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1.

Public Attorney’s Office vs The Honorable Sandiganbayan, Special Division


G.R. Nos. 154297-300 , February 15, 2008
Azcuna, J.:
Facts:
Chief Public Attorney filed an Urgent and Ex-Parte Motion to be Relieved as Court-
Appointed Counsel with the Special Division of the Sandiganbayan, praying that she be relieved
of her duties and responsibilities as counsel de oficio for the said accused on the ground that she
had a swelling workload consisting of administrative matters and that the accused are not indigent
persons; hence, they are not qualified to avail themselves of the services of the PAO. Respondent
Court found the reasons of the Chief Public Attorney to be plausible and relieved the Chief Public
Attorney as counsel de oficio of former President Joseph Estrada and Mayor Joseph Estrada.
The remaining eight PAO lawyers filed an Ex-Parte Motion to be Relieved as Court-Appointed
Counsels with respondent Court on the ground that the accused are not indigents; therefore, they
are not qualified to avail themselves of the services of the PAO. Respondent Court issued a
Resolution denying the motion, but retaining two of the eight PAO lawyers, namely, petitioners
Atty. Usita, Jr. And Atty. Andres.

Later, the PAO filed a Manifestation and Compliance which informed that petitioners Atty.
Usita, Jr. And Atty. Andres were appointed as Assistant City Prosecutors of the Quezon City
Prosecutor’s Office sometime in August 2002, and that PAO is left as the lone petitioner in this
case. The PAO asserts that while its lawyers are also aware of their duties under Rule 14.02 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, PAO lawyers are limited by their mandate as government.

Issue:
Whether or not respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in issuing the subject Resolutions retaining two PAO lawyers to act as counsels de
oficio for the accused who are not indigent persons.
Held:
No, the Petition was DISMISSED for being moot.
The Court holds that respondent did not gravely abuse its discretion in issuing the subject
Resolutions as the issuance is not characterized by caprice or arbitrariness. At the time of PAO’s
appointment, the accused did not want to avail themselves of any counsel; hence,
respondent exercised a judgment call to protect the constitutional right of the accused to be heard
by themselves and counsel during the trial of the cases.

Subsequently, respondent reduced the number of PAO lawyers directed to represent


the accused, in view of the engagement of new counsels de parte, but retained two of the eight
PAO lawyers obviously to meet such possible exigency as the accused again relieving some or
all of their private counsels.

In any event, since these cases of the accused in the Sandiganbayan have been finally
resolved, this petition seeing that PAO, the only remaining petitioner, be relieved as counsel de
oficio therein has become moot.

2. Robert Victor G. Seares, Jr., vs. Atty Saniata Liwliwa V. Gonzales-Alzate


A.C. No. 9058, November 14, 2012
Bersamin, J.:

Facts:
Complainant Seares, Jr. alleges that Atty. Gonzales-Alzate was his legal counsel when
he ran for the position of Municipal Mayor of Abra. After the complainant lost, respondent filed on
behalf of the former a “Petition of Protest Ad Cautelam in the RTC but was later on dismissed for
being “fatally defective” After several months, she insisted on filing a “Petition of Protest” in the
RTC, but the petition was dismissed on the ground that it was already time-barred, and on the
further ground of forum shopping because he certification against forum shopping was false. RTC
declared her as “professionally negligent.” Seares ran again for Municipal Mayor in the next
elections and won. Complainant learned that his political opponents had the respondent as their
counsel. On his 2nd month in office, one Carlito Turqueza charged him with abuse of authority,
oppression and grave misconduct. Complainant later on learned that she represented Turqueza
as counsel and that she intentionally made false and hurtful statements in the memorandum she
prepared in that administrative case in order to attack him. Hence, he prays that she should be
disbarred.
Respondent, Atty. Gonzales-Alzate denied the charges against her. She states that
complainant solicited her legal advice on the last week of the elections since his previous counsel
informed him that he could not go to Abra to handle his cautelam petition. That he himself and his
parents were the ones who decided not to appeal anymore the dismissal of the petition despite
advising them.
Atty. Gonzales-Alzate refutes the charge that she represented conflicting interests by
explaining that:(a) she was engaged as an attorney in the May 2010 elections only by a candidate
for Municipal Mayor of another municipality;(b) Carlito Turqueza used to be a political ally of
Seares, Jr.;(c) she disclosed to Turqueza her having once acted as a counsel of Seares, Jr.;(d)
Seares, Jr. did not object to her legal representation of Turqueza; and(e) the 2007 election protest
that she handled for Seares, Jr. was unrelated to the administrative complaint.
Issue:
Whether or not respondent violated the prohibition against representing conflicting interests when
she assisted Turqueza in his administrative case against respondent, her former client.

Held:
No. The SC dismissed the disbarment complaint against Atty. Gonzales-Alzate.
Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility prohibits an attorney from
representing a party in a controversy that is either directly or indirectly related to the subject matter
of a previous litigation involving another client.
Relevantly, Rule 15.01, Rule 15.02 and Rule 15.03 provide:
Rule 15.01—A lawyer, in conferring with a prospective client, shall ascertain as soon as
practicable whether the matter would involve a conflict with another client or his own interest, and
if so, shall forthwith inform the prospective client.
Rule 15.02—A lawyer shall be bound by the rule on privilege communication in respect of
matters disclosed to him by a prospective client.
Rule 15.03—A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of
all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.
Representing conflicting interests would occur only where the attorney's new engagement
would require her to use against a former client any confidential information gained from the
previous professional relation. The prohibition did not cover a situation where the subject matter
of the present engagement was totally unrelated to the previous engagement of the attorney. To
constitute the violation,the attorney should be shown to intentionally use against the former client
the confidential information acquired by her during the previous employment. But a mere
allegation of professional misconduct would not suffice to establish the charge, because
accusation was not synonymous with guilt.
The charge of representing conflicting interests was immediately unworthy of serious
consideration because it was clear from the start that Atty. Gonzales-Alzate did not take
advantage of her previous engagement by Seares, Jr. in her legal representation of Turqueza in
the latter's administrative charge against Seares, Jr. There was no indication whatsoever of her
having gained any confidential information during her previous engagement by Seares, Jr. that
could be used against Seares, Jr. There is no question that both charges were entirely foreign to
one another.
3. SHIRLEY OLAYTA-CAMBA vs. ATTY. OTILIO SY BONGON
A.C. No. 8826; March 25, 2015
FACTS:
Shirley Olayta – Camba alleged that on March 1, 2000, she engaged the services of Atty.
Otilio Bongon for the purpose of titling and/or reconstituting the titles to the real estate properties
of the late Bernabe Olayta, situated in the province of Albay. In connection therewith, she claimed
to have given the aggregate amount of P112,499.55 to Atty. Bongon. Despite the payment, Atty.
Bongon failed to update Camba regarding the status of the matters referred to him. Thus, Camba
terminated her engagement with Atty. Bongon and demanded for the return of P112,499.55, but
to no avail. Then, she filed the instant complaint before the Court.
Atty. Bongon said that he only received P55,000.00 and that the rest of the money was
received by a certain Rowena Delos Reyes-Kelly who was not an employee of his law firm and
that he had already offered to return the amount of P30,000.00 to Camba, claiming that he already
earned the fees for legal services in the amount of P20,000.00 for having studied the matter
entrusted to him and drafted the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition.
The Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report, and recommendation.
According to the report of the IBP Investigating Commissioner, Atty. Bongon is guilty of
violating Rule 16.01 and Rule 16.03,Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR)
and recommended that he be: (a) meted with the penalty of suspension from the practice of law
for a period of six (6) months; and (b) directed to return the amount of P55,000.00 to complainant.
However, because of Atty. Bongon’s old age and his condition of having undergone a
triple heart bypass surgery, and considering that this is his first offense, the Investigating
Commissioner opted to mitigate the administrative penalties imposed upon him.

ISSUE:
Whether or not Atty. Bongon should be held administratively liable.

RULING:
Yes, Atty. Bongon should be held administratively liable because Atty. Bongon violated
Canon 18 and Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which reads as follow:
CANON 18 – A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND
DILIGENCE.
xxxx

Rule 18.03 – A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence
in connection therewith shall render him liable.
xxxx
In the case at bar, Atty. Bongon failed to comply with his undertaking and offered excuses.
A lawyer is duty-bound to serve the client 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. 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.
Furthermore, Atty. Bongon also violated Rules 16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the CPR
when he failed to refund the amount of P55,000.00 that he personally received from complainant
despite repeated demands, which reads as follow:
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.
xxxx

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

Accordingly, the Court found Atty Bongon guilty of violating the Code of Professional
Responsibility and is suspended from the practice of law for a period for one month effective upon
receipt of resolution, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt
with more severely.
And also, the Court ordered Atty. Bongon to return to Camba the amount of P55,000.00
he received from the latter within ninety (90) days from the finality of the resolution and failure to
comply with the foregoing directive will warrant the imposition of a more severe penalty.

4. ANGELITO RAMISCAL and MERCEDES ORZAME, vs. ATTY. EDGAR S. ORRO


A.C. No. 10945; February 23, 2016
FACTS:
Spouses Angelito Ramiscal and Mercedes Orzame (spouses Ramiscal) engaged the legal
services of Atty. Edgar S. Orro to handle a case in which they were the defendants seeking the
declaration of the nullity of title to a parcel of land situated in the Province of Isabela.
Upon receiving the P10,000.00 acceptance fee from them, Atty. Orro handled the trial of
the case until the Regional Trial Court (RTC) decided it in their favor and as expected, the plaintiffs
appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA), and they ultimately filed their appellants’ brief. Upon
receipt of the appellants’ brief, Atty. Orro requested from spouses Ramiscal an additional amount
of P30,000.00 for the preparation and submission of their appellees’ brief in the CA. They obliged
and paid him.
Later on, the CA reversed the decision of the RTC and Atty. Orro did not inform the
spouses Ramiscal of the adverse decision of the CA and they only learned about it from their
neighbors. They tried to communicate with Atty. Orro but their efforts were initially in vain. 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.
They paid to him the amount sought but later they discovered that he did not file the motion for
reconsideration and the decision attained finality, eventually resulting in the loss of their property
measuring 8.479 hectares with a probable worth of P3,391,600.00. the amount requested.
Then, they filed the instant complaint before the Court. The Court referred the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for proper evaluation, report, and recommendation.
Despite due notice, spouses Ramiscal and Atty. Orro did not appear during the scheduled
mandatory conferences set by the IBP. Neither did they submit their respective evidence.
IBP Commissioner Hector B. Almeyda rendered his findings to the effect that Atty. Orro
violated Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and
recommended his suspension from the practice law for one year.
The IBP Board of Governors issued a resolution and adopted the report of IBP
Commissioner Almeyda but modified the penalty by increasing the period of suspension to two
years.

ISSUE:
Whether or not Atty. Orro should be held administratively liable.

RULING:
Yes, Atty. Orro should be held administratively liable because he violated the Code of
Professional Responsibility, particularly its Canon 17, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of Canon
18, which reads as follow:
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.
xxxx
CANON 18 – A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.
xxxx
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.

The relationship of the lawyer and the client becomes imbued with trust and confidence
from the moment that the lawyer-client relationship commences, with the lawyer being bound to
serve his clients with full competence, and to attend to their cause with utmost diligence, care and
devotion.
In the case at bar, Atty Orro 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.
Accordingly, the Court found Atty Orro guilty of violating the Code of Professional
Responsibility and is suspended from the practice of law for a period for two years effective upon
notice, with the stern warning that any similar infraction in the future will be dealt with more
severely.

5. JOY A. GIMENO vs. ATTY. PAUL CENTILLAS ZAIDE


A.C. No. 10303; April 22, 2015
FACTS:
In her complaint, Gimeno alleged that even before Atty. Zaide’s admission to the Bar and
receipt of his notarial commission, he had notarized a partial extrajudicial partition. She accused
Atty. Zaide of making false and irregular entries in his notarial registers.
Gimeno further submitted that she was Atty. Zaide’s former client. She engaged the
services of his law firm Zaragoza-Makabangkit-Zaide Law Offices (ZMZ). Despite their previous
lawyer-client relationship, Atty. Zaide still appeared against her in case filed by one Priscilla
Somontan. She posited that appearing as the opposed counsel is a violation of the prohibition
against the representation of conflicting clients’ interest.
Lastly, Gimeno contended that Atty. Zaide called her a “notorious extortionist” in the same
administrative complaint filed by Somontan. In another civil case, Gimone noted that Atty. Zaide
referred to his opposing counsel as someone suffering from “serious mental incompetence” in
one of his pleadings. Both of these actions constitute intemperate, offensive and abusive
language.
On the other hand, Atty. Zaide argued that he did not notarize the partial extrajudicial
partition. His notarial stamp and falsified signature were superimposed over the typewritten name
of Atty. Elpedio Cabasan, the lawyer who actually notarized the document. As per the alleged
falsification of his notarial entries, Atty. Zaide contended that he uses several notarial registers in
separate offices therefore explaining the non-sequential notarial entries.
Atty. Zaide argued that Gimeno was never his client since she did not personally hire him
as her counsel. Gimeno engaged the services of ZMZ, where he previously worked as an
associate. The real counsel of Gimeno was Atty. Leo Zaragoza. On this basis, Atty. Zaide should
not be held liable for representing conflicting clients’ interest. Atty. Zaide denied that he used any
intemperate, offensive and abusive language in pleadings.

ISSUE:
Whether or not Atty. Zaide acted in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility
and Notarial Practice Rules.

RULING:
Yes. Section 1(a), Rule VI of the Notarial Practice Rules provides that "a notary public
shall keep, maintain, protect and provide for lawful inspection as provided in these Rules, a
chronological official notarial register of notarial acts consisting of a permanently bound book with
numbered pages." The same section further provides that "a notary public shall keep only one
active notarial register at any given time.“ On this basis, Atty. Zaide's act of simultaneously
keeping several active notarial registers is a blatant violation of Section 1, Rule VI.
The Notarial Practice Rules strictly requires a notary public to maintain only one active
notarial register and ensure that the entries in it are chronologically arranged. The "one active
notarial register" rule is in place to deter a notary public from assigning several notarial registers
to different offices manned by assistants who perform notarial services on his behalf.
Atty. Zaide should have been acutely aware of the requirements of his notarial
commission. His flagrant violation of Section 1, Rule VI of the Notarial Practice Rules is not merely
a simple and excusable negligence. It amounts to a clear violation of Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which provides that "a lawyer [should] uphold the constitution, obey
the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes."
As shown in the record, Atty. Zaide,in the reply that he drafted in the Ombudsman case,
called Gimeno a "notorious extortionist.“ And in another case, Gimeno observed that Atty. Zaide
used the following demeaning and immoderate language in presenting his comment against his
opposing counsel. This clearly confirms Atty. Zaide's lack of restraint in the use and choice of his
words - a conduct unbecoming of an officer of the court.
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.

6. BERNARD N. JANDOQUILE vs. ATTY. QUIRINO REVILLA JR.


A.C. No. 9514; April 10, 2013
FACTS:
Atty. Revilla, Jr. notarized a complaint-affidavit signed by Heneraline L. Brosas, Herizalyn
Brosas Pedrosa and Elmer L. Alvarado. Heneraline Brosas is a sister of Heizel Wynda Bajrosas
Revilla, Atty. Revilla, Jr.'s wife. Jandoquile complains that Atty. Revilla, Jr. is disqualified to
perform the notarial act per Section 3(c), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice which
reads as follows:
SEC. 3. Disqualifications. – A notary public is disqualified from performing a notarial act if
he:
xxxx
(c) is a spouse, common-law partner, ancestor, descendant, or relative by affinity or consanguinity
of the principal4 within the fourth civil degree.
Jandoquile also complains that Atty. Revilla, Jr. did not require the three affiants in the
complaint-affidavit to show their valid identification cards.
Atty. Revilla, Jr. did not deny but admitted Jandoquile’s material allegations. The issue,
according to Atty. Revilla, Jr., is whether the single act of notarizing the complaint-affidavit of
relatives within the fourth civil degree of affinity and, at the same time, not requiring them to
present valid identification cards is a ground for disbarment. Atty. Revilla, Jr. submits that his act
is not a ground for disbarment. He also says that he acts as counsel of the three affiants; thus, he
should be considered more as counsel than as a notary public when he notarized their complaint-
affidavit. He did not require the affiants to present valid identification cards since he knows them
personally. Heneraline Brosas and Herizalyn Brosas Pedrosa are sisters-in-law while Elmer
Alvarado is the live-in houseboy of the Brosas family.

ISSUE:
Whether or not Atty. Revilla violated Section3(c), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial
Practice.

RULING:
Yes. Indeed, Atty. Revilla, Jr. violated the disqualification rule under Section 3(c), Rule IV
of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. We agree with him, however, that his violation is not a
sufficient ground for disbarment.
Atty. Revilla, Jr.’s violation of the aforesaid disqualification rule is beyond dispute. Atty.
Revilla, Jr. readily admitted that he notarized the complaint-affidavit signed by his relatives within
the fourth civil degree of affinity. Section 3(c), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice
clearly disqualifies him from notarizing the complaint-affidavit, from performing the notarial act,
since two of the affiants or principals are his relatives within the fourth civil degree of affinity.
Let it be impressed that Atty. Revilla, Jr. was clearly disqualified to notarize the complaint-
affidavit of his relatives within the fourth civil degree of affinity. While he has a valid defense as to
the second charge, it does not exempt him from liability for violating the disqualification rule.
Considering the attendant circumstances and the single violation committed by Atty.
Revilla, Jr., we are in agreement that a punishment less severe than disbarment would suffice.
Atty. Quirino P. Revilla, Jr., was reprimanded and disqualified from being commissioned
as a notary public, or from performing any notarial act if he is presently commissioned as a notary
public, for a period of three (3) months.