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Assignment no 1 Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No.

L-26364 May 29, 1968

MARIANO A. ALBERT, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA (BR. VI), UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING CO., INC., and JOSE M. ARUEGO, respondents. Uy, Artiaga and Antonio M. Molina for petitioner. Aruego, Mamaril and Associates Law Office for respondents. REYES, J.B.L., J.: This case is a veritable legal marathon. Originally docketed in 1949, within a span of 19 years, the legal dispute has come to this Court four times: (1) L-9300, promulgated April 18, 1958; (2) L-15275, promulgated October 24, 1960; (3) L-18350, dismissed May 17, 1961; and (4) L-19118, promulgated January 30, 1965 (Resolution of Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration denied on June 16, 1965). The present petition for certiorari is the fifth. The time is long past when courts of justice must write finis to this case. For, Public policy and sound practice demand that, at the risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts should become final at some definite date fixed by law. The very object for which courts were instituted was to put an end to controversies.1 The factual setting necessary to a clear understanding of the instant petition for certiorari needs to be restated. Plaintiff Albert sued University Publishing Company, Inc. for breach of contract. Albert died before the case proceeded to trial, and Justo R. Albert, his estate's administrator, was substituted. Finally, defendant's liability was determined by this Court in L-15275. Plaintiff was to recover P15,000.00 with legal interest from judicial demand. From the inception of the suit below up to the time the judgment in L-15275 was to be executed, the corporate existence of university Publishing Company, Inc. appears to have been taken for granted, and was not then put in issue. However, when the Court of First Instance of Manila issued on July 22, 1961 an order of execution against University Publishing Company, Inc., a new problem cropped up. By virtue of this writ, plaintiff's counsel and the Sheriff of the City of Manila went to see Jose M. Aruego who signed the contract with plaintiff on behalf and as President of University Publishing Company, Inc. They then discovered that no such entity exists. A verification made at the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed this fact. On July 31, 1961, said Commission issued

a certification "that the records of this Commission do not show the registration of UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING CO., INC., either as a corporation or partnership." 2 This triggered a verified petition in the court below on August 10, 1961 for the issuance of a writ of execution ordering the Sheriff of Manila to cause the satisfaction of the judgment against the assets and properties of Jose M. Aruego as the real defendant in the case. All along, Jose M. Aruego and his law firm were counsel for the University Publishing Company, Inc. Instead of informing the lower court that it had in its possession copies of its certificate of registration, its articles of incorporation, its by-laws and all other paper materials to its disputed corporate existence, University Publishing Company, Inc. chose to remain silent. On August 11, 1961, University Publishing Company, Inc., by counsel Aruego, Mamaril and Associates (the law firm of Jose M. Aruego aforesaid) merely countered plaintiffs petition for execution as against Aruego with an unsworn manifestation in court that "said Jose M. Aruego is not a party to this case," and, therefore, plaintiff's petition should be denied.3 Respondent court, presided over by His Honor, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel, on September 9, 1961, came up with an order, which reads thus: It appearing that Jose M. Aruego against whom the judgment rendered herein is sought to be enforced is not a party to this case, plaintiff's motion filed on August 10, 1961 is hereby denied.4 Plaintiff appealed to this Court on this sole issue: "The lower court erred in denying the plaintiff-appellant's petition praying that the judgment rendered against the alleged corporation, the above-named defendant-appellee, be executed against the personal assets and properties of Jose M. Aruego, the real party to this case." In an extended opinion written by Mr. Justice Jose P. Bengzon, this Court in L-19118, on January 30, 1965, resolved the issue as follows: The fact of non-registration of University Publishing Co., Inc. in the Securities and Exchange Commission has not been disputed. Defendant would only raise the point that "University Publishing Co., Inc." and not Jose M. Aruego, is the party defendant; thereby assuming that "University Publishing Co., Inc." is an existing corporation with an independent juridical personality. Precisely, however, on account of the non-registration it cannot be considered a corporation, not even a corporation de facto (Hall vs. Piccio, 86 Phil. 603). It has therefore no personality separate from Jose M. Aruego; it cannot be sued independently. The corporation-by-estoppel doctrine has not been invoked. At any rate, the same is inapplicable here. Aruego represented a non-existent entity and induced not only the plaintiff but even the court to believe in such representation. He signed the contract as "President" of "University Publishing Co., Inc.," stating that this was 'a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines,' and obviously misled plaintiff (Mariano A. Albert) into believing the same. One who has induced another to act upon his wilful misrepresentation that a corporation was duly organized and existing under the law, cannot thereafter set up against his victim the principle of corporation by estoppel (Salvatiera vs. Garlitos, 56 O.G. 3609). "University Publishing Co., Inc." purported to come to court, answering the complaint and litigating upon the merits. But as stated, "University Publishing Co., Inc." has no independent personality; it is just a name. Jose M. Aruego was, in reality, the one who answered and litigated, through his own law firm as counsel. He was in fact, if not in name, the defendant. Even with regard to corporations duly organized and existing under the law, we have in many a case pierced the veil of corporate fiction to administer the ends of justice. (Arnold vs. Willits & Patterson, Ltd., 44 Phil. 634; Koppel (Phil.), Inc. vs. Yatco, 77 Phil. 496; La Campana Coffee Factory, Inc. vs. Kaisahan

ng mga Manggagawa sa La Campana, 93 Phil. 160; Marvel Building Corporation vs. David, 94 Phil. 376; Madrigal Shipping Co., Inc. vs. Ogilvie, L-8431, Oct. 30, 1958; Laguna Transportation Co., Inc. vs. S.S.S., L-14606, April 28, 1960; McConnel vs. C.A., L-10510, Mar. 17, 1961; Liddell & Co., Inc. vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, L-9687, June 30, 1961; Palacio vs. Fely Transportation Co., L-15121, August 31, 1962). And in Salvatiera vs. Garlitos, supra, p. 3073, we ruled: "A person acting or purporting to act on behalf of a corporation which has no valid existence assumes such privileges and obligations and becomes personally liable for contracts entered into or for other acts performed as such agent." Had Jose M. Aruego been named as party defendant instead of, or together, with, "University Publishing Co., Inc." there would be no room for debate as to his personal liability. Since he was not so named, the matters of "day in court" and "due process" have arisen. In this connection, it must be realized that parties to a suit are "persons who have a right to control the proceedings, to make defense, to adduce and cross-examine witnesses, and to appeal from a decision" (67 C.J.S. 887) and Aruego was, in reality, the person who had and exercised these rights. Clearly then, Aruego had his day in court as the real defendant; and due process of law has been substantially observed. By "due process of law" we mean "a law which hears before it condemns; which proceeds upon inquiry, and renders judgment only after trial.... (4 Wheaton, U.S. 518, 581); or, as this Court has said, "Due process of law" contemplates notice and opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered, affecting one's person or property." (Lopez vs. Director of Lands, 47 Phil. 23, 32). (Sicat vs. Reyes, L-11023, Dec. 14, 1956.) And it may not be amiss to mention here also that the "due process" clause of the Constitution is designed to secure justice as a living reality; not to sacrifice it by paying undue homage to formality. For substance must prevail over form. It may now be trite, but none the less apt, to quote what long ago we said in Alonso vs. Villamor, 16 Phil. 315, 321-322: A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps and destroys the other. It is, rather, a contest in which each contending party fully and fairly lays before the court the facts in issue and then, brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure, asks that justice be done upon the merits. Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won by a rapier's thrust. Technicality, when it deserts its proper office as an aid to justice and becomes its great hindrance and chief enemy, deserves scant consideration from courts. There should be no vested rights in technicalities. The evidence is patently clear that Jose M. Aruego, acting as representative of a non-existent principal was the real party to the contract sued upon; that he was the one who reaped the benefits resulting from it, so much so that partial payments of the consideration were made by him; that he violated its terms, thereby precipitating the suit in question; and that in the litigation he was the real defendant. Perforce, in line with the ends of justice, responsibility under the judgment falls on him. We need hardly state that should there be persons who under the law are liable to Aruego for reimbursement or contribution with respect to the payment he makes under the judgment in question, he may, of course, proceed against them through proper remedial measures. PREMISES CONSIDERED, the order appealed from is hereby set aside and the case remanded ordering the lower court to hold supplementary proceedings for the purpose of carrying the judgment into effect against University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego. It is to be observed that even as this case was elevated to this Court in L-19118, University Publishing Company, Inc. or its president and counsel chose to withhold pertinent documents and papers in its possession and control. But when the foregoing judgment came, the University Publishing Company, Inc., in its motion for reconsideration thereof, asked that it be afforded opportunity to prove its corporate existence. It submitted with

that motion for reconsideration, its certificate of registration, articles of incorporation, by-laws, and a certificate of reconstitution of records issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was procured only from the Securities and Exchange Commissioner on April 1, 1965 after the decision in L-19118 was promulgated. Jose M. Aruego, the president and counsel of University Publishing Company, Inc., for the first time appeared in propria persona before this Court as a "member of the Philippine Bar, private citizen." He pointedly stated that he did not submit to the jurisdiction of this Court. He wanted, though, that his side of the case be heard. He formally joined hands with University Publishing Company, Inc. on the plea of due process in his favor. He insisted that he was not a party to this litigation. The resolution of this Court, on June 16, 1965, extensively dwelt on the due process plea of Jose M. Aruego, thus: It may be worth noting again that Jose M. Aruego started the negotiation which culminated in the contract between the parties, signing said contract as president of University Publishing Co., Inc. Likewise he was the one who made partial payments up to the amount of P7,000.00 for and in behalf of University Publishing Co., Inc. He also appeared not only as a witness but as a lawyer, signing some pleadings or motions in defense of University Publishing Co., Inc., although in other instances it is one of his associates or member of his law firm who did so. Known is the fact that even a duly existing corporation can only move and act through natural persons. In this case it was Jose M. Aruego who moved and acted as or for University Publishing Co., Inc. It is elemental that the courts can only decide the merits of a given suit according to the records that are in the case. It is true that in the two previous cases decided by this Court, the first, awarding damages (L9300), the second, clarifying the amount of P15,000.00 awarded as such (L-15275), the corporate existence of University Publishing Co., Inc. as a legal entity was merely taken for granted. However, when the said issue was squarely presented before the court, and University Publishing Co., Inc., chose to keep the courts in the dark by withholding pertinent documents and papers in its possession and control, Court had to decide the points raised according to the records of the case and whatever related matters necessarily included therein. Hence, as a consequence of the certification of the Securities and Exchange Commission that its records 'do not show the registration of University Publishing Co., Inc., either as a corporation or partnership' this Court concluded that by virtue of its non-registration it cannot be considered a corporation. We further said that it has therefore no personality separate from Jose M. Aruego and that Aruego was in reality the one who answered and litigated through his own law firm as counsel. Stated otherwise, we found that Aruego was in fact, if not in name, the defendant (Decision, p. 6). Indeed, the judge of the court of first instance wrote in his decision thus: "Defendant Aruego (all along the judge who pens this decision considered that the defendant here is the president of the University Publishing Co., Inc. since it was he who really made the contract with Justice Albert)." (Decision of CFI, p. 9, quoted in plaintiff-appellant's brief, p. 10). And this portion of the decision made by the court a quo was never questioned by the defendant. The above statement made by the court a quo in its decision compelled this Court to carefully examine the facts surrounding the dispute starting from the time of the negotiation of the business proposition, followed by the signing of the contract; considered the benefits received; took into account the partial payments made, the litigation conducted, the decisions rendered and the appeals undertaken. After thus considering the facts and circumstances, keeping in mind that even with regard to corporations shown as duly registered and existing, we have in many a case pierced the veil of corporate fiction to administer the ends of justice, (Arnold vs. Willits & Patterson, Ltd., 44 Phil. 634; Koppel (Phil.), Inc. vs. Yatco, 77 Phil. 496; La Campana Coffee Factory, Inc. vs. Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawa sa La Campana, 93 Phil. 160; Marvel Building Corporation vs. David, 94 Phil. 376; Madrigal Shipping Co., Inc. vs Ogilvie, L-8431, Oct. 30, 1958; Laguna Transportation Co., Inc. vs. S.S.S., L-14606, April 28, 1960; McConnel vs. C.A., L-10510, Mar. 17, 1961; Liddell & Co., Inc., vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, L-9687, June 30, 1961:

Palacio vs. Fely Transportation Co., L-15121, August 31, 1962) we held Aruego personally responsible for his acts on behalf of University Publishing Co., Inc. Defendant would reply that in all those cases where the Court pierced the veil of corporate fiction the officials held liable were made party defendants. As stated, defendant-appellee could not even pretend to possess corporate fiction in view of its non-registration per the evidence so that from the start Aruego was the real defendant. Since the purpose of formally impleading a party is to assure him a day in court, once the protective mantle of due process of law has in fact been accorded a litigant, whatever the imperfection in form, the real litigant may be held liable as a party. Jose M. Aruego definitely had his day in court, and due process of law was enjoyed by him as a matter of fact as revealed by the records of the case. (Decision, p. 6). The dispositive portion of the decision the reconsideration of which is being sought is the following: "Premises considered, the order appealed from is hereby set aside and the case remanded ordering the lower court to hold supplementary proceedings for the purpose of carrying the judgment into effect against University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego." According to several cases a litigant is not allowed to speculate on the decision the court may render in the case. (Rodriguez vs. Treasurer of the Philippines, 45 O.G. 4457 (Resolution); Arnault vs. Nazareno, L3820, Resolution of August 9, 1950; Howden vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, L-19392, April 14, 1965). The University Publishing Co., Inc. speculated on a favorable decision based on the issue that Jose M. Aruego not being a formal party defendant in this case a writ of execution against him was not in order. It therefore preferred to suppress vital documents under its possession and control rather than to rebut the certification issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission that according to its records University Publishing Co., Inc. was not registered. If the lower court's order is sustained, collection of damages becomes problematical. If a new suit is filed against Aruego, prescription might be considered as effective defense, aside from the prospect of another ten years of pending litigation. Such are the possible reasons for adopting the position of speculation of our decision. Our ruling appeared to be unfavorable to such speculation. It was only after the receipt of the adverse decision promulgated by this Court that University Publishing Co., Inc. disclosed its registration papers. For purposes of this case only and according to its particular facts and circumstances, we rule that in view of the late disclosure of said papers by the University Publishing Co., Inc., the same can no longer be considered at this stage of the proceedings.1vvphi1.nt And on the issue of whether or not the certificate of registration, the articles of incorporation, the by-laws and the certificate of the reconstitution of the records proffered by the University Publishing Company, Inc. should be admitted, this Court, in the said resolution of the motion for reconsideration, in part said: Defendant-appellee could have presented the foregoing papers before the lower court to counter the evidence of non-registration, but defendant-appellee did not do so. It could have reconstituted its records at that stage of the proceedings, instead of only on April 1, 1965, after decision herein was promulgated. xxx xxx xxx

As far as this case is concerned, therefore, University Publishing Co., Inc. must be deemed as unregistered, since by defendant-appellee's choice the record shows it to be so. Defendant-appellee apparently sought to delay the execution by remaining unregistered per the certification of the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was only when execution was to be carried out, anyway, against it and/or its president and almost 19 years after the approval of the law authorizing reconstitution that it reconstituted its records to show its registration, thereby once more attempting to delay the payment of plaintiff's claim, long since adjudged meritorious. Deciding, therefore, as we must, this particular case on its record as submitted by the parties, defendant-appellee's proffered evidence of its corporate existence cannot at this

stage be considered to alter the decision reached herein. This is not to preclude in future cases the consideration of properly submitted evidence as to defendant-appellee's corporate existence. WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration and for leave to file original papers not in the record, is hereby denied. 1wph1.t Armed with the aforementioned decision and resolution of this Court in L-19118, petitioner returned to the lower court on July 28, 1965 with a motion for execution and approval of the bill of costs and asking specifically for the issuance of the corresponding writ against Aruego to satisfy the judgment. On July 30, 1965, Aruego moved to intervene with an opposition in intervention to the motion for execution. Alleging that the judgment of this Court in L-19118 dated January 30, 1965, which reads: PREMISES CONSIDERED, the order appealed from is hereby set aside and the case remanded ordering the lower court to hold supplementary proceedings for the purpose of carrying the judgment into effect against University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego. should be construed in the sense that "the supplementary proceedings mentioned in the aforequoted dispositive portion of the Supreme Court Decision means no other than a proceeding to show cause why the judgment should be carried into effect against either the University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego, as the case may be" and that until such supplementary proceedings was had petitioner could ask for the execution of the judgment against Jose M. Aruego as a matter of course, Aruego falls back on his averment (made in his manifestation already ruled out by this Court in L-19118) that he had never been a party to the case and that the judgment sought to be executed was solely against University Publishing Company, Inc. On February 21, 1966, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel, upon consideration of this motion for execution and for approval of the bill of costs, the opposition thereto by Aruego, and the reply to the opposition, granted the motion for execution and directed that a writ of execution "be issued accordingly". Aruego came back with a motion for reconsideration, adamant in his resolve that he would not pay as he was not a party to the suit. This was opposed by plaintiff. On March 5, 1966, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel reconsidered his order of February 21, 1966, and denied the motion for a writ of execution against Jose M. Aruego upon the ground that "said Jose M. Aruego has never been a party to the case and that the judgment sought to be executed is not against him." On April 4, 1966, it was petitioner's turn to file a motion for reconsideration for the reason that the question of whether or not an order of execution could issue against Aruego had already been resolved by this Court in its final judgment in L-19118. On April 20, 1966, Jose M. Aruego opposed the motion for reconsideration and prayed for supplementary proceedings to allow him as intervenor to present evidence in support thereof, alleging that the execution of the judgment against him was not sanctioned by law and procedure and that had intervenor been impleaded or given his day in court, he could have easily proven the legitimate and due existence of the University Publishing Company, Inc. as a bona fide corporation. He attached thereto the very same articles of incorporation, certificate of registration, by-laws and certificate of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the reconstitution of its records documents which were rejected by this Court in its resolution of June 16, 1965 in L-19118.

On April 28, 1966, petitioner filed his reply to Aruego's opposition upon the ground that these are matters concluded in the decision and resolution of this Court, and that respondent court cannot admit said documents without going against this Court's clear mandate. Resolution on plaintiff's motion for reconsideration was, by Judge Gaudencio Cloribel's order of May 20, 1966, held in abeyance until the termination of the supplementary proceedings, which the court thereupon granted, to allow Aruego to present evidence in support of his opposition to the motion for reconsideration. On May 28, 1966, Aruego presented in evidence the documents heretofore mentioned, and in addition, the certificate dated February 17, 1965 signed by a majority of the directors of the University Publishing Company, Inc. declaring that the corporation still exists and that the articles of incorporation have not been amended or modified. On July 13, 1966, notwithstanding plaintiff's opposition to the admission of the documents just mentioned, and his claim that the matter involved in the execution had long been finished and decided by this Court, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel denied plaintiff's motion for execution. Hence, this petition for a writ of certiorari and mandamus. 1. When this case was elevated to this Court for the fourth time in L-19118, we made it abundantly clear in the decision therein rendered and in the resolution issued thereafter, that the judgment rendered against University Publishing Company, Inc. could and should be enforced against respondent Jose M. Aruego. Our language in the dispositive portion is clear. It reads: PREMISES CONSIDERED, the order appealed from is hereby set aside and the case remanded ordering the lower court to hold supplementary proceedings for the purpose of carrying the judgment into effect against University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego. The judgment does not contemplate of any proceeding other than for the purpose of carrying into effect the judgment against University Publishing Company, Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego which is the proceeding on execution. It does not admit of any other interpretation such as that which is advocated by Aruego that such proceeding "is to show cause why the judgment should be carried into effect against either the University Publishing Co., Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego." Indeed, the issue of whether or not the judgment rendered against University Publishing Company, Inc. could be enforced against Jose M. Aruego had already been definitely decided in that case, L-19118. Even worse, all the arguments and evidence presented by Aruego before the respondent court resulting in the orders that gave rise to the present proceedings had been previously adduced before this Court and decided adversely against him in the January decision and the June resolution of 1965 in L19118. There can be no clearer case for the principle of conclusiveness of judgment to apply. Thus, in certiorari and prohibition proceedings brought by the Manila Underwriters Insurance Co., Inc. against Judge Bienvenido A. Tan, L-17445, November 27, 1964, this Court ruled: On August 15, 1960, respondent Borja filed another motion in the same case asking the court to require petitioner again to show cause why it should not be made liable under its bond, and thereafter to issue a writ of execution against it. Petitioner opposed the motion on the ground that our decision in G.R. No. L12256 had finally disposed of the issue raised therein. Despite this, the respondent judge, on August 30, 1960 issued an order citing petitioner to appear before it and show cause why it should not be held liable under its bond, and on September 10 of the same year, his honor also denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration of said order. Thereupon, the present action was filed. Upon the undisputed facts stated heretofore, it appears abundantly clear that the respondent judge seriously erred in issuing the orders complained of. The question of whether petitioner could still be held liable upon its bond must be deemed finally settled by our decision in G.R. No. L-12256, and any attempt to hold

petitioner liable upon the bond already mentioned must necessarily be deemed as an improper attempt to reopen a case already finally adjudicated. WHEREFORE, the orders complained of are hereby declared void and of no legal force and effect. The writ of preliminary injunction issued in this case on October 26, 1960 is hereby made final. Costs against respondent Borja. The liability of Aruego has been established so plainly in the decision and resolution in L-19118 that there could not be any quibbling as to the import of the words there used. Case L-19118 was brought into being because precisely Judge Cloribel ruled that execution could not be issued against Jose M. Aruego upon the ground, so he said in his appealed order, that Aruego was not a party to the action. This Court there reversed Judge Gaudencio Cloribel. In the circumstances of this case, we are constrained to articulate a number of possibilities: that Judge Gaudencio Cloribel either (1) did not read our decision in L-19118, January 30, 1965, and our resolution in the same case promulgated on June 16, 1965; or (2) having read, did not comprehend their import; or (3) having read and understood, wantonly ignored them. It is the thinking of this Court, however, that Judge Gaudencio Cloribel simply shunted aside our decision and resolution. He could not have overlooked the fact that it was his own order of September 9, 1961 denying execution because Aruego is not a party to this case which was appealed to this Court. That very question of whether execution should issue against Aruego was squarely presented and as squarely resolved in the affirmative by this Court in L-19118. That Gaudencio Cloribel should have insisted in his opinion after his attention to this Court's decision and resolution adverse thereto had been repeatedly called by plaintiff, is an act which deserves unsympathetic and unqualified condemnation. Judge Gaudencio Cloribel need not be reminded that the Supreme Court, by tradition and in our system of judicial administration, has the last word on what the law is; it is the final arbiter of any justifiable controversy. There is only one Supreme Court from whose decisions all other courts should take their bearings. 5 Judge Gaudencio Cloribel should have known that "[a] becoming modesty of inferior courts demands conscious realization of the position that they occupy in the interrelation and operation of the integrated judicial system of the nation."6 So it is, that in Martiniano P. Vivo vs. Hon. Gaudencio Cloribel, et al., L-23239, November 23, 1966 (18 Supreme Court Reports Anno. 713, 726), this Court stressed the need for trial judges to take cognizance of the rulings of the Supreme Court. We there reproduced the following from People vs. Santos, 56 O.G. 3546, 3552-3552, viz.: Now, if a judge of a lower Court feels, in the fulfillment of his mission of deciding cases, that the application of a doctrine promulgated by this Superiority is against his way of reasoning, or against his conscience, he may state his opinion on the matter, but rather than disposing of the case in accordance with his personal views he must first think that it is his duty to apply the law as interpreted by the Highest Court of the Land, and that any deviation from a principle laid down by the latter would unavoidably cause, as a sequel, unnecessary inconveniences, delays and expenses to the litigants. And if despite of what is here said, a Judge still believes that he cannot follow Our rulings, then he has no other alternative than to place himself in the position that he could properly avoid the duty of having to render judgment on the case concerned (Art. 9, C.C.), and he has only one legal way to do that.7 We rule that because of the foregoing circumstances, Judge Gaudencio Cloribel acted with grave abuse of discretion. And certiorari lies. 8 2. We now come to the cry of injustice proffered by respondent Jose M. Aruego. Even upon a cursory examination of his gripe, his position at once loses leverage; the potency of his arguments vanishes. As we look in retrospect at the facts, we find that it was Aruego who executed the contract as president of the University Publishing Company, Inc. He is a lawyer. At the time he executed the contract with plaintiff, he should

have known that the possibility existed that the records of the corporation had been destroyed. For, it is a matter of public knowledge that buildings which kept public records in the City of Manila had been razed by fire during the last war. He should have at least inquired whether the records of the corporation in the Securities and Exchange Commission had been saved. Of course, he knew and should have known that persons dealing with corporations are wont to look to records of the Securities and Exchange Commission for the existence or non-existence thereof. In this particular case, from the documents he himself presented in the court below (after he had knowledge of the fact that admission thereof was denied by this Court in L-19118), he is practically the corporation itself. Because out of the capital stock of P2,000.00, he subscribed to P1,600.00, and out of the paid subscription of P500.00, he contributed the sum of P450.00, leaving but P50.00 to be spread amongst the minor stockholders. This case was filed and concluded as against the corporation. When finally, plaintiff's counsel and the Sheriff came to him as president (and incidentally counsel) of University Publishing Company, Inc. for execution of that judgment, he sought to stave off satisfaction thereof. Then, plaintiff's counsel and the Sheriff came to know that the corporation did not legally exist. Aruego could have very easily caused the corporation to pay. Or did he think that the corporation could evade payment, since the records of the corporation in the Securities and Exchange Commission had not yet been reconstituted? The resultant effect is that after long years of ligation, plaintiff is still left holding the bag. As this Court noted in L-19118, it would be too late for the plaintiff to file suit against Aruego personally. For, by then prescription has set in. Canon 22 of the Canons of Legal Ethics is a constant reminder to the members of the Bar that the conduct of a lawyer before the court "should be characterized by candor and fairness"; and it is "unprofessional and dishonorable to deal other than candidly with the facts ... in the presentation of causes." When the question of whether execution should issue against Jose M. Aruego, a member of the Bar, did emerge before the lower court in the proceedings for execution of the judgment, candor and fairness should have impelled him to tell the court that the representation of counsel for plaintiff that University Publishing Company, Inc. is not a corporation, was not true, and that the corporation had the papers and documents to show otherwise. He should not have kept this fact under wraps for so long a time while the execution proceedings were still with the lower court and before judgment on the appeal taken by plaintiff in L-19118. He has failed in these. Literally, he laid an ambush. It was only after he realized that this Court considered him as the real party in interest that he presented the fact of corporate existence to this Court to overturn the decision rendered in L-19118. Where a party "has taken a position with regard to procedure, which has been acted or relied on by his adversary or by the court," he must be held to be in estoppel "from taking an inconsistent position respecting the same matter in the same proceeding, to his adversary's prejudice." 9 This is not the first time that this Court has ordered the execution of a judgment against a person who was not formally named as party defendant in the action. In a series of cases, substantial in number, 10 this Court's stand has been consistent that the judgment for payment of back salaries of officers entitled to reinstatement may, in effect, be enforced against the city or municipality, although not by name impleaded in the suit. Reasons therefore are concretely expressed in Mangubat vs. Osmea, supra, in this wise: The necessity of making the City a respondent herein is based upon its right to defend itself, as demanded by the requirements of due process. However, these requirement have been substantially complied with in the case at bar. The parties herein have handled the case, and the same was heard and decided in the lower court, as if the City had been named respondent in the pleadings. The officer required by law "to cause to be defended all suits against the City", namely, its mayor (Sec. 8, Commonwealth Act No. 58), is respondent in his official capacity. The officer charged with the duty to represent the City "in all civil cases wherein the city ... is a party" to wit, its city attorney (Sec. 17, Commonwealth Act No. 58) is counsel for respondents herein. In addition thereto, the auditor, the treasurer and even the municipal board of the City of Cebu, are parties respondents. There is no reason to believe that these officers and the City Mayor would have exerted greater efforts than those already displayed by them, in protesting the interests of the City of Cebu, were it formally a

respondent herein. Indeed, it is only logical to expect that, having been individually named as respondents, said officers must have taken as much concern, if not more, in warding off petitioners' claim. Under the foregoing circumstances, we would be subordinating the substance to the form if the action for mandamus insofar as the claim for back salaries is concerned were either dismissed or remanded to the lower court, for the corresponding amendment of the pleadings and a repetition of the proceedings held for the last five (5) years, in order to reach the same decision rendered by the lower court and the same conclusions set forth in this decision, as regards the substantive rights of the parties. It is our considered opinion, therefore, that the ends of justice and equity would be served best if the inclusion of the City of Cebu, as one of the respondents herein, were considered a mere formality and deemed effected, as if a formal amendment of the pleadings had been made. A recent case, whose factual situation has great relevance to the present, is Torres vs. Caluag, L-20906, July 30, 1966. There, petitioner Torres was not a party defendant in a suit to recover possession of land instituted against defendant Conocido who declared that he was a mere tenant of Torres. Judgment was rendered against Conocido, and a writ of execution was issued ejecting Torres from the property. On writ of certiorari and prohibition to this Court to nullify the writ of execution aforesaid, we pronounced that when petitioner Torres testified in the court below, she had her day in court and had laid squarely before said court the issue of ownership. We then explicitly stated that the fact that petitioner was not formally made a party defendant is a mere technicality that does not serve the interest of justice. In the end, we find it pertinent to quote from the early case of Herrera vs. Barretto, 25 Phil. 245, 271, thus: ... The office of the writ of certiorari has been reduced to the correction of defects of jurisdiction solely and cannot legally be used for any other purpose. It is truly an extraordinary remedy and, in this jurisdiction, its use is restricted to truly extra-ordinary cases cases in which the action of the inferior court is wholly void; where any further steps in the case would result in a waste of time and money and would produce no result whatever; where the parties, or their privies, would be utterly deceived; where a final judgment or decree would be nought but a snare and a delusion, deciding nothing, protecting nobody, a judicial pretention, a recorded falsehood, a standing menace. It is only to avoid such results as these that a writ of certiorari is issuable; and even here an appeal will lie if the aggrieved party prefers to prosecute it. For the reasons given, the petition for certiorari and mandamus prayed for herein is hereby granted; and (a) The orders of Judge Gaudencio Cloribel of March 5, May 20, and July 13, 1966 are hereby set aside and declared null and void; and (b) The Court a quo is hereby directed forthwith to issue a writ of execution against respondent University Publishing Company, Inc. and/or Jose M. Aruego. Treble costs shall be paid by respondent Jose M. Aruego. So ordered. 1wph1.t Concepcion, C.J., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro and Angeles, JJ., concur. Fernando, J., is on leave.

Assignment 2

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC A.M. No. 133-J May 31, 1982 BERNARDITA R. MACARIOLA, complainant, vs. HONORABLE ELIAS B. ASUNCION, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, respondent.

MAKASIAR, J: In a verified complaint dated August 6, 1968 Bernardita R. Macariola charged respondent Judge Elias B. Asuncion of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, with "acts unbecoming a judge." The factual setting of the case is stated in the report dated May 27, 1971 of then Associate Justice Cecilia Muoz Palma of the Court of Appeals now retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to whom this case was referred on October 28, 1968 for investigation, thus:
Civil Case No. 3010 of the Court of First Instance of Leyte was a complaint for partition filed by Sinforosa R. Bales, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes, and Priscilla Reyes, plaintiffs, against Bernardita R. Macariola, defendant, concerning the properties left by the deceased Francisco Reyes, the common father of the plaintiff and defendant. In her defenses to the complaint for partition, Mrs. Macariola alleged among other things that; a) plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales was not a daughter of the deceased Francisco Reyes; b) the only legal heirs of the deceased were defendant Macariola, she being the only offspring of the first marriage of Francisco Reyes with Felisa Espiras, and the remaining plaintiffs who were the children of the deceased by his second marriage with Irene Ondez; c) the properties left by the deceased were all the conjugal properties of the latter and his first wife, Felisa Espiras, and no properties were acquired by the deceased during his second marriage; d) if there was any partition to be made, those conjugal properties should first be partitioned into two parts, and one part is to be adjudicated solely to defendant it being the share of the latter's deceased mother, Felisa Espiras, and the other half which is the share of the deceased Francisco Reyes was to be divided equally among his children by his two marriages. On June 8, 1963, a decision was rendered by respondent Judge Asuncion in Civil Case 3010, the dispositive portion of which reads: IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the Court, upon a preponderance of evidence, finds and so holds, and hereby renders judgment (1) Declaring the plaintiffs Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes and Priscilla Reyes as the only children legitimated by the subsequent marriage of Francisco Reyes Diaz to Irene Ondez; (2) Declaring the plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales to have been an illegitimate child of Francisco Reyes Diaz; (3) Declaring Lots Nos. 4474, 4475, 4892, 5265, 4803, 4581, 4506 and 1/4 of Lot 1145 as belonging to the conjugal partnership of the spouses Francisco Reyes Diaz and Felisa Espiras; (4) Declaring Lot No. 2304 and 1/4 of Lot No. 3416 as belonging to the spouses Francisco Reyes Diaz and Irene Ondez in common partnership; (5) Declaring that 1/2 of Lot No. 1184 as belonging exclusively to the deceased Francisco Reyes Diaz; (6) Declaring the defendant Bernardita R. Macariola, being the only legal and forced heir of her mother Felisa Espiras, as the exclusive owner of one-half of each of Lots Nos. 4474, 4475, 4892, 5265, 4803, 4581, 4506; and the remaining one-half (1/2) of each of said Lots Nos. 4474, 4475, 4892, 5265, 4803, 4581, 4506 and one-half (1/2) of one-

fourth (1/4) of Lot No. 1154 as belonging to the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz; (7) Declaring Irene Ondez to be the exclusive owner of one-half (1/2) of Lot No. 2304 and onehalf (1/2) of one-fourth (1/4) of Lot No. 3416; the remaining one-half (1/2) of Lot 2304 and the remaining one-half (1/2) of one-fourth (1/4) of Lot No. 3416 as belonging to the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz; (8) Directing the division or partition of the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz in such a manner as to give or grant to Irene Ondez, as surviving widow of Francisco Reyes Diaz, a hereditary share of. one-twelfth (1/12) of the whole estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz (Art. 996 in relation to Art. 892, par 2, New Civil Code), and the remaining portion of the estate to be divided among the plaintiffs Sinforosa R. Bales, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes, Priscilla Reyes and defendant Bernardita R. Macariola, in such a way that the extent of the total share of plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales in the hereditary estate shall not exceed the equivalent of twofifth (2/5) of the total share of any or each of the other plaintiffs and the defendant (Art. 983, New Civil Code), each of the latter to receive equal shares from the hereditary estate, (Ramirez vs. Bautista, 14 Phil. 528; Diancin vs. Bishop of Jaro, O.G. [3rd Ed.] p. 33); (9) Directing the parties, within thirty days after this judgment shall have become final to submit to this court, for approval a project of partition of the hereditary estate in the proportion above indicated, and in such manner as the parties may, by agreement, deemed convenient and equitable to them taking into consideration the location, kind, quality, nature and value of the properties involved; (10) Directing the plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales and defendant Bernardita R. Macariola to pay the costs of this suit, in the proportion of one-third (1/3) by the first named and two-thirds (2/3) by the second named; and (I 1) Dismissing all other claims of the parties [pp 27-29 of Exh. C]. The decision in civil case 3010 became final for lack of an appeal, and on October 16, 1963, a project of partition was submitted to Judge Asuncion which is marked Exh. A. Notwithstanding the fact that the project of partition was not signed by the parties themselves but only by the respective counsel of plaintiffs and defendant, Judge Asuncion approved it in his Order dated October 23, 1963, which for convenience is quoted hereunder in full: The parties, through their respective counsels, presented to this Court for approval the following project of partition: COMES NOW, the plaintiffs and the defendant in the above-entitled case, to this Honorable Court respectfully submit the following Project of Partition: l. The whole of Lots Nos. 1154, 2304 and 4506 shall belong exclusively to Bernardita Reyes Macariola; 2. A portion of Lot No. 3416 consisting of 2,373.49 square meters along the eastern part of the lot shall be awarded likewise to Bernardita R. Macariola; 3. Lots Nos. 4803, 4892 and 5265 shall be awarded to Sinforosa Reyes Bales; 4. A portion of Lot No. 3416 consisting of 1,834.55 square meters along the western part of the lot shall likewise be awarded to Sinforosa Reyes-Bales; 5. Lots Nos. 4474 and 4475 shall be divided equally among Luz Reyes Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes and Priscilla Reyes in equal shares; 6. Lot No. 1184 and the remaining portion of Lot No. 3416 after taking the portions awarded under item (2) and (4) above shall be awarded to Luz Reyes Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes and Priscilla Reyes in equal shares, provided, however that the remaining portion of Lot No. 3416 shall belong exclusively to Priscilla Reyes. WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the Project of Partition indicated above which is made in accordance with the decision of the Honorable Court be approved. Tacloban City, October 16, 1963.

(SGD) BONIFACIO RAMO Atty. for the Defendant Tacloban City (SGD) ZOTICO A. TOLETE Atty. for the Plaintiff Tacloban City While the Court thought it more desirable for all the parties to have signed this Project of Partition, nevertheless, upon assurance of both counsels of the respective parties to this Court that the Project of Partition, as above- quoted, had been made after a conference and agreement of the plaintiffs and the defendant approving the above Project of Partition, and that both lawyers had represented to the Court that they are given full authority to sign by themselves the Project of Partition, the Court, therefore, finding the above-quoted Project of Partition to be in accordance with law, hereby approves the same. The parties, therefore, are directed to execute such papers, documents or instrument sufficient in form and substance for the vesting of the rights, interests and participations which were adjudicated to the respective parties, as outlined in the Project of Partition and the delivery of the respective properties adjudicated to each one in view of said Project of Partition, and to perform such other acts as are legal and necessary to effectuate the said Project of Partition. SO ORDERED. Given in Tacloban City, this 23rd day of October, 1963. (SGD) ELIAS B. ASUNCION Judge EXH. B. The above Order of October 23, 1963, was amended on November 11, 1963, only for the purpose of giving authority to the Register of Deeds of the Province of Leyte to issue the corresponding transfer certificates of title to the respective adjudicatees in conformity with the project of partition (see Exh. U). One of the properties mentioned in the project of partition was Lot 1184 or rather one-half thereof with an area of 15,162.5 sq. meters. This lot, which according to the decision was the exclusive property of the deceased Francisco Reyes, was adjudicated in said project of partition to the plaintiffs Luz, Anacorita Ruperto, Adela, and Priscilla all surnamed Reyes in equal shares, and when the project of partition was approved by the trial court the adjudicatees caused Lot 1184 to be subdivided into five lots denominated as Lot 1184-A to 1184-E inclusive (Exh. V). Lot 1184-D was conveyed to Enriqueta D. Anota, a stenographer in Judge Asuncion's court (Exhs. F, F-1 and V-1), while Lot 1184-E which had an area of 2,172.5556 sq. meters was sold on July 31, 1964 to Dr. Arcadio Galapon (Exh. 2) who was issued transfer certificate of title No. 2338 of the Register of Deeds of the city of Tacloban (Exh. 12). On March 6, 1965, Dr. Arcadio Galapon and his wife Sold a portion of Lot 1184-E with an area of around 1,306 sq. meters to Judge Asuncion and his wife, Victoria S. Asuncion (Exh. 11), which particular portion was declared by the latter for taxation purposes (Exh. F). On August 31, 1966, spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon conveyed their respective shares and interest in Lot 1184-E to "The Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries Inc." (Exit 15 & 16). At the time of said sale the stockholders of the corporation were Dominador Arigpa Tan, Humilia Jalandoni Tan, Jaime Arigpa Tan, Judge Asuncion, and the latter's wife, Victoria S. Asuncion, with Judge Asuncion as the President and Mrs. Asuncion as the secretary (Exhs. E-4 to E-7). The Articles of Incorporation of "The Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc." which we shall henceforth refer to as "TRADERS" were registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only on January 9, 1967 (Exh. E) [pp. 378-385, rec.].

Complainant Bernardita R. Macariola filed on August 9, 1968 the instant complaint dated August 6, 1968 alleging four causes of action, to wit: [1] that respondent Judge Asuncion violated Article 1491, paragraph 5, of the New Civil Code in acquiring by purchase a portion of Lot No. 1184-E which was one of those properties involved in Civil Case No. 3010 decided by him; [2] that he likewise violated

Article 14, paragraphs I and 5 of the Code of Commerce, Section 3, paragraph H, of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules, and Canon 25 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, by associating himself with the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., as a stockholder and a ranking officer while he was a judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte; [3] that respondent was guilty of coddling an impostor and acted in disregard of judicial decorum by closely fraternizing with a certain Dominador Arigpa Tan who openly and publicly advertised himself as a practising attorney when in truth and in fact his name does not appear in the Rolls of Attorneys and is not a member of the Philippine Bar; and [4] that there was a culpable defiance of the law and utter disregard for ethics by respondent Judge (pp. 1-7, rec.). Respondent Judge Asuncion filed on September 24, 1968 his answer to which a reply was filed on October 16, 1968 by herein complainant. In Our resolution of October 28, 1968, We referred this case to then Justice Cecilia Muoz Palma of the Court of Appeals, for investigation, report and recommendation. After hearing, the said Investigating Justice submitted her report dated May 27, 1971 recommending that respondent Judge should be reprimanded or warned in connection with the first cause of action alleged in the complaint, and for the second cause of action, respondent should be warned in case of a finding that he is prohibited under the law to engage in business. On the third and fourth causes of action, Justice Palma recommended that respondent Judge be exonerated. The records also reveal that on or about November 9 or 11, 1968 (pp. 481, 477, rec.), complainant herein instituted an action before the Court of First Instance of Leyte, entitled "Bernardita R. Macariola, plaintiff, versus Sinforosa R. Bales, et al., defendants," which was docketed as Civil Case No. 4235, seeking the annulment of the project of partition made pursuant to the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 and the two orders issued by respondent Judge approving the same, as well as the partition of the estate and the subsequent conveyances with damages. It appears, however, that some defendants were dropped from the civil case. For one, the case against Dr. Arcadio Galapon was dismissed because he was no longer a real party in interest when Civil Case No. 4234 was filed, having already conveyed on March 6, 1965 a portion of lot 1184-E to respondent Judge and on August 31, 1966 the remainder was sold to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. Similarly, the case against defendant Victoria Asuncion was dismissed on the ground that she was no longer a real party in interest at the time the aforesaid Civil Case No. 4234 was filed as the portion of Lot 1184 acquired by her and respondent Judge from Dr. Arcadio Galapon was already sold on August 31, 1966 to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing industries, Inc. Likewise, the cases against defendants Serafin P. Ramento, Catalina Cabus, Ben Barraza Go, Jesus Perez, Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., Alfredo R. Celestial and Pilar P. Celestial, Leopoldo Petilla and Remedios Petilla, Salvador Anota and Enriqueta Anota and Atty. Zotico A. Tolete were dismissed with the conformity of complainant herein, plaintiff therein, and her counsel. On November 2, 1970, Judge Jose D. Nepomuceno of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, who was directed and authorized on June 2, 1969 by the then Secretary (now Minister) of Justice and now Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile to hear and decide Civil Case No. 4234, rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
A. IN THE CASE AGAINST JUDGE ELIAS B. ASUNCION (1) declaring that only Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of Leyte has jurisdiction to take cognizance of the issue of the legality and validity of the Project of Partition [Exhibit "B"] and the two Orders [Exhibits "C" and "C- 3"] approving the partition; (2) dismissing the complaint against Judge Elias B. Asuncion; (3) adjudging the plaintiff, Mrs. Bernardita R. Macariola to pay defendant Judge Elias B. Asuncion,

(a) the sum of FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS [P400,000.00] for moral damages; (b) the sum of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS [P200,000.001 for exemplary damages; (c) the sum of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS [P50,000.00] for nominal damages; and (d) he sum of TEN THOUSAND PESOS [PI0,000.00] for Attorney's Fees.
B. IN THE CASE AGAINST THE DEFENDANT MARIQUITA VILLASIN, FOR HERSELF AND FOR THE HEIRS OF THE DECEASED GERARDO VILLASIN

(1) Dismissing the complaint against the defendants Mariquita Villasin and the heirs of the deceased Gerardo Villasin; (2) Directing the plaintiff to pay the defendants Mariquita Villasin and the heirs of Gerardo Villasin the cost of the suit.
C. IN THE CASE AGAINST THE DEFENDANT SINFOROSA R. BALES, ET AL., WHO WERE PLAINTIFFS IN CIVIL CASE NO. 3010

(1) Dismissing the complaint against defendants Sinforosa R. Bales, Adela R. Herrer, Priscilla R. Solis, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita R. Eng and Ruperto O. Reyes.
D. IN THE CASE AGAINST DEFENDANT BONIFACIO RAMO

(1) Dismissing the complaint against Bonifacio Ramo; (2) Directing the plaintiff to pay the defendant Bonifacio Ramo the cost of the suit. SO ORDERED [pp. 531-533, rec.]

It is further disclosed by the record that the aforesaid decision was elevated to the Court of Appeals upon perfection of the appeal on February 22, 1971. I WE find that there is no merit in the contention of complainant Bernardita R. Macariola, under her first cause of action, that respondent Judge Elias B. Asuncion violated Article 1491, paragraph 5, of the New Civil Code in acquiring by purchase a portion of Lot No. 1184-E which was one of those properties involved in Civil Case No. 3010. 'That Article provides:
Article 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even at a public or judicial action, either in person or through the mediation of another: xxx xxx xxx (5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of superior and inferior courts, and other officers and employees connected with the administration of justice, the property and rights in litigation or levied upon an execution before the court within whose jurisdiction or territory they exercise their respective functions; this prohibition includes the act of acquiring by assignment and shall apply to lawyers, with respect to the property and rights which may be the object of any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their profession [emphasis supplied].

The prohibition in the aforesaid Article applies only to the sale or assignment of the property which is the subject of litigation to the persons disqualified therein. WE have already ruled that "... for the prohibition to operate, the sale or assignment of the property must take place during the pendency of

the litigation involving the property" (The Director of Lands vs. Ababa et al., 88 SCRA 513, 519 [1979], Rosario vda. de Laig vs. Court of Appeals, 86 SCRA 641, 646 [1978]). In the case at bar, when the respondent Judge purchased on March 6, 1965 a portion of Lot 1184-E, the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 which he rendered on June 8, 1963 was already final because none of the parties therein filed an appeal within the reglementary period; hence, the lot in question was no longer subject of the litigation. Moreover, at the time of the sale on March 6, 1965, respondent's order dated October 23, 1963 and the amended order dated November 11, 1963 approving the October 16, 1963 project of partition made pursuant to the June 8, 1963 decision, had long become final for there was no appeal from said orders. Furthermore, respondent Judge did not buy the lot in question on March 6, 1965 directly from the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3010 but from Dr. Arcadio Galapon who earlier purchased on July 31, 1964 Lot 1184-E from three of the plaintiffs, namely, Priscilla Reyes, Adela Reyes, and Luz R. Bakunawa after the finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010. It may be recalled that Lot 1184 or more specifically one-half thereof was adjudicated in equal shares to Priscilla Reyes, Adela Reyes, Luz Bakunawa, Ruperto Reyes and Anacorita Reyes in the project of partition, and the same was subdivided into five lots denominated as Lot 1184-A to 1184-E. As aforestated, Lot 1184-E was sold on July 31, 1964 to Dr. Galapon for which he was issued TCT No. 2338 by the Register of Deeds of Tacloban City, and on March 6, 1965 he sold a portion of said lot to respondent Judge and his wife who declared the same for taxation purposes only. The subsequent sale on August 31, 1966 by spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon of their respective shares and interest in said Lot 1184-E to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., in which respondent was the president and his wife was the secretary, took place long after the finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 and of the subsequent two aforesaid orders therein approving the project of partition. While it appears that complainant herein filed on or about November 9 or 11, 1968 an action before the Court of First Instance of Leyte docketed as Civil Case No. 4234, seeking to annul the project of partition and the two orders approving the same, as well as the partition of the estate and the subsequent conveyances, the same, however, is of no moment. The fact remains that respondent Judge purchased on March 6, 1965 a portion of Lot 1184-E from Dr. Arcadio Galapon; hence, after the finality of the decision which he rendered on June 8, 1963 in Civil Case No. 3010 and his two questioned orders dated October 23, 1963 and November 11, 1963. Therefore, the property was no longer subject of litigation. The subsequent filing on November 9, or 11, 1968 of Civil Case No. 4234 can no longer alter, change or affect the aforesaid facts that the questioned sale to respondent Judge, now Court of Appeals Justice, was effected and consummated long after the finality of the aforesaid decision or orders. Consequently, the sale of a portion of Lot 1184-E to respondent Judge having taken place over one year after the finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 as well as the two orders approving the project of partition, and not during the pendency of the litigation, there was no violation of paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code. It is also argued by complainant herein that the sale on July 31, 1964 of Lot 1184-E to Dr. Arcadio Galapon by Priscilla Reyes, Adela Reyes and Luz R. Bakunawa was only a mere scheme to conceal the illegal and unethical transfer of said lot to respondent Judge as a consideration for the approval of the project of partition. In this connection, We agree with the findings of the Investigating Justice thus:
And so we are now confronted with this all-important question whether or not the acquisition by respondent of a portion of Lot 1184-E and the subsequent transfer of the whole lot to "TRADERS" of which respondent

was the President and his wife the Secretary, was intimately related to the Order of respondent approving the project of partition, Exh. A. Respondent vehemently denies any interest or participation in the transactions between the Reyeses and the Galapons concerning Lot 1184-E, and he insists that there is no evidence whatsoever to show that Dr. Galapon had acted, in the purchase of Lot 1184-E, in mediation for him and his wife. (See p. 14 of Respondent's Memorandum). xxx xxx xxx On this point, I agree with respondent that there is no evidence in the record showing that Dr. Arcadio Galapon acted as a mere "dummy" of respondent in acquiring Lot 1184-E from the Reyeses. Dr. Galapon appeared to this investigator as a respectable citizen, credible and sincere, and I believe him when he testified that he bought Lot 1184-E in good faith and for valuable consideration from the Reyeses without any intervention of, or previous understanding with Judge Asuncion (pp. 391- 394, rec.).

On the contention of complainant herein that respondent Judge acted illegally in approving the project of partition although it was not signed by the parties, We quote with approval the findings of the Investigating Justice, as follows:
1. I agree with complainant that respondent should have required the signature of the parties more particularly that of Mrs. Macariola on the project of partition submitted to him for approval; however, whatever error was committed by respondent in that respect was done in good faith as according to Judge Asuncion he was assured by Atty. Bonifacio Ramo, the counsel of record of Mrs. Macariola, That he was authorized by his client to submit said project of partition, (See Exh. B and tsn p. 24, January 20, 1969). While it is true that such written authority if there was any, was not presented by respondent in evidence, nor did Atty. Ramo appear to corroborate the statement of respondent, his affidavit being the only one that was presented as respondent's Exh. 10, certain actuations of Mrs. Macariola lead this investigator to believe that she knew the contents of the project of partition, Exh. A, and that she gave her conformity thereto. I refer to the following documents: 1) Exh. 9 Certified true copy of OCT No. 19520 covering Lot 1154 of the Tacloban Cadastral Survey in which the deceased Francisco Reyes holds a "1/4 share" (Exh. 9-a). On tills certificate of title the Order dated November 11, 1963, (Exh. U) approving the project of partition was duly entered and registered on November 26, 1963 (Exh. 9-D); 2) Exh. 7 Certified copy of a deed of absolute sale executed by Bernardita Reyes Macariola on October 22, 1963, conveying to Dr. Hector Decena the one-fourth share of the late Francisco Reyes-Diaz in Lot 1154. In this deed of sale the vendee stated that she was the absolute owner of said one-fourth share, the same having been adjudicated to her as her share in the estate of her father Francisco Reyes Diaz as per decision of the Court of First Instance of Leyte under case No. 3010 (Exh. 7-A). The deed of sale was duly registered and annotated at the back of OCT 19520 on December 3, 1963 (see Exh. 9-e). In connection with the abovementioned documents it is to be noted that in the project of partition dated October 16, 1963, which was approved by respondent on October 23, 1963, followed by an amending Order on November 11, 1963, Lot 1154 or rather 1/4 thereof was adjudicated to Mrs. Macariola. It is this 1/4 share in Lot 1154 which complainant sold to Dr. Decena on October 22, 1963, several days after the preparation of the project of partition. Counsel for complainant stresses the view, however, that the latter sold her one-fourth share in Lot 1154 by virtue of the decision in Civil Case 3010 and not because of the project of partition, Exh. A. Such contention is absurd because from the decision, Exh. C, it is clear that one-half of one- fourth of Lot 1154 belonged to the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz while the other half of said one-fourth was the share of complainant's mother, Felisa Espiras; in other words, the decision did not adjudicate the whole of the one-fourth of Lot 1154 to the herein complainant (see Exhs. C-3 & C-4). Complainant became the owner of the entire onefourth of Lot 1154 only by means of the project of partition, Exh. A. Therefore, if Mrs. Macariola sold Lot 1154 on October 22, 1963, it was for no other reason than that she was wen aware of the distribution of the properties of her deceased father as per Exhs. A and B. It is also significant at this point to state that Mrs. Macariola admitted during the cross-examination that she went to Tacloban City in connection with the sale

of Lot 1154 to Dr. Decena (tsn p. 92, November 28, 1968) from which we can deduce that she could not have been kept ignorant of the proceedings in civil case 3010 relative to the project of partition. Complainant also assails the project of partition because according to her the properties adjudicated to her were insignificant lots and the least valuable. Complainant, however, did not present any direct and positive evidence to prove the alleged gross inequalities in the choice and distribution of the real properties when she could have easily done so by presenting evidence on the area, location, kind, the assessed and market value of said properties. Without such evidence there is nothing in the record to show that there were inequalities in the distribution of the properties of complainant's father (pp. 386389, rec.).

Finally, while it is. true that respondent Judge did not violate paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code in acquiring by purchase a portion of Lot 1184-E which was in litigation in his court, it was, however, improper for him to have acquired the same. He should be reminded of Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics which requires that: "A judge's official conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach." And as aptly observed by the Investigating Justice: "... it was unwise and indiscreet on the part of respondent to have purchased or acquired a portion of a piece of property that was or had been in litigation in his court and caused it to be transferred to a corporation of which he and his wife were ranking officers at the time of such transfer. One who occupies an exalted position in the judiciary has the duty and responsibility of maintaining the faith and trust of the citizenry in the courts of justice, so that not only must he be truly honest and just, but his actuations must be such as not give cause for doubt and mistrust in the uprightness of his administration of justice. In this particular case of respondent, he cannot deny that the transactions over Lot 1184-E are damaging and render his actuations open to suspicion and distrust. Even if respondent honestly believed that Lot 1184-E was no longer in litigation in his court and that he was purchasing it from a third person and not from the parties to the litigation, he should nonetheless have refrained from buying it for himself and transferring it to a corporation in which he and his wife were financially involved, to avoid possible suspicion that his acquisition was related in one way or another to his official actuations in civil case 3010. The conduct of respondent gave cause for the litigants in civil case 3010, the lawyers practising in his court, and the public in general to doubt the honesty and fairness of his actuations and the integrity of our courts of justice" (pp. 395396, rec.). II With respect to the second cause of action, the complainant alleged that respondent Judge violated paragraphs 1 and 5, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce when he associated himself with the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. as a stockholder and a ranking officer, said corporation having been organized to engage in business. Said Article provides that:
Article 14 The following cannot engage in commerce, either in person or by proxy, nor can they hold any office or have any direct, administrative, or financial intervention in commercial or industrial companies within the limits of the districts, provinces, or towns in which they discharge their duties: 1. Justices of the Supreme Court, judges and officials of the department of public prosecution in active service. This provision shall not be applicable to mayors, municipal judges, and municipal prosecuting attorneys nor to those who by chance are temporarily discharging the functions of judge or prosecuting attorney. xxx xxx xxx 5. Those who by virtue of laws or special provisions may not engage in commerce in a determinate territory.

It is Our considered view that although the aforestated provision is incorporated in the Code of Commerce which is part of the commercial laws of the Philippines, it, however, partakes of the nature of a political law as it regulates the relationship between the government and certain public officers and employees, like justices and judges. Political Law has been defined as that branch of public law which deals with the organization and operation of the governmental organs of the State and define the relations of the state with the inhabitants of its territory (People vs. Perfecto, 43 Phil. 887, 897 [1922]). It may be recalled that political law embraces constitutional law, law of public corporations, administrative law including the law on public officers and elections. Specifically, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce partakes more of the nature of an administrative law because it regulates the conduct of certain public officers and employees with respect to engaging in business: hence, political in essence. It is significant to note that the present Code of Commerce is the Spanish Code of Commerce of 1885, with some modifications made by the "Commission de Codificacion de las Provincias de Ultramar," which was extended to the Philippines by the Royal Decree of August 6, 1888, and took effect as law in this jurisdiction on December 1, 1888. Upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United States and later on from the United States to the Republic of the Philippines, Article 14 of this Code of Commerce must be deemed to have been abrogated because where there is change of sovereignty, the political laws of the former sovereign, whether compatible or not with those of the new sovereign, are automatically abrogated, unless they are expressly re-enacted by affirmative act of the new sovereign. Thus, We held in Roa vs. Collector of Customs (23 Phil. 315, 330, 311 [1912]) that:
By well-settled public law, upon the cession of territory by one nation to another, either following a conquest or otherwise, ... those laws which are political in their nature and pertain to the prerogatives of the former government immediately cease upon the transfer of sovereignty. (Opinion, Atty. Gen., July 10, 1899). While municipal laws of the newly acquired territory not in conflict with the, laws of the new sovereign continue in force without the express assent or affirmative act of the conqueror, the political laws do not. (Halleck's Int. Law, chap. 34, par. 14). However, such political laws of the prior sovereignty as are not in conflict with the constitution or institutions of the new sovereign, may be continued in force if the conqueror shall so declare by affirmative act of the commander-in-chief during the war, or by Congress in time of peace. (Ely's Administrator vs. United States, 171 U.S. 220, 43 L. Ed. 142). In the case of American and Ocean Ins. Cos. vs. 356 Bales of Cotton (1 Pet. [26 U.S.] 511, 542, 7 L. Ed. 242), Chief Justice Marshall said: On such transfer (by cession) of territory, it has never been held that the relations of the inhabitants with each other undergo any change. Their relations with their former sovereign are dissolved, and new relations are created between them and the government which has acquired their territory. The same act which transfers their country, transfers the allegiance of those who remain in it; and the law which may be denominated political, is necessarily changed, although that which regulates the intercourse and general conduct of individuals, remains in force, until altered by the newly- created power of the State.

Likewise, in People vs. Perfecto (43 Phil. 887, 897 [1922]), this Court stated that: "It is a general principle of the public law that on acquisition of territory the previous political relations of the ceded region are totally abrogated. " There appears no enabling or affirmative act that continued the effectivity of the aforestated provision of the Code of Commerce after the change of sovereignty from Spain to the United States and then to the Republic of the Philippines. Consequently, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce has no legal and

binding effect and cannot apply to the respondent, then Judge of the Court of First Instance, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals. It is also argued by complainant herein that respondent Judge violated paragraph H, Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which provides that:
Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: xxx xxx xxx (h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any Iaw from having any interest.

Respondent Judge cannot be held liable under the aforestated paragraph because there is no showing that respondent participated or intervened in his official capacity in the business or transactions of the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. In the case at bar, the business of the corporation in which respondent participated has obviously no relation or connection with his judicial office. The business of said corporation is not that kind where respondent intervenes or takes part in his capacity as Judge of the Court of First Instance. As was held in one case involving the application of Article 216 of the Revised Penal Code which has a similar prohibition on public officers against directly or indirectly becoming interested in any contract or business in which it is his official duty to intervene, "(I)t is not enough to be a public official to be subject to this crime; it is necessary that by reason of his office, he has to intervene in said contracts or transactions; and, hence, the official who intervenes in contracts or transactions which have no relation to his office cannot commit this crime.' (People vs. Meneses, C.A. 40 O.G. 11th Supp. 134, cited by Justice Ramon C. Aquino; Revised Penal Code, p. 1174, Vol. 11 [1976]). It does not appear also from the records that the aforesaid corporation gained any undue advantage in its business operations by reason of respondent's financial involvement in it, or that the corporation benefited in one way or another in any case filed by or against it in court. It is undisputed that there was no case filed in the different branches of the Court of First Instance of Leyte in which the corporation was either party plaintiff or defendant except Civil Case No. 4234 entitled "Bernardita R. Macariola, plaintiff, versus Sinforosa O. Bales, et al.," wherein the complainant herein sought to recover Lot 1184-E from the aforesaid corporation. It must be noted, however, that Civil Case No. 4234 was filed only on November 9 or 11, 1968 and decided on November 2, 1970 by CFI Judge Jose D. Nepomuceno when respondent Judge was no longer connected with the corporation, having disposed of his interest therein on January 31, 1967. Furthermore, respondent is not liable under the same paragraph because there is no provision in both the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions of the Philippines, nor is there an existing law expressly prohibiting members of the Judiciary from engaging or having interest in any lawful business. It may be pointed out that Republic Act No. 296, as amended, also known as the Judiciary Act of 1948, does not contain any prohibition to that effect. As a matter of fact, under Section 77 of said law, municipal judges may engage in teaching or other vocation not involving the practice of law after office hours but with the permission of the district judge concerned.

Likewise, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce which prohibits judges from engaging in commerce is, as heretofore stated, deemed abrogated automatically upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to America, because it is political in nature. Moreover, the prohibition in paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code against the purchase by judges of a property in litigation before the court within whose jurisdiction they perform their duties, cannot apply to respondent Judge because the sale of the lot in question to him took place after the finality of his decision in Civil Case No. 3010 as well as his two orders approving the project of partition; hence, the property was no longer subject of litigation. In addition, although Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules made pursuant to the Civil Service Act of 1959 prohibits an officer or employee in the civil service from engaging in any private business, vocation, or profession or be connected with any commercial, credit, agricultural or industrial undertaking without a written permission from the head of department, the same, however, may not fall within the purview of paragraph h, Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because the last portion of said paragraph speaks of a prohibition by the Constitution or law on any public officer from having any interest in any business and not by a mere administrative rule or regulation. Thus, a violation of the aforesaid rule by any officer or employee in the civil service, that is, engaging in private business without a written permission from the Department Head may not constitute graft and corrupt practice as defined by law. On the contention of complainant that respondent Judge violated Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules, We hold that the Civil Service Act of 1959 (R.A. No. 2260) and the Civil Service Rules promulgated thereunder, particularly Section 12 of Rule XVIII, do not apply to the members of the Judiciary. Under said Section 12: "No officer or employee shall engage directly in any private business, vocation, or profession or be connected with any commercial, credit, agricultural or industrial undertaking without a written permission from the Head of Department ..." It must be emphasized at the outset that respondent, being a member of the Judiciary, is covered by Republic Act No. 296, as amended, otherwise known as the Judiciary Act of 1948 and by Section 7, Article X, 1973 Constitution. Under Section 67 of said law, the power to remove or dismiss judges was then vested in the President of the Philippines, not in the Commissioner of Civil Service, and only on two grounds, namely, serious misconduct and inefficiency, and upon the recommendation of the Supreme Court, which alone is authorized, upon its own motion, or upon information of the Secretary (now Minister) of Justice to conduct the corresponding investigation. Clearly, the aforesaid section defines the grounds and prescribes the special procedure for the discipline of judges. And under Sections 5, 6 and 7, Article X of the 1973 Constitution, only the Supreme Court can discipline judges of inferior courts as well as other personnel of the Judiciary. It is true that under Section 33 of the Civil Service Act of 1959: "The Commissioner may, for ... violation of the existing Civil Service Law and rules or of reasonable office regulations, or in the interest of the service, remove any subordinate officer or employee from the service, demote him in rank, suspend him for not more than one year without pay or fine him in an amount not exceeding six months' salary." Thus, a violation of Section 12 of Rule XVIII is a ground for disciplinary action against civil service officers and employees. However, judges cannot be considered as subordinate civil service officers or employees subject to the disciplinary authority of the Commissioner of Civil Service; for, certainly, the Commissioner is not the head of the Judicial Department to which they belong. The Revised Administrative Code (Section

89) and the Civil Service Law itself state that the Chief Justice is the department head of the Supreme Court (Sec. 20, R.A. No. 2260) [1959]); and under the 1973 Constitution, the Judiciary is the only other or second branch of the government (Sec. 1, Art. X, 1973 Constitution). Besides, a violation of Section 12, Rule XVIII cannot be considered as a ground for disciplinary action against judges because to recognize the same as applicable to them, would be adding another ground for the discipline of judges and, as aforestated, Section 67 of the Judiciary Act recognizes only two grounds for their removal, namely, serious misconduct and inefficiency. Moreover, under Section 16(i) of the Civil Service Act of 1959, it is the Commissioner of Civil Service who has original and exclusive jurisdiction "(T)o decide, within one hundred twenty days, after submission to it, all administrative cases against permanent officers and employees in the competitive service, and, except as provided by law, to have final authority to pass upon their removal, separation, and suspension and upon all matters relating to the conduct, discipline, and efficiency of such officers and employees; and prescribe standards, guidelines and regulations governing the administration of discipline" (emphasis supplied). There is no question that a judge belong to the non-competitive or unclassified service of the government as a Presidential appointee and is therefore not covered by the aforesaid provision. WE have already ruled that "... in interpreting Section 16(i) of Republic Act No. 2260, we emphasized that only permanent officers and employees who belong to the classified service come under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Civil Service" (Villaluz vs. Zaldivar, 15 SCRA 710,713 [1965], Ang-Angco vs. Castillo, 9 SCRA 619 [1963]). Although the actuation of respondent Judge in engaging in private business by joining the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. as a stockholder and a ranking officer, is not violative of the provissions of Article 14 of the Code of Commerce and Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules promulgated pursuant to the Civil Service Act of 1959, the impropriety of the same is clearly unquestionable because Canon 25 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics expressly declares that:
A judge should abstain from making personal investments in enterprises which are apt to be involved in litigation in his court; and, after his accession to the bench, he should not retain such investments previously made, longer than a period sufficient to enable him to dispose of them without serious loss. It is desirable that he should, so far as reasonably possible, refrain from all relations which would normally tend to arouse the suspicion that such relations warp or bias his judgment, or prevent his impartial attitude of mind in the administration of his judicial duties. ...

WE are not, however, unmindful of the fact that respondent Judge and his wife had withdrawn on January 31, 1967 from the aforesaid corporation and sold their respective shares to third parties, and it appears also that the aforesaid corporation did not in anyway benefit in any case filed by or against it in court as there was no case filed in the different branches of the Court of First Instance of Leyte from the time of the drafting of the Articles of Incorporation of the corporation on March 12, 1966, up to its incorporation on January 9, 1967, and the eventual withdrawal of respondent on January 31, 1967 from said corporation. Such disposal or sale by respondent and his wife of their shares in the corporation only 22 days after the incorporation of the corporation, indicates that respondent realized that early that their interest in the corporation contravenes the aforesaid Canon 25. Respondent Judge and his wife therefore deserve the commendation for their immediate withdrawal from the firm after its incorporation and before it became involved in any court litigation III With respect to the third and fourth causes of action, complainant alleged that respondent was guilty of coddling an impostor and acted in disregard of judicial decorum, and that there was culpable defiance of the law and utter disregard for ethics. WE agree, however, with the recommendation of

the Investigating Justice that respondent Judge be exonerated because the aforesaid causes of action are groundless, and WE quote the pertinent portion of her report which reads as follows:
The basis for complainant's third cause of action is the claim that respondent associated and closely fraternized with Dominador Arigpa Tan who openly and publicly advertised himself as a practising attorney (see Exhs. I, I-1 and J) when in truth and in fact said Dominador Arigpa Tan does not appear in the Roll of Attorneys and is not a member of the Philippine Bar as certified to in Exh. K. The "respondent denies knowing that Dominador Arigpa Tan was an "impostor" and claims that all the time he believed that the latter was a bona fide member of the bar. I see no reason for disbelieving this assertion of respondent. It has been shown by complainant that Dominador Arigpa Tan represented himself publicly as an attorney-at-law to the extent of putting up a signboard with his name and the words "Attorney-at Law" (Exh. I and 1- 1) to indicate his office, and it was but natural for respondent and any person for that matter to have accepted that statement on its face value. "Now with respect to the allegation of complainant that respondent is guilty of fraternizing with Dominador Arigpa Tan to the extent of permitting his wife to be a godmother of Mr. Tan's child at baptism (Exh. M & M-1), that fact even if true did not render respondent guilty of violating any canon of judicial ethics as long as his friendly relations with Dominador A. Tan and family did not influence his official actuations as a judge where said persons were concerned. There is no tangible convincing proof that herein respondent gave any undue privileges in his court to Dominador Arigpa Tan or that the latter benefitted in his practice of law from his personal relations with respondent, or that he used his influence, if he had any, on the Judges of the other branches of the Court to favor said Dominador Tan. Of course it is highly desirable for a member of the judiciary to refrain as much as possible from maintaining close friendly relations with practising attorneys and litigants in his court so as to avoid suspicion 'that his social or business relations or friendship constitute an element in determining his judicial course" (par. 30, Canons of Judicial Ethics), but if a Judge does have social relations, that in itself would not constitute a ground for disciplinary action unless it be clearly shown that his social relations be clouded his official actuations with bias and partiality in favor of his friends (pp. 403-405, rec.).

In conclusion, while respondent Judge Asuncion, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, did not violate any law in acquiring by purchase a parcel of land which was in litigation in his court and in engaging in business by joining a private corporation during his incumbency as judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, he should be reminded to be more discreet in his private and business activities, because his conduct as a member of the Judiciary must not only be characterized with propriety but must always be above suspicion. WHEREFORE, THE RESPONDENT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE COURT OF APPEALS IS HEREBY REMINDED TO BE MORE DISCREET IN HIS PRIVATE AND BUSINESS ACTIVITIES. SO ORDERED. Teehankee, Guerrero, De Castro, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Vasquez, Relova and Gutierrez, JJ., concur. Concepcion Jr., J., is on leave. Fernando, C.J., Abad Santos and Esolin JJ., took no part.

Separate Opinions

AQUINO, J., concurring and dissenting: I vote for respondent's unqualified exoneration. BARREDO, J., concurring and dissenting: I vote with Justice Aquino.

Separate Opinions AQUINO, J., concurring and dissenting: I vote for respondent's unqualified exoneration. BARREDO, J., concurring and dissenting: I vote with Justice Aquino.

Assignment no 2:B

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 89252 May 24, 1993 RAUL SESBREO, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, DELTA MOTORS CORPORATION AND PILIPINAS BANK, respondents. Salva, Villanueva & Associates for Delta Motors Corporation. Reyes, Salazar & Associates for Pilipinas Bank.

FELICIANO, J.: On 9 February 1981, petitioner Raul Sesbreo made a money market placement in the amount of P300,000.00 with the Philippine Underwriters Finance Corporation ("Philfinance"), Cebu Branch; the placement, with a term of thirty-two (32) days, would mature on 13 March 1981, Philfinance, also on 9 February 1981, issued the following documents to petitioner:
(a) the Certificate of Confirmation of Sale, "without recourse," No. 20496 of one (1) Delta Motors Corporation Promissory Note ("DMC PN") No. 2731 for a term of 32 days at 17.0% per annum; (b) the Certificate of securities Delivery Receipt No. 16587 indicating the sale of DMC PN No. 2731 to petitioner, with the notation that the said security was in custodianship of Pilipinas Bank, as per Denominated Custodian Receipt ("DCR") No. 10805 dated 9 February 1981; and (c) post-dated checks payable on 13 March 1981 (i.e., the maturity date of petitioner's investment), with petitioner as payee, Philfinance as drawer, and Insular Bank of Asia and America as drawee, in the total amount of P304,533.33.

On 13 March 1981, petitioner sought to encash the postdated checks issued by Philfinance. However, the checks were dishonored for having been drawn against insufficient funds. On 26 March 1981, Philfinance delivered to petitioner the DCR No. 10805 issued by private respondent Pilipinas Bank ("Pilipinas"). It reads as follows:
PILIPINAS BANK Makati Stock Exchange Bldg., Ayala Avenue, Makati, Metro Manila Februar y 9, 1981 VALUE DATE TO Raul Sesbreo April 6, 1981

MATURI TY DATE NO. 10805 DENOMINATED CUSTODIAN RECEIPT This confirms that as a duly Custodian Bank, and upon instruction of PHILIPPINE UNDERWRITES FINANCE CORPORATION, we have in our custody the following securities to you [sic] the extent herein indicated. SERIAL MAT. FACE ISSUED REGISTERED AMOUNT NUMBER DATE VALUE BY HOLDER PAYEE 2731 4-6-81 2,300,833.34 DMC PHIL. 307,933.33 UNDERWRITERS FINANCE CORP. We further certify that these securities may be inspected by you or your duly authorized representative at any time during regular banking hours. Upon your written instructions we shall undertake physical delivery of the above securities fully assigned to you should this Denominated Custodianship Receipt remain outstanding in your favor thirty (30) days after its maturity. PILIPIN AS BANK (By Elizabet h De Villa Illegible Signatu re) 1

On 2 April 1981, petitioner approached Ms. Elizabeth de Villa of private respondent Pilipinas, Makati Branch, and handed her a demand letter informing the bank that his placement with Philfinance in the amount reflected in the DCR No. 10805 had remained unpaid and outstanding, and that he in effect was asking for the physical delivery of the underlying promissory note. Petitioner then examined the original of the DMC PN No. 2731 and found: that the security had been issued on 10 April 1980; that it would mature on 6 April 1981; that it had a face value of P2,300,833.33, with the Philfinance as "payee" and private respondent Delta Motors Corporation ("Delta") as "maker;" and that on face of the promissory note was stamped "NON NEGOTIABLE." Pilipinas did not deliver the Note, nor any certificate of participation in respect thereof, to petitioner. Petitioner later made similar demand letters, dated 3 July 1981 and 3 August 1981, 2 again asking private respondent Pilipinas for physical delivery of the original of DMC PN No. 2731. Pilipinas allegedly referred all of petitioner's demand letters to Philfinance for written instructions, as has been supposedly agreed upon in "Securities Custodianship Agreement" between Pilipinas and Philfinance. Philfinance did not provide the appropriate instructions; Pilipinas never released DMC PN No. 2731, nor any other instrument in respect thereof, to petitioner.

Petitioner also made a written demand on 14 July 1981 3 upon private respondent Delta for the partial satisfaction of DMC PN No. 2731, explaining that Philfinance, as payee thereof, had assigned to him said Note to the extent of P307,933.33. Delta, however, denied any liability to petitioner on the promissory note, and explained in turn that it had previously agreed with Philfinance to offset its DMC PN No. 2731 (along with DMC PN No. 2730) against Philfinance PN No. 143-A issued in favor of Delta. In the meantime, Philfinance, on 18 June 1981, was placed under the joint management of the Securities and exchange commission ("SEC") and the Central Bank. Pilipinas delivered to the SEC DMC PN No. 2731, which to date apparently remains in the custody of the SEC. 4 As petitioner had failed to collect his investment and interest thereon, he filed on 28 September 1982 an action for damages with the Regional Trial Court ("RTC") of Cebu City, Branch 21, against private respondents Delta and Pilipinas. 5 The trial court, in a decision dated 5 August 1987, dismissed the complaint and counterclaims for lack of merit and for lack of cause of action, with costs against petitioner. Petitioner appealed to respondent Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CV No. 15195. In a Decision dated 21 March 1989, the Court of Appeals denied the appeal and held: 6
Be that as it may, from the evidence on record, if there is anyone that appears liable for the travails of plaintiff-appellant, it is Philfinance. As correctly observed by the trial court: This act of Philfinance in accepting the investment of plaintiff and charging it against DMC PN No. 2731 when its entire face value was already obligated or earmarked for set-off or compensation is difficult to comprehend and may have been motivated with bad faith. Philfinance, therefore, is solely and legally obligated to return the investment of plaintiff, together with its earnings, and to answer all the damages plaintiff has suffered incident thereto. Unfortunately for plaintiff, Philfinance was not impleaded as one of the defendants in this case at bar; hence, this Court is without jurisdiction to pronounce judgement against it. (p. 11, Decision) WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the decision appealed from, the same is hereby affirmed in toto. Cost against plaintiff-appellant.

Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the above Decision, without success. Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiorari. After consideration of the allegations contained and issues raised in the pleadings, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to file their respective memoranda. 7 Petitioner reiterates the assignment of errors he directed at the trial court decision, and contends that respondent court of Appeals gravely erred: (i) in concluding that he cannot recover from private respondent Delta his assigned portion of DMC PN No. 2731; (ii) in failing to hold private respondent Pilipinas solidarily liable on the DMC PN No. 2731 in view of the provisions stipulated in DCR No. 10805 issued in favor r of petitioner, and (iii) in refusing to pierce the veil of corporate entity between Philfinance, and private respondents Delta and Pilipinas, considering that the three (3) entities belong to the "Silverio Group of Companies" under the leadership of Mr. Ricardo Silverio, Sr. 8 There are at least two (2) sets of relationships which we need to address: firstly, the relationship of petitioner vis-a-vis Delta; secondly, the relationship of petitioner in respect of Pilipinas. Actually, of course, there is a third relationship that is of critical importance: the relationship of petitioner and Philfinance. However, since Philfinance has not been impleaded in this case, neither the trial court

nor the Court of Appeals acquired jurisdiction over the person of Philfinance. It is, consequently, not necessary for present purposes to deal with this third relationship, except to the extent it necessarily impinges upon or intersects the first and second relationships. I. We consider first the relationship between petitioner and Delta. The Court of appeals in effect held that petitioner acquired no rights vis-a-vis Delta in respect of the Delta promissory note (DMC PN No. 2731) which Philfinance sold "without recourse" to petitioner, to the extent of P304,533.33. The Court of Appeals said on this point:
Nor could plaintiff-appellant have acquired any right over DMC PN No. 2731 as the same is "nonnegotiable" as stamped on its face (Exhibit "6"), negotiation being defined as the transfer of an instrument from one person to another so as to constitute the transferee the holder of the instrument (Sec. 30, Negotiable Instruments Law). A person not a holder cannot sue on the instrument in his own name and cannot demand or receive payment (Section 51, id.) 9

Petitioner admits that DMC PN No. 2731 was non-negotiable but contends that the Note had been validly transferred, in part to him by assignment and that as a result of such transfer, Delta as debtormaker of the Note, was obligated to pay petitioner the portion of that Note assigned to him by the payee Philfinance. Delta, however, disputes petitioner's contention and argues:
(1) that DMC PN No. 2731 was not intended to be negotiated or otherwise transferred by Philfinance as manifested by the word "non-negotiable" stamp across the face of the Note 10 and because maker Delta and payee Philfinance intended that this Note would be offset against the outstanding obligation of Philfinance represented by Philfinance PN No. 143-A issued to Delta as payee; (2) that the assignment of DMC PN No. 2731 by Philfinance was without Delta's consent, if not against its instructions; and (3) assuming (arguendo only) that the partial assignment in favor of petitioner was valid, petitioner took the Note subject to the defenses available to Delta, in particular, the offsetting of DMC PN No. 2731 against Philfinance PN No. 143-A. 11

We consider Delta's arguments seriatim. Firstly, it is important to bear in mind that the negotiation of a negotiable instrument must be distinguished from the assignment or transfer of an instrument whether that be negotiable or nonnegotiable. Only an instrument qualifying as a negotiable instrument under the relevant statute may be negotiated either by indorsement thereof coupled with delivery, or by delivery alone where the negotiable instrument is in bearer form. A negotiable instrument may, however, instead of being negotiated, also be assigned or transferred. The legal consequences of negotiation as distinguished from assignment of a negotiable instrument are, of course, different. A non-negotiable instrument may, obviously, not be negotiated; but it may be assigned or transferred, absent an express prohibition against assignment or transfer written in the face of the instrument:
The words "not negotiable," stamped on the face of the bill of lading, did not destroy its assignability, but the sole effect was to exempt the bill from the statutory provisions relative thereto, and a bill, though not negotiable, may be transferred by assignment; the assignee taking subject to the equities between the original parties. 12 (Emphasis added)

DMC PN No. 2731, while marked "non-negotiable," was not at the same time stamped "nontransferable" or "non-assignable." It contained no stipulation which prohibited Philfinance from assigning or transferring, in whole or in part, that Note. Delta adduced the "Letter of Agreement" which it had entered into with Philfinance and which should be quoted in full:
April 10, 1980 Philippine Underwriters Finance Corp. Benavidez St., Makati, Metro Manila. Attention: Mr. Alfredo O. Banaria SVP-Treasurer GENTLEMEN: This refers to our outstanding placement of P4,601,666.67 as evidenced by your Promissory Note No. 143A, dated April 10, 1980, to mature on April 6, 1981. As agreed upon, we enclose our non-negotiable Promissory Note No. 2730 and 2731 for P2,000,000.00 each, dated April 10, 1980, to be offsetted [sic] against your PN No. 143-A upon co-terminal maturity. Please deliver the proceeds of our PNs to our representative, Mr. Eric Castillo. Very Truly Yours, (Sgd.) Florenci o B. Biagan Senior Vice Preside nt 13

We find nothing in his "Letter of Agreement" which can be reasonably construed as a prohibition upon Philfinance assigning or transferring all or part of DMC PN No. 2731, before the maturity thereof. It is scarcely necessary to add that, even had this "Letter of Agreement" set forth an explicit prohibition of transfer upon Philfinance, such a prohibition cannot be invoked against an assignee or transferee of the Note who parted with valuable consideration in good faith and without notice of such prohibition. It is not disputed that petitioner was such an assignee or transferee. Our conclusion on this point is reinforced by the fact that what Philfinance and Delta were doing by their exchange of their promissory notes was this: Delta invested, by making a money market placement with Philfinance, approximately P4,600,000.00 on 10 April 1980; but promptly, on the same day, borrowed back the bulk of that placement, i.e., P4,000,000.00, by issuing its two (2) promissory notes: DMC PN No. 2730 and DMC PN No. 2731, both also dated 10 April 1980. Thus, Philfinance was left with not P4,600,000.00 but only P600,000.00 in cash and the two (2) Delta promissory notes. Apropos Delta's complaint that the partial assignment by Philfinance of DMC PN No. 2731 had been effected without the consent of Delta, we note that such consent was not necessary for the validity and enforceability of the assignment in favor of petitioner. 14 Delta's argument that Philfinance's sale or

assignment of part of its rights to DMC PN No. 2731 constituted conventional subrogation, which required its (Delta's) consent, is quite mistaken. Conventional subrogation, which in the first place is never lightly inferred, 15 must be clearly established by the unequivocal terms of the substituting obligation or by the evident incompatibility of the new and old obligations on every point. 16 Nothing of the sort is present in the instant case. It is in fact difficult to be impressed with Delta's complaint, since it released its DMC PN No. 2731 to Philfinance, an entity engaged in the business of buying and selling debt instruments and other securities, and more generally, in money market transactions. In Perez v. Court of Appeals, 17 the Court, speaking through Mme. Justice Herrera, made the following important statement:
There is another aspect to this case. What is involved here is a money market transaction. As defined by Lawrence Smith "the money market is a market dealing in standardized short-term credit instruments (involving large amounts) where lenders and borrowers do not deal directly with each other but through a middle manor a dealer in the open market." It involves "commercial papers" which are instruments "evidencing indebtness of any person or entity. . ., which are issued, endorsed, sold or transferred or in any manner conveyed to another person or entity, with or without recourse". The fundamental function of the money market device in its operation is to match and bring together in a most impersonal manner both the "fund users" and the "fund suppliers." The money market is an "impersonal market", free from personal considerations. "The market mechanism is intended to provide quick mobility of money and securities." The impersonal character of the money market device overlooks the individuals or entities concerned. The issuer of a commercial paper in the money market necessarily knows in advance that it would be expenditiously transacted and transferred to any investor/lender without need of notice to said issuer. In practice, no notification is given to the borrower or issuer of commercial paper of the sale or transfer to the investor. xxx xxx xxx There is need to individuate a money market transaction, a relatively novel institution in the Philippine commercial scene. It has been intended to facilitate the flow and acquisition of capital on an impersonal basis. And as specifically required by Presidential Decree No. 678, the investing public must be given adequate and effective protection in availing of the credit of a borrower in the commercial paper market. 18 (Citations omitted; emphasis supplied)

We turn to Delta's arguments concerning alleged compensation or offsetting between DMC PN No. 2731 and Philfinance PN No. 143-A. It is important to note that at the time Philfinance sold part of its rights under DMC PN No. 2731 to petitioner on 9 February 1981, no compensation had as yet taken place and indeed none could have taken place. The essential requirements of compensation are listed in the Civil Code as follows:
Art. 1279. In order that compensation may be proper, it is necessary: (1) That each one of the obligors be bound principally, and that he be at the same time a principal creditor of the other; (2) That both debts consists in a sum of money, or if the things due are consumable, they be of the same kind, and also of the same quality if the latter has been stated; (3) That the two debts are due; (4) That they be liquidated and demandable; (5) That over neither of them there be any retention or controversy, commenced by third persons and communicated in due time to the debtor. (Emphasis supplied)

On 9 February 1981, neither DMC PN No. 2731 nor Philfinance PN No. 143-A was due. This was explicitly recognized by Delta in its 10 April 1980 "Letter of Agreement" with Philfinance, where Delta acknowledged that the relevant promissory notes were "to be offsetted (sic) against [Philfinance] PN No. 143-A upon co-terminal maturity." As noted, the assignment to petitioner was made on 9 February 1981 or from forty-nine (49) days before the "co-terminal maturity" date, that is to say, before any compensation had taken place. Further, the assignment to petitioner would have prevented compensation had taken place between Philfinance and Delta, to the extent of P304,533.33, because upon execution of the assignment in favor of petitioner, Philfinance and Delta would have ceased to be creditors and debtors of each other in their own right to the extent of the amount assigned by Philfinance to petitioner. Thus, we conclude that the assignment effected by Philfinance in favor of petitioner was a valid one and that petitioner accordingly became owner of DMC PN No. 2731 to the extent of the portion thereof assigned to him. The record shows, however, that petitioner notified Delta of the fact of the assignment to him only on 14 July 1981, 19 that is, after the maturity not only of the money market placement made by petitioner but also of both DMC PN No. 2731 and Philfinance PN No. 143-A. In other words, petitioner notified Delta of his rights as assignee after compensation had taken place by operation of law because the offsetting instruments had both reached maturity. It is a firmly settled doctrine that the rights of an assignee are not any greater that the rights of the assignor, since the assignee is merely substituted in the place of the assignor 20 and that the assignee acquires his rights subject to the equities i.e., the defenses which the debtor could have set up against the original assignor before notice of the assignment was given to the debtor. Article 1285 of the Civil Code provides that:
Art. 1285. The debtor who has consented to the assignment of rights made by a creditor in favor of a third person, cannot set up against the assignee the compensation which would pertain to him against the assignor, unless the assignor was notified by the debtor at the time he gave his consent, that he reserved his right to the compensation. If the creditor communicated the cession to him but the debtor did not consent thereto, the latter may set up the compensation of debts previous to the cession, but not of subsequent ones. If the assignment is made without the knowledge of the debtor, he may set up the compensation of all credits prior to the same and also later ones until he had knowledge of the assignment. (Emphasis supplied)

Article 1626 of the same code states that: "the debtor who, before having knowledge of the assignment, pays his creditor shall be released from the obligation." In Sison v. Yap-Tico, 21 the Court explained that:
[n]o man is bound to remain a debtor; he may pay to him with whom he contacted to pay; and if he pay before notice that his debt has been assigned, the law holds him exonerated, for the reason that it is the duty of the person who has acquired a title by transfer to demand payment of the debt, to give his debt or notice. 22

At the time that Delta was first put to notice of the assignment in petitioner's favor on 14 July 1981, DMC PN No. 2731 had already been discharged by compensation. Since the assignor Philfinance could not have then compelled payment anew by Delta of DMC PN No. 2731, petitioner, as assignee of Philfinance, is similarly disabled from collecting from Delta the portion of the Note assigned to him. It bears some emphasis that petitioner could have notified Delta of the assignment or sale was effected on 9 February 1981. He could have notified Delta as soon as his money market placement matured on 13 March 1981 without payment thereof being made by Philfinance; at that time, compensation had yet to set in and discharge DMC PN No. 2731. Again petitioner could have notified

Delta on 26 March 1981 when petitioner received from Philfinance the Denominated Custodianship Receipt ("DCR") No. 10805 issued by private respondent Pilipinas in favor of petitioner. Petitioner could, in fine, have notified Delta at any time before the maturity date of DMC PN No. 2731. Because petitioner failed to do so, and because the record is bare of any indication that Philfinance had itself notified Delta of the assignment to petitioner, the Court is compelled to uphold the defense of compensation raised by private respondent Delta. Of course, Philfinance remains liable to petitioner under the terms of the assignment made by Philfinance to petitioner. II. We turn now to the relationship between petitioner and private respondent Pilipinas. Petitioner contends that Pilipinas became solidarily liable with Philfinance and Delta when Pilipinas issued DCR No. 10805 with the following words:
Upon your written instruction, we [Pilipinas] shall undertake physical delivery of the above securities fully assigned to you . 23

The Court is not persuaded. We find nothing in the DCR that establishes an obligation on the part of Pilipinas to pay petitioner the amount of P307,933.33 nor any assumption of liability in solidum with Philfinance and Delta under DMC PN No. 2731. We read the DCR as a confirmation on the part of Pilipinas that:
(1) it has in its custody, as duly constituted custodian bank, DMC PN No. 2731 of a certain face value, to mature on 6 April 1981 and payable to the order of Philfinance; (2) Pilipinas was, from and after said date of the assignment by Philfinance to petitioner (9 February 1981), holding that Note on behalf and for the benefit of petitioner, at least to the extent it had been assigned to petitioner by payee Philfinance; 24 (3) petitioner may inspect the Note either "personally or by authorized representative", at any time during regular bank hours; and (4) upon written instructions of petitioner, Pilipinas would physically deliver the DMC PN No. 2731 (or a participation therein to the extent of P307,933.33) "should this Denominated Custodianship receipt remain outstanding in [petitioner's] favor thirty (30) days after its maturity."

Thus, we find nothing written in printers ink on the DCR which could reasonably be read as converting Pilipinas into an obligor under the terms of DMC PN No. 2731 assigned to petitioner, either upon maturity thereof or any other time. We note that both in his complaint and in his testimony before the trial court, petitioner referred merely to the obligation of private respondent Pilipinas to effect the physical delivery to him of DMC PN No. 2731. 25 Accordingly, petitioner's theory that Pilipinas had assumed a solidary obligation to pay the amount represented by a portion of the Note assigned to him by Philfinance, appears to be a new theory constructed only after the trial court had ruled against him. The solidary liability that petitioner seeks to impute Pilipinas cannot, however, be lightly inferred. Under article 1207 of the Civil Code, "there is a solidary liability only when the law or the nature of the obligation requires solidarity," The record here exhibits no express assumption of solidary liability vis-a-vis petitioner, on the part of Pilipinas. Petitioner has not pointed to us to any law which imposed such liability upon Pilipinas nor has petitioner argued that the very nature of the custodianship assumed by private respondent Pilipinas necessarily implies solidary liability under the securities, custody of which was taken by Pilipinas. Accordingly, we are unable to hold Pilipinas solidarily liable with Philfinance and private respondent Delta under DMC PN No. 2731. We do not, however, mean to suggest that Pilipinas has no responsibility and liability in respect of petitioner under the terms of the DCR. To the contrary, we find, after prolonged analysis and

deliberation, that private respondent Pilipinas had breached its undertaking under the DCR to petitioner Sesbreo. We believe and so hold that a contract of deposit was constituted by the act of Philfinance in designating Pilipinas as custodian or depositary bank. The depositor was initially Philfinance; the obligation of the depository was owed, however, to petitioner Sesbreo as beneficiary of the custodianship or depository agreement. We do not consider that this is a simple case of a stipulation pour autri. The custodianship or depositary agreement was established as an integral part of the money market transaction entered into by petitioner with Philfinance. Petitioner bought a portion of DMC PN No. 2731; Philfinance as assignor-vendor deposited that Note with Pilipinas in order that the thing sold would be placed outside the control of the vendor. Indeed, the constituting of the depositary or custodianship agreement was equivalent to constructive delivery of the Note (to the extent it had been sold or assigned to petitioner) to petitioner. It will be seen that custodianship agreements are designed to facilitate transactions in the money market by providing a basis for confidence on the part of the investors or placers that the instruments bought by them are effectively taken out of the pocket, as it were, of the vendors and placed safely beyond their reach, that those instruments will be there available to the placers of funds should they have need of them. The depositary in a contract of deposit is obliged to return the security or the thing deposited upon demand of the depositor (or, in the presented case, of the beneficiary) of the contract, even though a term for such return may have been established in the said contract. 26 Accordingly, any stipulation in the contract of deposit or custodianship that runs counter to the fundamental purpose of that agreement or which was not brought to the notice of and accepted by the placer-beneficiary, cannot be enforced as against such beneficiary-placer. We believe that the position taken above is supported by considerations of public policy. If there is any party that needs the equalizing protection of the law in money market transactions, it is the members of the general public whom place their savings in such market for the purpose of generating interest revenues. 27 The custodian bank, if it is not related either in terms of equity ownership or management control to the borrower of the funds, or the commercial paper dealer, is normally a preferred or traditional banker of such borrower or dealer (here, Philfinance). The custodian bank would have every incentive to protect the interest of its client the borrower or dealer as against the placer of funds. The providers of such funds must be safeguarded from the impact of stipulations privately made between the borrowers or dealers and the custodian banks, and disclosed to fundproviders only after trouble has erupted. In the case at bar, the custodian-depositary bank Pilipinas refused to deliver the security deposited with it when petitioner first demanded physical delivery thereof on 2 April 1981. We must again note, in this connection, that on 2 April 1981, DMC PN No. 2731 had not yet matured and therefore, compensation or offsetting against Philfinance PN No. 143-A had not yet taken place. Instead of complying with the demand of the petitioner, Pilipinas purported to require and await the instructions of Philfinance, in obvious contravention of its undertaking under the DCR to effect physical delivery of the Note upon receipt of "written instructions" from petitioner Sesbreo. The ostensible term written into the DCR (i.e., "should this [DCR] remain outstanding in your favor thirty [30] days after its maturity") was not a defense against petitioner's demand for physical surrender of the Note on at least three grounds: firstly, such term was never brought to the attention of petitioner Sesbreo at the time the money market placement with Philfinance was made; secondly, such term runs counter to the very purpose of the custodianship or depositary agreement as an integral part of a money market transaction; and thirdly, it is inconsistent with the provisions of Article 1988 of the Civil Code noted above. Indeed, in principle, petitioner became entitled to demand physical delivery of the Note held by Pilipinas as soon as petitioner's money market placement matured on 13 March 1981 without payment from Philfinance.

We conclude, therefore, that private respondent Pilipinas must respond to petitioner for damages sustained by arising out of its breach of duty. By failing to deliver the Note to the petitioner as depositor-beneficiary of the thing deposited, Pilipinas effectively and unlawfully deprived petitioner of the Note deposited with it. Whether or not Pilipinas itself benefitted from such conversion or unlawful deprivation inflicted upon petitioner, is of no moment for present purposes. Prima facie, the damages suffered by petitioner consisted of P304,533.33, the portion of the DMC PN No. 2731 assigned to petitioner but lost by him by reason of discharge of the Note by compensation, plus legal interest of six percent (6%) per annum containing from 14 March 1981. The conclusion we have reached is, of course, without prejudice to such right of reimbursement as Pilipinas may have vis-a-vis Philfinance. III. The third principal contention of petitioner that Philfinance and private respondents Delta and Pilipinas should be treated as one corporate entity need not detain us for long. In the first place, as already noted, jurisdiction over the person of Philfinance was never acquired either by the trial court nor by the respondent Court of Appeals. Petitioner similarly did not seek to implead Philfinance in the Petition before us. Secondly, it is not disputed that Philfinance and private respondents Delta and Pilipinas have been organized as separate corporate entities. Petitioner asks us to pierce their separate corporate entities, but has been able only to cite the presence of a common Director Mr. Ricardo Silverio, Sr., sitting on the Board of Directors of all three (3) companies. Petitioner has neither alleged nor proved that one or another of the three (3) concededly related companies used the other two (2) as mere alter egos or that the corporate affairs of the other two (2) were administered and managed for the benefit of one. There is simply not enough evidence of record to justify disregarding the separate corporate personalities of delta and Pilipinas and to hold them liable for any assumed or undetermined liability of Philfinance to petitioner. 28 WHEREFORE, for all the foregoing, the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CV No. 15195 dated 21 march 1989 and 17 July 1989, respectively, are hereby MODIFIED and SET ASIDE, to the extent that such Decision and Resolution had dismissed petitioner's complaint against Pilipinas Bank. Private respondent Pilipinas bank is hereby ORDERED to indemnify petitioner for damages in the amount of P304,533.33, plus legal interest thereon at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum counted from 2 April 1981. As so modified, the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. Bidin, Davide, Jr., Romero and Melo, JJ., concur.
Asssignment no 3 Assignment no 4

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

G.R. No. L-961

September 21, 1949

BLANDINA GAMBOA HILADO, petitioner, vs. JOSE GUTIERREZ DAVID, VICENTE J. FRANCISCO, JACOB ASSAD and SELIM JACOB ASSAD, respondents. Delgado, Dizon and Flores for petitioner. Vicente J. Francisco for respondents. TUASON, J.: It appears that on April 23, 1945, Blandina Gamboa Hilado brought an action against Selim Jacob Assad to annul the sale of several houses and lot executed during the Japanese occupation by Mrs. Hilado's now deceased husband. On May 14, Attorneys Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita filed an answer on behalf of the defendant; and on June 15, Attorneys Delgado, Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo registered their appearance as counsel for the plaintiff. On October 5, these attorneys filed an amended complaint by including Jacob Assad as party defendant. On January 28, 1946, Attorney Francisco entered his appearance as attorney of record for the defendant in substitution for Attorney Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita who had withdrawn from the case. On May 29, Attorney Dizon, in the name of his firm, wrote Attorney Francisco urging him to discontinue representing the defendants on the ground that their client had consulted with him about her case, on which occasion, it was alleged, "she turned over the papers" to Attorney Francisco, and the latter sent her a written opinion. Not receiving any answer to this suggestion, Attorney Delgado, Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo on June 3, 1946, filed a formal motion with the court, wherein the case was and is pending, to disqualify Attorney Francisco. Attorney Francisco's letter to plaintiff, mentioned above and identified as Exhibit A, is in full as follows: VICENTE J. FRANCISCO Attorney-at-Law 1462 Estrada, Manila July 13, 1945. Mrs. Blandina Gamboa Hilado Manila, Philippines My dear Mrs. Hilado: From the papers you submitted to me in connection with civil case No. 70075 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled "Blandina Gamboa Hilado vs. S. J. Assad," I find that the basic facts which brought about the controversy between you and the defendant therein are as follows: (a) That you were the equitable owner of the property described in the complaint, as the same was purchased and/or built with funds exclusively belonging to you, that is to say, the houses and lot pertained to your paraphernal estate; (b) That on May 3, 1943, the legal title to the property was with your husband, Mr. Serafin P. Hilado; and

(c) That the property was sold by Mr. Hilado without your knowledge on the aforesaid date of May 3, 1943. Upon the foregoing facts, I am of the opinion that your action against Mr. Assad will not ordinarily prosper. Mr. Assad had the right to presume that your husband had the legal right to dispose of the property as the transfer certificate of title was in his name. Moreover, the price of P110,000 in Japanese military notes, as of May 3, 1943, does not quite strike me as so grossly inadequate as to warrant the annulment of the sale. I believe, lastly, that the transaction cannot be avoided merely because it was made during the Japanese occupation, nor on the simple allegation that the real purchaser was not a citizen of the Philippines. On his last point, furthermore, I expect that you will have great difficulty in proving that the real purchaser was other than Mr. Assad, considering that death has already sealed your husband's lips and he cannot now testify as to the circumstances of the sale. For the foregoing reasons, I regret to advise you that I cannot appear in the proceedings in your behalf. The records of the case you loaned to me are herewith returned. Yours very truly, (Sgd.) VICENTE J. FRANCISCO VJF/Rag. In his answer to plaintiff's attorneys' complaint, Attorney Francisco alleged that about May, 1945, a real estate broker came to his office in connection with the legal separation of a woman who had been deserted by her husband, and also told him (Francisco) that there was a pending suit brought by Mrs. Hilado against a certain Syrian to annul the sale of a real estate which the deceased Serafin Hilado had made to the Syrian during the Japanese occupation; that this woman asked him if he was willing to accept the case if the Syrian should give it to him; that he told the woman that the sales of real property during the Japanese regime were valid even though it was paid for in Japanese military notes; that this being his opinion, he told his visitor he would have no objection to defending the Syrian; That one month afterwards, Mrs. Hilado came to see him about a suit she had instituted against a certain Syrian to annul the conveyance of a real estate which her husband had made; that according to her the case was in the hands of Attorneys Delgado and Dizon, but she wanted to take it away from them; that as he had known the plaintiff's deceased husband he did not hesitate to tell her frankly that hers was a lost case for the same reason he had told the broker; that Mrs. Hilado retorted that the basis of her action was not that the money paid her husband was Japanese military notes, but that the premises were her private and exclusive property; that she requested him to read the complaint to be convinced that this was the theory of her suit; that he then asked Mrs. Hilado if there was a Torrens title to the property and she answered yes, in the name of her husband; that he told Mrs. Hilado that if the property was registered in her husband's favor, her case would not prosper either; That some days afterward, upon arrival at his law office on Estrada street, he was informed by Attorney Federico Agrava, his assistant, that Mrs. Hilado had dropped in looking for him and that when he, Agrava, learned that Mrs. Hilado's visit concerned legal matters he attended to her and requested her to leave the "expediente" which she was carrying, and she did; that he told Attorney Agrava that the firm should not handle Mrs. Hilado's case and he should return the papers, calling Agrava's attention to what he (Francisco) already had said to Mrs. Hilado; That several days later, the stenographer in his law office, Teofilo Ragodon, showed him a letter which had been dictated in English by Mr. Agrava, returning the "expedients" to Mrs. Hilado; that Ragodon told him (Attorney Francisco) upon Attorney Agrava's request that Agrava thought it more proper to explain to Mrs. Hilado the reasons why her case was rejected; that he forthwith signed the letter without reading it and without keeping it for

a minute in his possession; that he never saw Mrs. Hilado since their last meeting until she talked to him at the Manila Hotel about a proposed extrajudicial settlement of the case; That in January, 1946, Assad was in his office to request him to handle his case stating that his American lawyer had gone to the States and left the case in the hands of other attorneys; that he accepted the retainer and on January 28, 1946, entered his appearance. Attorney Francisco filed an affidavit of stenographer Ragodon in corroboration of his answer. The judge trying the case, Honorable Jose Gutierrez David, later promoted to the Court of Appeals, dismissed the complaint. His Honor believed that no information other than that already alleged in plaintiff's complaint in the main cause was conveyed to Attorney Francisco, and concluded that the intercourse between the plaintiff and the respondent did not attain the point of creating the relation of attorney and client. Stripped of disputed details and collateral matters, this much is undoubted: That Attorney Francisco's law firm mailed to the plaintiff a written opinion over his signature on the merits of her case; that this opinion was reached on the basis of papers she had submitted at his office; that Mrs. Hilado's purpose in submitting those papers was to secure Attorney Francisco's professional services. Granting the facts to be no more than these, we agree with petitioner's counsel that the relation of attorney and client between Attorney Francisco and Mrs. Hilado ensued. The following rules accord with the ethics of the legal profession and meet with our approval: In order to constitute the relation (of attorney and client) a professional one and not merely one of principal and agent, the attorneys must be employed either to give advice upon a legal point, to prosecute or defend an action in court of justice, or to prepare and draft, in legal form such papers as deeds, bills, contracts and the like. (Atkinson vs. Howlett, 11 Ky. Law Rep. (abstract), 364; cited in Vol. 88, A. L. R., p. 6.) To constitute professional employment it is not essential that the client should have employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. . . . It is not necessary that any retainer should have been paid, promised, or charged for; neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not afterward undertake the case about which the consultation was had. If a person, in respect to his business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults with his attorney in his professional capacity with the view to obtaining professional advice or assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces in such consultation, then the professional employment must be regarded as established. . . . (5 Jones Commentaries on Evidence, pp. 4118-4119.) An attorney is employed-that is, he is engaged in his professional capacity as a lawyer or counselor-when he is listening to his client's preliminary statement of his case, or when he is giving advice thereon, just as truly as when he is drawing his client's pleadings, or advocating his client's cause in open court. (Denver Tramway Co. vs. Owens, 20 Colo., 107; 36 P., 848.) Formality is not an essential element of the employment of an attorney. The contract may be express or implied and it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of the attorney is sought and received, in matters pertinent to his profession. An acceptance of the relation is implied on the part of the attorney from his acting in behalf of his client in pursuance of a request by the latter. (7 C. J. S., 848-849; see Hirach Bros. and Co. vs. R. E. Kennington Co., 88 A. L. R., 1.) Section 26 (e), Rule 123 of the Rules of Court provides that "an attorney cannot, without the consent of his client, be examined as to any communication made by the client to him, or his advice given thereon in the course of professional employment;" and section 19 (e) of Rule 127 imposes upon an attorney the duty "to maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself, to preserve the secrets of his client." There is no law or provision in the Rules of Court prohibiting attorneys in express terms from acting on behalf of both parties to a controversy whose interests are opposed to each other, but such prohibition is necessarily implied in the

injunctions above quoted. (In re De la Rosa, 27 Phil., 258.) In fact the prohibition derives validity from sources higher than written laws and rules. As has been aptly said in In re Merron, 22 N. M., 252, L.R.A., 1917B, 378, "information so received is sacred to the employment to which it pertains," and "to permit it to be used in the interest of another, or, worse still, in the interest of the adverse party, is to strike at the element of confidence which lies at the basis of, and affords the essential security in, the relation of attorney and client." That only copies of pleadings already filed in court were furnished to Attorney Agrava and that, this being so, no secret communication was transmitted to him by the plaintiff, would not vary the situation even if we should discard Mrs. Hilado's statement that other papers, personal and private in character, were turned in by her. Precedents are at hand to support the doctrine that the mere relation of attorney and client ought to preclude the attorney from accepting the opposite party's retainer in the same litigation regardless of what information was received by him from his first client. The principle which forbids an attorney who has been engaged to represent a client from thereafter appearing on behalf of the client's opponent applies equally even though during the continuance of the employment nothing of a confidential nature was revealed to the attorney by the client. (Christian vs. Waialua Agricultural Co., 30 Hawaii, 553, Footnote 7, C. J. S., 828.) Where it appeared that an attorney, representing one party in litigation, had formerly represented the adverse party with respect to the same matter involved in the litigation, the court need not inquire as to how much knowledge the attorney acquired from his former during that relationship, before refusing to permit the attorney to represent the adverse party. (Brown vs. Miller, 52 App. D. C. 330; 286, F. 994.) In order that a court may prevent an attorney from appearing against a former client, it is unnecessary that the ascertain in detail the extent to which the former client's affairs might have a bearing on the matters involved in the subsequent litigation on the attorney's knowledge thereof. (Boyd vs. Second Judicial Dist. Court, 274 P., 7; 51 Nev., 264.) This rule has been so strictly that it has been held an attorney, on terminating his employment, cannot thereafter act as counsel against his client in the same general matter, even though, while acting for his former client, he acquired no knowledge which could operate to his client's disadvantage in the subsequent adverse employment. (Pierce vs. Palmer [1910], 31 R. I., 432; 77 Atl., 201, Ann. Cas., 1912S, 181.) Communications between attorney and client are, in a great number of litigations, a complicated affair, consisting of entangled relevant and irrelevant, secret and well known facts. In the complexity of what is said in the course of the dealings between an attorney and a client, inquiry of the nature suggested would lead to the revelation, in advance of the trial, of other matters that might only further prejudice the complainant's cause. And the theory would be productive of other un salutary results. To make the passing of confidential communication a condition precedent; i.e., to make the employment conditioned on the scope and character of the knowledge acquired by an attorney in determining his right to change sides, would not enhance the freedom of litigants, which is to be sedulously fostered, to consult with lawyers upon what they believe are their rights in litigation. The condition would of necessity call for an investigation of what information the attorney has received and in what way it is or it is not in conflict with his new position. Litigants would in consequence be wary in going to an attorney, lest by an unfortunate turn of the proceedings, if an investigation be held, the court should accept the attorney's inaccurate version of the facts that came to him. "Now the abstinence from seeking legal advice in a good cause is by hypothesis an evil which is fatal to the administration of justice." (John H. Wigmore's Evidence, 1923, Section 2285, 2290, 2291.) Hence the necessity of setting down the existence of the bare relationship of attorney and client as the yardstick for testing incompatibility of interests. This stern rule is designed not alone to prevent the dishonest practitioner from fraudulent conduct, but as well to protect the honest lawyer from unfounded suspicion of unprofessional practice. (Strong vs. Int. Bldg., etc.; Ass'n, 183 Ill., 97; 47 L.R.A., 792.) It is founded on principles of public

policy, on good taste. As has been said in another case, the question is not necessarily one of the rights of the parties, but as to whether the attorney has adhered to proper professional standard. With these thoughts in mind, it behooves attorneys, like Caesar's wife, not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing. Only thus can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their attorneys which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice. So without impugning respondent's good faith, we nevertheless can not sanction his taking up the cause of the adversary of the party who had sought and obtained legal advice from his firm; this, not necessarily to prevent any injustice to the plaintiff but to keep above reproach the honor and integrity of the courts and of the bar. Without condemning the respondents conduct as dishonest, corrupt, or fraudulent, we do believe that upon the admitted facts it is highly in expedient. It had the tendency to bring the profession, of which he is a distinguished member, "into public disrepute and suspicion and undermine the integrity of justice." There is in legal practice what called "retaining fee," the purpose of which stems from the realization that the attorney is disabled from acting as counsel for the other side after he has given professional advice to the opposite party, even if he should decline to perform the contemplated services on behalf of the latter. It is to prevent undue hardship on the attorney resulting from the rigid observance of the rule that a separate and independent fee for consultation and advice was conceived and authorized. "A retaining fee is a preliminary fee given to an attorney or counsel to insure and secure his future services, and induce him to act for the client. It is intended to remunerate counsel for being deprived, by being retained by one party, of the opportunity of rendering services to the other and of receiving pay from him, and the payment of such fee, in the absence of an express understanding to the contrary, is neither made nor received in payment of the services contemplated; its payment has no relation to the obligation of the client to pay his attorney for the services which he has retained him to perform." (7 C.J.S., 1019.) The defense that Attorney Agrava wrote the letter Exhibit A and that Attorney Francisco did not take the trouble of reading it, would not take the case out of the interdiction. If this letter was written under the circumstances explained by Attorney Francisco and he was unaware of its contents, the fact remains that his firm did give Mrs. Hilado a formal professional advice from which, as heretofore demonstrated, emerged the relation of attorney and client. This letter binds and estop him in the same manner and to the same degree as if he personally had written it. An information obtained from a client by a member or assistant of a law firm is information imparted to the firm. (6 C. J., 628; 7 C. J. S., 986.) This is not a mere fiction or an arbitrary rule; for such member or assistant, as in our case, not only acts in the name and interest of the firm, but his information, by the nature of his connection with the firm is available to his associates or employers. The rule is all the more to be adhered to where, as in the present instance, the opinion was actually signed by the head of the firm and carries his initials intended to convey the impression that it was dictated by him personally. No progress could be hoped for in "the public policy that the client in consulting his legal adviser ought to be free from apprehension of disclosure of his confidence," if the prohibition were not extended to the attorney's partners, employers or assistants. The fact that petitioner did not object until after four months had passed from the date Attorney Francisco first appeared for the defendants does not operate as a waiver of her right to ask for his disqualification. In one case, objection to the appearance of an attorney was allowed even on appeal as a ground for reversal of the judgment. In that case, in which throughout the conduct of the cause in the court below the attorney had been suffered so to act without objection, the court said: "We are all of the one mind, that the right of the appellee to make his objection has not lapsed by reason of failure to make it sooner; that professional confidence once reposed can never be divested by expiration of professional employment." (Nickels vs. Griffin, 1 Wash. Terr., 374, 321 A. L. R. 1316.) The complaint that petitioner's remedy is by appeal and not by certiorari deserves scant attention. The courts have summary jurisdiction to protect the rights of the parties and the public from any conduct of attorneys prejudicial to the administration of the justice. The summary jurisdiction of the courts over attorneys is not confined to requiring them to pay over money collected by them but embraces authority to compel them to do whatever specific acts may be incumbent upon them in their capacity of attorneys to perform. The courts from the general principles of equity and policy, will always look into the dealings between attorneys and clients and guard the latter from any

undue consequences resulting from a situation in which they may stand unequal. The courts acts on the same principles whether the undertaking is to appear, or, for that matter, not to appear, to answer declaration, etc. (6 C.J., 718 C.J.S., 1005.) This summary remedy against attorneys flows from the facts that they are officers of the court where they practice, forming a part of the machinery of the law for the administration of justice and as such subject to the disciplinary authority of the courts and to its orders and directions with respect to their relations to the court as well as to their clients. (Charest vs. Bishop, 137 Minn., 102; 162, N.W., 1062, Note 26, 7 C. J. S., 1007.) Attorney stand on the same footing as sheriffs and other court officers in respect of matters just mentioned. We conclude therefore that the motion for disqualification should be allowed. It is so ordered, without costs. Moran, C.J., Ozaeta, Paras, Feria, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes and Torres, JJ., concur.

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