comment9 dated November 19, 2007, Atty. Lozada explained that she was
forced by circumstances and her desire to defend the rights of her husband who is
embroiled in a legal dispute. She claimed that she believed in good faith that her
appearance as wife of Edilberto Lozada is not within the prohibition to practice law,
considering that she is defending her husband and not a client. She insisted that her
husband is a victim of grave injustice, and his reputation and honor are at stake;
thus, she has no choice but to give him legal assistance.10chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

On January 30, 2008, the Court referred the instant case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines for investigation, report and
recommendation.11chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In its Report and Recommendation12 dated March 9, 2009, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) found Atty. Lozada guilty of
violating Rule 1.01 & 1.02, Rule 18.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and
the terms of her suspension from the practice of law as imposed by the Court. Thus,
the IBP-CBD recommended the disbarment of Atty. Lozada.

On May 14, 2011, however, the IBP-Board of Governors resolved to adopt and
approve with modification the report and recommendation of the IBP-CBD such that
it recommended instead that Atty. Lozada be suspended from the practice of law for
three (3) months.

RULING

We adopt the ruling of the IBP-Board of Governors with modification.

Indeed, this Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the practice of law. When
this Court orders a lawyer suspended from the practice of law, as in the instant case,
the lawyer must desist from performing all functions requiring the application of legal
knowledge within the period of suspension.13chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Suffice it to say that practice of law embraces "any activity, in or out of court, which
requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience."
It includes "[performing] acts which are characteristics of the [legal] profession" or
"[rendering any kind of] service [which] requires the use in any degree of legal
knowledge or skill.”14chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In the instant case, Atty. Lozada's guilt is undisputed. Based on the records, there is
no doubt that Atty. Lozada's actuations, that is, in appearing and signing as counsel
for and in behalf of her husband, conducting or offering stipulation/admission of facts,
conducting direct and cross-examination, all constitute practice of law. Furthermore,
the findings of the IBP would disclose that such actuations of Atty. Lozada of actively
engaging in the practice of law in June-July 2007 were done within the period of her
two (2)-year suspension considering that she was suspended from the practice of law
by this Court in May 4, 2006. It would then appear that, at the very least, Atty.
Lozada cannot practice law from 2006 to 2008. Thus, it is clear that when Atty.
Lozada appeared for and in behalf of her husband in Civil Case No. 101-V-07 and
actively participated in the proceedings therein in June-July 2007, or within the two
(2)-year suspension, she, therefore, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

Atty. Lozada's defense of good faith fails to convince. She knew very well that at the
time she represented her husband, she is still serving her two (2)-year suspension
order. Yet, she failed to inform the court about it. Neither did she seek any clearance
or clarification from the Court if she can represent her husband. While we understand
her devotion and desire to defend her husband whom she believed has suffered grave
injustice, Atty. Lozada should not forget that she is first and foremost, an officer of
the court who is bound to obey the lawful order of the Court.

Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, as amended, willful
disobedience to any lawful order of a superior court is a ground for disbarment or
suspension from the practice of law:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
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
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.15
Atty. Lozada would have deserved a harsher penalty, but this Court recognizes the
fact that it is part of the Filipino culture that amid an adversity, families will always
look out and extend a helping hand to a family member, more so, in this case, to a
spouse. Thus, considering that Atty. Lozada's actuation was prompted by her
affection to her husband and that in essence, she was not representing a client but
rather a spouse, we deem it proper to mitigate the severeness of her penalty.

Following the recent case of Victor C. Lingan v. Atty. Romeo Calubaquib and Jimmy
P. Baliga,16 citing Molina v. Atty. Magat,17 where this Court suspended further
respondents from the practice of law for six (6) months for practicing their profession
despite this court's previous order of suspension, we, thus, impose the same penalty
on Atty. Lozada for representing her husband as counsel despite lack of authority to
practice law.

Disbarment of lawyers is a proceeding that aims to purge the law profession of


unworthy members of the bar. It is intended to preserve the nobility and honor of
the legal profession. While the Supreme Court has the plenary power to discipline
erring lawyers through this kind of proceedings, it does so in the most vigilant manner
so as not to frustrate its preservative principle. The Court, in the exercise of its sound
judicial discretion, is inclined to impose a less severe punishment if, through it, the
end desire of reforming the errant lawyer is possible.18chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Atty. Carmelita S. Bautista-Lozada is


found GUILTY of violating Section 27,19 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, and is
hereby SUSPENDED for a period of six (6) months from the practice of law, with
a WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense will warrant a more
severe penalty.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts, the Office of the Bar Confidant and
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for their information and guidance. The Office
of the Bar Confidant is DIRECTEDto append a copy of this Decision to respondent’s
record as member of the Bar.

Atty. Lozada is DIRECTED to inform the Court of the date of her receipt of this
Decision, so that we can determine the reckoning point when her suspension shall
take effect.

This Decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 10628, July 01, 2015

MAXIMINO NOBLE III, Complainant, v. ATTY. ORLANDO O. AILES, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

This instant administrative case arose from a verified Complaint1 for disbarment
dated April 16, 2012 filed by complainant Maximino Noble III (Maximino) against
respondent Atty. Orlando O. Ailes (Orlando) before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP).

The Facts

Maximino alleged that on August 18, 2010, Orlando, a lawyer, filed a complaint2 for
damages against his own brother, Marcelo O. Ailes, Jr. (Marcelo), whom Maximino
represented, together with other defendants, therein. In the said complaint, Orlando
stated the following data: "IBP-774058-12/07/09-QC x x x MCLE Compliance No.
II-00086893/Issued on March 10, 2008."4 Maximino claimed that at the time of the
filing of the said complaint, Orlando's IBP O.R. number should have already reflected
payment of his IBP annual dues for the year 2010, not 2009, and that he should have
finished his third Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Compliance, not just
the second.

Sometime in December 2011, Maximino learned from Marcelo that the latter had filed
a separate case for grave threats and estafa5 against Orlando. When Maximino was
furnished a copy of the complaint, he discovered that, through text messages,
Orlando had been maligning him and dissuading Marcelo from retaining his services
as counsel, claiming that he was incompetent and that he charged exorbitant fees,
saying, among others: "x x x Better dismiss [your] hi-track lawyer who will
impoverish [you] with his unconscionable [professional] fee. Max Noble, as shown in
court records, never appeared even once, that's why you lost in the pre-trial stage,
x x x get rid of [Noble] as [your] lawyer. He is out to squeeze a lot of money from
[you], x x x daig mo nga mismong abogado mong polpol."6 Records show that
Orlando even prepared a Notice to Terminate Services of Counsel7 in the complaint
for damages, which stated that Maximino "x x x has never done anything to protect
the interests of the defendants in a manner not befitting his representation as a
seasoned law practitioner and, aside from charging enormous amount of professional
fees and questionable expenses, said counsel's contracted services reached as far
only in preparing and filing uncalled for motions to dismiss x x x" as well as a
Compromise Agreement,8 both of which he sent to Marcelo for his signature.
Affronted, Maximino filed the instant complaint charging Orlando with violation of
Rule 7.03 of Canon 7, the entire Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
(CPR), Bar Matter (BM) Nos. 8509 and 192210, and prayed for the disbarment of
respondent as well as the award of damages.

In his defense,11 Orlando denied the charges against him and claimed that his late
submission of the third MCLE compliance is not a ground for disbarment and that the
Notice to Terminate Services of Counsel and Compromise Agreement were all made
upon the request of Marcelo when the latter was declared in default in the
aforementioned civil case. Moreover, he insisted that the allegedly offensive language
in his text messages sent to Marcelo was used in a "brother-to-brother
communication" and were uttered in good faith.12ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Meanwhile, the criminal case for grave threats and estafa filed by Marcelo against
Orlando was downgraded to unjust vexation13 and, on June 19, 2012, after
voluntarily entering a plea of guilty, Orlando was convicted of the crime of unjust
vexation, consisting in his act of vexing or annoying Marcelo by "texting insulting,
threatening and persuading words to drop his lawyer over a case x x
x."14ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

IBP Report and Recommendation

In a Report and Recommendation15 dated April 30, 2013, the IBP Commissioner
recommended the dismissal of the case against Orlando, finding that a transgression
of the MCLE compliance requirement is not a ground for disbarment as in fact, failure
to disclose the required information would merely cause the dismissal of the case and
the expunction of the pleadings from the records. Neither did the IBP Commissioner
find any violation of the CPR so gross or grave as to warrant any administrative
liability on the part of Orlando, considering that the communication between Orlando
and Marcelo, who are brothers, was done privately and not directly addressed to
Maximino nor intended to be published and known by third persons.

In a Resolution16 dated May 11, 2013, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
approved the IBP Commissioner's Report and Recommendation and dismissed the
case against Orlando, warning him to be more circumspect in his dealings. Maximino
moved for reconsideration17 which was however denied in a Resolution18 dated May
3, 2014 with modification deleting the warning.

Aggrieved, Maximino filed the present petition for review


on certioranri.19ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The Issue Before the Court

The issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not the IBP correctly dismissed the
complaint against Orlando.

The Court's Ruling

The petition is partly meritorious.

The practice of law is a privilege bestowed on lawyers who meet high standards of
legal proficiency and morality.20 It is a special privilege burdened with conditions
before the legal profession, the courts, their clients and the society such that a lawyer
has the duty to comport himself in a manner as to uphold integrity and promote the
public's faith in the profession.21 Consequently, a lawyer must at all times, whether
in public or private life, act in a manner beyond reproach especially when dealing
with fellow lawyers.22ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

In this relation, Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 as well as Canon 8 of the CPR provides:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Rule 7.03 — A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness
to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous
manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Canon 8 — A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward
his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing
counsel.
Rule 8.01 - A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is
abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.

Rule 8.02 - A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, encroach upon the professional
employment of another lawyer; however, it is the right of any lawyer, without fear
or favor, to give proper advice and assistance to those seeking relief against
unfaithful or neglectful counsel.
chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Though a lawyer's language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be
dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of
intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of the judicial
forum.23 In Buatis Jr. v. People,24 the Court treated a lawyer's use of the words
"lousy," "inutile," "carabao English," "stupidity," and "satan" in a letter addressed to
another colleague as defamatory and injurious which effectively maligned his
integrity. Similarly, the hurling of insulting language to describe the opposing counsel
is considered conduct unbecoming of the legal
profession. ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
25

In this case, the IBP found the text messages that Orlando sent to his brother Marcelo
as casual communications considering that they were conveyed privately. To the
Court's mind, however, the tenor of the messages cannot be treated lightly. The text
messages were clearly intended to malign and annoy Maximino, as evident from the
use of the word "polpol" (stupid). Likewise, Orlando's insistence that Marcelo
immediately terminate the services of Maximino indicates Orlando's offensive conduct
against his colleague, in violation of the above-quoted rules. Moreover, Orlando's
voluntary plea of guilty to the crime of unjust vexation in the criminal case filed
against him by Marcelo was, for all intents and purposes, an admission that he spoke
ill, insulted, and disrespected Maximino - a departure from the judicial decorum which
exposes the lawyer to administrative liability.

On this score, it must be emphasized that membership in the bar is a privilege


burdened with conditions such that a lawyer's words and actions directly affect the
public's opinion of the legal profession. Lawyers are expected to observe such conduct
of nobility and uprightness which should remain with them, whether in their public or
private lives, and may be disciplined in the event their conduct falls short of the
standards imposed upon them.26 Thus, in this case, it is inconsequential that the
statements were merely relayed to Orlando's brother in private. As a member of the
bar, Orlando should have been more circumspect in his words, being fully aware that
they pertain to another lawyer to whom fairness as well as candor is owed. It was
highly improper for Orlando to interfere and insult Maximino to his client.

Indulging in offensive personalities in the course of judicial proceedings, as in this


case, constitutes unprofessional conduct which subjects a lawyer to disciplinary
action.27 While a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such
enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and abusive language.28 The Court
has consistently reminded the members of the bar to abstain from all offensive
personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor and reputation of a party.
Considering the circumstances, it is glaringly clear how Orlando transgressed the CPR
when he maligned Maximino to his client.29ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

With regard to Orlando's alleged violation of BM No. 1922, the Court agrees with the
IBP that his failure to disclose the required information for MCLE compliance in the
complaint for damages he had filed against his brother Marcelo is not a ground for
disbarment. At most, his violation shall only be cause for the dismissal of the
complaint as well as the expunction thereof from the
records.30ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Orlando O. Ailes GUILTY of violating
Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 as well as the entire Canon 8 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. He is hereby ADMONISHED to be more circumspect in dealing with
his professional colleagues and STERNLY WARNED that a commission of the same
or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 7241 October 17, 2011
[Formerly CBD Case No. 05-1506]

ATTY. FLORITA S. LINCO, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. JIMMY D. LACEBAL, Respondent.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

The instant case stemmed from an Administrative Complaint1 dated June 6, 2005
filed by Atty. Florita S. Linco (complainant) before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) against Atty. Jimmy D. Lacebal for disciplinary action for his failure
to perform his duty as a notary public, which resulted in the violation of their rights
over their property.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

Complainant claimed that she is the widow of the late Atty. Alberto Linco (Atty.
Linco), the registered owner of a parcel of land with improvements, consisting of 126
square meters, located at No. 8, Macopa St., Phase I-A, B, C & D, Valley View
Executive Village, Cainta, Rizal and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
259001.

Complainant alleged that Atty. Jimmy D. Lacebal (respondent), a notary public for
Mandaluyong City, notarized a deed of donation2 allegedly executed by her husband
in favor of Alexander David T. Linco, a minor. The notarial acknowledgment thereof
also stated that Atty. Linco and Lina P. Toledo (Toledo), mother of the donee,
allegedly personally appeared before respondent on July 30, 2003, despite the fact
that complainant’s husband died on July 29, 2003.3

Consequently, by virtue of the purported deed of donation, the Register of Deeds of


Antipolo City cancelled TCT No. 259001 on March 28, 20054 and issued a new TCT
No. 292515 in the name of Alexander David T. Linco.

Aggrieved, complainant filed the instant complaint. She claimed that respondent's
reprehensible act in connivance with Toledo was not only violative of her and her
children's rights but also in violation of the law. Respondent's lack of honesty and
candor is unbecoming of a member of the Philippine Bar.

In his Answer,6 respondent admitted having notarized and acknowledged a deed of


donation executed by the donor, Atty. Linco, in favor of his son, Alexander David T.
Linco, as represented by Lina P. Toledo.

Respondent narrated that on July 8, 2003, he was invited by Atty. Linco, through an
emissary in the person of Claire Juele-Algodon (Algodon), to see him at his residence
located at Guenventille II D-31-B, Libertad Street, Mandaluyong City. Respondent
was then informed that Atty. Linco was sick and wanted to discuss something with
him.

Respondent pointed out that Atty. Linco appeared to be physically weak and sickly,
but was articulate and in full control of his faculties. Atty. Linco showed him a deed
of donation and the TCT of the property subject of the donation. Respondent claimed
that Atty. Linco asked him a favor of notarizing the deed of donation in his presence
along with the witnesses.

However, respondent explained that since he had no idea that he would be notarizing
a document, he did not bring his notarial book and seal with him. Thus, he instead
told Algodon and Toledo to bring to his office the signed deed of donation anytime at
their convenience so that he could formally notarize and acknowledge the same.

On July 30, 2003, respondent claimed that Toledo and Algodon went to his law office
and informed him that Atty. Linco had passed away on July 29, 2003. Respondent
was then asked to notarize the deed of donation. Respondent admitted to have
consented as he found it to be his commitment to a fellow lawyer. Thus, he notarized
the subject deed of donation, which was actually signed in his presence on July 8,
2003.

During the mandatory conference/hearing on September 7, 2005, it was established


that indeed the deed of donation was presented to respondent on July 8,
2003.7 Respondent, likewise, admitted that while he was not the one who prepared
the deed of donation, he, however, performed the notarization of the deed of
donation only on July 30, 2003, a day after Atty. Linco died.81avvphi1

On November 23, 2005, in its Report and Recommendation,9 the IBP-Commission on


Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) found respondent guilty of violating the Notarial Law and
the Code of Professional Responsibility.

The IBP-CBD observed that respondent wanted it to appear that because the donor
appeared before him and signed the deed of donation on July 8, 2003, it was just
ministerial duty on his part to notarize the deed of donation on July 30, 2003, a day
after Atty. Linco died. The IBP-CBD pointed out that respondent should know that
the parties who signed the deed of donation on July 8, 2003, binds only the
signatories to the deed and it was not yet a public instrument. Moreover, since the
deed of donation was notarized only on July 30, 2003, a day after Atty. Linco died,
the acknowledgement portion of the said deed of donation where respondent
acknowledged that Atty. Linco "personally came and appeared before me" is false.
This act of respondent is also violative of the Attorney's Oath "to obey the laws" and
"do no falsehood."

The IBP-CBD, thus, recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice
of law for a period of one (1) year, and that his notarial commission be revoked and
he be disqualified from re-appointment as notary public for a period of two (2) years.
On April 27, 2006, in Resolution No. XVII-2006-215,10 the IBP-Board of Governors
resolved to adopt and approve the report and recommendation of the IBP-CBD.

Respondent moved for reconsideration, but was denied.11

On July 29, 2009, considering respondent's petition for review dated May 19, 2009
of IBP Resolution No. XVII-2006-215 dated April 27, 2006 and IBP Resolution No.
XVIII-2008-678 dated December 11, 2008, denying complainant's motion for
reconsideration and affirming the assailed resolution, the Court resolved to require
complainant to file her comment.12

In her Compliance,13 complainant maintained that respondent has not stated


anything new in his motion for reconsideration that would warrant the reversal of the
recommendation of the IBP. She maintained that respondent violated the Notarial
Law and is unfit to continue being commissioned as notary public; thus, should be
sanctioned for his infractions.

On August 16, 2011, in view of the denial of respondent's motion for reconsideration,
the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court, recommended that the instant
complaint is now ripe for judicial adjudication.

RULING

The findings and recommendations of the IBP are well taken.

There is no question as to respondent's guilt. The records sufficiently established that


Atty. Linco was already dead when respondent notarized the deed of donation on July
30, 2003. Respondent likewise admitted that he knew that Atty. Linco died a day
before he notarized the deed of donation. We take note that respondent notarized
the document after the lapse of more than 20 days from July 8, 2003, when he was
allegedly asked to notarize the deed of donation. The sufficient lapse of time from
the time he last saw Atty. Linco should have put him on guard and deterred him from
proceeding with the notarization of the deed of donation.

However, respondent chose to ignore the basics of notarial procedure in order to


accommodate the alleged need of a colleague. The fact that respondent previously
appeared before him in person does not justify his act of notarizing the deed of
donation, considering the affiant's absence on the very day the document was
notarized. In the notarial acknowledgment of the deed of donation, respondent
attested that Atty. Linco personally came and appeared before him on July 30, 2003.
Yet obviously, Atty. Linco could not have appeared before him on July 30, 2003,
because the latter died on July 29, 2003. Clearly, respondent made a false statement
and violated Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and his oath as a
lawyer.

We will reiterate that faithful observance and utmost respect of the legal solemnity
of the oath in an acknowledgment or jurat is sacrosanct.14 Respondent should not
notarize a document unless the persons who signed the same are the very same
persons who executed and personally appeared before him to attest to the
contents and truth of what are stated therein.15

Time and again, we have repeatedly reminded notaries public of the importance
attached to the act of notarization. Notarization is not an empty, meaningless,
routinary act. It is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who
are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. Notarization converts a private
document into a public document; thus, making that document admissible in
evidence without further proof of its authenticity. A notarial document is by law
entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. Courts, administrative agencies and the
public at large must be able to rely upon the acknowledgment executed by a notary
public and appended to a private instrument.16

For this reason, notaries public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements
in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, the confidence of the public in the
integrity of this form of conveyance would be undermined.17Hence, again, a notary
public should not notarize a document unless the persons who signed the same are
the very same persons who executed and personally appeared before him to attest
to the contents and truth of what are stated therein.

This responsibility is more pronounced when the notary public is a lawyer. A graver
responsibility is placed upon him by reason of his solemn oath to obey the laws and
to do no falsehood or consent to the doing of any. He is mandated to the sacred
duties appertaining to his office, such duties, being dictated by public policy and
impressed with public interest.18 Respondent's failure to perform his duty as a notary
public resulted not only in damaging complainant's rights over the property subject
of the donation but also in undermining the integrity of a notary public. He should,
therefore, be held liable for his acts, not only as a notary public but also as a lawyer.

In Lanuzo v. Atty. Bongon,19 respondent having failed to discharge his duties as a


notary public, the revocation of his notarial commission, disqualification from being
commissioned as a notary public for a period of two years and suspension from the
practice of law for one year were imposed. We deem it proper to impose the same
penalty.

WHEREFORE, for breach of the Notarial Law and Code of Professional Responsibility,
the notarial commission of respondent ATTY. JIMMY D. LACEBAL, is REVOKED.
He is DISQUALIFIED from reappointment as Notary Public for a period of two years.
He is also SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one year, effective
immediately. He is further WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts
shall be dealt with more severely. He is DIRECTED to report the date of receipt of
this Decision in order to determine when his suspension shall take effect.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines, and all courts all over the country. Let a copy of this Decision
likewise be attached to the personal records of the respondent.

SO ORDERED.