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Pedro Linsangan vs Atty.

Nicomedes Tolentino
A.C. No. 6672
September 4, 2009

This is a complaint for disbarment[1] filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty.
Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services.
Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients [2]to transfer legal
representation. Respondent promised them financial assistance[3] and expeditious collection on their claims.[4] To induce them to
hire his services, he persistently called them and sent them text messages.

To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit[5] of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail
upon him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan
of P50,000. Complainant also attached respondents calling card:[6]

Front

NICOMEDES TOLENTINO
LAW OFFFICE
CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES
W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Fe Marie L. Labiano
Paralegal

1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01 Tel: 362-7820


6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar Fax: (632) 362-7821
Grace Park, Caloocan City Cel.: (0926) 2701719

Back
SERVICES OFFERED:
CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE
TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN
REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT,
INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH
AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS
ABROAD.
(emphasis supplied)
Hence, this complaint.

Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the said calling card. [7]

The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report and recommendation.[8]

Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and recommendation, [9] found that respondent had
encroached on the professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.02[10] and other canons[11] of the Code of Professional
Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he contravened the rule against soliciting cases for gain, personally or through paid agents or
brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 138[12]of the Rules of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be reprimanded
with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a heavier penalty.

We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent but we modify the recommended penalty.

The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent into complainants professional practice in violation of
Rule 8.02 of the CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said misconduct themselves constituted
distinct violations of ethical rules.

Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the manner by which a lawyers services are to be
made known. Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:

CANON 3 - A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS LEGAL SERVICES SHALL USE ONLY TRUE, HONEST,
FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTIVE INFORMATION OR STATEMENT OF FACTS.

Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise
their talents as merchants advertise their wares.[13] To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice
of law, degrade the profession in the publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high character of service to
which every member of the bar is called.[14]

Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides:

RULE 2.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT DO OR PERMIT TO BE DONE ANY ACT DESIGNED PRIMARILY TO
SOLICIT LEGAL BUSINESS.
Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or
brokers.[15] Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.[16]

Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides:

RULE 1.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT, FOR ANY CORRUPT MOTIVE OR INTEREST, ENCOURAGE ANY
SUIT OR PROCEEDING OR DELAY ANY MANS CAUSE.

This rule proscribes ambulance chasing (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through
an agent in order to gain employment)[17] as a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty.[18]
Complainant presented substantial evidence[19] (consisting of the sworn statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano
and referred to respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal business as well as profited from referrals suits.

Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he later admitted it during the mandatory hearing.

Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer
representation on the strength of Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result.
Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers
client nor induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services. [20] Again the
Court notes that respondent never denied having these seafarers in his client list nor receiving benefits from Labianos referrals.
Furthermore, he never denied Labianos connection to his office.[21] Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into
anothers legal practice. He cannot escape liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR.
Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04:

Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully protected by the nature
of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest
of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.
The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has
to advance necessary expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash bond or premium
for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is handling for the client.

The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so that the free exercise of his judgment may not
be adversely affected.[22] It seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his entire devotion and
fidelity to the clients cause. If the lawyer lends money to the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in effect acquires
an interest in the subject matter of the case or an additional stake in its outcome. [23] Either of these circumstances may lead the
lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client, or to accept a settlement which may take care of his interest in
the verdict to the prejudice of the client in violation of his duty of undivided fidelity to the clients cause.[24]
As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice[25] which calls for the exercise of the Courts disciplinary
powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for initiating contact with a prospective client for the
purpose of obtaining employment.[26] Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect the public from the Machiavellian
machinations of unscrupulous lawyers and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession.

Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the prohibition on lending money to clients), the
sanction recommended by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist.The proposed penalty is grossly
incommensurate to its findings.

A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyers best advertisement is a well-merited reputation
for professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and conduct. [27] For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to
announce their services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional cards.
Professional calling cards may only contain the following details:

(a) lawyers name;


(b) name of the law firm with which he is connected;
(c) address;
(d) telephone number and
(e) special branch of law practiced.[28]

Labianos calling card contained the phrase with financial assistance. The phrase was clearly used to entice clients
(who already had representation) to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance their legal actions. Money was dangled to
lure clients away from their original lawyers, thereby taking advantage of their financial distress and emotional vulnerability. This
crass commercialism degraded the integrity of the bar and deserved no place in the legal profession. However, in the absence of
substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly
responsible for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling cards.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
a period of one year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same
or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and
be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator to be circulated to all courts.
Jesus Ma. Cui vs Antonio Ma. Cui, et. al.
GR No. L-18727
August 31, 1964

This is a proving in quo warranto originally filed in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. The office in contention is that of
Administrator of the Hospicio de San Jose de Barili. Judgment was rendered on 27 April 1961 in favor of the plaintiff, Jesus Ma.
Cui, and appealed to us by the defendant, Antonio Ma. Cui, and by the intervenor, Romulo Cui.

The Hospicio is a charitable institution established by the spouses Don Pedro Cui and Doña Benigna Cui, now deceased, "for the
care and support, free of charge, of indigent invalids, and incapacitated and helpless persons." It acquired corporate existence by
legislation (Act No. 3239 of the Philippine Legislature passed 27 November 1925) and endowed with extensive properties by the
said spouses through a series of donations, principally the deed of donation executed on 2 January 1926.

Section 2 of Act No. 3239 gave the initial management to the founders jointly and, in case of their incapacity or death, to "such
persons as they may nominate or designate, in the order prescribed to them." Section 2 of the deed of donation provides as
follows:

Que en caso de nuestro fallecimiento o incapacidad para administrar, nos sustituyan nuestro legitime sobrino Mariano
Cui, si al tiempo de nuestra muerte o incapacidad se hallare residiendo en la caudad de Cebu, y nuestro sobrino
politico Dionisio Jakosalem. Si nuestro dicho sobrino Mariano Cui no estuviese residiendo entonces en la caudad de
Cebu, designamos en su lugar a nuestro otro sobrino legitime Mauricio Cui. Ambos sobrinos administraran
conjuntamente el HOSPICIO DE SAN JOSE DE BARILI. A la muerte o incapacidad de estos dos administradores, la
administracion del HOSPICIO DE SAN JOSE DE BARILI pasara a una sola persona que sera el varon, mayor de
edad, que descienda legitimainente de cualquiera de nuestros sobrinos legitimos Mariano Cui, Mauricio Cui, Vicente
Cui y Victor Cui, y que posea titulo de abogado, o medico, o ingeniero civil, o farmaceutico, o a falta de estos titulos, el
que pague al Estado mayor impuesto o contribution. En igualdad de circumstancias, sera preferida el varon de mas
edad descendiente de quien tenia ultimamente la administracion. Cuando absolutamente faltare persona de estas
cualificaciones, la administracion del HOSPICIO DE SAN JOSE DE BARILI pasara al senor Obispo de Cebu o quien
sea el mayor dignatario de la Iglesia Catolica, apostolica, Romana, que tuviere asiento en la cabecera de esta
Provincia de Cebu, y en su defecto, al Gobierno Provincial de Cebu.

Don Pedro Cui died in 1926, and his widow continued to administer the Hospicio until her death in 1929. Thereupon the
administration passed to Mauricio Cui and Dionisio Jakosalem. The first died on 8 May 1931 and the second on 1 July 1931. On
2 July 1931 Dr. Teodoro Cui, only son of Mauricio Cui, became the administrator. Thereafter, beginning in 1932, a series of
controversies and court litigations ensued concerning the position of administrator, to which, in so far as they are pertinent to the
present case, reference will be made later in this decision.

Plaintiff Jesus Ma. Cui and defendant Antonio Ma. Cui are brothers, being the sons of Mariano Cui, one of the nephews of the
spouses Don Pedro Cui and Doña Benigna Cui. On 27 February 1960 the then incumbent administrator, Dr. Teodoro Cui,
resigned in favor of Antonio Ma. Cui pursuant to a "convenio" entered into between them and embodied in a notarial document.
The next day, 28 February, Antonio Ma. Cui took his oath of office. Jesus Ma. Cui, however, had no prior notice of either the
"convenio" or of his brother's assumption of the position.

Dr. Teodoro Cui died on 27 August 1960; on 5 September 1960 the plaintiff wrote a letter to the defendant demanding that the
office be turned over to him; and on 13 September 1960, the demand not having been complied with the plaintiff filed the
complaint in this case. Romulo Cui later on intervened, claiming a right to the same office, being a grandson of Vicente Cui,
another one of the nephews mentioned by the founders of the Hospicio in their deed of donation.

As between Jesus and Antonio the main issue turns upon their respective qualifications to the position of administrator. Jesus is
the older of the two and therefore under equal circumstances would be preferred pursuant to section 2 of the deed of donation.
However, before the test of age may be, applied the deed gives preference to the one, among the legitimate descendants of the
nephews therein named, "que posea titulo de abogado, o medico, o ingeniero civil, o farmaceutico, o a falta de estos titulos el
que pague al estado mayor impuesto o contribucion."

The specific point in dispute is the mealing of the term "titulo de abogado." Jesus Ma. Cui holds the degree of Bachelor of Laws
from the University of Santo Tomas (Class 1926) but is not a member of the Bar, not having passed the examinations to qualify
him as one. Antonio Ma. Cui, on the other hand, is a member of the Bar and although disbarred by this Court on 29 March 1957
(administrative case No. 141), was reinstated by resolution promulgated on 10 February 1960, about two weeks before he
assumed the position of administrator of the Hospicio de Barili.

The Court a quo, in deciding this point in favor of the plaintiff, said that the phrase "titulo de abogado," taken alone, means that of
a full-fledged lawyer, but that has used in the deed of donation and considering the function or purpose of the administrator, it
should not be given a strict interpretation but a liberal one," and therefore means a law degree or diploma of Bachelor of Laws.
This ruling is assailed as erroneous both by the defendant and by the intervenor.

We are of the opinion, that whether taken alone or in context the term "titulo de abogado" means not mere possession of the
academic degree of Bachelor of Laws but membership in the Bar after due admission thereto, qualifying one for the practice of
law. In Spanish the word "titulo" is defined as "testimonies o instrumento dado para ejercer un empleo, dignidad o profesion"
(Diccionario de la Lengua Española, Real Academia Espanola, 1947 ed., p. 1224) and the word "abogado," as follows: "Perito en
el derecho positivo que se dedica a defender en juicio, por escrito o de palabra, los derechos o intereses de los litigantes, y
tambien a dar dictmen sobre las cuestiones o puntos legales que se le consultan (Id., p.5) A Bachelor's degree alone, conferred
by a law school upon completion of certain academic requirements, does not entitle its holder to exercise the legal profession.
The English equivalent of "abogado" is lawyer or attorney-at-law. This term has a fixed and general signification, and has
reference to that class of persons who are by license officers of the courts, empowered to appear, prosecute and defend, and
upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence.

In this jurisdiction admission to the Bar and to the practice of law is under the authority of the Supreme Court. According to Rule
138 such admission requires passing the Bar examinations, taking the lawyer's oath and receiving a certificate from the Clerk of
Court, this certificate being his license to practice the profession. The academic degree of Bachelor of Laws in itself has little to
do with admission to the Bar, except as evidence of compliance with the requirements that an applicant to the examinations has
"successfully completed all the prescribed courses, in a law school or university, officially approved by the Secretary of
Education." For this purpose, however, possession of the degree itself is not indispensable: completion of the prescribed courses
may be shown in some other way. Indeed there are instances, particularly under the former Code of Civil Procedure, where
persons who had not gone through any formal legal education in college were allowed to take the Bar examinations and to
qualify as lawyers. (Section 14 of that code required possession of "the necessary qualifications of learning ability.") Yet certainly
it would be incorrect to say that such persons do not possess the "titulo de abogado" because they lack the academic degree of
Bachelor of Laws from some law school or university.

The founders of the Hospicio de San Jose de Barili must have established the foregoing test advisely, and provided in the deed
of donation that if not a lawyer, the administrator should be a doctor or a civil engineer or a pharmacist, in that order; or failing all
these, should be the one who pays the highest taxes among those otherwise qualified. A lawyer, first of all, because under Act
No. 3239 the managers or trustees of the Hospicio shall "make regulations for the government of said institution (Sec. 3, b); shall
"prescribe the conditions subject to which invalids and incapacitated and destitute persons may be admitted to the institute" (Sec.
3, d); shall see to it that the rules and conditions promulgated for admission are not in conflict with the provisions of the Act; and
shall administer properties of considerable value — for all of which work, it is to be presumed, a working knowledge of the law
and a license to practice the profession would be a distinct asset.

Under this particular criterion we hold that the plaintiff is not entitled, as against the defendant, to the office of administrator. But it
is argued that although the latter is a member of the Bar he is nevertheless disqualified by virtue of paragraph 3 of the deed of
donation, which provides that the administrator may be removed on the ground, among others, of ineptitude in the discharge of
his office or lack of evident sound moral character. Reference is made to the fact that the defendant was disbarred by this Court
on 29 March 1957 for immorality and unprofessional conduct. It is also a fact, however, that he was reinstated on 10 February
1960, before he assumed the office of administrator. His reinstatement is a recognition of his moral rehabilitation, upon proof no
less than that required for his admission to the Bar in the first place.

Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court,
without prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1äwphï1.ñët

Whether or not the applicant shall be reinstated rests to a great extent in the sound discretion of the court. The court
action will depend, generally speaking, on whether or not it decides that the public interest in the orderly and impartial
administration of justice will be conserved by the applicant's participation therein in the capacity of an attorney and
counselor at law. The applicant must, like a candidate for admission to the bar, satisfy the court that he is a person of
good moral character — a fit and proper person to practice law. The court will take into consideration the applicant's
character and standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and character of the charge for which he was disbarred, his
conduct subsequent to the disbarment, and the time that has elapsed between the disbarment and the application for
reinstatement. (5 Am. Jur., Sec. 301, p. 443)

Evidence of reformation is required before applicant is entitled to reinstatement, notwithstanding the attorney has
received a pardon following his conviction, and the requirements for reinstatement have been held to be the same as
for original admission to the bar, except that the court may require a greater degree of proof than in an original
admission. (7 C.J.S., Attorney & Client, Sec. 41, p. 815.)

The decisive questions on an application for reinstatement are whether applicant is "of good moral character" in the
sense in which that phrase is used when applied to attorneys-at-law and is a fit and proper person to be entrusted with
the privileges of the office of an attorney, and whether his mental qualifications are such as to enable him to discharge
efficiently his duty to the public, and the moral attributes are to be regarded as a separate and distinct from his mental
qualifications. (7 C.J.S., Attorney & Client, Sec. 41, p. 816).

As far as moral character is concerned, the standard required of one seeking reinstatement to the office of attorney cannot be
less exacting than that implied in paragraph 3 of the deed of donation as a requisite for the office which is disputed in this case.
When the defendant was restored to the roll of lawyers the restrictions and disabilities resulting from his previous disbarment
were wiped out.

This action must fail on one other ground: it is already barred by lapse of time amounting the prescription or laches. Under
Section 16 of Rule 66 (formerly sec. 16, Rule 68, taken from section 216 of Act 190), this kind of action must be filed within one
(1) year after the right of plaintiff to hold the office arose.

Plaintiff Jesus Ma. Cui believed himself entitled to the office in question as long ago as 1932. On January 26 of that year he filed
a complaint in quo warranto against Dr. Teodoro Cui, who assumed the administration of the Hospicio on 2 July 1931. Mariano
Cui, the plaintiff's father and Antonio Ma. Cui came in as intervenors. The case was dismissed by the Court of First Instance
upon a demurrer by the defendant there to the complaint and complaint in intervention. Upon appeal to the Supreme Court from
the order of dismissal, the case was remanded for further proceedings (Cui v. Cui, 60 Phil. 37, 48). The plaintiff, however, did not
prosecute the case as indicated in the decision of this Court, but acceded to an arrangement whereby Teodoro Cui continued as
administrator, Mariano Cui was named "legal adviser" and plaintiff Jesus Ma. Cui accepted a position as assistant administrator.
Subsequently the plaintiff tried to get the position by a series of extra-judicial maneuvers. First he informed the Social Welfare
Commissioner, by letter dated 1 February 1950, that as of the previous 1 January he had "made clear" his intention of occupying
the office of administrator of the Hospicio." He followed that up with another letter dated 4 February, announcing that he had
taken over the administration as of 1 January 1950. Actually, however, he took his oath of office before a notary public only on 4
March 1950, after receiving a reply of acknowledgment, dated 2 March, from the Social Welfare Commissioner, who thought that
he had already assumed the position as stated in his communication of 4 February 1950. The rather muddled situation was
referred by the Commissioner to the Secretary of Justice, who, in an opinion dated 3 April 1950 (op. No. 45, S. 1950), correcting
another opinion previously given, in effect ruled that the plaintiff, not beings lawyer, was not entitled to the administration of
the Hospicio.

Meanwhile, the question again became the subject of a court controversy. On 4 March 1950, the Hospicio commenced an action
against the Philippine National Bank in the Court of First Instance of Cebu (Civ. No. R-1216) because the Bank had frozen
the Hospicio's deposits therein. The Bank then filed a third-party complaint against herein plaintiff-appellee, Jesus Ma. Cui, who
had, as stated above, taken oath as administrator. On 19 October 1950, having been deprived of recognition by the opinion of
the Secretary of Justice he moved to dismiss the third-party complaint on the ground that he was relinquishing "temporarily" his
claim to the administration of the Hospicio. The motion was denied in an order dated 2 October 1953. On 6 February 1954 he
was able to take another oath of office as administrator before President Magsaysay, and soon afterward filed a second motion
to dismiss in Civil case No. R-1216. President Magsaysay, be it said, upon learning that a case was pending in Court, stated in a
telegram to his Executive Secretary that "as far as (he) was concerned the court may disregard the oath" thus taken. The motion
to dismiss was granted nevertheless and the other parties in the case filed their notice of appeal from the order of dismissal. The
plaintiff then filed an ex-parte motion to be excluded as party in the appeal and the trial Court again granted the motion. This was
on 24 November 1954. Appellants thereupon instituted a mandamus proceeding in the Supreme Court (G.R. No. L-8540), which
was decided on 28 May 1956, to the effect that Jesus Ma. Cui should be included in the appeal. That appeal, however, after it
reached this Court was dismiss upon motion of the parties, who agreed that "the office of administrator and trustee of
the Hospicio ... should be ventilated in quo warranto proceedings to be initiated against the incumbent by whomsoever is not
occupying the office but believes he has a right to it" (G.R. No. L-9103). The resolution of dismissal was issued 31 July 1956. At
that time the incumbent administrator was Dr. Teodoro Cui, but no action in quo warranto was filed against him by plaintiff Jesus
Ma. Cui as indicated in the aforesaid motion for dismissal.

On 10 February 1960, defendant Antonio Ma. Cui was reinstated by this Court as member of the Bar, and on the following 27
February Dr. Teodoro Cui resigned as administrator in his favor, pursuant to the "convenio" between them executed on the same
date. The next day Antonio Ma. Cui took his oath of office.

The failure of the plaintiff to prosecute his claim judicially after this Court decided the first case of Cui v. Cui in 1934 (60 Phil.
3769), remanding it to the trial court for further proceedings; his acceptance instead of the position of assistant administrator,
allowing Dr. Teodoro Cui to continue as administrator and his failure to file an action in quo warranto against said Dr. Cui after 31
July 1956, when the appeal in Civil Case No. R-1216 of the Cebu Court was dismissed upon motion of the parties precisely so
that the conflicting claims of the parties could be ventilated in such an action — all these circumstances militate against the
plaintiff's present claim in view of the rule that an action in quo warranto must be filed within one year after the right of the plaintiff
to hold the office arose. The excuse that the plaintiff did not file an action against Dr. Teodoro Cui after 31 July 1956 because of
the latter's illness did not interrupt the running of the statutory period. And the fact that this action was filed within one year of the
defendant's assumption of office in September 1960 does not make the plaintiff's position any better, for the basis of the action is
his own right to the office and it is from the time such right arose that the one-year limitation must be counted, not from the date
the incumbent began to discharge the duties of said office. Bautista v. Fajardo, 38 Phil. 624; Lim vs. Yulo, 62 Phil. 161.

Now for the claim of intervenor and appellant Romulo Cui. This party is also a lawyer, grandson of Vicente Cui, one of the
nephews of the founders of the Hospicio mentioned by them in the deed of donation. He is further, in the line of succession, than
defendant Antonio Ma. Cui, who is a son of Mariano Cui, another one of the said nephews. The deed of donation provides: "a la
muerte o incapacidad de estos administradores (those appointed in the deed itself) pasara a una sola persona que sera el varon,
mayor de edad, que descienda legitimamente de cualquiera de nuestros sobrinos legitimos Mariano Cui, Mauricio Cui, Vicente
Cui, Victor Cui, y que posea titulo de abogado ... En igualdad de circumstancias, sera preferido el varon de mas edad
descendiente de quien tenia ultimamente la administration." Besides being a nearer descendant than Romulo Cui, Antonio Ma.
Cui is older than he and therefore is preferred when the circumstances are otherwise equal. The intervenor contends that the
intention of the founders was to confer the administration by line and successively to the descendants of the nephews named in
the deed, in the order they are named. Thus, he argues, since the last administrator was Dr. Teodoro Cui, who belonged to the
Mauricio Cui line, the next administrator must come from the line of Vicente Cui, to whom the intervenor belongs. This
interpretation, however, is not justified by the terms of the deed of donation.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the judgment appealed from is reversed and set aside, and the complaint
as well as the complaint in intervention are dismissed, with costs equally against plaintiff-appellee and intervenor-appellant.
RE: REPORT ON THE FINANCIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED ON THE BOOKS OF ACCOUNTS OF ATTY. RAQUEL G. KHO,
CLERK OF COURT IV, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, ORAS, EASTERN SAMAR .
A.M. No. P-06-2177 (Formerly A.M. No. 06-4-268-RTC)
June 27, 2006

This administrative case is a result of the audit conducted by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) of the books of
accounts of Atty. Raquel G. Kho, former clerk of court of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, Oras, Eastern Samar. The audit
covered the period March 1985 to October 31, 2005.

The OCA, in its memorandum dated April 18, 2006, had the following findings: (1) there was a shortage of P545.00 in
remittances to the General Fund; (2) a cash shortage of P24.00 in the Sheriff’s General Fund; and (3) Atty. Kho did not deposit
on time in the authorized depository bank the collections for the Fiduciary Fund (P60,000) and Special Allowance for the
Judiciary Fund (P5,000). It also noted that Atty. Kho had already restituted the P545.00 and P24.00 cash shortages.

Regarding the delayed remittance of the amount of P60,000 representing the amount of a confiscated cash bond, Kho explained
that the Land Bank of the Philippines (the authorized depository bank) had no branch in their locality. The nearest Land Bank
branch was approximately 95 kilometers away so it was his practice to keep his collections in the court’s safety vault.

On the other hand, the amount of P5,000 was collected as filing fee for an election protest. According to Kho, this was collected
under Rule 40 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Rules of Procedure. In defense, he presented a letter addressed to
Senior Deputy Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepaño inquiring where to remit said amount. The OCA, through Deputy Court
Administrator Jose P. Perez, responded that pending official instructions on how to manage the money collected under Rule 40
of the COMELEC Rules, it was to be treated as trust deposits and temporarily deposited in the Fiduciary Fund.1 However, Kho
failed to do this.

Consequently, the audit team advised him to deposit the P5,000 in the Special Allowance for the Judiciary Fund as provided
under Sec. 21 (g) of the amended Administrative Circular No. 35-2004.2 He was also advised to deposit the confiscated P60,000
cash bond in the Judicial Development Fund account. He complied with both directives on November 15, 2005.

On January 26, 2006, the OCA received a letter-complaint with the information that Kho, along with his alleged common-law-
wife, stenographer Riza Amor L. Libanan, was engaged in lending out to court employees money in his possession as clerk of
court, personally deriving profit from the interest earned.

The OCA found Kho liable for violating OCA Circular No. 8A-933 dated April 21, 1993 when he kept the funds in a safety vault for
more than a year. All clerks of lower courts are supposed to deposit all collections from bail bonds, rental deposits and other
fiduciary collections with the Land Bank upon receipt thereof. Thus, it recommended that (1) the audit report be docketed as a
regular administrative complaint against Kho and (2) a fine in the amount of P10,000 be imposed on him.

We agree with the OCA’s recommendations.

Public office is a public trust.4 Those charged with the dispensation of justice, from the justices and judges to the lowliest clerks,
should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility.5 Not only must their conduct at all times be characterized by
propriety and decorum but, above all else, it must be beyond suspicion.6

A clerk of court, aside from being the custodian of the court’s funds, revenues, property and premises, is also entrusted with the
primary responsibility of correctly and effectively implementing regulations regarding fiduciary funds. 7 Safekeeping of funds and
collections is essential to an orderly administration of justice and no protestation of good faith can override the mandatory nature
of the circulars designed to promote full accountability for government funds.8 Clerks of court have always been reminded of their
duty to immediately deposit the various funds received by them to the authorized government depositories for they are not
supposed to keep funds in their custody.9

Kho failed to make a timely turn-over of cash deposited with him. This was inexcusable because he could have purchased postal
money orders from the local post office payable to the chief accountant, Accounting Division, FMO-OCA. The money could have
earned interest had he not kept them in the vault for over a year.10 As found by the OCA, although Kho had restituted all his cash
accountabilities, he was nevertheless liable for failing to immediately deposit the collections for the judiciary funds.

The failure to remit the funds in due time constitutes gross dishonesty and gross misconduct. It diminishes the faith of the people
in the Judiciary.11 Dishonesty, being in the nature of a grave offense, carries the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service
even if committed for the first time. However, Kho showed remorse by immediately restituting the cash shortages and complying
with the directives of the audit team. And considering that this is his first offense, we find that the penalty of P10,000 fine is
sufficient.

We note that Kho has already transferred to the Department of Justice. However, it neither renders this matter moot nor frees
him from liability.

Moreover, his misconduct reflects on his fitness as a member of the bar. His malfeasance prima facie contravenes Canon
1,12 Rule 1.0113 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Hence, he should explain why no further disciplinary sanction should
be imposed on him.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Raquel G. Kho is hereby found GUILTY of gross misconduct for his failure to make timely remittance of
judiciary funds in his custody. He is ordered to pay a FINE of P10,000 within ten (10) days from receipt of this resolution.
Rosauro P. Cordon vs Jesus Balicanta
A.C. No. 2797
October 4, 2002

On August 21, 1985, herein complainant Rosaura Cordon filed with this Court a complaint for disbarment, docketed as
Administrative Case No. 2797, against Atty. Jesus Balicanta. After respondent’s comment to the complaint and complainant’s
reply thereto, this Court, on March 29, 1995 referred the matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP, for brevity) for
investigation, report and recommendation within 90 days from notice. Commissioner George Briones of the IBP Commission on
Bar Discipline was initially tasked to investigate the case. Commissioner Briones was later on replaced by Commissioner Renato
Cunanan. Complainant filed a supplemental complaint which was duly admitted and, as agreed upon, the parties filed their
respective position papers.

Based on her complaint, supplemental complaint, reply and position paper, the complainant alleged the following facts:

When her husband Felixberto C. Jaldon died, herein complainant Rosaura Cordon and her daughter Rosemarie inherited the
properties left by the said decedent. All in all, complainant and her daughter inherited 21 parcels of land located in Zamboanga
City. The lawyer who helped her settle the estate of her late husband was respondent Jesus Balicanta.

Sometime in the early part of 1981, respondent enticed complainant and her daughter to organize a corporation that would
develop the said real properties into a high-scale commercial complex with a beautiful penthouse for complainant. Relying on
these apparently sincere proposals, complainant and her daughter assigned 19 parcels of land to Rosaura Enterprises,
Incorporated, a newly-formed and duly registered corporation in which they assumed majority ownership. The subject parcels of
land were then registered in the name of the corporation.

Thereafter, respondent single-handedly ran the affairs of the corporation in his capacity as Chairman of the Board, President,
General Manager and Treasurer. The respondent also made complainant sign a document which turned out to be a voting trust
agreement. Respondent likewise succeeded in making complainant sign a special power of attorney to sell and mortgage some
of the parcels of land she inherited from her deceased husband. She later discovered that respondent transferred the titles of the
properties to a certain Tion Suy Ong who became the new registered owner thereof. Respondent never accounted for the
proceeds of said transfers.

In 1981, respondent, using a spurious board resolution, contracted a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP, for
brevity) in the amount of Two Million Two Hundred Twenty Pesos (P2,220,000) using as collateral 9 of the real properties that
the complainant and her daughter contributed to the corporation. The respondent ostensibly intended to use the money to
construct the Baliwasan Commercial Center (BCC, for brevity). Complainant later on found out that the structure was made of
poor materials such as sawali, coco lumber and bamboo which could not have cost the corporation anything close to the amount
of the loan secured.

For four years from the time the debt was contracted, respondent failed to pay even a single installment. As a result, the LBP, in
a letter dated May 22, 1985, informed respondent that the past due amortizations and interest had already accumulated to Seven
Hundred Twenty-nine Thousand Five Hundred Three Pesos and Twenty-five Centavos (P729,503.25). The LBP made a demand
on respondent for payment for the tenth time. Meanwhile, when the BCC commenced its operations, respondent started to earn
revenues from the rentals of BCC’s tenants. On October 28, 1987, the LBP foreclosed on the 9 mortgaged properties due to non-
payment of the loan.

Respondent did not exert any effort to redeem the foreclosed properties. Worse, he sold the corporation’s right to redeem the
mortgaged properties to a certain Hadji Mahmud Jammang through a fake board resolution dated January 14, 1989 which
clothed himself with the authority to do so. Complainant and her daughter, the majority stockholders, were never informed of the
alleged meeting held on that date. Again, respondent never accounted for the proceeds of the sale of the right to redeem.
Respondent also sold to Jammang a parcel of land belonging to complainant and her daughter which was contiguous to the
foreclosed properties and evidenced by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 62807. He never accounted for the proceeds of the sale.

Sometime in 1983, complainant’s daughter, Rosemarie, discovered that their ancestral home had been demolished and that her
mother, herein complainant, was being detained in a small nipa shack in a place called Culianan. Through the help of Atty. Linda
Lim, Rosemarie was able to locate her mother. Rosemarie later learned that respondent took complainant away from her house
on the pretext that said ancestral home was going to be remodeled and painted. But respondent demolished the ancestral home
and sold the lot to Tion Suy Ong, using another spurious board resolution designated as Board Resolution No. 1, series of 1992.
The resolution contained the minutes of an alleged organizational meeting of the directors of the corporation and was signed by
Alexander Wee, Angel Fernando, Erwin Fernando and Gabriel Solivar. Complainant and her daughter did not know how these
persons became stockholders and directors of the corporation. Respondent again did not account for the proceeds of the sale.

Complainant and her daughter made several demands on respondent for the delivery of the real properties they allegedly
assigned to the corporation, for an accounting of the proceeds of the LBP loan and as well as the properties sold, and for the
rentals earned by BCC. But the demands remained unheeded. Hence, complainant and her daughter, in a letter dated June 4,
1985, terminated the services of respondent as their lawyer and repeated their demands for accounting and turn-over of the
corporate funds, and the return of the 19 titles that respondent transferred to the corporation. They also threatened him with legal
action in a letter dated August 3, 1985.

Soon after, complainant found out from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC, for brevity) that Rosaura Enterprises,
Inc., due to respondent’s refusal and neglect, failed to submit the corporation’s annual financial statements for 1981, 1982 and
1983; SEC General Information Sheets for 1982, 1983 and 1984; Minutes of Annual Meetings for 1982, 1983 and 1984; and
Minutes of Annual Meetings of Directors for 1982, 1983 and 1984.
Complainant also discovered that respondent collected rental payments from the tenants of BCC and issued handwritten receipts
which he signed, not as an officer of the corporation but as the attorney-at-law of complainant. Respondent also used the tennis
court of BCC to dry his palay and did not keep the buildings in a satisfactory state, so much so that the divisions were losing
plywood and other materials to thieves.

Complainant likewise accused respondent of circulating rumors among her friends and relatives that she had become insane to
prevent them from believing whatever complainant said. According to complainant, respondent proposed that she legally
separate from her present husband so that the latter would not inherit from her and that respondent be adopted as her son.

For his defense, respondent, in his comment and position paper, denied employing deceit and machination in convincing
complainant and her daughter to assign their real properties to the corporation; that they freely and voluntary executed the deeds
of assignment and the voting trust agreement that they signed; that he did not single-handedly manage the corporation as
evidenced by certifications of the officers and directors of the corporation; that he did not use spurious board resolutions
authorizing him to contract a loan or sell the properties assigned by the complainant and her daughter; that complainant and her
daughter should be the ones who should render an accounting of the records and revenues inasmuch as, since 1984 up to the
present, the part-time corporate book-keeper, with the connivance of the complainant and her daughter, had custody of the
corporate records; that complainant and her daughter sabotaged the operation of BCC when they illegally took control of it in
1986; that he never pocketed any of the proceeds of the properties contributed by the complainant and her daughter; that the
demolition of the ancestral home followed legal procedures; that complainant was never detained in Culianan but she freely and
voluntarily lived with the family of P03 Joel Constantino as evidenced by complainant’s own letter denying she was kidnapped;
and that the instant disbarment case should be dismissed for being premature, considering the pendency of cases before the
SEC and the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga involving him and complainant.

Based on the pleadings and position papers submitted by the parties, Commissioner Renato Cunanan, in his report 1dated July 1,
1999, recommended respondent’s disbarment based on the following findings:

"A. The complainant, Rosaura Jaldon-Cordon and her daughter, Rosemarie were stockholders of a corporation,
together with respondent, named Rosaura Enterprises, Inc.

"Per the Articles of Incorporation marked as Annex ‘A’ of Complainant’s Position Paper, complainant’s subscription
consists of 55% of the outstanding capital stock while her daughter’s consists of 18%, giving them a total of 73%.
Respondent’s holdings consist of 24% while three other incorporators, Rosauro L. Alvarez, Vicente T. Mañalac and
Darhan S. Graciano each held 1% of the capital stock of the corporation.

"B. On April 5, 1981, complainant and her daughter Rosemarie Jaldon executed two Deeds of Transfer and
Assignment conveying and transferring to the corporation 19 parcels of land in exchange for shares of stock in the
corporation.

"x x x xxx xxx

"C. Both Deeds of Assignment particularly page 3 thereof indicate that respondent accepted said assignment of
properties and titles in behalf of the corporation as Treasurer. The deeds were signed on April 5, 1981.

"x x x xxx xxx

"Together, therefore, complainant and her daughter owned 1,711 shares of the 1,750 shares comprising the authorized
capital stock of the corporation of 97% thereof.

"No increase in capitalization was applied for by the corporation.

"F. Respondent claims in his Comment, his Answer and his Position Paper that on April 4, 1981 he was elected as
Chairman and Director and on April 5, 1981 he was elected President of the corporation. Respondent’s own Annexes
marked as ‘G’ and ‘G-1’ of his Comment show that on April 4, 1981 he was not only elected as Chairman and Director
as he claims but as ‘Director, Board Chairman and President.’ The purported minutes was only signed by respondent
and an acting Secretary by the name of Vicente Mañalac.

"Said Annex does not show who was elected Treasurer.

"Respondent’s Annex ‘H’ and ‘H-1’ shows that in the alleged organizational meeting of the directors on April 5, 1981 a
certain Farnacio Bucoy was elected Treasurer. Bucoy’s name does not appear as an incorporator nor a stockholder
anywhere in the documents submitted.

"The purported minutes of the organizational meeting of the directors was signed only by respondent Balicanta and a
Secretary named Verisimo Martin.

"G. Since respondent was elected as Director, Chairman and President on April 4, 1981 as respondent’s own Annexes
‘G’ to ‘G-1’ would show, then complainant’s claim that respondent was likewise acting as Treasurer of two corporations
bear truth and credence as respondent signed and accepted the titles to 19 parcels of land ceded by the complainant
and her daughter, as Treasurer on April 5, 1981 after he was already purportedly elected as Chairman, President and
Director.
"H. Respondent misleads the Commission into believing that all the directors signed the minutes marked as Exhibit ‘H’
to ‘H-1’ by stating that the same was ‘duly signed by all the Board of Directors’ when the document itself shows that
only he and one Verisimo Martin signed the same.

"He also claims that ‘all the stockholders signed’ the minutes of organizational meeting marked as Annexes ‘G’ and ‘G-
1’ of his Comment yet the same shows that only the acting Chairman and acting Secretary signed.

"I. Respondent claims that the Board or its representative was authorized by the stockholders comprising 2/3 of the
outstanding capital stock, as required by law, to mortgage the parcels of land belonging to the corporation, which were
all assigned to the corporation by complainant and her daughter, by virtue of Annex ‘I’ and ‘I-1’: attached to his
Comment.

"The subject attachment however reveals that only the following persons signed their conformity to the said resolution:
respondent Balicanta who owned 109 shares, Vicente Mañalac (1 share), Daihan Graciano (1 share).

"Complainants who collectively held a total of 1,711 shares out of the 1,750 outstanding capital stock of the corporation
were not represented in the purported stockholders’ meeting authorizing the mortgage of the subject properties.

"The 2/3 vote required by law was therefore not complied with yet respondent proceeded to mortgage the subject 9
parcels of land by the corporation.

"J. Respondent further relies on Annex ‘J’ of his Comment, purportedly the minutes of a special meeting of the Board of
Directors authorizing him to obtain a loan and mortgage the properties of the corporation dated August 29, 1981. This
claim is baseless. The required ratification of 2/3 by the stockholders of records was not met. Again, respondent
attempts to mislead the Commission and Court.

"K. Further, the constitution of the Board is dubious. The alleged minutes of the organizational meeting of the
stockholders electing the members of the Board, have not been duly signed by the stockholders as shown in
respondent’s annex ‘G’ which was purportedly the organizational meeting of the stockholders.

"L. Also, Annex ‘J’ of respondent’s Comment which purportedly authorized him to obtain a loan and to mortgage the 9
parcels of land was only signed by himself and a secretary.

"M. In said Annex 'J' of respondent’s Comment he stated that complainant Rosaura Cordon was on leave by virtue of a
voting trust agreement allegedly executed by complainant ‘in his favor covering all her shares of stock.’ The claim is
baseless. The voting trust referred to by respondent (annex ‘D’ of his Comment), even if it were assumed to be valid,
covered only 266 shares of complainants yet she owned a total of 1,039 shares after she and her daughter ceded in
favor of the corporation 19 parcels of land.

"Being a former lawyer to complainant, respondent should have ensured that her interest was safeguarded. Yet,
complainant was apparently and deliberately left our (sic) on the pretext that, she had executed a voting trust
agreement in favor of respondent.

"It is suspicious that complainant was made to sign a voting trust agreement on 21 August 1981 and immediately
thereafter, the resolutions authorizing respondent to obtain a loan and to mortgage the 9 parcels of land were passed
and approved.

"N. It is also highly irregular for respondent who is a lawyer, to allow a situation to happen where, with the exclusion of
complainant as director the result was that there remained only 4 members of the Board,.

"O. Respondent’s own pleadings submitted to the Commission contradict each other.

"1. For instance, while in his Comment respondent DENIES that he employed deceit and machination in
convincing the complainant and her daughter to sign the articles of incorporation of Rosaura Enterprises and
in ceding to the corporation 19 parcels of land in Zamboanga City, because ‘they freely, intelligently and
voluntarily signed’ the same, yet, in his Position Paper, respondent took another stance.

"In paragraphs 1.1 and 1.2 of his Position Paper which was submitted 12 years later, respondent claimed
that ‘it was actually the idea of Atty. Rosaura L. Alvarez’ that a corporation be put up to incorporate the estate
of the late Felixberto D. Jaldon.

"2. Likewise, respondent claimed that complainant and her daughter were not directors, hence they were not
notified of meetings, in paragraph 2-6 (c) of his Comment he blamed the other stockholders and directors for
the corporation’s inability to comply with the Land Bank’s demands saying that they ‘have consistently failed
since 1982 to convene (1.) for the annual stockholders’ meetings and (i.i) for the monthly board meeting’.

"His own pleadings claim that he had been the Chairman/President since 1981 to the present. If (sic) so, it
was his duty to convene the stockholders and the directors for meetings.

"Respondent appeared able to convene the stockholders and directors when he needed to make a loan of
p2.2 million; when he sold the corporation’s right of redemption over the foreclosed properties of the
corporation to Jammang, when he sold one parcel of land covered by TCT 62,807 to Jammang in addition to
the 9 parcels of land which were foreclosed, and when he sold the complainant’s ancestral home covered by
TCT No. 72,004.

"It is thus strange why respondent claims that the corporation could not do anything to save the corporation’s
properties from being foreclosed because the stockholders and directors did not convene.

"This assertion of respondent is clearly evident of dishonest, deceitful and immoral conduct especially
because, in all his acts constituting conveyances of corporate property, respondent used minutes of
stockholders’ and directors’ meetings signed only by him and a secretary or signed by him and persons who
were not incorporators much less stockholders.

"It is worthy of note that in respondent’s Exhibits 15, 16, 17 and 18 of his position paper, there were 7 new
stockholders and complainant appeared to have only 266 shares to her name while her daughter Rosemarie
had no shares at all. Respondent did not present any proof of conveyance of shares by complainant and her
daughter.

"It is further worth noting that complainant’s voting trust (annex ‘D’ of respondent’s Comment) where she
allegedly entrusted 266 shares to respondent on August 21, 1981 had only a validity of 5 years. Thus, she
should have had her entire holdings of 1,283 shares back in her name in August 1986.

"Respondent’s purported minutes of stockholders’ meeting (Exhs. ‘15’ and ‘17’) do not reflect this.

"There was no explanation whatsoever from respondent on how complainant and her daughter lost their 97%
control holding in the corporation.

"3. As a further contradiction in respondent’s pleadings, we note that in paragraph 2.7.C of his Comment he
said that ‘only recently, this year, 1985, the complainant and her aforenamed daughter examined said
voluminous supporting receipts/documents which had previously been examined by the Land Bank for loan
releases, during which occasion respondent suggested to them that the corporation will have to hire a full-
time book-keeper to put in order said voluminous supporting receipts/documents, to which they adversely
reacted due to lack of corporate money to pay for said book-keeper.’ But in respondent’s Position Paper par.
6.3 he stated that:

‘Anyway, it is not the respondent but rather the complainant who should render a detailed accounting to the
corporation of the corporate records as well as corporate revenues/income precisely because since 1994 to
the present:

‘(a). The corporate part-time book-keeper Edilberto Benedicto, with the indispensable connivance and
instigation of the complainant and her daughter, among others, has custody of the corporate records, xxx’

"4. In other contradictory stance, respondent claims in par. 7.3 of his position paper that ‘complainant and her
daughter sabotaged the BCC operations of the corporation by illegally taking over actual control and
supervision thereof sometime in 1986, xxx’

"Yet respondent’s own exhibits in his position paper particularly Exhibit 15 and 16 where the subject of the
foreclosed properties of the corporation comprising the Baliwasan Commercial Center (BCC) was taken up,
complainant and her daughter were not even present nor were they the subject of the discussion, belying
respondent’s claim that the complainant and her daughter illegally took actual control of BCC.

"5. On the matter of the receipts issued by respondent evidencing payment to him of rentals by lessees of the
corporation, attached to the complaint as Annexes ‘H’ to ‘H-17’, respondent claims that the receipts are
temporary in nature and that subsequently regular corporate receipts were issued. On their face however the
receipts clearly appear to be official receipts, printed and numbered duly signed by the respondent bearing
his printed name.

"It is difficult to believe that a lawyer of respondent’ stature would issue official receipts to lessees if he only
meant to issue temporary ones.

"6. With regard to respondent’s claim that the complainant consented to the sale of her ancestral home,
covered by TCT No. T-72,004 to one Tion Suy Ong for which he attached as Exhibit 22 to his Position Paper
the minutes of an annual meeting of the stockholders, it behooves this Commission why complainant’s
signature had to be accompanied by her thumb mark. Furthermore, complainant’s signature appears
unstable and shaky. This Office is thus persuaded to believe complainant’s allegation in paragraph 3b of her
position paper that since September 1992 up to March 1993 she was being detained by one PO# (sic) Joel
Constantino and his wife under instructions from respondent Balicanta.

"This conclusion is supported by a letter from respondent dated March 1993, Annex ‘H’ of complainant’s
position paper, where respondent ordered Police Officer Constantino ‘to allow Atty. Linda Lim and Rosemarie
Jaldon to talk to Tita Rosing.’
"The complainant’s thumb mark together with her visibly unstable shaky signature lends credence to her
claim that she was detained in the far flung barrio of Culianan under instructions of respondent while her
ancestral home was demolished and the lot sold to one Tion Suy Ong.

"It appears that respondent felt compelled to over-ensure complainant’s consent by getting her to affix her
thumb mark in addition to her signature.

"7. Respondent likewise denies that he also acted as Corporate Secretary in addition to being the Chairman,
President and Treasurer of the corporation. Yet, respondent submitted to this commission documents which
are supported to be in the possession of the Corporate Secretary such as the stock and transfer book and
minutes of meetings.

"The foregoing findings of this Commission are virtual smoking guns that prove on no uncertain terms that
respondent, who was the legal counsel of complainant in the latter part of the settlement of the estate of her
deceased husband, committed unlawful, immoral and deceitful conduct proscribed by Rule 1.01 of the code
of professional responsibility.

"Likewise, respondent clearly committed a violation of Canon 15 of the same code which provides that ‘A
lawyer should observe candor fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his client.’

"Respondent’s acts gravely diminish the public’s respect for the integrity of the profession of law for which
this Commission recommends that he be meted the penalty of disbarment.

"The pendency of the cases at the SEC and the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga filed by complainant
against respondent does not preclude a determination of respondent’s culpability as a lawyer.

"This Commission cannot further delay the resolution of this complaint filed in 1985 by complainant, and old
widow who deserves to find hope and recover her confidence in the judicial system.

"The findings of this office, predominantly based on documents adduced by both parties lead to only one
rather unpalatable conclusion. That respondent Atty. Jesus F. Balicanta, in his professional relations with
herein complainant did in fact employ unlawful, dishonest, and immoral conduct proscribed in no uncertain
terms by Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. In addition, respondent’s actions clearly
violated Canon 15 to 16 of the same Code.

"It is therefore our unpleasant duty to recommend that respondent, having committed acts in violation of the
Canons of Professional Responsibility, thereby causing a great disservice to the profession, be meted the
ultimate sanction of disbarment."2

On September 30, 1999, while Commissioner Cunanan’s recommendation for respondent’s disbarment was pending review
before Executive Vice-President and Northern Luzon Governor Teofilo Pilando, respondent filed a motion requesting "for a full-
blown investigation and for invalidation of the entire proceedings and/or remedial action under Section 11, Rule 139-B, Revised
Rules of Court," alleging that he had evidence that Commissioner Cunanan’s report was drafted by the lawyers of complainant,
Attys. Antonio Cope and Rita Linda Jimeno. He presented two unsigned anonymous letters allegedly coming from a disgruntled
employee of Attys. Cope and Jimeno. He claimed to have received these letters in his mailbox.3

Respondent’s motion alleging that Attys. Antonio Cope and Rita Linda Jimeno drafted Commissioner Cunanan’s report was
accompanied by a complaint praying for the disbarment of said lawyers including Commissioner Cunanan. The complaint was
docketed as CBD Case No. 99-658. After Attys. Cope and Jimeno and Commissioner Cunanan filed their answers, a hearing
was conducted by the Investigating Committee of the IBP Board of Governors.

On May 26, 2001, the IBP Board of Governors issued a resolution4 dismissing for lack of merit the complaint for disbarment
against Attys. Cope and Jimeno and Commissioner Cunanan. And in Adm. Case No. 2797, the Board adopted and approved the
report and recommendation of Commissioner Cunanan, and meted against herein respondent Balicanta the penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for 5 years "for commission of acts of misconduct and disloyalty by taking undue and unfair
advantage of his legal knowledge as a lawyer to gain material benefit for himself at the expense of complainant Rosaura P.
Jaldon-Cordon and caused serious damage to the complainant."5

To support its decision, the Board uncovered respondent’s fraudulent acts in the very same documents he presented to
exonerate himself. It also took note of respondent’s contradictory and irreconcilable statements in the pleadings and position
papers he submitted. However, it regarded the penalty of disbarment as too severe for respondent’s misdeeds, considering that
the same were his first offense.6

Pursuant to Section 12 (b), Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court,7 the said resolution in Administrative Case No. 2797 imposing the
penalty of suspension for 5 years on respondent was automatically elevated to this Court for final action. On the other hand, the
dismissal of the complaint for disbarment against Attys. Cope and Jimeno and Commissioner Cunanan, docketed as CBD Case
No. 99-658, became final in the absence of any petition for review.

This Court confirms the duly supported findings of the IBP Board that respondent committed condemnable acts of deceit against
his client. The fraudulent acts he carried out against his client followed a well thought of plan to misappropriate the corporate
properties and funds entrusted to him. At the very outset, he embarked on his devious scheme by making himself the President,
Chairman of the Board, Director and Treasurer of the corporation, although he knew he was prohibited from assuming the
position of President and Treasurer at the same time.8 As Treasurer, he accepted in behalf of the corporation the 19 titles that
complainant and her daughter co-owned. The other treasurer appointed, Farnacio Bucoy, did not appear to be a stockholder or
director in the corporate records. The minutes of the meetings supposedly electing him and Bucoy as officers of the corporation
actually bore the signatures of respondent and the secretary only, contrary to his claim that they were signed by the directors and
stockholders.

He likewise misled the IBP investigating commission in claiming that the mortgage of 9 of the properties of the corporation
previously belonging to complainant and her daughter was ratified by the stockholders owning two-thirds or 67% of the
outstanding capital stock when in fact only three stockholders owning 111 out of 1,750 outstanding shares or 6.3% assented
thereto. The alleged authorization granting him the power to contract the LBP loan for Two Million Two Hundred Twenty Pesos
(P2,220,000) was also not approved by the required minimum of two-thirds of the outstanding capital stock despite respondent’s
claim to the contrary. In all these transactions, complainant and her daughter who both owned 1,711 out of the 1,750 outstanding
shares of the corporation or 97.7% never had any participation. Neither were they informed thereof.

Clearly, there was no quorum for a valid meeting for the discussion and approval of these transactions.

Respondent cannot take refuge in the contested voting trust agreement supposedly executed by complainant and her daughter
for the reason that it authorized respondent to represent complainant for only 266 shares.

Aside from the dishonest transactions he entered into under the cloak of sham resolutions, he failed to explain several
discrepancies in his version of the facts. We hereby reiterate some of these statements noted by Commissioner Cunanan in his
findings.

First, respondent blamed the directors and the stockholders who failed to convene for the required annual meetings since 1982.
However, respondent appeared able to convene the stockholders and directors when he contracted the LBP debt, when he sold
to Jammang the corporation’s right of redemption over the foreclosed properties of the corporation, when he sold one parcel of
land covered by TCT No. 62807 to Jammang, when he mortgaged the 9 parcels of land to LBP which later foreclosed on said
mortgage, and when he sold the complainant’s ancestral home covered by TCT No. 72004.

Second, the factual findings of the investigating commission, affirmed by the IBP Board, disclosed that complainant and her
daughter own 1,711 out of 1,750 shares of the outstanding capital stock of the corporation, based on the Articles of Incorporation
and deeds of transfer of the properties. But respondent’s evidence showed that complainant had only 266 shares of stock in the
corporation while her daughter had none, notwithstanding the fact that there was nothing to indicate that complainant and her
daughter ever conveyed their shares to others.

Respondent likewise did not explain why he did not return the certificates representing the 266 shares after the lapse of 5 years
from the time the voting trust certificate was executed in 1981.9

The records show that up to now, the complainant and her daughter own 97% of the outstanding shares but respondent never
bothered to explain why they were never asked to participate in or why they were never informed of important corporate
decisions.

Third, respondent, in his comment, alleged that due to the objection of complainant and her daughter to his proposal to hire an
accountant, the corporation had no formal accounting of its revenues and income. However, respondent’s position paper
maintained that there was no accounting because the part-time bookkeeper of the corporation connived with complainant and
her daughter in keeping the corporate records.

Fourth, respondent’s claim that complainant and her daughter took control of the operations of the corporation in 1986 is belied
by the fact that complainant and her daughter were not even present in the alleged meeting of the board (which took place after
1986) to discuss the foreclosure of the mortgaged properties. The truth is that he never informed them of such meeting and he
never gave control of the corporation to them.

Fifth, Commissioner Cunanan found that:

"5. on the matter of the receipts issued by respondent evidencing payment to him of rentals by lessees of the corporation,
attached to the complaint as Annexes ‘H’ to ‘H-17’, respondent claims that the receipts are temporary in nature and that
subsequently regular corporate receipts were issued. On their face however the receipts clearly appear to be official receipts,
printed and numbered duly signed by the respondent bearing his printed name.

"It is difficult to believe that a lawyer of respondent’s stature would issue official receipts to lessees if he only meant to issue
temporary ones."10

Sixth, respondent denies that he acted as Corporate Secretary aside from being the Chairman, President and Treasurer of the
corporation. Yet respondent submitted to the investigating commission documents which were supposed to be in the official
possession of the Corporate Secretary alone such as the stock and transfer book and minutes of meetings.

Seventh, he alleged in his comment that he was the one who proposed the establishment of the corporation that would invest the
properties of the complainant but, in his position paper, he said that it was a certain Atty. Rosauro Alvarez who made the
proposal to put up the corporation.
After a thorough review of the records, we find that respondent committed grave and serious misconduct that casts dishonor on
the legal profession. His misdemeanors reveal a deceitful scheme to use the corporation as a means to convert for his own
personal benefit properties left to him in trust by complainant and her daughter.

Not even his deviousness could cover up the wrongdoings he committed. The documents he thought could exculpate him were
the very same documents that revealed his immoral and shameless ways. These documents were extremely revealing in that
they unmasked a man who knew the law and abused it for his personal gain without any qualms of conscience. They painted an
intricate web of lies, deceit and opportunism beneath a carefully crafted smokescreen of corporate maneuvers.

The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates upon each lawyer, as his duty to society, the obligation to obey the laws of
the land and promote respect for law and legal processes. Specifically, he is forbidden to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct.11 If the practice of law is to remain an honorable profession and attain its basic ideal, those enrolled in its
ranks should not only master its tenets and principles but should also, in their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them. 12 Thus, the
requirement of good moral character is of much greater import, as far as the general public is concerned, than the possession of
legal learning.13 Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but also throughout
their legal career, in order to maintain one’s good standing in that exclusive and honored fraternity.14 Good moral character is
more than just the absence of bad character. Such character expresses itself in the will to do the unpleasant thing if it is right and
the resolve not to do the pleasant thing if it is wrong.15 This must be so because "vast interests are committed to his care; he is
the recipient of unbounded trust and confidence; he deals with his client’s property, reputation, his life, his all." 16

Indeed, the words of former Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals Pompeyo Diaz cannot find a more relevant application than
in this case:

"There are men in any society who are so self-serving that they try to make law serve their selfish ends. In this group of men, the
most dangerous is the man of the law who has no conscience. He has, in the arsenal of his knowledge, the very tools by which
he can poison and disrupt society and bring it to an ignoble end."17

Good moral standing is manifested in the duty of the lawyer "to hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come
into his possession."18 He is bound "to account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client." 19 The
relation between an attorney and his client is highly fiduciary in nature. Thus, lawyers are bound to promptly account for money
or property received by them on behalf of their clients and failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct. 20

This Court holds that respondent cannot invoke the separate personality of the corporation to absolve him from exercising these
duties over the properties turned over to him by complainant. He blatantly used the corporate veil to defeat his fiduciary
obligation to his client, the complainant. Toleration of such fraudulent conduct was never the reason for the creation of said
corporate fiction.

The massive fraud perpetrated by respondent on the complainant leaves us no choice but to set aside the veil of corporate
entity. For purposes of this action therefore, the properties registered in the name of the corporation should still be considered as
properties of complainant and her daughter. The respondent merely held them in trust for complainant (now an ailing 83-year-
old) and her daughter. The properties conveyed fraudulently and/or without the requisite authority should be deemed as never to
have been transferred, sold or mortgaged at all. Respondent shall be liable, in his personal capacity, to third parties who may
have contracted with him in good faith.

Based on the aforementioned findings, this Court believes that the gravity of respondent’s offenses cannot be adequately
matched by mere suspension as recommended by the IBP. Instead, his wrongdoings deserve the severe penalty of disbarment,
without prejudice to his criminal and civil liabilities for his dishonest acts.

WHEREFORE, respondent Attorney Jesus T. Balicanta is hereby DISBARRED. The Clerk of Court is directed to strike out his
name from the Roll of Attorneys.
Jon De Ysasi III vs NLRC
G.R. No. 104599
March 11, 1994

The adage that blood is thicker than water obviously stood for naught in this case, notwithstanding the vinculum of paternity and
filiation between the parties. It would indeed have been the better part of reason if herein petitioner and private respondent had
reconciled their differences in an extrajudicial atmosphere of familial amity and with the grace of reciprocal concessions. Father
and son opted instead for judicial intervention despite the inevitable acrimony and negative publicity. Albeit with distaste, the
Court cannot proceed elsewise but to resolve their dispute with the same reasoned detachment accorded any judicial proceeding
before it.

The records of this case reveal that petitioner was employed by his father, herein private respondent, as farm administrator of
Hacienda Manucao in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental sometime in April, 1980. Prior thereto, he was successively employed as
sales manager of Triumph International (Phil.), Inc. and later as operations manager of Top Form Manufacturing (Phil.), Inc. His
employment as farm administrator was on a fixed salary, with other allowances covering housing, food, light, power, telephone,
gasoline, medical and dental expenses.

As farm administrator, petitioner was responsible for the supervision of daily activities and operations of the sugarcane farm such
as land preparation, planting, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting, dealing with third persons in all matters relating to the hacienda and
attending to such other tasks as may be assigned to him by private respondent. For this purpose, he lived on the farm, occupying
the upper floor of the house there.

Following his marriage on June 6, 1982, petitioner moved to Bacolod City with his wife and commuted to work daily. He suffered
various ailments and was hospitalized on two separate occasions in June and August, 1982. In November, 1982, he underwent
fistulectomy, or the surgical removal of the fistula, a deep sinuous ulcer. During his recuperation which lasted over four months,
he was under the care of Dr. Patricio Tan. In June, 1983, he was confined for acute gastroenteritis and, thereafter, for infectious
hepatitis from December, 1983 to January, 1984.

During the entire periods of petitioner's illnesses, private respondent took care of his medical expenses and petitioner continued
to receive compensation. However, in April, 1984, without due notice, private respondent ceased to pay the latter's salary.
Petitioner made oral and written demands for an explanation for the sudden withholding of his salary from Atty. Apolonio
Sumbingco, private respondent's auditor and legal adviser, as well as for the remittance of his salary. Both demands, however,
were not acted upon.

Petitioner then filed an action with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC, for brevity), Regional Arbitration Branch No.
VI, Bacolod City, on October 17, 1984, docketed therein as RAB Case No. 0452-84, against private respondent for illegal
dismissal with prayer for reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and payment of full back wages, thirteenth month pay for
1983, consequential, moral and exemplary damages, as well as attorney's fees.

On July 31, 1991, said complaint for illegal dismissal was dismissed by the NLRC,1 holding that petitioner abandoned his work
and that the termination of his employment was for a valid cause, but ordering private respondent to pay petitioner the amount of
P5,000.00 as penalty for his failure to serve notice of said termination of employment to the Department of Labor and
Employment as required by Batas Pambansa Blg. 130 and consonant with this Court's ruling in Wenphil Corporation vs. National
Labor Relations Commission, et al.2 On appeal to the Fourth Division of the NLRC, Cebu City, said decision was affirmed in
toto.3

His motion for reconsideration4 of said decision having been denied for lack of merit,5 petitioner filed this petition presenting the
following issues for resolution: (1) whether or not the petitioner was illegally dismissed; (2) whether or not he is entitled to
reinstatement, payment of back wages, thirteenth month pay and other benefits; and (3) whether or not he is entitled to payment
of moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees because of illegal dismissal. The discussion of these issues will necessarily
subsume the corollary questions presented by private respondent, such as the exact date when petitioner ceased to function as
farm administrator, the character of the pecuniary amounts received by petitioner from private respondent, that is, whether the
same are in the nature of salaries or pensions, and whether or not there was abandonment by petitioner of his functions as farm
administrator.

In his manifestation dated September 14, 1992, the Solicitor General recommended a modification of the decision of herein
public respondent sustaining the findings and conclusions of the Executive Labor Arbiter in RAB Case No. 0452-84,6 for which
reason the NLRC was required to submit its own comment on the petition. In compliance with the Court's resolution of November
16, 1992,7 NLRC filed its comment on February 12, 1992 largely reiterating its earlier position in support of the findings of the
Executive Labor Arbiter.8

Before proceeding with a discussion of the issues, the observation of the labor arbiter is worth noting:

This case is truly unique. What makes this case unique is the fact that because of the special relationship of
the parties and the nature of the action involved, this case could very well go down (in) the annals of the
Commission as perhaps the first of its kind. For this case is an action filed by an only son, his father's
namesake, the only child and therefore the only heir against his own father.9

Additionally, the Solicitor General remarked:

. . . After an exhaustive reading of the records, two (2) observations were noted that may justify why this
labor case deserves special considerations. First, most of the complaints that petitioner and private
respondent had with each other, were personal matters affecting father and son relationship. And secondly, if
any of the complaints pertain to their work, they allow their personal relationship to come in the way. 10

I. Petitioner maintains that his dismissal from employment was illegal because of want of just cause therefor and non-observance
of the requirements of due process. He also charges the NLRC with grave abuse of discretion in relying upon the findings of the
executive labor arbiter who decided the case but did not conduct the hearings thereof.

Private respondent, in refutation, avers that there was abandonment by petitioner of his functions as farm administrator, thereby
arming private respondent with a ground to terminate his employment at Hacienda Manucao. It is also contended that it is wrong
for petitioner to question the factual findings of the executive labor arbiter and the NLRC as only questions of law may be
appealed for resolution by this Court. Furthermore, in seeking the dismissal of the instant petition, private respondent faults
herein petitioner for failure to refer to the corresponding pages of the transcripts of stenographic notes, erroneously citing
Sections 15(d) and 16(d), Rule 44 (should be Section 16[c] and [d],
Rule 46 and Section 1[g], Rule 50) of the Rules of Court, which provide that want of page references to the records is a ground
for dismissal of an appeal.

Prefatorily, we take advertence of the provisions of Article 221 of the Labor Code that technical rules of evidence prevailing in
courts of law and equity shall not be controlling, and that every and all reasonable means to speedily and objectively ascertain
the facts in each case shall be availed of, without regard to technicalities of law or procedure in the interest of due process.

It is settled that it is not procedurally objectionable for the decision in a case to be rendered by a judge, or a labor arbiter for that
matter, other than the one who conducted the hearing. The fact that the judge who heard the case was not the judge who
penned the decision does not impair the validity of the judgment,11 provided that he draws up his decision and resolution with
due care and makes certain that they truly and accurately reflect conclusions and final dispositions on the bases of the facts of
and evidence submitted in the case.12

Thus, the mere fact that the case was initially assigned to Labor Arbiter Ricardo T. Octavio, who conducted the hearings therein
from December 5, 1984 to July 11, 1985, and was later transferred to Executive Labor Arbiter Oscar S. Uy, who eventually
decided the case, presents no procedural infirmity, especially considering that there is a presumption of regularity in the
performance of a public officer's functions,13 which petitioner has not successfully rebutted.

We are constrained to heed the underlying policy in the Labor Code relaxing the application of technical rules of procedure in
labor cases in the interest of due process, ever mindful of the long-standing legal precept that rules of procedure must be
interpreted to help secure, not defeat, justice. For this reason, we cannot indulge private respondent in his tendency to nitpick on
trivial technicalities to boost his arguments. The strength of one's position cannot be hinged on mere procedural niceties but on
solid bases in law and jurisprudence.

The fundamental guarantees of security of tenure and due process dictate that no worker shall be dismissed except for just and
authorized cause provided by law and after due process.14 Article 282 of the Labor Code enumerates the causes for which an
employer may validly terminate an employment, to wit:
(a) serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in
connection with his work; (b) gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties; (c) fraud or willful breach by the employee
of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative; (d) commission of a crime or offense by the
employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; and
(e) other causes analogous to the foregoing.

The employer may also terminate the services of any employee due to the installation of labor saving devices, redundancy,
retrenchment to prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking, unless the closing is
for the purpose of circumventing the pertinent provisions of the Labor Code, by serving a written notice on the workers and the
Department of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date thereof, with due entitlement to the
corresponding separation pay rates provided by law.15Suffering from a disease by reason whereof the continued employment of
the employee is prohibited by law or is prejudicial to his and his co-employee's health, is also a ground for termination of his
services provided he receives the prescribed separation pay.16 On the other hand, it is well-settled that abandonment by an
employee of his work authorizes the employer to effect the former's dismissal from employment. 17

After a careful review of the records of this case, we find that public respondent gravely erred in affirming the decision of the
executive labor arbiter holding that petitioner abandoned his employment and was not illegally dismissed from such employment.
For want of substantial bases, in fact or
in law, we cannot give the stamp of finality and conclusiveness normally accorded to the factual findings of an administrative
agency, such as herein public respondent NLRC,18 as even decisions of administrative agencies which are declared "final" by
law are not exempt from judicial review when so warranted. 19

The following perceptive disquisitions of the Solicitor General on this point deserve acceptance:

It is submitted that the absences of petitioner in his work from October 1982 to December 1982, cannot be
construed as abandonment of work because he has a justifiable excuse. Petitioner was suffering from
perennial abscess in the peri-anal around the anus and fistula under the medical attention of Dr. Patricio Tan
of Riverside Medical Center, Inc., Bacolod City (Tsn, Vol. III, Dr. Tan, February 19, 1986 at 20-44).

This fact (was) duly communicated to private respondent by medical bills sent to Hacienda Manucao (Tsn,
Vol. III, Dr. Tan, January 22, 1987 at 49-50).
During the period of his illness and recovery, petitioner stayed in Bacolod City upon the instruction(s) of
private respondent to recuperate thereat and to handle only administrative matters of the hacienda in that
city. As a manager, petitioner is not really obliged to live and stay 24 hours a day inside Hacienda Manucao.

xxx xxx xxx

After evaluating the evidence within the context of the special circumstances involved and basic human
experience, petitioner's illness and strained family relation with respondent Jon de Ysasi II may be
considered as justifiable reason for petitioner Jon de Ysasi III's absence from work during the period of
October 1982 to December 1982. In any event, such absence does not warrant outright dismissal without
notice and hearing.

xxx xxx xxx

The elements of abandonment as a ground for dismissal of an employee are as follows:

(1) failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason; and (2) clear
intention to sever the employer-employee tie (Samson Alcantara, Reviewer in Labor and
Social Legislation, 1989 edition, p. 133).

This Honorable Court, in several cases, illustrates what constitute abandonment. In Dagupan Bus Company
v. NLRC (191 SCRA 328), the Court rules that for abandonment to arise, there must be a concurrence of the
intention to abandon and some overt act from which it may be inferred that the employee has no more
interest to work. Similarly, in Nueva Ecija I Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. NLRC (184 SCRA 25), for
abandonment to constitute a valid cause for termination of employment, there must be a deliberate,
unjustified refusal of the employee to resume his employment. . . Mere absence is not sufficient; it must be
accompanied by overt acts unerringly pointing to the fact that the employee simply does not want to work
anymore.

There are significant indications in this case, that there is no abandonment. First, petitioner's absence and
his decision to leave his residence inside Hacienda Manucao, is justified by his illness and strained family
relations. Second he has some medical certificates to show his frail health. Third, once able to work,
petitioner wrote a letter (Annex "J") informing private respondent of his intention to assume again his
employment. Last, but not the least, he at once instituted a complaint for illegal dismissal when he realized
he was unjustly dismissed. All these are indications that petitioner had no intention to abandon his
employment.20

The records show that the parties herein do not dispute the fact of petitioner's confinement in the hospital for his various
afflictions which required medical treatment. Neither can it be denied that private respondent was well aware of petitioner's state
of health as the former admittedly shouldered part of the medical and hospital bills and even advised the latter to stay in Bacolod
City until he was fit to work again. The disagreement as to whether or not petitioner's ailments were so serious as to necessitate
hospitalization and corresponding periods for recuperation is beside the point. The fact remains that on account of said illnesses,
the details of which were amply substantiated by the attending physician,21 and as the records are bereft of any suggestion of
malingering on the part of petitioner, there was justifiable cause for petitioner's absence from work. We repeat, it is clear,
deliberate and unjustified refusal to resume employment and not mere absence that is required to constitute abandonment as a
valid ground for termination of employment.22

With his position as farm administrator of Hacienda Manucao, petitioner unmistakably may be classified as a managerial
employee23 to whom the law grants an amount of discretion in the discharge of his duties. This is why when petitioner stated that
"I assigned myself where I want to go,"24 he was simply being candid about what he could do within the sphere of his authority.
His duties as farm administrator did not strictly require him to keep regular hours or to be at the office premises at all times, or to
be subjected to specific control from his employer in every aspect of his work. What is essential only is that he runs the farm as
efficiently and effectively as possible and, while petitioner may definitely not qualify as a model employee, in this regard he
proved to be quite successful, as there was at least a showing of increased production during the time that petitioner was in
charge of farm operations.

If, as private respondent contends, he had no control over petitioner during the years 1983 to 1984, this is because that was the
period when petitioner was recuperating from illness and on account of which his attendance and direct involvement in farm
operations were irregular and minimal, hence the supervision and control exercisable by private respondent as employer was
necessarily limited. It goes without saying that the control contemplated refers only to matters relating to his functions as farm
administrator and could not extend to petitioner's personal affairs and activities.

While it was taken for granted that for purposes of discharging his duties as farm administrator, petitioner would be staying at the
house in the farm, there really was no explicit contractual stipulation (as there was no formal employment contract to begin with)
requiring him to stay therein for the duration of his employment or that any transfer of residence would justify the termination of
his employment. That petitioner changed his residence should not be taken against him, as this is undeniably among his basic
rights, nor can such fact of transfer of residence per se be a valid ground to terminate an employer-employee relationship.

Private respondent, in his pleadings, asserted that as he was yet uncertain of his son's intention of returning to work after his
confinement in the hospital, he kept petitioner on the payroll, reported him as an employee of the haciendafor social security
purposes, and paid his salaries and benefits with the mandated deductions therefrom until the end of December, 1982. It was
only in January, 1983 when he became convinced that petitioner would no longer return to work that he considered the latter to
have abandoned his work and, for this reason, no longer listed him as an employee. According to private respondent, whatever
amount of money was given to petitioner from that time until
April, 1984 was in the nature of a pension or an allowance or mere gratuitous doles from a father to a son, and not salaries as, in
fact, none of the usual deductions were made therefrom. It was only in April, 1984 that private respondent completely stopped
giving said pension or allowance when he was angered by what he heard petitioner had been saying about sending him to jail.

Private respondent capitalizes on the testimony of one Manolo Gomez taken on oral deposition regarding petitioner's alleged
statement to him, "(h)e quemado los (p)ue(n)tes de Manucao" ("I have burned my bridges with Manucao") as expressive of
petitioner's intention to abandon his job. In addition to insinuations of sinister motives on the part of petitioner in working at the
farm and thereafter abandoning the job upon accomplishment of his objectives, private respondent takes the novel position that
the agreement to support his son after the latter abandoned the administration of the farm legally converts the initial
abandonment to implied voluntary resignation.25

As earlier mentioned, petitioner ripostes that private respondent undoubtedly knew about petitioner's illness and even paid for his
hospital and other medical bills. The assertion regarding abandonment of work, petitioner argues, is further belied by his
continued performance of various services related to the operations of the farm from May to the last quarter of 1983, his
persistent inquiries from his father's accountant and legal adviser about the reason why his pension or allowance was
discontinued since April, 1984, and his indication of having recovered and his willingness and capability to resume his work at
the farm as expressed in a letter dated September 14, 1984.26 With these, petitioner contends that it is immaterial how the
monthly pecuniary amounts are designated, whether as salary, pension or allowance, with or without deductions, as he was
entitled thereto in view of his continued service as farm administrator.27

To stress what was earlier mentioned, in order that a finding of abandonment may justly be made there must be a concurrence of
two elements, viz.: (1) the failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason, and (2) a clear intention to
sever the employer-employee relationship, with the second element as the more determinative factor and being manifested by
some overt acts. Such intent we find dismally wanting in this case.

It will be recalled that private respondent himself admitted being unsure of his son's plans of returning to work. The absence of
petitioner from work since mid-1982, prolonged though it may have been, was not without valid causes of which private
respondent had full knowledge. As to what convinced or led him to believe that petitioner was no longer returning to work, private
respondent neither explains nor substantiates by any reasonable basis how he arrived at such a conclusion.

Moreover, private respondent's claim of abandonment cannot be given credence as even after January, 1983, when private
respondent supposedly "became convinced" that petitioner would no longer work at the farm, the latter continued to perform
services directly required by his position as farm administrator. These are duly and correspondingly evidenced by such acts as
picking up some farm machinery/equipment from G.A. Machineries, Inc.,28 claiming and paying for additional farm equipment and
machinery shipped by said firm from Manila to Bacolod through Zip Forwarders,29 getting the payment of the additional cash
advances for molasses for crop year 1983-1984 from Agrotex Commodities, Inc.,30 and remitting to private respondent through
Atty. Sumbingco the sums collected along with receipts for medicine and oil.31

It will be observed that all of these chores, which petitioner took care of, relate to the normal activities and operations of the farm.
True, it is a father's prerogative to request or even command his child to run errands for him. In the present case, however,
considering the nature of these transactions, as well as the property values and monetary sums involved, it is unlikely that private
respondent would leave the matter to just anyone. Prudence dictates that these matters be handled by someone who can be
trusted or at least be held accountable therefor, and who is familiar with the terms, specifications and other details relative
thereto, such as an employee. If indeed petitioner had abandoned his job or was considered to have done so by private
respondent, it would be awkward, or even out of place, to expect or to oblige petitioner to concern himself with matters relating to
or expected of him with respect to what would then be his past and terminated employment. It is hard to imagine what further
authority an employer can have over a dismissed employee so as to compel him to continue to perform work-related tasks:

It is also significant that the special power of attorney32 executed


by private respondent on June 26, 1980 in favor of petitioner, specifically stating —

xxx xxx xxx

That I, JON de YSASI, Filipino, of legal age, married, and a resident of Hda. Manucao, hereinafter called and
referred to as PRINCIPAL, am a sugarcane planter, BISCOM Mill District, and a duly accredited planter-
member of the BINALBAGAN-ISABELA PLANTERS' ASSOCIATION, INC.;

That as such planter-member of BIPA, I have check/checks with BIPA representing payment for all checks
and papers to which I am entitled to (sic) as such planter-member;

That I have named, appointed and constituted as by these presents


I HEREBY NAME, APPOINT AND CONSTITUTE as my true and lawful ATTORNEY-IN-FACT

JON de YSASI III

whose specimen signature is hereunder affixed, TO GET FOR ME and in my name, place and stead, my
check/checks aforementioned, said ATTORNEY-IN-FACT being herein given the power and authority to sign
for me and in my name, place and stead, the receipt or receipts or payroll for the said check/checks.
PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that my said ATTORNEY-IN-FACT cannot cash the said check/checks, but to turn
the same over to me for my proper disposition.
That I HEREBY RATIFY AND CONFIRM the acts of my
Attorney-in-Fact in getting the said check/checks and signing the receipts therefor.

That I further request that my said check/checks be made a "CROSSED CHECK".

xxx xxx xxx

remained in force even after petitioner's employment was supposed to have been terminated by reason of abandonment.
Furthermore, petitioner's numerous requests for an explanation regarding the stoppage of his salaries and benefits, 33 the
issuance of withholding tax reports,34 as well as correspondence reporting his full recovery and readiness to go back to
work,35 and, specifically, his filing of the complaint for illegal dismissal are hardly the acts of one who has abandoned his work.

We are likewise not impressed by the deposition of Manolo Gomez, as witness for private respondent, ascribing statements to
petitioner supposedly indicative of the latter's intention to abandon his work. We perceive the irregularity in the taking of such
deposition without the presence of petitioner's counsel, and the failure of private respondent to serve reasonably advance notice
of its taking to said counsel, thereby foreclosing his opportunity to
cross-examine the deponent. Private respondent also failed to serve notice thereof on the Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI of
the NLRC, as certified to by Administrative Assistant Celestina G. Ovejera of said office.36 Fair play dictates that at such an
important stage of the proceedings, which involves the taking of testimony, both parties must be afforded equal opportunity to
examine and cross-examine a witness.

As to the monthly monetary amounts given to petitioner, whether denominated as salary, pension, allowance or ex
gratia handout, there is no question as to petitioner's entitlement thereto inasmuch as he continued to perform services in his
capacity as farm administrator. The change in description of said amounts contained in the pay slips or in the receipts prepared
by private respondent cannot be deemed to be determinative of petitioner's employment status in view of the peculiar
circumstances above set out. Besides, if such amounts were truly in the nature of allowances given by a parent out of concern
for his child's welfare, it is rather unusual that receipts therefor37 should be necessary and required as if they were ordinary
business expenditures.

Neither can we subscribe to private respondent's theory that petitioner's alleged abandonment was converted into an implied
voluntary resignation on account of the father's agreement to support his son after the latter abandoned his work. As we have
determined that no abandonment took place in this case, the monthly sums received by petitioner, regardless of designation,
were in consideration for services rendered emanating from an employer-employee relationship and were not of a character that
can qualify them as mere civil support given out of parental duty and solicitude. We are also hard put to imagine how
abandonment can be impliedly converted into a voluntary resignation without any positive act on the part of the employee
conveying a desire to terminate his employment. The very concept of resignation as a ground for termination by the employee of
his employment38 does not square with the elements constitutive of abandonment.

On procedural considerations, petitioner posits that there was a violation by private respondent of the due process requirements
under the Labor Code for want of notice and hearing.39 Private respondent, in opposition, argues that Section 2, Rule XIV, Book
V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code applies only to cases where the employer seeks to terminate the services
of an employee on any of the grounds enumerated under Article 282 of the Labor Code, but not to the situation obtaining in this
case where private respondent did not dismiss petitioner on any ground since it was petitioner who allegedly abandoned his
employment.40

The due process requirements of notice and hearing applicable to labor cases are set out in Rule XIV, Book V of the Omnibus
Rules Implementing the Labor Code in this wise:

Sec. 2. Notice of Dismissal. — Any employer who seeks to dismiss a worker shall furnish him a written notice
stating the particular acts or omission(s) constituting the grounds for his dismissal. In cases of abandonment
of work, notice shall be served at the worker's last known address.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 5. Answer and hearing. — The worker may answer the allegations as stated against him in the notice of
dismissal within a reasonable period from receipt of such notice. The employer shall afford the worker ample
opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of his representative, if he so desires.

Sec. 6. Decision to dismiss. — The employer shall immediately notify a worker in writing of a decision to
dismiss him stating clearly the reasons therefor.

Sec. 7. Right to contest dismissal. — Any decision taken by the employer shall be without prejudice to the
right of the worker to contest the validity or legality of his dismissal by filing a complaint with the Regional
Branch of the Commission.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 11. Report of dismissal. — The employer shall submit a monthly report to the Regional Office having
jurisdiction over the place of work at all dismissals effected by him during the month, specifying therein the
names of the dismissed workers, the reasons for their dismissal, the dates of commencement and
termination of employment, the positions last held by them and such other information as may be required by
the Ministry for policy guidance and statistical purposes.

Private respondent's argument is without merit as there can be no question that petitioner was denied his right to due process
since he was never given any notice about his impending dismissal and the grounds therefor, much less a chance to be heard.
Even as private respondent controverts the applicability of the mandatory twin requirements of procedural due process in this
particular case, he in effect admits that no notice was served by him on petitioner. This fact is corroborated by the certification
issued on September 5, 1984 by the Regional Director for Region VI of the Department of Labor that no notice of termination of
the employment of petitioner was submitted thereto.41

Granting arguendo that there was abandonment in this case, it nonetheless cannot be denied that notice still had to be served
upon the employee sought to be dismissed, as the second sentence of Section 2 of the pertinent implementing rules explicitly
requires service thereof at the employee's last known address, by way of substantial compliance. While it is conceded that it is
the employer's prerogative to terminate an employee, especially when there is just cause therefor, the requirements of due
process cannot be lightly taken. The law does not countenance the arbitrary exercise of such a power or prerogative when it has
the effect of undermining the fundamental guarantee of security of tenure in favor of the employee.42

On the executive labor arbiter's misplaced reliance on the Wenphil case, the Solicitor General rejoins as follows:

The Labor Arbiter held thus:

While we are in full agreement with the respondent as to his defense of implied
resignation and/or abandonment, records somehow showed that he failed to notify the
Department of
Labor and Employment for his sons' (sic)/complainants' (sic) aba(n)donment as required
by BP 130. And for this failure, the other requisite for a valid termination by an employer
was not complied with. This however, would not work to invalidate the otherwise (sic)
existence of a valid cause for dismissal. The validity of the cause of dismissal must be
upheld at all times provided however that sanctions must be imposed on the respondent
for his failure to observe the notice on due process requirement. (Wenphil Corp. v.
NLRC, G.R. No. 80587). (Decision Labor Arbiter, at 11-12, Annex "C" Petition), . . .

This is thus a very different case from Wenphil Corporation v. NLRC, 170 SCRA 69. In Wenphil, the rule
applied to the facts is: once an employee is dismissed for just cause, he must not be rewarded
re-employment and backwages for failure of his employer to observe procedural due process. The public
policy behind this is that, it may encourage the employee to do even worse and render a mockery of the rules
of discipline required to be observed. However, the employer must be penalized for his infraction of due
process. In the present case, however, not only was petitioner dismissed without due process, but his
dismissal is without just cause. Petitioner did not abandon his employment because he has a justifiable
excuse.43

II. Petitioner avers that the executive labor arbiter erred in disregarding the mandatory provisions of Article 279 of the Labor
Code which entitles an illegally dismissed employee to reinstatement and back wages and, instead, affirmed the imposition of the
penalty of P5,000.00 on private respondent for violation of the due process requirements. Private respondent, for his part,
maintains that there was error in imposing the fine because that penalty contemplates the failure to submit the employer's report
on dismissed employees to the DOLE regional office, as required under Section 5 (now, Section 11), Rule XIV of the
implementing rules, and not the failure to serve notice upon the employee sought to be dismissed by the employer.

Both the Constitution and the Labor Code enunciate in no uncertain terms the right of every worker to security of tenure. 44 To
give teeth to this constitutional and statutory mandates, the Labor Code spells out the relief available to an employee in case of
its denial:

Art. 279. Security of Tenure. — In cases of regular employment, the employer shall not terminate the
services of an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by this Title. An employee who is
unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other
privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits of their monetary
equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of actual
reinstatement.

Clearly, therefore, an employee is entitled to reinstatement with full back wages in the absence of just cause for dismissal. 45 The
Court, however, on numerous occasions has tempered the rigid application of said provision of the Labor Code, recognizing that
in some cases certain events may have transpired as would militate against the practicability of granting the relief thereunder
provided, and declares that where there are strained relations between the employer and the employee, payment of back wages
and severance pay may be awarded instead of reinstatement,46 and more particularly when managerial employees are
concerned.47 Thus, where reinstatement is no longer possible, it is therefore appropriate that the dismissed employee be given
his fair and just share of what the law accords him.48

We note with favor and give our imprimatur to the Solicitor General's ratiocination, to wit:

As a general rule, an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without
loss of seniority rights and to his backwages computed from the time his compensation was withheld up to
the time of his reinstatement. (Morales vs. NLRC, 188 SCRA 295). But in Pacific Cement Company,
Inc. vs. NLRC, 173 SCRA 192, this Honorable Court held that when it comes to reinstatement, differences
should be made between managers and the ordinary workingmen. The Court concluded that a company
which no longer trusts its managers cannot operate freely in a competitive and profitable manner. The NLRC
should know the difference between managers and ordinary workingmen. It cannot imprudently order the
reinstatement of managers with the same ease and liberality as that of rank and file workers who had been
terminated. Similarly, a reinstatement may not be appropriate or feasible in case of antipathy or antagonism
between the parties (Morales, vs. NLRC, 188 SCRA 295).

In the present case, it is submitted that petitioner should not be reinstated as farm administrator of Hacienda
Manucao. The present relationship of petitioner and private respondent (is) so strained that a harmonious
and peaceful employee-employer relationship is hardly possible.49

III. Finally, petitioner insists on an award of moral damages, arguing that his dismissal from employment was attended by bad
faith or fraud, or constituted oppression, or was contrary to morals, good customs or public policy. He further prays for exemplary
damages to serve as a deterrent against similar acts of unjust dismissal by other employers.

Moral damages, under Article 2217 of the Civil Code, may be awarded to compensate one for diverse injuries such as mental
anguish, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, and social humiliation, provided that such injuries spring from a wrongful act
or omission of the defendant which was the proximate cause thereof.50 Exemplary damages, under Article 2229, are imposed by
way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages. They are
not recoverable as a matter of right, it being left to the court to decide whether or not they should be adjudicated.51

We are well aware of the Court's rulings in a number of cases in the past allowing recovery of moral damages where the
dismissal of the employee was attended by bad faith or fraud, or constituted an act oppressive to labor, or was done in a manner
contrary to morals, good customs or public policy,52 and of exemplary damages if the dismissal was effected in a wanton,
oppressive or malevolent manner.53 We do not feel, however, that an award of the damages prayed for in this petition would be
proper even if, seemingly, the facts of the case justify their allowance. In the aforestated cases of illegal dismissal where moral
and exemplary damages were awarded, the dismissed employees were genuinely without fault and were undoubtedly victims of
the erring employers' capricious exercise of power.

In the present case, we find that both petitioner and private respondent can equally be faulted for fanning the flames which gave
rise to and ultimately aggravated this controversy, instead of sincerely negotiating a peaceful settlement of their disparate claims.
The records reveal how their actuations seethed with mutual antagonism and the undeniable enmity between them negates the
likelihood that either of them acted in good faith. It is apparent that each one has a cause for damages against the other. For this
reason, we hold that no moral or exemplary damages can rightfully be awarded to petitioner.

On this score, we are once again persuaded by the validity of the following recommendation of the Solicitor General:

The Labor Arbiter's decision in RAB Case No. 0452-84 should be modified. There was no voluntary
abandonment in this case because petitioner has a justifiable excuse for his absence, or such absence does
not warrant outright dismissal without notice and hearing. Private respondent, therefore, is guilty of illegal
dismissal. He should be ordered to pay backwages for a period not exceeding three years from date of
dismissal. And in lieu of reinstatement, petitioner may be paid separation pay equivalent to one (1) month('s)
salary for every year of service, a fraction of six months being considered as one (1) year in accordance with
recent jurisprudence (Tan, Jr. vs. NLRC, 183 SCRA 651). But all claims for damages should be dismissed,
for both parties are equally at fault.54

The conduct of the respective counsel of the parties, as revealed by the records, sorely disappoints the Court and invites reproof.
Both counsel may well be reminded that their ethical duty as lawyers to represent their clients with
zeal55 goes beyond merely presenting their clients' respective causes in court. It is just as much their responsibility, if not more
importantly, to exert all reasonable efforts to smooth over legal conflicts, preferably out of court and especially in consideration of
the direct and immediate consanguineous ties between their clients. Once again, we reiterate that the useful function of a lawyer
is not only to conduct litigation but to avoid it whenever possible by advising settlement or withholding suit. He is often called
upon less for dramatic forensic exploits than for wise counsel in every phase of life. He should be a mediator for concord and a
conciliator for compromise, rather than a virtuoso of technicality in the conduct of litigation. 56

Rule 1.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly provides that "(a) lawyer shall encourage his client to avoid, end or
settle the controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement." On this point, we find that both counsel herein fell short of what was
expected of them, despite their avowed duties as officers of the court. The records do not show that they took pains to initiate
steps geared toward effecting a rapprochement between their clients. On the contrary, their acerbic and protracted exchanges
could not but have exacerbated the situation even as they may have found favor in the equally hostile eyes of their respective
clients.

In the same manner, we find that the labor arbiter who handled this regrettable case has been less than faithful to the letter and
spirit of the Labor Code mandating that a labor arbiter "shall exert all efforts towards the amicable settlement of a labor dispute
within his jurisdiction."57 If he ever did so, or at least entertained the thought, the copious records of the proceedings in this
controversy are barren of any reflection of the same.

One final word. This is one decision we do not particularly relish having been obliged to make. The task of resolving cases
involving disputes among members of a family leaves a bad taste in the mouth and an aversion in the mind, for no truly
meaningful and enduring resolution is really achieved in such situations. While we are convinced that we have adjudicated the
legal issues herein squarely on the bases of law and jurisprudence, sans sentimentality, we are saddened by the thought that we
may have failed to bring about the reconciliation of the father and son who figured as parties to this dispute, and that our
adherence here to law and duty may unwittingly contribute to the breaking, instead of the strengthening, of familial bonds. In fine,
neither of the parties herein actually emerges victorious. It is the Court's earnest hope, therefore, that with the impartial
exposition and extended explanation of their respective rights in this decision, the parties may eventually see their way clear to
an ultimate resolution of their differences on more convivial terms.

WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent National Labor Relations Commission is hereby SET ASIDE. Private respondent is
ORDERED to pay petitioner back wages for a period not exceeding three (3) years, without qualification or deduction,58 and, in
lieu of reinstatement, separation pay equivalent to one (1) month for every year of service, a fraction of six (6) months being
considered as one (1) whole year.
Teodoro Rivera vs Atty. Sergio Angeles
A.C. No. 2519
August 29, 2000

On March 25, 1983, complainants filed a Complaint for Disbarment against Atty. Sergio Angeles on the grounds of Deceit and
Malpractice. The Affidavit-Complaint1 reads as follows:

"1. The undersigned are plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. Q-12841 and Q-13128 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal,
Branch V at Quezon City;

2. Atty. Sergio Angeles is their counsel of record in the said cases and his office is located at Suite 335, URC Building,
2123 España, Manila;

3. That after receiving favorable decision from the CFI on May 21, 1973 and sustained by the Court of Appeals and the
Supreme Court an alias writ of execution was issued in said cases;

4. That in the first week of January 1983 we obtained from the CFI a sheriff's return, dated November 10, 1982, stating
that no leviable property can be found in the premises of the defendants;

5. That on or before January 13, 1983, we learned that Mr. Rodolfo M. Silva, one of the defendants in said cases had
already given Atty. Angeles a partial settlement of the judgment in the amount of P42,999.00 (as evidenced by xerox
copies of Partial Settlement of Judgment dated September 21, 1982 and Receipt of Payment dated September 22,
1982, hereto attached as Annexes "A" and "B", respectively), without our knowledge.

6. That Atty. Sergio Angeles never informed the undersigned of the amount of P42,999.00 he received from Mr. Silva
nor remitted to them even a part of that amount;

7. That a demand letter was sent to Atty. Sergio Angeles which was received by him on February 17, 1983, but as of
this date the undersigned have not yet received any reply. (See Exhibit "C" and "D" attached)."

In his Comment filed on June 21, 1983, respondent denied the accusations and stated that he has the right to retain the said
amount of P42,999.00 and to apply the same to professional fees due him under the subsequent agreement first with
complainant Teodoro Rivera and later with Mrs. Dely Dimson Rivera as embodied in the Deed of Assignment (Annex "8") 2 or
under the previous agreement of P20% of P206,000.00.

Complainants, in their Reply,3 vehemently denied the assignment of their rights to respondent.

Thereafter, this case was referred to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation in our Resolution dated
November 21, 1983. The Office of the Solicitor General considered this case submitted for resolution on April 30, 1985 by
declaring respondent's right to present evidence as considered waived due to the latter's failure to appear on the scheduled
hearings. However, the records from said Office do not show any resolution.

In October 1998, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued an Order requiring the parties to manifest whether or not they are
still interested in prosecuting this case, or whether supervening events have transpired which render this case moot and
academic or otherwise. The copy of said Order sent to the complainants was received by their counsel on October 30, 1998
while the copy to the respondent was returned unclaimed.

Investigating Commissioner Julio C. Elamparo submitted his report on April 29, 1999 finding respondent Atty. Sergio Angeles
guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility specifically Rule 1.01, Canon 16 and Rule 16.01 thereof and
recommends his indefinite suspension from the practice of law.

The Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines on June 19, 1999, issued a resolution, the decretal portion of
which reads:

"RESOLUTION NO. XIII-99-151

Adm. Case No. 2519

Teodoro R Rivera, et al. vs.

Atty. Sergio Angeles

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation
of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex
"A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, with
an amendment that Atty. Sergio Angeles is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR for his having
been found guilty of practicing deceit in dealing with his client."

The Court finds merit in the recommendation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Respondent's act of deceit and malpractice
indubitably demonstrated his failure to live up to his sworn duties as a lawyer. The Supreme Court repeatedly stressed the
importance of integrity and good moral character as part of a lawyer's equipment in the practice of his profession. 4 For it cannot
be denied that the respect of litigants for the profession is inexorably diminished whenever a member of the Bar betrays their
trust and confidence.5 1âwphi1

The Court is not oblivious of the right of a lawyer to be paid for the legal services he has extended to his client but such right
should not be exercised whimsically by appropriating to himself the money intended for his clients. There should never be an
instance where the victor in litigation loses everything he won to the fees of his own lawyer.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Sergio Angeles, is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR for having been
found guilty of practicing deceit in dealing with his client.

This Resolution shall take effect immediately and copies thereof furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and appended to respondent's personal record.
Aquiline Q. Pimentel Jr vs Attys. Llorente and Salayon
A.C. No. 4690
August 29, 2000
This is a complaint for disbarment against respondents Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon for gross misconduct,
serious breach of trust, and violation of the lawyers oath in connection with the discharge of their duties as members of the Pasig
City Board of Canvassers in the May 8, 1995 elections. Salayon, then election officer of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC),
was designated chairman of said Board, while Llorente, who was then City Prosecutor of Pasig City, served as its ex oficio vice-
chairman as provided by law.[1] Complainant, now a senator, was also a candidate for the Senate in that election.
Complainant alleges that, in violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b),[2]respondents tampered with the votes received by him, with
the result that, as shown in the Statements of Votes (SoVs) and Certificate of Canvass (CoC) pertaining to 1,263 precincts of Pasig
City, (1) senatorial candidates Juan Ponce Enrile, Anna Dominique Coseteng, Gregorio Honasan, Marcelo Fernan, Ramon Mitra,
and Rodolfo Biazon were credited with votes which were above the number of votes they actually received while, on the other
hand, petitioners votes were reduced; (2) in 101 precincts, Enriles votes were in excess of the total number of voters who actually
voted therein; and (3) the votes from 22 precincts were twice recorded in 18 SoVs. Complainant maintains that, by signing the
SoVs and CoC despite respondents knowledge that some of the entries therein were false, the latter committed a serious breach
of public trust and of their lawyers oath.
Respondents denied the allegations against them. They alleged that the preparation of the SoVs was made by the 12
canvassing committees which the Board had constituted to assist in the canvassing. They claimed that the errors pointed out by
complainant could be attributed to honest mistake, oversight, and/or fatigue.
In his Consolidated Reply, complainant counters that respondents should be held responsible for the illegal padding of the
votes considering the nature and extent of the irregularities and the fact that the canvassing of the election returns was done under
their control and supervision.
On December 4, 1998, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, to which this matter had been referred pursuant to Rule 139-B,
13, in relation to 20 of the Rules of Court, recommended the dismissal of the complaint for lack of merit. [3] Petitioner filed a motion
for reconsideration on March 11, 1999, but his motion was denied in a resolution of the IBP Board of Governors dated April 22,
1999. On June 4, 1999, he filed this petition pursuant to Rule 139-B, 12(c).
It appears that complainant likewise filed criminal charges against respondents before the COMELEC (E.O. Case No. 96-
1132) for violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b). In its resolution dated January 8, 1998, the COMELEC dismissed complainants charges
for insufficiency of evidence. However, on a petition for certiorari filed by complainant,[4] this Court set aside the resolution and
directed the COMELEC to file appropriate criminal charges against respondents. Reconsideration was denied on August 15, 2000.
Considering the foregoing facts, we hold that respondents are guilty of misconduct.
First. Respondent Llorente seeks the dismissal of the present petition on the ground that it was filed late. He contends that
a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading under Rule 139-B, 12(c)[5] and, therefore, the filing of such motion before the
IBP Board of Governors did not toll the running of the period of appeal. Respondent further contends that, assuming such motion
can be filed, petitioner nevertheless failed to indicate the date of his receipt of the April 22, 1999 resolution of the IBP denying his
motion for reconsideration so that it cannot be ascertained whether his petition was filed within the 15-day period under Rule 139-
B, 12(c).
The contention has no merit. The question of whether a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading or not under Rule
139-B, 12(c) has been settled in Halimao v. Villanueva,[6] in which this Court held:
Although Rule 139-B, 12(c) makes no mention of a motion for reconsideration, nothing in its text or in its history suggests
that such motion is prohibited. It may therefore be filed within 15 days from notice to a party. Indeed, the filing of such motion
should be encouraged before resort is made to this Court as a matter of exhaustion of administrative remedies, to afford the agency
rendering the judgment an opportunity to correct any error it may have committed through a misapprehension of facts or
misappreciation of the evidence.[7]
On the question whether petitioners present petition was filed within the 15-day period provided under Rule 139-B, 12(c),
although the records show that it was filed on June 4, 1999, respondent has not shown when petitioner received a copy of the
resolution of the IBP Board of Governors denying his motion for reconsideration. It would appear, however, that the petition was
filed on time because a copy of the resolution personally served on the Office of the Bar Confidant of this Court was received by it
on May 18, 1999. Since copies of IBP resolutions are sent to the parties by mail, it is possible that the copy sent to petitioner was
received by him later than May 18, 1999. Hence, it may be assumed that his present petition was filed within 15 days from his
receipt of the IBP resolution. In any event, the burden was on respondent, as the moving party, to show that the petition in this
case was filed beyond the 15-day period for filing it.
Even assuming that petitioner received the IBP resolution in question on May 18, 1999, i.e., on the same date a copy of the
same was received by the Office of the Bar Confidant, the delay would only be two days.[8] The delay may be overlooked,
considering the merit of this case. Disbarment proceedings are undertaken solely for public welfare. The sole question for
determination is whether a member of the bar is fit to be allowed the privileges as such or not. The complainant or the person who
called the attention of the Court to the attorneys alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and generally has no interest in the
outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice.[9] For this reason, laws dealing with double
jeopardy[10] or prescription[11] or with procedure like verification of pleadings[12] and prejudicial questions[13] have no application to
disbarment proceedings.
Even in ordinary civil actions, the period for perfecting appeals is relaxed in the interest of justice and equity where the
appealed case is clearly meritorious. Thus, we have given due course to appeals even though filed six,[14] four,[15] and three[16] days
late. In this case, the petition is clearly meritorious.
Second. The IBP recommends the dismissal of petitioners complaint on the basis of the following: (1) respondents had no
involvement in the tabulation of the election returns, because when the Statements of Votes (SoVs) were given to them, such had
already been accomplished and only needed their respective signatures; (2) the canvassing was done in the presence of watchers,
representatives of the political parties, the media, and the general public so that respondents would not have risked the commission
of any irregularity; and (3) the acts dealt with in R.A. No. 6646, 27(b) are mala in se and not mala prohibita, and petitioner failed to
establish criminal intent on the part of respondents.[17]
The recommendation is unacceptable. In disciplinary proceedings against members of the bar, only clear preponderance of
evidence is required to establish liability.[18] As long as the evidence presented by complainant or that taken judicial notice of by
the Court[19] is more convincing and worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto,[20] the imposition of disciplinary
sanction is justified.
In this case, respondents do not dispute the fact that massive irregularities attended the canvassing of the Pasig City election
returns. The only explanation they could offer for such irregularities is that the same could be due to honest mistake, human error,
and/or fatigue on the part of the members of the canvassing committees who prepared the SoVs.
This is the same allegation made in Pimentel v. Commission on Elections.[21] In rejecting this allegation and ordering
respondents prosecuted for violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b), this Court said:
There is a limit, We believe, to what can be construed as an honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, in the performance
of official duty. The sheer magnitude of the error, not only in the total number of votes garnered by the aforementioned candidates
as reflected in the CoC and the SoVs, which did not tally with that reflected in the election returns, but also in the total number of
votes credited for senatorial candidate Enrile which exceeded the total number of voters who actually voted in those precincts
during the May 8, 1995 elections, renders the defense of honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, as incredible and simply
unacceptable.[22]
Indeed, what is involved here is not just a case of mathematical error in the tabulation of votes per precinct as reflected in
the election returns and the subsequent entry of the erroneous figures in one or two SoVs [23] but a systematic scheme to pad the
votes of certain senatorial candidates at the expense of petitioner in complete disregard of the tabulation in the election returns. A
cursory look at the evidence submitted by petitioner reveals that, in at least 24 SoVs involving 101 precincts, the votes for candidate
Enrile exceeded the number of voters who actually voted in the said precincts and, in 18 SoVs, returns from 22 precincts were
tabulated twice. In addition, as the Court noted in Pimentel, the total number of votes credited to each of the seven senatorial
candidates in question, as reflected in the CoC, markedly differ from those indicated in the SoVs. [24]Despite the fact that these
discrepancies, especially the double recording of the returns from 22 precincts and the variation in the tabulation of votes as
reflected in the SoVs and CoC, were apparent on the face of these documents and that the variation involves substantial number
of votes, respondents nevertheless certified the SoVs as true and correct. Their acts constitute misconduct.
Respondent Llorentes contention that he merely certified the genuineness and due execution of the SoVs but not their
correctness is belied by the certification which reads:

WE HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing Statement of Votes by . . . [p]recinct is true and correct. IN WITNESS
WHEREOF, we sign these presents at the City/Municipality of ___________ Province of ____________ this _______ day
of May, 1995. (Emphasis added)

Nor does the fact that the canvassing was open to the public and observed by numerous individuals preclude the commission
of acts for which respondents are liable. The fact is that only they had access to the SoVs and CoC and thus had the opportunity
to compare them and detect the discrepancies therein.
Now, a lawyer who holds a government position may not be disciplined as a member of the bar for misconduct in the
discharge of his duties as a government official.[25] However, if the misconduct also constitutes a violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility or the lawyers oath or is of such character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or shows moral
delinquency on his part, such individual may be disciplined as a member of the bar for such misconduct. [26]
Here, by certifying as true and correct the SoVs in question, respondents committed a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code which
stipulates that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. By express provision of Canon 6,
this is made applicable to lawyers in the government service. In addition, they likewise violated their oath of office as lawyers to do
no falsehood.
Nowhere is the need for lawyers to observe honesty both in their private and in their public dealings better expressed
in Sabayle v. Tandayag[27] in which this Court said:
There is a strong public interest involved in requiring lawyers . . . to behave at all times in a manner consistent with truth and
honor. It is important that the common caricature that lawyers by and large do not feel compelled to speak the truth and to act
honestly, should not become a common reality. . . .[28]
It may be added that, as lawyers in the government service, respondents were under greater obligation to observe this basic tenet
of the profession because a public office is a public trust.
Third. Respondents participation in the irregularities herein reflects on the legal profession, in general, and on lawyers in
government, in particular. Such conduct in the performance of their official duties, involving no less than the ascertainment of the
popular will as expressed through the ballot, would have merited for them suspension were it not for the fact that this is their first
administrative transgression and, in the case of Salayon, after a long public service.[29] Under the circumstances, a penalty of fine
in the amount of P10,000.00 for each of the respondents should be sufficient.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondents Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon GUILTY of misconduct and imposes
on each of them a FINE in the amount of P10,000.00 with a WARNING that commission of similar acts will be dealt with more
severely.
IN RE; Vicente Y. Bayani
A.C. No. 5307
August 9, 2000

The case before us arose when Atty. Vicente Y. Bayani failed to submit proof of service of the appellant’s brief on the Solicitor
General in G.R. No. 1150791 and the consequent inability of the latter to file the appellee's brief.

On August 09, 1999, the Supreme Court referred Atty. Bayani's failure to submit the procedural requirement to the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation.2

On September 27, 1999, IBP Commissioner Victoria Gonzalez-De Los Reyes sent a letter to Atty. Bayani requiring him to submit
his comment within five (5) days from receipt of the letter.3

However, the letter was returned to the IBP with the notation "Return to Sender-Moved."4

Thus, in her report and recommendation dated January 25, 2000, Commissioner Gonzalez-De Los Reyes recommended Atty.
Bayani's suspension as follows:

"IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the undersigned Commissioner recommends that Atty. Vicente Bayani, for his violation of Rule
18.03 of the Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, be SUSPENDED from the practice of the law profession for a
period of three (3) months and until the time he complies with the Order of the Supreme Court." 5

On March 18, 2000, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a resolution adopting and approving
the report and recommendation of the investigating commissioner.6

We concur.

A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him as his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. 7

Atty. Bayani's failure to submit proof of service of appellant's brief on the Solicitor General in G. R. No. 115079 and his failure to
submit the required comment manifest willful disobedience to the lawful orders of the Supreme Court, a clear violation of the
canons of professional ethics.

It appears that Atty. Bayani has fallen short of the circumspection required of a member of the Bar. A counsel must always
remember that his actions or omissions are binding on his clients.8 A lawyer owes his client the exercise of utmost prudence and
capability in that representation.

Further, lawyers are expected to be acquainted with the rudiments of law and legal procedure, and anyone who deals with them
has the right to expect not just a good amount of professional learning and competence but also a whole-hearted fealty to his
client's cause.9

WHEREFORE, the Court finds Atty. Vicente Y. Bayani remiss in his sworn duty to his client, to the Court and the Bar.1âwphi1 He
is thus SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of three (3) months and until the time he complies with the Order of the
Supreme Court to submit the required proof of service in G. R. No. 115079.
Elpidio Sy vs Edgar Esponilla
A.M. No. P-06-2261
December 11, 2013

This case is one among many where the irregularities complained of are evident and blatant yet its resolution has been
protracted for years. While this Court has already ruled on the liability of the respondents in its October 30, 2006 Decision,1 it
directed another administrative investigation to search for the "missing link" which -if found -would have established the
culpability of the perpetrator of these irregularities.

On March 30, 2004, complainant Elpidio Sy (Sy), President of Systems Realty Development Corporation, filed a verified
Complaint2 charging respondent Edgar Esponilla, Legal Researcher and then Officer-In-Charge of Branch 54 of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila (Branch 54), and Atty. Jennifer Dela Cruz-Buendia (Atty. Dela Cruz-Buendia), Clerk of Court and Ex-officio
Sheriff of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, with Gross Misconduct, Negligence and Dishonesty. The complaint was filed in
connection with the withdrawal of deposits for monthly rentals deposited with Branch 54 in Civil Case No. 90-55003 entitled
Maria Gagarin, et al. v. Bank of the Philippine Islands and Systems Realty Development Corporation.

Complainant had previously filed an ejectment case with Branch 1 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila against Jaime Ang
Tiao and Maria Gagarin who were eventually ejected from the property. On appeal, the case was assigned to Branch 32 of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 32) where supersedeas bond and monthly rentals covering the period from September
30, 1994 to January 3, 1997were deposited. Simultaneously, Ang Tiao and Gagarin filed with Branch 54 a case, docketed as
Civil Case No. 90-55003, contesting the validity of a deed of sale executed between Systems Realty Development Corporation
and BPI.3 The plaintiffs deposited with Branch 54 the sum of ₱264,000.00 to cover rental deposits from June 30, 1989 to August
5, 1994.

Upon a purported Ex-Parte Motion to Withdraw Rental Deposits (Ex-Parte Motion) in Civil Case No. 90-55003 filed by Atty.
Walfredo Bayhon (Atty. Bayhon), counsel for plaintiffs Ang Tiao and Gagarin, the late Judge Hermogenes R. Liwag (Judge
Liwag) issued the subject Order dated November 11, 1994, allowing the withdrawal of the deposits amounting to ₱260,000.00,
viz.:

Finding the Ex-Parte Motion to Withdraw Rental Deposits filed by plaintiffs, thru counsel, to be well-taken, the same is hereby
GRANTED, and the Clerk of Court, or her duly authorized representative, is hereby ordered to release to plaintiffs, or their duly
authorized representative, the deposits made by such parties in the concept of rentals from May, 1989 to August, 1994 in the
estimated aggregate sum of ₱260,000.00.

It is well to emphasize here that such deposits were made in the concept of monthly rentals for the plaintiffs’ occupancy of the
premises in controversy, here and in the ejectment suit now on appeal with Branch 32 of this same Court. It would appear,
however, from the attachments to the Motion to Withdraw Rental Deposits that sufficient supersedeas bond was already posted
in that appealed ejectment bond case by the plaintiffs hereto, defendants therein, in the total sum of ₱260,000.00. Surely, the
rental deposits made in this case become superfluous and serve no legal purpose. It is actually duplicitous and its non-release
would actually prejudice the plaintiffs.4

Judge Liwag was then the Pairing Judge of Branch 54 where Civil Case No. 90-55003 was docketed and the questioned Order
was issued. He was likewise then the Presiding Judge of Branch 55 where, as the investigation would later show, Atty. Bayhon
filed the Ex-Parte Motion. The assailed Order was also typed by an employee of Branch 55. Based on this Order, Ang Tiao was
able to withdraw ₱256,000.00 from the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Manilaasevidenced by a
disbursement voucher5 dated November 14, 1994 certified by respondent Atty. Dela Cruz-Buendia and approved by then Acting
Court Cashier Corazon L. Guanlao.

Complainant alleged that the withdrawal of the rental deposits was irregular because the claim in the Ex-Parte Motion to
Withdraw Rental Deposits that the amount withdrawn from Branch 54 was superfluous and duplicitous is false. He asserted that
Atty. Bayhon falsely alleged that there was already a sufficient supersedeas bond posted with Branch 32 to justify the withdrawal
of the rental deposits made in Branch 54.6 Complainant pointed out that there could have been no such duplication because the
deposits made with Branch 54 covered the period from June 30, 1989 to August 5, 1994, while those made in Branch 32 were
for the period covering September 30, 1994 to January 3, 1997.7 Complainantthus concluded that when Judge Liwag granted the
Ex-Parte Motion, he did not first ascertain the veracity of the allegations therein.8Complainant explained that he could not have
objected to the false allegations made by Atty. Bayhon because he was not furnished a copy of the Ex-Parte Motion and the
same was never set for hearing.9

It is of material significance in the case at bar that the Ex-Parte Motion does not appear anywhere in the records of Branch 54 on
Civil Case No. 90-55003, andthe fact that these documents were not attached to the case folio were discovered only when the
records of the case were elevated to the Court of Appeals.10

Complainant faulted respondent Dela Cruz-Buendia, who was then the Assistant Clerk of Courtforbeing negligent and
connivingwith the plaintiffs in the said civil case when she allowedand facilitatedthe release of the deposits without first verifying
the authenticity of the Ex-Parte Motion and Order.11 Complainant also charged respondent Esponilla with gross negligence for
failing to safeguard vital case records and connivance with the plaintiffs in the same civil case. 12

Respondent Dela Cruz-Buendia denied the charges against her and asserted that the functions of a clerk of court are purely
ministerial in nature. As such, a clerk of court does not possess the discretion to follow or not to follow orders of the
court.13 Respondent Esponilla, on the other hand, prayed that the complaint against him be dismissed. He alleged that he was
not the Officer-In-Charge of Branch 54 when the Order granting the Ex-Parte Motion was allegedly issued by Judge Liwag on
November 11, 1994. Esponilla was designated as Officer-In-Charge only in March 1995.14
On November 9, 2004, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) referred the instant complaint to the Executive Judge of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila for investigation, report and recommendation.15 In a Report and Recommendation16 dated
February 1, 2006, then Executive Judge Antonio M. Eugenio, Jr. submittedthe following findings:

Respondent Edgar Esponilla cannot be faulted for any of the acts complained of as he was appointed officer-in-charge of Branch
54 only in March 1995 and the questioned order was issued by Pairing Judge Hermogenes Liwag on November11, 1994.Nor did
he have a hand in the preparation and release of the check to the plaintiffs on November 14, 1994 or sometime thereafter.

xxxx

As to respondent Clerk of Court, we likewise find her explanations meritorious.In the instant case, the duty of the Clerk of Court
and/or respondent Buendia xxx is ministerial.

Upon receipt of an order from a court, the Clerk of Court’s duty is to make sure that the order is complied with. x xx For a Clerk of
Court to question a ruling or order of a judgeis an invitation for contempt.

xxxx

The pivotal issue that should be addressed is why Atty. Walfredo Bayhon filed the motion in the first place and why then Pairing
Judge Hermogenes Liwag favorably acted on it without looking into the truth of the allegation of "duplicity and superfluity."

xxxx

Accordingly, it is respectfully submitted that the administrative complaint filed against respondents Edgar Esponilla and Jennifer
de la Cruz[-]Buendia be dismissed for lack of merit.

It is further recommended that Atty. Walfredo Bayhon be asked to explain the circumstances behind his filing of the Ex-Parte
Motion and to provide the Supreme Court with a true copy of the motion.17

In a Memorandum18 dated June 5, 2006, the OCA submitted its evaluation and recommendation adopting the findings and
recommendation of Executive Judge Eugenio, as follows:

RECOMMENDATION: In view of the foregoing discussions, it is respectfully submitted that the administrative complaint filed
against respondents Edgar Esponilla and Atty. Jennifer dela Cruz-Buendia be DISMISSEDfor lack of merit.

Consequently, it is further recommended that Atty. Walfredo Bayhon be asked to EXPLAINthe circumstances behind his filing of
the Ex-Parte Motion and to provide the Court with a true copy of themotion.19

In a Decision20 dated October 30, 2006, this Court dismissed the administrative case against respondent Esponilla for lack of
merit.The Court ruled that Esponilla –not being the Officer-In-Charge when the subject documents were allegedly processed with
Branch 54 –cannot be faulted for the missing documents in the folio of Civil Case No. 90-55003.21 The Court also did not find
proof that Esponilla participated in the preparation and release of the check to the plaintiffs.22 For lack of evidence,the Court was
not convinced that Esponilla connived with either the plaintiffs in the civil case or with the other respondents to perpetuate fraud
against the complainant.23

Respondent Dela Cruz-Buendia was found guilty of simple negligence in the performance of her duties and was fined in the
amount of OneThousand Pesos (₱1,000.00), with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar infraction will be dealt with
more severely.24 Atty. Bayhon, for his part, was ordered to explain within ten (10) days from receipt of the Decision the
circumstances behind the filing of the Ex-Parte Motion and to provide the Court with a true copy of the Motion.25 The Court
required Atty. Bayhon’s explanation in order to shed light on the circumstances leading to the issuance of the November 11,
1994 Order and the release of the rental deposits.26

The Court, in the said Decision, stated that the duties27and functions of clerks of court as officers of the law are generally
administrative in nature and do not involve the discretion on the use of judicial powers.28 It ruled that while respondent Dela Cruz-
Buendia’s duties as then clerk of court were purely ministerial, "ordinary prudence [would have called] for her to [have] at least
[verified] the authenticity and origin of the alleged Order of Judge Liwag because from the copies on record, we note that the
same does not bear the seal of the Court nor the standard certification by the branch clerk of court. She should have been
vigilant considering that the Order dealt with withdrawal of deposits."29

The Court further noted the finding of the OCA that per the investigationof Judge Enrico A. Lanzanas, "the purported Order of
Judge Liwag was actually prepared in Branch 55 by one Baby Manalastas."30 Since this finding does not fully explain why the
said Order and the Ex-Parte Motion were not filed in the case folio of Civil Case No. 90-55003, the OCA was directed to conduct
an investigation against the then clerks of court of Branches 54 and 55 during the period material to this case in order to explain
the circumstances behind their improper management of court records and documents.31

In a Motion for Reconsideration32 dated December 28, 2006, respondent Dela-Cruz-Buendia averred that she should not be
found guilty of simple negligence. She argued that her delegated duty in relation to the withdrawal of the rental deposits –the
physical preparation of the checks issued by the Office of the Clerk of Court –was ministerial and she had no choice but to
prepare the subject check based on the Order lest she be cited for contempt. She stated that she did not have to verify the
authenticity of the Order because it is presumed to have been regularly issued. Besides, she argued that the Order submitted to
the Office of the Clerk of Court "was a duplicate original copy, appeared to be authentic on its face, showed no palpable nor
patent, no definite nor certain defects, duly signed by the Honorable Judge Hermogenes Liwag, counterchecked by the
subordinate personnel involved in the preparation of vouchers, namely: Corazon L. Guanlao, Court Cashier and Rosa S.
Rayo."33She allegedly signed and issued the check after the voucher was prepared and signed by the Acting Court Cashier and
Clerk-in-Charge; the attachments, including the duplicate original copy of the Order, were attached to the voucher. With a
"duplicate original copy" of the Order, respondent Dela Cruz-Buendia argued that there was no need to further require a "certified
true copy."

The Court, in a Resolution34 dated January 31, 2007, resolved to deny the motion with finality as no substantial matters were
raised to warrant a reconsideration thereof. Respondent Dela Cruz-Buendia filed a subsequent Supplemental Motion for
Reconsideration35 which was Noted Without Action by the Court in its March 19, 2007 Resolution.36

In a Compliance/Explanation37 dated September 28, 2007, Atty. Bayhon explained that he was not in a position to comply with
the Court’s resolution because he had long ceased to be the counsel of record of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 90-55003. He
further averred that he had already turned over the records of the case to Ang Tiao’s family when he withdrew as counsel in
1997 to join a multinational corporation. Atty. Bayhon also requested that he be allowed to adopt in totothe pleadings and
arguments raised in his Answer38 and Position Paper39 submitted to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in view of a
disbarment complaint filed against him –also by herein complainant Sy. Both of these pleadings submitted to the IBP however
failed to shed light into the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the assailed Order which granted the Ex-Parte Motion
which allegedly could not now be located by Atty. Bayhon. He also sustained his averment that there is nothing on record to
establish that he made an allegation that the deposits made with Branch 54 were superfluous and duplicitous.

On January 3, 2008, the OCA submitted its Report and Recommendation40 to the Court, in compliance with the Resolution41 of
the Third Division directing the OCA to conduct an investigation on the mismanagement of court records in Branches 54 and 55
of the Regional Trial Court of Manila. It submitted the following findings:

It would appear that the incident in Civil Case No. 90-55003 was an isolated anomaly. The case involved rental deposits
amounting to almost ₱260,000.00 that were released by virtue of a November 11, 1994 order issued by Judge Liwag, which
order granted the Ex-Parte Motion to Withdraw Rental Deposits filed by Atty. Bayhon. According to the October 30, 2006
decision of the Court, the order granting the motion was drafted by Ms. Baby Manalastas, a court stenographer in RTC Branch
55 who has since migrated to the United States.

Based on the information gathered by the audit team, the Clerk of Court of RTC Branch 54 for the period November 1994 was
Atty. Emerenciana O. Manook. Atty. Manook, who now serves as Clerk of Court VI of RTC, Branch 23, Allen, Northern Samar,
was the Clerk of Court of RTC, Branch 54, Manila from July 1,1989 to March 29, 1995.

On the other hand, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of RTC Branch 55 for the period November 1994 was Ms. Isabelita D. Artuz. Ms.
Artuz served as OIC of the branch from September 1994 until November 1996 xxx.42

In light of these findings, the Court, in another Resolution43 dated February 11, 2008, adopted the following recommendations of
the OCA:

1.That Atty. Emerenciana O. Manook, Clerk of Court, RTC, Branch 23, Allen, Northern Samar, and Ms. Isabelita D.
Artuz, Office of Court of Appeals Associate Justice Fernanda L. Peralta, be DIRECTED TO COMMENT on the
November 11, 1994 order issued by former RTC Branch 55 Manila Presiding Judge Hermogenes Liwag granting the
Motion to Withdraw Rental Deposits filed by Atty. Walfredo Bayhon xxx;

2.Thataction on the September 28, 2007 comment/explanation submitted by Atty. Walfredo C. Bayhon relative to the
incident be DEFERRED pending the submission of Atty. Manook and Ms. Artuz of their comments. 44

On June 17, 2008, Ms. Artuz submitted her explanation.45 While she was a Legal Researcher at Branch 55 when the subject
irregularity was allegedly committed, she admitted that she was not familiar with Civil Case No. 90-55003. She also did not know
of any irregularity surrounding the issuance of the questioned Order as it dealt with a case docketed with Branch 54, and not with
Branch 55. Sifting through her averments, the Court found a relevant information that in the past, Branch 54 used the sala of
Branch 55 where Judge Liwag was then Presiding Judge.46

In a letter47 dated September 26, 2008 submitted by Atty. Manook –the Branch Clerk of Court of Branch 54 during the time
material to the case –she claimed that "[a]fter [a]careful scrutiny of the records, [she found] that in xxx Civil Case No. 90-55003 x
x x, the Ex-Parte Motion to Withdraw Rental Deposits was filed by Atty. Walfredo Bayhon with Branch 55, RTC Manila. It was
never filed with Branch 54, RTC Manila." She added that she could not remember encountering the Ex-Parte Motion and was
puzzled why the Order of Judge Liwag was typed by Baby Manalastas –a court stenographic reporter assigned to Branch 55 –
when the Order involved a case filed with Branch 54.

In a Memorandum48 dated February 3, 2009, the OCA founda prima faciecase of irregularity in granting the Ex-Parte Motion due
to the following factors:

1. [t]he Motion and the subject Order could not be found in the records of Branch 54;

2. [t]hey could not be produced either by Atty. Bayhon;

3. [t]he Motion was filedwith Branch 55, never with Branch 54, while the Order was typed or drafted by a stenographer
of Branch 55, not by a personnel of Branch 54; and
4. [c]omplainant in the civil case was not even furnished a copy of the Motion which was not even set for hearing. 49

On March 25, 2009, the Court issued a Resolution50 requiring Atty. Bayhon to show cause why he should not be disciplinarily
dealt with for filing the Ex-Parte Motion with Branch 55, and not with Branch 54. He was also required to comment on the
allegation that complainant was not furnished a copy of the Ex-Parte Motion and to exert his best efforts to submit the subject Ex-
Parte Motion to the Court. The Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals was also directed to furnish the Court a copy of the Ex-
Parte Motion which was appealed thereto from Branch 54 on July 11, 1996.51

Despite the Show Cause Resolution,52 Atty. Bayhon failed to file his explanation and comment as required. Thus, in a
Resolution53 dated December 1, 2010, he was fined in the amount of ₱500.00 and directed to submit the required comment and
explanation. In the same Resolution, the Court also required the Presiding Judge of Branch 54, to submit to the Court a copy of
the subject Ex-Parte Motion in view of the Court of Appeals remanding the case to the said branch. Hon. Reynaldo A. Alhambra,
then Pairing Judge of Branch 54, informed the Court that the subject Ex-Parte Motion was not attached to the expedienteper
certification of the Branch Clerk of Court, Atty. Noel Antay.54The OCA, for its part, reported in a Memorandum55 dated April 4,
2011 that upon the certification56 of Ms. Adora Millo, the Officer-In-Charge of Branch 55, a copy of the Ex-Parte Motion could not
be produced since the civil case involving the Ex-Parte Motion is not in its docket. The OCA Memorandum further stated, viz.:

We had also directed the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Manila to verify from the record of the
disbursement voucher relative to the release of the rental deposit if acopy of the said ex-parte motion is attached. As certified by
xxx Atty. Clemente M. Clemente, the Assistant Clerk of Court, the voucher discloses that nosuch document is attached x x x. 57

The finding of the OCA –that the Ex-Parte Motion was also not attached to the disbursement voucher –is significant. It could be
argued that such document may not be a necessary attachment in the issuance of a check by the Office of the Clerk of Court.
However, the fact that all the employees involved –from the filing of the Ex-Parte Motion to the eventual issuance and withdrawal
of the check –certify that the Ex-Parte Motion does not exist in the records within their respective custody casts serious doubt as
to the regularity surrounding the filing of the Ex-Parte Motion.

Meanwhile, Atty. Bayhon again failed to comply with the Resolution of December 1, 2010. Thus, in the August 24, 2011
Resolution58 of the Court, Atty. Bayhon was required to comply with the December 1, 2010 Resolution within ten days
fromnotice, and to submit his memorandum within thirty days from notice. Since Atty. Bayhon yet again failed to comply, the
Court issued another Resolution59 dated April 16, 2012 requiring him to comply with the same December 1, 2010 Resolution
within ten days from notice, otherwise the Court will order his arrest for non-compliance therewith.

On October 5, 2012, Atty. Bayhon finally filed a Very Respectful Apology and Compliance60 with the OCA. While he apologized
to the Court for the late submission of his response and compliance with its resolutions, he merely reiterated his previous string
of excuses that in no way could have shed light to the circumstances in question:

1.that he ceased to be the counsel for plaintiff Ang in 1997 when he left his law practice;

2.that in view of his withdrawal as counsel, he no longer has possession and access to the subject Ex-Parte Motion as
he had already turned over the files to Ang’s children and had lost contact with them; and

3.that due to these circumstances, he cannotproffer intelligent answers and explanations to the questions being posed
on him by the Court.

We are not persuaded.

It is clear that the filing of the Ex-Parte Motion by Atty. Bayhon triggered the series of irregularities that have studded the case at
bar: the Ex-Parte Motion was never shown to have been set for hearing; there is no record that the opposing party was notified;
the Ex-Parte Motion was granted in an Order issued by the late Judge Liwag under Branch 54, but the Ex-Parte Motion could not
be found in the case folio from the said branch; it was later found that the Ex-Parte Motion was filed with Branch 55 where the
case was not docketed; the Order granting the Motion was typed by a court stenographic reporter of Branch 55; nonetheless, the
Motion could not be located among the files of Branch 55.

The Court had sought the explanation of Atty. Bayhon to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the filing of the Ex-Parte
Motion, and to exert his best efforts to furnish usa copy of the said motion. The compliance of Atty. Bayhon was sought as early
as October 30, 2006 –the date when the Court promulgated its Decision pertaining to the liability of herein respondents. It was in
light of the Court’s recognition that some form of irregularity was committed in this case that prompted it to look at all angles and
request an explanation from every relevant source of information. However, Atty. Bayhon, instead of shedding light in the
discussion, only proffered unresponsive answers that were mostly reiterations of his averments in the pleadings he had earlier
submitted to the IBP. As aptly observed and succinctly described by the OCA:

Atty. Bayhon’s explanations are unsatisfactory. His words are evasive and carefully selected as to free him from any liability.
They do not directly confront the nagging questions, merely offering as excuses his resignation as counsel of record and turn-
over of documents to his clients, and blaming his adversary’s negligence. However, he himself isto be greatly blamed for not
promptly and fully complying with the directives of the Court, particularly the 25 March 2009 Resolution and the subsequent
resolutions which dragged this case for so long a time. He refused to answer why he filed the subject motion at Branch 55, not at
Branch 54. He did not comment on the allegation that the complainant in the civil case was not furnished a copy of the said
motion which was not even set for hearing. He did not exert his best efforts in locating or producing the motion for submission to
the Court. And he complied with the resolutions rather belatedly, or after he was threatened by the Court with arrest. It appears
that he took the Court’s directives lightly.
Worse, Atty. Bayhon completely ignored the sanction ofthe Court in its 01 December 2010 Resolution imposing upon him a fine
of ₱500.00. After almost two (2) years and several resolutions reiterating the said resolution, he has not paid the fine or even
mentioned the penalty in his 01 October 2012 compliance.

A resolution of the Supreme Court should not be construed as a mere request, and should be complied with promptly and
completely. Such failure to comply accordingly betrays not only a recalcitrant streak in character, but also disrespect for the
Court’s lawful order and directive.61 This contumacious conduct of refusing to abide by the lawful directives issued by the Court
has likewise been considered as an utter lack of interest to remain with, if not contempt of, the system. 62 As a lawyer and an
officer ofthe court, Atty. Bayhon should have been more than conscious and aware of his duty to strictly follow the Court’s orders
and processes without unreasonable delay.63

We agree with the accurate and incisive discussion of the OCA on all points, except for thepenalty imposed.1avvphi1 The OCA
imposed upon Atty. Bayhon an additional fine of ₱2,000.00 to the original fine of ₱500.00 for non-compliance with the directives
of the Court. This additional fine was also imposed for Atty. Bayhon’s continuously ignoring the several Court resolutions
reiterating the payment of the original fine.64

Atty. Bayhon should be imposed a stringer penalty. The disobedience and the consequent delays he incurred had protracted the
pace of the administrative investigation in the case at bar. While Atty. Bayhon may have apologized to this Court a number of
times, his sincerity is not reflected in the manner that he would deal with the Court after each tendered apology: he would again
not comply, and hence cause delay, to a subsequent resolution in clear violation of the Lawyer’s Oath65 which states, among
others, that a lawyer "will conduct [himself] as a lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion, with all good
fidelity as well to the courts as to [his] clients."

Aside from not complying with the resolutions of the Court, the evidence on record is clear that Atty. Bayhon also violated Canon
10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibilitywhich states that "[a] lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to
the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice."It is significant that Atty. Bayhon
has consistently claimed that there is no proof to show that he ever claimed that the amounts deposited with Branch 32 were
superfluous and duplicitous66 –the reason used as a basis for the issuance of the assailed Order.He also stated that from his
recollection, if there was a motion to withdraw cash deposits with Branch 54, there was also a simultaneous request to the trial
court to replace the money with a supersedeas bond.67 He further stated that "no trial judge worth his salt, Judge Liwag in this
instance, would have allowed such a withdrawal without a corresponding replacement."68

On its face, however, the following Order of Judge Liwag shows that the deposits were allowed to be withdrawn due to their
"superfluity and duplicity" vis-à-vis the supersedeas bond already posted with Branch 32, and not because the amount withdrawn
with Branch 54 was replaced by a supersedeas bond:

xxxx

It is well to emphasize here that such deposits were made in the concept of monthly rentals for the plaintiffs’ occupancy of the
premises in controversy, here and in the ejectment suit now on appeal with Branch 32 of this same Court. It would appear,
however, from the attachments to the Motion to Withdraw Rental Depositsthat sufficient supersedeas bond was already posted in
that appealed ejectment bond case by the plaintiffs hereto, defendants therein, in the total sum of ₱260,000.00.1âwphi1 Surely,
the rental deposits made in this case become superfluous and serve no legal purpose. It is actually duplicitous and its non-
release would actually prejudice the plaintiffs.69

Atty. Bayhon’s unsubstantiated claim that the deposits withdrawn were replaced by a supersedeas bond is a legal incredulity. It
is a preposterous excuse that does not only attempt to mislead the Court –it was proffered in an attempt to evade the directive of
the Court to produce a copy of the Ex-Parte Motion which may open another can of worms. The Order clearly states that the
attachments to the Ex-Parte Motion showed that there was already a "supersedeas bond" posted with Branch 32 in the amount
of ₱260,000.00, that is why Judge Liwag ordered and authorized the withdrawal of the same amount of ₱260,000.00 from
Branch 54. It is precisely the claim of herein complainant that it was fraudulent misrepresentation on the part of Atty. Bayhon to
make it appear that the Branch 54 deposits were superfluous because the deposits made with Branches 32 and 54 were
separate, distinct and covered different periods –a false claim that Atty. Bayhon has continuously denied making in the Ex-Parte
Motion. But instead of producing and submitting to this Court a copy of the Ex-Parte Motion to conclusively prove that he did not
make such a false averment, Atty. Bayhon hides behind the rules of evidence claiming that without the subject Ex-Parte Motion,
this allegation against him is but hearsay.

The OCA appears to be right when it observed that Atty. Bayhon seems to have a selective memory, 70 since he remembers only
the matter pertaining to the supersedeas bond, but has claimed that he no longer remembers the other circumstances
surrounding the filing of the Ex-Parte Motion.71 To be sure, Atty. Bayhon has never denied having filed the controversial Ex-Parte
Motion, but as pointed out by the OCA:

x x x His explanation about the circumstances surrounding its filing is unsatisfactory as he did not exert his utmost efforts to
locate the Motionfrom his clients or from the courts. He did not even mention in his "Explanation/Compliance" that he tried to
contact his clients to verify if they still have in their possession a copy of the Motion.72

For failing to explain, in good faith, the circumstances surrounding the filing of the Ex-Parte Motion which he himself filed, for
proffering misleading claims in the course of the subject administrative investigation, and for not having shown and proved that
he exerted his best efforts to secure and submit a copy of the subject Ex-Parte Motion -all in violation of the resolutions issued by
this Court -Atty. Bayhon violated the Lawyer's Oath and Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Under
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by
the Supreme Court for any violation of the Lawyer's Oath, viz.:
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 unlawful 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.xx x

We believe that the proven acts and omissions of Atty. Bayhon in the case at bar warrant the imposition of the penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for six ( 6) months. He has attempted to mislead the Court, and his non-compliance with the
resolutions of the Court dated March 25, 2009, December 1, 2010 and August 24, 2011 shows nothing but an indifference to our
directives which cannot be taken lightly, especially that it has affected and protracted the investigation and resolution of an
administrative matter where his explanation and assistance is a crucial factor.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Walfredo C. Bayhon is hereby found guilty of violating the Lawyer's Oath and Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility. This Court imposes upon Atty. Bayhon the penalty of SUSPENSION from the practice of
law for a period of SIX (6) MONTHS to commence immediately upon receipt of this Decision. This penalty of suspension is
imposed in addition to the fine of :PS00.00 under the December 1, 2010 Resolution of this Court. Atty. Bayhon is further
WARNED that a commission of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Court Administrator to be disseminated to all courts throughout the
country, to the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to Atty. Walfredo C. Bayhon's personal records, and to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines for its information and guidance.
Felipe C. Dagala vs Atty. Jose C. Quesada, et. al.
A.C. No. 5044
December 2, 2013

The facts

On November 8, 1994 complainant, assisted by Atty. Quesada, filed before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC),
Regional Arbitration Branch No. 1, San Fernando City, La Union (NLRC-RAB) Complaint2 for illegal dismissal, overtime pay,
separation pay, damages and attorney’s fees against Capitol Allied Trading & Transport (Capitol), and owner and General
Manager, Lourdes Gutierrez, as well as its Personnel Manager, Joseph G. De Jesus, docketed as NLRC Case No. RAB-I-
1??1123-94. The said case was, however, dismissed without prejudice, through an Order3 dated December 13, 1994 (December
13, 1994 Order), for failure of complainant and Atty. Quesada to appear during the two (2) scheduled mandatory conference
hearings despite due notice. Thereafter, complainant engaged the services of Atty. Adquilen, a former Labor Arbiter (LA) of the
NLRC-RAB, who re-filed his labor case, re-docketed as NLRC Case No. RAB-I-10-1091-95 (LU).4

Similarly, the case was dismissed without prejudice on June 28, 1996, this time due to the parties' failure to submit their
respective position papers.5

Complainant and Atty. Adquilen re-filed the case for a third time on August 27, 1996, docketed as NLRC Case No. RAB-I-08-
1191-96 (LU).6

During its pendency, the representative of Capitol purportedly offered the amount of ₱74,000.00 as settlement of complainant's
claim, conditioned on the submission of the latter’s position paper. 7

Atty. Adquilen, however, failed to submit one, resulting in the dismissal of the complaint "for lack of interest and failure to
prosecute" as stated in an Order8 dated February 27, 1997 (February 27, 1997 Order). Atty. Adquilen and complainant received
notice of the said order on March 11, 1997 and March 24, 1997,9 respectively. On July 11, 1997, complainant – this time assisted
by Atty. Imelda L. Picar (Atty. Picar) – filed a motion for reconsideration10

from the February 27, 1997 Order, which was treated as an appeal and transmitted to the NLRC-National Capital Region (NLRC-
NCR).11

However, the NLRC-NCR dismissed the same in a Resolution12 dated June 17, 1998 for having been filed out of time, adding
that the negligence of counsel binds the client.13

Due to the foregoing, Atty. Picar sent separate letters14 dated November 18, 1998 to respondents, informing them that
complainant is in the process of pursuing administrative cases against them before the Court. Nevertheless, as complainant
remains open to the possibility of settlement, respondents were invited to discuss the matter at Atty. Picar’s office. Only Atty.
Quesada responded to the said letter and subsequently, through a Memorandum of Agreement 15 dated December 5, 1998
(December 5, 1998 MoA), undertook to compensate the damages sustained by complainant in consideration of the non-filing of
an administrative complaint against him. Atty. Quesada, however, reneged on his promise, thus prompting complainant to
proceed with the present complaint.16

In a Resolution17 dated June 21, 1999, the Court directed respondents to comment on the Complaint within ten (10) days from
notice. However, despite notices18 and the extension granted,19

Atty. Adquilen failed to comply with the directive and the subsequent show-cause resolutions.20 Accordingly, a fine in the amount
of ₱500.00 was imposed21 against him, which he duly paid on September 19, 2005.22 On the other hand, Atty. Quesada, in his
Comment,23 admitted having accepted and filed the initial labor case for complainant. He, however, explained that he was unable
to file the required position paper due to complainant's failure to furnish him with the employment records and other relevant
documents. He also claimed that when he was informed of the dismissal of the case without prejudice, he advised complainant
to re-file the case with the assistance of another lawyer as he had to attend to his duties as Chairman of the Laban ng
Demokratikong Pilipino for the Second District of La Union Province.24 Anent the December 5, 1998 MoA, Atty. Quesada alleged
that he was merely prevailed upon to sign the same for fear of losing his means of livelihood and license to practice law, and that
he had no intention of reneging on his promise to pay. Nonetheless, despite earnest efforts, he still failed to come up with the
agreed-upon amount.25

In a Resolution26 dated March 27, 2006, the Court resolved to refer the instant administrative case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for evaluation, report and recommendation or decision.

The Proceedings Before the IBP

The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) set the case for mandatory conference on August 25, 2006 and required the
parties to submit their respective briefs.27

Complainant was duly represented28 by his counsel at the hearing,29 while respondents filed separate motions to reset, only to
subsequently waive their respective appearances. Atty. Adquilen attributed the waiver to his medical condition; 30 on the other
hand, in a complete turnaround, Atty. Quesada denied the existence of any lawyer-client relationship between him and
complainant.31
On March 25, 2009, Investigating IBP Commissioner Pedro A. Magpayo, Jr. issued a Report and Recommendation, 32 finding that
respondents were grossly negligent in handling complainant's case in violation of Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (Code). As such, he recommended that each of them be suspended from the practice of law for a
period of one (1) year. Moreover, Atty. Quesada was directed to comply with his undertaking under the December 5, 1998 MoA
to pay the amount of ₱68,000.00, with legal interest from January 20, 1999 until fully settled; while Atty. Adquilen was ordered to
pay the amount of ₱6,000.00, representing the difference between the ₱74,000.00 settlement offered by Capitol and the above-
stated settlement amount, with legal interest from date of notice of the order of dismissal on March 25, 1997 33 until fully paid. The
IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the afore-stated report and recommendation in Resolution No. XX-2011-262
dated November 19, 2011 (November 19, 2011 Resolution), finding the same to be fully supported by the evidence on record
and the applicable laws and rules. Consequently, it directed respondents to pay complainant the total amount of ₱74,000.00
within thirty (30) days from notice.34

In a Resolution35 dated September 12, 2012, the Court noted the Notice36 of the IBP’s November 19, 2011 Resolution, and
thereafter sent notices to the parties as well as the IBP-CBD, the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Public Information Office.
However, the notice sent to Atty. Adquilen was returned unserved with the notation "Return to Sender, Deceased." 37

Thus, in the Resolutions dated February 20, 201338 and June 10, 2013,39 the IBP was required to furnish the Court with the
death certificate of Atty. Adquilen.

On August 30, 2013, the IBP filed its compliance,40 attaching therewith the Certificate of Death41 of Atty. Adquilen which indicates
that the latter passed away on June 22, 2008 due to cardiac arrhythmia.1âwphi1 In view of Atty. Adquilen's death prior to the
promulgation of this Decision,42 the Court, bearing in mind the punitive nature of administrative liabilities,43 hereby dismisses the
case against him. Hence, what is left for resolution is the complaint against Atty. Quesada.

The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue in this case is whether or not Atty. Quesada should be held administratively liable for gross negligence in
handling complainant’s labor case.

The Court's Ruling

The Court concurs with and affirms the findings of the IBP anent Atty. Quesada’s administrative liability, but deems it proper to
delete the recommended order for the return of the amount of ₱74,000.00. The Court has repeatedly emphasized that the
relationship between a lawyer and his client is one imbued with utmost trust and confidence. In this regard, clients are led to
expect that lawyers would be ever-mindful of their cause and accordingly exercise the required degree of diligence in handling
their affairs. For his part, the lawyer is required to maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency, and to devote his full
attention, skill, and competence to the case, regardless of its importance and whether he accepts it for a fee or for free. 44

He is likewise expected to act with honesty in all his dealings, especially with the courts.45

These principles are embodied in Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, Rule 10.01 of Canon 10, Canon 17 and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the
Code which respectively read as follows:

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

Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. x x x x CANON 10 – A LAWYER
OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT. Rule 10.01 – A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor
consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice. x x x x

CANON 17 – A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST
AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM. CANON 18 – A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND
DILIGENCE. x x x x Rule 18.03 – A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.

In the present case, the Court finds Atty. Quesada to have violated the foregoing Rules and Canons. Primarily, Atty, Quesada
failed to exercise the required diligence in handling complainant’s case by his failure to justify his absence on the two (2)
mandatory conference hearings in NLRC Case No. RAB-I-11-1123-94 despite due notice, which thus resulted in its dismissal. It
bears stressing that a retained counsel is expected to serve the client with competence and diligence and not to sit idly by and
leave the rights of his client in a state of uncertainty. To this end, he is oblige to attend scheduled hearings or conferences,
prepare and file the required pleadings, prosecute the handled cases with reasonable dispatch, and urge their termination
without waiting for the client or the court to prod him or her to do so.46

Atty. Quesada’s failure to attend the scheduled conference hearings, despite due notice and without any proper justification,
exhibits his inexcusable lack of care and diligence in managing his client’s cause in violation of Canon 17 and Rule 18.03, Canon
18 of the Code. Moreover, Atty. Quesada acted with less candor and good faith in the proceedings before the IBP-CBD when he
denied the existence of any lawyer-client relationship between him and complainant, and claimed that the labor case was
handled by another lawyer,47 despite his previous admission48before the Court of having accepted complainant's case. To add a
perusal of the complaint49 dated November 8, 1994 in NLRC Case No. RAB-I-11-1123-94 reveals that Atty. Quesada signed the
same as counsel for complainant.50
While the IBP-CBD is not a court, the proceedings therein are nonetheless part of a judicial proceeding, a disciplinary action
being in reality an investigation by the Court into the misconduct of its officers or an examination into his character. 51

Besides, Atty. Quesada failed to rebut the allegation that complainant's corresponding failure to appear during the mandatory
conference hearings in NLRC Case No. RAB-I-11-1123-94 was upon his counsel’s advice.52

Under the premises, it is therefore reasonable to conclude that Atty. Quesada had indulged in deliberate falsehood, contrary to
the prescriptions under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 and Rule 10.01, Canon 10 of the Code.53

The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer depends on the exercise of sound judicial discretion based on the surrounding
facts.54

In Conlu v. Aredonia, Jr.,55 a lawyer was suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year for inexcusable
negligence that resulted in the dismissal of complainant’s appeal and for misrepresentations committed before the CA, in
violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1, Rule 10.01, Canon 10 and Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code. In the cases of Cheng v. Atty.
Agravante56 and Perea v. Atty. Almadro,57 respondent-lawyers were similarly punished for their negligence in the discharge of
their duties to their client and for misrepresentation committed before the Court, in violation of Rule 10.01, Canon 10 and Rule
18.03, Canon 18 of the Code. Hence, consistent with existing jurisprudence, the Court adopts the penalty recommended by the
IBP and accordingly suspends Atty. Quesada for a period of one (1) year. The Court must, however, clarify that the foregoing
resolution should not include a directive to return the amount of ₱74,000.00 as ordered by the IBP in its November 19, 2011
Resolution which represents the settlement initially offered by Capitol in the dismissed labor case. The return of the said amount
partakes the nature of a purely civil liability which should not be dealt with during an administrative-disciplinary proceeding such
as this case. In Tria-Samonte v. Obias,58 the Court recently illumined that disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are only
confined to the issue of whether or not the respondent-lawyer is still fit to be allowed to continue as a member of the Bar and that
the only concern is his administrative liability. Thus, matters which have no intrinsic link to the lawyer's professional engagement,
such as the liabilities of the parties which are purely civil in nature, should be threshed out in a proper proceeding of such nature,
and not during administrative-disciplinary proceedings, as in this case.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Jose C. Quesada, Jr. is found GUILTY of violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, Rule 10.01 of Canon
10, Canon 17, and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and is accordingly SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for one (1) year, effective upon his receipt of this Decision, with a stern warning that a repitition of the same or
similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

On the other hand, the admnistrative complaint respondent Atty. Amado Adquilen is hereby DIMISSED in view of his
supervening death.
Jocelyn de Leon vs Atty Tyrone Pedrena
A.C. No. 9401
October 22, 2013

A lawyer who commits overt acts of sexual harassment against a female client is guilty of reprehensible conduct that is
unbecoming of a member of the Bar and may be condignly punished with suspension from the practice of law.

Antecedents

Jocelyn de Leon filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) a complaint for disbarment or suspension from the practice
of law against Atty. Tyrone Pedreña, a Public Attorney. She averred in her complaint-affidavit that Atty. Pedreña had sexually
harassed her as follows:

1. On January 30, 2006, at about 10:00 in the morning, I went to the Public Attorney’s Office in Parañaque City, in
order to inquire from ATTY. TYRONE PEDREÑA about the status of my case for support for my two minor children
against my husband, which case is being handled by Atty. Pedreña;

2. At that time, said Atty. Pedreña was at a court hearing, so I waited at his office until he arrived at about 11:45 a.m.
Atty. Pedreña told me to go ahead to Tita Babes Restaurant so we could take our lunch together and to talk about my
said case;

3. While we were eating at the said restaurant, he asked me many personal matters rather than to discuss my said
case. But still, I answered him with respect, for he was my lawyer;

4. After we took our lunch, he told me to just go back on February 1, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. because according to him, my
said case was quite difficult, that he needed more time to study;

5. Since Atty. Pedreña was also already going home then, he told me then to ride with him and he would just drop me
by the jeepney station;

6. Although I refused to ride with him, he persistently convinced me to get in the car, and so I acceded to his request so
as not to offend him;

7. Right after we left the parking lot and not yet too far from the City Hall, Atty. Pedreña immediately held my left hand
with his right hand, insisted me to get closer with him and laid me on his shoulder;

8. I immediately responded by saying "AYOKO HO!" But he persisted in trying to get hold of my hand and he also tried
very hard to inserting (sic) his finger into my firmly closed hand. Thus, I became very afraid and at the same time
offended for his lack of respect for me at that moment; 9. Despite my resistance, he continued rubbing my left leg. I
was then attempting to remove his hand on my leg, but he grabbed my hand and forced it to put (sic) on his penis;

10. Because I was already really afraid at that moment, I continued to wrestle and struggle, and as I saw that we were
already approaching the 7-Eleven Store, the place where I was supposed to get off, Atty. Pedreña made another move
of pressing his finger against my private part;

11. I thereafter tried at all cost to unlock the car’s door and told him categorically that I was getting off the car. But
because the traffic light was on green, he accelerated a bit more instead, but sensing my insistence to get off, he
stopped the car, and allowed me to get off. He then reminded me to see him on February 1, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. for the
continuation of hearing of my case;

12. That on February 1, 2006, I had to come for my case, but this time, I brought with me my five-year-old child to
avoid another incident. I was not able to see Atty. Pedreña then, so I just signed some documents;1

In his answer, Atty. Pedreña averred that De Leon’s allegations were unsubstantiated; that entertaining such a complaint would
open the gates to those who had evil desires to destroy the names of good lawyers; that the complaint was premature and
should be dismissed on the ground of forum shopping because De Leon had already charged him with acts of lasciviousness in
the Parañaque City Prosecutor’s Office; and that he had also filed a complaint for theft against De Leon. 2

Attached to Atty. Pedreña’s answer were his counter-affidavit in the criminal case for acts of lasciviousness and his complaint-
affidavit for theft. In his counter affidavit, Atty. Pedreña admitted giving a ride to De Leon, but he vehemently denied making
sexual advances on her, insisting that she had sat very close to him during the ride that even made it hard for him to shift gears,
and that the ride had lasted for only two to three minutes.3 He claimed that De Leon was allowing herself to be used by his
detractors in the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) after he had opposed the practice of certain PAO staff members of charging
indigent clients for every document that they prepared. In his complaint affidavit for theft, he stated that he had another
passenger in his car at the time he gave a ride to De Leon, who did not notice the presence of the other passenger because the
ride lasted for only two to three minutes; and that the other passenger was Emma Crespo, who executed her own affidavit
attesting that she had witnessed De Leon’s act of taking his (Pedreña) cellphone from the handbrake box of the car. 4

Only De Leon appeared during the hearing.5 Hence, Atty. Pedreña was deemed to have waived his right to participate in the
proceedings.6
Thereafter, the IBP Investigating Commissioner recommended the disbarment of Atty. Pedreña and the striking off of his name
from the Roll of Attorneys.7 Holding that a disbarment case was sui generis and could proceed independently of the criminal case
that was based on the same facts; and that the proceedings herein need not wait until the criminal case for acts of lasciviousness
brought against Atty. Pedreña was finally resolved, the IBP Investigating Commissioner found that Atty. Pedreña had made
sexual advances on De Leon in violation of Rule 1.018 and Rule 7.039 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

In its Resolution No. XVIII-2007-83 dated September 19, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved with
modification the report and recommendation of the IBP Investigating Commissioner, and imposed upon Atty. Pedreña
suspension from the practice of law for three months.10

Atty. Pedreña filed a motion for reconsideration with the IBP,11 which adopted and approved Resolution No. XX-2012-43 dated
January 15, 2012, denying the motion and affirming with modification its Resolution No. XVIII-2007-83 by increasing the period of
suspension to six months.12

On February 28, 2012, the IBP Board of Governors transmitted to the Court Resolution No. XX-2012-43 and the records of the
case for final approval.13

In the Resolution dated April 24, 2012, the Court noted the IBP Board of Governors’ notice of Resolution No. XX-2012-43.14

Ruling

The report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner stated thusly:

There is no doubt that Complainant was able to prove her case against the Respondent. During the clarificatory hearing, she was
straightforward and spontaneous in answering the questions propounded on her. Her account of the incident that happened on
30 January 2006 was consistent with the matters she stated in her Complaint and Verified Position Paper.

On the other hand, Respondent’s defenses are not credible enough to rebut the claims of Complainant. His defenses are replete
with

Decision 5 A.C. No. 9401 inconsistencies and his actuations in the entire proceedings show lack of integrity in his dealings with
both the Complainant and this Commission.

xxxx

We find no merit at all in the defenses put forth by Respondent. The Theft case filed by Respondent is a mere afterthought on his
part. We note that such criminal complaint hinged on a claim that there was another person during that incident who allegedly
saw Complainant stealing Respondent’s mobile phone. Yet, in Respondent’s Position Paper and in his Counter-Affidavit to the
Acts of Lasciviousness case, which was executed after the institution of the criminal complaint for Theft, Respondent never
mentioned anything about a third person being present during the incident. If the presence of this third person was crucial to
prove his case against herein Complainant, there is no reason why this allegation would be omitted in his Position Paper and
Counter-Affidavit to at least support his defense.

Furthermore, Respondent’s contention that Complainant is being used by his detractors is self-serving. His memo regarding the
amount of RATA he receives is a relatively harmless query to a higher authority, which could not possibly motivate his
colleagues to prod other people to file cases against Respondent.15

We adopt the findings and conclusions of the Investigating Commissioner, as sustained by the IBP Board of Governors, for being
substantiated by the evidence on record.

The records show that Atty. Pedreña rubbed the complainant’s right leg with his hand; tried to insert his finger into her firmly
closed hand; grabbed her hand and forcibly placed it on his crotch area; and pressed his finger against her private part. Given
the circumstances in which he committed them, his acts were not merely offensive and undesirable but repulsive, disgraceful and
grossly immoral. They constituted misconduct on the part of any lawyer. In this regard, it bears stressing that immoral conduct is
gross when it is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree, or when
committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the community’s sense of decency.16

The possession of good moral character is both a condition precedent and a continuing requirement to warrant admission to the
Bar and to retain membership in the Legal Profession. Members of the Bar are clearly duty- bound to observe the highest degree
of morality and integrity in order to safeguard the reputation of the Bar. Any errant behavior on the part of a lawyer that tends to
expose a deficiency in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor, be it in the lawyer’s public or private activities, is
sufficient to warrant the lawyer’s suspension or disbarment.17 Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, provides that a member
of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended for grossly immoral conduct, or violation of his oath as a lawyer. Towards that end, we
have not been remiss in reminding members of the Bar to live up to the standards and norms of the Legal Profession by
upholding the ideals and principles embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Atty. Pedreña’s misconduct was aggravated by the fact that he was then a Public Attorney mandated to provide free legal service
to indigent litigants, and by the fact that De Leon was then such a client. He also disregarded his oath as a public officer to serve
others and to be accountable at all times, because he thereby took advantage of her vulnerability as a client then in desperate
need of his legal assistance.
Yet, even as we agree with the findings of the IBP, we consider the recommended penalty of suspension for six months not
commensurate with the gravity of the offensive acts committed.

Verily, the determination of the penalty to impose on an erring lawyer is within the Court’s discretion.1âwphi1 The exercise of the
discretion should neither be arbitrary nor despotic, nor motivated by any animosity or prejudice towards the lawyer, but should
instead be ever controlled by the imperative need to scrupulously guard the purity and independence of the Bar and to exact
from the lawyer strict compliance with his duties to the Court, to his client, to his brethren in the profession, and to the general
public.18

In determining the appropriate penalty to be imposed on Atty. Pedreña, therefore, we take into consideration judicial precedents
on gross immoral conduct bearing on sexual matters. Although most of the judicial precedents dealt with lawyers who engaged in
extramarital affairs, or cohabited with women other than their wives,19 they are nonetheless helpful in gauging the degree of
immorality committed by the respondent.

In Advincula v. Macabata,20 the Court held that the errant lawyer’s acts of turning his client’s head towards him and then kissing
her on the lips were distasteful, but still ruled that such acts, albeit offensive and undesirable, were not grossly immoral. Hence,
the respondent lawyer was merely reprimanded but reminded to be more prudent and cautious in his dealings with clients.

In Barrientos v. Daarol,21 the respondent lawyer was disbarred, but the severest penalty was imposed not only because of his
engaging in illicit sexual relations, but also because of his deceit. He had been already married and was about 41 years old when
he proposed marriage to a 20-year-old girl. He succeeded in his seduction of her, and made her pregnant. He not only
suggested that she abort the pregnancy, but he also breached his promise to marry her, and, in the end, even deserted her and
their child.

In Delos Reyes v. Aznar,22 the Court adjudged the respondent lawyer, a married man with children, highly immoral for having
taken advantage of his position as the chairman of the College of Medicine of his school in enticing the complainant, then a
student in the college, to have carnal knowledge with him under the threat that she would flunk in all her subjects should she
refuse. The respondent was disbarred for grossly immoral conduct.

Without diminishing the gravity of the complainant’s sad experience, however, we consider the acts committed by Atty. Pedreña
to be not of the same degree as the acts punished under the cited judicial precedents. Neither did his acts approximate the act
committed by the respondent lawyer in Calub v. Suller,23 whereby we disbarred the respondent lawyer for raping his neighbor’s
wife notwithstanding that his guilt was not proved beyond reasonable doubt in his criminal prosecution for the crime. We further
note that, unlike in Barrientos where there was deceit and in Delos Reyes where there were threats and taking advantage of the
respondent lawyer’s position, Atty. Pedreña did not employ any scheme to satiate his lust, but, instead, he desisted upon the first
signs of the complainant’s firm refusal to give in to his advances.

In view of these considerations, the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for two years is fitting and just.

WHEREFORE, the Court SUSPENDS ATTY. TYRONE PEDREÑA from the practice of law for two years effective upon receipt
of this decision, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
Atty. Oscar Embido, et. al. vs Atty. Salvador N. Pe, Jr., et. al.
A.C. No. 6732
October 22, 2013

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 in existent 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, 2005,7 wherein 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 ₱60,000.00. 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 ₱60,000.00 from Dy Quioyo for the falsified decision. She rationalized her conclusions thusly:

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, 200,20 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.1âwphi1 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 after
thought.

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:
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.27 Verily, 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.29WHEREFORE, 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.
Mary Ann Mattus vs Atty. Albert Villaseca
A.C. No. 7922
October 1, 2013

Before us is a complaint for disbarment filed by complainant Mary Ann T. Mattus against Atty. Albert T. Villaseca for gross and
inexcusable negligence in handling Criminal Case No. 10309-02.

Background Facts

The complainant, German Bernardo D. Mattus and Dexter Aligan were the accused in Criminal Case No. 10309-02 – a case for
estafa thru falsification of public document filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 20, Imus, Cavite. The complainant and
her husband, German, engaged the services of Atty. Villaseca to represent them in the proceedings. The complainant
maintained that she and German were convicted due to Atty. Villaseca’s gross and inexcusable negligence in performing his
duties as their counsel.

In her complaint-affidavit,1 the complainant alleged, among others, that Atty. Villaseca: (1) was often absent during court
hearings but still collected appearance fees; (2) frequently sought the postponement of trial when he was present; (3) failed to
ask the RTC to direct a National Bureau of Investigation expert to examine the signatures of the spouses Leslie and Zuraida
Porter2 in the special power of attorney (SPA); (4) failed to file a demurrer to evidence despite having been granted sufficient
time by the RTC to submit one; (5) failed to present evidence on behalf of the defense, and only filed a memorandum; (6) did not
inform her and German of the dates of the presentation of defense evidence and the promulgation of judgment; and (7)
erroneously indicated the wrong case number in the notice of appeal. According to the complainant, Atty. Villaseca’s negligence
in handling the case resulted in her own and her husband’s conviction.

In the Court’s Resolution3 of July 16, 2008, we required Atty. Villaseca to comment on the complaint.

On September 10, 2008, Atty. Villaseca filed his comment,4 refuting the allegations against him. Atty. Villaseca explained that he
made known to the complainant that the testimony of a handwriting expert was necessary only if the prosecution would be able
to produce the original copy of the SPA. Atty. Villaseca also claimed that his absences during the hearings, as well as his
numerous motions for postponement, were justified and were never intended for delay. He denied having collected appearance
fees when he did not attend the scheduled hearings, and maintained that the fees he received were intended to compensate him
for his services in the other cases filed by the complainant. Atty. Villaseca further claimed that he immediately corrected the case
number in the notice of appeal when he discovered this error.

In a Resolution5dated October 15, 2008, we referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report and recommendation.

The IBPs’ Report and Recommendation

In his Report and Recommendation6 dated September 16, 2009,Investigating Commissioner Salvador B. Hababag
recommended that Atty. Villaseca be suspended for six (6) months from the practice of law.

Commissioner Hababag ruled that Atty. Villaseca’s reckless and gross negligence deprived his clients of due process; his
actuations in the criminal case showed utter disregard for his clients’ life and liberty. Commissioner Hababag explained that Atty.
Villaseca failed to file a demurrer to evidence despite the sufficient length of time that had been given to him by the RTC to
submit this pleading, and waived his right to present evidence for the defense, opting instead to file a memorandum only.
Commissioner Hababag concluded that Atty. Villaseca’s failure to properly attend to the interests of his clients led to their
conviction.

In Resolution No. XIX-2011-2517 dated May 14, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the findings of the
Investigating Commissioner, but increased Atty. Villaseca’s period of suspension from the practice of law from six (6) months to
one (1) year.

Our Ruling

After a careful review of the records, the Court finds the evidence on record sufficient to support the IBP’s findings. We, however,
increase Atty. Villaseca’s period of suspension from the practice of law from one (1) year to five (5) years.

We stress at the outset that a lawyer "is expected to exert his best efforts and ability to preserve his client's cause, for the
unwavering loyalty displayed to his client likewise serves the ends of justice."8 Once a lawyer agrees to take up the cause of a
client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. He owes
entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal in maintenance and defense of his client’s rights, and the exertion of his
utmost learning and ability to the end that nothing be taken or withheld from his client, save by the rules of law, legally applied. A
lawyer who performs his duty with diligence and candor not only protects the interest of his client; he also serves the ends of
justice, does honor to the bar, and helps maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession.9

The records of the present case show that Atty. Villaseca had been grossly remiss in handling Criminal Case No. 10309-02. To
recall, Atty. Villaseca requested for time to file demurrer to evidence after the prosecution had rested its case. In its order 10 of
July 1, 2004, the RTC gave him 20 days from receipt of the transcript of stenographic notes within which to file a demurrer to
evidence. Atty. Villaseca, however, did not file a demurrer to evidence, without offering any explanation why he failed to do so.
As a result, the RTC issued an order 11 stating that Atty. Villaseca "is deemed to have waived his right to file the said pleading."
To our mind, Atty. Villaseca’s failure to submit a demurrer to evidence to explain such omission constitutes inexcusable
negligence; it showed his lack of devotion and zeal in preserving his clients’ cause. We point out that nine months had lapsed
from the time the RTC granted Atty. Villaseca 20 days to file the demurrer to the time it ruled that he was deemed to have waived
his right to file this pleading. Clearly, Atty. Villaseca’s actuations violated Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
which states that "a lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse
without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so."

The records further disclosed that after Atty. Villaseca’s failure to file a demurrer to evidence, the RTC set the initial presentation
of defense evidence on May 9, 2005. However, this hearing was postponed thrice: the May 9, 2005 hearing was reset to August
8, 2005 due to Atty. Villaseca’s failure to appear;12 the August 8, 2005 hearing was reset to November 17, 2005 upon Atty.
Villaseca’s motion;13 and the November 17, 2005 hearing was reset to March 1, 2006 because of Atty. Villaseca’s manifestation
that his intended first witness was unavailable.14 During the March 1, 2006hearing, the respondent manifested that the defense
would no longer present any evidence, and moved that he be given time to file a memorandum. 15

We point out that the prosecution rested its case on July 1, 2004; yet Atty. Villaseca waited until March 1, 2006 only to manifest
that he would no longer present any evidence. We are at a loss why Atty. Villaseca chose not to present any evidence for the
defense, considering that the accused wanted and were ready to take the witness stand. As a result, the testimony of the lone
prosecution witness remained uncontroverted. To make matters worse, Atty. Villaseca directed German to attend the hearing on
June 6, 2007without informing him that it was already the date of the promulgation of judgment.1âwphi1

The Code of Professional Responsibility states that "a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the
trust and confidence reposed in him."16 It further mandates that "a lawyer shall serve his client with competence and
diligence."17 It also states that "a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable."18

Atty. Villaseca’s failure to present any testimonial, object or documentary evidence for the defense reveals his lack of diligence in
performing his duties as an officer of the Court; it showed his indifference towards the cause of his clients. Considering that the
liberty and livelihood of his clients were at stake, Atty. Villaseca should have exerted efforts tore but the presented prosecution
evidence. He could have presented the complainant and/or her husband to the witness stand, instead of just opting to file a
memorandum. Or, at the very least, the reason for this move should have been fully explained to the clients, and later to the IBP
and to this Court. But no such explanation ever came. We are thus left with the stark reality that Atty. Villaseca failed to file,
despite the promise made to the lower court, a demurrer to evidence. After failing in this first line of defense for his clients, it
should have been incumbent upon Atty. Villaseca to present evidence for the defense, but again, he unexplainably failed to do
this, leaving the lower court with no evidence to appreciate except that of the prosecution, to the detriment of his clients’ cause.

We emphasize that while a lawyer has complete discretion on what legal strategy to employ in a case entrusted to him, he must
present every remedy or defense within the authority of the law to support his client’s cause. A memorandum, no matter how
lengthy, should not be made a substitute for testimonial, object or documentary evidence, more so in a criminal case where a
conviction could lead to dire consequences. In saying so, we are not insinuating that the RTC decision would have tilted in favor
of the defense had Atty. Villaseca presented evidence; we simply stress that utmost fidelity and attention are demanded once
counsel agrees to take the cudgels for his client's cause.

We again remind members of the bar to live up to the standards and norms expected of the legal profession by upholding the
ideals and principles embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. A lawyer engaged to represent a client bears the
responsibility of protecting the latter's interest with utmost diligence. It is his duty to serve his client with competence and
diligence, and he should exert his best efforts to protect, within the bounds of the law, the interests of his client. 19 A lawyer’s
diligence and vigilance is more imperative in criminal cases, where the life and liberty of an accused is at stake. Verily, the
entrusted privilege to practice law carries with it the corresponding duties, not only to the client, but also to the court, to the bar
and to the public. As we explained in Spouses Bautista v. Atty. Arturo Cefra:20

The practice of law is a privilege bestowed by the State on those who show that they possess the legal qualifications for it.
Lawyers are expected to maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty, integrity and
fair dealing. They must perform their fourfold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients, in accordance with
the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.

"The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer depends on the exercise of sound judicial discretion based on the surrounding
facts."21 Under the circumstances, we find that the IBP’s recommended penalty of one year’s suspension from the practice of law
is not commensurate to Atty. Villaseca’s transgressions. His incompetence and appalling indifference to his duty to his client, the
courts and society indicate a high degree of irresponsibility that casts dishonor on the legal profession.

The present case finds a close forerunner in Santeco v. Atty. Avance,22 where we suspended Atty. Luna B. Avance from the
practice of law for five(5) years for being grossly remiss in the performance of her duties as counsel. In this cited case, the civil
case entrusted to Atty. Avance was dismissed for failure to prosecute. During the pendency of her motion for reconsideration
(which she had filed way beyond the reglementary period), she told her client that she would file a petition for certiorari before the
CA to assail the dismissal of the civil case. She did not file this petition, but failed to inform her client of this omission. Moreover,
Atty. Avance stopped appearing as counsel for her client without notifying the latter.

Atty. Villaseca’s negligence in the present case had much graver implications, as the legal matter entrusted to him involved not
merely money or property, but the very liberty and livelihood of his clients. We stress that the moment Atty. Villaseca agreed to
handle the complainant’s criminal case, he became duty-bound to serve his clients with competence and diligence, and to
champion their cause with whole-hearted fidelity. By failing to afford his clients every remedy and defense that is authorized by
the law, Atty. Villaseca fell short of what is expected of him as an officer of the Court. We cannot overstress the duty of a lawyer
to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and
to his clients.

All told, Atty. Villaseca showed a wanton and utter disregard to his clients’ cause; his failure to exercise due diligence in
attending to their interest in the criminal case caused them grave prejudice. Under the circumstances, we find a five-year
suspension from the practice of law to be a sufficient and appropriate sanction against him. The increased penalty serves the
purpose of protecting the interest of the Court, the legal profession and the public.

WHEREFORE premises considered, we find Atty. Albert T. Villaseca guilty of negligence, in violation of Rules 12.03 and 18.03
and Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for five (5) years,
effective upon his receipt of this Decision, and STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt
with more severely.
Nestor B. Figueras, et. al. vs Atty Diosdado Jimenez
A.C. No. 9116
March 12, 2014

Before us is a petition for review filed by Atty. Diosdado B. Jimenez assailing the February 19, 2009 Resolution 1 of the Board of
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) suspending him from the practice of law for a period of six months for
breach of Rule 12.03,2 Canon 12,3 Canon 17,4 Rule 18.03,5 and Canon 186 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He
likewise assails the June 26, 2011 Resolution7 of the IBP Board of Governors denying his motion for reconsideration.

The facts are as follows:

Congressional Village Homeowner’s Association, Inc. is the entity in charge of the affairs of the homeowners of Congressional
Village in Quezon City. On January 7, 1993, the Spouses Federico and Victoria Santander filed a civil suit for damages against
the Association and Ely Mabanag8 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 104 for building a concrete wall
which abutted their property and denied them of their right of way. The spouses Santander likewise alleged that said concrete
wall was built in violation of Quezon City Ordinance No. 8633, S-71 which prohibits the closing, obstructing, preventing or
otherwise refusing to the public or vehicular traffic the use of or free access to any subdivision or community street.9 The Law
Firm of Gonzalez Sinense Jimenez and Associates was the legal counsel for the Association, with respondent as the counsel of
record and handling lawyer. After trial and hearing, the RTC rendered a decision10 on October 4, 1996 in favor of the Spouses
Santander. The Association, represented by said law firm, appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA). On February 5, 1999, the CA
issued a Resolution11 in CA-G.R. CV No. 55577 dismissing the appeal on the ground that the original period to file the appellant’s
brief had expired 95 days even before the first motion for extension of time to file said brief was filed. The CA also stated that the
grounds adduced for the said motion as well as the six subsequent motions for extension of time to file brief were not
meritorious. The CA resolution became final.

Eight years later or on April 11, 2007, complainants Nestor Figueras and Bienvenido Victoria, Jr., as members of the Association,
filed a Complaint12 for Disbarment against respondent before the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD) for violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly Rule 12.03, Canon 12; Canon 17; and Rule 18.03, Canon 18 thereof for his
negligence in handling the appeal and willful violation of his duties as an officer of the court.

In his Verified Answer with Counter Complaint,13 respondent denied administrative liability. He claimed that although his law firm
represented the homeowner’s association in CA-G.R. CV No. 55577, the case was actually handled by an associate lawyer in
his law office. As the partner in charge of the case, he exercised general supervision over the handling counsel and signed the
pleadings prepared by said handling lawyer. Upon discovery of the omissions of the handling lawyer, appropriate sanctions were
imposed on the handling lawyer and he thereafter personally took responsibility and spent personal funds to negotiate a
settlement with Federico Santander at no cost to the Association. No damage whatsoever was caused to the Association.

Respondent likewise alleged that after he defeated complainant Figueras in the election for President of the homeowner’s
association in 1996, Figueras and his compadre, complainant Victoria, stopped paying their association dues and other
assessments. Complainants and other delinquent members of the association were sanctioned by the Board of Directors and
were sued by the association before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). In retaliation, complainants filed the
present disbarment case against him and several other cases against him and other officers of the association before the
HLURB to question, among others, the legitimacy of the Association, the election of its officers, and the sanctions imposed by
the Association. Thus, he concluded that the disbarment case was filed to harass him. Respondent added that complainants
have no personality to file the disbarment complaint as they were not his clients; hence, there was likewise no jurisdiction over
the complaint on the part of the IBP-CBD.

As counterclaim, respondent prayed for the outright dismissal of the disbarment case for lack of merit, the imposition of sanctions
on complainants, and the payment of damages for the filing of the baseless complaint for disbarment.

On October 3, 2008, the Investigating Commissioner of the IBP-CBD found respondent liable for violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, particularly Rule 12.03 of Canon 12, Canon 17, Rule 18.03, and Canon 18 thereof, and
recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three to six months, with warning that a
repetition of the same or similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.14

On February 19, 2009, the Board of Governors of the IBP issued Resolution No. XVIII-2009-1415 adopting the recommendation
with modifications as follows:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution [as] Annex
"A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and
considering Respondent’s breach of Rule 12.03, Canon 12, Canon 17, Rule 18.03 and Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, Atty. Diosdado B. Jimenez is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months. The Warning
imposed against respondent is hereby deleted.

Respondent sought reconsideration of the resolution but his motion was denied in IBP Resolution No. XIX-2011-480 dated June
26, 2011.16 The IBP Board of Governors noted that respondent’s motion was a mere reiteration of matters already discussed and
there were no substantial grounds to disturb the February 19, 2009 Resolution.

Respondent now comes to this Court essentially raising the issue whether the IBP correctly found him administratively liable for
violation of Rule 12.03, Canon 12, Canon 17, Rule 18.03, and Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
After careful consideration of the records of the case, the Court finds that the suspension of respondent from the practice of law
is proper.

The Court finds no merit in respondent’s contention that complainants have no personality to file a disbarment case against him
as they were not his clients and that the present suit was merely instituted to harass him.

The procedural requirement observed in ordinary civil proceedings that only the real party-in-interest must initiate the suit does
not apply in disbarment cases. In fact, the person who called the attention of the court to a lawyer’s misconduct "is in no sense a
party, and generally has no interest in the outcome."17

In Heck v. Judge Santos,18 the Court held that "[a]ny interested person or the court motu proprio may initiate disciplinary
proceedings." The right to institute disbarment proceedings is not confined to clients nor is it necessary that the person
complaining suffered injury from the alleged wrongdoing. Disbarment proceedings are matters of public interest and the only
basis for the judgment is the proof or failure of proof of the charges.

The Court agrees with the IBP that respondent had been remiss in the performance of his duties as counsel for Congressional
Village Homeowner’s Association, Inc. Records show that respondent filed the first motion for extension of time to file appellant’s
brief 95 days after the expiration of the reglementary period to file said brief, thus causing the dismissal of the appeal of the
homeowner’s association. To justify his inexcusable negligence, respondent alleges that he was merely the supervising lawyer
and that the fault lies with the handling lawyer. His contention, however, is belied by the records for we note that respondent had
filed with the CA an Urgent Motion for Extension, which he himself signed on behalf of the law firm, stating that a previous motion
had been filed but "due to the health condition of the undersigned counsel…he was not able to finish said Appellants’ Brief within
the fifteen (15) day period earlier requested by him."19 Thus, it is clear that respondent was personally in charge of the case.

A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latter’s interest with utmost diligence. In
failing to file the appellant’s brief on behalf of his client, respondent had fallen far short of his duties as counsel as set forth in
Rule 12.04,20 Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which exhorts every member of the Bar not to unduly delay a
case and to exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. Rule 18.03,
Canon 18 of the same Code also states that:

Canon 18—A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.

Rule 18.03.—A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall render
him liable.

In In Re: Atty. Santiago F. Marcos21 the Court considered a lawyer’s failure to file brief for his client as amounting to inexcusable
negligence. The Court held:

An attorney is bound to protect his client’s interest to the best of his ability and with utmost diligence.1âwphi1 (Del Rosario vs.
Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 159) A failure to file brief for his client certainly constitutes inexcusable negligence on his part.
(People vs. Villar, 46 SCRA 107) The respondent has indeed committed a serious lapse in the duty owed by him to his client as
well as to the Court not to delay litigation and to aid in the speedy administration of justice. (Canons 21 and 22, Canons of
Professional Ethics; People vs. Daban, 43 SCRA 185; People vs. Estocada, 43 SCRA 515).

It has been stressed that the determination of whether an attorney should be disbarred or merely suspended for a period
involves the exercise of sound judicial discretion.22 The penalties for a lawyer’s failure to file a brief or other pleading range from
reprimand,23 warning with fine,24 suspension25 and, in grave cases, disbarment.26 In the present case, we find too harsh the
recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six
months. Under the circumstances, we deem the penalty of suspension for one month from the practice of law to be more
commensurate with the extent of respondent’s violation.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Atty. Diosdado B. Jimenez is found administratively liable for violation of Rule 12.04,
Canon 12 and Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is suspended from the practice of law for
one (1) month effective from finality of this Resolution, with warning that a repetition of the same or similar violation shall be dealt
with more severely.
Rodrigo E. Tapay, et. al. vs Attys. Bancolo and Jarder
A.C. No. 9604
March 20, 2013

The Case

This administrative case arose from a Complaint tiled by Rodrigo E. Tapay (Tapay) and Anthony J. Rustia (Rustia), both
employees of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, against Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo (Atty. Bancolo) and Atty. Janus T. larder
(Atty. Jarder) for violation of the Canons of Ethics and Professionalism, Falsification of Public Document, Gross Dishonesty, and
Harassment.

The Facts

Sometime in October 2004, Tapay and Rustia received an Order dated 14 October 2004 from the Office of the Ombudsman-
Visayas requiring them to file a counter-affidavit to a complaint for usurpation of authority, falsification of public document, and
graft and corrupt practices filed against them by Nehimias Divinagracia, Jr. (Divinagracia), a co-employee in the Sugar
Regulatory Administration. The Complaint1 dated 31 August 2004 was allegedly signed on behalf of Divinagracia by one Atty.
Charlie L. Bancolo of the Jarder Bancolo Law Office based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

When Atty. Bancolo and Rustia accidentally chanced upon each other, the latter informed Atty. Bancolo of the case filed against
them before the Office of the Ombudsman. Atty. Bancolo denied that he represented Divinagracia since he had yet to meet
Divinagracia in person. When Rustia showed him the Complaint, Atty. Bancolo declared that the signature appearing above his
name as counsel for Divinagracia was not his. Thus, Rustia convinced Atty. Bancolo to sign an affidavit to attest to such fact. On
9 December 2004, Atty. Bancolo signed an affidavit denying his supposed signature appearing on the Complaint filed with the
Office of the Ombudsman and submitted six specimen signatures for comparison. Using Atty. Bancolo’s affidavit and other
documentary evidence, Tapay and Rustia filed a counter-affidavit accusing Divinagracia of falsifying the signature of his alleged
counsel, Atty. Bancolo.

In a Resolution dated 28 March 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman provisionally dismissed the Complaint since the falsification
of the counsel’s signature posed a prejudicial question to the Complaint’s validity. Also, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered
that separate cases for Falsification of Public Document2 and Dishonesty3 be filed against Divinagracia, with Rustia and Atty.
Bancolo as complainants.

Thereafter, Divinagracia filed his Counter-Affidavit dated 1 August 2005 denying that he falsified the signature of his former
lawyer, Atty. Bancolo. Divinagracia presented as evidence an affidavit dated 1 August 2005 by Richard A. Cordero, the legal
assistant of Atty. Bancolo, that the Jarder Bancolo Law Office accepted Divinagracia’s case and that the Complaint filed with the
Office of the Ombudsman was signed by the office secretary per Atty. Bancolo’s instructions. Divinagracia asked that the Office
of the Ombudsman dismiss the cases for falsification of public document and dishonesty filed against him by Rustia and Atty.
Bancolo and to revive the original Complaint for various offenses that he filed against Tapay and Rustia.

In a Resolution dated 19 September 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the criminal case for falsification of public
document (OMB-V-C-05-0207-E) for insufficiency of evidence. The dispositive portion states:

WHEREFORE, the instant case is hereby DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence, without prejudice to the re-filing by
Divinagracia, Jr. of a proper complaint for violation of RA 3019 and other offenses against Rustia and Tapay.

SO ORDERED.4

The administrative case for dishonesty (OMB-V-A-05-0219-E) was also dismissed for lack of substantial evidence in a Decision
dated 19 September 2005.

On 29 November 2005, Tapay and Rustia filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) a complaint5 to disbar Atty.
Bancolo and Atty. Jarder, Atty. Bancolo’s law partner. The complainants alleged that they were subjected to a harassment
Complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman with the forged signature of Atty. Bancolo. Complainants stated further that
the signature of Atty. Bancolo in the Complaint was not the only one that was forged. Complainants attached a Report6 dated 1
July 2005 by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory 6 which examined three other letter-complaints signed by Atty.
Bancolo for other clients, allegedly close friends of Atty. Jarder. The report concluded that the questioned signatures in the letter-
complaints and the submitted standard signatures of Atty. Bancolo were not written by one and the same person. Thus,
complainants maintained that not only were respondents engaging in unprofessional and unethical practices, they were also
involved in falsification of documents used to harass and persecute innocent people.

On 9 January 2006, complainants filed a Supplement to the Disbarment Complaint Due to Additional Information. They alleged
that a certain Mary Jane Gentugao, the secretary of the Jarder Bancolo Law Office, forged the signature of Atty. Bancolo.

In their Answer dated 26 January 2006 to the disbarment complaint, respondents admitted that the criminal and administrative
cases filed by Divinagracia against complainants before the Office of the Ombudsman were accepted by the Jarder Bancolo Law
Office. The cases were assigned to Atty. Bancolo. Atty. Bancolo alleged that after being informed of the assignment of the cases,
he ordered his staff to prepare and draft all the necessary pleadings and documents. However, due to some minor lapses, Atty.
Bancolo permitted that the pleadings and communications be signed in his name by the secretary of the law office. Respondents
added that complainants filed the disbarment complaint to retaliate against them since the cases filed before the Office of the
Ombudsman were meritorious and strongly supported by testimonial and documentary evidence. Respondents also denied that
Mary Jane Gentugao was employed as secretary of their law office.
Tapay and Rustia filed a Reply to the Answer dated 2 March 2006. Thereafter, the parties were directed by the Commission on
Bar Discipline to attend a mandatory conference scheduled on 5 May 2006. The conference was reset to 10 August 2006. On
the said date, complainants were present but respondents failed to appear. The conference was reset to 25 September 2006 for
the last time. Again, respondents failed to appear despite receiving notice of the conference. Complainants manifested that they
were submitting their disbarment complaint based on the documents submitted to the IBP. Respondents were also deemed to
have waived their right to participate in the mandatory conference. Further, both parties were directed to submit their respective
position papers. On 27 October 2006, the IBP received complainants’ position paper dated 18 October 2006 and respondents’
position paper dated 23 October 2006.

The IBP’s Report and Recommendation

On 11 April 2007, Atty. Lolita A. Quisumbing, the Investigating Commissioner of the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP,
submitted her Report. Atty. Quisumbing found that Atty. Bancolo violated Rule 9.01 of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility while Atty. Jarder violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the same Code. The Investigating

Commissioner recommended that Atty. Bancolo be suspended for two years from the practice of law and Atty. Jarder be
admonished for his failure to exercise certain responsibilities in their law firm.

In her Report and Recommendation, the Investigating Commissioner opined:

x x x. In his answer, respondent Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo admitted that his signature appearing in the complaint filed against
complainants’ Rodrigo E. Tapay and Anthony J. Rustia with the Ombudsman were signed by the secretary. He did not refute the
findings that his signatures appearing in the various documents released from his office were found not to be his. Such pattern of
malpratice by respondent clearly breached his obligation under Rule 9.01 of Canon 9, for a lawyer who allows a non-member to
represent him is guilty of violating the aforementioned Canon. The fact that respondent was busy cannot serve as an excuse for
him from signing personally. After all respondent is a member of a law firm composed of not just one (1) lawyer. The Supreme
Court has ruled that this practice constitute negligence and undersigned finds the act a sign of indolence and ineptitude.
Moreover, respondents ignored the notices sent by undersigned. That showed patent lack of respect to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines’ Commission on Bar Discipline and its proceedings. It betrays lack of courtesy and irresponsibility as lawyers.

On the other hand, Atty. Janus T. Jarder, a senior partner of the law firm Jarder Bancolo and Associates Law Office, failed to
exercise certain responsibilities over matters under the charge of his law firm. As a senior partner[,] he failed to abide to the
principle of "command responsibility". x x x.

xxxx

Respondent Atty. Janus Jarder after all is a seasoned practitioner, having passed the bar in 1995 and practicing law up to the
present. He holds himself out to the public as a law firm designated as Jarder Bancolo and Associates Law Office. It behooves
Atty. Janus T. Jarder to exert ordinary diligence to find out what is going on in his law firm, to ensure that all lawyers in his firm
act in conformity to the Code of Professional Responsibility. As a partner, it is his responsibility to provide efficacious control of
court pleadings and other documents that carry the name of the law firm. Had he done that, he could have known the unethical
practice of his law partner Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo. Respondent Atty. Janus T. Jarder failed to perform this task and is
administratively liable under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.7

On 19 September 2007, in Resolution No. XVIII-2007-97, the Board of Governors of the IBP approved with modification the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner. The Resolution states:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex
"A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and
considering Respondent Atty. Bancolo’s violation of Rule 9.01, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Charlie
L. Bancolo is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year.

However, with regard to the charge against Atty. Janus T. Jarder, the Board of Governors RESOLVED as it is hereby
RESOLVED to AMEND, as it is hereby AMENDED the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and APPROVE the
DISMISSAL of the case for lack of merit.8

Tapay and Rustia filed a Motion for Reconsideration. Likewise, Atty. Bancolo filed his Motion for Reconsideration dated 22
December 2007. Thereafter, Atty. Jarder filed his separate Consolidated Comment/Reply to Complainants’ Motion for
Reconsideration and Comment Filed by Complainants dated 29 January 2008.

In Resolution No. XX-2012-175 dated 9 June 2012, the IBP Board of Governors denied both complainants’ and Atty. Bancolo’s
motions for reconsideration. The IBP Board found no cogent reason to reverse the findings of the Investigating Commissioner
and affirmed Resolution No. XVIII-2007-97 dated 19 September 2007.

The Court’s Ruling

After a careful review of the records of the case, we agree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board and find
reasonable grounds to hold respondent Atty. Bancolo administratively liable.
Atty. Bancolo admitted that the Complaint he filed for a former client before the Office of the Ombudsman was signed in his
name by a secretary of his law office. Clearly, this is a violation of Rule 9.01 of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which provides:

CANON 9
A LAWYER SHALL NOT, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ASSIST IN THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW.

Rule 9.01 - A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law may only be
performed by a member of the Bar in good standing.

This rule was clearly explained in the case of Cambaliza v. Cristal-Tenorio,9 where we held:

The lawyer’s duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public interest
and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and
character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to
maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the
bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the
Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him not
to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any
agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a layman in
the unauthorized practice of law.

In Republic v. Kenrick Development Corporation,10 we held that the preparation and signing of a pleading constitute legal work
involving the practice of law which is reserved exclusively for members of the legal profession. Atty. Bancolo’s authority and duty
to sign a pleading are personal to him. Although he may delegate the signing of a pleading to another lawyer, he may not
delegate it to a non-lawyer. Further, under the Rules of Court, counsel’s signature serves as a certification that (1) he has read
the pleading; (2) to the best of his knowledge, information and belief there is good ground to support it; and (3) it is not
interposed for delay.11 Thus, by affixing one’s signature to a pleading, it is counsel alone who has the responsibility to certify to
these matters and give legal effect to the document.1âwphi1

In his Motion for Reconsideration dated 22 December 2007, Atty. Bancolo wants us to believe that he was a victim of
circumstances or of manipulated events because of his unconditional trust and confidence in his former law partner, Atty. Jarder.
However, Atty. Bancolo did not take any steps to rectify the situation, save for the affidavit he gave to Rustia denying his
signature to the Complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman. Atty. Bancolo had an opportunity to maintain his innocence
when he filed with the IBP his Joint Answer (with Atty. Jarder) dated 26 January 2006. Atty. Bancolo, however, admitted that
prior to the preparation of the Joint Answer, Atty. Jarder threatened to file a disbarment case against him if he did not cooperate.
Thus, he was constrained to allow Atty. Jarder to prepare the Joint Answer. Atty. Bancolo simply signed the verification without
seeing the contents of the Joint Answer.

In the Answer, Atty. Bancolo categorically stated that because of some minor lapses, the communications and pleadings filed
against Tapay and Rustia were signed by his secretary, albeit with his tolerance. Undoubtedly, Atty. Bancolo violated the Code of
Professional Responsibility by allowing a non-lawyer to affix his signature to a pleading. This violation Is an act of falsehood
which IS a ground for disciplinary action.

The complainants did not present any evidence that Atty. Jarder was directly involved, had knowledge of, or even participated in
the wrongful practice of Atty. Bancolo in allowing or tolerating his secretary to sign pleadings for him. Thus, we agree with the
finding of the IBP Board that Atty. Jarder is not administratively liable.

In sum, we find that the suspension of Atty. Bancolo from the practice of law for one year is warranted. We also find proper the
dismissal of the case against Atty. larder.

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the complaint against Atty. Janus T. larder for lack of merit.

We find respondent Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo administratively liable for violating Rule 9.01 of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one year effective upon finality of this Decision. He is
warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
Ana Marie Cambaliza vs Atty. Ana Luz Tenorio
A.C. No. 6290
July 14, 2004

In a verified complaint for disbarment filed with the Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) on 30 May 2000, complainant Ana Marie Cambaliza, a former employee of respondent Atty. Ana Luz B. Cristal-Tenorio in
her law office, charged the latter with deceit, grossly immoral conduct, and malpractice or other gross misconduct in office.

On deceit, the complainant alleged that the respondent has been falsely representing herself to be married to Felicisimo
R. Tenorio, Jr., who has a prior and subsisting marriage with another woman. However, through spurious means, the respondent
and Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., were able to obtain a false marriage contract,[1] which states that they were married on 10 February
1980 in Manila. Certifications from the Civil Registry of Manila[2] and the National Statistics Office (NSO)[3] prove that no record of
marriage exists between them. The false date and place of marriage between the two are stated in the birth certificates of their two
children, Donnabel Tenorio[4] and Felicisimo Tenorio III.[5] But in the birth certificates of their two other children, Oliver Tenorio[6]and
John Cedric Tenorio,[7] another date and place of marriage are indicated, namely, 12 February 1980 in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

As to grossly immoral conduct, the complainant alleged that the respondent caused the dissemination to the public of a
libelous affidavit derogatory to Makati City Councilor Divina Alora Jacome. The respondent would often openly and sarcastically
declare to the complainant and her co-employees the alleged immorality of Councilor Jacome.

On malpractice or other gross misconduct in office, the complainant alleged that the respondent (1) cooperated in the
illegal practice of law by her husband, who is not a member of the Philippine Bar; (2) converted her clients money to her own use
and benefit, which led to the filing of an estafa case against her; and (3) threatened the complainant and her family on 24 January
2000 with the statement Isang bala ka lang to deter them from divulging respondents illegal activities and transactions.

In her answer, the respondent denied all the allegations against her. As to the charge of deceit, she declared that she is
legally married to Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr. They were married on 12 February 1980 as shown by their Certificate of Marriage,
Registry No. 2000-9108 of the Civil Registry of Quezon City.[8] Her husband has no prior and subsisting marriage with another
woman.

As to the charge of grossly immoral conduct, the respondent denied that she caused the dissemination of a libelous and
defamatory affidavit against Councilor Jacome. On the contrary, it was Councilor Jacome who caused the execution of said
document. Additionally, the complainant and her cohorts are the rumormongers who went around the city of Makati on the pretext
of conducting a survey but did so to besmirch respondents good name and reputation.

The charge of malpractice or other gross misconduct in office was likewise denied by the respondent. She claimed that
her Cristal-Tenorio Law Officeis registered with the Department of Trade and Industry as a single proprietorship, as shown by its
Certificate of Registration of Business Name.[9] Hence, she has no partners in her law office. As to the estafa case, the same had
already been dropped pursuant to the Order of 14 June 1996 issued by Branch 103 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
City.[10] The respondent likewise denied that she threatened the complainant with the words Isang bala ka lang on 24 January
2000.

Further, the respondent averred that this disbarment complaint was filed by the complainant to get even with her. She
terminated complainants employment after receiving numerous complaints that the complainant extorted money from different
people with the promise of processing their passports and marriages to foreigners, but she reneged on her promise. Likewise, this
disbarment complaint is politically motivated: some politicians offered to re-hire the complainant and her cohorts should they initiate
this complaint, which they did and for which they were re-hired. The respondent also flaunted the fact that she had received
numerous awards and citations for civic works and exemplary service to the community. She then prayed for the dismissal of the
disbarment case for being baseless.

The IBP referred this case to Investigating Commissioner Atty. Kenny H. Tantuico.

During the hearing on 30 August 2000, the parties agreed that the complainant would submit a Reply to respondents
Answer, while the respondent would submit a Rejoinder to the Reply. The parties also agreed that the Complaint, Answer, and the
attached affidavits would constitute as the respective direct testimonies of the parties and the affiants. [11]

In her Reply, the complainant bolstered her claim that the respondent cooperated in the illegal practice of law by her
husband by submitting (1) the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office[12] where the name of Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is listed as
a senior partner; and (2) a Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card [13] signed by the respondent as Chairperson
where her husband is identified as Atty. Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr. She added that respondents husband even appeared in court
hearings.

In her Rejoinder, respondent averred that she neither formed a law partnership with her husband nor allowed her husband
to appear in court on her behalf. If there was an instance that her husband appeared in court, he did so as a representative of her
law firm. The letterhead submitted by the complainant was a false reproduction to show that her husband is one of her law
partners. But upon cross-examination, when confronted with the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office bearing her signature,
she admitted that Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a lawyer, but he and a certain Gerardo A. Panghulan, who is also not a lawyer,
are named as senior partners because they have investments in her law office. [14]

The respondent further declared that she married Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., on 12 February 1980 in Quezon City, but
when she later discovered that their marriage contract was not registered she applied for late registration on 5 April 2000. She then
presented as evidence a certified copy of the marriage contract issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar General and authenticated
by the NSO. The erroneous entries in the birth certificates of her children as to the place and date of her marriage were merely an
oversight.[15]
Sometime after the parties submitted their respective Offer of Evidence and Memoranda, the complainant filed a Motion
to Withdraw Complaint on 13 November 2002 after allegedly realizing that this disbarment complaint arose out of a
misunderstanding and misappreciation of facts. Thus, she is no longer interested in pursuing the case. This motion was not acted
upon by the IBP.

In her Report and Recommendation dated 30 September 2003, IBP Commissioner on Bar Discipline Milagros V. San
Juan found that the complainant failed to substantiate the charges of deceit and grossly immoral conduct. However, she found the
respondent guilty of the charge of cooperating in the illegal practice of law by Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., in violation of Canon 9 and
Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility based on the following evidence:(1) the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law
Office, which lists Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., as a senior partner; (2) the Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card of
Atty. Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., signed by respondent as Chairperson; (3) and the Order dated 18 June 1997 issued by the
Metropolitan Trial Court in Criminal Cases Nos. 20729 20734, wherein Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., entered his appearance as
counsel and even moved for the provisional dismissal of the cases for failure of the private complainants to appear and for lack of
interest to prosecute the said cases. Thus, Commissioner San Juan recommended that the respondent be reprimanded.

In its Resolution No. XVI-2003-228 dated 25 October 2003, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved with
modification the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner San Juan. The modification consisted in increasing the penalty
from reprimand to suspension from the practice of law for six months with a warning that a similar offense in the future would be
dealt with more severely.

We agree with the findings and conclusion of Commissioner San Juan as approved and adopted with modification by
the Board of Governors of the IBP.

At the outset, we find that the IBP was correct in not acting on the Motion to Withdraw Complaint filed by complainant
Cambaliza. In Rayos-Ombac vs. Rayos,[16] we declared:

The affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case allegedly executed by complainant does not, in any
way, exonerate the respondent. A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or
lack of interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts borne out by the record,
the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been duly proven. This rule is premised on the nature
of disciplinary proceedings. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action
where the complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings
involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted
solely for the public welfare. They are undertaken for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the
official ministration of persons unfit to practice in them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for his
conduct as an officer of the court. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the
attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as
all good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice. Hence, if the evidence on record warrants,
the respondent may be suspended or disbarred despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of
the charges.

Hence, notwithstanding the Motion to Withdraw Complaint, this disbarment case should proceed accordingly.

The IBP correctly found that the charges of deceit and grossly immoral conduct were not substantiated. In disbarment
proceedings, the complainant has the burden of proving his case by convincing evidence.[17] With respect to the estafa case which
is the basis for the charge of malpractice or other gross misconduct in office, the respondent is not yet convicted thereof. In Gerona
vs. Datingaling,[18] we held that when the criminal prosecution based on the same act charged is still pending in court, any
administrative disciplinary proceedings for the same act must await the outcome of the criminal case to avoid contradictory findings.

We, however, affirm the IBPs finding that the respondent is guilty of assisting in the unauthorized practice of law. A lawyer who
allows a non-member of the Bar to misrepresent himself as a lawyer and to practice law is guilty of violating Canon 9 and Rule
9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which read as follows:

Canon 9 A lawyer shall not directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice of law.

Rule 9.01 A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law
may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing.

The term practice of law implies customarily or habitually holding oneself out to the public as a lawyer for compensation
as a source of livelihood or in consideration of his services. Holding ones self out as a lawyer may be shown by acts indicative of
that purpose like identifying oneself as attorney, appearing in court in representation of a client, or associating oneself as a partner
of a law office for the general practice of law.[19] Such acts constitute unauthorized practice of law.

In this case, Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a lawyer, but he holds himself out as one. His wife, the respondent herein,
abetted and aided him in theunauthorized practice of the legal profession.

At the hearing, the respondent admitted that the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office listed Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr.,
Gerardo A. Panghulan, and Maricris D. Battung as senior partners. She admitted that the first two are not lawyers but
paralegals. They are listed in the letterhead of her law office as senior partners because they have investments in her law
office.[20] That is a blatant misrepresentation.
The Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card is another proof that the respondent assisted Felicisimo R.
Tenorio, Jr., in misrepresenting to the public that he is a lawyer. Notably, the identification card stating that he is Atty. Felicisimo
Tenorio, Jr., bears the signature of the respondent as Chairperson of the Group.

The lawyers duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public
interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education
and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to
maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the
bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the
Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him not
to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any
agency, personal or corporate.And, the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a layman in the
unauthorized practice of law.[21]

WHEREFORE, for culpable violation of Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, respondent
Atty. Ana Luz B. Cristal-Tenorio is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months effective immediately,
with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely.
Antonio Alcantara vs Atty Mariano Pefianco
A.C. No. 5298
December 3, 2002
This is a complaint against Atty. Mariano Pefianco for conduct unbecoming a member of the bar for using improper and
offensive language and threatening and attempting to assault complainant.
The complainant, Atty. Antonio A. Alcantara, is the incumbent District Public Attorney of the Public Attorneys Office in San
Jose, Antique. He alleged that on May 18, 2000, while Atty. Ramon Salvani III was conferring with a client in the Public Attorneys
Office (PAO) at the Hall of Justice in San Jose, Antique, a woman approached them. Complainant saw the woman in tears,
whereupon he went to the group and suggested that Atty. Salvani talk with her amicably as a hearing was taking place in another
room. At this point, respondent Atty. Mariano Pefianco, who was sitting nearby, stood up and shouted at Atty. Salvani and his
client, saying, Nga-a gina-areglo mo ina, ipapreso ang imo nga kliyente para mahibal-an na anang sala. (Why do you settle that
case? Have your client imprisoned so that he will realize his mistake.)
Complainant said he was surprised at respondent Pefiancos outburst and asked him to cool off, but respondent continued
to fulminate at Atty. Salvani. Atty. Salvani tried to explain to respondent that it was the woman who was asking if the civil aspect of
the criminal case could be settled because she was no longer interested in prosecuting the same. Respondent refused to listen
and instead continued to scold Atty. Salvani and the latters client.
As head of the Office, complainant approached respondent and asked him to take it easy and leave Atty. Salvani to settle
the matter. Respondent at first listened, but shortly after he again started shouting at and scolding Atty. Salvani. To avoid any
scene with respondent, complainant went inside his office. He asked his clerk to put a notice outside prohibiting anyone from
interfering with any activity in the Public Attorneys Office.
Complainant said that he then went out to attend a hearing, but when he came back he heard respondent Pefianco
saying: Nagsiling si Atty. Alcantara nga pagwa-on na kuno ako dya sa PAO, buyon nga klase ka tawo. (Atty. Alcantara said that
he would send me out of the PAO, what an idiot.) Then, upon seeing complainant, respondent pointed his finger at him and
repeated his statement for the other people in the office to hear. At this point, according to complainant, he confronted respondent
Pefianco and told him to observe civility or else to leave the office if he had no business there. Complainant said respondent
resented this and started hurling invectives at him. According to complainant, respondent even took a menacing stance towards
him.
This caused a commotion in the office. Atty. Pepin Marfil and Mr. Robert Minguez, the Chief of the Probation Office, tried to
pacify respondent Pefianco. Two guards of the Hall of Justice came to take respondent out of the office, but before they could do
so, respondent tried to attack complainant and even shouted at him, Gago ka! (Youre stupid!) Fortunately, the guards were able
to fend off respondents blow and complainant was not harmed.
Complainant also submitted the affidavits of Atty. Ramon Salvani III, Felizardo Del Rosario, Atty. Pepin Joey Marfil, Robert
Minguez, Herbert Ysulat and Ramon Quintayo to corroborate his allegations.
In his Comment and Counter-Complaint, respondent Pefianco said that the sight of the crying woman, whose husband had
been murdered, moved him and prompted him to take up her defense. He said that he resented the fact that complainant had
ordered an employee, Napoleon Labonete, to put a sign outside prohibiting standbys from hanging round in the Public Attorneys
Office.
Respondent claimed that while talking with Atty. Salvani concerning the womans case, complainant, with his bodyguard,
arrived and shouted at him to get out of the Public Attorneys Office. He claimed that two security guards also came, and
complainant ordered them to take respondent out of the office. Contrary to complainants claims, however, respondent said that it
was complainant who moved to punch him and shout at him, Gago ka! (Youre stupid!)
Prior to the filing of the present complaint, respondent Pefianco had filed before the Office of the Ombudsman an
administrative and criminal complaint against complainant. However, the complaint was dismissed by the said office.
The Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines found that respondent committed the acts alleged
in the complaint and that he violated Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Committee noted that respondent
failed not only to deny the accusations against him but also to give any explanation for his actions. For this reason, it recommended
that respondent be reprimanded and warned that repetition of the same act will be dealt with more severely in the future.
We find the recommendation of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline to be well taken.
The evidence on record indeed shows that it was respondent Pefianco who provoked the incident in question. The affidavits
of several disinterested persons confirm complainants allegation that respondent Pefianco shouted and hurled invectives at him
and Atty. Salvani and even attempted to lay hands on him (complainant).
Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility[1] admonishes lawyers to conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and
candor toward their fellow lawyers.Lawyers are duty bound to uphold the dignity of the legal profession. They must act honorably,
fairly and candidly toward each other and otherwise conduct themselves without reproach at all times. [2]
In this case, respondents meddling in a matter in which he had no right to do so caused the untoward incident. He had no
right to demand an explanation from Atty. Salvani why the case of the woman had not or could not be settled. Even so, Atty. Salvani
in fact tried to explain the matter to respondent, but the latter insisted on his view about the case.
Respondent said he was moved by the plight of the woman whose husband had been murdered as she was pleading for the
settlement of her case because she needed the money. Be that as it may, respondent should realize that what he thought was
righteous did not give him the right to demand that Atty. Salvani and his client, apparently the accused in the criminal case, settle
the case with the widow. Even when he was being pacified, respondent did not relent. Instead he insulted and berated those who
tried to calm him down. Two of the witnesses, Atty. Pepin Marfil and Robert Minguez, who went to the Public Attorneys Office
because they heard the commotion, and two guards at the Hall of Justice, who had been summoned, failed to stop respondent
from his verbal rampage. Respondent ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior can only bring down the legal
profession in the public estimation and erode public respect for it. Whatever moral righteousness respondent had was negated by
the way he chose to express his indignation. An injustice cannot be righted by another injustice.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Mariano Pefianco is found GUILTY of violation of Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
and, considering this to be his first offense, is hereby FINED in the amount of P1,000.00 and REPRIMANDED with a warning that
similar action in the future will be sanctioned more severely.
Manuel Camacho vs Atty. Luis Meinrado Pangulayan, et. al.
G.R. No. 4807
March 22, 2000

Respondent lawyers stand indicted for a violation of the Code of Professional Ethics, specifically Canon 9 thereof, viz:

A lawyer should not in any way communicate upon the subject of controversy with a party represented by counsel,
much less should he undertake to negotiate or compromise the matter with him, but should only deal with his counsel.
It is incumbent upon the lawyer most particularly to avoid everything that may tend to mislead a party not represented
by counsel and he should not undertake to advise him as to law.

Atty. Manuel N. Camacho filed a complaint against the lawyers comprising the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices, namely,
Attorneys Luis Meinrado C. Pangulayan, Regina D. Balmores, Catherine V. Laurel, and Herbert Joaquin P. Bustos. Complainant,
the hired counsel of some expelled students from the AMA Computer College ("AMACC"), in an action for the Issuance of a Writ
of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction and for Damages, docketed Civil Case No. Q-97-30549 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
78, of Quezon City, charged that respondents, then counsel for the defendants, procured and effected on separate occasions,
without his knowledge, compromise agreements ("Re-Admission Agreements") with four of his clients in the aforementioned civil
case which, in effect, required them to waive all kinds of claims they might have had against AMACC, the principal defendant,
and to terminate all civil, criminal and administrative proceedings filed against it. Complainant averred that such an act of
respondents was unbecoming of any member of the legal profession warranting either disbarment or suspension from the
practice of law.

In his comment, Attorney Pangulayan acknowledged that not one of his co-respondents had taken part in the negotiation,
discussion, formulation, or execution of the various Re-Admission Agreements complained of and were, in fact, no longer
connected at the time with the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices. The Re-Admission Agreements, he claimed, had nothing
to do with the dismissal of Civil Case Q-97-30549 and were executed for the sole purpose of effecting the settlement of an
administrative case involving nine students of AMACC who were expelled therefrom upon the recommendation of the Student
Disciplinary Tribunal. The students, namely, Ian Dexter Marquez, Almira O. Basalo, Neil Jason R. Salcedo, Melissa F.
Domondon, Melyda B. De Leon, Leila D. Joven, Signorelli A. Santiago, Michael Ejercito, and Cleo B. Villareiz, were all members
of the Editorial Board of DATALINE, who apparently had caused to be published some objectionable features or articles in the
paper. The 3-member Student Disciplinary Tribunal was immediately convened, and after a series of hearings, it found the
students guilty of the use of indecent language and unauthorized use of the student publication funds. The body recommended
the penalty of expulsion against the erring students.

The denial of the appeal made by the students to Dr. Amable R. Aguiluz V, AMACC President, gave rise to the commencement
of Civil Case No. Q-97-30549 on 14th March 1997 before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, of Quezon City. While the civil
case was still pending, letters of apology and Re-Admission Agreements were separately executed by and/or in behalf of some
of the expelled students, to wit: Letter of Apology, dated 27 May 1997, of Neil Jason Salcedo, assisted by his mother, and Re-
Admission Agreement of 22 June 1997 with the AMACC President; letter of apology, dated 31 March 1997, of Mrs. Veronica B.
De Leon for her daughter Melyda B. De Leon and Re-Admission Agreement of 09 May 1997 with the AMACC President; letter of
apology, dated 22 May 1997, of Leila Joven, assisted by her mother, and Re-Admission Agreement of 22 May 1997 with the
AMACC President; letter or apology, dated 22 September 1997, of Cleo Villareiz and Re-Admission Agreement of 10 October
1997 with the AMACC President; and letter of apology, dated 20 January 1997, of Michael Ejercito, assisted by his parents, and
Re-Admission Agreement of 23 January 1997 with the AMACC President.

Following the execution of the letters of apology and Re-Admission Agreements, a Manifestation, dated 06 June 1997, was filed
with the trial court where the civil case was pending by Attorney Regina D. Balmores of the Pangulayan and Associates Law
Offices for defendant AMACC. A copy of the manifestation was furnished complainant. In his Resolution, dated 14 June 1997,
Judge Lopez of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court thereupon dismissed Civil Case No. Q-97-30549.

On 19 June 1999, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP") passed Resolution No. XIII-99-163,
thus:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation
of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex
"A", and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, with
an amendment Atty. Meinrado Pangulayan is suspended from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS for being remiss
in his duty and DISMISSAL of the case against the other Respondents for they did not take part in the negotiation of
the case.

It would appear that when the individual letters of apology and Re-Admission Agreements were formalized, complainant was by
then already the retained counsel for plaintiff students in the civil case. Respondent Pangulayan had full knowledge of this fact.
Although aware that the students were represented by counsel, respondent attorney proceeded, nonetheless, to negotiate with
them and their parents without at the very least communicating the matter to their lawyer, herein complainant, who was counsel
of record in Civil Case No. Q-97-30549. This failure of respondent, whether by design or because of oversight, is an inexcusable
violation of the canons of professional ethics and in utter disregard of a duty owing to a colleague. Respondent fell short of the
demands required of him as a lawyer and as a member of the Bar.

The allegation that the context of the Re-Admission Agreements centers only on the administrative aspect of the controversy is
belied by the Manifestation1 which, among other things, explicitly contained the following stipulation; viz:
1. Among the nine (9) signatories to the complaint, four (4) of whom assisted by their parents/guardian already
executed a Re-Admission Agreement with AMACC President, AMABLE R. AGUILUZ V acknowledging guilt for
violating the AMA COMPUTER COLLEGE MANUAL FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS and agreed among others to
terminate all civil, criminal and administrative proceedings which they may have against the AMACC arising from their
previous dismissal.

xxx xxx xxx

3. Consequently, as soon as possible, an Urgent Motion to Withdraw from Civil Case No. Q-97-30549 will by filed
them.1âwphi1

The Court can only thus concur with the IBP Investigating Commission and the IBP Board of Governors in their findings;
nevertheless, the recommended six-month suspension would appear to be somewhat too harsh a penalty given the
circumstances and the explanation of respondent.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Luis Meinrado C. Pangulayan is ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of
THREE (3) MONTHS effective immediately upon his receipt of this decision. The case against the other respondents is
DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence.
Atty. Ramon P. Reyes vs Atty. Victoriano T. Chiong Jr.
A.C. No. 5148
July 1, 2003
Lawyers should treat each other with courtesy, dignity and civility. The bickering and the hostility of their clients should not
affect their conduct and rapport with each other as professionals and members of the bar.

The Case

Before us is a Sworn Complaint [1] filed by Atty. Ramon P. Reyes with the Office of the Bar Confidant of this Court, seeking
the disbarment of Atty. Victoriano T. Chiong Jr. for violation of his lawyers oath and of Canon 8 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. After the Third Division of this Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline resolved to suspend him as follows:

x x x [C]onsidering that respondent is bound by his oath which binds him to the obligation that he will not wittingly or willingly
promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same. In addition, Canon 8 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor towards his
professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. In impleading complainant and Prosecutor
Salanga in Civil Case No. 4884, when it was apparent that there was no legal ground to do so, respondent violated his oath of
office as well as the above-quoted Canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility, [r]espondent is hereby SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for two (2) years.[2]

The Facts

In his Complaint, Atty. Reyes alleges that sometime in January 1998, his services were engaged by one Zonggi Xu, [3] a
Chinese-Taiwanese, in a business venture that went awry. Xu invested P300,000 on a Cebu-based fishball, tempura and seafood
products factory being set up by a certain Chia Hsien Pan, another Chinese-Taiwanese residing in Zamboanga City. Eventually,
the former discovered that the latter had not established a fishball factory. When Xu asked for his money back, Pan became hostile,
making it necessary for the former to seek legal assistance.
Xu, through herein complainant, filed a Complaint for estafa against Pan, who was represented by respondent. The
Complaint, docketed as IS 98J-51990, was assigned to Assistant Manila City Prosecutor Pedro B. Salanga, who then issued a
subpoena for Pan to appear for preliminary investigation on October 27 and 29, 1998. The latter neither appeared on the two
scheduled hearings nor submitted his counter-affidavit. Hence, Prosecutor Salanga filed a Criminal Complaint[4] for estafa against
him before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila.[5] On April 8, 1999, the Manila RTC issued a Warrant of Arrest[6] against Pan.
Thereafter, respondent filed an Urgent Motion to Quash the Warrant of Arrest. [7] He also filed with the RTC of Zamboanga
City a Civil Complaint for the collection of a sum of money and damages as well as for the dissolution of a business venture against
complainant, Xu and Prosecutor Salanga.
When confronted by complainant, respondent explained that it was Pan who had decided to institute the civil action against
Atty. Reyes. Respondent claimed he would suggest to his client to drop the civil case, if complainant would move for the dismissal
of the estafa case. However, the two lawyers failed to reach a settlement.
In his Comment[8] dated January 27, 2000, respondent argued that he had shown no disrespect in impleading Atty. Reyes
as co-defendant in Civil Case No. 4884.He claimed that there was no basis to conclude that the suit was groundless, and that it
had been instituted only to exact vengeance. He alleged that Prosecutor Salanga was impleaded as an additional defendant
because of the irregularities the latter had committed in conducting the criminal investigation. Specifically, Prosecutor Salanga had
resolved to file the estafa case despite the pendency of Pans Motion for an Opportunity to Submit Counter-Affidavits and
Evidence,[9] of the appeal[10] to the justice secretary, and of the Motion to Defer/Suspend Proceedings. [11]
On the other hand, complainant was impleaded, because he allegedly connived with his client (Xu) in filing the estafa case,
which the former knew fully well was baseless. According to respondent, the irregularities committed by Prosecutor Salanga in the
criminal investigation and complainants connivance therein were discovered only after the institution of the collection suit.
The Third Division of this Court referred the case to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation.[12] Thereafter, the
Board of Governors of the IBP passed its June 29, 2002 Resolution.[13]

Report and Recommendation of the IBP

In her Report and Recommendation,[14] Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, to whom the case was assigned by the IBP for
investigation and report, averred that complainant and Prosecutor Salanga had been impleaded in Civil Case No. 4884 on the sole
basis of the Criminal Complaint for estafa they had filed against respondents client. In his Comment, respondent himself claimed
that the reason x x x was x x x the irregularities of the criminal investigation/connivance and consequent damages.
Commissioner San Juan maintained that the collection suit with damages had been filed purposely to obtain leverage against
the estafa case, in which respondents client was the defendant. There was no need to implead complainant and Prosecutor
Salanga, since they had never participated in the business transactions between Pan and Xu. Improper and highly questionable
was the inclusion of the prosecutor and complainant in the civil case instituted by respondent on the alleged prodding of his
client. Verily, the suit was filed to harass complainant and Prosecutor Salanga.
Commissioner San Juan held that respondent had no ground to implead Prosecutor Salanga and complainant in Civil Case
No. 4884. In so doing, respondent violated his oath of office and Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The IBP
adopted the investigating commissioners recommendation for his suspension from the practice of law for two (2) years.

This Courts Ruling

We agree with the IBPs recommendation.


Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute and defend; and upon whom peculiar
duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence.[15] Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain
obligations. Mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession, they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly. Moreover,
Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that [a] lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor
towards his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel.
Respondents actions do not measure up to this Canon. Civil Case No. 4884 was for the collection of a sum of money,
damages and dissolution of an unregistered business venture. It had originally been filed against Spouses Xu, but was later
modified to include complainant and Prosecutor Salanga.
The Amended and Supplemental Complaints[16] alleged the following:

27. The investigating prosecutor defendant Pedro Salanga knowingly and deliberately refused and failed to perform his duty
enjoined by the law and the Constitution to afford plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan due process by violating his rights under the Rules on
preliminary investigations; he also falsely made a Certification under oath that preliminary investigation was duly conducted and
plaintiff [was] duly informed of the charges against him but did not answer; he maliciously and x x x partially ruled that there was
probable cause and filed a Criminal Information for estafa against plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan, knowing fully [well] that the
proceedings were fatally defective and null and void; x x x;

28. Said assistant prosecutor, knowing also that plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan filed said appeal and motion to defer for the valid
grounds stated therein deliberately refused to correct his errors and consented to the arrest of said plaintiff under an invalid
information and warrant of arrest.

29. Defendant Atty. Ramon Reyes, knowing that the suit of defendant Zongoi Xu is baseless connived with the latter to harass
and extort money from plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan by said criminal prosecution in the manner contrary to law, morals and public
policy, resulting to the arrest of said plaintiff and causing plaintiffs grave irreparable damages[.][17]

We concur with the IBP that the amendment of the Complaint and the failure to resort to the proper remedies strengthen
complainants allegation that the civil action was intended to gain leverage against the estafa case. If respondent or his client did
not agree with Prosecutor Salangas resolution, they should have used the proper procedural and administrative
remedies. Respondent could have gone to the justice secretary and filed a Motion for Reconsideration or a Motion for
Reinvestigation of Prosecutor Salangas decision to file an information for estafa.
In the trial court, a Motion to Dismiss was available to him if he could show that the estafa case was filed without
basis. Moreover, he could have instituted disbarment proceedings against complainant and Prosecutor Salanga, if he believed that
the two had conspired to act illegally. As a lawyer, respondent should have advised his client of the availability of these
remedies. Thus, the filing of the civil case had no justification.
The lack of involvement of complainant and Prosecutor Salanga in the business transaction subject of the collection suit
shows that there was no reason for their inclusion in that case. It appears that respondent took the estafa case as a personal
affront and used the civil case as a tool to return the inconvenience suffered by his client. His actions demonstrate a misuse of the
legal process. The aim of every lawsuit should be to render justice to the parties according to law, not to harass them. [18]
Lawyers should treat their opposing counsels and other lawyers with courtesy, dignity and civility. A great part of their comfort,
as well as of their success at the bar, depends upon their relations with their professional brethren. Since they deal constantly with
each other, they must treat one another with trust and respect. Any undue ill feeling between clients should not influence counsels
in their conduct and demeanor toward each other. Mutual bickering, unjustified recriminations and offensive behavior among
lawyers not only detract from the dignity of the legal profession,[19] but also constitute highly unprofessional conduct subject to
disciplinary action.
Furthermore, the Lawyers Oath exhorts law practitioners not to wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or
unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same.
Respondent claims that it was his client who insisted in impleading complainant and Prosecutor Salanga. Such excuse is
flimsy and unacceptable. While lawyers owe entire devotion to the interests of their clients, their office does not permit violation of
the law or any manner of fraud or chicanery. [20] Their rendition of improper service invites stern and just
condemnation. Correspondingly, they advance the honor of their profession and the best interests of their clients when they render
service or give advice that meets the strictest principles of moral law.[21]
The highest reward that can be bestowed on lawyers is the esteem of their professional brethren. This esteem cannot be
purchased, perfunctorily created, or gained by artifice or contrivance. It is born of sharp contests and thrives despite conflicting
interests. It emanates solely from integrity, character, brains and skill in the honorable performance of professional duty.[22]
WHEREFORE, respondent is found guilty as charged and is hereby SUSPENDED for two (2) years from the practice of law,
effective immediately.
Cynthia Advincula vs Atty. Ernesto M. Macabata
A.C. No. 7204
March 7, 2007
Before Us is a complaint[1] for disbarment filed by Cynthia Advincula against respondent Atty. Ernesto M. Macabata, charging the
latter with Gross Immorality.

Complainant alleged the following:


Sometime on 1st week of December 2004 complainant [Cynthia Advincula] seek the legal advice of the
respondent [Atty. Macabata], regarding her collectibles from Queensway Travel and Tours. As promised, he
sent Demand Letter dated December 11, 2004 (copy attached as Annex I) to the concerned parties.

On February 10, 2005, met (sic) at Zensho Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City to discuss the possibility
of filing the complaint against Queensway Travel and Tours because they did not settle their accounts as
demanded. After the dinner, respondent sent complainant home and while she is about to step out of the car,
respondent hold (sic) her arm and kissed her on the cheek and embraced her very tightly.

Again, on March 6, 2005, at about past 10:00 in the morning, she met respondent at Starbucks coffee shop
in West Avenue, Quezon City to finalize the draft of the complaint to be filed in Court. After the meeting,
respondent offered again a ride, which he usually did every time they met. Along the way, complainant was
wandering (sic) why she felt so sleepy where in fact she just got up from bed a few hours ago. At
along Roosevelt Avenue immediately after corner of Felipe St., in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City when
she was almost restless respondent stopped his car and forcefully hold (sic) her face and kissed her lips while
the other hand was holding her breast. Complainant even in a state of shocked (sic) succeeded in resisting his
criminal attempt and immediately manage (sic) to go (sic) out of the car.

In the late afternoon, complainant sent a text message to respondent informing him that she decided to refer
the case with another lawyer and needs (sic) to get back the case folder from him. The communications
transpired was recorded in her cellular phone and read as follows:

Sent by complainant - forget the case. I decided to refer it with other lawyer
At 5:33:46 pm

replied by respondent - does this mean I can not c u anymore


at 6:16:11 pm (Does this mean I cannot see you
anymore)

sent by complainant - I feel bad. I cant expect that u will take advantage of
at 6:17:59 pm the situation.

Follow-up message - wrong to kiss a girl especially in the lips if you dont
Sent by complainant have relationship with her.
At 6:29:30 pm
Replied by respondent - Im veri sri. Its not tking advantage of the situation, 2
At 6:32:43 pm put it rightly it s an expression of feeling. S sri
(Im very sorry. Its not taking advantage of the
situation, to put it rightly it is an expression of
feeling)

Follow up message - Im s sri. Il not do it again. Wil u stil c me s I can show


by respondent u my sincerity (Im so sorry. Ill not do it again.
at 6:42:25 pm Will you still see me so I can show you my
sincerity)

On the following day, March 7, 2005 respondent sent another message to complainant at 3:55:32
pm saying I dont know wat 2 do s u may 4give me. Im realy sri. Puede bati na tyo. (I dont know what to do so
you may forgive me. Im really sorry. Puede bati na tayo).

Respondent replied talk to my lawyer in due time. Then another message was received by her
at 4:06:33 pm saying Ano k ba. Im really sri. Pls. Nxt ime bhave n me. (Ano ka ba. Im really sorry. Please next
time behave na ko), which is a clear manifestation of admission of guilt.[2]

In his answer,[3] respondent admitted that he agreed to provide legal services to the complainant; that he met with
complainant on 10 February 2005 and 6 March 2005, to discuss the relevant matters relative to the case which complainant was
intending to file against the owners of Queensway Travel and Tours for collection of a sum of money; that on both occasions,
complainant rode with him in his car where he held and kissed complainant on the lips as the former offered her lips to him; and,
that the corner of Cooper Street and Roosevelt Avenue, where he dropped off the complainant, was a busy street teeming with
people, thus, it would have been impossible to commit the acts imputed to him.

By way of defense, respondent further elucidated that: 1) there was a criminal case for Acts of Lasciviousness filed by
complainant against respondent pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City; 2) the legal name of complainant
is Cynthia Advincula Toriana since she remains married to a certain Jinky Toriana because the civil case for the nullification of
their marriage was archived pursuant to the Order dated 6 December 2000 issued by the Regional Trial Court of Maburao,
Occidental Mindoro; 3) the complainant was living with a man not her husband; and 4) the complainant never bothered to discuss
respondents fees and it was respondent who always paid for their bills every time they met and ate at a restaurant.
A hearing was conducted by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) at
the IBP Building, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, on 26 July 2005.

On 30 September 2005, Investigating Commissioner Dennis A. B. Funa submitted his Report and
Recommendation,[4] recommending the imposition of the penalty of one (1) month suspension on respondent for violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility.

Thereafter, the IBP passed Resolution No. XVII-2006-117 dated 20 March 2006, approving and adopting, with modification, the
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, thus:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part
of this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and
the applicable laws and rules, and considering the behavior of Respondent went beyond the norms of conduct
required of a lawyer when dealing with or relating with a client, Atty. Ernesto A. Macabata is SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for three (3) months.[5]

The issue to be resolved in this case is: whether respondent committed acts that are grossly immoral or which constitute
serious moral depravity that would warrant his disbarment or suspension from the practice of law.

Simple as the facts of the case may be, the manner by which we deal with respondents actuations shall have a rippling effect on
how the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from
what it used to be. This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a high degree of
social responsibility and, hence, must handle their personal affairs with greater caution.
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

CANON I x x x

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

CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the
activities of the Integrated Bar.

xxxx

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.

As may be gleaned from above, the Code of Professional Responsibility forbids lawyers from engaging in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Lawyers have been repeatedly reminded that their possession of good moral character is a continuing condition to preserve their
membership in the Bar in good standing. The continued possession of good moral character is a requisite condition for remaining
in the practice of law.[6] In Aldovino v. Pujalte, Jr.,[7] we emphasized that:

This Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity and good moral character of members of
the Bar. They are expected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and refrain
from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the public in the fidelity,
honesty, and integrity of the legal profession. Membership in the legal profession is a privilege. And
whenever it is made to appear that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of the public, it
becomes not only the right but also the duty of this Court, which made him one of its officers and gave him
the privilege of ministering within its Bar, to withdraw the privilege.

It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality. The legal profession
exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts
constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand no less than the highest degree of
morality.[8] We explained in Barrientos v. Daarol[9] that, as officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral
character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards
of the community.

Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but also throughout their
legal career, in order to maintain their good standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity. They may be suspended from the
practice of law or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in
moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor.[10]

In Bar Matter No. 1154,[11] good moral character was defined as what a person really is, as distinguished from good
reputation, or from the opinion generally entertained of him, or the estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he
is known. Moral character is not a subjective term but one which corresponds to objective reality.
It should be noted that the requirement of good moral character has four ostensible purposes, namely: (1) to protect the
public; (2) to protect the public image of lawyers; (3) to protect prospective clients; and (4) to protect errant lawyers from
themselves.[12]

In the case at bar, respondent admitted kissing complainant on the lips.

In his Answer,[13] respondent confessed, thus:

27. When she was about to get off the car, I said can I kiss you goodnight. She offered her left cheek
and I kissed it and with my left hand slightly pulled her right face towards me and kissed her gently on the lips.
We said goodnight and she got off the car.

xxxx

35. When I stopped my car I said okay. I saw her offered (sic) her left cheek and I lightly kissed it
and with my right hand slightly pulled her right cheek towards me and plant (sic) a light kiss on her lips. There
was no force used. No intimidation made, no lewd designs displayed. No breast holding was done. Everything
happened very spontaneously with no reaction from her except saying sexual harassment.

During the hearing held on 26 July 2005 at the 3rd floor, IBP Building, Dona Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas City, respondent
candidly recalled the following events:

ATTY. MACABATA:
That time in February, we met I fetched her I should say, somewhere along the corner of Edsa and
Kamuning because it was then raining so we are texting each other. So I parked my car somewhere
along the corner of Edsa and Kamuning and I was there about ten to fifteen minutes then she arrived.
And so I said she opened my car and then she went inside so I said, would you like that we have a
Japanese dinner? And she said yes, okay. So I brought her to Zensho which is along Tomas Morato.
When we were there, we discussed about her case, we ordered food and then a little while I told
her, would it be okay for you of I (sic) order wine? She said yes so I ordered two glasses of
red wine. After that, after discussing matters about her case, so I said its about 9:00 or beyond that
time already, so I said okay, lets go. So when I said lets go so I stood up and then I went to the car.
I went ahead of my car and she followed me then she rode on (sic) it. So I told her where to? She
told me just drop me at the same place where you have been dropping me for the last meetings that
we had and that was at the corner of Morato and Roosevelt Avenue. So, before she went down, I
told her can I kiss you goodnight? She offered her left cheek and I kissed it and with the slight use
of my right hand, I ... should I say tilted her face towards me and when shes already facing
me I lightly kissed her on the lips. And then I said good night. She went down the car, thats it.

COMM. FUNA:

February 10 iyan.

xxxx

ATTY. MACABATA:

Okay. After that were through so I said lets go because I have an appointment. So we went out, we
went inside my car and I said where to? Same place, she said, so then at the same corner. So before
she went down , before she opened the door of the car, I saw her offered her left cheek. So I kissed
her again.

COMM. FUNA:
Pardon?

ATTY. MACABATA:

I saw her offered her left cheek like that, so I kissed her again and then with the use of my left
hand, pushed a little bit her face and then kissed her again softly on the lips and thats it. x x
x.[14] (Emphases supplied.)

It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is grossly immoral conduct or to specify the moral
delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what appears
to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.[15]

In Zaguirre v. Castillo,[16] we reiterated the definition of immoral conduct, as such conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or
shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. Furthermore, for such
conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must not simply be immoral, but grossly immoral. It must be so corrupt as to
constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree or committed under such scandalous or revolting
circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency.
The following cases were considered by this Court as constitutive of grossly immoral conduct:

In Toledo v. Toledo,[17] a lawyer was disbarred from the practice of law, when he abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with
another woman who had borne him a child.

In Obusan v. Obusan, Jr.,[18] a lawyer was disbarred after complainant proved that he had abandoned her and maintained an
adulterous relationship with a married woman. This court declared that respondent failed to maintain the highest degree of morality
expected and required of a member of the bar.

In Dantes v. Dantes,[19] respondents act of engaging in illicit relationships with two different women during the subsistence of his
marriage to the complainant constitutes grossly immoral conduct warranting the imposition of appropriate sanctions. Complainants
testimony, taken in conjunction with the documentary evidence, sufficiently established that respondent breached the high and
exacting moral standards set for members of the law profession.

In Delos Reyes v. Aznar,[20] it was ruled that it was highly immoral of respondent, a married man with children, to have taken
advantage of his position as chairman of the college of medicine in asking complainant, a student in said college, to go with him to
Manila where he had carnal knowledge of her under the threat that she would flank in all her subjects in case she refused.

In Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma,[21] respondent lawyer was disbarred when he abandoned his lawful wife and three children, lured an
innocent woman into marrying him and misrepresented himself as a bachelor so he could contract marriage in a foreign land.

In Macarrubo v. Macarrubo,[22] respondent entered into multiple marriages and then resorted to legal remedies to sever
them. There, we ruled that [s]uch pattern of misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions of marriage and family,
institutions that this society looks to for the rearing of our children, for the development of values essential to the survival and well-
being of our communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole. As such, there can be no other fate that awaits
respondent than to be disbarred.

In Tucay v. Tucay,[23] respondent contracted marriage with another married woman and left complainant with whom he has been
married for thirty years.We ruled that such acts constitute a grossly immoral conduct and only indicative of an extremely low regard
for the fundamental ethics of his profession, warranting respondents disbarment.

In Villasanta v. Peralta,[24] respondent married complainant while his first wife was still alive, their marriage still valid and
subsisting. We held that the act of respondent of contracting the second marriage is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and
morality. Thus, lacking the good moral character required by the Rules of Court, respondent was disqualified from being admitted
to the bar.

In Cabrera v. Agustin,[25] respondent lured an innocent woman into a simulated marriage and thereafter satisfied his lust. We held
that respondent failed to maintain that degree of morality and integrity which, at all times, is expected of members of the bar. He
is, therefore, disbarred from the practice of law.

Immorality has not been confined to sexual matters, but includes conduct inconsistent with rectitude, or indicative of
corruption, indecency, depravity and dissoluteness; or is willful, flagrant, or shameless conduct showing moral indifference to
opinions of respectable members of the community, and an inconsiderate attitude toward good order and public welfare. [26]
Guided by the definitions above, we perceived acts of kissing or beso-beso on the cheeks as mere gestures of friendship and
camaraderie,[27] forms of greetings, casual and customary. The acts of respondent, though, in turning the head of complainant
towards him and kissing her on the lips are distasteful.However, such act, even if considered offensive and undesirable, cannot be
considered grossly immoral.

Complainants bare allegation that respondent made use and took advantage of his position as a lawyer to lure her to
agree to have sexual relations with him, deserves no credit. The burden of proof rests on the complainant, and she must establish
the case against the respondent by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof, [28] disclosing a case that is free from doubt as to
compel the exercise by the Court of its disciplinary power.[29] Thus, the adage that he who asserts not he who denies, must
prove.[30] As a basic rule in evidence, the burden of proof lies on the party who makes the allegationsei incumbit probation, qui
decit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis probation nulla sit.[31] In the case at bar, complainant miserably failed
to comply with the burden of proof required of her. A mere charge or allegation of wrongdoing does not suffice. Accusation is not
synonymous with guilt.[32]

Moreover, while respondent admitted having kissed complainant on the lips, the same was not motivated by malice. We
come to this conclusion because right after the complainant expressed her annoyance at being kissed by the respondent through
a cellular phone text message, respondent immediately extended an apology to complainant also via cellular phone text message.
The exchange of text messages between complainant and respondent bears this out.

Be it noted also that the incident happened in a place where there were several people in the vicinity considering
that Roosevelt Avenue is a major jeepney route for 24 hours. If respondent truly had malicious designs on complainant, he could
have brought her to a private place or a more remote place where he could freely accomplish the same.

All told, as shown by the above circumstances, respondents acts are not grossly immoral nor highly reprehensible to
warrant disbarment or suspension.

The question as to what disciplinary sanction should be imposed against a lawyer found guilty of misconduct requires
consideration of a number of factors.[33] When deciding upon the appropriate sanction, the Court must consider that the primary
purposes of disciplinary proceedings are to protect the public; to foster public confidence in the Bar; to preserve the integrity of
the profession; and to deter other lawyers from similar misconduct.[34]Disciplinary proceedings are means of protecting the
administration of justice by requiring those who carry out this important function to be competent, honorable and reliable men in
whom courts and clients may repose confidence.[35] While it is discretionary upon the Court to impose a particular sanction that it
may deem proper against an erring lawyer, it should neither be arbitrary and despotic nor motivated by personal animosity or
prejudice, but should ever be controlled by the imperative need to scrupulously guard the purity and independence of the bar and
to exact from the lawyer strict compliance with his duties to the court, to his client, to his brethren in the profession and to the
public.

The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle,
with great caution and only for the most weighty reasons and only on clear cases of misconduct which seriously affect the
standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the Bar. Only those acts which cause loss of moral
character should merit disbarment or suspension, while those acts which neither affect nor erode the moral character of the
lawyer should only justify a lesser sanction unless they are of such nature and to such extent as to clearly show the lawyers
unfitness to continue in the practice of law. The dubious character of the act charged as well as the motivation which induced the
lawyer to commit it must be clearly demonstrated before suspension or disbarment is meted out. The mitigating or aggravating
circumstances that attended the commission of the offense should also be considered.[36]

Censure or reprimand is usually meted out for an isolated act of misconduct of a lesser nature. It is also imposed for some minor
infraction of the lawyers duty to the court or the client. [37] In the Matter of Darell Adams,[38] a lawyer was publicly reprimanded for
grabbing a female client, kissing her, and raising her blouse which constituted illegal conduct involving moral turpitude and conduct
which adversely reflected on his fitness to practice law.

Based on the circumstances of the case as discussed and considering that this is respondents first offense, reprimand
would suffice.

We laud complainants effort to seek redress for what she honestly believed to be an affront to her honor. Surely, it was
difficult and agonizing on her part to come out in the open and accuse her lawyer of gross immoral conduct. However, her own
assessment of the incidents is highly subjective and partial, and surely needs to be corroborated or supported by more objective
evidence.

WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Ernesto Macabata, for alleged immorality, is
hereby DISMISSED.However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED to be more prudent and cautious in his dealing with his
clients with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed on him for any repetition of the same or similar
offense in the future.

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