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SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. L-23815. June 28, 1974.]
ADELINO H. LEDESMA, petitioner, vs. HON. RAFAEL C. CLIMACO, Presiding
Judge of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, Branch I, Silay
City, respondent.

Adelino E. Ledesma in his own behalf.


Hon. Rafael C. Climaco in his own behalf.

DECISION

FERNANDO, J p:
What is assailed in this certiorari proceeding is an order of respondent Judge denying a motion filed by
petitioner to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. 1 One of the grounds for such a motion was his
allegation that with his appointment as Election Registrar by the Commission on Elections, he was not in
a position to devote full time to the defense of the two accused. The denial by respondent Judge of such a
plea, notwithstanding the conformity of the defendants, was due "its principal effect [being] to delay this
case." 2 It was likewise noted that the prosecution had already rested and that petitioner was previously
counsel de parte, his designation in the former category being precisely to protect him in his new position
without prejudicing the accused. It cannot be plausibly asserted that such failure to allow withdrawal of de
oficio counsel could ordinarily be characterized as a grave abuse of discretion correctible by certiorari.
There is, however, the overriding concern for the right to counsel of the accused that must be taken
seriously into consideration. In appropriate cases, it should tilt the balance. This is not one of them. What
is easily discernible was the obvious reluctance of petitioner to comply with the responsibilities incumbent
on the counsel de oficio. Then, too, even on the assumption that he continues in his position, his volume
of work is likely to be very much less at present. There is not now the slightest pretext for him to shirk an
obligation a member of the bar, who expects to remain in good standing, should fulfill. The petition is
clearly without merit.
According to the undisputed facts, petitioner, on October 13, 1964, was appointed Election Registrar for
the Municipality of Cadiz, Province of Negros Occidental. Then and there, he commenced to discharge its
duties. As he was counselde parte for one of the accused in a case pending in the sala of respondent
Judge, he filed a motion to withdraw as such. Not only did respondent Judge deny such motion, but he
also appointed him counsel de oficio for the two defendants. Subsequently, on November 3, 1964,
petitioner filed an urgent motion to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio, premised on the policy of
the Commission on Elections to require full time service as well as on the volume or pressure of work of
petitioner, which could prevent him from handling adequately the defense. Respondent Judge, in the
challenged order of November 6, 1964, denied said motion. A motion for reconsideration having proved
futile, he instituted this certiorari proceeding. 3

2
As noted at the outset, the petition must fail.
1. The assailed order of November 6, 1964 denying the urgent motion of petitioner to withdraw as
counsel de oficio speaks for itself. It began with a reminder that a crime was allegedly committed on
February 17, 1962, with the proceedings having started in the municipal court of Cadiz on July 11, 1962.
Then respondent Judge spoke of his order of October 16, 1964 which reads thus: "In view of the objection
of the prosecution to the motion for postponement of October 15, 1964 (alleging that counsel for the
accused cannot continue appearing in this case without the express authority of the Commission on
Elections); and since according to the prosecution there are two witnesses who are ready to take the
stand, after which the government would rest, the motion for postponement is denied. When counsel for
the accused assumed office as Election Registrar on October 13, 1964, he knew since October 2, 1964
that the trial would be resumed today. Nevertheless, in order not to prejudice the civil service status of
counsel for the accused, he is hereby designated counsel de oficio for the accused. The defense obtained
postponements on May 17, 1963, June 13, 1963, June 14, 1963, October 28, 1963, November 27, 1963,
February 11, 1964, March 9, 1964, June 8, 1964, July 26, 1964, and September 7, 1964." 4 Reference
was then made to another order of February 11, 1964: "Upon petition of Atty. Adelino H. Ledesma,
alleging indisposition, the continuation of the trial of this case is hereby transferred to March 3, 1964 at
8:30 in the morning. The defense is reminded that at its instance, this case has been postponed at least
eight (8) times, and that the government witnesses have to come all the way from Manapala." 5 After
which, it was noted in such order that there was no incompatibility between the duty of petitioner to the
accused and to the court and the performance of his task as an election registrar of the Commission on
Elections and that the ends of justice "would be served by allowing and requiring Mr. Ledesma to continue
as counsel de oficio, since the prosecution has already rested its case." 6
2. What is readily apparent therefore, is that petitioner was less than duly mindful of his obligation as
counsel de oficio. He ought to have known that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with
conditions. It could be that for some lawyers, especially the neophytes in the profession, being appointed
counsel de oficio is an irksome chore. For those holding such belief, it may come as a surprise that
counsel of repute and of eminence welcome such an opportunity. It makes even more manifest that law is
indeed a profession dedicated to the ideal of service and not a mere trade. It is understandable then why
a high degree of fidelity to duty is required of one so designated. A recent statement of the doctrine is
found in People v. Daban: 7 "There is need anew in this disciplinary proceeding to lay stress on the
fundamental postulate that membership in the bar carries with it a responsibility to live up to its exacting
standard. The law is a profession, not a trade or a craft. Those enrolled in its ranks are called upon to aid
in the performance of one of the basic purposes of the State, the administration of justice. To avoid any
frustration thereof, especially in the case of an indigent defendant, a lawyer may be required to act as
counsel de oficio. The fact that his services are rendered without remuneration should not occasion a
diminution in his zeal. Rather the contrary. This is not, of course, to ignore that other pressing matters do
compete for his attention. After all, he has his practice to attend to. That circumstance possesses, high
degree of relevance since a lawyer has to live; certainly he cannot afford either to neglect his paying
cases. Nonetheless, what is incumbent upon him as counsel de oficio must be fulfilled." 8
So it has been from the 1905 decision of In re Robles Lahesa, 9 where respondent was de oficio counsel,
the opinion penned by Justice Carson making clear: "This Court should exact from its officers and
subordinates the most scrupulous performance of their official duties, especially when negligence in the
performance of those duties necessarily results in delays in the prosecution of criminal
cases . . ." 10 Justice Sanchez in People v. Estebia 11 reiterated such a view in these words: "It is true
that he is a court-appointed counsel. But we do say that as such counsel de oficio, he has as high a duty
to the accused as one employed and paid by defendant himself. Because, as in the case of the latter, he
must exercise his best efforts and professional ability in behalf of the person assigned to his care. He is to

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render effective assistance. The accused-defendant expects of him due diligence, not mere perfunctory
representation. . . . For, indeed a lawyer who is a vanguard in the bastion of justice is expected to have a
bigger dose of social conscience and a little less of self-interest." 12
The weakness of the petition is thus quite evident.
3. If respondent Judge were required to answer the petition, it was only due to the apprehension that
considering the frame of mind of a counsel loath and reluctant to fulfill his obligation, the welfare of the
accused could be prejudiced. His right to counsel could in effect be rendered nugatory. Its importance
was rightfully stressed by Chief Justice Moran in People v. Holgado in these words: "In criminal cases
there can be no fair hearing unless the accused be given an opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right
to be heard would be of little avail if it does not include the right to be heard by counsel. Even the most
intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the science of law, particularly in the rules of procedure,
and, without counsel, he may be convicted not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to
establish his innocence. And this can happen more easily to persons who are ignorant or uneducated. It is
for this reason that the right to be assisted by counsel is deemed so important that it has become a
constitutional right and it is so implemented that under our rules of procedure it is not enough for the
Court to apprise an accused of his right to have an attorney, it is not enough to ask him whether he
desires the aid of an attorney, but it is essential that the court should assign one de oficio for him if he so
desires and he is poor or grant him a reasonable time to procure an attorney of his own." 13 So it was
under the previous Organic Acts. 14 The present Constitution is even more emphatic. For, in addition to
reiterating that the accused "shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel," 15there is this new
provision: "Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to remain
silent and to counsel, and to be informed of such right. No force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any
other means which vitiates the free will shall be used against him. Any confession obtained in violation of
this section shall be inadmissible in evidence." 16

Thus is made manifest the indispensable role of a member of the Bar in the defense of an accused. Such
a consideration could have sufficed for petitioner not being allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. For
he did betray by his moves his lack of enthusiasm for the task entrusted to him, to put matters mildly. He
did point though to his responsibility as an election registrar. Assuming his good faith, no such excuse
could be availed now. There is not likely at present, and in the immediate future, an exorbitant demand on
his time. It may likewise be assumed, considering what has been set forth above, that petitioner would
exert himself sufficiently to perform his task as defense counsel with competence, if not with zeal, if only
to erase doubts as to his fitness to remain a member of the profession in good standing. The admonition
is ever timely for those enrolled in the ranks of legal practitioners that there are times, and this is one of
them, when duty to court and to client takes precedence over the promptings of self-interest.
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is dismissed. Costs against petitioner.
||| (Ledesma v. Climaco, G.R. No. L-23815, [June 28, 1974], 156 PHIL 481-488)

THIRD DIVISION
[A.C. No. 5713. June 10, 2002.]
(Adm. Case No. 99-634)
DOMINADOR P. BURBE, complainant, vs. Atty. ALBERTO
C. MAGULTA, respondent.

Efren L. Donaire for complainant.


Alberto C. Magulta for himself.

SYNOPSIS
Respondent lawyer was introduced to complainant at the Respicio, Magulta and Adan Law Offices who
agreed to legally represent the latter in a money claim and a possible civil case against certain parties for
breach of contract. Upon respondent's instruction, complainant deposited the amount of P25,000.00
allegedly for the filing fees of the case to be filed. A week later, complainant was informed by respondent
that the complaint had already been filed in court. In the months that followed, complainant did not receive
any notice from the court. Complainant also frequented respondent's office to inquire, but the latter
repeatedly told him each time to just wait. Sensing that he was being given the run-around by respondent,
complainant went to the Office of the Clerk of Court to verify the progress of the case and found out that
there was no record at all filed by respondent on his behalf. Feeling disgusted for the inconvenience and
deception of respondent who admitted that he had spent the money for the filing fee for his own use,
complainant filed with the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines a
complaint against respondent for misrepresentation, dishonesty and oppressive conduct. The
Commission submitted its Report and Recommendation to the Court recommending that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year.
The Supreme Court affirmed the recommendation of the Commission. In failing to apply to the filing fee
the amount given by complainant, respondent violated the rule that lawyers must be scrupulously careful
in handling money entrusted to them in their professional capacity. Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility states that lawyers shall hold in trust all moneys of their clients and properties that may
come into their possession. The Court also stressed that after agreeing to take up the cause of a client, a
lawyer owes fidelity to both cause and client, even if the client never paid any fee for the attorney-client
relationship and lawyering is not a business; it is a profession in which duty to public service, not money,
is the primary consideration.

SYLLABUS
1. LEGAL ETHICS; ATTORNEYS; AFTER AGREEING TO TAKE UP A CAUSE OF CLIENT, A LAWYER
OWES FIDELITY TO SUCH CAUSE AND MUST ALWAYS BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND
CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN THEM. A lawyer-client relationship was established from the very first
moment complainant asked respondent for legal advice regarding the former's business. To constitute

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professional employment, it is not essential that the client employed the attorney professionally on any
previous occasion. It is not necessary that any retainer be paid, promised, or charged; neither is it
material that the attorney consulted did not afterward handle the case for which his service had been
sought. If a person, in respect to business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults a lawyer with a view to
obtaining professional advice or assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces with the
consultation, then the professional employment is established. Likewise, a lawyer-client relationship exists
notwithstanding the close personal relationship between the lawyer and the complainant or the
nonpayment of the former's fees. Hence, despite the fact that complainant was kumpadre of a law partner
of respondent, and that respondent dispensed legal advice to complainant as a personal favor to
the kumpadre, the lawyer was duty-bound to file the complaint he had agreed to prepare and had
actually prepared at the soonest possible time, in order to protect the client's interest. Rule 18.03 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility provides that lawyers should not neglect legal matters entrusted to
them. This Court has likewise constantly held that once lawyers agree to take up the cause of a client,
they owe fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in them.
They owe entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal in the maintenance and the defense of
the client's rights, and the exertion of their utmost learning and abilities to the end that nothing be taken or
withheld from the client, save by the rules of law legally applied.
2. ID.; ID.; LAWYERING IS NOT A BUSINESS; IT IS A PROFESSION IN WHICH DUTY TO PUBLIC
SERVICE, NOT MONEY, IS THE PRIMARY CONSIDERATION. In this day and age, members of the
bar often forget that the practice of law is a profession and not a business. Lawyering is not primarily
meant to be a money-making venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits.
The gaining of a livelihood is not a professional but a secondary consideration. Duty to public service and
to the administration of justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their
personal interests or what they owe to themselves. The practice of law is a noble calling in which
emolument is a by-product, and the highest eminence may be attained without making much
money. HSEcTC
3. ID.; ID.; LAWYERS WHO CONVERT THE FUNDS ENTRUSTED TO THEM ARE IN GROSS
VIOLATION OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS AND ARE GUILTY OF BETRAYAL OF PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION; CASE AT BAR. In failing to apply to the filing fee the amount given by
complainant as evidenced by the receipt issued by the law office of respondent the latter also
violated the rule that lawyers must be scrupulously careful in handling money entrusted to them in their
professional capacity. Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that lawyers shall hold
in trust all moneys of their clients and properties that may come into their possession. Lawyers who
convert the funds entrusted to them are in gross violation of professional ethics and are guilty of betrayal
of public confidence in the legal profession. It may be true that they have a lien upon the client's funds,
documents and other papers that have lawfully come into their possession; that they may retain them until
their lawful fees and disbursements have been paid; and that they may apply such funds to the
satisfaction of such fees and disbursements. However, these considerations do not relieve them of their
duty to promptly account for the moneys they received. Their failure to do so constitutes professional
misconduct. In any event, they must still exert all effort to protect their client's interest within the bounds of
law. If much is demanded from an attorney, it is because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries
with it correlative duties not only to the client but also to the court, to the bar, and to the public.
Respondent fell short of this standard when he converted into his legal fees the filing fee entrusted to him
by his client and thus failed to file the complaint promptly. The fact that the former returned the amount
does not exculpate him from his breach of duty.

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J p:
After agreeing to take up the cause of a client, a lawyer owes fidelity to both cause and client, even if the
client never paid any fee for the attorney-client relationship. Lawyering is not a business; it is a profession
in which duty to public service, not money, is the primary consideration. HIDCTA
The Case
Before us is a Complaint for the disbarment or suspension or any other disciplinary action against Atty.
Alberto C. Magulta. Filed by Dominador P. Burbe with the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on June 14, 1999, the Complaint is accompanied by a Sworn Statement
alleging the following: aCHcIE
xxx xxx xxx
"That in connection with my business, I was introduced to Atty. Alberto C. Magulta,
sometime in September, 1998, in his office at the Respicio, Magulta and Adan Law
Offices at 21-B Otero Building, Juan de la Cruz St., Davao City, who agreed to legally
represent me in a money claim and possible civil case against certain parties for
breach of contract;
"That consequent to such agreement, Atty. Alberto C. Magulta prepared for me the
demand letter and some other legal papers, for which services I have accordingly paid;
inasmuch, however, that I failed to secure a settlement of the dispute,
Atty. Magulta suggested that I file the necessary complaint, which he subsequently
drafted, copy of which is attached as Annex A, the filing fee whereof will require the
amount of Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00);
"That having the need to legally recover from the parties to be sued I, on January 4,
1999, deposited the amount of P25,000.00 to Atty. Alberto C. Magulta, copy of the
Receipt attached as Annex B, upon the instruction that I needed the case filed
immediately;
"That a week later, I was informed by Atty. Alberto C. Magulta that the complaint had
already been filed in court, and that I should receive notice of its progress;
"That in the months that followed, I waited for such notice from the court or from
Atty. Magulta but there seemed to be no progress in my case, such that I frequented
his office to inquire, and he would repeatedly tell me just to wait;
"That I had grown impatient on the case, considering that I am told to wait [every time] I
asked; and in my last visit to Atty. Magulta last May 25, 1999, he said that the court
personnel had not yet acted on my case and, for my satisfaction, he even brought me
to the Hall of Justice Building at Ecoland, Davao City, at about 4:00 p.m., where he left
me at the Office of the City Prosecutor at the ground floor of the building and told to
wait while he personally follows up the processes with the Clerk of Court; whereupon,

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within the hour, he came back and told me that the Clerk of Court was absent on that
day;
"That sensing I was being given the run-around by Atty. Magulta, I decided to go to the
Office of the Clerk of Court with my draft of Atty. Magulta's complaint to personally
verify the progress of my case, and there told that there was no record at all of a case
filed by Atty. Alberto C. Magulta on my behalf, copy of the Certification dated May 27,
1999, attached as Annex C;

"That feeling disgusted by the way I was lied to and treated, I confronted Atty. Alberto
C. Magulta at his office the following day; May 28, 1999, where he continued to lie to
with the excuse that the delay was being caused by the court personnel, and only when
shown the certification did he admit that he has not at all filed the complaint because he
had spent the money for the filing fee for his own purpose; and to appease my feelings,
he offered to reimburse me by issuing two (2) checks, postdated June 1 and June 5,
1999, in the amounts of P12,000.00 and P8,000.00, respectively, copies of which are
attached as Annexes D and E;
"That for the inconvenience, treatment and deception I was made to suffer, I wish to
complain Atty. Alberto C. Magulta for misrepresentation, dishonesty and oppressive
conduct;"
xxx xxx xxx. 1
On August 6, 1999, pursuant to the July 22, 1999 Order of the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline, 2 respondent filed his Answer 3 vehemently denying the allegations of complainant "for being
totally outrageous and baseless." The latter had allegedly been introduced as a kumpadre of one of the
former's law partners. After their meeting, complainant requested him to draft a demand letter against
Regwill Industries, Inc. a service for which the former never paid. After Mr. Said Sayre, one of the
business partners of complainant, replied to this letter, the latter requested that another demand letter
this time addressed to the former be drafted by respondent, who reluctantly agreed to do so. Without
informing the lawyer, complainant asked the process server of the former's law office to deliver the letter
to the addressee.
Aside from attending to the Regwill case which had required a three-hour meeting, respondent drafted a
complaint (which was only for the purpose of compelling the owner to settle the case) and prepared a
compromise agreement. He was also requested by complainant to do the following:
1. Write a demand letter addressed to Mr. Nelson Tan
2. Write a demand letter addressed to ALC Corporation
3. Draft a complaint against ALC Corporation
4. Research on the Mandaue City property claimed by complainant's wife
All of these respondent did, but he was never paid for his services by complainant.
Respondent likewise said that without telling him why, complainant later on withdrew all the files pertinent
to the Regwill case. However, when no settlement was reached, the latter instructed him to draft a
complaint for breach of contract. Respondent, whose services had never been paid by complainant until
this time, told the latter about his acceptance and legal fees. When told that these fees amounted to

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P187,742 because the Regwill claim was almost P4 million, complainant promised to pay on installment
basis.
On January 4, 1999, complainant gave the amount of P25,000 to respondent's secretary and told her that
it was for the filing fee of the Regwill case. When informed of the payment, the lawyer immediately called
the attention of complainant, informing the latter of the need to pay the acceptance and filing fees before
the complaint could be filed. Complainant was told that the amount he had paid was a deposit for the
acceptance fee, and that he should give the filing fee later.
Sometime in February 1999, complainant told respondent to suspend for the meantime the filing of the
complaint because the former might be paid by another company, the First Oriental Property Ventures,
Inc., which had offered to buy a parcel of land owned by Regwill Industries. The negotiations went on for
two months, but the parties never arrived at any agreement.
Sometime in May 1999, complainant again relayed to respondent his interest in filing the complaint.
Respondent reminded him once more of the acceptance fee. In response, complainant proposed that the
complaint be filed first before payment of respondent's acceptance and legal fees. When respondent
refused, complainant demanded the return of the P25,000. The lawyer returned the amount using his own
personal checks because their law office was undergoing extensive renovation at the time, and their office
personnel were not reporting regularly. Respondent's checks were accepted and encashed by
complainant.
Respondent averred that he never inconvenienced, mistreated or deceived complainant, and if anyone
had been shortchanged by the undesirable events, it was he.
The IBP's Recommendation
In its Report and Recommendation dated March 8, 2000, the Commission on Bar Discipline of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) opined as follows:
". . . [I]t is evident that the P25,000 deposited by complainant with the Respicio Law
Office was for the filing fees of the Regwill complaint. With complainant's deposit of the
filing fees for the Regwill complaint, a corresponding obligation on the part of
respondent was created and that was to file the Regwill complaint within the time frame
contemplated by his client, the complainant. The failure of respondent to fulfill this
obligation due to his misuse of the filing fees deposited by complainant, and his
attempts to cover up this misuse of funds of the client, which caused complainant
additional damage and prejudice, constitutes highly dishonest conduct on his part,
unbecoming a member of the law profession: The subsequent reimbursement by the
respondent of part of the money deposited by complainant for filing fees, does not
exculpate the respondent for his misappropriation of said funds. Thus, to impress upon
the respondent the gravity of his offense, it is recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year." 4
The Court's Ruling
We agree with the Commission's recommendation.
Main Issue:
Misappropriation of Client's Funds
Central to this case are the following alleged acts of respondent lawyer: (a) his non-filing of the Complaint
on behalf of his client and (b) his appropriation for himself of the money given for the filing fee.

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Respondent claims that complainant did not give him the filing fee for the Regwill complaint; hence, the
former's failure to file the complaint in court. Also, respondent alleges that the amount delivered by
complainant to his office on January 4, 1999 was for attorney's fees and not for the filing fee.
We are not persuaded. Lawyers must exert their best efforts and ability in the prosecution or the defense
of the client's cause. They who perform that duty with diligence and candor not only protect the interests
of the client, but also serve the ends of justice. They do honor to the bar and help maintain the respect of
the community for the legal profession. 5 Members of the bar must do nothing that may tend to lessen in
any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, the honesty, and integrity of the profession. 6
Respondent wants this Court to believe that no lawyer-client relationship existed between him and
complainant, because the latter never paid him for services rendered. The former adds that he only
drafted the said documents as a personal favor for the kumpadre of one of his partners.
We disagree. A lawyer-client relationship was established from the very first moment complainant asked
respondent for legal advice regarding the former's business. To constitute professional employment, it is
not essential that the client employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. It is not
necessary that any retainer be paid, promised, or charged; neither is it material that the attorney
consulted did not afterward handle the case for which his service had been sought.
If a person, in respect to business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults a lawyer with a view to
obtaining professional advice or assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces with the
consultation, then the professional employment is established. 7
Likewise, a lawyer-client relationship exists notwithstanding the close personal relationship between the
lawyer and the complainant or the nonpayment of the former's fees. 8 Hence, despite the fact that
complainant was kumpadre of a law partner of respondent, and that respondent dispensed legal advice to
complainant as a personal favor to the kumpadre, the lawyer was duty-bound to file the complaint he had
agreed to prepare and had actually prepared at the soonest possible time, in order to protect the
client's interest. Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that lawyers should not
neglect legal matters entrusted to them.
This Court has likewise constantly held that once lawyers agree to take up the cause of a client, they owe
fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in them. 9 They
owe entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal in the maintenance and the defense of the
client's rights, and the exertion of their utmost learning and abilities to the end that nothing be taken or
withheld from the client, save by the rules of law legally applied. 10
Similarly unconvincing is the explanation of respondent that the receipt issued by his office to complainant
on January 4, 1999 was erroneous. The IBP Report correctly noted that it was quite incredible for the
office personnel of a law firm to be prevailed upon by a client to issue a receipt erroneously indicating
payment for something else. Moreover, upon discovering the "mistake" if indeed it was one
respondent should have immediately taken steps to correct the error. He should have lost no time in
calling complainant's attention to the matter and should have issued another receipt indicating the correct
purpose of the payment.
The Practice of Law a
Profession, Not a Business
In this day and age, members of the bar often forget that the practice of law is a profession and not a
business. 11 Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making venture, and law advocacy is not a
capital that necessarily yields profits. 12 The gaining of a livelihood is not a professional but a secondary
consideration. 13 Duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be the primary

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consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to themselves.
The practice of law is a noble calling in which emolument is a byproduct, and the highest eminence may
be attained without making much money. 14

In failing to apply to the filing fee the amount given by complainant as evidenced by the receipt issued
by the law office of respondent the latter also violated the rule that lawyers must be scrupulously
careful in handling money entrusted to them in their professional capacity. 15 Rule 16.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility states that lawyers shall hold in trust all moneys of their clients and properties
that may come into their possession.
Lawyers who convert the funds entrusted to them are in gross violation of professional ethics and are
guilty of betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession. 16 It may be true that they have a lien upon
the client's funds, documents and other papers that have lawfully come into their possession; that they
may retain them until their lawful fees and disbursements have been paid; and that they may apply such
funds to the satisfaction of such fees and disbursements. However, these considerations do not relieve
them of their duty to promptly account for the moneys they received. Their failure to do so constitutes
professional misconduct. 17 In any event, they must still exert all effort to protect their client's interest
within the bounds of law.
If much is demanded from an attorney, it is because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries with it
correlative duties not only to the client but also to the court, to the bar, and to the public. 18 Respondent
fell short of this standard when he converted into his legal fees the filing fee entrusted to him by his client
and thus failed to file the complaint promptly. The fact that the former returned the amount does not
exculpate him from his breach of duty.
On the other hand, we do not agree with complainant's plea to disbar respondent from the practice of law.
The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution. Only in a clear case of misconduct that
seriously affects the standing and the character of the bar will disbarment be imposed as a penalty. 19
WHEREFORE, Atty. Alberto C. Magulta is found guilty of violating Rules 16.01 and 18.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one (1)
year, effective upon his receipt of this Decision. Let copies be furnished all courts as well as the Office of
the Bar Confidant, which is instructed to include a copy in respondent's file. aCITEH
SO ORDERED.
||| (Burpe v. Magulta, A.C. No. 5713, [June 10, 2002], 432 PHIL 840-851)

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EN BANC
[A.C. No. 3360. January 30, 1990.]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, complainant, vs. ATTY. FE T. TUANDA, respondent.

SYLLABUS
1. LEGAL ETHICS; ATTORNEYS; GROUNDS FOR SUSPENSION FROM THE PRACTICE OF LAW;
CASE AT BAR. The Court affirms the suspension from the practice of law imposed by the Court of
Appeals upon respondent Tuanda. The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that "the offense [of] which she is
found guilty involved moral turpitude." We should add that violation of B.P. Blg. 22 is a serious criminal
offense which deleteriously affects public interest and public order. Respondent was thus correctly
suspended from the practice of law because she had been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude.
Sections 27 and 28 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provide as follows: "Sec. 27. Attorneys
removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. A member of the bar may be removed or
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court of any deceit, malpractice, or other gross
misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving
moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice,
or for a wilful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as
an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the
purpose of gain either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." "Sec.
28. Suspension of Attorney by the Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance . The Court of
Appeals or a Court of First Instance may suspend an attorney from practice for any of the causes named
in the last preceding section, and after such suspension such attorney shall not practice his profession
until further action of the Supreme Court in the premises."
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; CONVICTION OF A CRIME INVOLVING MORAL TURPITUDE, VALID GROUND
THEREFOR; RATIONALE. The crimes of which respondent was convicted also import deceit and
violation of her attorney's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility under both of which she was
bound to "obey the laws of the land." Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude might not (as in the
instant case, violation of B.P. Blg. 22 does not) relate to the exercise of the profession of a lawyer;
however, it certainly relates to and affects the good moral character of a person convicted of such offense.
In Melendrez v. Decena, this Court stressed that: "the nature of the office of an attorney at law requires
that she shall be a person of good moral character. This qualification is not only a condition precedent to
an admission to the practice of law; its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the
practice of law."

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM p:

12
In a Motion to Lift Order of Suspension dated 12 July 1989, respondent Fe T. Tuanda, a member of the
Philippine Bar, asks this Court to lift the suspension from the practice of law imposed upon her by a
decision of the Court of Appeals dated 17 October 1988 in C.A.-G.R. CR No. 05093.
On 17 December 1983, respondent received from one Herminia A. Marquez several pieces of jewelry,
with a total stated value of P36,000.00, for sale on a commission basis, with the condition that the
respondent would turn over the sales proceeds and return the unsold items to Ms. Marquez on or before
14 February 1984. Sometime in February 1984, respondent, instead of returning the unsold pieces of
jewelry which then amounted to approximately P26,250.00, issued three checks: (a) a check dated 16
February 1984 for the amount of P5,400.00; (b) a check dated 23 February 1984 also for the amount of
P5,400.00; and (c) a check dated 25 February 1984 for the amount of P15,450.00. Upon presentment for
payment within ninety (90) days after their issuance, all three (3) checks were dishonored by the drawee
bank, Traders Royal Bank, for insufficiency of funds. Notwithstanding receipt of the notice of dishonor,
respondent made no arrangements with the bank concerning the honoring of checks which had bounced
and made no effort to settle her obligations to Ms. Marquez. LLpr
Consequently, four (4) informations were filed against respondent with the Regional Trial Court of Manila:
(a) one for estafa, docketed as Criminal Case No. 85-38358; and (b) three (3) for violation of B.P. Blg. 22,
docketed respectively as Criminal Cases Nos. 85-38359, 85-38360 and 85-38361. In due time, after trial,
the trial court rendered a decision dated 25 August 1987 which:
(a) acquitted respondent of the charge of estafa; and
(b) convicted respondent of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in all three (3) cases, and
sentenced respondent to pay a fine of P6,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment
in case of insolvency and to indemnify the complainant in the amount of
P5,400.00 in Criminal Case No. 85-38359;.
(c) to pay a fine of P6,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency and to indemnify the complainant in the amount of P5,400.00, in
Criminal Case No. 85-38360; and
(d) to pay a fine of P16,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency, and to indemnify the complainant in the amount of P15,450.00, in
Criminal Case No. 85-38361, and to pay the costs in all three (3) cases.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CR No. 05093 affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court
but, in addition, suspended respondent Tuanda from the practice of law. The pertinent portion of the
decision reads as follows:
"For reasons above stated and finding the evidence sufficient to sustain the conviction,
the judgment is hereby AFFIRMED subject to this modification.
It appearing from the records that the accused Fe Tuanda is a member of the Bar, and
the offense for (sic) which she is found guilty involved moral turpitude, she is hereby
ordered suspended from the practice of law and shall not practice her profession until
further action from the Supreme Court, in accordance with Sections 27 and 28 of Rule
138 of the Rules of Court. A copy of this decision must be forwarded to the Supreme
Court as required by Section 29 of the same Rule.
SO ORDERED." 1

13
On 16 December 1988, respondent filed a Notice of Appeal with the Court of Appeals. The Court of
Appeals, in a Resolution dated 9 January 1989, noted respondent's Notice of Appeal and advised her "to
address her Notice of Appeal to the Honorable Supreme Court, the proper forum." On 1 February 1989,
respondent filed with this Court a Notice of Appeal.
In a Resolution dated 31 May 1989, the Supreme Court noted without action respondent's Notice of
Appeal and declared that the Court of Appeals' decision of 17 October 1988 had become final and
executory upon expiration of the period for filing a petition for review on certiorari on 16 December 1988.
In that Resolution, the Court found that respondent had lost her right to appeal by certiorari when she
posted with this Court a Notice of Appeal instead of filing a petition for review on certiorari under Section
1, Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court within the reglementary period.
In the instant Motion to Lift Order of Suspension, respondent states:
"that suspension from the practice of law is indeed a harsh if not a painful penalty
aggravating the lower court's penalty of fine considering that accused-appellant's
action on the case during the trial on the merits at the lower court has always
been motivated purely by sincere belief that she is innocent of the offenses
charged nor of the intention to cause damage to the herein plaintiff-appellee."
We read the above statement as a claim by the respondent that, she had not violated her oath as a
member of the Philippine Bar upon the ground that when she issued the checks which bounced, she
did not intend to cause damage to complainant Ms. Marquez. llcd
The Court affirms the suspension from the practice of law imposed by the Court of Appeals upon
respondent Tuanda. The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that "the offense [of] which she is found guilty
involved moral turpitude." We should add that violation of B.P. Blg. 22 is a serious criminal offense which
deleteriously affects public interest and public order. In Lozano v. Martinez, 2 the Court explained the
nature of the offense of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in the following terms:
"xxx xxx xxx
The gravamen of the offense punished by B.P. Blg. 22 is the act of
making and issuing a worthless check or a check that is dishonored upon its
presentation for payment. xxx The thrust of the law is to prohibit under pain of
penal sanctions, the making of worthless checks and putting them in
circulation. Because of its deleterious effects on the public interest, the practice
is proscribed by the law. The law punishes the act not as an offense against
property but an offense against public order.
xxx xxx xxx
The effects of the issuance of a worthless check transcends the private
interests of the parties directly involved in the transaction and touches the
interests of the community at large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to
the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public. The harmful practice of
putting valueless commercial papers in circulation, multiplied a thousand fold,
can very well pollute the channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking
system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public
interest." 3 (Emphasis supplied)
Respondent was thus correctly suspended from the practice of law because she had been convicted of
crimes involving moral turpitude. Sections 27 and 28 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provide as
follows:

14
"Sec. 27. Attorneys removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. A
member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the
Supreme Court of any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office,
grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission
to practice, or for a wilful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for
corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to
do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain either personally or
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." (Emphasis supplied)

"Sec. 28. Suspension of Attorney by the Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance.
The Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance may suspend an attorney from
practice for any of the causes named in the last preceding section, and after such
suspension such attorney shall not practice his profession until further action of the
Supreme Court in the premises." (Emphasis supplied)
We should add that the crimes of which respondent was convicted also import deceit and violation of
her attorney's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility under both of which she was bound to
"obey the laws of the land." Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude might not (as in the instant
case, violation of B.P. Blg. 22 does not) relate to the exercise of the profession of a lawyer; however, it
certainly relates to and affects the good moral character of a person convicted of such offense.
In Melendrez v. Decena, 4 this Court stressed that:
"the nature of the office of an attorney at law requires that she shall be a person of
good moral character. This qualification is not only a condition precedent to an
admission to the practice of law; its continued possession is also essential for
remaining in the practice of law." 5
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DENY the Motion to Lift Order of Suspension. Respondent shall
remain suspended from the practice of law until further orders from this Court. A copy of this Resolution
shall be forwarded to the Bar Confidant and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and spread on the
record of respondent. prLL
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento,
Cortes and Grio-Aquino, JJ., concur.
Gutierrez, Jr., Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur in the result.
||| (People v. Tuanda, A.C. No. 3360 (Resolution), [January 30, 1990])

15

EN BANC
[A.C. No. 2104. August 24, 1989.]
NARCISO MELENDREZ and ERLINDA DALMAN, complainants, vs. ATTY. REYNERIO
I. DECENA, respondent.

SYLLABUS
1. LEGAL ETHICS; DISBARMENT; DECEPTION, DISHONESTY AND CONDUCT UNBECOMING; CASE
AT BAR. The following acts of respondent: 1. making it appear on the 5 August 1975 real estate
mortgage that the amount loaned to complainants was P5,000.00 instead of P4,000.00; 2. exacting
grossly unreasonable and usurious interest; 3. making it appear in the second real estate mortgage of 7
May 1976 that the loan extended to complainants had escalated to P10,000.00; 4. failing to inform
complainants of the import of the real mortgage documents and inducing them to sign those documents
with assurances that they were merely for purposes of "formality"; 5. failing to demand or refraining from
demanding payment from complainants before effecting extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgaged
property; and 6. failing to inform or refraining from informing complainants that the real estate mortgage
had already been foreclosed and that complainants had a right to redeem the foreclosed property within a
certain period of time constitute deception and dishonesty and conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ACTS NEED NOT BE PUNISHABLE BY LAW. We agree with the Solicitor General
that the acts of respondent "imply something immoral in themselves regardless of whether they are
punishable by law" and that these acts constitute moral turpitude, being "contrary to justice, honesty,
modesty or good morals." The standard required from members of the Bar is not, of course, satisfied by
conduct which merely avoids collision with our criminal law. Even so, respondent's conduct, in fact, may
be penalizable under at least one penal statute the anti-usury law.
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ENTERING INTO A COMPROMISE AGREEMENT WITHOUT SPECIAL AUTHORITY
AND RECEIPT AND FAILURE TO TURN OVER "ADVANCE PAYMENT" ON SETTLEMENT TO
COMPLAINANTS. Respondent "settled" the estafa case amicably for P2,000.00 without the knowledge
and consent of complainants. Respondent informed complainants of the amicable "settlement" and of the
P500.00 advance payment only after petitioner Narciso Melendrez had confronted him about these
matters. And respondent never did turn over to complainants the P500.00. Respondent is presumed to be
aware of the rule that lawyers cannot "without special authority, compromise their clients' litigation or
receive anything in discharge of a client's claim, but the full amount in cash." Respondent's failure to turn
over to complainants the amount given by accused Pineda as partial "settlement" of the estafa case
underscores his lack of honesty and candor in dealing with his clients.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; MISCONDUCT COMMITTED IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY MUST BE SO PATENT AND
GROSS. Generally, a lawyer should not be suspended or disbarred for misconduct committed in his
personal or non-professional capacity. Where, however, misconduct outside his professional dealings
becomes so patent and so gross as to demonstrate moral unfitness to remain in the legal profession, the
Court must suspend or strike out the lawyer's name from the Roll of Attorneys.
5. ID.; ID.; CONTINUING QUALIFICATION OF THE OFFICE. The nature of the office of an attorney at
law requires that he shall be a person of good moral character. This qualification is not only a condition

16
precedent to admission to the practice of law; its continued possession is also essential for remaining in
the practice of law, in the exercise of privileges of members of the Bar.
6. ID.; ID.; ID.; GROSS MISCONDUCT RENDERS A MEMBER OF THE BAR UNFIT TO CONTINUE IN
THE PRACTICE OF LAW. Gross misconduct on the part of a lawyer, although not related to the
discharge of professional duties as a member of the Bar, which puts his moral character in serious doubt,
renders him unfit to continue in the practice of law.
7. ID.; DISBARMENT; EXPLOITATIVE DECEPTION; EXACTION OF UNCONSCIONABLE RATES OF
INTEREST AND PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT. In the instant case, the exploitative deception
exercised by respondent attorney upon the complainants in his private transactions with them, and the
exacting of unconscionable rates of interest, considered together with the acts of professional misconduct
committed by respondent attorney, compel this Court to the conviction that he has lost that good moral
character which is indispensable for continued membership in the Bar. WHEREFORE, respondent
Reynerio I. Decena is hereby DISBARRED and his name shall be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM p:
In a sworn complaint 1 dated 25 September 1979, the spouses Erlinda Dalman and Narciso Melendrez
charged Reynerio I. Decena, a member of the Philippine Bar, with malpractice and breach of trust. The
complainant spouses alleged, among others, that respondent had, by means of fraud and deceit, taken
advantage of their precarious financial situation and his knowledge of the law to their prejudice,
succeeded in divesting them of their only residential lot in Pagadian City; that respondent, who was their
counsel in an estafa case against one Reynaldo Pineda, had compromised that case without their
authority.
In his answer dated 18 March 1980, respondent denied all the charges levelled against him and prayed
for the dismissal of the complaint.
By resolution dated 14 April 1980, the administrative complaint was referred to the Office of the Solicitor
General for investigation, report and recommendation.
Accordingly, the Solicitor General forthwith deputized the City Fiscal of Pagadian City, Jorge T. Almonte,
to conduct the necessary investigation, with instructions to submit thereafter this report and
recommendation thereon. Fiscal Almonte held several hearings on the administrative case until 15 July
1982, when he requested the Solicitor General to release him from the duty of investigating the case.
On 10 September 1982, the Solicitor General granted Fiscal Almonte's request and in his stead appointed
the Provincial Fiscal of Zamboanga del Sur, Pedro S. Jamero, who resumed hearings on 15 June 1983.
Respondent filed with this Court on 9 June 1987, a motion seeking to inhibit Fiscal Jamero from hearing
the case followed by an urgent motion for indefinite postponement of the investigation. Both motions were
denied by the Court in a Resolution dated 21 September 1987 with instructions to the Solicitor General to
complete the investigation of the administrative case and to render his report and recommendation
thereon within thirty (30) days from notice.

17
On 19 July 1988, the Solicitor General submitted his Report and Recommendation 2 dated 21 June 1988.
In his Report, after setting out the facts and proceedings held in the present case, the Solicitor General
presented the following:
"FINDINGS
Complainants allege that on August 5, 1975, they obtained from respondent a loan of
P4,000.00. This loan was secured by a real estate mortgage (Annex C, Complainants'
Complaint, p. 16, records). In the said Real Estate Mortgage document, however, it was
made to appear that the amount borrowed by complainants was P5,000.00. Confronted
by this discrepancy, respondent assured complainants that said document was a mere
formality, and upon such assurance, complainants signed the same. The document
was brought by complainant Narciso Melendres to a Notary Public for notarization.
After the same was notarized, he gave the document to respondent. Despite the
assurance, respondent exacted from complainants P500.00 a month as payment for
what is beyond dispute usurious interest on the P5,000.00 loan. Complainants
religiously paid the obviously usurious interest for three months: September, October
and November, 1975. Then they stopped paying due to financial reverses. In view of
their failure to pay said amounts as interest, respondent prepared a new document on
May 7, 1976, a Real Estate Mortgage (Annex D, Complaint, p. 18, records) over the
same lot 3125-C, replacing the former real estate mortgage dated August 5, 1975, but
this time the sum indicated in said new contract of mortgage is P10,000.00, purportedly
with interest at 19% per annum. In this new Real Estate Mortgage, a special power of
attorney in favor of respondent was inserted, authorizing him to sell the mortgaged
property at public auction in the event complainants fail to pay their obligation on or
before May 30, 1976. Without explaining the provisions of the new contract to
complainants, respondent insisted that complainants sign the same, again upon the
assurance that the document was a mere formality. Unsuspecting of the motive of
respondent, complainants signed the document. Complainants Narciso Melendres
again brought the same document to a Notary Public for notarization. After the
document was notarized, he brought the same to respondent without getting a copy of
it.
Complainants, relying on the assurance of the respondent that the second Real Estate
Mortgage was but a formality, neither bothered to ask from respondent the status of
their lot nor tried to pay their obligation. For their failure to pay the obligation, the
respondent on October 12, 1976, applied for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the second
real estate mortgage (Exhibit 16, Respondent's Position Paper). All the requirements
of Act No. 3135, as amended, re extrajudicial sale of mortgage were ostensibly
complied with by respondent. Hence, finally, title was transferred to him, and on June
20, 1979, respondent sold the involved property to Trinidad Ylanan for P12,000.00.
When informed of the above by one Salud Australlado on the first week of March 1979
(see Sworn Statement of complainant Narciso Melendres, p. 6, Folder No. 2 of case),
and not having known the legal implications of the provisions of the second Real Estate
Mortgage which they had executed, complainants could not believe that title to their lot
had already been transferred to respondent and that respondent had already sold the
same to a third person.

18
Upon learning of the sale in March, 1979, complainants tried to raise the amount of
P10,000.00 and went to respondent's house on May 30, 1979 to pay their obligation,
hoping that they could redeem their property, although three years had already lapsed
from the date of the mortgage.
Respondent did not accept the proffered P10,000.00, but instead gave complainants a
sheet of paper (Annex B, Complainants' Position Paper), which indicated that the total
indebtedness had soared to P20,400.00. The computation was made in respondent's
own handwriting. Complainants went home with shattered hopes and with grief in their
hearts. Hence, the instant complaint for disbarment against respondent filed on
October 5, 1979.
Respondent DENIES all the allegations of complainants. He maintains that what
appears on the two documents allegedly executed by complainants, i.e., that they
obtained a loan of P5,000.00 on August 5, 1975 and another P10,000.00 on May 7,
1976, is allegedly the truth, and claims that he in truth delivered the alleged amount of
P5,000.00 to complainants and not P4,000.00. With respect to the second loan,
respondent claims that he delivered to complainants P8,000.00, plus the P2,000.00
loan previously extended [to] complainants [by] one Regino Villanueva, which loan had
been indorsed to respondent for collection, thus making a total of P10,000.00, as
appearing on said document. Respondent denies that he exacted usurious interest of
10% a month or P500.00 from complainants. He asserts that the fact that complainants
were able to secure a loan from the Insular Bank of Asia and America (IBAA) only
proves the truth of his allegation that the title of the property, at the time complainants
obtained a loan from IBAA on April 1976, was clear of any encumbrance, since
complainants had already paid the original loan of P5,000.00 obtained from
respondent; that complainants knew fully well all the conditions of said mortgage; and
that his acquisition of the property in question was in accordance with their contract and
the law on the matter. Thus, he denies that he has violated any right of the
complainants.
After weighing the evidence of both complainants and respondent, we find against
respondent.
While complainants are correct in their claim that they actually obtained an actual cash
of P4,000.00, they are only partly correct in the claim that out of the P10,000.00
appearing in the second Real Estate Mortgage, P6,000.00 was applied to interest
considering that not all the P6,000.00 but only P4,000.00 was applied to interest,
computed as follows: the first loan of P5,000.00 was supposedly due on August 31,
1975. Complainants paid 10% monthly interest or P500.00 on September 30, 1975,
October 31, 1975 and November 30, 1975. Consequently, beginning December 31,
1975 up to May 31, 1976 (the date of the execution of the second Real Estate
Mortgage) a total of six (6) months lapsed. Six (6) months at P500.00 equals
P3,000.00, which amount plus the P2,000.00 complainants' loan to one Engr.
Villanueva (indorsed to respondent for collection) totals P5,000.00. Adding this amount
to the previous P5,000.00 indicated loan secured by the first mortgage results
in P10,000.00, the amount appearing in the second Real Estate Mortgage.
Section 7, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court provides:

19
'SEC. 7. Evidence of written agreements. When the terms of an
agreement have been reduced to writing, it is to be considered as containing all
such terms, and, therefore, there can be, as between the parties and their
successors in interest, no evidence of the terms of the agreement other than
the contents of the writing, except in the following cases:
(a) Where a mistake or imperfection of the writing, or its failure to
express the true intent and agreement of the parties, or the validity of the
agreement is put in issue by the pleadings;
(b) Where there is an intrinsic ambiguity in the writing.
The term "agreement" includes wills.'
There is no dispute that the two documents denominated Real Estate Mortgages
covering the supposed original loan of P5,000.00 and the inflated P10,000.00,
respectively, were voluntarily signed by the complainants. The general rule is that when
the parties have reduced their agreement to writing, it is presumed that they have made
the writing the only repository and memorial of the truth, and whatever is not found in
the writing must be understood to have been waived and abandoned.
However, the rule is not absolute as it admits of some exceptions, as aforequoted. One
of the exceptions, that is, failure to express the true intent and agreement of the parties,
applies in this case. From the facts obtaining in the case, it is clear that the
complainants were induced to sign the Real Estate Mortgage documents by the false
and fraudulent representations of respondent that each of the successive documents
was a mere formality.
While it may be true that complainants are not at all illiterate, respondent, being a
lawyer, should have at least explained to complainants the legal implications of the
provisions of the real estate mortgage, particularly the provision appointing him as the
complainants' attorney-in-fact in the event of default in payments on the part of
complainants. While it may be conceded that it is presumed that in practice the notary
public apprises complainants of the legal implications of the contract, it is of common
knowledge that most notaries public do not go through the desired practice.
Respondent at least could have informed the complainants by sending a demand letter
to them to pay their obligation as otherwise he would proceed to sell the lot at public
auction as per their contract. This respondent failed to do, despite the fact that he knew
fully well that complainants were trying their best to raise money to be able to pay their
obligation to him, as shown by the loan obtained by complainants from the IBAA on
April 8, 1976. In this connection, it may be stated that complainants, per advice of
respondent himself, returned the proceeds of the IBAA loan to the bank immediately on
April 30, 1976, considering that the net proceeds of the loan from said bank was only
P4,300.00 and not enough to pay the indicated loan from respondent of P5,000.00,
which per computation of respondent would already have earned interest of P2,500.00
for five (5) months (December 1975 to April, 1976).
Respondent claims that complainants had paid him the original loan of P5,000.00, and
that this was the reason why complainants were able to mortgage the lot to the bank
free from any encumbrance. This claim is incorrect. The reason why the title (T-2684)
was free from any encumbrance was simply because of the fact that the first Real

20
Estate Mortgage for the indicated loan of P5,000.00 (the actual amount was only
P4,000.00) had not been annotated at the back of the title (see Annex B, p. 14, rec.).
Respondent also denies that complainants offered to him the amount of P10,000.00 as
payment of the loan, alleging that if the offer were true, he could have readily accepted
the same since he sold the lot for almost the same amount, for only P12,000.00, a
difference of a few thousand pesos. Respondent's denial is specious.
Indeed, complainants made the offer, but respondent refused the same for the simple
reason that the offer was made on May 30, 1979, three (3) years after the execution of
the mortgage on May 31, 1976. With this lapse of time, respondent demanded
obviously the payment of the accumulated substantial interest for three years, as
shown by his own computation in his own handwriting on a sheet of paper (Annex C,
Complainants' Position Paper, Folder No. 2).
In view of all the foregoing, the observation made by the Hearing Officer is worth
quoting:
'In the humble opinion of the undersigned the pivotal question with
respect to this particular charge is whose version is to be believed. Is it the
version of the complainants or the version of the respondent.
In resolving this issue the possible motive on the part of the
complainants in filing the present complaint against the respondent must be
carefully examined and considered. At the beginning there was a harmonious
relationship between the complainants and the respondent so much so that
respondent was even engaged as counsel of the complainants and it is but
human nature that when respondent extended a loan to the complainants the
latter would be grateful to the former. However, in the case at bar, complainants
filed a complaint against the respondent in spite of the great disparity between
the status of the complainants and the respondent. Admittedly, respondent is in
a better position financially, socially and intellectually. To the mind of the
undersigned, complainants were only compelled to file the above entitled
complaint against the respondent because they felt that they are so aggrieved
of what the respondent has done to them. It is for this reason therefore that the
undersigned is inclined to believe the version of the complainants rather than of
the respondent. In addition thereto, the respondent as a lawyer could really see
to it that the transaction between the complainants and himself on papers
appear legal and in order. Besides, there is ample evidence in the records of
this case that respondent is actually engaged in lending money at least in a
limited way and that the interest at the rate of ten per cent a month is but
common among money lenders during the time of the transactions in question.'
Going now into the second charge, complainants alleged that respondent, who was
their counsel (private prosecutor) in Criminal Case No. 734, for estafa, against accused
Reynaldo Pineda, compromised the case with the accused without their consent and
received the amount of P500.00 as advance payment for the amicable settlement,
without however, giving to the complainants the said amount nor informing them of said
settlement and payment.
Again, respondent denies the allegation and claims that the amicable settlement was
with the consent of complainant wife Erlinda Dalman Melendre[z].

21

We are inclined to believe the version of the complainants.


It is admitted that complainants were not interested in putting the accused Reynaldo
Pineda to jail but rather in merely recovering their money of P2,000.00. At this stage,
relationship between complainants and respondent was not yet strained, and
respondent, as counsel of the complainants in this case, knew that complainants were
merely interested in said recovery. Knowing this, respondent on his own volition talked
to accused and tried to settle the case amicably for P2,000.00. He accepted the
amount of P500.00 as advance payment, being then the only amount carried by the
accused Pineda. A receipt was signed by both respondent and accused Pineda (Annex
M, p. 34, record). However, respondent did not inform complainants about this advance
payment, perhaps because he was still waiting for the completion of the payment of
P2,000.00 before turning over the whole amount to complainants.
At any rate, complainants saw accused Pineda give the abovementioned P500.00 to
respondent, but they were ashamed then to ask directly of respondent what the money
was all about.
On June 27, 1979, barely a month after May 30, 1979, when the complainants had
already lost their trust and respect and or confidence in respondent upon knowing what
happened to their lot and, more so, upon respondent's refusal to accept the P10,000.00
offered by complainants to redeem the same, Narciso Melendre[z] saw the accused
Pineda on his way home and confronted him on the P500.00 that had been given to
respondent. Accused then showed complainant Melendres the receipt (Annex M, id.)
showing that the P500.00 was an advance payment for the supposed
settlement/dismissal of the case filed by complainants against him.
Sensing or feeling that respondent was fooling them, complainants then filed a motion
before the court which was trying the criminal case and relieved respondent as their
counsel.
The Investigating Fiscal, who heard the case and saw the demeanor of the witnesses
in testifying, had this to say:
'With respect to the second charge, the fact that respondent received
P500.00 from Reynaldo Pineda is duly established. Both the complainants and
the respondent agreed that the said amount was given to the respondent in
connection with a criminal case wherein the complainants were the private
offended parties: that Reynaldo Pineda is the accused and that the respondent
is the private prosecutor of the said case. The pivotal issue in this particular
charge is whether the respondent received the amount of P500.00 from
Reynaldo Pineda as an advance payment of an amicable settlement entered
into by the complainants and the accused or the respondent received said
amount from the accused without the knowledge and consent of the
complainants. If it is true as alleged by the respondent that he only received it
for and in behalf of the complainants as advance payment of an amicable
settlement why is it that the same was questioned by the complainants? Why is
it that it was not the complainants who signed the receipt for the said amount?
How come that as soon as complainants knew that the said amount was given
to the respondent, the former filed a motion in court to relieve respondent as

22
their counsel on the ground that they have lost faith and confidence on him? If
it is really true that complainants have knowledge and have consented to this
amicable settlement they should be grateful to the efforts of their private
prosecutor, yet the fact is that they resented the same and went to the extent of
disqualifying the respondent as their private prosecutor. Reynaldo Pineda
himself executed an affidavit belying the claim of the respondent.'
Clearly, the complained acts as described and levelled against respondent Decena are
contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals for which he may be suspended
The moral turpitude for which an attorney may be disbarred may consist of misconduct
in either his professional or non-professional attitude (Royong v. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859).
The complained acts of respondent imply something immoral in themselves, regardless
of the fact whether they are punishable by law. The doing of the act itself, and not its
prohibition by statute, fixes the moral turpitude (Bartos vs. U.S. Dist. Court for District of
Nebraska [C.C.C. Neb] 19F [2d] 722).
A parting comment.
All the above is not to say that complainants themselves are faultless.
Complainants should likewise be blamed for trusting the respondent too much. They
did not bother to keep a copy of the documents they executed and considering that
they admitted they did not understand the contents of the documents, they did not
bother to have them explained by another lawyer or by any knowledgeable person in
their locality. Likewise, for a period of three years, they did not bother to ask for
respondent the status of their lot and/or their obligation to him. Their complacency or
apathy amounting almost to negligence contributed to the expedient loss of their
property thru the legal manuevers employed by respondent. Hence, respondent's
liability merits mitigation." (Emphasis supplied).
and made the following recommendation:
'WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that Atty. Reynerio I. Decena be
suspended from the practice of law for a period of five (5) years." 3
The Office of the Solicitor General, through Fiscals Almonte and Jamero, held several hearings during the
investigation of the present administrative case: City Fiscal Jorge T. Almonte was able to hold six (6)
actual hearings out of twenty-five (25) resettings 4 while only five (5) actual hearings, out of forty (40)
resettings, 5 were held under Provincial Fiscal Pedro S. Jamero. In those hearings, the complainants
presented a number of witnesses who, after their direct testimony, were cross-examined by the counsel
for respondent; complainant Narciso Melendrez also testified and was accordingly cross-examined.
Considering the long delay incurred in the investigation of the administrative case and having been
pressed by the Solicitor General immediately to complete the investigation, Fiscal Jamero proposed a
change of procedure, from trial-type proceedings to requiring the parties to submit their respective
position papers. The complainants immediately filed their position paper which consisted of their separate
sworn statements, (that of Narciso Melendrez was in a question and answer form), their documentary
exhibits and an affidavit of one Jeorge G. Santos. Respondent also filed his counter-affidavit and affidavits
of his witnesses, with several annexes in support thereof In the hearing of 28 October 1987, which had
been set for the cross-examination of the complainants and their witnesses by respondent, the
complainants refused to submit themselves to cross-examination on the ground that the order of the
hearing officer dated 17 December 1986 declaring respondent's right of cross examination as having
been waived, had become final and executory. Respondent questions now the evidentiary value of the

23
complainants' position paper, not having passed through any cross-examination and argues that the nonsubmission of the complainants and their witnesses to cross-examination constitutes a denial of his right
to due process.
We do not think respondent's right to confront the complainants and their witnesses against him has been
violated. Respondent in fact cross-examined complainant Narciso Melendrez and some of the witnesses
which complainants had presented earlier. As pointed out by the Solicitor General, the record of the
proceedings shows that respondent had all the opportunity to cross-examine the other witnesses of the
complainants (those whose affidavits were attached to complainants' position paper) had he wanted to,
but had forfeited such opportunity by asking for numerous continuances which indicated a clear attempt
on his part to delay the investigation proceedings. Respondent had in fact requested a total of twenty
three (23) resettings during the investigation proceedings: he had eight (8) under Fiscal Almonte and
fifteen (15) under Fiscal Jamero. There were also instances where respondent asked for postponement
and at the same time reset the hearing to a specific date of his choice on which neither he nor his counsel
would appear. That attitude of respondent eventually led the hearing officer to declare his (respondent's)
right to cross-examine the complainants and their witnesses as having been waived in his order of 17
December 1986. Respondent can not now claim that he had been deprived below of the opportunity to
confront the complainants and their witnesses.
After carefully going through the record of the proceedings as well as the evidence presented by both
parties, we agree with the findings and conclusions of the Solicitor General. LibLex
The following acts of respondent:
1. making it appear on the 5 August 1975 real estate mortgage that the amount loaned
to complainants was P5,000.00 instead of P4,000.00;
2. exacting grossly unreasonable and usurious interest;
3. making it appear in the second real estate mortgage of 7 May 1976 that the loan
extended to complainants had escalated to P10,000.00;
4. failing to inform complainants of the import of the real mortgage documents and
inducing them to sign those documents with assurances that they were merely for
purposes of "formality";
5. failing to demand or refraining from demanding payment from complainants before
effecting extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgaged property; and
6. failing to inform or refraining from informing complainants that the real estate
mortgage had already been foreclosed and that complainants had a right to redeem the
foreclosed property within a certain period of time.
constitute deception and dishonesty and conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar. We agree with
the Solicitor General that the acts of respondent "imply something immoral in themselves regardless
of whether they are punishable by law" and that these acts constitute moral turpitude, being "contrary
to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals." The standard required from members of the Bar is not,
of course, satisfied by conduct which merely avoids collision with our criminal law. Even so,
respondent's conduct, in fact, may be penalizable under at least one penal statute the anti-usury
law.

24
The second charge against respondent relates to acts done in his professional capacity, that is, done at a
time when he was counsel for the complainants in a criminal case for estafa against accused Reynaldo
Pineda. There are two (2) aspects to this charge: the first is that respondent Decena effected a
compromise agreement concerning the civil liability of accused Reynaldo Pineda without the consent and
approval of the complainants; the second is that, having received the amount of P500.00 as an advance
payment on this "settlement," he failed to inform complainants of that advance payment and moreover,
did not turn over the P500.00 to the complainants. The facts show that respondent "settled" the estafa
case amicably for P2,000.00 without the knowledge and consent of complainants. Respondent informed
complainants of the amicable "settlement" and of the P500.00 advance payment only after petitioner
Narciso Melendrez had confronted him about these matters. And respondent never did turn over to
complainants the P500.00. Respondent is presumed to be aware of the rule that lawyers cannot "without
special authority, compromise their clients' litigation or receive anything in discharge of a client's claim,
but the full amount in cash." 6 Respondent's failure to turn over to complainants the amount given by
accused Pineda as partial "settlement" of the estafa case underscores his lack of honesty and candor in
dealing with his clients.
Generally, a lawyer should not be suspended or disbarred for misconduct committed in his personal or
non-professional capacity. Where, however, misconduct outside his professional dealings becomes so
patent and so gross as to demonstrate moral unfitness to remain in the legal profession, the Court must
suspend or strike out the lawyer's name from the Roll of Attorneys. 7 The nature of the office of an
attorney at law requires that he shall be a person of good moral character. This qualification is not only a
condition precedent to admission to the practice of law; its continued possession is also essential for
remaining in the practice of law, in the exercise of privileges of members of the Bar. Gross misconduct on
the part of a lawyer, although not related to the discharge of professional duties as a member of the Bar,
which puts his moral character in serious doubt, renders him unfit to continue in the practice of law. 8
In the instant case, the exploitative deception exercised by respondent attorney upon the complainants in
his private transactions with them, and the exacting of unconscionable rates of interest, considered
together with the acts of professional misconduct committed by respondent attorney, compel this Court to
the conviction that he has lost that good moral character which is indispensable for continued
membership in the Bar. llcd
WHEREFORE, respondent Reynerio I. Decena is hereby DISBARRED and his name shall be stricken
from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Resolution be FURNISHED each to the Bar Confidant and
spread on the personal records of respondent attorney, and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
||| (Melendrez v. Decena, A.C. No. 2104 (Resolution), [August 24, 1989], 257 PHIL 672-687)

25

EN BANC
[B.M. No. 1154. June 8, 2004.]
IN
THE
MATTER
OF
THE
DISQUALIFICATION
OF
BAR
EXAMINEE HARON S. MELING IN THE 2002 BAR EXAMINATIONS AND FOR
DISCIPLINARY ACTION AS MEMBER OF THE PHILIPPINE SHARI'A BAR, ATTY.
FROILAN R. MELENDREZ, petitioner.

RESOLUTION

TINGA, J p:
The Court is here confronted with a Petition that seeks twin reliefs, one of which is ripe while the other
has been rendered moot by a supervening event.
The antecedents follow.
On October 14, 2002, Atty. Froilan R. Melendrez (Melendrez) filed with the Office of the Bar Confidant
(OBC) a Petition 1 to disqualify Haron S. Meling (Meling) from taking the 2002 Bar Examinations and to
impose on him the appropriate disciplinary penalty as a member of the Philippine Shari'a Bar.
In the Petition, Melendrez alleges that Meling did not disclose in his Petition to take the 2002 Bar
Examinations that he has three (3) pending criminal cases before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities
(MTCC), Cotabato City, namely: Criminal Cases Nos. 15685 and 15686, both for Grave Oral Defamation,
and Criminal Case No. 15687 for Less Serious Physical Injuries.
The above-mentioned cases arose from an incident which occurred on May 21, 2001,
when Meling allegedly uttered defamatory words against Melendrez and his wife in front of media
practitioners and other people. Meling also purportedly attacked and hit the face of Melendrez' wife
causing the injuries to the latter.
Furthermore, Melendrez alleges that Meling has been using the title "Attorney" in his communications, as
Secretary to the Mayor of Cotabato City, despite the fact that he is not a member of the Bar. Attached to
the Petition is an indorsement letter which shows that Meling used the appellation and appears on its face
to have been received by the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Cotabato City on November 27, 2001.
Pursuant to this Court's Resolution 2 dated December 3, 2002, Meling filed his Answer with the OBC.
In his Answer, 3 Meling explains that he did not disclose the criminal cases filed against him by
Melendrez because retired Judge Corocoy Moson, their former professor, advised him to settle his
misunderstanding with Melendrez. Believing in good faith that the case would be settled because the said
Judge has moral ascendancy over them, he being their former professor in the College of
Law, Meling considered the three cases that actually arose from a single incident and involving the same
parties as "closed and terminated." Moreover, Meling denies the charges and adds that the acts
complained of do not involve moral turpitude.

26
As regards the use of the title "Attorney," Meling admits that some of his communications really contained
the word "Attorney" as they were, according to him, typed by the office clerk.
In its Report and Recommendation 4 dated December 8, 2003, the OBC disposed of the charge of nondisclosure against Meling in this wise:
The reasons of Meling in not disclosing the criminal cases filed against him in his
petition to take the Bar Examinations are ludicrous. He should have known that only the
court of competent jurisdiction can dismiss cases, not a retired judge nor a law
professor. In fact, the cases filed against Meling are still pending. Furthermore,
granting arguendo that these cases were already dismissed, he is still required to
disclose the same for the Court to ascertain his good moral character. Petitions to take
the Bar Examinations are made under oath, and should not be taken lightly by an
applicant.
The merit of the cases against Meling is not material in this case. What matters is his
act of concealing them which constitutes dishonesty.
In Bar Matter 1209, the Court stated, thus:
It has been held that good moral character is what a person really is, as
distinguished from good reputation or from the opinion generally entertained of
him, the estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he is
known. Moral character is not a subjective term but one which corresponds to
objective reality. The standard of personal and professional integrity is not
satisfied by such conduct as it merely enables a person to escape the penalty
of criminal law. Good moral character includes at least common honesty.
The non-disclosure of Meling of the criminal cases filed against him makes him also
answerable under Rule 7.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which states
that "a lawyer shall be answerable for knowingly making a false statement or
suppressing a material fact in connection with his application for admission to the
bar." 5
As regards Meling's use of the title "Attorney", the OBC had this to say:
Anent the issue of the use of the appellation "Attorney" in his letters, the explanation
of Meling is not acceptable. Aware that he is not a member of the Bar, there was no
valid reason why he signed as "attorney" whoever may have typed the letters.
Although there is no showing that Meling is engaged in the practice of law, the fact is,
he is signing his communications as "Atty. Haron S. Meling" knowing fully well that he is
not entitled thereto. As held by the Court in Bar Matter 1209, the unauthorized use of
the appellation "attorney" may render a person liable for indirect contempt of court. 6
Consequently, the OBC recommended that Meling not be allowed to take the Lawyer's Oath and sign the
Roll of Attorneys in the event that he passes the Bar Examinations. Further, it recommended
that Meling's membership in the Shari'a Bar be suspended until further orders from the Court. 7
We fully concur with the findings and recommendation of the OBC. Meling, however, did not pass the
2003 Bar Examinations. This renders the Petition, insofar as it seeks to prevent Meling from taking the
Lawyer's Oath and signing the Roll of Attorneys, moot and academic.

27
On the other hand, the prayer in the same Petition for the Court to impose the appropriate sanctions upon
him as a member of the Shari'a Bar is ripe for resolution and has to be acted upon.
Practice of law, whether under the regular or the Shari'a Court, is not a matter of right but merely a
privilege bestowed upon individuals who are not only learned in the law but who are also known to
possess good moral character. 8 The requirement of good moral character is not only a condition
precedent to admission to the practice of law, its continued possession is also essential for remaining in
the practice of law. 9
The standard form issued in connection with the application to take the 2002 Bar Examinations requires
the applicant to aver that he or she "has not been charged with any act or omission punishable by law,
rule or regulation before a fiscal, judge, officer or administrative body, or indicted for, or accused or
convicted by any court or tribunal of, any offense or crime involving moral turpitude; nor is there any
pending case or charge against him/her." Despite the declaration required by the form, Meling did not
reveal that he has three pending criminal cases. His deliberate silence constitutes concealment, done
under oath at that. IaDcTC
The disclosure requirement is imposed by the Court to determine whether there is satisfactory evidence
of good moral character of the applicant. 10 The nature of whatever cases are pending against the
applicant would aid the Court in determining whether he is endowed with the moral fitness demanded of a
lawyer. By concealing the existence of such cases, the applicant then flunks the test of fitness even if the
cases are ultimately proven to be unwarranted or insufficient to impugn or affect the good moral character
of the applicant.
Meling's concealment of the fact that there are three (3) pending criminal cases against him speaks of his
lack of the requisite good moral character and results in the forfeiture of the privilege bestowed upon him
as a member of the Shari'a Bar.
Moreover, his use of the appellation "Attorney", knowing fully well that he is not entitled to its use, cannot
go unchecked. In Alawi v. Alauya, 11 the Court had the occasion to discuss the impropriety of the use of
the title "Attorney" by members of the Shari'a Bar who are not likewise members of the Philippine Bar.
The respondent therein, an executive clerk of court of the 4th Judicial Shari'a District in Marawi City, used
the title "Attorney" in several correspondence in connection with the rescission of a contract entered into
by him in his private capacity. The Court declared that:
. . . persons who pass the Shari'a Bar are not full-fledged members of the Philippine
Bar, hence, may only practice law before Shari'a courts. While one who has been
admitted to the Shari'a Bar, and one who has been admitted to the Philippine Bar, may
both be considered "counselors," in the sense that they give counsel or advice in a
professional capacity, only the latter is an "attorney." The title "attorney" is reserved to
those who, having obtained the necessary degree in the study of law and successfully
taken the Bar Examinations, have been admitted to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and remain members thereof in good standing; and it is they only who are
authorized to practice law in this jurisdiction.12
The judiciary has no place for dishonest officers of the court, such as Meling in this case. The solemn task
of administering justice demands that those who are privileged to be part of service therein, from the
highest official to the lowliest employee, must not only be competent and dedicated, but likewise live and
practice the virtues of honesty and integrity. Anything short of this standard would diminish the public's
faith in the Judiciary and constitutes infidelity to the constitutional tenet that a public office is a public trust.

28
In Leda v. Tabang, supra, the respondent concealed the fact of his marriage in his application to take the
Bar examinations and made conflicting submissions before the Court. As a result, we found the
respondent grossly unfit and unworthy to continue in the practice of law and suspended him therefrom
until further orders from the Court.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED insofar as it seeks the imposition of appropriate sanctions
upon Haron S. Meling as a member of the Philippine Shari'a Bar. Accordingly, the membership
of Haron S. Meling in the Philippine Shari'a Bar is hereby SUSPENDED until further orders from the
Court, the suspension to take effect immediately. Insofar as the Petition seeks to
prevent Haron S. Meling from taking the Lawyer's Oath and signing the Roll of Attorneys as a member of
the Philippine Bar, the same is DISMISSED for having become moot and academic.
Copies of this Decision shall be circulated to all the Shari'a Courts in the country for their information and
guidance.
SO ORDERED.
||| (In re Haron S. Meling, B.M. No. 1154, [June 8, 2004])

29
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. 1928 August 3, 1978
In the Matter of the IBP Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty. MARCIAL A. EDILION (IBP
Administrative Case No. MDD-1)
RESOLUTION

CASTRO, C.J.:
The respondent Marcial A. Edillon is a duly licensed practicing attorney in the Philippines.
On November 29, 1975, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP for short) Board of Governors
unanimously adopted Resolution No. 75-65 in Administrative Case No. MDD-1 (In the Matter of the
Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty. Marcial A. Edillon) recommending to the Court the removal of the
name of the respondent from its Roll of Attorneys for "stubborn refusal to pay his membership dues" to
the IBP since the latter's constitution notwithstanding due notice.
On January 21, 1976, the IBP, through its then President Liliano B. Neri, submitted the said resolution to
the Court for consideration and approval, pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 24, Article III of the By-Laws of
the IBP, which reads:
.... Should the delinquency further continue until the following June 29, the Board shall
promptly inquire into the cause or causes of the continued delinquency and take
whatever action it shall deem appropriate, including a recommendation to the Supreme
Court for the removal of the delinquent member's name from the Roll of Attorneys. Notice
of the action taken shall be sent by registered mail to the member and to the Secretary of
the Chapter concerned.
On January 27, 1976, the Court required the respondent to comment on the resolution and letter adverted
to above; he submitted his comment on February 23, 1976, reiterating his refusal to pay the membership
fees due from him.
On March 2, 1976, the Court required the IBP President and the IBP Board of Governors to reply to
Edillon's comment: on March 24, 1976, they submitted a joint reply.
Thereafter, the case was set for hearing on June 3, 1976. After the hearing, the parties were required to
submit memoranda in amplification of their oral arguments. The matter was thenceforth submitted for
resolution.

30
At the threshold, a painstaking scrutiny of the respondent's pleadings would show that the propriety and
necessity of the integration of the Bar of the Philippines are in essence conceded. The respondent,
however, objects to particular features of Rule of Court 139-A (hereinafter referred to as the Court
Rule) 1 in accordance with which the Bar of the Philippines was integrated and to the provisions of
par. 2, Section 24, Article III, of the IBP By-Laws (hereinabove cited).
The authority of the IBP Board of Governors to recommend to the Supreme Court the removal of a
delinquent member's name from the Roll of Attorneys is found in par. 2 Section 24, Article Ill of the IBP
By-Laws (supra), whereas the authority of the Court to issue the order applied for is found in Section 10 of
the Court Rule, which reads:
SEC. 10. Effect of non-payment of dues. Subject to the provisions of Section 12 of this
Rule, default in the payment of annual dues for six months shall warrant suspension of
membership in the Integrated Bar, and default in such payment for one year shall be a
ground for the removal of the name of the delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys.
The all-encompassing, all-inclusive scope of membership in the IBP is stated in these words of the Court
Rule:
SECTION 1. Organization. There is hereby organized an official national body to be
known as the 'Integrated Bar of the Philippines,' composed of all persons whose names
now appear or may hereafter be included in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court.
The obligation to pay membership dues is couched in the following words of the Court Rule:
SEC. 9. Membership dues. Every member of the Integrated Bar shall pay such annual
dues as the Board of Governors shall determine with the approval of the Supreme
Court. ...
The core of the respondent's arguments is that the above provisions constitute an invasion of his
constitutional rights in the sense that he is being compelled, as a pre-condition to maintaining his status
as a lawyer in good standing, to be a member of the IBP and to pay the corresponding dues, and that as
a consequence of this compelled financial support of the said organization to which he is admittedly
personally antagonistic, he is being deprived of the rights to liberty and property guaranteed to him by the
Constitution. Hence, the respondent concludes, the above provisions of the Court Rule and of the IBP ByLaws are void and of no legal force and effect.
The respondent similarly questions the jurisdiction of the Court to strike his name from the Roll of
Attorneys, contending that the said matter is not among the justiciable cases triable by the Court but is
rather of an "administrative nature pertaining to an administrative body."
The case at bar is not the first one that has reached the Court relating to constitutional issues that
inevitably and inextricably come up to the surface whenever attempts are made to regulate the practice of
law, define the conditions of such practice, or revoke the license granted for the exercise of the legal
profession.
The matters here complained of are the very same issues raised in a previous case before the Court,
entitled "Administrative Case No. 526, In the Matter of the Petition for the Integration of the Bar of the

31
Philippines, Roman Ozaeta, et al., Petitioners." The Court exhaustively considered all these matters in
that case in its Resolution ordaining the integration of the Bar of the Philippines, promulgated on January
9, 1973. The Court there made the unanimous pronouncement that it was
... fully convinced, after a thoroughgoing conscientious study of all the arguments
adduced in Adm. Case No. 526 and the authoritative materials and the mass of factual
data contained in the exhaustive Report of the Commission on Bar Integration, that the
integration of the Philippine Bar is 'perfectly constitutional and legally unobjectionable'. ...
Be that as it may, we now restate briefly the posture of the Court.
An "Integrated Bar" is a State-organized Bar, to which every lawyer must belong, as distinguished from
bar associations organized by individual lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary.
Integration of the Bar is essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is afforded an
opportunity to do his share in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as well as obliged to bear his portion
of its responsibilities. Organized by or under the direction of the State, an integrated Bar is an official
national body of which all lawyers are required to be members. They are, therefore, subject to all the rules
prescribed for the governance of the Bar, including the requirement of payment of a reasonable annual
fee for the effective discharge of the purposes of the Bar, and adherence to a code of professional ethics
or professional responsibility breach of which constitutes sufficient reason for investigation by the Bar
and, upon proper cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline or disbarment of the offending
member. 2
The integration of the Philippine Bar was obviously dictated by overriding considerations of public interest
and public welfare to such an extent as more than constitutionally and legally justifies the restrictions that
integration imposes upon the personal interests and personal convenience of individual lawyers. 3
Apropos to the above, it must be stressed that all legislation directing the integration of the Bar have been
uniformly and universally sustained as a valid exercise of the police power over an important profession.
The practice of law is not a vested right but a privilege, a privilege moreover clothed with public interest
because a lawyer owes substantial duties not only to his client, but also to his brethren in the profession,
to the courts, and to the nation, and takes part in one of the most important functions of the State the
administration of justice as an officer of the court. 4 The practice of law being clothed with public
interest, the holder of this privilege must submit to a degree of control for the common good, to the extent
of the interest he has created. As the U. S. Supreme Court through Mr. Justice Roberts explained, the
expression "affected with a public interest" is the equivalent of "subject to the exercise of the police
power" (Nebbia vs. New York, 291 U.S. 502).
When, therefore, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6397 5 authorizing the Supreme Court to "adopt
rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under such conditions as it shall see fit," it did
so in the exercise of the paramount police power of the State. The Act's avowal is to "raise the standards
of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public
responsibility more effectively." Hence, the Congress in enacting such Act, the Court in ordaining the
integration of the Bar through its Resolution promulgated on January 9, 1973, and the President of the
Philippines in decreeing the constitution of the IBP into a body corporate through Presidential Decree No.
181 dated May 4, 1973, were prompted by fundamental considerations of public welfare and motivated by
a desire to meet the demands of pressing public necessity.

32
The State, in order to promote the general welfare, may interfere with and regulate personal liberty,
property and occupations. Persons and property may be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to
secure the general prosperity and welfare of the State (U.S. vs. Gomez Jesus, 31 Phil 218), for, as the
Latin maxim goes, "Salus populi est supreme lex." The public welfare is the supreme law. To this
fundamental principle of government the rights of individuals are subordinated. Liberty is a blessing
without which life is a misery, but liberty should not be made to prevail over authority because then
society win fall into anarchy (Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726). It is an undoubted power of the State to
restrain some individuals from all freedom, and all individuals from some freedom.
But the most compelling argument sustaining the constitutionality and validity of Bar integration in the
Philippines is the explicit unequivocal grant of precise power to the Supreme Court by Section 5 (5) of
Article X of the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines, which reads:
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
xxx xxx xxx
(5) Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and pro. procedure in all courts, and
the admission to the practice of law and the integration of the Bar ...,
and Section 1 of Republic Act No. 6397, which reads:
SECTION 1. Within two years from the approval of this Act, the Supreme Court may
adopt rules of Court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under such conditions
as it shall see fit in order to raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the
administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more
effectively.
Quite apart from the above, let it be stated that even without the enabling Act (Republic Act No. 6397),
and looking solely to the language of the provision of the Constitution granting the Supreme Court the
power "to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, and the admission
to the practice of law," it at once becomes indubitable that this constitutional declaration vests the
Supreme Court with plenary power in all cases regarding the admission to and supervision of the practice
of law.
Thus, when the respondent Edillon entered upon the legal profession, his practice of law and his exercise
of the said profession, which affect the society at large, were (and are) subject to the power of the body
politic to require him to conform to such regulations as might be established by the proper authorities for
the common good, even to the extent of interfering with some of his liberties. If he did not wish to submit
himself to such reasonable interference and regulation, he should not have clothed the public with an
interest in his concerns.
On this score alone, the case for the respondent must already fall.
The issues being of constitutional dimension, however, we now concisely deal with them seriatim.
1. The first objection posed by the respondent is that the Court is without power to compel him to become
a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, hence, Section 1 of the Court Rule is unconstitutional

33
for it impinges on his constitutional right of freedom to associate (and not to associate). Our answer is: To
compel a lawyer to be a member of the Integrated Bar is not violative of his constitutional freedom to
associate. 6
Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any group of which he is not already a member. He
became a member of the Bar when he passed the Bar examinations. 7 All that integration actually does is
to provide an official national organization for the well-defined but unorganized and incohesive group of
which every lawyer is a ready a member. 8
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is free to attend or not attend the
meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses. The only
compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment of annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order to
further the State's legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional legal services, may require
that the cost of improving the profession in this fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of the
regulatory program the lawyers. 9
Assuming that the questioned provision does in a sense compel a lawyer to be a member of the
Integrated Bar, such compulsion is justified as an exercise of the police power of the State. 10
2. The second issue posed by the respondent is that the provision of the Court Rule requiring payment of
a membership fee is void. We see nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the Court, under its
constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules concerning the admission to the practice of law and the
integration of the Philippine Bar (Article X, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution) which power the
respondent acknowledges from requiring members of a privileged class, such as lawyers are, to pay a
reasonable fee toward defraying the expenses of regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is
quite apparent that the fee is indeed imposed as a regulatory measure, designed to raise funds for
carrying out the objectives and purposes of integration. 11
3. The respondent further argues that the enforcement of the penalty provisions would amount to a
deprivation of property without due process and hence infringes on one of his constitutional rights.
Whether the practice of law is a property right, in the sense of its being one that entitles the holder of a
license to practice a profession, we do not here pause to consider at length, as it clear that under the
police power of the State, and under the necessary powers granted to the Court to perpetuate its
existence, the respondent's right to practise law before the courts of this country should be and is a
matter subject to regulation and inquiry. And, if the power to impose the fee as a regulatory measure is
recognize, then a penalty designed to enforce its payment, which penalty may be avoided altogether by
payment, is not void as unreasonable or arbitrary. 12
But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is not a property right but a mere privilege, 13 and as
such must bow to the inherent regulatory power of the Court to exact compliance with the lawyer's public
responsibilities.
4. Relative to the issue of the power and/or jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to strike the name of a
lawyer from its Roll of Attorneys, it is sufficient to state that the matters of admission, suspension,
disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers and their regulation and supervision have been and are
indisputably recognized as inherent judicial functions and responsibilities, and the authorities holding such
are legion. 14

34
In In Re Sparks (267 Ky. 93, 101 S.W. (2d) 194), in which the report of the Board of Bar Commissioners in
a disbarment proceeding was confirmed and disbarment ordered, the court, sustaining the Bar Integration
Act of Kentucky, said: "The power to regulate the conduct and qualifications of its officers does not
depend upon constitutional or statutory grounds. It is a power which is inherent in this court as a court
appropriate, indeed necessary, to the proper administration of justice ... the argument that this is an
arbitrary power which the court is arrogating to itself or accepting from the legislative likewise
misconceives the nature of the duty. It has limitations no less real because they are inherent. It is an
unpleasant task to sit in judgment upon a brother member of the Bar, particularly where, as here, the facts
are disputed. It is a grave responsibility, to be assumed only with a determination to uphold the Ideals and
traditions of an honorable profession and to protect the public from overreaching and fraud. The very
burden of the duty is itself a guaranty that the power will not be misused or prostituted. ..."
The Court's jurisdiction was greatly reinforced by our 1973 Constitution when it explicitly granted to the
Court the power to "Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice ... and the admission to the practice
of law and the integration of the Bar ... (Article X, Sec. 5(5) the power to pass upon the fitness of the
respondent to remain a member of the legal profession is indeed undoubtedly vested in the Court.
We thus reach the conclusion that the provisions of Rule of Court 139-A and of the By-Laws of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines complained of are neither unconstitutional nor illegal.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is the unanimous sense of the Court that the respondent Marcial
A. Edillon should be as he is hereby disbarred, and his name is hereby ordered stricken from the Roll of
Attorneys of the Court.
Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Muoz Palma, Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Santos,
Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ., concur.

35

EN BANC
[G.R. No. L-19450. May 27, 1965.]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiffappellee, vs. SIMPLICIO VILLANUEVA, defendant-appellant.

Magno T. Bueser for defendant-appellant.


Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

SYLLABUS
1. ATTORNEYS-AT-LAW EMPLOYED IN THE GOVERNMENT; PROHIBITION TO ENGAGE IN PRIVATE
PRACTICE; MEANING. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or
customary actions a succession of acts of the same kind. The practice of law by attorneys employed in
the government, to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually
holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services. The
appearance as counsel on one occasion, is not conclusive as determinative of engagement in the private
practice of law. The word private practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be in the
active and continued practice of the legal profession and that his professional services are available to the
public for a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said services.
2. ID.; ID.; ASSISTANT CITY ATTORNEY HANDLING CASE FOR RELATIVE WITH PERMISSION OF
SUPERIOR NOT IN PROHIBITED PRIVATE PRACTICE. The isolated appearance as a private
prosecutor, previously authorized by his superior, of an assistant city attorney in a criminal case for
malicious mischief before a justice of the peace court where the offended party is his relative, does not
violate Section 32, Rule 127, now Sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court, which bars certain
attorneys from practicing.

DECISION

PAREDES, J p:
On September 4, 1959, the Chief of Police of Alaminos, Laguna,
charged Simplicio Villanueva with the crime of Malicious Mischief, before the Justice of the Peace
Court of said municipality. Said accused was represented by counsel de oficio, but later on replaced
by counsel de parte. The complainant in the same case was represented by City Attorney Ariston Fule
of San Pablo City, having entered his appearance as private-prosecutor, after securing the permission
of the Secretary of Justice. The condition of his appearance as such, was that every time he would
appear at the trial of the case, he would be considered on official leave of absence, and that he would
not receive any payment for his services. The appearance of City Attorney Fule as private prosecutor
was questioned by the counsel for the accused, invoking the case of Aquino, et al., vs. Blanco, et al.,

36
79 Phil. 647 wherein it was ruled that "when an attorney had been appointed to the position of
Assistant Provincial Fiscal or City Fiscal and therein qualified, by operation of law, he ceased to
engage in private law practice." Counsel then argued that the JP Court in entertaining the appearance
of City Attorney Fule in the case is a violation of the above ruling. On December 17, 1960 the JP
issued an order sustaining the legality of the appearance of City Attorney Fule.
Under date of January 4, 1961, counsel for the accused presented a "Motion to Inhibit Fiscal Fule from
Acting as Private Prosecutor in this Case," this time invoking Section 32, Rule 127, now Sec. 35, Rule
138, Revised Rules, which bars certain attorneys from practicing. Counsel claims that City Attorney Fule
falls under this limitation. The JP Court ruled on the motion by upholding the right of Fule to appear and
further stating that he (Fule) was not actually engaged in private law practice. This Order was appealed to
the CFI of Laguna, presided by the Hon. Hilarion U. Jarencio, which rendered judgment on December 20,
1961, the pertinent portions of which read:
"The present case is one for malicious mischief. There being no reservation by the
offended party of the civil liability, the civil action was deemed impliedly instituted with
the criminal action. The offended party had, therefore, the right to intervene in the case
and be represented by a legal counsel because of her interest in the civil liability of the
accused.
"Sec. 31, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court provides that in the court of a justice of the
peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend
appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. Assistant City Attorney
Fule appeared in the Justice of the Peace Court as an agent or friend of the offended
party. It does not appear that he was being paid for his services or that his appearance
was in a professional capacity. As Assistant City Attorney of San Pablo he had no
control or intervention whatsoever in the prosecution of crimes committed in the
municipality of Alaminos, Laguna, because the prosecution of criminal cases coming
from Alaminos are handled by the Office of the Provincial Fiscal and not by the City
Attorney of San Pablo. There could be no possible conflict in the duties of Assistant
City Attorney Fule as Assistant City Attorney of San Pablo and as private prosecutor in
this criminal case. On the other hand, as already pointed out, the offended party in this
criminal case had a right to be represented by an agent or a friend to protect her rights
in the civil action which was impliedly instituted together with the criminal action.
"In view of the foregoing, this Court holds that Asst. City Attorney Ariston D. Fule may
appear before the Justice of the Peace Court in Alaminos, Laguna as private
prosecutor in this criminal case as an agent or a friend of the offended party.
"WHEREFORE, the appeal from the order of the Justice of the Peace Court of
Alaminos, Laguna, allowing the appearance of Ariston D. Fule as private prosecutor is
dismissed, without costs."
The above decision is the subject of the instant proceedings.
The appeal should be dismissed, for patently being without merits.
Aside from the considerations advanced by the learned trial judge, heretofore reproduced, and which We
consider plausible, the fallacy of the theory of defense counsel lies in his confused interpretation of
Section 32 of Rule 127 (now Sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules), which provides that "no judge or other
official or employee of the superior courts or of the office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in private
practice as a member of the bar or give professional advice to clients." He claims that City Attorney Fule,

37
in appearing as private prosecutor in the case was engaging in private practice. We believe that the
isolated appearance of City Attorney Fule did not constitute private practice, within the meaning and
contemplation of the Rules. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or
customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise
(State vs. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, N.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of
statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer
and demanding payment for such services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S. E. 522, 98 N. C. 644, 647). The
appearance as counsel on one occasion, is not conclusive as determinative of engagement in the private
practice of law. The following observation of the Solicitor General is noteworthy:
"Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have presented
himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal profession and that his
professional services are available to the public for a compensation, as a source of his
livelihood or in consideration of his said services."
For one thing, it has never been refuted that City Attorney Fule had been given permission by his
immediate superior, the Secretary of Justice, to represent the complainant in the case at bar, who is a
relative.
CONFORMABLY WITH ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from should be, as it is hereby
affirmed, in all respects, with costs against appellant.
Bengzon, C.J., Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon,
J.P. and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.
Bautista Angelo, J., took no part.
||| (People v. Villanueva, G.R. No. L-19450, [May 27, 1965], 121 PHIL 894-898)

38

FIRST DIVISION
[A.M. No. P-99-1287. January 26, 2001.]
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, complainant, vs. ATTY. MISAEL
M. LADAGA, Branch Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Branch 133, Makati
City, respondent.

SYNOPSIS
Respondent is an RTC Branch Clerk of Court who appeared as pro bono counsel for his cousin in a
criminal case without prior permission from the Court. Hence, he was charged under Sec. 7(b)(2) of
the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees which prohibits civil
servants from engaging in the private practice of their profession.
Sec. 35 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court also prohibits certain attorneys from engaging in the
private practice of their profession. However, it should be clarified that the "private practice" of the law
profession that is prohibited does not pertain to an isolated court appearance. It contemplates succession
of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding one's self to the public as a lawyer. Here, the
isolated instances when respondent appeared as pro bono counsel of his cousin does not constitute the
"private practice" of the law profession contemplated by law. Nonetheless, respondent failed to obtain a
written permission therefore from the head of the Department, which is this Court as required by Section
12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules, and not the Presiding Judge of the court to which
respondent is assigned, as the Judge is not the head of the department contemplated by law. And despite
the fact that respondent filed leave applications corresponding to the dates he appeared in court.
Respondent was reprimanded with stern warning that any repetition of the act would be dealt with more
severely.

SYLLABUS
1. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW; CODE OF CONDUCT AND ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC
OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES; PROHIBITED PRIVATE PRACTICE OF LAW PROFESSION;
ELUCIDATED. Respondent is charged under Sec. 7(b)(2) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical
Standards for Public Officials and Employees which prohibits civil servants from engaging in the private
practice of their profession. A similar prohibition is found under Sec. 35, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of
Court which disallows certain attorneys from engaging in the private practice of their profession. . . .
However, it should be clarified that "private practice" of a profession, specifically the law profession in this
case, which is prohibited, does not pertain to an isolated court appearance; rather, it contemplates a
succession of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding one's self to the public as a lawyer
. . . . [T]he isolated instances when respondent appeared as pro bono counsel of his cousin in Criminal
Case No. 84885 does not constitute the "private practice" of the law profession contemplated by law.
2. ID., REVISED CIVIL SERVICE RULES; WRITTEN PERMISSION TO PRACTICE PROFESSION
FROM HEAD OF DEPARTMENT, REQUIRED. [W]hile respondent's isolated court appearances did
not amount to a private practice of law, he failed to obtain a written permission therefor from the head of

39
the Department, which is this Court as required by Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service
Rules. . . . Wherefore,. . . . respondent is. . . . REPRIMANDED with a stern warning that any repetition of
such act would be dealt with more severely.

RESOLUTION

KAPUNAN, J p:
In a Letter, dated August 31, 1998, respondent Atty. Misael M. Ladaga, Branch Clerk of Court of the
Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 133, requested the Court Administrator, Justice Alfredo L.
Benipayo, for authority to appear as pro bono counsel of his cousin, Narcisa Naldoza Ladaga, in Criminal
Case No. 84885, entitled "People vs. Narcisa Naldoza Ladaga" for Falsification of Public Document
pending before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 40. 1While respondent's letter-request
was pending action, Lisa Payoyo Andres, the private complainant in Criminal Case No. 84885, sent a
letter to the Court Administrator, dated September 2, 1998, requesting for a certification with regard to
respondent's authority to appear as counsel for the accused in the said criminal case. 2 On September 7,
1998, the Office of the Court Administrator referred the matter to respondent for comment. 3
In his Comment, 4 dated September 14, 1998, respondent admitted that he had appeared in Criminal
Case No. 84885 without prior authorization. He reasoned out that the factual circumstances surrounding
the criminal case compelled him to handle the defense of his cousin who did not have enough resources
to hire the services of a counsel de parte; while, on the other hand, private complainant was a member of
a powerful family who was out to get even with his cousin. Furthermore, he rationalized that his
appearance in the criminal case did not prejudice his office nor the interest of the public since he did not
take advantage of his position. In any case, his appearances in court were covered by leave applications
approved by the presiding judge.
On December 8, 1998, the Court issued a Resolution denying respondent's request for authorization to
appear as counsel and directing the Office of the Court Administrator to file formal charges against him for
appearing in court without the required authorization from the Court. 5 On January 25, 1999, the Court
Administrator filed the instant administrative complaint against respondent for violating Sec. 7(b)(2)
of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the "Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public
Officials and Employees," which provides:
SECTION 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. In addition to acts and omissions of
public officials and employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the
following shall constitute prohibited acts and transactions of any public official and
employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
xxx xxx xxx
(b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. Public officials and
employees during their incumbency shall not:
xxx xxx xxx
(2) Engage in the private practice of their profession unless authorized by the
Constitution or law, Provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend
to conflict with their official functions;

40
In our Resolution, dated February 9, 1999, we required respondent to comment on the administrative
complaint.
In his Comment, respondent explained that he and Ms. Ladaga are "close blood cousins" who belong to a
"powerless family" from the impoverished town of Bacauag, Surigao del Norte. From childhood until he
finished his law degree, Ms. Ladaga had always supported and guided him while he looked up to her as a
mentor and an adviser. Because of their close relationship, Ms. Ladaga sought respondent's help and
advice when she was charged in Criminal Case No. 84885 for falsification by the private complainant,
Lisa Payoyo Andres, whose only purpose in filing the said criminal case was to "seek vengeance" on her
cousin. He explained that his cousin's discord with Ms. Andres started when the latter's husband, SPO4
Pedro Andres, left the conjugal home to cohabit with Ms. Ladaga. During the course of their illicit affair,
SPO4 Andres and Ms. Ladaga begot three (3) children. The birth certificate of their eldest child is the
subject of the falsification charge against Ms. Ladaga. Respondent stated that since he is the only lawyer
in their family, he felt it to be his duty to accept Ms. Ladaga's plea to be her counsel since she did not
have enough funds to pay for the services of a lawyer. Respondent also pointed out that in his seven (7)
years of untainted government service, initially with the Commission on Human Rights and now with the
judiciary, he had performed his duties with honesty and integrity and that it was only in this particular case
that he had been administratively charged for extending a helping hand to a close relative by giving a free
legal assistance for "humanitarian purpose." He never took advantage of his position as branch clerk of
court since the questioned appearances were made in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City and
not in Makati where he is holding office. He stressed that during the hearings of the criminal case, he was
on leave as shown by his approved leave applications attached to his comment. cTIESa
In our Resolution, dated June 22, 1999, we noted respondent's comment and referred the administrative
matter to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Judge Josefina Guevarra-Salonga,
for investigation, report and recommendation.
In her Report, dated September 29, 1999, Judge Salonga made the following findings and
recommendation:
There is no question that Atty. Misael Ladaga appeared as counsel for and in behalf of
his cousin, Narcisa Naldoza Ladaga, an accused in Criminal Case No. 84-885 for
"Falsification of Public Documents" before the METC of Quezon City. It is also denied
that the appearance of said respondent in said case was without the previous
permission of the Court.
An examination of the records shows that during the occasions that the respondent
appeared as such counsel before the METC of Quezon City, he was on official leave of
absence. Moreover, his Presiding Judge, Judge Napoleon Inoturan was aware of the
case he was handling. That the respondent appeared as pro bono counsel likewise
cannot be denied. His cousin-client Narcisa Ladaga herself positively declared that the
respondent did not receive a single centavo from her. Helpless as she was and
respondent being the only lawyer in the family, he agreed to represent her out of his
compassion and high regard for her.
It may not be amiss to point out, this is the first time that respondent ever handled a
case for a member of his family who is like a big sister to him. He appeared for free and
for the purpose of settling the case amicably. Furthermore, his Presiding Judge was
aware of his appearance as counsel for his cousin. On top of this, during all the years
that he has been in government service, he has maintained his integrity and
independence.

41

RECOMMENDATION
In the light of the foregoing, it appearing that the respondent appeared as counsel for
his cousin without first securing permission from the Court, and considering that this is
his first time to do it coupled with the fact that said appearance was not for a fee and
was with the knowledge of his Presiding Judge, it is hereby respectfully recommended
that he be REPRIMANDED with a stern warning that any repetition of such act would
be dealt with more severely. 6
We agree with the recommendation of the investigating judge.
Respondent is charged under Sec. 7(b)(2) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public
Officials and Employees which prohibits civil servants from engaging in the private practice of their
profession. A similar prohibition is found under Sec. 35, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court which
disallows certain attorneys from engaging in the private practice of their profession. The said section
reads:
SECTION 35. Certain attorneys not to practice. No judge or other official or
employee of the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in
private practice as a member of the bar or give professional advise to clients.
However, it should be clarified that "private practice" of a profession, specifically the law profession in this
case, which is prohibited, does not pertain to an isolated court appearance; rather, it contemplates a
succession of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding one's self to the public as a
lawyer.
In the case of People vs. Villanueva, 7 we explained the meaning of the term "private practice" prohibited
by the said section, to wit:
We believe that the isolated appearance of City Attorney Fule did not constitute private
practice, within the meaning and contemplation of the Rules. Practice is more than an
isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession of
acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs. Cotner,
127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, N.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition
of statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the
public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S. E.
522, 98 N. C. 644, 647). The appearance as counsel on one occasion, is not
conclusive as determinative of engagement in the private practice of law. The following
observation of the Solicitor General is noteworthy:
"Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have
presented himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal
profession and that his professional services are available to the public for a
compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said
services."
For one thing, it has never been refuted that City Attorney Fule had been given
permission by his immediate superior, the Secretary of Justice, to represent the
complainant in the case at bar, who is a relative. 8

42
Based on the foregoing, it is evident that the isolated instances when respondent appeared as pro
bono counsel of his cousin in Criminal Case No. 84885 does not constitute the "private practice" of the
law profession contemplated by law.
Nonetheless, while respondent's isolated court appearances did not amount to a private practice of law,
he failed to obtain a written permission therefor from the head of the Department, which is this Court as
required by Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules, thus:
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 the
Department: Provided, That this prohibition will be absolute in the case of those officers
and employees whose duties and responsibilities require that their entire time be at the
disposal of the Government; Provided, further, That if an employee is granted
permission to engage in outside activities, time so devoted outside of office hours
should be fixed by the agency to the end that it will not impair in any way the efficiency
of the officer or employee: And provided, finally, That no permission is necessary in the
case of investments, made by an officer or employee, which do not involve real or
apparent conflict between his private interests and public duties, or in any way
influence him in the discharge of his duties, and he shall not take part in the
management of the enterprise or become an officer of the board of directors. 9
Respondent entered his appearance and attended court proceedings on numerous occasions, i.e., May
4-15, 1998, June 18, 1998, July 13, 1998 and August 5, 1998, as borne out by his own admission. It is
true that he filed leave applications corresponding to the dates he appeared in court. However, he failed
to obtain a prior permission from the head of the Department. The presiding judge of the court to which
respondent is assigned is not the head of the Department contemplated by law.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Atty. Misael M. Ladaga is hereby REPRIMANDED
with a stern warning that any repetition of such act would be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Office of the Court Administrator v. Ladaga, A.M. No. P-99-1287 (Resolution), [January 26, 2001], 403
PHIL 228-235)

43

FIRST DIVISION
[A.C. No. 5738. February 19, 2008.]
WILFREDO M. CATU, complainant, vs. ATTY. VICENTE G. RELLOSA, respondent.

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J p:
Complainant Wilfredo M. Catu is a co-owner of a lot 1 and the building erected thereon located at 959
San Andres Street, Malate, Manila. His mother and brother, Regina Catu and Antonio Catu, contested the
possession of Elizabeth C. Diaz-Catu 2 and Antonio Pastor 3 of one of the units in the building. The latter
ignored demands for them to vacate the premises. Thus, a complaint was initiated against them in
the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay 723, Zone 79 of the 5th District of Manila 4 where the parties
reside.
Respondent, as punong barangay of Barangay 723, summoned the parties to conciliation
meetings. 5 When the parties failed to arrive at an amicable settlement, respondent issued a certification
for the filing of the appropriate action in court.
Thereafter, Regina and Antonio filed a complaint for ejectment against Elizabeth and Pastor in the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 11. Respondent entered his appearance as counsel for the
defendants in that case. Because of this, complainant filed the instant administrative complaint, 6 claiming
that respondent committed an act of impropriety as a lawyer and as a public officer when he stood as
counsel for the defendants despite the fact that he presided over the conciliation proceedings between
the litigants as punong barangay.
In his defense, respondent claimed that one of his duties as punong barangay was to hear complaints
referred to the barangay's Lupong Tagapamayapa. As such, he heard the complaint of Regina and
Antonio against Elizabeth and Pastor. As head of the Lupon, he performed his task with utmost objectivity,
without bias or partiality towards any of the parties. The parties, however, were not able to amicably settle
their dispute and Regina and Antonio filed the ejectment case. It was then that Elizabeth sought his legal
assistance. He acceded to her request. He handled her case for free because she was financially
distressed and he wanted to prevent the commission of a patent injustice against her.
The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation. As there was no factual issue to thresh out, the IBP's Commission on Bar Discipline
(CBD) required the parties to submit their respective position papers. After evaluating the contentions of
the parties, the IBP-CBD found sufficient ground to discipline respondent. 7 SEHDIC
According to the IBP-CBD, respondent admitted that, as punong barangay, he presided over the
conciliation proceedings and heard the complaint of Regina and Antonio against Elizabeth and Pastor.
Subsequently, however, he represented Elizabeth and Pastor in the ejectment case filed against them by
Regina and Antonio. In the course thereof, he prepared and signed pleadings including the answer with

44
counterclaim, pre-trial brief, position paper and notice of appeal. By so doing, respondent violated Rule
6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
Rule 6.03 A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement
or employment in connection with any matter in which he intervened while in said
service.
Furthermore, as an elective official, respondent contravened the prohibition under Section 7 (b) (2) of RA
6713: 8
SEC. 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. In addition to acts and omissions of public
officials and employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the
following shall constitute prohibited acts and transactions of any public official and
employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
xxx xxx xxx
(b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. Public officials and
employees during their incumbency shall not:
xxx xxx xxx
(2) Engage in the private practice of profession unless authorized by the
Constitution or law, provided that such practice will not conflict or tend to
conflict with their official functions; . . . (emphasis supplied)
According to the IBP-CBD, respondent's violation of this prohibition constituted a breach of Canon 1 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility:
CANON 1. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF
THE LAND, PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. (emphasis
supplied)
For these infractions, the IBP-CBD recommended the respondent's suspension from the practice of law
for one month with a stern warning that the commission of the same or similar act will be dealt with more
severely. 9 This was adopted and approved by the IBP Board of Governors. 10
We modify the foregoing findings regarding the transgression of respondent as well as the
recommendation on the imposable penalty.
RULE 6.03 OF THE CODE
OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
APPLIES ONLY TO FORMER
GOVERNMENT LAWYERS
Respondent cannot be found liable for violation of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
As worded, that Rule applies only to a lawyer who has left government service and in connection "with
any matter in which he intervened while in said service." In PCGG v. Sandiganbayan, 11 we ruled that
Rule 6.03 prohibits former government lawyers from accepting "engagement or employment in
connection with any matter in which [they] had intervened while in said service." DHcEAa
Respondent was an incumbent punong barangay at the time he committed the act complained of.
Therefore, he was not covered by that provision.

45
SECTION 90 OF RA 7160, NOT
SECTION 7 (B) (2) OF RA 6713,
GOVERNS THE PRACTICE OF
PROFESSION OF ELECTIVE LOCAL
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
Section 7 (b) (2) of RA 6713 prohibits public officials and employees, during their incumbency, from
engaging in the private practice of their profession "unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided
that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions." This is the general law
which applies to all public officials and employees.
For elective local government officials, Section 90 of RA 7160 12 governs:
SEC. 90. Practice of Profession. (a) All governors, city and municipal mayors are
prohibited from practicing their profession or engaging in any occupation other than the
exercise of their functions as local chief executives.
(b) Sanggunian members may practice their professions, engage in any
occupation, or teach in schools except during session
hours: Provided, That sanggunian members who are members of the Bar shall
not:
(1) Appear as counsel before any court in any civil case wherein a
local government unit or any office, agency, or instrumentality of the
government is the adverse party;
(2) Appear as counsel in any criminal case wherein an officer or
employee of the national or local government is accused of an offense
committed in relation to his office;
(3) Collect any fee for their appearance in administrative proceedings
involving the local government unit of which he is an official; and
(4) Use property and personnel of the Government except when
the sanggunian member concerned is defending the interest of the
Government.
(c) Doctors of medicine may practice their profession even during official hours
of work only on occasions of emergency: Provided, That the officials concerned
do not derive monetary compensation therefrom.
This is a special provision that applies specifically to the practice of profession by elective local officials.
As a special law with a definite scope (that is, the practice of profession by elective local officials), it
constitutes an exception to Section 7 (b) (2) of RA 6713, the general law on engaging in the private
practice of profession by public officials and employees. Lex specialibus derogat generalibus. 13
Under RA 7160, elective local officials of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays are the following:
the governor, the vice governor and members of the sangguniang panlalawigan for provinces; the city
mayor, the city vice mayor and the members of the sangguniang panlungsod for cities; the municipal
mayor, the municipal vice mayor and the members of the sangguniang bayan for municipalities and
the punong barangay, the members of the sangguniang barangay and the members of the sangguniang
kabataan for barangays. jurcda

46
Of these elective local officials, governors, city mayors and municipal mayors are prohibited from
practicing their profession or engaging in any occupation other than the exercise of their functions as local
chief executives. This is because they are required to render full time service. They should therefore
devote all their time and attention to the performance of their official duties.
On the other hand, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang
bayan may practice their professions, engage in any occupation, or teach in schools except during
session hours. In other words, they may practice their professions, engage in any occupation, or teach in
schools outside their session hours. Unlike governors, city mayors and municipal mayors, members of
the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod orsangguniang bayan are required to hold
regular sessions only at least once a week. 14 Since the law itself grants them the authority to practice
their professions, engage in any occupation or teach in schools outside session hours, there is no longer
any need for them to secure prior permission or authorization from any other person or office for any of
these purposes.
While, as already discussed, certain local elective officials (like governors, mayors, provincial board
members and councilors) are expressly subjected to a total or partial proscription to practice their
profession or engage in any occupation, no such interdiction is made on the punong barangay and the
members of the sangguniang barangay. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. 15 Since they are excluded
from any prohibition, the presumption is that they are allowed to practice their profession. And this stands
to reason because they are not mandated to serve full time. In fact, the sangguniang barangay is
supposed to hold regular sessions only twice a month. 16

Accordingly, as punong barangay, respondent was not forbidden to practice his profession. However, he
should have procured prior permission or authorization from the head of his Department, as required by
civil service regulations.
A LAWYER IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE
WHO IS NOT PROHIBITED TO PRACTICE
LAW MUST SECURE PRIOR AUTHORITY
FROM THE HEAD OF HIS DEPARTMENT
A civil service officer or employee whose responsibilities do not require his time to be fully at the disposal
of the government can engage in the private practice of law only with the written permission of the head of
the department concerned. 17 Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules provides:
Sec. 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 the
Department: Provided, That this prohibition will be absolute in the case of those
officers and employees whose duties and responsibilities require that their entire time
be at the disposal of the Government; Provided, further, That if an employee is granted
permission to engage in outside activities, time so devoted outside of office hours
should be fixed by the agency to the end that it will not impair in any way the efficiency
of the officer or employee: And provided, finally,that no permission is necessary in the
case of investments, made by an officer or employee, which do not involve real or
apparent conflict between his private interests and public duties, or in any way
influence him in the discharge of his duties, and he shall not take part in the
management of the enterprise or become an officer of the board of directors.
(emphasis supplied) cCHETI

47
As punong barangay, respondent should have therefore obtained the prior written permission of the
Secretary of Interior and Local Government before he entered his appearance as counsel for Elizabeth
and Pastor. This he failed to do.
The failure of respondent to comply with Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules
constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer: to obey the laws. Lawyers are servants of the law, vires
legis, men of the law. Their paramount duty to society is to obey the law and promote respect for it. To
underscore the primacy and importance of this duty, it is enshrined as the first canon of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
In acting as counsel for a party without first securing the required written permission, respondent not only
engaged in the unauthorized practice of law but also violated civil service rules which is a breach of Rule
1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct. (emphasis supplied)
For not living up to his oath as well as for not complying with the exacting ethical standards of the legal
profession, respondent failed to comply with Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility: IAEcCT
CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND THE
DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE
INTEGRATED BAR. (emphasis supplied)
Indeed, a lawyer who disobeys the law disrespects it. In so doing, he disregards legal ethics and
disgraces the dignity of the legal profession.
Public confidence in the law and in lawyers may be eroded by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a
member of the bar. 18 Every lawyer should act and comport himself in a manner that promotes public
confidence in the integrity of the legal profession. 19
A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as an attorney for violation of the
lawyer's oath 20 and/or for breach of the ethics of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Vicente G. Rellosa is hereby found GUILTY of professional misconduct
for violating his oath as a lawyer and Canons 1 and 7 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. He is therefore SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six months effective
from his receipt of this resolution. He is sternly WARNED that any repetition of similar acts shall be dealt
with more severely.
Respondent is strongly advised to look up and take to heart the meaning of the word delicadeza.
Let a copy of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and entered into the records of
respondent Atty. Vicente G. Rellosa. The Office of the Court Administrator shall furnish copies to all the
courts of the land for their information and guidance. SCaITA
SO ORDERED.
||| (Catu v. Rellosa, A.C. No. 5738, [February 19, 2008], 569 PHIL 539-551)

48

FIRST DIVISION
[A.C. No. 5281. February 12, 2008.]
MANUEL L. LEE, complainant, vs. ATTY. REGINO B. TAMBAGO, respondent.

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J p:
In a letter-complaint dated April 10, 2000, complainant Manuel L. Lee charged respondent Atty. Regino
B. Tambago with violation of the Notarial Law and the ethics of the legal profession for notarizing a
spurious last will and testament.
In his complaint, complainant averred that his father, the decedent Vicente Lee, Sr., never executed the
contested will. Furthermore, the spurious will contained the forged signatures of Cayetano Noynay and
Loreto Grajo, the purported witnesses to its execution.
In the said will, the decedent supposedly bequeathed his entire estate to his wife Lim Hock Lee, save for
a parcel of land which he devised to Vicente Lee, Jr. and Elena Lee, half-siblings of complainant. IETCAS
The will was purportedly executed and acknowledged before respondent on June 30,
1965. 1 Complainant, however, pointed out that the residence certificate 2 of the testator noted in the
acknowledgment of the will was dated January 5, 1962. 3 Furthermore, the signature of the testator was
not the same as his signature as donor in a deed of donation 4 (containing his purported genuine
signature). Complainant averred that the signatures of his deceased father in the will and in the deed of
donation were "in any way (sic) entirely and diametrically opposed from (sic) one another in all
angle[s]." 5
Complainant also questioned the absence of notation of the residence certificates of the purported
witnesses Noynay and Grajo. He alleged that their signatures had likewise been forged and merely
copied from their respective voters' affidavits.
Complainant further asserted that no copy of such purported will was on file in the archives division of the
Records Management and Archives Office of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
In this connection, the certification of the chief of the archives division dated September 19, 1999 stated:
Doc. 14, Page No. 4, Book No. 1, Series of 1965 refers to an AFFIDAVIT executed by
BARTOLOME RAMIREZ on June 30, 1965 and is available in this Office['s]
files. 6 ICDcEA
Respondent in his comment dated July 6, 2001 claimed that the complaint against him contained false
allegations: (1) that complainant was a son of the decedent Vicente Lee, Sr. and (2) that the will in
question was fake and spurious. He alleged that complainant was "not a legitimate son of Vicente Lee, Sr.
and the last will and testament was validly executed and actually notarized by respondent per
affidavit 7 of Gloria Nebato, common-law wife of Vicente Lee, Sr. and corroborated by the joint
affidavit 8 of the children of Vicente Lee, Sr., namely Elena N. Lee and Vicente N. Lee, Jr. . . . ." 9 ATCEIc

49
Respondent further stated that the complaint was filed simply to harass him because the criminal case
filed by complainant against him in the Office of the Ombudsman "did not prosper".
Respondent did not dispute complainant's contention that no copy of the will was on file in the archives
division of the NCCA. He claimed that no copy of the contested will could be found there because none
was filed.
Lastly, respondent pointed out that complainant had no valid cause of action against him as he
(complainant) did not first file an action for the declaration of nullity of the will and demand his share in the
inheritance.
In a resolution dated October 17, 2001, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. 10
In his report, the investigating commissioner found respondent guilty of violation of pertinent provisions of
the old Notarial Law as found in the Revised Administrative Code. The violation constituted an
infringement of legal ethics, particularly Canon 1 11 and Rule 1.01 12 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility (CPR). 13 Thus, the investigating commissioner of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
recommended the suspension of respondent for a period of three months. HDTISa
The IBP Board of Governors, in its Resolution No. XVII-2006-285 dated May 26, 2006, resolved:
[T]o ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with
modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of
the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding
the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws
and rules, and considering Respondent's failure to comply with the laws in the
discharge of his function as a notary public, Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby
suspended from the practice of law for one year and Respondent's notarial commission
is Revoked and Disqualified from reappointment as Notary Public for two (2)
years. 14
We affirm with modification.
A will is an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain
degree the disposition of his estate, to take effect after his death. 15 A will may either be notarial or
holographic.
The law provides for certain formalities that must be followed in the execution of wills. The object of
solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door on bad faith and fraud, to avoid
substitution of wills and testaments and to guarantee their truth and authenticity. 16 aSIETH
A notarial will, as the contested will in this case, is required by law to be subscribed at the end thereof by
the testator himself. In addition, it should be attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses
in the presence of the testator and of one another. 17
The will in question was attested by only two witnesses, Noynay and Grajo. On this circumstance alone,
the will must be considered void. 18 This is in consonance with the rule that acts executed against the
provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their
validity.
The Civil Code likewise requires that a will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator
and the witnesses. 19 The importance of this requirement is highlighted by the fact that it was segregated
from the other requirements under Article 805 and embodied in a distinct and separate provision. 20

50
An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or
court and declaring it to be his act or deed. It involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signatory
actually declares to the notary public that the same is his or her own free act and deed. 21 The
acknowledgment in a notarial will has a two-fold purpose: (1) to safeguard the testator's wishes long after
his demise and (2) to assure that his estate is administered in the manner that he intends it to be
done. STIcaE
A cursory examination of the acknowledgment of the will in question shows that this particular
requirement was neither strictly nor substantially complied with. For one, there was the conspicuous
absence of a notation of the residence certificates of the notarial witnesses Noynay and Grajo in the
acknowledgment. Similarly, the notation of the testator's old residence certificate in the same
acknowledgment was a clear breach of the law. These omissions by respondent invalidated the will.
As the acknowledging officer of the contested will, respondent was required to faithfully observe the
formalities of a will and those of notarization. As we held in Santiago v. Rafanan: 22
The Notarial Law is explicit on the obligations and duties of notaries public. They are
required to certify that the party to every document acknowledged before him had
presented the proper residence certificate (or exemption from the residence tax); and to
enter its number, place of issue and date as part of such certification. HDTISa
These formalities are mandatory and cannot be disregarded, considering the degree of importance and
evidentiary weight attached to notarized documents. 23 A notary public, especially a lawyer, 24 is bound
to strictly observe these elementary requirements.
The Notarial Law then in force required the exhibition of the residence certificate upon notarization of a
document or instrument:
Section 251. Requirement as to notation of payment of [cedula] residence tax. Every
contract, deed, or other document acknowledged before a notary public shall have
certified thereon that the parties thereto have presented their proper [cedula] residence
certificate or are exempt from the [cedula] residence tax, and there shall be entered by
the notary public as a part of such certificate the number, place of issue, and date of
each [cedula] residence certificate as aforesaid. 25 AEITDH
The importance of such act was further reiterated by Section 6 of the Residence Tax Act 26 which stated:
When a person liable to the taxes prescribed in this Act acknowledges any document
before a notary public . . . it shall be the duty of such person . . . with whom such
transaction is had or business done, to require the exhibition of the residence certificate
showing payment of the residence taxes by such person . . . .
In the issuance of a residence certificate, the law seeks to establish the true and correct identity of the
person to whom it is issued, as well as the payment of residence taxes for the current year. By having
allowed decedent to exhibit an expired residence certificate, respondent failed to comply with the
requirements of both the old Notarial Law and the Residence Tax Act. As much could be said of his failure
to demand the exhibition of the residence certificates of Noynay and Grajo.
On the issue of whether respondent was under the legal obligation to furnish a copy of the notarized will
to the archives division, Article 806 provides:

51
Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and
the witness. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or
file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. (emphasis supplied) IDcTEA
Respondent's failure, inadvertent or not, to file in the archives division a copy of the notarized will was
therefore not a cause for disciplinary action.
Nevertheless, respondent should be faulted for having failed to make the necessary entries pertaining to
the will in his notarial register. The old Notarial Law required the entry of the following matters in the
notarial register, in chronological order: ACETID
1. nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him;
2. person executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument;
3. witnesses, if any, to the signature;
4. date of execution, oath, or acknowledgment of the instrument;
5. fees collected by him for his services as notary;
6. give each entry a consecutive number; and
7. if the instrument is a contract, a brief description of the substance of the
instrument. 27
In an effort to prove that he had complied with the abovementioned rule, respondent contended that he
had crossed out a prior entry and entered instead the will of the decedent. As proof, he presented a
photocopy of his notarial register. To reinforce his claim, he presented a photocopy of a
certification 28 stating that the archives division had no copy of the affidavit of Bartolome
Ramirez. AHcaDC
A photocopy is a mere secondary evidence. It is not admissible unless it is shown that the original is
unavailable. The proponent must first prove the existence and cause of the unavailability of the
original, 29 otherwise, the evidence presented will not be admitted. Thus, the photocopy of respondent's
notarial register was not admissible as evidence of the entry of the execution of the will because it failed
to comply with the requirements for the admissibility of secondary evidence.
In the same vein, respondent's attempt to controvert the certification dated September 21, 1999 30 must
fail. Not only did he present a mere photocopy of the certification dated March 15, 2000; 31 its contents
did not squarely prove the fact of entry of the contested will in his notarial register.
Notaries public must observe with utmost care 32 and utmost fidelity the basic requirements in the
performance of their duties, otherwise, the confidence of the public in the integrity of notarized deeds will
be undermined. 33
Defects in the observance of the solemnities prescribed by law render the entire will invalid. This
carelessness cannot be taken lightly in view of the importance and delicate nature of a will, considering
that the testator and the witnesses, as in this case, are no longer alive to identify the instrument and to
confirm its contents. 34 Accordingly, respondent must be held accountable for his acts. The validity of the
will was seriously compromised as a consequence of his breach of duty. 35 IEAacT
In this connection, Section 249 of the old Notarial Law provided:

52
Grounds for revocation of commission. The following derelictions of duty on the part
of a notary public shall, in the discretion of the proper judge of first instance, be
sufficient ground for the revocation of his commission:
xxx xxx xxx
(b) The failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his notarial
register touching his notarial acts in the manner required by law.
xxx xxx xxx
(f) The failure of the notary to make the proper notation regarding cedula
certificates. 36
These gross violations of the law also made respondent liable for violation of his oath as a lawyer and
constituted transgressions of Section 20 (a), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court 37 and Canon 1 38 and Rule
1.01 39 of the CPR. cHSIAC
The first and foremost duty of a lawyer is to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, uphold
the Constitution and obey the laws of the land. 40 For a lawyer is the servant of the law and belongs to a
profession to which society has entrusted the administration of law and the dispensation of justice. 41
While the duty to uphold the Constitution and obey the law is an obligation imposed on every citizen, a
lawyer assumes responsibilities well beyond the basic requirements of good citizenship. As a servant of
the law, a lawyer should moreover make himself an example for others to emulate. 42 Being a lawyer, he
is supposed to be a model in the community in so far as respect for the law is concerned. 43
The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. 44 A breach of these conditions justifies
disciplinary action against the erring lawyer. A disciplinary sanction is imposed on a lawyer upon a finding
or acknowledgment that he has engaged in professional misconduct. 45 These sanctions meted out to
errant lawyers include disbarment, suspension and reprimand. HaAIES
Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction. 46 We have held in a number of cases that
the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution 47 and should not be decreed if any punishment
less severe such as reprimand, suspension, or fine will accomplish the end desired. 48 The rule
then is that disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing
and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court. 49
Respondent, as notary public, evidently failed in the performance of the elementary duties of his office.
Contrary to his claims that he "exercised his duties as Notary Public with due care and with due regard to
the provision of existing law and had complied with the elementary formalities in the performance of his
duties . . .," we find that he acted very irresponsibly in notarizing the will in question. Such recklessness
warrants the less severe punishment of suspension from the practice of law. It is, as well, a sufficient
basis for the revocation of his commission 50 and his perpetual disqualification to be commissioned as a
notary public. 51
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby found guilty of professional misconduct.
He violated (1) the Lawyer's Oath; (2) Rule 138 of the Rules of Court; (3) Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility; (4) Art. 806 of the Civil Code and (5) the provisions of the old
Notarial Law.
Atty. Regino B. Tambago is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one year and his notarial
commission REVOKED. Because he has not lived up to the trustworthiness expected of him as a notary

53
public and as an officer of the court, he is PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED from reappointment as a
notary public. prcd
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to all the courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and the Office of the Bar Confidant, as well as made part of the personal records of respondent.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Lee v. Tambago, A.C. No. 5281, [February 12, 2008], 568 PHIL 363-378)

54

THIRD DIVISION
[A.M. No. RTJ-11-2271. September 24, 2012.]
(Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 09-3239-RTJ)
LUCIA O. MAGTIBAY, complainant, vs. JUDGE CADER P. INDAR, Al Haj., Regional
Trial Court, Branch 14, Cotabato City, respondent.

DECISION

PERALTA, J p:
Before this Court is an Administrative Complaint 1 filed by Lucia O. Magtibay (complainant), through
counsel, Atty. Frumencio E. Pulgar, against Judge Cader P. Indar, Al Haj (respondent judge) of the
Regional Trial Court of Cotabato City, Branch 14, for Gross Ignorance of the Law and deplorable conduct,
relative to Special Proceedings No. 2004-074 entitled In Re: Matter of Insolvencia Voluntaria De Olarte
Hermanos y Cia, Heirs of the Late Jose P. Olarte, et al.
The facts are as follows:
Complainant is one of the heirs of the late Jose Olarte, who was one of the original stockholders of Olarte
Hermanos y Cia. Upon the death of the stockholders/owners, the surviving heirs, including herein
complainant, filed a Petition for Involuntary Dissolution of the company before the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 14, Cotabato City, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 2004-074. During the course of the
proceedings, an Intervention was filed by Mercedita Taguba-Dumlao (Dumlao), acting as attorney-in-fact
of one Vicente Olarte, who was allegedly an heir of the late Jose Olarte.
Thereafter, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) constructed a national highway that
traversed about four kilometers of its distance within the property of Olarte Hermanos y Cia.
Subsequently, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14, Cotabato City granted petitioner's motion to direct the
Regional Director (Region XII) of the DPWH to cause the payment of the partial consideration of the road
right-of-way of the petitioners.
Complainant claimed that Dumlao collected a huge amount of money from the DPWH as compensation
for the road right-of-way claims of the heirs of Olarte Hermanos y Cia by forging, manufacturing, falsifying
documents and even fraudulently misrepresenting a non-existent person. Thus, complainant filed several
criminal cases against Mercedita Taguba-Dumlao before the Department of Justice.
Complainant and other petitioners then filed an Application for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or
Temporary Restraining Order, praying that an Order be issued enjoining the DPWH from entertaining any
claims submitted by Dumlao as well as prohibiting the latter from representing the petitioners before the
DPWH or any other government agency where the Olarte Hermanos y Cia have legal and subsisting
claims. Complainant also filed a Manifestation with Motion for Correction or Amendment of Caption,
accusing Dumlao of employing machination by making it appear in the pleadings that complainant's name

55
was "Lucia Olarte-Ong," and praying that the caption in Special Proceedings No. 2004-074 be amended
to reflect her legal and true name "Lucia Olarte-Magtibay." cIADTC
On March 17, 2009, respondent judge issued an Order 2 noting the Motion for Amendment of Caption.
However, anent the motion for the issuance of TRO, respondent judge required the intervenors to submit
a Comment within ten days from receipt of the Order and further ordered that upon submission of said
Comment, the case be set for hearing for reception of additional evidence and/or arguments from both
parties. Complainant claimed that Intervenors only took one week from March 17, 2009 to submit their
Comment but failed to furnish them a copy thereof.
In the disputed Order 3 dated March 26, 2009, respondent judge denied the Application for Writ of
Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order for utter lack of merit and berated complainant
for having allegedly filed libelous pleadings and threatened her with imposition of fine if the same
allegations are repeated.
However, complainant argued that there was no hearing on the Application for Writ of Preliminary
Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order that would determine the veracity of their allegations.
Complainant, hence, suspected that respondent judge was denying complainant's motions and request in
order to favor the intervenors. Complainant likewise pointed out that the context of respondent judge's
March 26, 2009 Order appeared as if he was "lawyering" for Dumlao and Vicente L. Olarte.
Complainant further claimed that they filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Inhibition of
respondent judge, but the said motion was left unresolved by respondent judge. It likewise did not help
that respondent judgeexhibited rude behavior against complainant's counsel and authorized
representative, Victoria S. Tolentino and Jommel L. Valles (Valles). Complainant claimed that said
representatives, particularly Valles, experienced unwarranted boorish and scurrilous treatment from
respondent judge.
In his Sinumpaang Salaysay, 4 Valles deposed that on May 18, 2009, he, together with complainant's
daughter, Leonida M. Delos Santos, tried to secure some documents relative to Special Proceedings No.
2004-074. However, after waiting for several hours, Valles claimed that respondent judge confronted them
and argued that they have no legal personality to acquire said documents, thus, denied their request. He
further narrated that while they were explaining that they were the same people who filed for certain
motions, respondent judge said, "Denied na ung motion nyo." Valles added that when Delos Santos
insisted on their request, respondent judge retorted "Huwag mo ng ituloy ang sasabihin mo kumukulo ang
dugo sa inyo lumayas na kayo marami akong problema." He claimed that respondent judge even
stated: "Ireklamo ninyo na ako ng administratibo sa Supreme Court at sila ang magsabi kung pwede ko
kayong bigyan ng kopya ng records." DSHcTC
Thus, the instant complaint against respondent judge.
On August 10, 2009, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) directed respondent judge to comment
on the complaint against him. 5
In his Comment 6 dated October 6, 2009, respondent judge argued that the Application for Preliminary
Injunction and/or TRO, Manifestation with Motion for Correction or Amendment of Caption, and the
Comment and Opposition thereto, presented no genuine issues that would warrant hearing of the same,
thus, the denial for lack of merit. Respondent judge further added that in fact complainant was already
estopped from asserting her claims and allegations as she had already received her share from the estate
and the DPWH.
Anent the unresolved Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Inhibition, respondent judge explained
that it was filed out of time, or twenty-seven (27) days after the issuance of the Order dated March 26,

56
2009 and presented no new issues. As to the matter of his inhibition, respondent judge claimed that the
same was merely based on suppositions and speculations without proof of his alleged bias. Thus,
respondent judge pointed out that his silence in resolving the aforesaid motions meant that he has
adopted the "Order of Denial" issued on March 26, 2009. Respondent judge further argued that "Pro
forma pleading, like the Motion for Reconsideration filed by complainant, is at the court's
discretion which may be disregarded, especially if the main case are grounded on falsities and
malicious imputations of unfounded accusation, hence, to the mind of the court, there is nothing
more to reconsider." 7
As to the allegation of respondent judge's denial of complainant's request to secure photocopies of certain
documents, respondent judge insisted that the denial was proper considering the following circumstances,
to wit: (a) complainant's counsel was already furnished with a copy of the Comment/Opposition, hence,
there was no need to provide them with a new copy; (b) the authorization letter to request for copies of
"other pertinent pleadings" failed to specify what documents were to be reproduced; (c) complainant has
no personality in Special Proceedings No. 2004-074, since she is neither a petitioner nor an intervenor
thereat; (d) the requested pleadings or documents would be used by complainant's counsel to support the
criminal complaint they filed against the intervenors with the DOJ; (e) the request came at a later date
after the Application for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order was denied on
March 26, 2009; and (f) the two Sinumpaang Salaysay separately executed by Jommel Valles and
Victoria Tolentino were self-serving documents containing allegations from "demented persons like
affiants." 8 TacSAE
In a Memorandum 9 dated December 15, 2010, the OCA found respondent judge guilty of Undue Delay in
Rendering an Order and Conduct Unbecoming a Judge, and recommended that respondent judge be
sternly warned and be fined in the amount of P20,000.00. It further recommended that the administrative
complaint against respondent judge be redocketed as a regular administrative matter.
On February 9, 2011, the Court resolved to re-docket the complaint as a regular administrative matter
against respondent judge. 10
RULING
The grant or denial of a writ of preliminary injunction in a pending case rests on the sound discretion of
the court taking cognizance of the case, since the assessment and evaluation of evidence towards that
end involves findings of facts left to the said court for its conclusive determination. Hence, the exercise of
judicial discretion by a court in injunctive matters must not be interfered with. 11 In the absence of fraud,
dishonesty, or corruption, as in this case, the acts of a judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to
disciplinary action.
However, in so far as the requirement of hearing in cases of denial of the application for the issuance of a
TRO, it must be emphasized that while it is true that the right to due process safeguards the opportunity
to be heard and to submit any evidence one may have in support of his claim or defense, the Court has
time and again held that where the opportunity to be heard, either through verbal arguments or pleadings,
is accorded, and the party can "present its side" or defend its "interest in due course," there is no denial of
due process. What the law proscribes is the lack of opportunity to be heard. 12 Indeed,
respondent judge's order for intervenors to submit their comments on the application for the issuance of
TRO constitutes substantial compliance in so far as the parties' right to due process since the latter do not
strictly call for a formal or trial-type hearing.
However, on the charge of undue delay in resolving the Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Inhibition, we
agree that respondent judge should be liable thereto. Respondent judge admitted that he did not act on
the motion pending before his court, albeit, he justified this by saying that his silence or inaction should be

57
construed as denial. We do not agree. Even assuming that respondent judge did not find the motion to be
meritorious, he could have simply acted on the said motions and indicated the supposed defects in his
resolutions instead of just leaving them unresolved. 13 CcSTHI
Undue delay in the disposition of cases and motions erodes the faith and confidence of the people in the
judiciary and unnecessarily blemishes its stature. No less than the Constitution mandates that lower
courts must dispose of their cases promptly and decide them within three months from the filing of the last
pleading, brief or memorandum required by the Rules of Court or by the court concerned. In addition,
a judge's delay in resolving, within the prescribed period, pending motions and incidents constitutes a
violation of Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct requiring judges to dispose of court business
promptly. 14
There should be no more doubt that undue inaction on judicial concerns is not just undesirable but more
so detestable, especially now when our all-out effort is directed towards minimizing, if not totally
eradicating, the perennial problem of congestion and delay long plaguing our courts. The requirement that
cases be decided within the reglementary period is designed to prevent delay in the administration of
justice, for obviously, justice delayed is justice denied. An unwarranted slow down in the disposition of
cases erodes the faith and confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers its standards and brings it into
disrepute. 15
We likewise agree with the OCA's finding that respondent exhibited rude behavior in dealing with the
public. Whether complainant and her counsel were entitled to the requested documents is not the issue,
but the manner of how he declined the request. Certainly, his statement which he did not deny: "Huwag
mo ng ituloy ang sasabihin mo kumukulo ang dugo sa inyo lumayas na kayo marami akong
problema" does not speak well of his position as member of the bench. Noticeably, even in his Comment,
respondent's choice of words was likewise inappropriate. 16 This we will not tolerate.
However, during the pendency of this case, we note that in A.M. No. RTJ-10-2232, 17 respondent has
already been dismissed from the service that already attained finality considering that respondent did not
file any motion for reconsideration. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that the same does not render
the instant case moot and academic because accessory penalties may still be imposed. SaCIAE
In Pagano v. Nazarro, Jr., 18 indeed, we held:
A case becomes moot and academic only when there is no more actual controversy
between the parties or no useful purpose can be served in passing upon the merits of
the case. The instant case is not moot and academic, despite the petitioner's
separation from government service. Even if the most severe of administrative
sanctions that of separation from service may no longer be imposed on the
petitioner, there are other penalties which may be imposed on her if she is later
found guilty of administrative offenses charged against her, namely,
the disqualification to hold any government office and the forfeiture of
benefits. 19
Under Section 9 (1), Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended by Administrative Matter No. 01-8-10SC, respondent's undue delay in rendering a decision is classified as a less serious offense. It is
punishable by suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one month nor
more than three months, or a fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00. In view of
respondent's dismissal from service, the OCA's recommendation of a fine in the amount of P20,000.00 is,
therefore, in order considering that respondent was found guilty for both undue delay in rendering an
order and conduct unbecoming of a judge.

58
WHEREFORE, this Court finds respondent CADER P. INDAR, Al Haj. GUILTY of Undue Delay in
Rendering an Order and Conduct Unbecoming of a Judge, and he is accordingly FINED in the amount of
Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00), to be deducted from his leave credits, if there is any.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Magtibay v. Indar, A.M. No. RTJ-11-2271, [September 24, 2012], 695 PHIL 617-627)

59

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. L-28546. July 30, 1975.]
VENANCIO CASTAEDA and NICETAS HENSON, petitioners, vs. PASTOR D. AGO,
LOURDES YU AGO and THE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

Quijano & Arroyo for petitioners.


Jose M. Luison for respondents.

SYNOPSIS
In a decision of the Supreme Court affirming a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila in a
replevin case, Pastor Ago was ordered to deliver personal properties or pay sums of money to the
plaintiffs therein. The case was consequently remanded to the trial court for execution, levy was made
on Ago's house and lots, and auction was scheduled. Ago moved to stop the sale, failing in which he filed
a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals which dismissed it. This dismissal was affirmed by the
Supreme Court. Efforts to obtain a writ of preliminary injunction having failed, the sheriff sold the house
and lots and awarded them to herein petitioners as highest bidders. As Ago failed to redeem, a final deed
of sale was executed in favor of the vendee in whose favor the Court of First Instance of Manila issued
writ of possession to the properties.
Subsequently, Ago, joined by his wife, filed with the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, an action to
annul the sheriff's sale on the ground that the obligation upon which judgment had been rendered
against Ago was his personal obligation that could not legally affect his wife's half-share in their conjugal
house and lots levied upon and sold for the satisfaction of the judgment. The Quezon City court issued an
ex parte writ of preliminary injunction restraining the registration of the final deeds of sale and the carrying
out of any writ of possession. For a couple of times this was lifted and then restored, before the said court
finally lifted the restraining order. While these processes were being pursued, Ago filed with the Supreme
Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition praying for a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the sheriff
from enforcing the writ of possession. The same was dismissed for lack of merit and so with a similar
petition in the Court of Appeals. The dismissal by the Court of Appeals was the subject of another petition
in the Supreme Court which was likewise dismissed.
Finally, the spouses succeeded in having another petition of the same nature given due course by the
Court of Appeals which granted, and later made permanent, the preliminary injunction from enforcement
of the writ of possession on and ejectment from the one-half share in the properties involved belonging to
the wife. This decision of the Court of Appeals is the subject of the instant petition.
The Supreme Court ruled that an injunction cannot be availed of to protect a wife's half-share in the
conjugal properties for her share is merely an inchoate interest, not a right in esse. It likewise condemned
respondents and their counsel's misuse of legal remedies and maneuver of tactics for fourteen years to
resist satisfaction of judgment. It motu proprio examined the records of Civil Case Q-7986 (the mother
case of the present action) and found that the alleged causes of action in the complaint, supplemented
and amended, are all untenable.

60
Judgment of the Court of Appeals reversed; the civil case, in which Ago was joined by his wife ordered
dismissed without prejudice to the re-filing of petitioner's counterclaim in a new and independent action;
treble costs against respondents to be paid by their lawyer.

SYLLABUS
1. COURTS; ORDERS; INTERFERENCE WITH ORDERS OF A CO-EQUAL COURT NOT ALLOWED;
DOCTRINE INAPPLICABLE IN CASE AT BAR. The CFI of Manila, in Civil Case No. 27251, issued a
writ of possession to the properties sold to enforce a writ of execution. The CFI of Quezon City, in Civil
Case Q-7986, countermanded this order by issuing an ex parte writ of preliminary injunction restraining
the registration of the final deeds of sale and carrying out of any writ of possession. Subsequently, the
latter court lifted the preliminary injunction it had previously issued. The Court of Appeals, in another
petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction (CA GR-39438-R) granted preliminary
injunction against the enforcement of the writ of possession on and ejectment from the one-half share in
the properties involved. HELD: The doctrine that a court may not interfere with the orders of a co-equal
court cannot apply in the case at bar. The CFI of Manila, which issued the writ of possession, ultimately
was not interfered with by its co-equal court, the CFI of Quezon City, as the latter lifted the restraining
order it had previously issued against the enforcement of the Manila court's writ of possession. It is the
Court of Appeals that enjoined, in part, the enforcement of the writ.
2. JUDGMENTS; EXECUTION; ISSUANCE OF WRIT OF POSSESSION; RIGHTS OF THIRD PARTIES,
EFFECT; RULING IN THE CASE OF OMNAS vs. RIVERA. The ruling in the case of Omnas vs. Rivera,
67 Phil. 419, is not that a writ of possession may not issue until the claim of a third person is adversely
determined, but that the writ of possession being a complement of the writ of execution, a judge with
jurisdiction to issue the latter also has jurisdiction to issue the former, unless in the interval between the
judicial sale and the issuance of a writ of possession, the rights of third parties to the property sold have
supervened. This ruling is inapplicable to the present case for here, there has been no change in the
ownership of the properties or any interest therein from the time the writ of execution was issued up to the
time the writ of possession was issued, and even up to the present.
3. ID.; ID.; LEVY ON PROPERTY OF JUDGMENT DEBTOR; CLAIM FOR EXCLUSION FROM LEVY OF
SPOUSE'S CONJUGAL SHARE BARRED BY LACHES. It is much too late in the day for the
respondents to raise the question that part of the property is unleviable because it belongs to the wife who
was not a party to her husband's business venture which failed and resulted in the replevin suit and which
did not benefit the conjugal partnership, considering that (1) a wife is normally privy to her husband's
activities; (2) the levy was made and the properties advertised for auction sale in 1961; (3) she lives in the
very properties in question; (4) her husband had moved to stop the auction sale; (5) the properties were
sold at auction in 1963; (6) her husband had thrice attempted to obtain a preliminary injunction to restrain
the sheriff from enforcing the writ of execution; (7) the sheriff executed the deed of final sale on April 17,
1964, when Pastor Ago failed to redeem; (8) the husband had impliedly admitted that the conjugal
properties could be levied upon by his pleas "to save his family house and lot" in his efforts to prevent
execution and; (9) it was only on May 2, 1964 when he and his wife filed the complaint for annulment of
the sheriff's sale upon the issue that the wife's share in the properties cannot be levied upon on the
ground that she was not a party to the logging business and not a party to the replevin suit. The spouses
had every opportunity to raise the issue in the various proceedings but did not; laches now effectively
bars them from raising it.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; WIFE'S HALF-SHARE IN THE PROPERTY LEVIED A MERE EXPECTANCY;
INJUNCTION NOT AVAILABLE TO PROTECT A RIGHT NOT IN ESSE. The Court of Appeals decision

61
enjoined the enforcement of the writ of possession to and ejectment from the one-half share in the
properties involved belonging to the wife of the judgment debtor. HELD: That half-share is not in esse, but
is merely an inchoate interest, a mere expectancy, constituting neither legal nor equitable estate, and will
ripen into title only when upon liquidation and settlement there appears to be assets of the community.
The decision sets at naught the well-settled rule that injunction does not issue to protect a right not in
esseand which may never arise.
5. ID.; ID.; ID.; MISUSE OF LEGAL REMEDIES TO THWART SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT,
CONDEMNABLE. The attitude of respondents and their counsel of maneuvering for fourteen years to
doggedly resist execution of the judgment thru manifold tactics in and from one court to another is to be
condemned because far from viewing courts as sanctuaries for those who seek justice, they tried to use
them to subvert the very ends of justice.
6. ATTORNEYS; CONDUCT; LAWYER'S INSISTENCE DESPITE PATENT FUTILITY OF HIS CLIENT'S
POSITION, A DISREGARD OF HIS MISSION AS AN OFFICER OF THE COURT. Where counsel has
allowed himself to become an instigator of controversy and a predator of conflict instead of a mediator for
concord and a conciliator for compromise, a virtuoso of technicality in the conduct of litigation instead of a
true exponent of the primacy of truth and moral justice, he has forgotten his sacred mission as a sworn
public servant and his exalted position as an officer of the court.

DECISION

CASTRO, J p:
The parties in this case, except Lourdes Yu Ago, have been commuting to this Court for more than a
decade.
In 1955 the petitioners Venancio Castaeda and Nicetas Henson filed a replevin suit against
Pastor Ago in the Court of First Instance of Manila to recover certain machineries (civil case 27251). In
1957 judgment was rendered in favor of the plaintiffs, ordering Ago to return the machineries or pay
definite sums of money. Ago appealed, and on June 30, 1961 this Court, in Ago vs. Castaeda, L-14066,
affirmed the judgment. After remand, the trial court issued on August 25, 1961 a writ of execution for the
sum of P172,923.87. Ago moved for a stay of execution but his motion was denied, and levy was made
on Ago's house and lots located in Quezon City. The sheriff then advertised them for auction sale on
October 25, 1961. Ago moved to stop the auction sale, failing in which he filed a petition for certiorari with
the Court of Appeals. The appellate court dismissed the petition and Ago appealed. On January 31, 1966
this Court, in Ago vs. Court of Appeals, et al., L-19718, affirmed the dismissal. Ago thrice attempted to
obtain a writ of preliminary injunction to restrain the sheriff from enforcing the writ of execution "to save his
family house and lot;" his motions were denied, and the sheriff sold the house and lots on March 9, 1963
to the highest bidders, the petitioners Castaeda and Henson. Ago failed to redeem, and on April 17,
1964 the sheriff executed the final deed of sale in favor of the vendees Castaeda and Henson. Upon
their petition, the Court of First Instance of Manila issued a writ of possession to the properties.

However, on May 2, 1964 Pastor Ago, now joined by his wife, Lourdes Yu Ago, as his co-plaintiff, filed a
complaint in the Court of First Instance of Quezon City (civil case Q-7986) to annul the sheriff's sale on
the ground that the obligation of Pastor Ago upon which judgment was rendered against him in the

62
replevin suit was his personal obligation, and that Lourdes Yu Ago's one-half share in their conjugal
residential house and lots which were levied upon and sold by the sheriff could not legally be reached for
the satisfaction of the judgment. They alleged in their complaint that wife Lourdes was not a party in the
replevin suit, that the judgment was rendered and the writ of execution was issued only against husband
Pastor, and that wife Lourdes was not a party to her husband's venture in the logging business which
failed and resulted in the replevin suit and which did not benefit the conjugal partnership.
The Court of First Instance of Quezon City issued an ex parte writ of preliminary injunction restraining the
petitioners, the Register of Deeds and the sheriff of Quezon City, from registering the latter's final deed of
sale, from cancelling the respondents' certificates of title and issuing new ones to the petitioners are from
carrying out any writ of possession. A situation thus arose where what the Manila court had ordered to be
done, the Quezon City court countermanded. On November 1, 1965, however, the latter court lifted the
preliminary injunction it had previously issued, and the Register of Deeds of Quezon City cancelled the
respondents' certificates of title and issued new ones in favor of the petitioners. But enforcement of the
writ of possession was again thwarted as the Quezon City court again issued a temporary restraining
order which it later lifted but then re-restored. On May 3, 1967 the court finally, and for the third time, lifted
the restraining order.
While the battle on the matter of the lifting and restoring of the restraining order was being fought in the
Quezon City court, the Agos filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with this Court under date of May
26, 1966, docketed as L-26116, praying for a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the sheriff from
enforcing the writ of possession. This Court found no merit in the petition and dismissed it in a minute
resolution on June 3, 1966; reconsideration was denied on July 18, 1966. The respondents then filed on
August 2, 1966 a similar petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. 37830R), praying for the same preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals also dismissed the petition. The
respondents then appealed to this Court (L-27140). We dismissed the petition in a minute resolution on
February 8, 1967.
The Ago spouses repaired once more to the Court of Appeals where they filed another petition for
certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction (CA-G.R. 39438-R). The said court gave due course
to the petition and granted preliminary injunction. After hearing, it rendered decision, the dispositive
portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, writ of preliminary injunction from enforcement of the writ of
possession and ejectment from the one-half share in the properties involved belonging
to Lourdes Yu Ago dated June 15, 1967 is made permanent pending decision on the
merits in Civil Case No. Q-7986 and ordering respondent Court to proceed with the trial
of Civil Case No. Q-7986 on the merits without unnecessary delay. No pronouncement
as to costs."
Failing to obtain reconsideration, the petitioners Castaeda and Henson filed the present petition for
review of the aforesaid decision.
1. We do not see how the doctrine that a court may not interfere with the orders of a co-equal court can
apply in the case at bar. The Court of First Instance of Manila, which issued the writ of possession,
ultimately was not interfered with by its co-equal court, the Court of First Instance of Quezon City as the
latter lifted the restraining order it had previously issued against the enforcement of the Manila court's writ
of possession; it is the Court of Appeals that enjoined, in part, the enforcement of the writ.
2. Invoking Comilang vs. Buendia, et al., 1 where the wife was a party in one case and the husband was a
party in another case and a levy on their conjugal properties was upheld, the petitioners would have
Lourdes Yu Ago similarly bound by the replevin judgment against her husband for which their conjugal

63
properties would be answerable. The case invoked is not at par with the present case. In Comilang the
actions were admittedly instituted for the protection of the common interest of the spouses; in the present
case, the Agos deny that their conjugal partnership benefited from the husband's business venture.
3. Relying upon Omnas vs. Rivera, 67 Phil. 419, the Court of Appeals held that a writ of possession may
not issue until the claim of a third person to half-interest in the property is adversely determined, the said
appellate court assuming that Lourdes Yu Ago was a "stranger" or a "third-party" to her husband. The
assumption is of course obviously wrong, for, besides living with her husband Pastor, she does not claim
ignorance of his business that failed, of the relevant cases in which he got embroiled, and of the auction
sale made by. the sheriff of their conjugal properties. Even then, the ruling in Omnas is not that a writ of
possession may not issue until the claim of a third person is adversely determined, but that the writ of
possession being a complement of the writ of execution, a judge with jurisdiction to issue the latter also
has jurisdiction to issue the former, unless in the interval between the judicial sale and the issuance of the
writ of possession, the rights of third parties to the property sold have supervened. The ruling in Omnas is
clearly inapplicable in the present case, for, here, there has been no change in the ownership of the
properties or of any interest therein from the time the writ of execution was issued up to the time writ of
possession was issued, and even up to the present.
4. We agree with the trial court (then presided by Judge Lourdes P. San Diego) that it is much too late in
the day for the respondents Agos to raise the question that part of the property is unleviable because it
belongs to Lourdes Yu Ago, considering that (1) a wife is normally privy to her husband's activities; (2) the
levy was made and the properties advertised for auction sale in 1961; (3) she lives in the very properties
in question; (4) her husband had moved to stop the auction sale; (5) the properties were sold at auction in
1963; (6) her husband had thrice attempted to obtain a preliminary injunction to restrain the sheriff from
enforcing the writ of execution; (7) the sheriff executed the deed of final sale on April 17, 1964 when
Pastor failed to redeem; (8) Pastor had impliedly admitted that the conjugal properties could be levied
upon by his pleas "to save his family house and lot" in his efforts to prevent execution; and (9) it was only
on May 2, 1964 when he and his wife filed the complaint for annulment of the sheriff's sale upon the issue
that the wife's share in the properties cannot be levied upon on the ground that she was not a party to the
logging business and not a party to the replevin suit. The spouses Ago had every opportunity to raise the
issue in the various proceedings hereinbefore discussed but did not; laches now effectively bars them
from raising it.
"Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained
length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been
done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time,
warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or
declined to assert it." 2
5. The decision of the appellate court under review suffers from two fatal infirmities.
(a) It enjoined the enforcement of the writ of possession to and ejectment from the one-half share in the
properties involved belonging to Lourdes Yu Ago. This half-share is not in esse, but is merely an inchoate
interest, a mere expectancy, constituting neither legal nor equitable estate, and will ripen into title when
only upon liquidation and settlement there appears to be assets of the community. 3 The decision sets at
naught the well-settled rule that injunction does not issue to protect a right not in esse and which may
never arise. 4
(b) The decision did not foresee the absurdity, or even the impossibility, of its enforcement.
The Ago spouses admittedly live together in the same house 5 which is conjugal property. By the Manila
court's writ of possession Pastor could be ousted from the house, but the decision under review would

64
prevent the ejectment of Lourdes. Now, which part of the house would be vacated by Pastor and which
part would Lourdes continue to stay in? The absurdity does not stop here; the decision would actually
separate husband and wife, prevent them from living together, and in effect divide their conjugal
properties during coverture and before the dissolution of the conjugal union.
6. Despite the pendency in the trial court of the complaint for the annulment of the sheriff's sale (civil case
Q-7986), elementary justice demands that the petitioners, long denied the fruits of their victory in the
replevin suit, must now enjoy them, for, the respondents Agos, abetted by their lawyer Jose M. Luison,
have misused legal remedies and prostituted the judicial process to thwart the satisfaction of the
judgment, to the extended prejudice of the petitioners. The respondents, with the assistance of counsel,
maneuvered for fourteen (14) years to doggedly resist execution of the judgment thru manifold tactics in
and from one court to another (5 times in the Supreme Court).
We condemn the attitude of the respondents and their counsel who,

"far from viewing courts as sanctuaries for those who seek justice, have tried to use
them to subvert the very ends of justice." 6
Forgetting his sacred mission as a sworn public servant and his exalted position as an officer of the court,
Atty. Luison has allowed himself to become an instigator of controversy and a predator of conflict instead
of a mediator for concord and a conciliator for compromise, a virtuoso of technicality in the conduct of
litigation instead of a true exponent of the primacy of truth and moral justice.
"A counsel's assertiveness in espousing with candour and honesty his client's cause
must be encouraged and is to be commended; what we do not and cannot
countenance is a lawyer's insistence despite the patent futility of his client's position, as
in the case at bar.
"It is the duty of a counsel to advise his client, ordinarily a layman to the intricacies and
vagaries of the law, on the merit or lack of merit of his case. If he finds that his client's
cause is defenseless, then it is his bounden duty to advise the latter to acquiesce and
submit, rather than traverse the incontrovertible. A lawyer must resist the whims and
caprices of his client, and temper his client's propensity to litigate. A lawyer's oath to
uphold the cause of justice is superior to his duty to his client; its primacy is
indisputable." 7
7. In view of the private respondents' propensity to use the courts for purposes other than to seek justice,
and in order to obviate further delay in the disposition of the case below which might again come up to the
appellate courts but only to fail in the end, we have motu proprio examined the record of civil case Q-7986
(the mother case of the present case). We find that
(a) the complaint was filed on May 2, 1964 (more than 11 years ago) but trial on the
merits has not even started;
(b) after the defendants Castanedas had filed their answer with a counterclaim, the
plaintiffs Agos filed a supplemental complaint where they impleaded new partiesdefendants;
(c) after the admission of the supplemental complaint, the Agos filed a motion to admit
an amended supplemental complaint, which impleads an additional new partydefendant (no action has yet been taken on this motion);

65
(d) the defendants have not filed an answer to the admitted supplemental complaint;
and
(e) the last order of the Court of First Instance, dated April 20, 1974, grants an
extension to the suspension of time to file answer.
(Expediente, p. 815)
We also find that the alleged causes of action in the complaint, supplemental complaint and amended
supplemental complaint are all untenable, for the reasons hereunder stated.
The Complaint
Upon the first cause of action, it is alleged that the sheriff levied upon conjugal properties of the
spouses Ago despite the fact that the judgment to be satisfied was personal only to Pastor Ago, and the
business venture that he entered into, which resulted in the replevin suit, did not redound to the benefit of
the conjugal partnership. The issue here, which is whether or not the wife's inchoate share in the conjugal
property is leviable, is the same issue that we have already resolved, as barred by laches, in striking
down the decision of the Court of Appeals granting preliminary injunction, the dispositive portion of which
was herein-before quoted. This ruling applies as well to the first cause of action of the complaint.
Upon the second cause of action, the Agos allege that on January 5, 1959 the Castaedas and the
sheriff, pursuant to an alias writ of seizure, seized and took possession of certain machineries, depriving
the Agos of the use thereof, to their damage in the sum of P256,000 up to May 5, 1964. This second
cause of action fails to state a valid cause of action for it fails to allege that the order of seizure is invalid
or illegal.
It is averred as a third cause of action that the sheriff's sale of the conjugal properties was irregular, illegal
and unlawful because the sheriff did not require the Castaeda spouses to pay or liquidate the sum of
P141,750 (the amount for which they bought the properties at the auction sale) despite the fact that there
was annotated at the back of the certificates of title a mortgage of P75,000 in favor of the Philippine
National Bank; moreover, the sheriff sold the properties for P141,750 despite the pendency of L-19718
where Pastor Ago contested the amount of P99,877.08 out of the judgment value of P172,923.37 in civil
case 27251; and because of said acts, the Agos suffered P174,877.08 in damages.
Anent this third cause of action, the sheriff was under no obligation to require payment of the purchase
price in the auction sale because "when the purchaser is the judgment creditor, and no third-party claim
has been filed, he need not pay the amount of the bid if it does not exceed the amount of his judgment."
(Sec. 23, Rule 39, Rules of Court)
The annotated mortgage in favor of the PNB is the concern of the vendees Castaedas but did not affect
the sheriff's sale; the cancellation of the annotation is of no moment to the Agos.
Case L-19718 where Pastor Ago contested the sum of P99,877.08 out of the amount of the judgment was
dismissed by this Court on January 31, 1966.
This third cause of action, therefore, actually states no valid cause of action and is moreover barred by
prior judgment.
The fourth cause of action pertains to moral damages allegedly suffered by the Agos on account of the
acts complained of in the preceding causes of action. As the fourth cause of action derives its life from the
preceding causes of action, which, as shown, are baseless, the said fourth cause of action must
necessarily fail.
The Counterclaim

66
As a counterclaim against the Agos, the Castaedas aver that the action was unfounded and as a
consequence of its filing they were compelled to retain the services of counsel for not less than P7,500;
that because the Agos obtained a preliminary injunction enjoining the transfer of titles and possession of
the properties to the Castaedas, they were unlawfully deprived of the use of the properties from April 17,
1964, the value of such deprived use being 20% annually of their actual value; and that the filing of the
unfounded action besmirched their feelings, the pecuniary worth of which is for the court to assess.
The Supplemental Complaint
Upon the first cause of action, it is alleged that after the filing of the complaint, the defendants, taking
advantage of the dissolution of the preliminary injunction, in conspiracy and with gross bad faith and
evident intent to cause damage to the plaintiffs, caused the registration of the sheriff's final deed of sale;
that, to cause more damage, the defendants sold to their lawyer and his wife two of the parcels of land in
question; that the purchasers acquired the properties in bad faith; that the defendants mortgaged the two
other parcels to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation while the defendants' lawyer and his wife also
mortgaged the parcels bought by them to the Rizal Commercial Bank; and that the bank also acted in bad
faith.
The second cause of action consists of an allegation of additional damages caused by the defendants'
bad faith in entering into the aforesaid agreements and transactions.
The Amended Supplemental Complaint
The amendment made pertains to the first cause of action of the supplemental complaint, which is, the
inclusion of a paragraph averring that, still to cause damage and prejudice to the plaintiffs, Atty. & Mrs.
Juan Quijano, in bad faith sold the two parcels of land they had previously bought to Eloy Ocampo who
acquired them also in bad faith, while Venancio Castaeda and Nicetas Henson in bad faith sold the two
other parcels to Juan Quijano (60%) and Eloy Ocampo (40%) who acquired them in bad faith and with
knowledge that the properties are the subject of a pending litigation.
Discussion on The Causes of Action
of The Supplemental Complaint And
The Amended Supplemental Complaint
Assuming hypothetically as true the allegations in the first cause of action of the supplemental complaint
and the amended supplemental complaint, the validity of the cause of action would depend upon the
validity of the first cause of action of the original complaint, for, the Agos would suffer no transgression
upon their rights of ownership and possession of the properties by reason of the agreements
subsequently entered into by the Castaedas and their lawyer if the sheriff's levy and sale are valid. The
reverse is also true: if the sheriff's levy and sale are invalid on the ground that the conjugal properties
could not be levied upon, then the transactions would perhaps prejudice the Agos, but, we have already
indicated that the issue in the first cause of action of the original complaint is barred by laches, and it must
therefore follow that the first cause of action of the supplemental complaint and the amended
supplemental complaint is also barred.
For the same reason, the same holding applies to the remaining cause of action in the supplemental
complaint and the amended supplemental complaint.
ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Court of Appeals under review is set aside. Civil case Q-7986 of the
Court of First Instance of Rizal is ordered dismissed, without prejudice to the re-filing of the petitioners'
counterclaim in a new and independent. action. Treble costs are assessed against the spouses
Pastor Ago and Lourdes Yu Ago, which shall be paid by their lawyer, Atty. Jose M. Luison. Let a copy of
this decision be made a part of the personal file of Atty. Luison in the custody of the Clerk of Court.

67
Makasiar, Esguerra, Muoz Palma and Martin, JJ., concur.
||| (Castaeda v. Ago, G.R. No. L-28546, [July 30, 1975], 160 PHIL 524-536)

68

FIRST DIVISION
[Adm. Case No. 1117. March 20, 1944.]
THE DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS, complainant, vs. ESTANISLAO
R. BAYOT, respondent.

Solicitor General De la Costa and Solicitor Feria for complainant.


Francisco Claravall for respondent.

SYLLABUS
ATTORNEYS AT LAW; SOLICITATION OF BUSINESS FROM THE PUBLIC. It is
undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics
of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127
expressly provides among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of
gain, either personally or thru paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for
an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession
and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts the
practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member of
the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers of old defiled
the temple of Jehovah. "The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a young
lawyer, . . . is the establishment of a well- merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to
trust. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of
Ethics.)

DECISION

OZAETA, J p:
The respondent, who is an attorney-at-law, is charged with malpractice for having published
an advertisement in the Sunday Tribune of June 13, 1943, which reads as follows:
"Marriage
"license promptly secured thru our assistance & the annoyance of delay or
publicity avoided if desired, and marriage arranged to wishes of parties. Consultation
on any matter free for the poor. Everything confidential.
"Legal assistance service
12 Escolta, Manila, Room 105
Tel. 2-41-60."

69
Appearing in his own behalf, respondent at first denied having published the said
advertisement; but subsequently, thru his attorney, he admitted having caused its publication and
prayed for "the indulgence and mercy" of the Court, promising "not to repeat such professional
misconduct in the future and to abide himself to the strict ethical rules of the law profession." In further
mitigation he alleged that the said advertisement was published only once in the Tribune and that he
never had any case at law by reason thereof.
Upon that plea the case was submitted to the Court for decision.
It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent
of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of
Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the
purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly
unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a
profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts
the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member
of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers of old
defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a
young lawyer, . . . is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and
fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27,
Code of Ethics.)
In In re Tagorda, 53 Phil., 37, the respondent attorney was suspended from the practice of
law for the period of one month for advertising his services and soliciting work from the public by
writing circular letters. That case, however, was more serious than this because there the solicitations
were repeatedly made and were more elaborate and insistent.
Considering his plea for leniency and his promise not to repeat the misconduct, the Court is
of the opinion and so decides that the respondent should be, as he hereby is, reprimanded.
Yulo, C.J., Moran, Horrilleno, Paras, and Bocobo, JJ., concur.
||| (Director of Religious Affairs v. Bayot, Adm. Case No. 1117, [March 20, 1944], 74 PHIL 579-581)

70

SECOND DIVISION
[Adm. Case No. 1053. September 7, 1979.]
SANTA PANGAN, complainant, vs. ATTY. DIONISIO RAMOS, respondent.

RESOLUTION

ANTONIO, J p:
This has reference to the motion of complainant, Santa Pangan, to cite respondent
Dionisio Ramos for contempt. It appears from the record that on September 7, 1978 and March
13, 1979, the hearings in this administrative case were postponed on the basis of respondent's
motions for postponement. These motions were predicated on respondent's allegations that on
said dates he had a case set for hearing before Branch VII, Court of First Instance of Manila,
entitled People v. Marieta M. Isip (Criminal Case No. 35906). Upon verification, the attorney of
record of the accused in said case is one "Atty. Pedro D.D. Ramos, 306 Doa Salud Bldg.,
Dasmarias, Manila." Respondent admits that he used the name of "Pedro D.D. Ramos" before
said court in connection with Criminal Case No. 35906, but avers that he had a right to do so
because in his Birth Certificate (Annex "A"), his name is "Pedro Dionisio Ramos", and his
parents are Pedro Ramos and Carmen Dayaw, and that the "D.D." in "Pedro D.D. Ramos" is
but an abbreviation of "Dionisio Dayaw", his other given name and maternal surname. cdll
This explanation of respondent is untenable. The name appearing in the "Roll of
Attorneys" is "Dionisio D. Ramos". The attorney's roll or register is the official record containing
the names and signatures of those who are authorized to practice law. A lawyer is not
authorized to use a name other than the one inscribed in the Roll of Attorneys in his practice of
law.
The official oath obliges the attorney solemnly to swear that he "will do no falsehood".
As an officer in the temple of justice, an attorney has irrefragable obligations of "truthfulness,
candor and frankness". 1 Indeed, candor and frankness should characterize the conduct of the
lawyer at every stage. This has to be so because the court has the right to rely upon him in
ascertaining the truth. In representing himself to the court as "Pedro D.D. Ramos" instead of
"Dionisio D. Ramos", respondent has violated his solemn oath.
The duty of an attorney to the courts to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the
causes confided to him, such means as are consistent with truth and honor, cannot be
overemphasized. These injunctions circumscribe the general duty of entire devotion of the
attorney to the client. As stated in a case, his "high vocation is to correctly inform the court upon
the law and the facts of the case, and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at correct
conclusions. He violates his oath of office when he resorts to deception, or permits his client to
do so." 2
In using the name of "Pedro D.D. Ramos" before the courts instead of the name by
which he was authorized to practice law Dionisio D. Ramos respondent in effect resorted
to deception. He demonstrated lack of candor in dealing with the courts. The circumstance that

71
this is his first aberration in this regard precludes Us from imposing a more severe
penalty. LLphil
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Dionisio D. Ramos is severely
REPRIMANDED and warned that a repetition of the same overt act may warrant his
suspension or disbarment from the practice of law.
It appearing that the hearing of this case has been unduly delayed, the Investigator of
this Court is directed forthwith to proceed with the hearing to terminate it as soon as possible.
The request of complainant to appear in the afore-mentioned hearing, assisted by her counsel,
Atty. Jose U. Lontoc, is hereby granted.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Pangan v. Ramos, Adm. Case No. 1053 (Resolution), [September 7, 1979], 181 PHIL 343-346)

72

EN BANC
[A.C. No. 2131. May 10, 1985.]
ADRIANO E. DACANAY, complainant, vs. BAKER & MCKENZIE and JUAN G.
COLLAS, JR., LUIS MA. GUERRERO, VICENTE A. TORRES, RAFAEL E.
EVANGELISTA, JR., ROMEO L. SALONGA, JOSE R. SANDEJAS, LUCAS M.
NUNAG, J. CLARO TESORO, NATIVIDAD B. KWAN and JOSE A. CURAMMENG,
JR., respondents.

Adriano E. Dacanay for and in his own behalf.


Madrid, Cacho, Angeles, Dominguez & Pecson Law Office for respondents.

DECISION

AQUINO, J p:
Lawyer Adriano E. Dacanay, admitted to the bar in 1954, in his 1980 verified complaint, sought to enjoin
Juan G. Collas, Jr. and nine other lawyers from practising law under the name of Baker & McKenzie, a
law firm organized in Illinois.
In a letter dated November 16, 1979 respondent Vicente A. Torres, using the letterhead of Baker &
McKenzie, which contains the names of the ten lawyers, asked Rosie Clurman for the release of 87
shares of Cathay Products International, Inc. to H. E. Gabriel, a client.
Attorney Dacanay, in his reply dated December 7, 1979, denied any liability of Clurman to Gabriel. He
requested that he be informed whether the lawyer of Gabriel is Baker & McKenzie "and if not, what is your
purpose in using the letterhead of another law office." Not having received any reply, he filed the instant
complaint.
We hold that Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm, cannot practice law in the Philippines (Sec. 1,
Rule 138, Rules of Court). As admitted by the respondents in their memorandum, Baker & McKenzie is a
professional partnership organized in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois with members and associates in 30 cities
around the world. Respondents, aside from being members of the Philippine bar, practising under the firm
name of Guerrero & Torres, are members or associates of Baker & Mckenzie. LLphil
As pointed out by the Solicitor General, respondents' use of the firm name Baker & McKenzie constitutes
a representation that being associated with the firm they could "render legal services of the highest quality
to multinational business enterprises and others engaged in foreign trade and investment" (p. 3,
respondents' memo). This is unethical because Baker & McKenzie is not authorized to practice law here.
(See Ruben E. Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1983 Ed., p. 115.)
WHEREFORE, the respondents are enjoined from practising law under the firm name Baker & McKenzie.
SO ORDERED.

73
||| (Dacanay v. Baker & Mckenzie, A.C. No. 2131, [May 10, 1985], 221 PHIL 62-64)

74

EN BANC
[Bar Matter No. 491. October 6, 1989.]
IN THE MATTER OF THE INQUIRY INTO
THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES.

THE 1989 ELECTIONS OF

SYLLABUS
1. LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS; INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES; NON-POLITICAL IN
CHARACTER; OFFICERS, DELEGATES AND GOVERNORS CHOSEN ON THE BASIS OF
PROFESSIONAL MERIT AND ABILITY TO SERVE. A basic postulate of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), heavily stressed at the time of its organization and commencement of existence, is that
the IBP shall be non-political in character and that there shall be no lobbying nor campaigning in the
choice of members of the Board of Governors and of the House of Delegates, and of the IBP officers,
national, or regional, or chapter. The fundamental assumption was that officers, delegates and. governors
would be chosen on the basis of professional merit and willingness and ability to serve.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; VIOLATION OF IBP BY-LAWS. It is evident that the manner in which the principal
candidates for the national positions in the Integrated Bar conducted their campaign preparatory to
the elections on June 3, 1989, violated Section 14 of the IBP By-Laws and made a travesty of the idea of
a "strictly non-political" Integrated Bar enshrined in Section 4 of the By-Laws. The setting up of campaign
headquarters by the three principal candidates (Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo) in five-star hotels: The
Philippine Plaza, the Holiday Inn and The Hyatt the better for them to corral and entertain the
delegates billeted therein; the procurement of written commitments and the distribution of nomination
forms to be filled up by the delegates; the reservation of rooms for delegates in three big hotels, at the
expense of the presidential candidates; the use of a PNB plane by Drilon and some members of her ticket
to enable them to "assess their chances" among the chapter presidents in the Bicol provinces; all these
practices made a political circus of the proceedings and tainted the whole election process.
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; VIOLATION OF THE ETHICS OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION. The candidates and
many of the participants in that election not only violated the By-Laws of the IBP but also the ethics of the
legal profession which imposes on all lawyers, as a corollary of their obligation to obey and uphold
the constitution and the laws, the duty to "promote respect for law and legal processes" and to abstain
from "activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system" (Rule 1.02,
Canon 1, Code of Professional Responsibility). Respect for law is gravely eroded when lawyers
themselves, who are supposed to be minions of the law, engage in unlawful practices and cavalierly
brush aside the very rules that the IBP formulated for their observance. The unseemly ardor with which
the candidates pursued the presidency of the association detracted from the dignity of the legal
profession. The spectacle of lawyers bribing or being bribed to vote one way or another, certainly did not
uphold the honor of the profession nor elevate it in the public's esteem.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ANNULMENT OF IBP ELECTION. The much coveted "power" erroneously
perceived to be inherent in that office might have caused the corruption of the IBP elections. To impress
upon the participants in that electoral exercise the seriousness of the misconduct which attended it and
the stern disapproval with which it is viewed by this Court, and to restore the non-political character of the

75
IBP and reduce, if not entirely eliminate, expensive electioneering for the top positions in the organization
which, as the recently concluded elections revealed, spawned unethical practices which seriously
diminished the stature of the IBP as an association of the practitioners of a noble and honored profession,
the Court hereby ORDERS: The IBP elections held on June 3, 1989 should be as they are hereby
annulled.
5. INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES; IBP BY-LAWS PROVIDING DIRECT ELECTION BY THE
HOUSE OF DELEGATES OF NATIONAL OFFICERS, REPEALED. The provisions of the IBP By-Laws
for the direct election by the House of Delegates (approved by this Court in its resolution of July 9, 1980
in Bar Matter No. 287) of the following national officers: (a) the officers of the House of Delegates; (b) the
IBP president; and (c) the executive vice-president, are repealed.
6. ID.; FORMER SYSTEM OF HAVING THE IBP PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT
ELECTED BY THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS, RESTORED. The former system of having the IBP
President and Executive Vice-President elected by the Board of Governors (composed of the governors
of the nine [9] IBP regions) from among themselves (as provided in Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP ByLaws) should be restored. The right of automatic succession by the Executive Vice-President to the
presidency upon the expiration of their two-year term (which was abolished by this Court's resolution
dated July 9, 1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby restored.
7. ID.; RIGHT OF AUTOMATIC SUCCESSION BY THE EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT TO THE
PRESIDENCY UPON EXPIRATION OF THEIR TWO-YEAR TERM, RESTORED. At the end of the
President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-President shall automatically succeed to the office of
president. The incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive Vice-President from among
themselves. The position of Executive Vice-President shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions.
One who has served as president may not run for election as Executive Vice-President in a succeeding
election until after the rotation of the presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been completed;
whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.
8. ID.; SPECIAL ELECTIONS FOR THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS IN THE NINE (9) IBP REGIONS
WITHIN THREE (3) MONTHS AFTER THE PROMULGATION OF THE RESOLUTION IN THE CASE
AT BAR; ORDERED. Special elections for the Board of Governors shall be held in the nine (9) IBP
regions within three (3) months after the promulgation of the Court's resolution in this case. Within thirty
(30) days thereafter, the Board of Governors shall meet at the IBP Central Office in Manila to elect from
among themselves the IBP national president and executive vice-president. In these special elections, the
candidates in the election of the national officers held on June 3, 1989, particularly identified in Sub-Head
3 of this Resolution entitled "Formation of Tickets and Single Slates," as well as those identified in this
Resolution as connected with any of the irregularities attendant upon that election, are ineligible and may
not present themselves as candidate for any position.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM p:
In the election of the national officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereafter "IBP") held on
June 3, 1989 at the Philippine International Convention Center (or PICC), the following were elected by
the House of Delegates (composed of 120 chapter presidents or their alternates) and proclaimed as
officers:

76
NAME POSITION
Atty. Violeta Drilon President
Atty. Bella Tiro Executive Vice-President
Atty. Salvador Lao Chairman, House of Delegates
Atty. Renato F. Ronquillo Secretary, House of Delegates
Atty. Teodoro Quicoy Treasurer, House of Delegates
Atty. Oscar Badelles Sergeant-at-Arms, House of Delegates
Atty. Justiniano Cortes Governor & Vice-President for Northern Luzon
Atty. Ciriaco Atienza Governor & Vice-President for
Central Luzon
Atty. Mario Jalandoni Governor & Vice-President for
Metro Manila
Atty. Jose Aguilar Grapilon Governor & Vice-President for
Southern Luzon
Atty. Teodoro Almine Governor & Vice-President for
Bicolandia
Atty. Porfirio Siyangco Governor & Vice-President for
Eastern Visayas
Atty. Ricardo Teruel Governor & Vice-President for
Western Visayas
Atty. Gladys Tiongco Governor & Vice-President for
Eastern Mindanao
Atty. Simeon Datumanong Governor & Vice-President for
Western Mindanao
The newly-elected officers were set to take their oath of office on July 4, 1989, before the Supreme
Court en banc. However, disturbed by the widespread reports received by some members of the Court
from lawyers who had witnessed or participated in the proceedings and the adverse comments published
in the columns of some newspapers about the intensive electioneering and overspending by the
candidates, led by the main protagonists for the office of president of the association, namely, Attorneys
Nereo Paculdo, Ramon Nisce, and Violeta C. Drilon, the alleged use of government planes, and the
officious intervention of certain public officials to influence the voting, all of which were done in violation of
the IBP By-Laws which prohibit such activities, the Supreme Court en banc, exercising its power of
supervision over the Integrated Bar, resolved to suspend the oath-taking of the IBP officers-elect and to
inquire into the veracity of the reports.
It should be stated at the outset that the election process itself (i.e. the voting and the canvassing of votes
on June 3, 1989) which was conducted by the "IBP Comelec," headed by Justice Reynato Puno of the
Court of Appeals, was unanimously adjudged by the participants and observers to be above board. For
Justice Puno took it upon himself to device safeguards to prevent tampering with, and marking of, the
ballots.
What the Court viewed with considerable concern was the reported electioneering and extravagance that
characterized the campaign conducted by the three candidates for president of the IBP.
I. MEDIA ACCOUNT OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
Emil Jurado, in his column "IBP Group Questions Drilon Election" (Manila Standard, Sunday, June
17, 1989), Luis Mauricio, in two successive columns: "The Invertebrated Bar" (Malaya, June 10, 1989)
and "The Disintegrating Bar" (Malaya, June 20, 1989), and Teodoro Locsin, Jr. in an article, entitled "PamPam" (The Philippines Free Press, July 8, 1989), and the editorial, entitled "Wrong Forum" of the Daily

77
Globe (June 8, 1989), were unanimously critical of the "vote-buying and pressure tactics" allegedly
employed in the campaign by the three principal candidates: Attys. Violeta C. Drilon, Nereo Paculdo and
Ramon Nisce who reportedly "poured heart, soul, money and influence to win over the 120 IBP
delegates."

Mr. Jurado mentioned the resentment of Atty. Drilon's rivals who felt at a disadvantage because Atty.
Drilon allegedly used PNB helicopters to visit far-flung IBP chapters on the pretext of distributing Bigay
Puso donations, and she had the added advantage of having regional directors and labor arbiters of the
Department of Labor and Employment (who had been granted leaves of absence by her husband, the
Labor Secretary) campaigning for her. Jurado's informants alleged that there was rampant vote-buying by
some members of the U.P. Sigma Rho Fraternity (Secretary Drilon's fraternity), as well as by some
lawyers of ACCRA (Angara, Concepcion, Cruz, Regala and Abello Law Office) where Mrs. Drilon is
employed, and that government positions were promised to others by the office of the Labor Secretary.
Mr. Mauricio in his column wrote about the same matters and, in addition, mentioned "talk of personnel of
the Department of Labor, especially conciliators and employers, notably Chinese Filipinos, giving aid and
comfort to her (Atty. Drilon's) candidacy," the billeting of out-of-town delegates in plush hotels where they
were reportedly "wined and dined continuously, womened, and subjected to endless haggling over the
price of their votes . . ." which allegedly "ranged from P15,000 to P20,000, and, on the day of the election,
some twelve to twenty votes which were believed crucial, appreciated to P50,000."
In his second column, Mr. Mauricio mentioned "how a top official of the judiciary allegedly involved himself
in IBP politics on election day by closeting himself with campaigners as they plotted their election strategy
in a room of the PICC (the Philippine International Convention Center where the convention/election were
held) during a recess . . ."
Mr. Locsin in his column and editorial substantially reechoed Mauricio's reports with some
embellishments.
II. THE COURT'S DECISION TO INVESTIGATE.
Responding to the critical reports, the Court, in its en banc resolution dated June 15, 1989, directed the
outgoing and incoming members of the IBP Board of Governors, the principal officers and Chairman of
the House of Delegates to appear before it on Tuesday, June 20, 1989, at 2:00 o'clock p.m., and there to
inform the Court on the veracity of the aforementioned reports and to recommend, for the consideration of
the Court, appropriate approaches to the problem of confirming and strengthening adherence to the
fundamental principles of the IBP.
In that resolution the Court "call[ed] to mind that a basic postulate of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP), heavily stressed at the time of its organization and commencement of existence, is that the IBP
shall be non-political in character and that there shall be no lobbying nor campaigning in the choice of
members of the Board of Governors and of the House of Delegates, and of the IBP officers, national, or
regional, or chapter. The fundamental assumption was that officers, delegates and. governors would be
chosen on the basis of professional merit and willingness and ability to serve."
The resolution went on to say that the "Court is deeply disturbed to note that in connection with the
election of members of the Board of Governors and of the House of Delegates, there is a widespread
belief, based on reports carried by media and transmitted as well by word of mouth, that there was
extensive and intensive campaigning by candidates for IBP positions as well as expenditure of
considerable sums of money by candidates, including vote-buying, direct or indirect."

78
The venerable retired Supreme Court Justice and IBP President Emeritus, Jose B.L. Reyes, attended the
dialogue, upon invitation of the Court, to give counsel and advice. The meeting between the Court en
banc on the one hand, and the outgoing and in-coming IBP officers on the other, was an informal one.
Thereafter, the Court resolved to conduct a formal inquiry to determine whether the prohibited acts and
activities enumerated in the IBP By-Laws were committed before and during the 1989 elections of IBP's
national officers.
The Court en banc formed a committee and designated Senior Associate Justice Andres R. Narvasa, as
Chairman, and Associate Justices Teodoro R. Padilla, Emilio A. Gancayco, Abraham F. Sarmiento, and
Carolina C. Grio-Aquino, as members, to conduct the inquiry. The Clerk of Court, Atty. Daniel Martinez,
acted as the committee's Recording Secretary.
A total of forty-nine (49) witnesses appeared and testified in response to subpoenas issued by the Court
to shed light on the conduct of the elections. The managers of three five-star hotels the Philippine
Plaza, the Hyatt, and the Holiday Inn where the three protagonists (Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo) allegedly
set up their respective headquarters and where they billeted their supporters were summoned. The
officer of the Philippine National Bank and the Air Transport Office were called to enlighten the Court on
the charge that an IBP presidential candidate and the members of her slate used PNB planes to ferry
them to distant places in their campaign to win the votes of delegates. The Philippine Airlines officials
were called to testify on the charge that some candidates gave free air fares to delegates to the
convention. Officials of the Labor Department were also called to enable the Court to ascertain the truth of
the reports that labor officials openly campaigned or worked for the election of Atty. Drilon.
The newspaper columnists, Messrs. Luis Mauricio, Jesus Bigornia, and Emil Jurado were subpoenaed to
determine the nature of their sources of information relative to the IBP elections. Their stories were
based, they said, on letters, phone calls and personal interviews with persons who claimed to have
knowledge of the facts, but whom they, invoking the Press Freedom Law, refused to identify. cdll
The Committee has since submitted its Report after receiving, and analyzing and assessing evidence
given by such persons as were perceived to have direct and personal knowledge of the relevant facts;
and the Court, after deliberating thereon, has Resolved to accept and adopt the same.
III. PROHIBITED ACTS AND PRACTICES UNDER IBP BY-LAWS.
Article I, Section 4 of the IBP By-Laws emphasizes the "strictly non-political" character of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, thus:
"SEC. 4. Non-political Bar. The Integrated Bar is strictly non-political, and every
activity tending to impair this basic feature is strictly prohibited and shall be penalized
accordingly. No lawyer holding an elective, judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office
in the Government or any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof shall be eligible
for election or appointment to any position in the Integrated Bar or any Chapter thereof.
A Delegate, Governor, officer or employee of the Integrated Bar, or an officer or
employee of any Chapter thereof shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his
position as of the moment he files his certificate of candidacy for any elective public
office or accepts appointment to any judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the
Government or any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof."
Section 14 of the same By-Laws enumerates the prohibited acts relative to IBP elections:
"SEC. 14. Prohibited acts and practices relative to elections. The following acts and
practices relative to election are prohibited, whether committed by a candidate for any

79
elective office in the Integrated Bar or by any other member, directly or indirectly, in any
form or manner, by himself or through another person:
(a) Distribution, except on election day, of election campaign material;
(b) Distribution, on election day, of election campaign material other than a statement of
the biodata of a candidate on not more than one page of a legal-size sheet of paper; or
causing distribution of such statement to be done by persons other than those
authorized by the officer presiding at the elections;
(c) Campaigning for or against any candidate, while holding an elective, judicial, quasijudicial or prosecutory office in the Government or any political subdivision, agency or
instrumentality thereof;
(d) Formation of tickets, single slates, or combinations of candidates, as well as the
advertisement thereof;
(e) For the purpose of inducing or influencing a member to withhold his vote, or to vote
for or against a candidate, (1) payment of the dues or other indebtedness of any
member; (2) giving of food, drink, entertainment, transportation or any article of value,
or any similar consideration to any person; or (3) making a promise or causing an
expenditure to be made, offered or promised to any person."
Section 12(d) of the By-Laws prescribes sanctions for violations of the above rules:
"(d) Any violation of the rules governing elections or commission of any of the
prohibited acts and practices defined in Section 14 (Prohibited Acts and Practices
relative to elections) of the by-laws of the Integrated Bar shall be a ground for the
disqualification of a candidate or his removal from office if elected, without prejudice to
the imposition of sanctions upon any erring member pursuant to the By-laws of
the Integrated Bar."
At the formal investigation which was conducted by the investigating committee, the following violations
were established:
(1) Prohibited campaigning and solicitation of votes by the candidates for president, executive vicepresident, the officers of the House of Delegates and Board of Governors.
The three candidates for IBP president Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo began travelling around the
country to solicit the votes of delegates as early as April 1989. Upon the invitation of IBP President, Leon
Garcia, Jr. (t.s.n., July 13, 1989, p. 4), they attended the Bench and Bar dialogues held in Cotabato in
April 1989 (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, p. 123), in Tagaytay City, Pampanga, and in Baguio City (during the
conference of chapter presidents of Northern Luzon (t.s.n., July 3, 1989, p. 113; t.s.n., July 10, p. 41;
t.s.n., July 13, p. 47) where they announced their candidacies and met the chapter presidents.

Atty. Nisce admitted that he went around the country seeking the help of IBP chapter officers, soliciting
their votes, and securing their written endorsements. He personally hand-carried nomination forms and
requested the chapter presidents and delegates to fill up and sign the forms to formalize their commitment
to his nomination for IBP President. He started campaigning and distributing the nomination forms in
March 1989 after the chapter elections which determined the membership of the House of Delegates
composed of the 120 chapter presidents (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-86). He obtained forty (40)
commitments. He submitted photocopies of his nomination forms which read:

80
"Nomination Form
I Join in Nominating
RAMON M. NISCE
as
National President of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines

Chapter Signature"
Among those who signed the nomination forms were: Onofre P. Tejada, Candido P. Balbin, Jr., Conizado
V. Posadas, Quirico L. Quirico, Ernesto S. Salun-at, Gloria C. Agunos, Oscar B. Bernardo, Feliciano F.
Wycoco, Amor L. Ibarra, Jose M. Atienza, Jose N. Contreras, Romeo T. Mendoza, Leo C. Medialdea, Jr.,
Paulino G. Clarin, Julius Z. Neri, Roem J. Arbolado, Democrito M. Perez, Abelardo Fermin, Diosdado B.
Villarin, Jr., Daniel C. Macaraeg, Confesor R. Sansano, Dionisio E. Bala, Jr., Ernesto A. Amores, Romeo
V. Pefianco, Augurio C. Pamintuan, Atlee T. Viray, Ceferino C. Cabanas, Jose S. Buban, Diosdado Z.
Reloj, Jr., Cesar C. Viola, Oscar C. Fernandez, Ricardo B. Teruel, Rodrigo R. Flores, Sixto Marella, Jr.,
Arsenio C. Villalon, Renato F. Ronquillo, Antonio G. Nalapo, Romualdo A. Din, Jr., Jose P. Icaonapo, Jr.,
and Manuel S. Pecson.
Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms at the Hyatt Hotel based on the commitments he had
obtained (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-85). Unfortunately, despite those formal commitments, he obtained
only 14 votes in the election (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, p. 86). The reason, he said, is that some of those who
had committed their votes to him were "manipulated, intimidated, pressured, or remunerated" (t.s.n., June
29, 1989, pp. 86-95; Exhibit "M-4-Nisce," t.s.n., July 4, 1989, pp. 100-104).
(2) Use of PNB plane in the campaign.
The records of the Philippine National Bank (Exhibit C-1-Crudo and Exhibit C-2-Crudo) show that
Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR)
borrowed a plane from the Philippine National Bank for his Bicol CORD (Cabinet Officers for Regional
Development) Assistant, Undersecretary Antonio Tria. The plane manifest (Exh. C-2-Crudo) listed Atty.
Violeta Drilon, Arturo Tusi (Tiu), Assistant Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Tony
Tria, Atty. Gladys Tiongco, and Amy Wong. Except for Tony Tria, the rest of the passengers were IBP
candidates.
Atty. Drilon admitted that she "hitched" a ride on a PNB plane. She said that she was informed by Atty. Tiu
about the availability of a PNB plane (t.s.n., July 3, 1989, pp. 116-118).
Atty. Tiu, who ran for the position of IBP executive vice-president in the Drilon ticket, testified that
sometime in May 1989 he failed to obtain booking from the Philippine Airlines for the projected trip of his
group to Bicol. He went to the DENR allegedly to follow up some papers for a client. While at the DENR,
he learned that Assistant Secretary Tria was going on an official business in Bicol for Secretary Fulgencio
Factoran and that he would be taking a PNB plane. As Assistant Secretary Tria is his fraternity brother, he
asked if he, together with the Drilon group, could hitch a ride on the plane to Bicol. His request was
granted. Their purpose in going to Bicol was to assess their chances in the IBP elections. The Drilon
company talked with the IBP chapter presidents in Daet, Naga, and Legaspi, and asked for their support
(t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 5-49).
Assistant Secretary Antonio S. Tria confirmed the use of a PNB plane by Atty. Drilon and her group. He
recalled that on May 23, 1989, DENR Secretary Factoran instructed him to go to Bicol to monitor certain

81
regional development projects there and to survey the effect of the typhoon that hit the region in the
middle of May. On the same day, Atty. Tiu, a fraternity brother (meaning that Tiu belongs to the Sigma Rho
fraternity) went to the DENR office and requested the Secretary (Factoran) if he (Tiu) could be allowed to
hitch a ride on the plane. Assistant Secretary Tria, together with the Drilon group which included Attorneys
Drilon, Grapilon, Amy Wong, Gladys Tiongco, and Tiu, took off at the Domestic Airport bound for Naga,
Daet and Legaspi. In Legaspi the Drilon group had lunch with Atty. Vicente Real, Jr., an IBP chapter
president (t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 54-69).
(3) Formation of tickets and single slates.
The three candidates, Paculdo, Nisce and Drilon, admitted having formed their own slates for the election
of IBP national officers on June 3, 1989.
Atty. Paculdo's slate consisted of himself for President; Bella D. Tiro, for Executive Vice-President; and for
Governors: Justiniano P. Cortez (Northern Luzon), Oscar C. Fernandez (Central Luzon), Mario C.V.
Jalandoni (Greater Manila), Petronilo A. de la Cruz (Southern Luzon), Teodorico C. Almine, Jr.
(Bicolandia), Ricardo B. Teruel (Western Visayas), Porfirio P. Siyangco (Eastern Visayas), Jesus S.
Anonat (Western Mindanao), Guerrero A. Adaza, Jr. (Eastern Mindanao) (Exhibit M-Nisce).
The Drilon ticket consisted of: Violeta C. Drilon for President, Arturo Tiu for Executive Vice President,
Salvador Lao for Chairman of the House of Delegates, and, for Governors: Basil Rupisan (Northern
Luzon), Acong Atienza (Central Luzon), Amy Wong (Metro Manila), Jose Grapilon (Southern Tagalog),
Teodoro Almine (Bicolandia), Baldomero Estenzo (Eastern Visayas), Joelito Barrera (Western Visayas),
Gladys Tiongco (Eastern Mindanao), Simeon Datumanong (Western Mindanao) (Exhibit M-1-Nisce).
Atty. Ramon N. Nisce's line-up listed himself and Confessor B. Sansano, Benjamin B. Bernardino, Antonio
L. Nalapo, Renato F. Ronquillo, Gloria C. Agunos, Mario Valderrama, Candido P. Balbin, Jr., Oscar C.
Fernandez, Cesar G. Viola, Leo C. Medialdea, Jr., Vicente P. Tordilla, Jr., Jose S. Buban, Joel A. Llosa,
Jesus T. Albacite, and Oscar V. Badelles.
(4) Giving free transportation to out-of-town delegates and alternates.
Atty. Nisce admitted having bought plane tickets for some delegates to the convention. He mentioned
Oscar Badelles to whom he gave four round-trip tickets (worth about P10,000) from Iligan City to Manila
and back. Badelles was a voting delegate. Nisce, however, failed to get a written commitment from him
because Atty. Medialdea assured him (Nisce) "sigurado na 'yan, h'wag mo nang papirmahin."
Badelles won as sergeant-at-arms, not in Nisce's ticket, but in that of Drilon.
Badelles admitted that Nisce sent him three airplane tickets, but he (Badelles) said that he did not use
them, because if he did, he would be committed to Nisce, and he (Badelles) did not want to be committed
(t.s.n., July 4, 1989, pp. 77-79, 95-96).
Nisce also sent a plane ticket to Atty. Atilano, who was his candidate, and another ticket to Mrs. Linda Lim
of Zamboanga.
Records of the Philippine Airlines showed that Atty. Nisce paid for the plane tickets of Vicente Real, Jr.
(Exh. D-1-Calica), Romeo Fortes (Exh. D-1-Calica), Cesar Batica (Exh. D-2-Calica), Jose Buban of Leyte
(Exh. D-2-Calica), Delsanto Resuello (Exh. D-3-Calica), and Ceferino Cabanas (Exh. D-3-Calica). LLpr
In spite of his efforts and expense, only one of Nisce's candidates won: Renato Ronquillo of Manila 4, as
Secretary of the House of Delegates (t.s.n. July 3, p. 161).
(5) Giving free hotel accommodations, food, drinks, entertainment to delegates.

82
(a) ATTY. NEREO PACULDO
Atty. Paculdo alleged that he booked 24 regular rooms and three suites at the Holiday Inn, which served
as his headquarters. The 24 rooms were to be occupied by his staff (mostly ladies) and the IBP
delegates. The three suites were to be occupied by himself, the officers of the Capitol Bar Association,
and Atty. Mario Jalandoni. He paid P150,000 for the hotel bills of his delegates at the Holiday Inn, where a
room cost P990 per day with breakfast.
Those listed as guests of Atty. Paculdo at the Holiday Inn were: Ernesto C. Perez, Tolomeo Ligutan,
Judge Alfonso Combong, Ricardo Caliwag, Antonio Bisnar, Benedicto Balajadia, Jesus Castro, Restituto
Villanueva, Serapio Cribe, Juanito Subia, Teodorico J. Almine, Rudy Gumban, Roem Arbolado, Ricardo
Teruel, Shirley Moises, Ramon Roco, Alberto Trinidad, Teodoro Quicoy, Manito Lucero, Fred Cledera,
Vicente Tordilla, Julian Ocampo, Francisco Felizmenio, Marvel Clavecilla, Amador Capiral, Eufronio
Maristela, Porfirio Siyangco, William Llanes, Jr., Marciano Neri, Guerrero Adaza, Diosdado Peralta, Luis
C. Formilleza, Jr., Democrito Perez, Bruno Flores, Dennis Rendon, Judge Ceferino Chan, Mario
Jalandoni, Kenneth Siruelo, Bella Tiro, Antonio Santos, Tiburcio Edano, James Tan, Cesilo A. Adaza,
Francisco Roxas, Angelita Gacutan, Jesse Pimentel, Judge Jaime Hamoy, Jesus Anonat, Carlos Egay,
Judge Carlito Eisma, Judge Jesus Carbon, Joven Zach, and Benjamin Padon.
Noel de Guzman, Holiday Inn's credit manager, testified that Atty. Paculdo booked 52 (not 24) rooms,
including the presidential suite, which was used as the Secretariat. The group bookings were made by
Atty. Gloria Paculdo, the wife of Nereo Paculdo (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 63-68). The total sum of
P227,114.89 was paid to Holiday Inn for the use of the rooms.
(b) ATTY. VIOLETA C. DRILON
The delegates and supporters of Atty. Drilon were billeted at the Philippine Plaza Hotel where her
campaign manager, Atty. Renato Callanta, booked 40 rooms, 5 of which were suites. According to Ms.
Villanueva, Philippine Plaza banquet and conventions manager, the contract that Atty. Callanta signed
with the Philippine Plaza was made in the name of the "IBP c/o Atty. Callanta."

Mrs. Lourdes Juco, a sales manager of the Philippine Plaza, recalled that it was Mr. Mariano Benedicto
who first came to book rooms for the IBP delegates. She suggested that he obtain a group (or
discounted) rate. He gave her the name of Atty. Callanta who would make the arrangements with her. Mr.
Benedicto turned out to be the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
The total sum of P316,411.53 was paid by Atty. Callanta for the rooms, food, and beverages consumed by
the Drilon group, with an unpaid balance of P302,197.30. Per Attorney Daniel Martinez's last telephone
conversation with Ms. Villanueva, Atty. Callanta still has an outstanding account of P232,782.65 at
Philippine Plaza.
Atty. Callanta admitted that he signed the contract for 40 rooms at the Philippine Plaza. He made a
downpayment of P123,000. His "working sheet" showed that the following persons contributed for that
down payment:
(a) Nilo Pea (Quasha Law Office) P25,000
(b) Antonio Carpio 20,000
(c) Toto Ferrer (Carpio Law Office) 10,000
(d) Jay Castro 10,000
(e) Danny Deen 20,000
(f) Angangco Tan (Angara Law Office) 10,000

83
(g) Alfonso Reyno 20,000
(h) Cosme Rossel 15,300
(t.s.n. July 4, 1989, pp. 3-4)
Atty. Callanta explained that the above listed persons have been contributing money every time the IBP
embarks on a project. This time, they contributed so that their partners or associates could attend the
legal aid seminar and the IBP convention too.
Atty. Drilon alleged that she did not know that Atty. Callanta had billeted her delegates at the Philippine
Plaza. She allegedly did not also know in whose name the room she occupied was registered. But she did
ask for a room where she could rest during the convention. She admitted, however, that she paid for her
hotel room and meals to Atty. Callanta, through Atty. Loanzon (t.s.n. July 3, 1989).
The following were listed as having occupied the rooms reserved by Atty. Callanta at the Philippine Plaza:
Violeta Drilon, Victoria A. Verciles, Victoria C. Loanzon, Leopoldo A. Consulto, Ador Lao, Victoria Borra,
Aimee Wong, Callanta, Pea, Tiu, Gallardo, Acong Atienza, D. Bernardo, Amores, Silao, Caingat, Manuel
Yuson, Simeon Datumanong, Manuel Pecson, Sixto Marella, Joselito Barrera, Radon, Macalalag, Oscar
Badelles, Antonio Acyatan, Ildefonso C. Puerto, Nestor Atienza, Gil Batula, Array Corot, Dimakuta Corot,
Romeo Fortez, Irving Petilla, Teodoro Palma, Gil Palma, Danilo Deen, Delsanto, Resuello, Araneta,
Vicente Real, Sylvio Casuncad, Espina, Guerrero, Julius Neri, Linda Lim, Ben Lim, C. Batica, Luis
Formilleza, Felix Macalag, Mariano Benedicto, II, Atilano, Araneta, Renato Callanta.
Atty. Nilo Pea admitted that the Quasha Law Office of which he is a senior partner, gave P25,000 to
Callanta for rooms at the Philippine Plaza so that some members of his law firm could campaign for the
Drilon group (t.s.n. July 5, 1989, pp. 76-78) during the legal aid seminar and the IBP convention. Most of
the members of his law firm are fraternity brothers of Secretary Drilon (meaning, members of the Sigma
Rho Fraternity). He admitted being sympathetic to the candidacy of Atty. Drilon and the members of her
slate, two of whom, Jose Grapilon and Simeon Datumanong are Sigma Rhoans. They consider Atty.
Drilon as a "sigma rho sister," her husband being a sigma rhoan.
Atty. Antonio Carpio, also a Sigma Rhoan, reserved a room for the members of his own firm who attended
the legal aid seminar and the convention. He made the reservation through Atty. Callanta to whom he
paid P20,000 (t.s.n. July 6, 1989, pp. 30-34).
Atty. Carpio assisted Atty. Drilon in her campaign during the convention, by soliciting the votes of
delegates he knew, like Atty. Albacite, his former teacher (but the latter was already committed to Nisce),
and Atty. Romy Fortes, a classmate of his in the U.P. College of Law (t.s.n. July 6, 1989, pp. 22, 29, 39).
(c) ATTY. RAMON NISCE.
Atty. Nisce, through his brother-in-law, Ricardo Paras, entered into a contract with the Hyatt Hotel for a
total of 29 rooms plus one (1) seventh-floor room. He made a downpayment of P20,000 (t.s.n. June
28, 1989, p. 58) on April 20, 1989, and P37,632.45 on May 10, or a total of P57,632.45.
Ms. Cecile Flores, Ms. Milagros Ocampo, and Mr. Ramon Jacinto, the sales department manager, credit
manager, and reservation manager, respectively of the Hyatt, testified that Atty. Nisce's bill amounted to
P216,127.74 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 57-58; Exhibits E-Flores, F-Jacinto, G-Ocampo).
As earlier mentioned, Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms for those who committed themselves to
his candidacy.
The hotel guests of Atty. Nisce were: Gloria Agunos, Dennis Habanel, B. Batula, John E. Asuncion,
Reynaldo Cortes, Lourdes Santos, Elmer Datuin, Romualdo Din, Antonio Nalapo, Israel Damasco,
Candido Balbin, Serrano Balot, Ibarra, Joel Llosa, Eltanal, Ruperto, Asuncion, Q. Pilotin, Reymundo P.

84
Guzman, Zoilo Aguinaldo, Clarin, R. Ronquillo, Dominador Carillo, Filomeno Balinas, Ernesto Sabulan,
Yusop Pangadapun, A. Viray, Icampo, Abelardo Fermin, C. Quiaoit, Augurio Pamintuan, Daniel Macaraeg,
Onofre Tejada.
(6) Campaigning by labor officials for Atty. Violeta Drilon
In violation of the prohibition against "campaigning for or against a candidate while holding an elective,
judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the Government" (Sec. 14[c], Art. I, IBP By-Laws), Mariano
E. Benedicto II, Assistant Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment, testified that he took a leave
of absence from his office to attend the IBP convention. He stayed at the Philippine Plaza with the Drilon
group admittedly to give "some moral assistance" to Atty. Violeta Drilon. He did so because he is a
member of the Sigma Rho Fraternity. When asked about the significance of Sigma Rho, Secretary
Benedicto explained: "More than the husband of Mrs. Drilon being my boss, the significance there is that
the husband is my brother in the Sigma Rho."
He cheered up Mrs. Drilon when her spints were low. He talked to her immediate circle which included Art
Tiu, Tony Carpio, Nilo Pea, Amy Wong, Atty. Grapilon, Victor Lazatin, and Boy Reyno. They assessed
the progress of the campaign, and measured the strengths and weaknesses of the other groups. The
group had sessions as early as the later part of May.
Room 114, the suite listed in the name of Assistant Secretary Benedicto toted up a bill of P23,110 during
the 2-day IBP convention/election. A total of 113 phone calls (amounting to P1,356) were recorded as
emanating from his room.
Opposite Room 114, was Room 112, also a suite, listed in the names of Mrs. Drilon, Gladys Tiongco
(candidate for Governor, Eastern Mindanao) and Amy Wong (candidate for Governor, Metro Manila).
These two rooms served as the "action center" or "war room" where campaign strategies were discussed
before and during the convention. It was in these rooms where the supporters of the Drilon group, like
Attys. Carpio, Callanta, Benedicto, the Quasha and the ACCRA lawyers met to plot their moves.
(7) Playing the dues or other indebtedness of any member (Sec. 14[e], IBP By-Laws).
Atty. Teresita C. Sison, IBP Treasurer, testified that she has heard of candidates paying the IBP dues of
lawyers who promised to vote for or support them, but she has no way of ascertaining whether it was a
candidate who paid the delinquent dues of another, because the receipts are issued in the name of the
member for whom payment is made (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 24-28).
She has noticed, though, that there is an upsurge of payments in March, April, May during any election
year. This year, the collections increased by P100,000 over that of last year (a non-election year) from
P1,413,425 to P1,524,875 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p. 25).
(8) Distribution of materials other than bio-data of not more than one page of legal size sheet of paper
(Sec. 14[a], IBP By-Laws).
On the convention floor on the day of the election, Atty. Paculdo caused to be distributed his bio-data and
copies of a leaflet entitled "My Quest," as well as, the lists of his slate. Attys. Drilon and Nisce similarly
distributed their tickets and bio-data.
The campaign materials of Atty. Paculdo cost from P15,000 to P20,000. They were printed by his own
printing shop.
(9) Causing distribution of such statement to be done by persons other than those authorized by the
officer presiding at the election (Sec. 14[b], IBP By-Laws).

85
Atty. Paculdo employed uniformed girls to distribute his campaign materials on the convention floor. Atty.
Carpio noted that there were more campaign materials distributed at the convention site this year than in
previous years. The election was more heated and expensive (t.s.n. July 6, 1989, p. 39).
Atty. Benjamin Bernardino, the incumbent President of the IBP Rizal Chapter, and a candidate for
chairman of the House of Delegates on Nisce's ticket, testified that campaign materials were distributed
during the convention by girls and by lawyers. He saw members of the ACCRA law firm campaigning for
Atty. Drilon (t.s.n. July 3, 1989, pp. 142-145).
(10) Inducing or influencing a member to withhold his vote, or to vote for or against a candidate (Sec.
14[e], IBP By-Laws).
Atty. Bernardino disclosed that his cousin, Atty. Romeo Capulong, urged him to withdraw his candidacy
for chairman of the House of Delegates and to run as vice-chairman in Violy Drilon's slate, but he declined
(t.s.n. July 3, 1989, pp. 137, 149).
Atty. Gloria Agunos, personnel director of the Hyatt Terraces Hotel in Baguio and president of the BaguioBenguet IBP Chapter, recalled that in the third week of May 1989, after the Tripartite meet of the
Department of Labor & Employment at the Green Valley Country Club in Baguio City, she met Atty. Drilon,
together with two labor officers of Region 1, Attys. Filomeno Balbin and Atty. Mansala. Atty. Drilon solicited
her (Atty. Agunos') vote and invited her to stay at the Philippine Plaza where a room would be available
for her. Atty Paculdo also tried to enlist her support during the chapter presidents' meeting to choose their
nominee for governor for the Northern Luzon region (t.s.n. July 13, 1989, pp. 43-54). LLphil

Atty. Nisce testified that a Manila Chapter 4 delegate, Marcial Magsino, who had earlier committed his
vote to Nisce changed his mind when he was offered a judgeship (This statement, however, is admittedly
hearsay). When Nisce confronted Magsino about the alleged offer, the latter denied that there was such
an offer. Nisce's informant was Antonio G. Nalapo, an IBP candidate who also withdrew.
Another Nisce candidate, Cesar Viola, withdrew from the race and refused to be nominated (t.s.n. June
29, 1989, p. 104).
Vicente P. Tordilla who was Nisce's candidate for Governor became Paculdo's candidate instead (t.s.n.
June 29, 1989, p. 104).
Nisce recalled that during the Bench and Bar Dialogue in Cotabato City, Court Administrator Tiro went
around saying, "I am not campaigning, but my wife is a candidate."
Nisce said that the presidents of several IBP chapters informed him that labor officials were campaigning
for Mrs. Drilon (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, pp. 109-110). He mentioned Ciony de la Cerna, who allegedly
campaigned in La Union (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, p. 111).
Atty. Joel A. Llosa, Nisce's supporter and candidate for governor of the Western Visayas, expressed his
disappointment over the IBP elections because some delegates flip-flopped from one camp to another.
He testified that when he arrived at the Manila Domestic Airport he was met by an assistant regional
director of the DOLE who offered to bring him to the Philippine Plaza, but he declined the offer. During the
legal aid seminar, Atty. Drilon invited him to transfer to the Philippine Plaza where a room had been
reserved for him. He declined the invitation (t.s.n. July 4, 1989, pp. 102-106).
Atty. Llosa said that while he was still in Dumaguete City, he already knew that the three candidates had
their headquarters in separate hotels: Paculdo, at the Holiday Inn; Drilon, at the Philippine Plaza; and
Nisce, at the Hyatt. He knew about this because a week before the elections, representatives of Atty.

86
Drilon went to Dumaguete City to campaign. He mentioned Atty. Rodil Montebon of the ACCRA Law
Office, accompanied by Atty. Julve, the Assistant Regional Director of the Department of Labor in
Dumaguete City. These two, he said, offered to give him two PAL tickets and accommodations at the
Philippine Plaza (t.s.n. July 4, 1989, pp. 101-104). But he declined the offer because he was already
committed to Atty. Nisce.
Atty. Llosa also revealed that before he left for Manila on May 31, 1989, a businessman, Henry Dy,
approached him to convince him to vote for Atty. Paculdo. But Llosa told Dy that he was already
committed to Nisce.
He did not receive any plane tickets from Atty. Nisce because he and his two companions (Atty. Eltanal
and Atty. Ruperto) had earlier bought their own tickets for Manila (t.s.n. July 4, 1989, p. 101).
SUMMARY OF CAMPAIGN EXPENSES INCURRED
BY THE CANDIDATES
Atty. Paculdo admitted having spent some P250,000 during his three weeks of campaigning. Of this
amount, the Capitol Bar Association (of which he was the chapter president) contributed about P150,000.
The Capitol Bar Association is a voluntary bar association composed of Quezon City lawyers.
He spent about P100,000 to defray the expenses of his trips to the provinces (Bicol provinces,
Pampanga, Abra, Mountain Province and Bulacan) (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, pp. 9-14).
Atty. Nisce's hotel bills at the Hyatt amounted to P216,127.74. This does not include the expenses for his
campaign which began several months before the June 3rd election, and his purchases of airplane tickets
for some delegates.
The records of the Philippine Plaza Hotel, headquarters of Atty. Drilon's camp, showed that her campaign
rang up over P600,000 in hotel bills. Atty. Callanta paid P316,411.53 for the rooms, food, and beverage
consumed by Atty. Drilon's supporters, but still left an unpaid bill of P302,197.30 at convention's end.
FINDINGS.
From all the foregoing, it is evident that the manner in which the principal candidates for the national
positions in the Integrated Bar conducted their campaign preparatory to the elections on June 3, 1989,
violated Section 14 of the IBP By-Laws and made a travesty of the idea of a "strictly nonpolitical" Integrated Bar enshrined in Section 4 of the By-Laws.
The setting up of campaign headquarters by the three principal candidates (Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo) in
five-star hotels: The Philippine Plaza, the Holiday Inn and The Hyatt - the better for them to corral and
entertain the delegates billeted therein; the island-hopping to solicit the votes of the chapter presidents
who comprise the 120-member House of Delegates that elects the national officers and regional
governors; the formation of tickets, slates, or line-ups of candidates for the other elective positions aligned
with, or supporting, either Drilon, Paculdo or Nisce; the procurement of written commitments and the
distribution of nomination forms to be filled up by the delegates; the reservation of rooms for delegates in
three big hotels, at the expense of the presidential candidates; the use of a PNB plane by Drilon and
some members of her ticket to enable them to "assess their chances" among the chapter presidents in
the Bicol provinces; the printing and distribution of tickets and bio-data of the candidates which in the
case of Paculdo admittedly cost him some P15,000 to P20,000; the employment of uniformed girls (by
Paculdo) and lawyers (by Drilon) to distribute their campaign materials on the convention floor on the day
of the election; the giving of assistance by the Undersecretary of Labor to Mrs. Drilon and her group; the
use of labor arbiters to meet delegates at the airport and escort them to the Philippine Plaza Hotel; the
giving of pre-paid plane tickets and hotel accommodations to delegates (and some families who

87
accompanied them) in exchange for their support; the pirating of some candidates by inducing them to
"hop" or "flip-flop" from one ticket to another for some rumored consideration; all these practices made a
political circus of the proceedings and tainted the whole election process.
The candidates and many of the participants in that election not only violated the By-Laws of the IBP but
also the ethics of the legal profession which imposes on all lawyers, as a corollary of their obligation to
obey and uphold the constitution and the laws, the duty to "promote respect for law and legal processes"
and to abstain from "activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system"
(Rule 1.02, Canon 1, Code of Professional Responsibility). Respect for law is gravely eroded when
lawyers themselves, who are supposed to be minions of the law, engage in unlawful practices and
cavalierly brush aside the very rules that the IBP formulated for their observance.
The unseemly ardor with which the candidates pursued the presidency of the association detracted from
the dignity of the legal profession. The spectacle of lawyers bribing or being bribed to vote one way or
another, certainly did not uphold the honor of the profession nor elevate it in the public's esteem.
The Court notes with grave concern what appear to be the evasions, denials and outright prevarications
that tainted the statements of the witnesses, including some of the candidates, during the initial hearing
conducted by it before its fact-finding committee was created. The subsequent investigation conducted by
this Committee has revealed that those parties had been less than candid with the Court and seem to
have conspired among themselves to deceive it or at least withhold vital information from it to conceal the
irregularities committed during the campaign.
CONCLUSIONS.
It has been mentioned with no little insistence that the provision in the 1987 Constitution (Sec. 8, Art. VIII)
providing for a Judicial and Bar Council composed of seven (7) members among whom is "a
representative of the Integrated Bar," tasked to participate in the selection of nominees for appointment to
vacant positions in the judiciary, may be the reason why the position of IBP president has attracted so
much interest among the lawyers. The much coveted "power" erroneously perceived to be inherent in that
office might have caused the corruption of the IBP elections. To impress upon the participants in that
electoral exercise the seriousness of the misconduct which attended it and the stern disapproval with
which it is viewed by this Court, and to restore the non-political character of the IBP and reduce, if not
entirely eliminate, expensive electioneering for the top positions in the organization which, as the recently
concluded elections revealed, spawned unethical practices which seriously diminished the stature of the
IBP as an association of the practitioners of a noble and honored profession, the Court hereby ORDERS:
1. The IBP elections held on June 3, 1989 should be as they are hereby annulled.
2. The provisions of the IBP By-Laws for the direct election by the House of Delegates (approved by this
Court in its resolution of July 9, 1980 in Bar Matter No. 287) of the following national officers:
(a) the officers of the House of Delegates;
(b) the IBP president; and
(c) the executive vice-president,
be repealed, this Court being empowered to amend, modify or repeal the By-Laws of the IBP under
Section 77, Art. XI of said By-Laws.
3. The former system of having the IBP President and Executive Vice-President elected by the Board of
Governors (composed of the governors of the nine [9] IBP regions) from among themselves (as provided
in Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be restored. The right of automatic succession by the

88
Executive Vice-President to the presidency upon the expiration of their two-year term (which was
abolished by this Court's resolution dated July 9, 1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby
restored.
4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-President shall automatically succeed
to the office of president. The incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive Vice-President
from among themselves. The position of Executive Vice-President shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP
regions. One who has served as president may not run for election as Executive Vice-President in a
succeeding election until after the rotation of the presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been
completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.

5. Section 47 of Article VII is hereby amended to read as follows:


"Section 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a
President and Executive Vice-President to be chosen by the Board of Governors from
among nine (9) regional governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. The
governors shall be ex oficio Vice-President for their respective regions. There shall also
be a Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Governors to be appointed by the
President with the consent of the Board."
6. Section 33(b), Art. V, IBP By-Laws, is hereby amended as follows:
"(b) The President and Executive Vice President of the IBP shall be the Chairman and
Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the House of Delegates. The Secretary, Treasurer, and
Sergeant-at-Arms shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the House of
Delegates."
7. Section 33(g) of Article V providing for the positions of Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary-Treasurer
and Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Delegates is hereby repealed.
8. Section 37, Article VI is hereby amended to read as follows:
"Section 37. Composition of the Board. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall be
governed by a Board of Governors consisting of nine (9) Governors from the nine (9)
regions as delineated in Section 3 of the Integration Rule, on the representation basis
of one (1) Governor for each region to be elected by the members of the House of
Delegates from that region only. The position of Governor should be rotated among the
different Chapters in the region."
9. Section 39, Article V is hereby amended as follows:
"Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. At least one (1) month
before the national convention the delegates from each region shall elect the governor
for their region, the choice of which shall as much as possible be rotated among the
chapters in the region."
10. Section 33(a), Article V hereby is amended by adding the following provision as part of the first
paragraph:
"No convention of the House of Delegates nor of the general membership shall be held
prior to any election in an election year."
11. Section 39, (a), (b), (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7) of Article VI should be as they are hereby deleted.

89
All other provisions of the By-Laws including its amendment by the Resolution en banc of this Court of
July 9, 1985 (Bar Matter No. 287) that are inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed or modified.
12. Special elections for the Board of Governors shall be held in the nine (9) IBP regions within three (3)
months after the promulgation of the Court's resolution in this case. Within thirty (30) days thereafter, the
Board of Governors shall meet at the IBP Central Office in Manila to elect from among themselves the
IBP national president and executive vice-president. In these special elections, the candidates in the
election of the national officers held on June 3, 1989, particularly identified in Sub-Head 3 of this
Resolution entitled "Formation of Tickets and Single Slates," as well as those identified in this Resolution
as connected with any of the irregularities attendant upon that election, are ineligible and may not present
themselves as candidate for any position. cdphil
13. Pending such special elections, a caretaker board shall be appointed by the Court to administer the
affairs of the IBP. The Court makes clear that the dispositions here made are without prejudice to its
adoption in due time of such further and other measures as are warranted in the premises.
SO ORDERED.
||| (In re Inquiry into the 1989 Elections of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, B.M. No. 491 (Resolution),
[October 6, 1989], 258-A PHIL 173-200)

90

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 80718. January 29, 1988.]
FELISA
P. DE ROY and
VIRGILIO
RAMOS, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and LUIS BERNAL, SR., GLENIA
BERNAL, LUIS BERNAL, JR., HEIRS OF MARISSA BERNAL, namely, GLICERIA
DELA CRUZ BERNAL and LUIS BERNAL, SR., respondents.

SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; CIVIL PROCEDURE; APPEAL; PERIOD FOR APPEALING OR FOR FILING A
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION, NON-EXTENDIBLE. The rule laid down in Habaluyas
Enterprises, Inc. v. Japzon, [G.R. No. 70895, August 5, 1985, 138 SCRA 46], that the fifteen-day period
for appealing or for filing a motion for reconsideration cannot be extended.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; GRACE PERIOD IN BOCAVA CASE, INAPPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR. The
one-month grace period from the promulgation on May 30, 1986 of the Court's Resolution in the
clarificatory Habaluyas case, or up to June 30, 1986, within which the rule barring extensions of time to
file motions for new trial or reconsideration may still be allowed cannot be invoked by the petitioners as
their motion for extension of time was filed on September 9, 1987, more than a year after the grace period
on June 30, 1986.

RESOLUTION

CORTES, J p:
This special civil action for certiorari seeks to declare null and void two (2) resolutions of the Special
Division of the Court of Appeals in the Luis Bernal, Sr., et al. v. Felisa Perdosa De Roy, et al., CA-G.R. CV
No. 07286. The first resolution promulgated on 30 September 1987 denied petitioner's motion for
extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration and directed entry of judgment since the decision in
said case had become final; and the second Resolution dated 27 October 1987 denied petitioners' motion
for reconsideration for having been filed out of time.
At the outset, this Court could have denied the petition outright for not being verified as required by Rule
65 section 1 of the Rules of Court. However, even if the instant petition did not suffer from this defect,
this Court, on procedural and substantive grounds, would still resolve to deny it.
The facts of the case are undisputed. The firewall of a burned out building owned by petitioners collapsed
and destroyed the tailoring shop occupied by the family of private respondents, resulting in injuries to
private respondents and the death of Marissa Bernal, a daughter. Private respondents had been warned
by petitioners to vacate their shop in view of its proximity to the weakened wall but the former failed to do
so. On the basis of the foregoing facts, the Regional Trial Court. First Judicial Region, Branch XXXVIII,
presided by the Hon. Antonio M. Belen, rendered judgment finding petitioners guilty of gross negligence

91
and awarding damages to private respondents. On appeal, the decision ofthe trial court was affirmed in
toto by the Court of Appeals in a decision promulgated on August 17, 1987, a copy of which was received
by petitioners on August 25, 1987. On September 9, 1987, the last day of the fifteen-day period to file an
appeal, petitioners filed a motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration, which was
eventually denied by the appellate court in the Resolution of September 30, 1987. Petitioners filed their
motion for reconsideration on September 24, 1987 but this was denied in the Resolution of October 27,
1987.
This Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not commit a grave abuse of discretion when it denied
petitioners' motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration, directed entry of judgment and
denied their motion for reconsideration. It correctly applied the rule laid down in Habaluyas Enterprises,
Inc. v. Japzon, [G.R. No. 70895, August 5, 1985, 138 SCRA 46], that the fifteen-day period for appealing
or for filing a motion for reconsideration cannot be extended. In its Resolution denying the motion for
reconsideration, promulgated on May 30, 1986 (142 SCRA 208), this Court en banc restated and clarified
the rule, to wit:
Beginning one month after the promulgation of this Resolution, the rule shall be strictly
enforced that no motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration may be
filed with the Metropolitan or Municipal Trial Courts, the Regional Trial Courts, and the
Intermediate Appellate Court. Such a motion may be filed only in cases pending with
the Supreme Court as the court of last resort, which may in its sound discretion either
grant or deny the extension requested. (at p. 212)
Lacsamana v. Second Special Cases Division of the Intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 73146-53,
August 26, 1986, 143 SCRA 643], reiterated the rule and went further to restate and clarify the modes and
periods of appeal.
Bacaya v. Intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 74824, Sept. 16, 1985, 144 SCRA 161], stressed the
prospective application of said rule, and explained the operation of the grace period, to wit: LibLex
In other words, there is one-month grace period from the promulgation on May 30,
1986 of the Court's Resolution in the clarificatory Habaluyas case, or up to June 30,
1986, within which the rule barring extensions of time to file motions for new trial or
reconsideration is, as yet, not strictly enforceable.
Since petitioners herein filed their motion for extension on February 27, 1986, it is still
within the grace period, which expired on June 30, 1986, and may still be allowed.
This grace period was also applied in Mission v. Intermediate Appellate Court [G.R. No. 73669,
October 28, 1986, 145 SCRA 306].
In the instant case, however, petitioners' motion for extension of time was filed on September 9, 1987,
more than a year after the expiration of the grace period on June 30, 1986. Hence, it is no longer within
the coverage of the grace period. Considering the length of time from the expiration of the grace period to
the promulgation of the decision of the Court of Appeals on August 25, 1987, petitioners cannot seek
refuge in the ignorance of their counsel regarding said rule for their failure to file a motion for
reconsideration within the reglementary period. prLL
Petitioners contend that the rule enunciated in the Habaluyas case should not be made to apply to the
case at bar owing to the non-publication of the Habaluyas decision in the Official Gazette as of the time
the subject decision of the Court of Appeals was promulgated. Contrary to petitioners' view, there is no
law requiring the publication of Supreme Court decisions in the Official Gazette before they can be
binding and as a condition to their becoming effective. It is the bounden duty of counsel as lawyer in

92
active law practice to keep abreast of decisions of the Supreme Court particularly where issues have
been clarified, consistently reiterated, and published in the advance reports of Supreme Courtdecisions
(G.R.s) and in such publications as the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA) and law journals.
This Court likewise finds that the Court of Appeals committed no grave abuse of discretion in affirming the
trial court's decision holding petitioner liable under Article 2190 of the Civil Code, which provides that "the
proprietor of a building or structure is responsible for the damage resulting from its total or partial
collapse, if it should be due to the lack of necessary repairs."
Nor was there error in rejecting petitioners argument that private respondents had the "last clear chance"
to avoid the accident if only they heeded the warning to vacate the tailoring shop and, therefore,
petitioners prior negligence should be disregarded, since the doctrine of "last clear chance," which has
been applied to vehicular accidents, is inapplicable to this case.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court Resolved to DENY the instant petition for lack of merit.
||| (De Roy v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80718 (Resolution), [January 29, 1988], 241 PHIL 804-808)

93

EN BANC
[A.C. No. 4984. April 1, 2003.]
ATTY. JULITO D. VITRIOLO, PRECILLANA J. HONORICA, ARLEEN J. RAMOS, DR.
ROGER PEREZ, DR. IMELDA DARAUG, DR. REMIGIA NATHANIELZ, CELEDONIA
CORONACION, and JOSE RABALO, complainants, vs. ATTY. FELINA
DASIG, respondent.

De Guzman Venturanza & Vitriolo Law Offices for complainants

SYNOPSIS
Complainants filed a disbarment case against Atty. Felina S. Dasig for gross misconduct in violation of the
Attorney's Oath. They claimed, among others, that during her term as Officer-In-Charge of the Legal
Affairs Services of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Atty. Dasig made unlawful demands or
attempted to extort money from certain individuals who had pending applications/requests before her
office in exchange for her promise to act favorably on said requests/applications. Despite due notice, Atty.
Dasig failed to file her comment or answer. Accordingly, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
recommended that she be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three years.
The Court ruled that respondent's attempts to extort money from persons with applications or requests
pending before her office were violative of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which
prohibits members of the Bar from engaging or participating in any unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts.
Moreover, said acts constituted a breach of Rule 6.02 of the Code which bars lawyers in government
service from promoting their private interests. Promotion of private interests includes soliciting gifts or
anything of monetary value in any transaction requiring the approval of his office or which may be affected
by the functions of his office. Respondent's conduct in office fell short of the integrity and good moral
character required from all lawyers, specially from one occupying a high public office. Thus, respondent
Atty. Felina S. Dasig was found liable for gross misconduct and dishonesty in violation of the Attorney's
Oath as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility and was ordered disbarred.

SYLLABUS
1. LEGAL ETHICS; ATTORNEYS; DISBARMENT AND DISCIPLINE; MISCONDUCT IN THE
DISCHARGE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES; AN EXCEPTION IS A LAWYER IN GOVERNMENT OFFICE WHO
VIOLATED HIS ATTORNEY'S OATH AND WHO MAY BE DISCIPLINED BY THE SUPREME COURT AS
MEMBER OF THE BAR. Generally speaking, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be
disciplined as a member of the Bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official.
However, if said misconduct as a government official also constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer,
then he may be disciplined by this Court as a member of the Bar.
2. ID.; ID.; ATTORNEY'S OATH; MEMBER OF THE BAR SHALL NOT DELAY ANY MAN'S CAUSE FOR
MONEY OR MALICE; LAWYER'S OATH VIOLATED BY A LAWYER WHO DEMANDED SUMS OF

94
MONEY TO FACILITATE THE PROCESSING OF PENDING APPLICATIONS OR REQUESTS BEFORE
HER OFFICE. The Attorney's Oath is the source of the obligations and duties of every lawyer and any
violation thereof is a ground for disbarment, suspension, or other disciplinary action. The Attorney's Oath
imposes upon every member of the bar the duty to delay no man for money or malice. Said duty is further
stressed in Rule 1.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent's demands for sums of
money to facilitate the processing of pending applications or requests before her office violates such duty,
and runs afoul of the oath she took when admitted to the Bar. Such actions likewise run contrary to Rule
1.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; EXTORTION; CASE AT BAR. In this case, the record shows that the respondent,
on various occasions, during her tenure as OIC, Legal Services, CHED, attempted to extort from Betty C.
Mangohon, Rosalie B. Dela Torre, Rocella G. Eje, and Jacqueline N. Ng sums of money as consideration
for her favorable action on their pending applications or requests before her office. The evidence remains
unrefuted, given the respondent's failure, despite the opportunities afforded her by this Court and the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline to comment on the charges. We find that respondent's misconduct as a
lawyer of the CHED is of such a character as to affect her qualification as a member of the Bar, for as a
lawyer, she ought to have known that it was patently unethical and illegal for her to demand sums of
money as consideration for the approval of applications and requests awaiting action by her office.
4. ID.; ID.; CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY; GOVERNS THE CONDUCT OF ALL
LAWYERS INCLUDING THOSE IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE. A member of the Bar who assumes
public office does not shed his professional obligations. Hence, the Code of Professional Responsibility,
promulgated on June 21, 1988, was not meant to govern the conduct of private practitioners alone, but of
all lawyers including those in government service. This is clear from Canon 6 of said Code. Lawyers in
government are public servants who owe utmost fidelity to the public service. Thus, they should be more
sensitive in the performance of their professional obligations, as their conduct is subject to the everconstant scrutiny of the public. aScITE
5. ID.; ID.; ID.; BARS LAWYERS IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE FROM PROMOTING THEIR PRIVATE
INTERESTS. Respondent's attempts to extort money from persons with applications or requests
pending before her office are violative of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which
prohibits members of the Bar from engaging or participating in any unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts.
Moreover, said acts constitute a breach of Rule 6.02 of the Code which bars lawyers in government
service from promoting their private interests. Promotion of private interests includes soliciting gifts or
anything of monetary value in any transaction requiring the approval of his office or which may be affected
by the functions of his office.
6. ID.; ID.; A LAWYER MUST UPHOLD THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AT ALL TIMES &
UPHOLD A HIGH STANDARD OF HONESTY & FAIR DEALING. Respondent's conduct in office falls
short of the integrity and good moral character required from all lawyers, specially from one occupying a
high public office. For a lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain from any act or omission
which might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in government, she must also uphold
the dignity of the legal profession at all times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair dealing.
Otherwise said, a lawyer in government service is a keeper of the public faith and is burdened with high
degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than her brethren in private practice.
7. ID.; ID.; DISBARMENT AND DISCIPLINE; DISHONESTY AND GROSS MISCONDUCT; PROPER
PENALTY. For her violation of the Attorney's Oath as well as of Rule 1.01 and Rule 1.03 of Canon 1
and Rule 6.02 of Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly for acts of dishonesty as
well as gross misconduct as OIC, Legal Services, CHED, we find that respondent deserves not just the
penalty of three years suspension from membership in the Bar as well as the practice of law, as

95
recommended by the IBP Board of Governors, but outright disbarment. Her name shall be stricken off the
list of attorneys upon finality of this decision.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM p:
This is an administrative case for disbarment filed against Atty. Felina S. Dasig, 1 an official of the
Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The charge involves gross misconduct of respondent in
violation of the Attorney's Oath for having used her public office to secure financial spoils to the detriment
of the dignity and reputation of the CHED.
Almost all complainants in the instant case are high-ranking officers of the CHED. In their sworn
Complaint-Affidavit filed with this Court on December 4, 1998, complainants allege that respondent, while
she was OIC of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, committed acts that are grounds for disbarment
under Section 27, 2 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
a) Sometime in August 1998 and during the effectivity of Respondent's designation as
Officer-in-Charge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she demanded from Betty C.
Mangohon, a teacher of Our Lady of Mariazel Educational Center in
Novaliches, Quezon City, the amount of P20,000.00 and later reduced to
P5,000.00 for the facilitation of her application for correction of name then
pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED . . .
b) Likewise, sometime in July to August 1998 and during the effectivity of Respondent's
designation as Officer-in-Charge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she
demanded from Rosalie B. Dela Torre, a student, the amount of P18,000.00 to
P20,000.00 for facilitation of her application for correction of name then
pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED . . .
c) Likewise, sometime in September 1998 and during the effectivity of Respondent's
designation as Officer-in-Charge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she
demanded from Rocella G. Eje, a student, the amount of P5,000.00 for
facilitation of her application for correction of name then pending before the
Legal Affairs Service, CHED . . . In addition, Respondent even suggested to
Ms. Eje to register her birth anew with full knowledge of the existence of a prior
registration . . .
d) Likewise, sometime in August to September 1998 and during the effectivity of
Respondent's designation as Officer-in-Charge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED,
she demanded from Jacqueline N. Ng, a student, a considerable amount which
was subsequently confirmed to be P15,000.00 and initial fee of P5,000.00
more or less for facilitation of her application for correction of name then
pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED . . . In addition, the
Respondent even suggested to Ms. Ng to hire a lawyer who shall be chosen by
Respondent Dasig to facilitate the application for correction of name. 3

96
Complainants likewise aver that respondent violated her oath as attorney-at-law by filing eleven (11)
baseless, groundless, and unfounded suits before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City, which
were subsequently dismissed. 4
Further, complainants charge respondent of transgressing subparagraph b (22), Section
36 5 of Presidential Decree No. 807, for her willful failure to pay just debts owing to "Borela Tire Supply"
and "Nova's Lining Brake & Clutch" as evidenced by the dishonored checks she issued, 6 the complaint
sheet, and the subpoena issued to respondent. 7
Complainants also allege that respondent instigated the commission of a crime against complainant
Celedonia R. Coronacion and Rodrigo Coronacion, Jr., when she encouraged and ordered her son,
Jonathan Dasig, a guard of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, to draw his gun and shoot the
Coronacions on the evening of May 14, 1997. As a result of this incident, a complaint for grave threats
against the respondent and her son, docketed as Criminal Case No. 86052, was lodged with the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 36. 8
Finally, complainants allege that respondent authored and sent to then President Joseph Estrada a
libelous and unfair report, which maligned the good names and reputation of no less than eleven (11)
CHED Directors calculated to justify her ill motive of preventing their re-appointment and with the end
view of securing an appointment for herself. 9
In our resolution of February 3, 1999, we required respondent to file a Comment on the charges. 10 A
copy of said resolution was sent to the respondent at her address at Blk. 4, Lot 12, Hobart II Subdivision,
Novaliches, Quezon City, only to be returned to this Court with the notation "Unclaimed." 11
On July 5, 1999, we directed that a copy of the resolution of February 3, 1999, be served by registered
mail to respondent at her office address in CHED.
In a letter dated August 28, 2000, the Postmaster of the Ortigas Center Post Office informed the Court
that the said mail matter had been delivered to, received by, and signed for by one Antonio Molon, an
authorized agent of respondent on August 27, 1999. 12
On November 22, 2000, we granted complainant's motion to refer the complaint to the Commission on
Bar Discipline, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
In its order dated February 6, 2001, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline directed respondent to submit
her Answer to the Complaint, failing which she would be considered in default and the case heard ex
parte. Respondent failed to heed said order and on January 8, 2002, the Commission directed her anew
to file her Answer, but again she failed to comply with the directive. As a result, the Commission ruled that
she had waived her right to file her Comment or Answer to the Complaint and the case was mainly
resolved on the basis of the documents submitted and on record.
In its report and recommendation, dated April 5, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline stated as
follows:
From the foregoing evidence on record, it can be concluded that respondent in violation
of her oath as a government official and as a member of the Bar, indeed made unlawful
demands or attempted to extort money from certain people who had pending
applications/requests before her office in exchange for her promise to act favorably on
said applications/requests. Clearly, respondent unlawfully used her public office in order
to secure financial spoils to the detriment of the dignity and reputation of the
Commission on Higher Education.

97
For the foregoing reasons, it is recommended that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for the maximum period allowable of three (3) years with a further
warning that similar action in the future will be a ground for disbarment of respondent.
On August 3, 2002, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XV-2002-393, the full text of
which reads as follows:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled
case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A"; and, finding the
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and
rules; and considering that respondent unlawfully used her public office in order to
secure financial spoils to the detriment of the dignity and reputation of the Commission
on Higher Education, Respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
three (3) years. 13
At the threshold is the query of whether respondent attorney-at-law, as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Legal
Services, CHED, may be disciplined by this Court for her malfeasance, considering that her position, at
the time of filing of the complaint, was "Chief Education Program Specialist, Standards Development
Division, Office of Programs and Standards, CHED."
Generally speaking, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be disciplined as a member of the
Bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official. 14 However, if said misconduct
as a government official also constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer, then he may be disciplined by
this Court as a member of the Bar. 15
In this case, the record shows that the respondent, on various occasions, during her tenure as OIC, Legal
Services, CHED, attempted to extort from Betty C. Mangohon, Rosalie B. Dela Torre, Rocella G. Eje, and
Jacqueline N. Ng sums of money as consideration for her favorable action on their pending applications
or requests before her office. The evidence remains unrefuted, given the respondent's failure, despite the
opportunities afforded her by this Court and the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline to comment on the
charges. We find that respondent's misconduct as a lawyer of the CHED is of such a character as to
affect her qualification as a member of the Bar, for as a lawyer, she ought to have known that it was
patently unethical and illegal for her to demand sums of money as consideration for the approval of
applications and requests awaiting action by her office.
The Attorney's Oath is the source of the obligations and duties of every lawyer and any violation thereof is
a ground for disbarment, suspension, or other disciplinary action. The Attorney's Oath imposes upon
every member of the bar the duty to delay no man for money or malice. Said duty is further stressed
in Rule 1.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. 16 Respondent's demands for sums of money to
facilitate the processing of pending applications or requests before her office violates such duty, and runs
afoul of the oath she took when admitted to the Bar. Such actions likewise run contrary to Rule 1.03 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility.
A member of the Bar who assumes public office does not shed his professional obligations. Hence, the
Code of Professional Responsibility, promulgated on June 21, 1988, was not meant to govern the conduct
of private practitioners alone, but of all lawyers including those in government service. This is clear
from Canon 6 17 of said Code. Lawyers in government are public servants who owe the utmost fidelity to
the public service. Thus, they should be more sensitive in the performance of their professional
obligations, as their conduct is subject to the ever-constant scrutiny of the public.

98
Respondent's attempts to extort money from persons with applications or requests pending before her
office are violative of Rule 1.01 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which prohibits members of
the Bar from engaging or participating in any unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts. Moreover, said acts
constitute a breach of Rule 6.02 19 of the Code which bars lawyers in government service from promoting
their private interests. Promotion of private interests includes soliciting gifts or anything of monetary value
in any transaction requiring the approval of his office or which may be affected by the functions of his
office. Respondent's conduct in office falls short of the integrity and good moral character required from all
lawyers, specially from one occupying a high public office. For a lawyer in public office is expected not
only to refrain from any act or omission which might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the
citizenry in government, she must also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times and observe
a high standard of honesty and fair dealing. Otherwise said, a lawyer in government service is a keeper of
the public faith and is burdened with high degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than her brethren
in private practice.
For her violation of the Attorney's Oath as well as of Rule 1.01 and Rule 1.03 of Canon 1 20 and Rule
6.02 of Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly for acts of dishonesty as well as
gross misconduct as OIC, Legal Services, CHED, we find that respondent deserves not just the penalty of
three years' suspension from membership in the Bar as well as the practice of law, as recommended by
the IBP Board of Governors, but outright disbarment. Her name shall be stricken off the list of attorneys
upon finality of this decision.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Felina S. Dasig is found liable for gross misconduct and dishonesty in
violation of the Attorney's Oath as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility, and is hereby ordered
DISBARRED.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to the Bar Confidant to be spread on the records of the
respondent, as well as to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters, and the
Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts throughout the country.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Vitriolo v. Dasig, A.C. No. 4984, [April 1, 2003], 448 PHIL 199-210)