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EN BANC

B.M. No. 1678, December 17, 2007


PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW, BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner.
RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:
This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay for leave to resume the
practice of law.
Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He practiced law until he migrated to
Canada in December 1998 to seek medical attention for his ailments. He subsequently applied for
Canadian citizenship to avail of Canadas free medical aid program. His application was approved and
he became a Canadian citizen in May 2004.
On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of
2003), petitioner reacquired his Philippine citizenship.1 On that day, he took his oath of allegiance as a
Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he returned to
the Philippines and now intends to resume his law practice. There is a question, however, whether
petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay lost his membership in the Philippine bar when he gave up his
Philippine citizenship in May 2004. Thus, this petition.
In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the Bar Confidant cites Section 2, Rule 138
(Attorneys and Admission to Bar) of the Rules of Court:
SECTION 2. Requirements for all applicants for admission to the bar. Every applicant for
admission as a member of the bar must be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one
years of age, of good moral character, and a resident of the Philippines; and must produce
before the Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character, and that no charges
against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the
Philippines.
Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant opines that, by virtue of his reacquisition of
Philippine citizenship, in 2006, petitioner has again met all the qualifications and has none of the
disqualifications for membership in the bar. It recommends that he be allowed to resume the practice
of law in the Philippines, conditioned on his retaking the lawyers oath to remind him of his duties and
responsibilities as a member of the Philippine bar.
We approve the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant with certain modifications.
The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.2 It is so delicately affected with public
interest that it is both a power and a duty of the State (through this Court) to control and regulate it in
order to protect and promote the public welfare. 3
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality, faithful
observance of the rules of the legal profession, compliance with the mandatory continuing legal
education requirement and payment of membership fees to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
are the conditions required for membership in good standing in the bar and for enjoying the privilege
to practice law. Any breach by a lawyer of any of these conditions makes him unworthy of the trust
and confidence which the courts and clients repose in him for the continued exercise of his professional
privilege.4
Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:
SECTION 1. Who may practice law. Any person heretofore duly admitted as a member of the
bar, or thereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of this Rule, and who is in
good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.
Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the Philippine bar in accordance with the
statutory requirements and who is in good and regular standing is entitled to practice law.
Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of Court mandates that an applicant for
admission to the bar be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral
character and a resident of the Philippines.5 He must also produce before this Court satisfactory
evidence of good moral character and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have
been filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines.6
Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as furnishing satisfactory proof of
educational, moral and other qualifications;7 passing the bar examinations;8 taking the lawyers oath9
1
and signing the roll of attorneys and receiving from the clerk of court of this Court a certificate of the
license to practice.10
The second requisite for the practice of law membership in good standing is a continuing
requirement. This means continued membership and, concomitantly, payment of annual membership
dues in the IBP;11 payment of the annual professional tax;12 compliance with the mandatory continuing
legal education requirement;13 faithful observance of the rules and ethics of the legal profession and
being continually subject to judicial disciplinary control.14
Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino citizenship still practice law in the
Philippines? No.
The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited to
Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law.15 Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for
admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the
privilege to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino citizenship ipso jure
terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to
foreigners.16
The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as a citizen of another
country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because "all Philippine citizens who
become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under
the conditions of [RA 9225]."17 Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country is
deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with RA
9225. Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his membership in the Philippine bar, no
automatic right to resume law practice accrues.
Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the Philippines and he reacquires
his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions "(he) shall apply with the proper authority for a license
or permit to engage in such practice."18 Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino
citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first secure from this Court the
authority to do so, conditioned on:
(a) the updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues in the IBP;
(b) the payment of professional tax;
(c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing legal education; this is
specially significant to refresh the applicant/petitioners knowledge of Philippine laws and update
him of legal developments and
(d) the retaking of the lawyers oath which will not only remind him of his duties and
responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court, but also renew his pledge to maintain
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.
Compliance with these conditions will restore his good standing as a member of the Philippine bar.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Benjamin M. Dacanay is hereby GRANTED, subject to
compliance with the conditions stated above and submission of proof of such compliance to the Bar
Confidant, after which he may retake his oath as a member of the Philippine bar.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, C.J., Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Azcuna,
Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Reyes, Leonardo-de Castro, JJ., concur.
Quisumbing, J., on leave.

2
EN BANC
B.M. No. 2112, July 24, 2012
IN RE: PETITION RE-ACQUIRE THE PRIVILEGE TO PRACTICE LAW IN THE PHILIPPINES,
EPIFANIO B. MUNESES, Petitioner,
RESOLUTION
REYES, J.:
On June 8, 2009, a petition was filed by Epifanio B. Muneses (petitioner) with the Office of the Bar
Confidant (OBC) praying that he be granted the privilege to practice law in the Philippines.
The petitioner alleged that he became a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on
March 21, 1966; that he lost his privilege to practice law when he became a citizen of the United
States of America (USA) on August 28, 1981; that on September 15, 2006, he re-acquired his
Philippine citizenship pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 or the "Citizenship Retention and Re-
Acquisition Act of 2003" by taking his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine
Consulate General in Washington, D.C., USA; that he intends to retire in the Philippines and if granted,
to resume the practice of law. Attached to the petition were several documents in support of his
petition, albeit mere photocopies thereof, to wit:
1. Oath of Allegiance dated September 15, 2006 before Consul General Domingo P. Nolasco;
2. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship of same date;
3. Order for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship also of same date;
4. Letter dated March 13, 2008 evidencing payment of membership dues with the IBP;
5. Attendance Forms from the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE).
In Bar Matter No. 1678, dated December 17, 2007, the Court was confronted with a similar petition
filed by Benjamin M. Dacanay (Dacanay) who requested leave to resume his practice of law after
availing the benefits of R.A. No. 9225. Dacanay was admitted to the Philippine Bar in March 1960. In
December 1998, he migrated to Canada to seek medical attention for his ailments and eventually
became a Canadian citizen in May 2004. On July 14, 2006, Dacanay re-acquired his Philippine
citizenship pursuant to R.A. No. 9225 after taking his oath of allegiance before the Philippine Consulate
General in Toronto, Canada. He returned to the Philippines and intended to resume his practice of law.
The Court reiterates that Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar and is, in fact, a
continuing requirement for the practice of law. The loss thereof means termination of the petitioners
membership in the bar; ipso jure the privilege to engage in the practice of law. Under R.A. No. 9225,
natural-born citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as
citizens of a foreign country are deemed to have re-acquired their Philippine citizenship upon taking
the oath of allegiance to the Republic.1 Thus, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another
country and later re-acquires his Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225, remains to be a member
of the Philippine Bar. However, as stated in Dacanay, the right to resume the practice of law is not
automatic.2 R.A. No. 9225 provides that a person who intends to practice his profession in the
Philippines must apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice.3
It can not be overstressed that:
The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.1wphi1 It is so delicately affected with
public interest that it is both the power and duty of the State (through this Court) to control and
regulate it in order to protect and promote the public welfare.
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality, faithful
observance of the legal profession, compliance with the mandatory continuing legal education
requirement and payment of membership fees to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are the
conditions required for membership in good standing in the bar and for enjoying the privilege to
practice law. Any breach by a lawyer of any of these conditions makes him unworthy of the trust and
confidence which the courts and clients repose in him for the continued exercise of his professional
privilege.4
Thus, in pursuance to the qualifications laid down by the Court for the practice of law, the OBC
required the herein petitioner to submit the original or certified true copies of the following documents
in relation to his petition:
1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship;

3
2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship);
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines;
4. Identification Certificate (IC) issued by the Bureau of Immigration;
5. Certificate of Good Standing issued by the IBP;
6. Certification from the IBP indicating updated payments of annual membership dues;
7. Proof of payment of professional tax; and
8. Certificate of compliance issued by the MCLE Office.
In compliance thereof, the petitioner submitted the following:
1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship;
2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship);
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines;
4. Certificate of Re-Acquisition/Retention of Philippine Citizenship issued by the Bureau of
Immigration, in lieu of the IC;
5. Certification dated May 19, 2010 of the IBP-Surigao City Chapter attesting to his good moral
character as well as his updated payment of annual membership dues;
6. Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) for the year 2010;
7. Certificate of Compliance with the MCLE for the 2nd compliance period; and
8. Certification dated December 5, 2008 of Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Coordinator, UC-MCLE
Program, University of Cebu, College of Law attesting to his compliance with the MCLE.
The OBC further required the petitioner to update his compliance, particularly with the MCLE. After all
the requirements were satisfactorily complied with and finding that the petitioner has met all the
qualifications and none of the disqualifications for membership in the bar, the OBC recommended that
the petitioner be allowed to resume his practice of law.
Upon this favorable recommendation of the OBC, the Court adopts the same and sees no bar to the
petitioner's resumption to the practice of law in the Philippines.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Epifanio B. Muneses is hereby GRANTED, subject to the
condition that he shall re-take the Lawyer's Oath on a date to be set by the Court and subject to the
payment of appropriate fees.
Furthermore, the Office of the Bar Confidant is directed to draft the necessary guidelines for the re-
acquisition of the privilege to resume the practice of law for the guidance of the Bench and Bar.
SO ORDERED.
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

4
FIRST DIVISION
A.C. No. 6672, September 4, 2009
PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:
This is a complaint for disbarment1 filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan
Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of
professional services.
Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his
clients2 to transfer legal representation. Respondent promised them financial assistance3 and
expeditious collection on their claims.4 To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them
and sent them text messages.
To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit 5 of James Gregorio attesting that
Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize
respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan of 50,000. Complainant also attached
"respondents" calling card:6
Front

NICOMEDES TOLENTINO
LAW OFFFICE
CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES
W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
Fe Marie L. Labiano
Paralegal

Tel: 362-7820
1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01 Fax: (632) 362-
6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar 7821
Grace Park, Caloocan City Cel.: (0926)
2701719

Back

SERVICES OFFERED:
CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE
TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN
REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT,
INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH
AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS
ABROAD.
1avvphi1

(emphasis supplied)
Hence, this complaint.
Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the
said calling card.7

5
The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. 8
Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and recommendation, 9 found
that respondent had encroached on the professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.02 10 and
other canons11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he contravened the rule
against soliciting cases for gain, personally or through paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27,
Rule 13812 of the Rules of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be reprimanded with
a stern warning that any repetition would merit a heavier penalty.
We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent but we modify the
recommended penalty.
The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent into complainants
professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR. And the means employed by respondent in
furtherance of the said misconduct themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules.
Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the manner by which a
lawyers services are to be made known. Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:
CANON 3 - A lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and
objective information or statement of facts.
Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business;
lawyers should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares. 13 To allow a lawyer to
advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession in the
publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high character of service to which
every member of the bar is called.14
Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides:
RULE 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal
business.
Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through
paid agents or brokers.15 Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment. 16
Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides:
RULE 1.03. A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or
delay any mans cause.
This rule proscribes "ambulance chasing" (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an
attorney, personally or through an agent in order to gain employment) 17 as a measure to protect the
community from barratry and champerty.18
Complainant presented substantial evidence19 (consisting of the sworn statements of the very same
persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed
solicited legal business as well as profited from referrals suits.
Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he later admitted it during the
mandatory hearing.
Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to
transfer representation on the strength of Labianos word that respondent could produce a more
favorable result.
Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03
and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.1avvphi1
With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a lawyer should
not steal another lawyers client nor induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good
result or reduced fees for his services.20 Again the Court notes that respondent never denied having
these seafarers in his client list nor receiving benefits from Labianos "referrals." Furthermore, he never
denied Labianos connection to his office.21 Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep
into anothers legal practice. He cannot escape liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR.
Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, respondent violated
Rule 16.04:
Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully
protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a
6
client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter
he is handling for the client.
The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is, when in the interest
of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript
of stenographic notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is handling for
the client.
The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so that the free exercise of his
judgment may not be adversely affected.22 It seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is
handling as well as his entire devotion and fidelity to the clients cause. If the lawyer lends money to
the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in effect acquires an interest in the subject
matter of the case or an additional stake in its outcome.23 Either of these circumstances may lead the
lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client, or to accept a settlement which may
take care of his interest in the verdict to the prejudice of the client in violation of his duty of undivided
fidelity to the clients cause.24
As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice 25 which calls for the exercise of
the Courts disciplinary powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for
initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining employment. 26 Thus, in this
jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect the public from the Machiavellian machinations of
unscrupulous lawyers and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession.
Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the prohibition on lending
money to clients), the sanction recommended by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the
wrist. The proposed penalty is grossly incommensurate to its findings.
A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyers best
advertisement is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his
character and conduct.27 For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their services by
publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional cards.
Professional calling cards may only contain the following details:
(a) lawyers name;
(b) name of the law firm with which he is connected;
(c) address;
(d) telephone number and
(e) special branch of law practiced.28
Labianos calling card contained the phrase "with financial assistance." The phrase was clearly used to
entice clients (who already had representation) to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance
their legal actions. Money was dangled to lure clients away from their original lawyers, thereby taking
advantage of their financial distress and emotional vulnerability. This crass commercialism degraded
the integrity of the bar and deserved no place in the legal profession. However, in the absence of
substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not prepared to rule that respondent was
personally and directly responsible for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling cards.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04
and Canon 3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court
is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one year effective immediately
from receipt of this resolution. He is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts
in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme
Court of the Philippines, and be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the
Court Administrator to be circulated to all courts.
SO ORDERED.

7
SECOND DIVISION
A.C. No. 5305, March 17, 2003
MARCIANO P. BRION, JR., petitioner,
vs.
FRANCISCO F. BRILLANTES, JR., respondent.
QUISUMBING, J.:
In this petition for disbarment, complainant Marciano Brion, Jr., charges the respondent, Atty.
Francisco Brillantes, Jr., of having willfully violated a lawful order of this Court in A.M. No. MTJ-92-706,
entitled Lupo Almodiel Atienza v. Judge Francisco F. Brillantes, Jr.1 The decretal portion of our
resolution in Atienza reads:
WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all leave and
retirement benefits and with prejudice to reappointment in any branch, instrumentality or
agency of the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations. This
decision is immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.2
Respondents dismissal in the aforesaid case was ordered after he was found guilty of Gross Immorality
and Appearance of Impropriety during his incumbency as presiding judge of the Metropolitan Trial
Court, Branch 20, Manila.
Petitioner now avers that respondent violated our decree of perpetual disqualification imposed upon
him from assuming any post in government service, including any posts in government-owned and
controlled corporations, when he accepted a legal consultancy post at the Local Water Utilities
Administration (LWUA), from 1998 to 2000. Said consultancy included an appointment by LWUA as 6th
member of the Board of Directors of the Urdaneta (Pangasinan) Water District. Upon expiration of the
legal consultancy agreement, this was subsequently renewed as a Special Consultancy Agreement.
Petitioner contends that while both consultancy agreements contained a proviso to the effect that
nothing therein should be construed as establishing an employer-employee relationship between LWUA
and respondent, the inclusion of this proviso was only a ploy to circumvent our order barring
respondent from appointment to a government agency. Petitioner points out in reality, respondent
enjoys the same rights and privileges as a regular employee, to wit:3
1. Issuance of LWUA properties such as a cellular phone with accessories, as evidenced by the covering
Property Issue Slips with respondent signing as "Accountable Employee"; 4
2. Official travel to various places in the country as shown by Reports of Authorized Travel kept by
LWUAs General Services Division5 and Report of Travel accomplished by respondent himself;6
3. Designation as supervising officer over other LWUA employees as brought to light by written
instructions personally signed by respondent;7
4. Attendance in water district conventions and meetings held in various provinces; 8
5. Membership in several sensitive LWUA committees such as the Prequalification, Bids, and Awards
Committee (PBAC), Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Committee, among others, with receipt of
corresponding honoraria as borne out by various Disbursement Vouchers;9
6. Sitting at meetings of the LWUA Board of Trustees as evidenced by the minutes of such meetings; 10
and
7. Receipt of Productivity Incentive Bonus in 1999.
Petitioner submits that all of the foregoing constitute deceitful conduct, gross misconduct, and willful
disobedience to a decree of this Court, and show that respondent is unfit to be a member of the Bar.
In his comment,11 respondent admits the existence of the Legal Consultancy Contract as well as the
Special Consultancy Contract. However, he raises the affirmative defense that under Civil Service
Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 27, Series of 1993, services rendered pursuant to a
consultancy contract shall not be considered government services, and therefore, are not covered by
Civil Service Law, rules and regulations.
Further, says respondent, according to the same Memorandum Circular issued by the Commission,
consultancy contracts do not have to be submitted to the Commission for approval. With respect to his
designation as the 6th Member of the Board of Directors of the Urdaneta Water District, respondent
reasons out that the same is not a "reappointment", which is prohibited by our ruling in Atienza, as
8
said designation is not an organic appointment to a LWUA plantilla position. Hence, according to
respondent, the CSC need not pass approval upon his temporary designation.
Respondent also argues that all the members of the Urdaneta Water District Board, especially the 6th
Member, who comes from the LWUA, assumed such functions merely by virtue of a designation and
only in addition to their regular duties. In any event, says respondent, his designation as 6th Member
was revoked in April 2000 and the Special Consultancy Contract was pre-terminated on April 30, 2000.
It has never been renewed since then. With respect to his use of LWUA properties, respondent admits
receiving the cellular phone unit but insists that he merely borrowed it from one Solomon Badoy, a
former LWUA Board of Trustees Member.
In our Resolution of February 19, 2001, we referred this case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found that
respondent willfully violated a lawful order of this Court and recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year and fined ten thousand (P10,000) pesos.
There is no question that the LWUA is a government-owned and controlled corporation, created by
virtue of Presidential Decree No. 198. 12 As such, our ruling in the Atienza case, A.M. No. MTJ-92-706,
which categorically prohibits respondents appointment to any position in any government-owned and
controlled corporation, clearly encompasses and extends to LWUA positions.
In the instant case the respondent does not deny the petitioners allegations. 13 Instead, he offers the
existence of Memorandum Circular No. 27, Series of 1993 (MC No. 27, s. 1993) to exculpate himself
from the charge against him. However, it does not escape our attention that the very Memorandum
Circular that respondent cites before this Court provides that the duties enumerated in the consultancy
contract are mainly advisory in nature.14
Without belaboring the definition of "advisory,"15 it appears obvious to us that the tasks and duties that
respondent performed pursuant to the consultancy contract cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be
deemed merely advisory in nature.
An adviser does not exercise supervisory powers over LWUA employees nor does he issue written
instructions to them. An adviser is not entitled to a seat in such vital LWUA committees like PBAC and
the BOT Committee. Also, respondents continuous receipt of honoraria for sitting as a member of
certain LWUA Committees, particularly the BOT Committee, belies his claim that he is a mere
consultant for the LWUA. The evidence on record clearly shows that the LWUA Office Order
implementing National Compensation Circular No. 75-9516 refers to payments of honoraria to
officials/employees in consideration of services rendered.
Most telling, in our view, is respondents acceptance of his 1998 Productivity Incentive Bonus (PIB).
The Board of Trustees Resolution No. 26, Series of 1999, of the LWUA, 17 which governed the release of
the PIB, limited the entitlement to said bonus only to "officials" and "employees" (permanent,
temporary, casual, or contractual) of LWUA.
In sum, we find that for all intents and purposes, respondent performed duties and functions of a non-
advisory nature, which pertain to a contractual employee of LWUA. As stated by petitioner in his
reply,18 there is a difference between a consultant hired on a contractual basis (which is governed by
CSC M.C. No. 27, s. 1993) and a contractual employee (whose appointment is governed, among
others, by the CSC Omnibus Rules on Appointment and other Personnel Actions). By performing duties
and functions, which clearly pertain to a contractual employee, albeit in the guise of an advisor or
consultant, respondent has transgressed both letter and spirit of this Courts decree in Atienza.
The lawyers primary duty as enunciated in the Attorneys Oath is to uphold the Constitution, obey the
laws of the land, and promote respect for law and legal processes.19 That duty in its irreducible
minimum entails obedience to the legal orders of the courts. Respondents disobedience to this Courts
order prohibiting his reappointment to any branch, instrumentality, or agency of government, including
government owned and controlled corporations, cannot be camouflaged by a legal consultancy or a
special consultancy contract. By performing duties and functions of a contractual employee of LWUA,
by way of a consultancy, and receiving compensation and perquisites as such, he displayed acts of
open defiance of the Courts authority, and a deliberate rejection of his oath as an officer of the court.
It is also destructive of the harmonious relations that should prevail between Bench and Bar, a
harmony necessary for the proper administration of justice. Such defiance not only erodes respect for
the Court but also corrodes public confidence in the rule of law.
What aggravates respondents offense is the fact that respondent is no ordinary lawyer. Having served
in the judiciary for eight (8) years, he is very well aware of the standards of moral fitness for
membership in the legal profession. His propensity to try to "get away" with an indiscretion becomes

9
apparent and inexcusable when he entered into a legal "consultancy" contract with the LWUA. Perhaps
realizing its own mistake, LWUA terminated said contract with respondent, but then proceeded to give
him a "special consultancy." This travesty could not be long hidden from public awareness, hence the
instant complaint for disbarment filed by petitioner. Given the factual circumstances found by
Commission on Bar Discipline, we have no hesitance in accepting the recommendation of the Board of
Governors, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, that respondent be fined and suspended from the practice
of law. The Code of Professional Responsibility, Rule 1.01, provides that a lawyer shall not engage in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. For violating the Code as well as transgressing his
oath as an officer of the court, his suspension for one (1) year and a fine of ten thousand (P10,000)
pesos are in order.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco Brillantes, Jr., is found liable for having willfully violated a
lawful order of this Court in our decision of March 29, 1995 rendered in A.M. No. MTJ-92-706, entitled
Lupo Almodiel Atienza vs. Judge Francisco F. Brillantes, Jr. He is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice
of law for one (1) year and ordered to pay a FINE of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos, with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar conduct shall be dealt with more severely. Let a copy
of this Decision be furnished to the Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and spread
on the personal records of respondent as well as circulated to all courts in the Philippines. This decision
is immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Austria-Martinez, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.

10
EN BANC
A.C. No. 3694, June 17, 1993
ALBERTO FERNANDEZ, ISABELO ONGTENGCO, ACHILLES BARTOLOME, AND ST. LUKES
MEDICAL CENTER, complainants,
vs.
ATTORNEY BENJAMIN M. GRECIA, respondent.
Norberto Gonzales for Fernandez.
Bu Castro for Ongtengco & Bartolome.
Quasha, Asperilla, Ancheta, Pea & Nolasco for St. Luke's Hospital.
Joaquin P. Yuseco for respondent Benjamin Grecia.

PER CURIAM:
This disbarment complaint against Attorney Benjamin M. Grecia was filed on August 20, 1991 by
Doctors Alberto Fernandez, Isabelo Ongtengco and Achilles Bartolome and the St. Luke's Medical
Center (hereafter "St. Luke's" for brevity) where they are accredited medical practitioners. The
respondent is charged with dishonesty and grave misconduct in connection with the theft of some
pages from a medical chart which was material evidence in a damage suit filed by his clients against
the aforenamed doctors and St. Luke's.
Disciplinary proceedings like this one are in a class by themselves. As we observed in In Re Almacen,
31 SCRA 562,600, they are neither purely civil nor purely criminal. "Public interests is the primary
objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to
be allowed the privileges as such." The purpose is "to protect the court and the public from the
misconduct of officers of the court" (In Re Montagne & Dominguez, 3 Phil. 577, 588), or to remove
from the profession a person whose misconduct has proved him unfit to be entrusted with the duties
and responsibilities belonging to the office of an attorney (Ledesma vs. Climaco, 57 SCRA 473; Atienza
vs. Evangelista, 80 SCRA 338).
Disbarment is nothing new to respondent Grecia. On November 12, 1987, he was disbarred for his
immoral complicity or "unholy alliance" with a judge in Quezon City to rip off banks and Chinese
business firms which had the misfortune to be sued in the latter's court (Prudential Bank vs. Judge
Jose P. Castro and Atty. Benjamin M. Grecia [Adm. Case No. 2756], 155 SCRA 604).
Three years later, on December 18, 1990, the Court, heeding his pleas for compassions and his
promise to mend his ways, reinstated him in the profession. Only eight (8) months later, on August 20,
1991, he was back before the court facing another charge of dishonesty and unethical practice.
Apparently, the earlier disciplinary action that the Court took against him did not effectively reform
him.
The complaint of St. Luke's against Attorney Grecia was referred by the Court to Deputy Court of
Administrator Juanito A. Bernad for investigation, report and recommendation. The following are Judge
Bernad's findings:
The late Fe Linda Aves was seven (7) months pregnant when she was admitted as a patient at St.
Luke's Hospital on December 20, 1990. She complained of dizziness, hypertension, and abdominal
pains with vaginal bleeding. Dr. Fernandez, head of the OB-GYNE Department of St. Luke's, Dr.
Ongtengco, Jr., a cardiologist, and Dr. Bartolome, a urologist, examined Mrs. Aves and diagnosed her
problem as mild pre-eclampsia (p. 63, Rollo). Five (5) days later, on Christmas day, December 25,
1990, Mrs. Aves was discharged from the hospital, to celebrate Christmas with her family.
However, she was rushed back to the hospital the next day, December 26, 1990. On December 27,
1990, she died together with her unborn child.
Blaming the doctors of St. Luke's for his wife's demise, Attorney Damaso B. Aves, along with his three
(3) minor children, brought an action for damages against the hospital and the attending physicians of
his wife. Their counsel, respondent Attorney Benjamin Grecia, filed a complaint entitled: "Attorney
Damaso B. Aves, et al. vs. St. Luke's Medical Center, Drs. Alberto Fernandez, Isabelo Ongtengco, Jr.
and Achilles Bartolome" in the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Bulacan, where it was docketed as
Civil Case No. 3548-V and assigned to Branch 172, presided over by Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong.

11
On July 4, 1991, the medical records of Fe Linda Aves were produced in court by St. Luke's, as
requested by Attorney Grecia. The records were entrusted to the Acting Branch Clerk of Court, Avelina
Robles.
On July 16, 1991, between 8:30-9:00 o' clock in the morning, upon arriving in court for another
hearing of the case, Attorney Grecia borrowed from Mrs. Robles the folder containing the medical
records of Mrs. Aves.
While leafing through the folder, Grecia surreptitiously tore off two (2) pages of the medical records.
The respondent's act was notified by Mrs. Robles and Maria Arnet Sandico, a clerk. They saw Grecia
crumple the papers and place them inside the right pocket of his coat. He immediately returned the
folder to Mrs. Roblesa (who was momentarily rendered speechless by his audacious act) and left the
office.
Mrs. Robles examined the medical chart and found pages "72" and "73" missing. She ordered Sandico
to follow the respondent. Sandico saw Grecia near the canteen at the end of the building, calling a man
(presumably his driver) who was leaning against a parked car (presumably Grecia's car). When the
man approached, Grecia gave him the crumpled papers which he took from his coatpocket. Sandico
returned to the office and reported what she had seen to Mrs. Robles. The latter in turn reported it to
Judge Capulong. The three of
them Judge Capulong, Mrs. Robles and Ms. Sandico went downstairs. Ms. Sandico pointed to
Judge Capulong the man to whom Grecia had given the papers which he had filched from medical
folder of Linda Aves. Judge Capulong told Sandico to bring the man to her chamber. On the way back
to chamber, Judge Capulong saw the plaintiff, Attorney Damaso Aves, and St. Luke's counsel, Attorney
Melanie Limson. She requested them to come to her office.
In the presence of Attorneys Aves and Limson, Mrs. Robles, Ms. Sandico, and a visitor, Judge Capulong
confronted the man and ordered him to give her the papers which Grecia had passed on to him. The
man at first denied that he had the papers in his possession. However, when Sandico declared that she
saw Grecia hand over the papers to him, the man sheepishly took them from his pants pocket and
gave them to Judge Capulong. When the crumpled pages "72" and "73" of the medical folder were
shown to Sandico, she identified them as the same papers that she saw Grecia hand over to the man.
After the confrontation, Sandicio and Robles went back to their office. Mrs. Robles collapsed in a dead
faint and was rushed to the Fatima Hospital where she later regained consciousness.
In the ensuing excitement and confusion of recovering the stolen exhibits, no one thought of
ascertaining the identity of the man from whom they were recovered. Judge Capulong belatedly
realized this, so she directed the Valenzuela Police to find out who he was. She also ordered Sandico to
submit a formal report of the theft of the exhibits to the police.
A police investigator, PO3 Arnold Alabastro, tried to ascertain the name of Grecia's driver who was
known only as "SID." He located Grecia's house in Quezon City. Although he was not allowed to enter
the premises, he was able to talk with a house maid. He pretended to be a cousin of "SID" and asked
for the latter. The housemaid informed him that "SID" was sent home to his province by Grecia.
He talked with Grecia himself but the latter denied that he had a driver named "SID."
PO3 Alabastro also talked wit one of Grecia's neighbors across the street. The neighbor confirmed that
Grecia's driver was a fellow named "SID".
The incident caused enormous emotional strain to the personnel of Judge Capulong's court, so much so
that the Acting Branch Clerk of Court, Avelina Robles, was hospitalized. Because of the incident, Judge
Capulong inhibited herself from conducting the trial of Civil Case No. 3548-V.
On August 20, 1991, St. Luke's failed this disbarment case against Grecia.
At the investigation of the case by Judge Bernad, Attorney Damaso Aves, the surviving spouse of the
late Fe Linda Aves and plaintiff in Civil case No. 3548-V, testified that it was Attorney Bu Castro,
counsel of the defendants in said Civil Case No. 3548-V, who lifted two pages from the medical folder
which lay among some papers on top of the table of Acting Branch Clerk of Court Robles. When he
allegedly went outside the courthouse to wait for Attorney Grecia to arrive, he noticed Attorney Castro
come out of the building and walk toward a man in the parking lot to whom he handed a piece of
paper. Afterward, Attorney Castro reentered the courthouse.
Respondent Grecia denied any knowledge of the theft of the exhibits in the Aves case. He alleged that
the person who was caught in possession of the detached pages of the medical record was actually
"planted" by his adversaries to discredit him and destroy his reputation.

12
He denied that he had a driver. He alleged that his car was out of order on July 16, 1991, so he was
fetched by the driver of Attorney Aves in the latter's "Maxima" car. He arrived in the courthouse at
exactly 9:15 in the morning and went straight to the courtroom on the second floor of the building. He
did not leave the place until his case was called at 9:40. Since it was allegedly a very warm day, he
wore a dark blue barong tagalog, not a business suit. He branded the testimony of Ms. Sandico as an
absolute falsehood. He alleged that he would not have done the act imputed to him, because the
medical chart was the very foundation of the civil case which he filed against St. Luke's and its doctors.
He wondered why the man, alleged to be his driver, to whom he supposedly gave the detached pages
of the medical chart, was neither held nor arrested. His identity was not even established.
He likewise branded the testimony of Police Investigator Alabastro as a fabrication for he had never
seen him before.
He underscored the fact that none of the lawyers in the courthouse, nor any of the court personnel,
accosted him about the purloined pages of the medical record and he alleged that the unidentified man
remained in the courtroom even after the confrontation in the Judge's chamber.
In evaluating the testimonies of the witnesses, Judge Bernad found the court employee, Maria Arnie
Sandico, and Acting branch Clerk of Court Avelina Robles entirely credible and "without any noticeable
guile nor attempt at fabrication, remaining constant even under pressure of cross examination" (p. 11,
Judge Bernad's Report).
That the Acting Branch Clerk of Court, Mrs. Robles, who is not even a lawyer, and her lowly clerk, Ms.
Sandico, did not promptly raise a hue and cry on seeing Grecia tear off two pages of the medical
record, was understandable for they hesitated to confront a man of his stature. Nevertheless, they had
the presence of mind to immediately report the matter to their Judge who forthwith took appropriate
steps to recover the exhibits. Robles, Sandico and PO3 Alabastro had absolutely no motive to testify
falsely against the respondent.
While Judge Capulong took the blame for failing to ascertain the identity of Attorney Grecia's "driver,"
her swift action in summoning and confronting him led to the recovery of the stolen pages of the
medical chart.
Unfortunately, the inquiry made by Police Investigation Arnold Alabastro into identity of the man was
fruitless for he was never seen again.
Attorney Aves' allegation that it was St. Luke's counsel, Attorney Castro, not Grecia, who stole the
pages from the medical folder and slipped them to an unidentified man, is an incredible fabrication. Not
only is it directly contradicted by Mrs. Robles and Ms. Sandico, but, significantly, Attorney Aves failed
to mention it during the confrontation with the man inside Judge Capulong's chamber where he
(Attorney Aves) was present.
His other allegation that he saw the man inside the courtroom afterwards, is not credible for he would
have called the attention of Judge Capulong who, he knew, had been looking for the man to ascertain
his identity.
In view of his obvious bias for his counsel, Aves' testimony was properly disregarded by the
investigator, Judge Bernad. Likewise wanting in truth and candor was Grecia's testimony. Judge
Bernad noted that while Grecia was punctilious when testifying on the hour of his arrival in court (9:15
A.M.) on July 16, 1991, and he even remembered that on that day he wore a dark blue barong tagalog
(an apparel that has no pockets), his memory was not sharp when he was cross-examined regarding
more recent events. For instance, he insisted that Judge Bernad was absent on August 4, 1992, but
the truth is that a hearing was held on that date as shown by the transcript.
When he was confronted with exhibits "A" and "B," Grecia tried to make an issue of the absence of a
court order to deposit Linda Aves' medical chart in court. He forgot that it was he who asked that the
chart be left with the clerk of court.
His allegation that he would be the last person to remove pages 72 and 73 of the medical chart for the
entries therein are favorable to his client's cause is specious. As a matter of fact, the entries show that
after Mrs. Aves was readmitted to the hospital on December 26, 1990, the doctors were able to
stabilize her blood pressure with a normal reading of 120/80.
On the basis of the evidence presented before Judge Bernad, the Court is convinced that the charge
against Attorney Benjamin M. Grecia is true. By stealing two pages from Linda Aves' medical chart and
passing them on to his driver, he violated Rule 1.01, canon 1 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility
as well as canon 7 thereof which provide that:
Canon 1. . . .
13
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral and deceitful
conduct.
Canon 7. A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is "like the court itself, an instrument or agency to advance the
ends of justice" (People ex rel Karlin vs. Culkin, 60 A.L.R. 851, 855). An incorrigible practitioner of
"dirty tricks," like Grecia would be ill-suited to discharge the role of "an instrument to advance the
ends of justice."
The importance of integrity and good moral character as part of a lawyer's equipment in the practice of
his profession has been stressed by this Court repeatedly.
. . . The bar should maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty
and fair dealing. Generally speaking, a lawyer can do honor to the legal profession by
faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. To
this end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which might tend
to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity
of the profession. (Marcelo vs. Javier, Sr., A.C. No. 3248, September 18, 1992, pp. 13-
14.)
. . . . 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. (Melendrez vs. Decena, 176 SCRA 662, 676.)
. . . public policy demands that legal work in representation of parties litigant should be
entrusted only to those possessing tested qualifications and who are sworn to observe
the rules and the ethics of the profession, a s well as being subject for judicial
disciplinary control for the protection of court, clients and the public. (Phil. Association of
Free Labor Unions [PAFLU] vs. Binalbagan Isabela Sugar Company, 42 SCRA 302, 305.)
By descending to the level of a common thief, respondent Grecia has demeaned and disgraced the
legal profession. He has demonstrated his moral unfitness to continue as a member of the honorable
fraternity of lawyers. He has forfeited his membership in the BAR.
Generally, a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his
professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in
honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court,
or an unfit or unsafe person to enjoy the privileges and to manage the business of others
in the capacity of an attorney, or for conduct which tends to bring reproach on the legal
profession or to injure it in the favorable opinion of the public. (Marcelo vs. Javier, Sr.,
A.C. No. 3248, September 18, 1992, p. 15.)
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Attorney Benjamin Grecia guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty, and
grossly unethical behavior as a lawyer. Considering that this is his second offense against the canons
of the profession, the Court resolved to impose upon him once more the supreme penalty of
DISBARMENT. His license to practice law in the Philippines is hereby CANCELLED and the Bar Confidant
is ordered to strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys.
SO ORDERED.
Cruz, Feliciano, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and
Quiason, JJ., concur.
Narvasa, C.J., took no part.
Padilla, J., is on leave.

14
SECOND DIVISION
A.C. No. 8168, October 12, 2016
SPOUSES EDWIN B. BUFFE AND KAREN M. SILVERIO-BUFFE, Complainants, v. SEC. RAUL M.
GONZALEZ, USEC. FIDEL J. EXCONDE, JR., AND CONGRESSMAN ELEANDRO JESUS F.
MADRONA, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, ACTING C.J.:
The Case
Before this Court is a disbarment complaint filed by Spouses Edwin B. Buffe and Karen M. Silverio-
Buffe (complainants) against former Secretary of Justice Raul M. Gonzalez, 1 former Undersecretary of
Justice Fidel J. Exconde, Jr., and former Congressman Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona (respondents), for
committing an unethical act in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and the Lawyer's
Oath, particularly the willful violation of Republic Act Nos. (RA) 6713, 3019, and civil service law and
rules.
The Facts
The undisputed facts, as culled from the records, are as follows:
On 15 July 2008, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed Karen M. Silverio-Buffe (Silverio-
Buffe) as Prosecutor I/Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Romblon province. On 15 August 2008,
Silverio-Buffe took her oath of office before Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 24, Judge Jesusa
P. Maningas (Judge Maningas). She, then, furnished the Office of the President, Civil Service
Commission and Department of Justice (DOJ) with copies of her oath of office. On 19 August 2008,
Silverio-Buffe informed the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Romblon that she was officially
reporting for work beginning that day.
In a letter dated 26 August 2008, Romblon Provincial Prosecutor Arsenio R.M. Almadin asked former
Secretary of Justice Raul M. Gonzalez (Gonzalez) to confirm the appointment of Silverio-Buffe since the
Provincial Prosecution Office did not receive any official communication regarding Silverio-Buffe's
appointment.
In a Memorandum Order dated 19 December 2008, Gonzalez ordered Silverio-Buffe "to cease and
desist from acting as prosecutor in the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Romblon, or in any
Prosecutor's Office for that matter, considering that [she has] no appointment to act as such,
otherwise [she] will be charged of usurpation of public office." 2chanrobleslaw
On 11 February 2009, Silverio-Buffe, together with her husband Edwin B. Buffe, filed with the Office of
the Bar Confidant (OBC) a Joint Complaint-Affidavit3 alleging that former Congressman Eleandro Jesus
F. Madrona (Madrona), acting out of spite or revenge, persuaded and influenced Gonzalez and
Undersecretary Fidel J. Exconde, Jr. (Exconde) into refusing to administer Silverio-Buffe's oath of office
and into withholding the transmittal of her appointment papers to the DOJ Regional Office. Madrona
allegedly acted out of spite or revenge against Silverio-Buffe because she was one of the plaintiffs in a
civil case for enforcement of a Radio Broadcast Contract, which was cancelled by the radio station due
to adverse commentaries against Madrona and his allies in Romblon.
In their Joint Complaint-Affidavit, they narrated that: (1) on 1 August 2008, the Malacanang Records
Office transmitted Silverio-Buffe's appointment papers to the DOJ and they were received by a clerk
named Gino Dela Pena; (2) on 13 August 2008, a certain Cora from the Personnel Division of the DOJ
asked Silverio-Buffe if she had any "connection" in the Office of the Secretary because her papers were
being withheld by Exconde, and when she said none, Cora told her to come back the following day; (3)
on 14 August 2008, Silverio-Buffe was introduced to Gonzalez, who informed her that Madrona
strongly opposed her appointment and advised her to work it out with Madrona; (4) since Gonzalez
refused to administer her oath of office, Silverio-Buffe took her oath before Judge Maningas on 15
August 2008; (5) Silverio-Buffe twice wrote a letter to Gonzalez pleading for the transmittal of her
appointment papers, but Gonzalez never replied; and (6) on 13 November 2008, they went to the DOJ
and met Exconde, who informed them that they should think of a solution regarding Madrona's
opposition to her appointment. Exconde asked for the reason of Madrona's opposition and Silverio-
Buffe replied that she supported Madrona's rival, Eduardo Firmalo, during the elections. Exconde
persuaded Silverio-Buffe to talk with Madrona, but she insisted on not approaching Madrona because of
their diverse principles. Exconde, then, suggested that Silverio-Buffe write Gonzalez a letter stating
that she already approached Madrona yet the latter ignored her plea, but Silverio-Buffe refused the
suggestion.
15
In a Resolution dated 15 April 2009,4 the Court, through the First Division, required the respondents to
comment on the complaint.
In his Comment with Counter-Complaint dated 23 June 2009,5 Madrona denied that he acted out of
spite or revenge against Silverio-Buffe or that he persuaded, induced, or influenced anyone to refuse to
administer oath to Silverio-Buffe and to withhold the transmittal of her appointment papers. Madrona
insisted that the allegations against him are without proof, and based on general conjectures and
hearsay. On the other hand, Madrona alleged that complainants should be accountable for their
dishonest and deceitful conduct in submitting to the Court as annexes a complaint without its last two
pages and a contract altered by Silverio-Buffe.
In a joint Comment dated 1 July 2009,6 Gonzalez and Exconde claimed that: (1) the complaint is
unfounded and purely for harassment because Silverio-Buffe's appointment papers were not endorsed
by the Office of the President to the DOJ for implementation; (2) the Court has no jurisdiction over the
complaint because a case for violation of RA 6713 and civil service rules should be filed with the Civil
Service Commission and a case for violation of RA 3019 should be filed with the Sandiganbayan; (3)
the proper venue for her grievance is with the Office of the President; (4) assuming that her
appointment papers were withheld, such act was presumed to be the act of the President herself, with
the presumption of regularity of official functions; and (5) Exconde was erroneously impleaded since he
never signed any document relating to Silverio-Buffe's appointment.
In her Reply dated 17 July 2009,7 Silverio-Buffe insisted that her appointment papers were endorsed
by the Office of the President to the Office of the Secretary of Justice, as evidenced by the
Endorsement Letter of then Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita. However, Exconde, as Chief of
Personnel Management and Development under the Office of the Secretary of Justice, refused to
forward her appointment letter to the Personnel Division of DOJ for implementation.
In a Resolution dated 21 October 2009, 8 the Court, through the Third Division, referred the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
In a Memorandum dated 12 July 2010,9 then DOJ Secretary Leila M. De Lima transmitted Silverio-
Buffe's appointment papers to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Romblon.
In a Resolution dated 20 October 2010, 10 the Court, through the Second Division, referred the Motion
to Dismiss11 filed by Madrona to the IBP. Madrona sought to dismiss the present administrative
complaint on the ground of forum-shopping, because he received an order from the Office of the
Ombudsman directing him to file a counter-affidavit based on the same administrative complaint filed
before the OBC.
The IBP's Report and Recommendation
In a Report and Recommendation dated 5 October 2011,12 Investigating Commissioner Oliver A.
Cachapero (Investigating Commissioner) found the complaint impressed with merit, and recommended
the penalty of censure against the respondents.13 The Investigating Commissioner found respondents'
united action of stopping the appointment of Silverio-Buffe unethical.
In Resolution No. XX-2012-21514 issued on 28 June 2012, the IBP Board of Governors reversed the
Investigating Commissioner's Report and Recommendation, to wit:
RESOLVED to REVERSE as it is hereby unanimously REVERSED, the Report and Recommendation of
the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as
Annex "A", and considering that the complaint lacks merit the case against Respondents is hereby
DISMISSED.
Complainants then filed a motion for reconsideration.

In Resolution No. XX-2013-30715 issued on 21 March 2013, the IBP Board of Governors denied the
motion for reconsideration, to wit:
RESOLVED to unanimously DENY Complainants' Motion for Reconsideration, there being no cogent
reason to reverse the Resolution and it being a mere reiteration of the matters which had already been
threshed out and taken into consideration. Thus, Resolution No. XX-2012-215 dated June 28, 2012 is
hereby AFFIRMED.
Hence, complainants filed a petition before this Court.
The Issue
The issue in this case is whether Gonzalez, Exconde, and Madrona should be administratively
disciplined based on the allegations in the complaint.
16
The Ruling of the Court
We dismiss the administrative case against Exconde and Madrona for lack of jurisdiction. The present
administrative case should be resolved by the Office of the Ombudsman, considering that complainants
have filed a complaint before it on 12 February 2009.16 In the case of Gonzalez, his death on 7
September 2014 forecloses any administrative case against him. 17chanrobleslaw
The authority of the Ombudsman to act on complainants' administrative complaint is anchored on
Section 13(1), Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that: "[t]he Office of the
Ombudsman shall have the following powers, functions, and duties: (1) investigate on its own, or on
complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public official, employee, office or agency, when
such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient."
Under Section 1618 of RA 6770, otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989, the jurisdiction of
the Ombudsman encompasses all kinds of malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance committed by
any public officer or employee during his or her tenure.19 Section 1920 of RA 6770 also states that the
Ombudsman shall act on all complaints relating, but not limited, to acts or omissions which are
unreasonable, unfair, oppressive, or discriminatory.
Considering that both Exconde and Madrona are public officers being charged for actions, which are
allegedly unfair and discriminatory, involving their official functions during their tenure, the present
case should be resolved by the Office of the Ombudsman as the appropriate government agency.
Indeed, the IBP has no jurisdiction over government lawyers who are charged with administrative
offenses involving their official duties. For such acts, government lawyers fall under the disciplinary
authority of either their superior21 or the Ombudsman.22 Moreover, an anomalous situation will arise if
the IBP asserts jurisdiction and decides against a government lawyer, while the disciplinary authority
finds in favor of the government lawyer.
WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the administrative complaint against now deceased Secretary of Justice
Raul M. Gonzalez for being moot. We also DISMISS the administrative complaint against respondents,
former Undersecretary of Justice Fidel J. Exconde, Jr. and former Congressman Eleandro Jesus F.
Madrona, for lack of jurisdiction.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Ombudsman for whatever appropriate action
the Ombudsman may wish to take with respect to the possible administrative and criminal liability of
respondents Fidel J. Exconde, Jr. and Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona.
SO ORDERED.
Brion, Del Castillo, and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Leonen, J., on official business.

17
Supreme Court of Arizona, En Banc.
IN RE: James Joseph HAMM, Applicant.
No. SB-04-0079-M.
Decided: December 07, 2005
James Joseph Hamm, Tempe, In Propria Persona. Monroe & McDonough, P.C., by Lawrence
McDonough, Tucson, and Juan Perez-Medrano, Phoenix, Chair Attorneys for the Committee on
Character & Fitness. Charles W. Wirken, President, Helen Perry Grimwood, President-elect, Jim D.
Smith, First Vice President, Daniel J. McAuliffe, Second Vice President, Edward F. Novak, Secretary-
Treasurer, Robert B. Van Wyck, Chief Bar Counsel, Phoenix, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae State Bar of
Arizona. Michael D. Kimerer, Marty Lieberman, Amy L. Nguyen, Phoenix, Carla Ryan, Andrew
Silverman, Tucson, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice. Andrew P.
Thomas, Maricopa County Attorney, by Andrew P. Thomas, Phoenix, Attorney for Amicus Curiae
Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
OPINION
1 James Hamm petitioned this Court, pursuant to Arizona Supreme Court Rule 36(g), 17A A.R.S., 1 to
review the recommendation of the Committee on Character and Fitness (the Committee) that his
application for admission to the State Bar of Arizona (the Bar) be denied. Having reviewed the record
and the Committee's report, we conclude that James Hamm has failed to establish the good moral
character necessary to be admitted to the practice of law in Arizona and deny his application.
I.
2 In September 1974, James Hamm was twenty-six years old and living on the streets of Tucson.
Although he previously had attended divinity school and worked as a part-time pastor, Hamm
describes his life in 1974 as reflecting a series of personal and social failures. In 1973, he had
separated from his wife, with whom he had a son. Although he had no criminal record, he supported
himself by selling small quantities of marijuana and, again according to Hamm, he used marijuana and
other drugs and abused alcohol.
3 On September 6, 1974, Hamm met two young men who identified themselves as college students
from Missouri. The two, Willard Morley and Zane Staples, came to Tucson to buy twenty pounds of
marijuana. Hamm agreed to sell it to them, but apparently was unable to acquire that quantity of
marijuana. Rather than call off the transaction, Hamm and two accomplices, Garland Wells and Bill
Reeser, agreed to rob Staples and Morley of the money intended for the purchase. On September 7,
Wells gave Hamm a gun to use during the robbery. Later that day, Wells and Hamm directed Morley
and Staples to drive to the outskirts of Tucson, purportedly to complete the drug transaction; Reeser
followed in another vehicle. Both Wells and Hamm carried guns; Morley and Staples were unarmed.
Hamm sat behind Morley, the driver, and Wells sat behind Staples. At some point, Hamm detected
that Staples was becoming suspicious. As Morley stopped the car, and without making any demand
on the victims for money, Hamm shot Morley in the back of the head, killing him. At the same time,
Wells shot Staples. Hamm then shot Staples in the back as he tried to escape and shot Morley once
again. Wells also shot Morley, then pursued Staples, whom he ultimately killed outside of the car.
Hamm and Wells took $1400.00 from the glove compartment, fled the scene in the van driven by
Reeser, and left the bodies of Morley and Staples lying in the desert.
4 Hamm took his share of the money and visited his sister in California. At the hearing held to
consider his application to the Bar, he told the Committee that he was compelled to come back to
Tucson, despite knowing he probably would be caught. Police officers arrested Hamm shortly after
his return. While in custody, he told the police that Morley and Staples were killed in a gun battle
during the drug deal. Initially charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of
armed robbery, Hamm pled guilty to one count of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in
prison, with no possibility of parole for twenty-five years.
5 Once in prison, Hamm began taking steps toward rehabilitation and became a model prisoner.
After spending one year in maximum security, he applied for and received a job in a computer training
program that allowed him to be transferred to medium security. Once in medium security, Hamm
apparently took advantage of any and every educational opportunity the prison system had to offer.
He completed certificates in yoga and meditation and, on his own, studied Jungian psychology. He
helped fellow inmates learn to read and write and to take responsibility for their actions. He obtained
a bachelor's degree in applied sociology, summa cum laude, from Northern Arizona University through
a prison study program.

18
6 After Hamm completed six years in medium security, prison officials transferred him to minimum
security, where he worked on paint and construction crews. He received a significant degree of
freedom, which allowed him to live in a dormitory rather than in a cell and occasionally to drive
unaccompanied to nearby towns. He testified that he was the only inmate permitted to head a work
crew. Hamm reported to the Committee that he played an instrumental role on various prison
committees, particularly the committee that developed a new grievance procedure within the
Department of Corrections. In addition, he wrote grant proposals for libraries, for handicapped
prisoners, and for obtaining greater legal assistance for prisoners.
7 While in prison, he met and married Donna Leone. She and Hamm founded Middle Ground Prison
Reform (Middle Ground), a prisoner and prisoner family advocacy organization involved in lobbying for
laws related to the criminal justice system and prisons. Middle Ground also provides public education
about those topics.
8 In 1989, the Governor, acting on the recommendation of the Arizona Board of Pardons and Parole
(the Board), commuted Hamm's sentence. When he had served nearly seventeen years, in July
1992, the Board released Hamm on parole, conditioned upon no use of alcohol or drugs, drug and
alcohol testing, and fifteen hours of community service each month. In December 2001, the Arizona
Board of Executive Clemency2 granted Hamm's third application for absolute discharge.
9 Between his release in August 1992 and his absolute discharge in December 2001, Hamm
performed thousands of hours of community service. He advocated for prisoners' rights in various
forums by writing position papers, appearing on radio programs, testifying in legislative hearings, and
speaking at churches, schools, and civic organizations. He also appeared in a public service video
encouraging children not to do drugs or join gangs. Hamm now works as the Director of Advocacy
Services at Middle Ground Prison Reform.
10 While on parole, Hamm graduated from the Arizona State University College of Law. In July 1999,
Hamm passed the Arizona bar examination and, in 2004, filed his Character and Fitness Report with
the Committee.
II.
11 The Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona establish the process through which the Committee
and this Court evaluate applications for admission to the Bar, and prior case law clarifies the burden an
applicant must satisfy to establish good moral character. We begin with a review of the rules.
A.
12 Rules 34 through 37 define the requirements for admission to the Bar. 3 The Committee may
recommend an applicant for admission only if that applicant, in addition to meeting other
requirements, satisfies the Committee that he or she is of good moral character. Rule 34(a). The
applicant bears the burden of establishing his or her good moral character. In re Greenberg, 126
Ariz. 290, 292, 614 P.2d 832, 834 (1980) (citing In re Levine, 97 Ariz. 88, 397 P.2d 205 (1964)). In
determining whether an applicant's prior conduct indicates a lack of good moral character, the
Committee must consider the following non-exhaustive list of factors:
A. The applicant's age, experience and general level of sophistication at the time of the conduct
B. The recency of the conduct
C. The reliability of the information concerning the conduct
D. The seriousness of the conduct
E. Consideration given by the applicant to relevant laws, rules and responsibilities at the time of the
conduct
F. The factors underlying the conduct
G. The cumulative effect of the conduct
H. The evidence of rehabilitation
I. The applicant's positive social contributions since the conduct
J. The applicant's candor in the admissions process
K. The materiality of any omissions or misrepresentations by the applicant.
Rule 36(a)3.

19
13 When prior conduct involves the commission of a violent crime, the Committee must, at a
minimum, hold an informal hearing. Rule 36(a)4.E. If three or more Committee members who
attended the hearing or who have read the entire record do not recommend admission of an applicant,
the Committee must hold a formal hearing to consider whether to recommend the applicant for
admission to the Bar. Id.
14 If the applicant fails to convince the Committee of his or her good moral character, the Committee
has a duty not to recommend that person to this Court. In re Klahr, 102 Ariz. 529, 531, 433 P.2d
977, 979 (1967); Levine, 97 Ariz. at 91, 397 P.2d at 207 (If the proof of good moral character falls
short of convincing the Committee on Examinations and Admissions, it is its duty not to recommend
admission.); In re Courtney, 83 Ariz. 231, 233, 319 P.2d 991, 993 (1957) (In this it has no
discretion; if the members entertain any reservations whatsoever as to the applicant's good moral
character, it should not make a favorable recommendation to this court.). After the Committee
submits its report, an aggrieved applicant may petition this Court for review. Rule 36(g).
B.
15 This Court then independently determines whether the applicant possesses good moral character
and, based upon that determination, grants or denies the candidate's application. Although we give
serious consideration to the facts as found by and the recommendation of the Committee, [t]he
ultimate decision in this difficult matter rests with the Supreme Court. In re Kiser, 107 Ariz. 326,
327, 487 P.2d 393, 394 (1971) (holding applicant possessed good moral character); see also Levine,
97 Ariz. at 92, 397 P.2d at 207 (holding the Court must, using our independent judgment, de novo
determine whether the necessary qualifications have been shown). We do not limit our independent
review to matters of law; we have the ultimate responsibility for determination of fact and law. In
re Ronwin, 139 Ariz. 576, 579, 680 P.2d 107, 110 (1983); see also In re Walker, 112 Ariz. 134, 137,
539 P.2d 891, 894 (1975) (making a finding regarding the credibility of testimony, although in
agreement with the Committee).
16 The ultimate question in cases such as this is whether the applicant has established good moral
character, a concept with which we have wrestled as we have attempted to define its boundaries.
Greenberg, 126 Ariz. at 292, 614 P.2d at 834. As Hamm asserts, the rules and standards governing
admission to the practice of law in Arizona include no per se disqualifications. Instead, we consider
each case on its own merits. Id. In Walker, we described the principles on which we rely as follows:
Upright character * * * is something more than an absence of bad character. * * * It means that
he [an applicant for admission] must have conducted himself as a man of upright character ordinarily
would, should, or does. Such character expresses itself not in negatives nor in following the line of
least resistance, but quite often in the will to do the unpleasant thing if it is right, and the resolve not
to do the pleasant thing if it is wrong.
112 Ariz. at 138, 539 P.2d at 895 (alteration in original) (quoting In re Farmer, 191 N.C. 235, 131 S.E.
661, 663 (1926)).
17 We also agree with Hamm that, under the Rule applicable to Hamm's application, our concern
must be with the applicant's present moral character. In Greenberg, we explained that it is [the
applicant's] moral character as of now with which we are concerned. 126 Ariz. at 292, 614 P.2d at
834; see also Rule 36(a)3. Past misconduct, however, is not irrelevant. Rather, this Court must
determine what past bad acts reveal about an applicant's current character.
III.
18 In compliance with Rule 36(a)4.E, the Committee conducted a formal hearing to consider Hamm's
application. The Committee heard testimony on May 20 and June 2, 2004. Hamm, representing
himself, and his wife presented extensive testimony. In addition, the Committee heard from three
licensed attorneys who had worked with Hamm and who recommended his admission and also
considered letters from those opposed to and in support of Hamm's application. In detailed findings,
the Committee specifically considered the various factors set out in Rule 36(a) to determine Hamm's
character and fitness to be admitted to the Bar. In its report, the Committee stated that, in reaching its
conclusions, it considered the following:
1) Hamm's unlawful conduct, which included the commission of two violent execution style murders
and his testimony as to the facts surrounding the murders.
2) Hamm's omissions on his Application and his testimony in explaining his failure to disclose all
required information.

20
3) Hamm's neglect of his financial responsibilities and/or violation of a longstanding child support
court order and his testimony as to his failure to comply with the court order.
4) Hamm's mental or emotional instability impairing his ability to perform the functions of an attorney
including his testimony as to any diagnosis and treatment.4
19 After reviewing all these factors, the Committee concluded that Hamm had not met his burden of
establishing that he possesses the requisite character and fitness for admission to the Bar and
accordingly recommended that his application be denied. We now consider the Committee's findings,
together with pertinent facts.
A.
20 The serious nature of Hamm's past criminal conduct is beyond dispute. Hamm acknowledges
that no more serious criminal conduct exists than committing first-degree murder. Our society
reserves its harshest punishment for those convicted of such conduct. See Tucson Rapid Transit Co. v.
Rubiaz, 21 Ariz. 221, 231, 187 P. 568, 572 (1920) (describing murder as the most serious crime
known to the law).
21 Hamm's past criminal conduct and the serious nature of that conduct affect the burden he must
meet to establish good moral character. He must first establish rehabilitation from prior criminal
conduct, a requirement that adds to his burden of showing current good moral character. See In re
Adams, 273 Ga. 333, 540 S.E.2d 609, 610 (2001) (Where an applicant for admission to the bar has a
criminal record, his or her burden of establishing present good moral character takes on the added
weight of proving full and complete rehabilitation subsequent to conviction); In re Allan S., 282 Md.
683, 387 A.2d 271, 275 (1978) (Although a prior conviction is not conclusive of a lack of present good
moral character, it adds to his burden of establishing present good character by requiring convincing
proof of his full and complete rehabilitation.).
22 The added burden becomes greater as past unlawful conduct becomes more serious. In In re
Arrotta, we considered an application for reinstatement from an attorney who, eight years earlier, pled
guilty to mail fraud and bribery. 208 Ariz. 509, 96 P.3d 213 (2004). We noted there that the more
serious the misconduct that led to disbarment, the more difficult is the applicant's task in showing
rehabilitation. Id. at 512 12, 96 P.3d at 216. An applicant for initial admission to the Bar who is
attempting to overcome the negative implications of a serious felony on his current moral character
likewise must overcome a greater burden for more serious crimes. We agree with the New Jersey
Supreme Court, which recognized that in the case of extremely damning past misconduct, a showing
of rehabilitation may be virtually impossible to make. In re Matthews, 94 N.J. 59, 462 A.2d 165, 176
(1983). Indeed, we are aware of no instance in which a person convicted of first-degree murder has
been admitted to the practice of law.
23 To show rehabilitation, Hamm must show that he has accepted responsibility for his criminal
conduct. Hamm fully recognizes his need to make this showing. Indeed, he states that his
rehabilitation could not have proceeded absent such acceptance. We recognize the Committee's
concern that Hamm has not yet fully accepted responsibility for the two murders. Hamm says he has
done so, repeatedly and strongly, but some of his other statements indicate to the contrary. The
inconsistencies among his various statements related to accepting responsibility are most evident when
he discusses Staples' murder. Although he told the Committee that he accepts responsibility for
Staples' murder, in fact he consistently assigns that responsibility to his accomplice. His testimony
revealed almost no attention to the commission or aftermath of Staples' murder. Hamm concedes
that he has focused on his role in Morley's murder rather than on his role in Staples' murder. The
difference in approach, he explains, resulted from one postcard written to him by Morley's
grandmother and his decision to use his connection to Morley to provide motivation to overcome
difficulties. We have no reason to doubt that Hamm's focus on Morley's murder aided him, using his
words, in accomplishing things that people have been telling me I can't do and we're [Hamm and
Morley] still doing it today. That fact, however, does nothing to assure us that Hamm has taken
responsibility for Staples' murder, as he must if he is to establish rehabilitation.
24 We also give serious consideration to the Committee's finding that Hamm was not completely
forthright in his testimony about the murders.5 Hamm has insisted in his filings with this Court that he
did not intend to kill, but only to rob, his victims. The agreed facts, however, lead directly to the
inference that Hamm intended to kill. He conspired with his accomplices to rob the victims; he
accepted the gun provided by Wells and took it with him in the car with the victims; he testified that,
although he did not intend to kill the victims, he was afraid they would be killed when he got in the
car; he shot Morley without ever attempting a robbery and shot him a second time to make certain he
was dead; and he also shot Staples to prevent his escape. The Committee observed Hamm testify

21
and was able to judge the credibility of his testimony in light of uncontested facts. We agree that the
record shows that Hamm, despite his current protestations to the contrary, intended to kill the victims.
His failure to confront the fact that these murders were intentional undermines his statements that he
fully accepts responsibility for his actions.
25 As did the Committee, we give substantial weight to Hamm's attempts at rehabilitation. In
Section I, supra, we described in some detail the activities Hamm has undertaken, both while in and
since his release from prison. We are impressed with the sincerity and fervor of those who testified
or submitted letters on Hamm's behalf. Were rehabilitation the only showing Hamm must make to
establish good moral character, we would weigh those factors tending to show rehabilitation against
those tending to show a lack thereof. Under the facts of this case, however, we need not decide
whether the facts of record establish rehabilitation.
26 When an applicant has committed first-degree murder, a crime that demonstrates an extreme
lack of good moral character, that applicant must make an extraordinary showing of present good
moral character to establish that he or she is qualified to be admitted to the practice of law. Even
assuming that Hamm has established rehabilitation, showing rehabilitation from criminal conduct does
not, in itself, establish good moral character. Rehabilitation is a necessary, but not sufficient,
ingredient of good moral character. An applicant must establish his current good moral character,
independent of and in addition to, evidence of rehabilitation. We conclude that Hamm failed to make
that showing.
B.
27 We share the Committee's deep concern about Hamm's longstanding failure to fulfill, or even
address, his child support obligation to his son, born in 1969, four years before Hamm and his first wife
separated. Not until he prepared his application for admission to the Bar in 2004 did Hamm make
any effort to meet his responsibility to provide support for his son. During the Committee hearing,
Hamm advanced several explanations for his failure to do so. Like the Committee, we find none of his
explanations credible.
28 Although Hamm attempts to excuse his failure to pay child support by pointing out that he never
received a copy of a final divorce decree, Hamm scarcely can claim that he lacked awareness of his
obligation. A few months after he and his wife separated in 1973, Hamm was arrested on a
misdemeanor charge of failing to pay child support. On May 6, 1974, James and Karen Hamm's
divorce decree set Hamm's child support payments at $75.00 a month. Hamm made no effort to
learn the extent of his financial obligation to his son from 1974, when Hamm was twenty-six years old,
until 2004, when he was fifty-five. During those nearly thirty years, he gained sophistication and
attended law school. He must have known, and certainly should have known, that he had long
avoided a basic parental obligation.6
29 Hamm also attempted to excuse his inattention to his obligation by explaining that he learned,
first from a private investigator hired by his wife in 1988, and later from his son, that his former wife's
new husband had adopted his son. His reliance on the private investigator's 1988 report to excuse
his failure is surprising, given the fact that his son was only months from the age of majority when
Hamm learned of the report; he provides no explanation for his lack of concern prior to that date.
30 Hamm further explained that only when he applied for admission to the Bar in 2004 did he
discover that his son had not been adopted and then calculated the child support payment [due] over
the years. Hamm determined that he owed $10,000.00 and, even though the statute of limitations
barred an action to recover past amounts due,7 contacted his son and set up a repayment schedule.
31 Behavior of such long duration cannot be considered as a temporary aberration Walker, 112
Ariz. at 138, 539 P.2d at 895; see also Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Lewis, 493 Pa. 519, 426 A.2d
1138 (1981) (holding that even when an attorney made belated restitution for funds taken from
clients, because [s]uch actions cannot be said to be consistent with high ethical standards of the
profession, with a lawyer's fiduciary responsibility to his client, with a character that is beyond
reproach, or with truth, candor and honesty, the attorney could not continue to practice law).
Hamm's failure to meet his parental obligation for nearly thirty years makes it more difficult for him to
make the required extraordinary showing that he has conducted himself as a man ordinarily would,
should, or does. Walker, 112 Ariz. at 138, 539 P.2d at 895.
32 We also agree with the Committee that Hamm did not display honesty and candor in discussing
his failure to pay child support with the Committee. Hamm testified both that his son told him
personally that he had been adopted and that his son adamantly refused to accept interest payments
on the unpaid child support.

22
33 Hamm's son testified, however, that he had never been adopted, that prior to his contact with
Hamm he had changed his name himself, and that he had not told Hamm he had been adopted.
Hamm's son also did not report adamantly refusing interest payments. In response to a question
from the Committee about interest payments, he said:
Discussions about interest? Seems like whenever we were talking about it, you know, he said it was
a large amount, and it seems like the subject of interest did come up. I can't remember exactly, you
know, what we said about it. But, you know, I didn't push the issue or anything, say, well, you know,
you're going to pay me interest for this or what, or is there any interest. It wasn't really an issue or
important to me.
34 We discern no reason that Hamm's son would have been other than forthright about these
matters, while Hamm had every reason to present himself in the best possible light.8 Like the
Committee, we find the testimony of his son to be more credible.
C.
35 We further conclude that Hamm did not adequately explain his failure to disclose an incident
involving him and his current wife, Donna, when he submitted his application to the Committee.
36 In 1996, Hamm and Donna engaged in a physical altercation outside a convenience store.
Donna yelled the word kidnap out of the window of the vehicle Hamm was driving, causing him to
pull over and leave the vehicle. During their tussle, Donna tore Hamm's shirt. Both called the
police, who arrested neither Hamm nor Donna. The incident and what Donna describes as her
embellishments caused such great concern to the Hamms, particularly because Hamm was on parole,
that Donna submitted to a polygraph administered by a private company to demonstrate that Hamm
had not kidnapped her. The two also underwent marital counseling.
37 Nonetheless, when filling out his Character and Fitness Report, Hamm failed to disclose the
incident to the Committee. Question 25 on the report asks specifically whether the applicant, among
other things, has been questioned concerning any felony or misdemeanor. 9 Hamm told the
Committee that, in reading the application, he missed the word questioned in the list of encounters
with law enforcement that Question 25 directs an applicant to report.
38 Hamm's explanation strains credulity. In Walker, this Court inferred that the son of an Army
officer would understand the requirement to register for the draft. 112 Ariz. at 138, 539 P.2d at 895.
Likewise, we infer from Hamm's knowledge of the law and his efforts in 1996 to document a defense
for the domestic incident that he fully understood its importance and must have known that the
incident would be of interest to the Committee. His failure to include it in his initial application further
affects his ability to make the needed extraordinary showing of good moral character.
D.
39 Hamm's actions during these proceedings also raise questions about his fitness to practice law.
The introduction to Hamm's petition before this Court begins:
The consequences of this case for Petitioner take it out of the ordinary realm of civil cases. If the
Committee's recommendation is followed, it will prevent him from earning a living through practicing
law. This deprivation has consequences of the greatest import for Petitioner, who has invested years
of study and a great deal of financial resources in preparing to be a lawyer
This language repeats nearly verbatim the language of the United States Supreme Court in Konigsberg
v. State Bar, 353 U.S. 252, 77 S.Ct. 722, 1 L.Ed.2d 810 (1957), in which the Court wrote:
While this is not a criminal case, its consequences for Konigsberg take it out of the ordinary run of civil
cases. The Committee's action prevents him from earning a living by practicing law. This
deprivation has grave consequences for a man who has spent years of study and a great deal of
money in preparing to be a lawyer.
Id. at 257-58, 77 S.Ct. 722. If an attorney submits work to a court that is not his own, his actions
may violate the rules of professional conduct. Iowa Supreme Court Bd. of Prof'l Ethics & Conduct v.
Lane, 642 N.W.2d 296, 299 (Iowa 2002) ([P]lagiarism constitute[s], among other things, a
misrepresentation to the court. An attorney may not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit, or misrepresentation.); see also Rule 42, ER 8.4(c) (defining professional misconduct as
including engag[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation). We are
concerned about Hamm's decision to quote from the Supreme Court's opinion without attribution and
are equally troubled by his failure to acknowledge his error. When the Committee's response pointed
to Hamm's failure to attribute this language to Konigsberg, he avoided the serious questions raised and
refused to confront or apologize for his improper actions, asserting instead: From Petitioner's
23
perspective, any eloquence that might be found in the Petition does not derive from any prior case
decided in any jurisdiction, but rather from the gradual development of his own potential through
study, reflection, and devotion to the duty created by his commission of murder. Hamm apparently
either does not regard his actions as improper or simply refuses to take responsibility. In either case,
his actions here do not assist him in making the requisite showing of good moral character.10
E.
40 When Hamm committed first-degree murder in 1974, he demonstrated his extreme lack of good
moral character. Although this Court has not adopted a per se rule excluding an applicant whose past
includes such serious criminal misconduct, we agree with those jurisdictions that have held that an
applicant with such a background must make an extraordinary showing of rehabilitation and present
good moral character to be admitted to the practice of law. Perhaps such a showing is, in practical
terms, a near impossibility. We need not decide that question today, however, because Hamm's lack of
candor before the Committee and this Court, his failure to accept full responsibility for his serious
criminal misconduct, and his failure to accept or fulfill, on a timely basis, his parental obligation of
support for his son, all show that Hamm has not met the stringent standard that applies to an
applicant in his position who seeks to show his present good moral character.
IV.
41 Hamm asserts that he was denied due process of law because two members of the Committee
may have prejudged the merits of his application. Both members, however, left the Committee
proceedings when their potential bias came to light, and neither played any role in the Committee's
findings and recommendation.
42 Hamm, like all applicants for membership in the Bar, is entitled to receive due process of law.
The fundamental requirement of due process is the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and
in a meaningful manner. Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 333, 96 S.Ct. 893, 47 L.Ed.2d 18
(1976) (quoting Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S. 545, 552, 85 S.Ct. 1187, 14 L.Ed.2d 62 (1965)).
Also, due process requires that a party be given a fair trial in a fair tribunal. United States v.
Superior Court, 144 Ariz. 265, 280, 697 P.2d 658, 673 (1985) (quoting In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133,
136, 75 S.Ct. 623, 99 L.Ed. 942 (1955)). Both the Committee and this Court have provided Hamm
ample opportunity to be heard through hearings and written arguments. Moreover, this Court, and
not the Committee, made the ultimate decision on Hamm's application. Hamm received a full
opportunity to be heard before a fair tribunal.
V.
43 Because James Hamm has failed to meet his burden of proving that he is of good moral character,
we deny his application for admission to the State Bar of Arizona.

24
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 97239, May 12, 1993
INTERNATIONAL RICE RESEARCH INSTITUTE, petitioner,
vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (THIRD DIVISION) AND NESTOR B. MICOSA,
respondents.
Jimenez & Associates for petitioner.
Santos & Associates for private respondent.

NOCON, J.:
Posed for determination in this petition for certiorari is the question of whether a conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude is a ground for dismissal from employment and corollarily, whether a
conviction of a crime of homicide involves moral turpitude.
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is an international organization recognized by the
Philippine government and accorded privileges, rights and immunities normally granted to
organizations of universal character. In 1977, it hired private respondent Nestor B. Micosa as laborer,
who thereby became bound by IRRI Employment Policy and Regulations, the Miscellaneous Provisions
of which states viz:
C. Conviction and Previous Separation
l. . . .
2. An employer who has been convicted of a (sic) criminal offense involving moral
turpitude may be dismissed from the service.1
On February 6, 1967, Micosa stabbed to death one Reynaldo Ortega inside a beer house in Los Baos,
Laguna.
On September 15, 1987, Micosa was accused of the crime of homicide. During the pendency of the
criminal case, Micosa voluntarily applied for inclusion in IRRI's Special Separation Program. However,
on January 9, 1990, IRRI's Director General, Klaus L. Lampe expressed deep regret that he had to
disapprove Micosa's application for separation because of IRRI's desire to retain the skills and talents
that persons like him possess.2
On January 23, 1990, the trial court rendered a decision fending Micosa guilty of homicide, but
appreciating, however, in his favor the presence of the mitigating circumstances of (a) incomplete self-
defense and (b) voluntary surrender, plus the total absence of any aggravating circumstance.
Subsequently, Micosa applied for suspension of his sentence under the Probation Law.
On February 8, 1990, IRRI's Director General personally wrote Micosa that his appointment as laborer
was confirmed, making him a regular core employee whose appointment was for an indefinite period
and who "may not be terminated except for justifiable causes as defined by the pertinent provisions of
the Philippine Labor Code.3
On March 30, 1990, IRRI's Human Resource Development Head, J.K. Pascual wrote Micosa urging him
to resign from employment in view of his conviction in the case for homicide.
On April 4, 1990, the Laguna Parole and Probation Office No. II wrote IRRI informing the latter that
said office found Micosa's application for probation meritorious as he was evaluated "to possess
desirable social antecedents in his life."4
On April 6, 1990, Micosa informed J.K. Pascual that he had no intention of resigning from his job at
IRRI.
On April 22, 1990, J. K. Pascual replied to Micosa's letter insisting that the crime for which he was
convicted involves moral turpitude and informing him that he is thereby charged of violating Section I-
AA, Par VII, C-2 of the Institute's Personnel Manual.
On April 27, 1990, Micosa explained to J.K. Pascual that the slaying of Reynaldo Ortega on February 6,
1987 arose out of his act of defending himself from unlawful aggression; that his conviction did not
involve moral turpitude and that he opted not to appeal his conviction so that he could avail of the
benefits of probation, which the trial court granted to him.

25
On May 7, 1990, Micosa sought the assistance of IRRI's Grievance Committee who recommended to
the Director General, his continued employment. However, on May 21, 1990, J.K. Pascual issued a
notice to Micosa that the latter's employment was to terminate effective May 25, 1990.
On May 29, 1990, Micosa filed a case for illegal dismissal.
On August 21, 1990, Labor Arbiter Numeriano D. Villena rendered judgment finding the termination of
Micosa illegal and ordering his reinstatement with full backwages from the date of his dismissal up to
actual reinstatement. The dispositive portion of the same is hereunder quoted:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the following orders are hereby entered:
1. Finding the termination of complainant's services illegal;
2. Ordering respondent International Rice Research Institute to reinstate complainant
Nestor B. Micosa to his former position without loss of seniority rights and other
privileges appurtenant, thereto immediately upon receipt hereof;
3. Ordering respondent International Rice Research Institute to pay complainant Nestor
B. Micosa his full backwages computed from the date of his dismissal on May 25, 1990
up to actual reinstatement based on his latest salary rate of P41,068.00 per month.
4. Ordering respondent International Rice Research Institute, to pay complainant's
counsel the amount of Five Thousand Pesos P5,000.00, representing his attorney's fees;
and.
5. Dismissing the claim for damages for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.5
On appeal, the National Labor Relations Commission was basically in agreement with the findings and
conclusions of the Labor Arbiter. Hence, in a resolution dated January 31, 1991, it affirmed the
appealed decision, the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED with modification deleting the award of
attorney's fees.
SO ORDERED.6
Accordingly, petitioner filed this instant petition raising the following issues:
1. THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION HAS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN FINDING THAT IRRI HAD NO RIGHT NOR AUTHORITY TO PRESCRIBE
ANY OTHER CAUSE/S FOR DISMISSAL IF THE SAME IS NOT AMONG THOSE
ENUMERATED IN ARTICLE OF THE LABOR CODE.
2. THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN HOLDING THAT "THERE IS NO BASIS TO APPLY PETITIONER'S
INSTITUTE PERSONNEL MANUAL IN DISMISSING THE COMPLAINANT ON THE SOLE
GROUND THAT HIS CONVICTION OF HOMICIDE CONSTITUTE MORAL TURPITUDE.7
The basic premise of petitioner is that Micosa's conviction of the crime of homicide, which is a crime
involving moral turpitude, is a valid ground for his dismissal under the Miscellaneous Provisions of
IRRI's Employment Policy Regulations.
In addition to its claim that it has the prerogative to issue rules and regulations including those
concerning employee discipline and that its employees are bound by the aforesaid personnel manual,
petitioner justifies its action as a legitimate act of self-defense. It admits that Micosa's interests in
his employment and means of livelihood are adversely affected; that a convict should not be
discriminated against in society and that he should be given the same opportunities as those granted
to other fellow citizens but claims that at times, one's right is deemed superior than that of another. In
this case, petitioner believes that it has a superior right to maintain a very high degree or standard not
only to forestall any internal problem hampering operations but also to prevent even the smallest
possibility that said problems could occur considering that it is an international organization with
concomitant obligation to the host country to avoid creating disturbance or give occasion for such
disturbance.
It should be recalled, however, that Micosa was issued an appointment with an assurance from the
IRRI's Director General that as regular core employee he "may not be terminated except for justifiable
causes as defined by the pertinent provisions of the Philippine Labor Code."8 Thus, IRRI could not
remove him from his job if there existed no justifiable cause as defined by the Labor Code.

26
Article 282 of the Labor Code enumerates the just causes wherein an employer may terminate an
employment. Verily, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude is not one of these justifiable
causes. Neither may said ground be justified under Article 282 (c) nor under 282 (d) by analogy. Fraud
or willful breach by the employees of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized
representative under Article 282 (c) refers to any fault or culpability on the part of the employee in the
discharge of his duty rendering him absolutely unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by his
position. It cannot be gainsaid that the breach of trust must be related to the performance of the
employee's function.9 On the other hand, the commission of a crime by the employee under Article
282 (d) refer to an offense against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family
or his duly authorized representative. Analogous causes must have an element similar to those found
in the specific just cause enumerated under Article 282. Clearly lacking in the ground invoked by
petitioner is its relation to his work or to his employer.
In the case at bar, the commission of the crime of homicide was outside the perimeter of the IRRI
complex, having been committed in a restaurant after office hours and against a non-IRRI employee.
Thus, the conviction of Micosa for homicide was not work-related, his misdeed having no relation to his
position as laborer and was not directed or committed against IRRI or its authorized agent.
Besides, IRRI failed to show how the dismissal of Micosa would be in consideration of the safety and
welfare of its employees, its reputation and standing in the community and its special obligations to its
host country. It did not present evidence to show that Micosa possessed a tendency to kill without
provocation or that he posed a clear and present danger to the company and its personnel. On the
contrary, the records reveal that Micosa's service record is unblemished. There is no record whatsoever
that he was involved in any incident similar to that which transpired on that fateful night of February 6,
1987. In fact, even after his conviction, the IRRI's Director General expressed his confidence in him
when he disapproved his application for special separation in a letter dated January 8, 1990 and when
he conveyed to him IRRI's decision to promote him to the status of a regular core employee, with the
commensurate increases in benefits in a letter dated February 1990. Respondent IRRI derogates the
letters' significance saying that they were mere pro-forma communications which it had given to
numerous other workers. But whether or not such letters were "form letters, they expressed the
message that were meant to be conveyed, i.e., that Micosa is fit for continued employment. In
addition, the employees at IRRI's Grievance Committee interceded favorably in behalf of Micosa when
they recommended his retention despite his conviction showing that the very employees which IRRI
sought to protect did not believe that they were placing their very own lives in danger with Micosa's
retention.
Likewise, noteworthy is the fact that Micosa, although found guilty as charged, was also found worthy
of probation. This means that all the information regarding his character, antecedents, environment, as
well as his mental and physical condition were evaluated as required under Section 8 of the Probation
Law and it was found that there existed no undue risk that Micosa will commit another crime during his
period of probation and that his being placed on probation would be to the benefit of society as a
whole.
In the face of all these, IRRI remained adamant and insisted on Micosa's termination. Certainly, said
termination cannot be upheld for it lacked not only a legal basis but factual basis as well.
Even under IRRI's Employment Policy and Regulations, the dismissal of Micosa's on the ground of his
conviction for homicide cannot be sustained. The miscellaneous provisions of said personnel manual
mentions of conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude as a ground for dismissal. IRRI simply
assumed that conviction of the crime of homicide is conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. We
do not subscribe to this view.
Moral turpitude has been defined in Can v. Galing 10 citing In Re Basa11 and Tak Ng v. Republic12 as
everything which is done contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals; an act of baseness, vileness or
depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to society in general,
contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals.
As to what crime involves moral turpitude, is for the Supreme Court to
determine.13 Thus, the precipitate conclusion of IRRI that conviction of the crime of homicide involves
moral turpitude is unwarranted considering that the said crime which resulted from an act of
incomplete self-defense from an unlawful aggression by the victim has not been so classified as
involving moral turpitude.
IRRI argues that the crime of homicide committed by Micosa involves moral turpitude as the killing of a
man is conclusively an act against justice and is immoral in itself not merely prohibited by law. It
added that Micosa stabbed the victim more than what was necessary to repel the attack.

27
IRRI failed to comprehend the significance of the facts in their totality. The facts on record show that
Micosa was then urinating and had his back turned when the victim drove his fist unto Micosa's face;
that the victim then forcibly rubbed Micosa's face into the filthy urinal; that Micosa pleaded to the
victim to stop the attack but was ignored and that it was while Micosa was in that position that he drew
a fan knife from the left pocket of his shirt and desperately swung it at the victim who released his hold
on Micosa only after the latter had stabbed him several times. These facts show that Micosa's intention
was not to slay the victim but only to defend his person. The appreciation in his favor of the mitigating
circumstances of self- defense and voluntary surrender, plus the total absence of any aggravating
circumstance demonstrate that Micosa's character and intentions were not inherently vile, immoral or
unjust.
This is not to say that all convictions of the crime of homicide do not involve moral turpitude. Homicide
may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree of the crime.14 Moral turpitude is
not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by every known and intentional violation of statute,
but whether any particular conviction involves moral turpitude may be a question of fact and frequently
depends on all the surrounding circumstances.15 While . . . generally but not always, crimes mala in se
involve moral turpitude, while crimes mala prohibita do not, it, cannot always be ascertained whether
moral turpitude does or does not exist by classifying a crime as malum in se or as malum prohibitum,
since there are crimes which are mala in se and yet but rarely involve moral turpitude and there are
crimes which involve moral turpitude and are mala prohibita only.16 It follows therefore, that moral
turpitude is somewhat a vague and indefinite term, the meaning of which must be left to the process of
judicial inclusion or exclusion as the cases are reached.
In fine, there is nothing in this case to show any abuse of discretion by the National Labor Relations
Commission in affirming the decision of the Labor Arbiter finding that Micosa was illegally dismissed.
For certiorari to lie, there must be capricious, arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power, the very
antithesis of the judicial prerogative in accordance with centuries of both civil and common
traditions.17 The abuse of discretion must be grave and patent, and it must be shown that the
discretion was exercised arbitrarily or despotically.18
WHEREFORE, the petition, is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur.

28
EN BANC
A.C. No. 6792, January 25, 2006
ROBERTO SORIANO, Complainant,
vs.
Atty. MANUEL DIZON, Respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
Before us is a Complaint-Affidavit1 for the disbarment of Atty. Manuel Dizon, filed by Roberto Soriano
with the Commission on Bar Discipine (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
Complainant alleges that the conviction of respondent for a crime involving moral turpitude, together
with the circumstances surrounding the conviction, violates Canon 1 of Rule 1.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility;2 and constitutes sufficient ground for his disbarment under Section 27 of
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.3
Because of the failure of Atty. Dizon to submit his Answer to the Complaint, the CBD issued a Notice
dated May 20, 2004, informing him that he was in default, and that an ex-parte hearing had been
scheduled for June 11, 2004.4 After that hearing, complainant manifested that he was submitting the
case on the basis of the Complaint and its attachments.5 Accordingly, the CBD directed him to file his
Position Paper, which he did on July 27, 2004.6 Afterwards, the case was deemed submitted for
resolution.
On December 6, 2004, Commissioner Teresita J. Herbosa rendered her Report and Recommendation,
which was later adopted and approved by the IBP Board of Governors in its Resolution No. XVI-2005-
84 dated March 12, 2005.
In his Complaint-Affidavit, Soriano alleged that respondent had violated Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility; and that the conviction of the latter for frustrated homicide, 7 which
involved moral turpitude, should result in his disbarment.
The facts leading to respondents conviction were summarized by Branch 60 of the Regional Trial Court
of Baguio City in this wise:
"x x x. The accused was driving his brown Toyota Corolla and was on his way home after gassing up in
preparation for his trip to Concepcion, Tarlac with his wife. Along Abanao Street, a taxi driver overtook
the car driven by the accused not knowing that the driver of the car he had overtaken is not just
someone, but a lawyer and a prominent member of the Baguio community who was under the
influence of liquor. Incensed, the accused tailed the taxi driver until the latter stopped to make a turn
at [the] Chugum and Carino Streets. The accused also stopped his car, berated the taxi driver and held
him by his shirt. To stop the aggression, the taxi driver forced open his door causing the accused to fall
to the ground. The taxi driver knew that the accused had been drinking because he smelled of liquor.
Taking pity on the accused who looked elderly, the taxi driver got out of his car to help him get up. But
the accused, by now enraged, stood up immediately and was about to deal the taxi driver a fist blow
when the latter boxed him on the chest instead. The accused fell down a second time, got up again and
was about to box the taxi driver but the latter caught his fist and turned his arm around. The taxi
driver held on to the accused until he could be pacified and then released him. The accused went back
to his car and got his revolver making sure that the handle was wrapped in a handkerchief. The taxi
driver was on his way back to his vehicle when he noticed the eyeglasses of the accused on the
ground. He picked them up intending to return them to the accused. But as he was handing the same
to the accused, he was met by the barrel of the gun held by the accused who fired and shot him hitting
him on the neck. He fell on the thigh of the accused so the latter pushed him out and sped off. The
incident was witnessed by Antonio Billanes whose testimony corroborated that of the taxi driver, the
complainant in this case, Roberto Soriano."8
It was the prosecution witness, Antonio Billanes, who came to the aid of Soriano and brought the latter
to the hospital. Because the bullet had lacerated the carotid artery on the left side of his neck, 9
complainant would have surely died of hemorrhage if he had not received timely medical assistance,
according to the attending surgeon, Dr. Francisco Hernandez, Jr. Soriano sustained a spinal cord
injury, which caused paralysis on the left part of his body and disabled him for his job as a taxi driver.
The trial court promulgated its Decision dated November 29, 2001. On January 18, 2002, respondent
filed an application for probation, which was granted by the court on several conditions. These included
satisfaction of "the civil liabilities imposed by [the] court in favor of the offended party, Roberto
Soriano."10

29
According to the unrefuted statements of complainant, Atty. Dizon, who has yet to comply with this
particular undertaking, even appealed the civil liability to the Court of Appeals. 11
In her Report and Recommendation, Commissioner Herbosa recommended that respondent be
disbarred from the practice of law for having been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
The commissioner found that respondent had not only been convicted of such crime, but that the latter
also exhibited an obvious lack of good moral character, based on the following facts:
"1. He was under the influence of liquor while driving his car;
"2. He reacted violently and attempted to assault Complainant only because the latter, driving a
taxi, had overtaken him;
"3. Complainant having been able to ward off his attempted assault, Respondent went back to
his car, got a gun, wrapped the same with a handkerchief and shot Complainant[,] who was
unarmed;
"4. When Complainant fell on him, Respondent simply pushed him out and fled;
"5. Despite positive identification and overwhelming evidence, Respondent denied that he had
shot Complainant;
"6. Apart from [his] denial, Respondent also lied when he claimed that he was the one mauled
by Complainant and two unidentified persons; and,
"7. Although he has been placed on probation, Respondent has[,] to date[,] not yet satisfied his
civil liabilities to Complainant."12
On July 8, 2005, the Supreme Court received for its final action the IBP Resolution adopting the Report
and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.
We agree with the findings and recommendations of Commissioner Herbosa, as approved and adopted
by the IBP Board of Governors.
Under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude is a
ground for disbarment or suspension. By such conviction, a lawyer is deemed to have become unfit to
uphold the administration of justice and to be no longer possessed of good moral character. 13 In the
instant case, respondent has been found guilty; and he stands convicted, by final judgment, of
frustrated homicide. Since his conviction has already been established and is no longer open to
question, the only issues that remain to be determined are as follows: 1) whether his crime of
frustrated homicide involves moral turpitude, and 2) whether his guilt warrants disbarment.
Moral turpitude has been defined as "everything which is done contrary to justice, modesty, or good
morals; an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes his
fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals." 14
The question of whether the crime of homicide involves moral turpitude has been discussed in
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) v. NLRC, 15 a labor case concerning an employee who was
dismissed on the basis of his conviction for homicide. Considering the particular circumstances
surrounding the commission of the crime, this Court rejected the employers contention and held that
homicide in that case did not involve moral turpitude. (If it did, the crime would have been violative of
the IRRIs Employment Policy Regulations and indeed a ground for dismissal.) The Court explained
that, having disregarded the attendant circumstances, the employer made a pronouncement that was
precipitate. Furthermore, it was not for the latter to determine conclusively whether a crime involved
moral turpitude. That discretion belonged to the courts, as explained thus:
"x x x. Homicide may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. Moral
turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by every known and intentional
violation of statute, but whether any particular conviction involves moral turpitude may be a question
of fact and frequently depends on all the surrounding circumstances. x x x."16 (Emphasis supplied)
In the IRRI case, in which the crime of homicide did not involve moral turpitude, the Court appreciated
the presence of incomplete self-defense and total absence of aggravating circumstances. For a better
understanding of that Decision, the circumstances of the crime are quoted as follows:
"x x x. The facts on record show that Micosa [the IRRI employee] was then urinating and had his back
turned when the victim drove his fist unto Micosa's face; that the victim then forcibly rubbed Micosa's
face into the filthy urinal; that Micosa pleaded to the victim to stop the attack but was ignored and that
it was while Micosa was in that position that he drew a fan knife from the left pocket of his shirt and
desperately swung it at the victim who released his hold on Micosa only after the latter had stabbed
30
him several times. These facts show that Micosa's intention was not to slay the victim but only to
defend his person. The appreciation in his favor of the mitigating circumstances of self-defense and
voluntary surrender, plus the total absence of any aggravating circumstance demonstrate that Micosa's
character and intentions were not inherently vile, immoral or unjust." 17
The present case is totally different. As the IBP correctly found, the circumstances clearly evince the
moral turpitude of respondent and his unworthiness to practice law.
Atty. Dizon was definitely the aggressor, as he pursued and shot complainant when the latter least
expected it. The act of aggression shown by respondent will not be mitigated by the fact that he was
hit once and his arm twisted by complainant. Under the circumstances, those were reasonable actions
clearly intended to fend off the lawyers assault.
We also consider the trial courts finding of treachery as a further indication of the skewed morals of
respondent. He shot the victim when the latter was not in a position to defend himself. In fact, under
the impression that the assault was already over, the unarmed complainant was merely returning the
eyeglasses of Atty. Dizon when the latter unexpectedly shot him. To make matters worse, respondent
wrapped the handle of his gun with a handkerchief so as not to leave fingerprints. In so doing, he
betrayed his sly intention to escape punishment for his crime.
The totality of the facts unmistakably bears the earmarks of moral turpitude. By his conduct,
respondent revealed his extreme arrogance and feeling of self-importance. As it were, he acted like a
god on the road, who deserved to be venerated and never to be slighted. Clearly, his inordinate
reaction to a simple traffic incident reflected poorly on his fitness to be a member of the legal
profession. His overreaction also evinced vindictiveness, which was definitely an undesirable trait in
any individual, more so in a lawyer. In the tenacity with which he pursued complainant, we see not the
persistence of a person who has been grievously wronged, but the obstinacy of one trying to assert a
false sense of superiority and to exact revenge.
It is also glaringly clear that respondent seriously transgressed Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility through his illegal possession of an unlicensed firearm 18 and his unjust refusal to satisfy
his civil liabilities.19 He has thus brazenly violated the law and disobeyed the lawful orders of the
courts. We remind him that, both in his attorneys oath20 and in the Code of Professional Responsibility,
he bound himself to "obey the laws of the land."
All told, Atty. Dizon has shown through this incident that he is wanting in even a basic sense of justice.
He obtained the benevolence of the trial court when it suspended his sentence and granted him
probation. And yet, it has been four years21 since he was ordered to settle his civil liabilities to
complainant. To date, respondent remains adamant in refusing to fulfill that obligation. By his extreme
impetuosity and intolerance, as shown by his violent reaction to a simple traffic altercation, he has
taken away the earning capacity, good health, and youthful vigor of his victim. Still, Atty. Dizon
begrudges complainant the measly amount that could never even fully restore what the latter has lost.
Conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude may relate, not to the exercise of the profession of
lawyers, but certainly to their good moral character.22 Where their misconduct outside of their
professional dealings is so gross as to show them morally unfit for their office and unworthy of the
privileges conferred upon them by their license and the law, the court may be justified in suspending
or removing them from that office.23
We also adopt the IBPs finding that respondent displayed an utter lack of good moral character, which
is an essential qualification for the privilege to enter into the practice of law. Good moral character
includes at least common honesty.24
In the case at bar, respondent consistently displayed dishonest and duplicitous behavior. As found by
the trial court, he had sought, with the aid of Vice-Mayor Daniel Farias, an out-of-court settlement
with complainants family.25 But when this effort failed, respondent concocted a complete lie by making
it appear that it was complainants family that had sought a conference with him to obtain his referral
to a neurosurgeon.26
The lies of Atty Dizon did not end there. He went on to fabricate an entirely implausible story of having
been mauled by complainant and two other persons. 27 The trial court had this to say:
"The physical evidence as testified to by no less than three (3) doctors who examined [Atty. Dizon]
does not support his allegation that three people including the complainant helped each other in
kicking and boxing him. The injuries he sustained were so minor that it is improbable[,] if not
downright unbelievable[,] that three people who he said were bent on beating him to death could do so
little damage. On the contrary, his injuries sustain the complainants version of the incident particularly
when he said that he boxed the accused on the chest. x x x."28
31
Lawyers must be ministers of truth. No moral qualification for bar membership is more important than
truthfulness.29 The rigorous ethics of the profession places a premium on honesty and condemns
duplicitous behavior.30 Hence, lawyers must not mislead the court or allow it to be misled by any
artifice. In all their dealings, they are expected to act in good faith.
The actions of respondent erode rather than enhance public perception of the legal profession. They
constitute moral turpitude for which he should be disbarred. "Law is a noble profession, and the
privilege to practice it is bestowed only upon individuals who are competent intellectually, academically
and, equally important, morally. Because they are vanguards of the law and the legal system, lawyers
must at all times conduct themselves, especially in their dealings with their clients and the public at
large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach."31
The foregoing abhorrent acts of respondent are not merely dishonorable; they reveal a basic moral
flaw. Considering the depravity of the offense he committed, we find the penalty recommended by the
IBP proper and commensurate.
The purpose of a proceeding for disbarment is to protect the administration of justice by requiring that
those who exercise this important function be competent, honorable and reliable -- lawyers in whom
courts and clients may repose confidence. 32 Thus, whenever a clear case of degenerate and vile
behavior disturbs that vital yet fragile confidence, we shall not hesitate to rid our profession of odious
members.
We remain aware that the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and that disbarment
should never be decreed when any lesser penalty would accomplish the end desired. In the instant
case, however, the Court cannot extend that munificence to respondent. His actions so despicably and
wantonly disregarded his duties to society and his profession. We are convinced that meting out a
lesser penalty would be irreconcilable with our lofty aspiration for the legal profession -- that every
lawyer be a shining exemplar of truth and justice.
We stress that membership in the legal profession is a privilege demanding a high degree of good
moral character, not only as a condition precedent to admission, but also as a continuing requirement
for the practice of law. Sadly, herein respondent has fallen short of the exacting standards expected of
him as a vanguard of the legal profession.
In sum, when lawyers are convicted of frustrated homicide, the attending circumstances not the
mere fact of their conviction would demonstrate their fitness to remain in the legal profession. In the
present case, the appalling vindictiveness, treachery, and brazen dishonesty of respondent clearly
show his unworthiness to continue as a member of the bar.
WHEREFORE, RESPONDENT MANUEL DIZON is hereby DISBARRED, and his name is ORDERED
STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in his record as a member
of the Bar; and let notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the
Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
SO ORDERED.
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice

32