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These acts were done even after their leaders had been received by Justices

Pedro L. Yap and Marcelo B. Fernan as Chairmen of the Divisions where


Republic of the Philippines their cases are pending, and Atty. Jose C. Espinas, counsel of the Union of
SUPREME COURT Filipro Employees, had been called in order that the pickets might be
Manila informed that the demonstration must cease immediately for the same
constitutes direct contempt of court and that the Court would not entertain
their petitions for as long as the pickets were maintained. Thus, on July 10,
EN BANC
1987, the Court en banc issued a resolution giving the said unions the
opportunity to withdraw graciously and requiring Messrs. Tony Avelino. Lito
G.R. No. 75209 September 30, 1987 Payabyab, Eugene San Pedro, Dante Escasura, Emil Sayao and Nelson
Centeno, union leaders of respondent Union of Filipro Employees in the
NESTLE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner, Nestle case and their counsel of record, Atty. Jose C. Espinas; and Messrs.
vs. Ernesto Facundo, Fausto Gapuz, Jr. and Antonio Gonzales, union leaders of
HON. AUGUSTO S. SANCHEZ, MINISTER OF LABOR AND petitioner Kimberly Independent Labor Union for Solidarity, Activism and
EMPLOYMENT and THE UNION OF FILIPRO EMPLOYEES, respondents. Nationalism-Olalia in the Kimberly case to appear before the Court on July
14, 1987 at 10:30 A.M. and then and there to SHOW CAUSE why they
No. 78791 September 30, 1987 should not be held in contempt of court. Atty. Jose C. Espinas was further
required to SHOW CAUSE why he should not be administratively dealt with.
KIMBERLY INDEPENDENT LABOR UNION FOR SOLIDARITY, ACTIVISM
AND NATIONALISM-OLALIA,petitioner, On the appointed date and time, the above-named individuals appeared
vs. before the Court, represented by Atty. Jose C. Espinas, in the absence of
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, MANUEL AGUILAR, MA. Atty. Potenciano Flores, counsel of record of petitioner in G.R. No. 78791,
ESTRELLA ALDAS, CAPT. REY L. LANADA, COL. VIVENCIO MANAIG who was still recuperating from an operation.
and KIMBERLY-CLARK PHILIPPINES, INC., respondents.
Atty. Espinas, for himself and in behalf of the union leaders concerned,
RESOLUTION apologized to the Court for the above-described acts, together with an
assurance that they will not be repeated. He likewise manifested to the Court
that he had experienced to the picketers why their actions were wrong and
that the cited persons were willing to suffer such penalty as may be
warranted under the circumstances. 1 He, however, prayed for the Court's
PER CURIAM:
leniency considering that the picket was actually spearheaded by the leaders
of the "Pagkakaisa ng Mangagawa sa Timog Katagalogan" (PAMANTIK), an
During the period July 8-10. 1987, respondent in G.R. No. 75029, Union of unregistered loose alliance of about seventy-five (75) unions in the Southern
Filipro Employees, and petitioner in G.R. No. 78791, Kimberly Independent Tagalog area, and not by either the Union of Filipro Employees or the
Labor Union for Solidarity, Activism and Nationalism-Olalia intensified the Kimberly Independent Labor Union. 2
intermittent pickets they had been conducting since June 17, 1987 in front of
the Padre Faura gate of the Supreme Court building. They set up pickets'
Atty. Espinas further stated that he had explained to the picketers that any
quarters on the pavement in front of the Supreme Court building, at times
delay in the resolution of their cases is usually for causes beyond the control
obstructing access to and egress from the Court's premises and offices of
of the Court and that the Supreme Court has always remained steadfast in its
justices, officials and employees. They constructed provisional shelters along
role as the guardian of the Constitution.
the sidewalks, set up a kitchen and littered the place with food containers
and trash in utter disregard of proper hygiene and sanitation. They waved
their red streamers and placards with slogans, and took turns haranguing the To confirm for the record that the person cited for contempt fully understood
court all day long with the use of loud speakers. the reason for the citation and that they wig abide by their promise that said
incident will not be repeated, the Court required the respondents to submit a
written manifestation to this effect, which respondents complied with on July
17, 1987.
We accept the apologies offered by the respondents and at this time, forego incident therefore serve as a reminder to all members of the legal profession
the imposition of the sanction warranted by the contemptuous acts described that it is their duty as officers of the court to properly apprise their clients on
earlier. The liberal stance taken by this Court in these cases as well as in the matters of decorum and proper attitude toward courts of justice, and to labor
earlier case of AHS/PHILIPPINES EMPLOYEES UNION vs. NATIONAL leaders of the importance of a continuing educational program for their
LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, et al., G.R. No. 73721, March 30, 1987, members.
should not, however, be considered in any other light than an
acknowledgment of the euphoria apparently resulting from the rediscovery of WHEREFORE, the contempt charges against herein respondents are
a long-repressed freedom. The Court will not hesitate in future similar DISMISSED. Henceforth, no demonstrations or pickets intended to pressure
situations to apply the full force of the law and punish for contempt those who or influence courts of justice into acting one way or the other on pending
attempt to pressure the Court into acting one way or the other in any case cases shall be allowed in the vicinity and/or within the premises of any and all
pending before it. Grievances, if any, must be ventilated through the proper courts.
channels, i.e., through appropriate petitions, motions or other pleadings in
keeping with the respect due to the Courts as impartial administrators of
SO ORDERED.
justice entitled to "proceed to the disposition of its business in an orderly
manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its functions and
tending to embarrass the administration of justice." 3 Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr.,
Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.
The right of petition is conceded to be an inherent right of the citizen under all
free governments. However, such right, natural and inherent though it may Gancayco, J., is on leave.
be, has never been invoked to shatter the standards of propriety entertained
for the conduct of courts. For "it is a traditional conviction of civilized society Footnotes
everywhere that courts and juries, in the decision of issues of fact and law 1 TSN, July 14, 1987 p. 16.
should be immune from every extraneous influence; that facts should be 2 Ibid., p. 17
decided upon evidence produced in court; and that the determination of such 3 In re Torres, 55 Phil. 799.
facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or sympathies." 4 4 In Re Stolen, 216 N.W. 127.
5 Cooper vs. People, 13 Colo 373, cited in in Re Kelly, 35
Moreover, "parties have a constitutional right to have their causes tried fairly Phil. 944.
in court by an impartial tribunal, uninfluenced by publication or public clamor. 6 In Re Stolen, supra.
Every citizen has a profound personal interest in the enforcement of the
fundamental right to have justice administered by the courts, under the
protection and forms of law free from outside coercion or interference." 5 The
aforecited acts of the respondents are therefore not only an affront to the
dignity of this Court, but equality a violation of the above-stated right of the
adverse parties and the citizenry at large.

We realize that the individuals herein cited who are non-lawyers are not
knowledgeable in her intricacies of substantive and adjective laws. They are
not aware that even as the rights of free speech and of assembly are
protected by the Constitution, any attempt to pressure or influence courts of
justice through the exercise of either right amounts to an abuse thereof, is no
longer within the ambit of constitutional protection, nor did they realize that
any such efforts to influence the course of justice constitutes contempt of
court. 6 The duty and responsibility of advising them, therefore, rest primarily
and heavily upon the shoulders of their counsel of record. Atty. Jose C.
Espinas, when his attention was called by this Court, did his best to
demonstrate to the pickets the untenability of their acts and posture. Let this
In relation to the same three (3) civil cases, the records of the present case
show that complainant Lantoria wrote a letter to respondent Bunyi, dated 23
Republic of the Philippines April 1974, which reads as follows:
SUPREME COURT
Manila Atty. Ireneo Bunye
928 Rizal Avenue
SECOND DIVISION Santa Cruz, Manila

Dear Atty. Bunye:

A.M. No. 1769 June 8, 1992 xxx xxx xxx

CESAR L. LANTORIA, complainant, Upon informing him of your willingness to prepare the
vs. corresponding judgements (sic) on the 3 defaulted cases he
ATTY. IRINEO L. BUNYI, respondent. said he has no objection in fact he is happy and
recommended that you mail the said decisions in due time
thru me to be delivered to him.

PER CURIAM: xxx xxx xxx

This is an administrative complaint filed by Cesar L. Lantoria, seeking I will communicate with you from time to time for any future
development.
disciplinary action against respondent Irineo L. Bunyi, member of the
Philippine Bar, on the ground that respondent Bunyi allegedly committed acts
of "graft and corruption, dishonesty and conduct unbecoming of a member of My best regards to you and family and to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and corruption of the judge and Mrs. Constancia Mascarinas and all.
bribery", in connection with respondent's handling of Civil Case Nos. 81, 83
and 88 then pending before the Municipal Court of Experanza, Agusan del On 01 June 1974, respondent Bunyi wrote to the complainant regarding the
Sur, presided over by Municipal Judge Vicente Galicia 1 in which respondent said three (3) cases, in this wise:
Bunyi was the counsel of one of the parties, namely, Mrs. Constancia
Mascarinas. Dear Major Lantoria,

Respondent Bunyi alleged that Mrs. Constancia M. Mascarinas of Manila At last, I may say that I have tried my best to respond to the
was the owner of d farm located in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, and that call in your several letters received, which is about the
herein complainant Lantoria was the manager and supervisor of said farm, preparation of the three (3) Decisions awaited by Judge
receiving as such a monthly allowance. 2 It appears that the complaint in Civil Galicia. The delay is that I have been too much occupied
Case Nos. 81, 83 and 88 sought to eject the squatters from the with my cases and other professional commitments here in
aforementioned farm. 3 These cases were assigned to the Municipal Court of Manila and nearby provinces. Not only to Mrs. Mascarinas I
Esperanza, Agusan del Bur, the acting municipal judge of which was the would say that I am so sorry but also to you. Mrs.
Honorable Vicente Galicia (who was at the same time the regular judge of Mascarinas has been reminding me but I always find myself
the municipal court of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur). 4 The defendants in the at a loss to prepare these Decisions at an early date sa (sic)
mentioned civil cases were, in due course, declared in default. possible. So also with my calendar as to the dates for the
next hearing of the remaining cases over there.
Herewith now, you will find enclosed the three (3) Decisions unethically prepared the decisions rendered therein, and that
against the (3) defaulted defendants. I am not sure if they the preparation by respondent of said decisions warranted
will suit to satisfy Judge Galicia to sign them at once. disciplinary action against him.
However, it is my request to Judge Galicia, thru your kind
mediation, that if the preparation of these Decisions do not By way of answer to the complaint, respondent, in a motion to dismiss 8 the
suit his consideration, then I am ready and willing to accept administrative complaint, admitted the existence of the letter of 01 June
his suggestions or correction to charge or modify them for 1974, but explained the contents thereof as follows:
the better. And to this effect, kindly relay at once what he is
going to say or thinks if he signs them readily and please xxx xxx xxx
request for each copy for our hold.
b) In the second place, the said letter of June 1, 1974, is
xxx xxx xxx
self-explanatory and speaks for itself, that if ever the same
was written by the Respondent, it was due to the insistence
Please excuse this delay, and thanks for your kind of the Complainant thru his several letters received, that the
assistance in attending to our cases there. Regards to you decisions in question be drafted or prepared for Judge
and family and prayer for your more vigor and success. Galicia, who considered such preparation as a big help to
him, because he was at that time holding two (2) salas —
It also appears that respondent Bunyi wrote an earlier letter to complainant one as being the regular Municipal Judge of Bayugan and
Lantoria, dated 04 March 1974, the contents of which read as follows: the other, as the acting Judge of Esperanza, both of Agusan
del Sur, with many pending cases and it was to the benefit of
Dear Major Lantoria, the Complainant that the early disposition of the cases
involved would not suffer inconsiderable delay. But, the
This is an additional request, strictly personal and intention to draft or prepare the decisions in question was
confidential. Inside the envelope addressed to Judge Vicente never spawned by the Respondent. Instead, it came from
the under-standing between the Judge and the complainant
C. Galicia, are the Decisions and Orders, which he told me
who, from his several letters, had demonstrated so much
to prepare and he is going to sign them. If you please,
interest to eject at once the squatters from the farm he was
deliver the envelope to him as if you have no knowledge and
information and that you have not opened it. Unless, of entrusted to manage. Furthermore, the Complainant's
conclusion that the said decisions were lutong macao is
course, if the information comes from him. But, you can
purely non-sense as it is without any factual or legal basis.
inquire from him if there is a need to wait from his words
He himself knew that Judge Galicia asked for help in the
about them, or copies to be furnished me, after he signs
drafting of said decisions as at any rate they were judgments
them, it could be made thru you personally, to expedite
by default, the defendants lost their standing in court when
receiving those copies for our hold. According to him, this
envelope could be delivered to him at his residence at No. they were declared in default for failure to file their answers
345 M. Calo St., Butuan City, during week end. or, at and to appear at the place and time set for hearing thereof
(See first paragraph, letter of June 1, 1974)
Bayugan if you happen to go there, if he is not in Butuan
City.
c) Thirdly, in the same letter, the decisions as prepared were
Thanking You for your kind attention and favor. Three years in the form of drafts, as in fact, the letter mentioned subject
after, that is, on 11 April 1977, complainant filed with this to suggestion or correction to change or modify for the better
by Judge Galicia (Second paragraph, Ibid);
Court the present administrative case against respondent
Bunyi, predicated mainly on the above-quoted three (3)
letters dated 04 March, 23 April and 01 June, 1974. d) Fourthly, in the some letter, Responding (sic) even
Complainant contends that respondent won the said three apologized for the delay in sending the same to the
(3) cases because to (respondent) was the one who
Complainant and expressed his gratitude for his assistance year. He filed with the Court the corresponding complaint against
in attending to the cases involved (Last paragraph, Ibid.) respondent.

In its resolution dated 28 November 1977, this Court referred the case to the In his answer 12 to the complaint filed by the Solicitor General, respondent
Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation. 9 On 21 July manifested that in the future he would be more careful in observing his duties
1980, the Solicitor General submitted his report to the Court, with the as a lawyer, and in upholding the provisions of the canons of professional
following averments, to wit: 1) that the case was set for hearing on April 12, ethics.
September 29, and December 18, 1978, but in all said scheduled hearings
only respondent Bunyi appeared; 2) that in the hearing of 16 January 1979, On 10 December 1980, the date set by this Court for the hearing of this case,
both respondent and complainant appeared; 3) that at the same hearing, the the hearing was postponed until further notice. On 9 March 1981, respondent
Solicitor General reported the following development — filed a manifestation 13 alleging that no hearing was as yet set in the case
since the last setting on 10 December 1980, and he requested that the next
Atty. Mercado submitted a letter of complainant dated hearing be not set until after six (6) months when be expected to return from
January 16, 1979 sworn to before the investigating Solicitor, the United States of America where he would visit his children and at the
praying that the complaint be considered withdrawn, same time have a medical check-up.
dropped or dismissed on the ground that complainant "could
hardly substantiate" his charges and that he is "no longer On 28 October 1981, the date set by this Court for bearing in this case,
interested to prosecute" the same. For his part, respondent respondent Bunyi and the Solicitor General appeared, and respondent was
manifested that he has no objection to the withdrawal of the directed to submit his memorandum. Respondent Bunyi filed his
complaint against him. At the same time, he presented memorandum on 16 November 1981. In said memorandum, 14 respondent
complainant Lantoria as a witness are elicited testimony to submitted that although he prepared the draft of the decisions in the civil
the effect that complainant no longer has in his possession cases, he did not offer Judge Galicia any gift or consideration to influence the
the original of the letters attached to his basic complaint, and Judge in allowing him to prepare the draft decisions. 15 He also offered his
hence, he was not prepared to prove his apology to the Court for all the improprieties which may have resulted from
charges. 10 (emphasis supplied) his preparation of the draft decisions.

In his aforesaid report, the Solicitor General found as follows: a) that the We agree with the observation of the Solicitor General that the determination
letters of respondent Bunyi (dated 4, March and 1 June 1974), addressed to of the merits of the instant case should proceed notwithstanding
complainant, showed that respondent had indeed prepared the draft of the complainant's withdrawal of his complaint in the case, the respondent himself
decisions in Civil Case Nos. 81, 83 and 88 of the Municipal Court of having admitted that the letters in question truly exist, and that he even
Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, which he submitted to Judge Vicente Galicia asked for an apology from the Court, for whatever effects such letters may
thru the complainant; b) that those letters indicated that respondent had have had on his duty as a lawyer.
previous communications with Judge Galicia regarding the preparation of the
decisions; c) that the testimony of complainant to the effect that he had lost With the admission by respondent of the existence of the letters upon which
the original of said letters, and complainant's withdrawal of the complaint in the present administrative complaint is based, the remaining issue to be
the case at bar are of no moment, as respondent Bunyi, and his motion to
resolved is the effect of the acts complained of on respondent's duty both as
dismiss filed with the Supreme Court, admitted that he prepared the draft of
a lawyer and an officer of the Court.
the decisions in the said civil cases, and be affirmed the existence of the
letters.
We find merit in the recommendation of the Solicitor General that
respondent, by way of disciplinary action, deserves suspension from the
Hence, in his report, the Solicitor General found that respondent is guilty of
practice of law.
highly unethical and unprofessional conduct for failure to perform his duty, as
an officer of the court, to help promote the independence of the judiciary and
to refrain from engaging in acts which would influence judicial determination The subject letters indeed indicate that respondent had previous
of a litigation in which he is counsel. 11 The Solicitor General recommended communication with Judge Galicia regarding the preparation of the draft
that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) decisions in Civil Case Nos. 81, 83, and 88, and which he in fact prepared.
Although nothing in the records would show that respondent got the trial SO ORDERED.
court judge's consent to the said preparation for a favor or consideration, the
acts of respondent nevertheless amount to conduct unbecoming of a lawyer Narvasa C.J., Paras, Padilla, Regalado and Nocon, JJ., concur.
and an officer of the Court.
Footnotes
Clearly, respondent violated Canon No. 3 of the Canons of Professional
Ethics (which were enforced at the time respondent committed the acts 1 Rollo, p. 28.
admitted by him), which provides as follows: 2 Rollo, p. 97.
3 Ibid.
3. Attempts to exert personal influence on the court 4 Ibid.
5 Rollo, p. 5.
Marked attention and unusual hospitality on the part of a 6 Id., p. 6.
lawyer to a judge, uncalled for by the personal relations of 7 Ibid., p. 7.
the parties, subject both the judge and the lawyer to 8 Rollo, p. 36.
misconstructions of motive and should be avoided. A lawyer 9 Ibid., p. 47.
should not communicate or argue privately with the judge as 10 Id., p. 58.
to the merits of a pending cause and deserves rebuke and 11 Rollo, p. 63.
denunciation for any device or attempt to gain from a judge 12 Ibid., pp. 85 and 86.
special personal consideration or favor. A self-respecting 13 Id., p. 89.
independence in the discharge of professional duty, without 14 Rollo, pp. 99 and 100.
denial or diminution of the courtesy and respect due the 15 Respondent alleged that at the time complainant filed his
judge's station, is the only proper foundation for cordial complaint in the case at bar, Judge Galicia was already
personal and official relations between bench and bar. dead, and was followed by the death of Mrs. Mascarinas.
(Rollo, p. 98).
In the new Code of Professional Responsibility 16 a lawyer's attempt to 16 Promulgated by the Supreme Court on 23 June 1988.
influence the court is rebuked, as shown in Canon No. 13 and Rule 13.01, 17 In the case of Artiaga, Jr. vs. Villanueva (163 SCRA 638,
which read: July 29, 1988), Atty. Enrique C. Villanueva was found guilty
of three (3) unethical practices, namely: (1) causing his client
CANON 13 — A lawyer shall rely upon the merits of his to perjure himself; (2) lack of candor and respect toward his
adversary and the courts; and (3) abuse of the right of
cause and refrain from any impropriety which tends to
recourse to the courts. He was suspended indefinitely from
influence, or gives the appearance of influencing the court.
the practice of law.
Rule 13.01 — A lawyer shall not extend extraordinary
attention or hospitality to, nor seek opportunity for, cultivating
familiarity with judges.

Therefore, this Court finds respondent guilty of unethical practice in


attempting to influence the court where he had pending civil case. 17

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Irineo L. Bunyi is hereby SUSPENDED from


the practice of law for a period of one (1) year from the date of notice hereof.
Let this decision be entered in the bar records of the respondent and the
Court Administrator is directed to inform the different courts of this
suspension.
convicted and sentenced by the trial court, as the real killers of Manuel
Monroy.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT Counsel for Oscar Castelo and his co-defendants wrote to respondent Fiscal
Manila Salva to conduct a reinvestigation of the case presumably on the basis of the
affidavits and confessions obtained by those who had investigated the case
EN BANC at the instance of Malacañang. Fiscal Salva conferred with the Solicitor
General as to what steps he should take. A conference was held with the
G.R. No. L-12871 July 25, 1959 Secretary of Justice who decided to have the results of the investigation by
the Philippine Constabulary and Malacañang investigators made available to
counsel for the appellants.
TIMOTEO V. CRUZ, petitioner,
vs.
FRANCISCO G. H. SALVA, respondent. Taking advantage of this opportunity, counsel for the appellants filed a
motion for new trial with this Tribunal supporting the same with the so-called
affidavits and confessions of some of those persons investigated, such as
Baizas and Balderrama for petitioner. the confessions of Sergio Eduardo y de Guzman, Oscar Caymo, Pablo
City Attorney Francisco G. H. Salva in his own behalf. Canlas, and written statements of several others. By resolution of this
Tribunal, action on said motion for new trial was deferred until the case was
MONTEMAYOR, J.: studied and determined on the merits. In the meantime, the Chief, Philippine
Constabulary, head sent to the Office of Fiscal Salva copies of the same
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction filed affidavits and confessions and written statements, of which the motion for
by Timoteo V. Cruz against Francisco G. H. Salva, in his capacity as City new trial was based, and respondent Salva proceeded to conduct a
Fiscal of Pasay City, to restrain him from continuing with the preliminary reinvestigation designating for said purposes a committee of three composed
investigation he was conducting in September, 1957 in connection with the of himself as chairman and Assistant City Attorneys Herminio A. Avendañio
killing of Manuel Monroy which took place on June 15, 1953 in Pasay City. and Ernesto A. Bernabe.
To better understand the present case and its implications, the following facts
gathered from the pleadings and the memoranda filed by the parties, may be In connection with said preliminary investigation being conducted by the
stated. committee, petitioner Timoteo Cruz was subpoenaed by respondent to
appear at his office on September 21, 1957, to testify "upon oath before me
Following the killing of Manuel Monroy in 1953 a number of persons were in a certain criminal investigation to be conducted at the time and place by
accused as involved and implicated in said crime. After a long trial, the Court this office against you and Sergio Eduardo, et al., for murder." On September
of First Instance of Pasay City found Oscar Castelo, Jose de Jesus, Hipolito 19, 1957, petitioner Timoteo Cruz wrote to respondent Salva asking for the
Bonifacio, Bienvenido Mendoza, Francis Berdugo and others guilty of the transfer of the preliminary investigation from September 21, due to the fact
crime of murder and sentenced them to death. They all appealed the that this counsel, Atty. Crispin Baizas, would attend a hearing on that same
sentence although without said appeal, in view of the imposition of the day in Naga City. Acting upon said request for postponement, Fiscal Salva
extreme penalty, the case would have to be reviewed automatically by this set the preliminary investigation on September 24. On that day, Atty. Baizas
Court. Oscar Castelo sought a new trial which was granted and upon retrial, appeared for petitioner Cruz, questioned the jurisdiction of the committee,
he was again found guilty and his former conviction of sentence was affirmed particularly respondent Salva, to conduct the preliminary investigation in view
and reiterated by the same trial court. of the fact that the same case involving the killing of Manuel Monroy was
pending appeal in this Court, and on the same day filed the present petition
It seems that pending appeal, the late President Magsaysay ordered a for certiorari and prohibition. This Tribunal gave due course to the petition for
reinvestigation of the case. The purpose of said reinvestigation does not certiorari and prohibition and upon the filing of a cash bond of P200.00
appear in the record. Anyway, intelligence agents of the Philippine issued a writ of preliminary injunction thereby stopping the preliminary
Constabulary and investigators of Malacañang conducted the investigation investigation being conducted by respondent Salva.
for the Chief Executive, questioned a number of people and obtained what
would appear to be confession, pointing to persons, other than those
The connection, if any, that petitioner Cruz had with the preliminary functions and actuations of said fiscal have terminated; usually, the appeal is
investigation being conducted by respondent Salva and his committee was handled for the government by the Office of the Solicitor General.
that affidavits and confessions sent to Salva by the Chief, Philippine Consequently, there would be no reason or occasion for said fiscal to
Constabulary, and which were being investigated, implicated petitioner Cruz, conduct a reinvestigation to determine criminal responsibility for the crime
even picturing him as the instigator and mastermind in the killing of Manuel involved in the appeal.
Monroy.
However, in the present case, respondent has, in our opinion, established a
The position taken by petitioner Cruz in this case is that inasmuch as the justification for his reinvestigation because according to him, in the original
principal case of People vs. Oscar Castelo, et al., G.R. No. L-10794, is criminal case against Castelo, et al., one of the defendants named Salvador
pending appeal and consideration before us, no court, much less a Realista y de Guzman was not included for the reason that he was arrested
prosecuting attorney like respondent Salva, had any right or authority to and was placed within the jurisdiction of the trial court only after the trial
conduct a preliminary investigation or reinvestigation of the case for that against the other accused had commenced, even after the prosecution had
would be obstructing the administration of justice and interferring with the rested its case and the defense had begun to present its evidence. Naturally,
consideration on appeal of the main case wherein appellants had been found Realista remained to stand trial. The trial court, according to respondent, at
guilty and convicted and sentenced; neither had respondent authority to cite the instance of Realista, had scheduled the hearing at an early date, that is in
him to appear and testify at said investigation. August, 1957. Respondent claims that before he would go to trial in the
prosecution of Realista he had to chart his course and plan of action,
Respondent Salva, however, contends that if he subpoenaed petitioner Cruz whether to present the same evidence, oral and documentary, presented in
at all, it was because of the latter's oral and personal request to allow him to the original case and trial, or, in view of the new evidence consisting of the
appear at the investigation with his witnesses for his own protection, affidavits and confessions sent to him by the Philippine Constabulary, he
possibly, to controvert and rebut any evidence therein presented against him. should first assess and determine the value of said evidence by conducting
Salva claims that were it not for this request and if, on the contrary, Timoteo an investigation and that should he be convinced that the persons criminally
Cruz had expressed any objection to being cited to appear in the responsible for the killing of Manuel Monroy were other than those already
investigation he (Salva) would never have subpoenaed him. tried and convicted, like Oscar Castelo and his co-accused and co-
appellants, including Salvador Realista, then he might act accordingly and
even recommend the dismissal of the case against Realista.
Although petitioner Cruz now stoutly denies having made such request that
he be allowed to appear at the investigation, we are inclined to agree with
Fiscal Salva that such a request had been made. Inasmuch as he, Timoteo In this, we are inclined to agree with respondent Salva. For, as contended by
Cruz, was deeply implicated in the killing of Manuel Monroy by the affidavits him and as suggested by authorities, the duty and role of prosecuting
and confessions of several persons who were being investigated by Salva attorney is not only to prosecute and secure the conviction of the guilty but
and his committee, it was but natural that petitioner should have been also to protect the innocent.
interested, even desirous of being present at that investigation so that he
could face and cross examine said witnesses and affiants when they testified We cannot overemphasize the necessity of close scrutiny and
in connection with their affidavits or confessions, either repudiating, investigation of the prosecuting officers of all cases handled by them,
modifying or ratifying the same. Moreover, in the communication, addressed but whilst this court is averse to any form of vacillation by such
to respondent Salva asking that the investigation, scheduled for September officers in the prosecution of public offenses, it is unquestionable that
21, 1957, be postponed because his attorney would be unable to attend, they may, in appropriate cases, in order to do justice and avoid
Timoteo Cruz expressed no opposition to the subpoena, not even a hint that injustice, reinvestigate cases in which they have already filed the
he was objecting to his being cited to appear at the investigation. corresponding informations. In the language of Justice Sutherland of
the Supreme Court of the United States, theprosecuting officer "is
As to the right of respondent Salva to conduct the preliminary investigation the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a
which he and his committee began ordinarily, when a criminal case in which sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling
a fiscal intervened though nominally, for according to respondent, two as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a
government attorneys had been designed by the Secretary of Justice to criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice
handle the prosecution in the trial of the case in the court below, is tried and shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense
decided and it is appealed to a higher court such as this Tribunal, the the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not
escape nor innocent suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and was willing to abdicate and renounce his right and prerogative to make and
vigor — indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike had blows, address the questions to the witnesses under investigation, in favor of the
he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain members of the press, is difficult for us to understand, unless he, respondent,
from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction wanted to curry favor with the press and publicize his investigation as much
as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one. (69 as possible. Fortunately, the gentlemen of the press to whom he accorded
United States law Review, June, 1935, No. 6, p. 309, cited in the such unusual privilege and favor appeared to have wisely and prudently
case of Suarez vs. Platon, 69 Phil., 556) declined the offer and did not ask questions, this according to the transcript
now before us.
With respect to the right of respondent Salva to cite petitioner to appear and
testify before him at the scheduled preliminary investigation, under the law, But, the newspapers certainly played up and gave wide publicity to what took
petitioner had a right to be present at that investigation since as was already place during the investigation, and this involved headlines and extensive
stated, he was more or less deeply involved and implicated in the killing of recitals, narrations of and comments on the testimonies given by the
Monroy according to the affiants whose confessions, affidavits and witnesses as well as vivid descriptions of the incidents that took place during
testimonies respondent Salva was considering or was to consider at said the investigation. It seemed as though the criminal responsibility for the killing
preliminary investigation. But he need not be present at said investigation of Manuel Monroy which had already been tried and finally determined by the
because his presence there implies, and was more of a right rather than a lower court and which was under appeal and advisement by this Tribunal,
duty or legal obligation. Consequently, even if, as claimed by respondent was being retried and redetermined in the press, and all with the apparent
Salva, petitioner expressed the desire to be given an opportunity to be place and complaisance of respondent.
present at the said investigation, if he latter changed his mind and renounced
his right, and even strenuously objected to being made to appear at said Frankly, the members of this Court were greatly disturbed and annoyed by
investigation, he could not be compelled to do so. such publicity and sensationalism, all of which may properly be laid at the
door of respondent Salva. In this, he committed what was regard a grievous
Now we come to the manner in which said investigation was conducted by error and poor judgment for which we fail to find any excuse or satisfactory
the respondent. If, as contended by him, the purpose of said investigation explanation. His actuations in this regard went well beyond the bounds of
was only to acquaint himself with and evaluate the evidence involved in the prudence, discretion and good taste. It is bad enough to have such undue
affidavits and confessions of Sergio Eduardo, Cosme Camo and others by publicity when a criminal case is being investigated by the authorities, even
questioning them, then he, respondent, could well have conducted the when it being tried in court; but when said publicity and sensationalism is
investigation in his office, quietly, unobtrusively and without much fanfare, allowed, even encouraged, when the case is on appeal and is pending
much less publicity. consideration by this Tribunal, the whole thing becomes inexcusable, even
abhorrent, and this Court, in the interest of justice, is constrained and called
However, according to the petitioner and not denied by the respondent, the upon to put an end to it and a deterrent against its repetition by meting an
investigation was conducted not in respondent's office but in the session hall appropriate disciplinary measure, even a penalty to the one liable.
of the Municipal Court of Pasay City evidently, to accommodate the big
crowd that wanted to witness the proceeding, including members of the Some of the members of the Court who appeared to feel more strongly than
press. A number of microphones were installed. Reporters were everywhere the others favored the imposition of a more or less severe penal sanction.
and photographers were busy taking pictures. In other words, apparently with After mature deliberation, we have finally agreed that a public censure would,
the permission of, if not the encouragement by the respondent, news for the present, be sufficient.
photographers and newsmen had a filed day. Not only this, but in the course
of the investigation, as shown by the transcript of the stenographic notes In conclusion, we find and hold that respondent Salva was warranted in
taken during said investigation, on two occasions, the first, after Oscar holding the preliminary investigation involved in this case, insofar as
Caymo had concluded his testimony respondent Salva, addressing the Salvador Realista is concerned, for which reason the writ of preliminary
newspapermen said, "Gentlemen of the press, if you want to ask questions I injunction issued stopping said preliminary investigation, is dissolved; that in
am willing to let you do so and the question asked will be reproduced as my view of petitioner's objection to appear and testify at the said investigation,
own"; and the second, after Jose Maratella y de Guzman had finished respondent may not compel him to attend said investigation, for which
testifying and respondent Salva, addressing the newsmen, again said, reason, the subpoena issued by respondent against petitioner is hereby set
"Gentlemen of the press is free to ask questions as ours." Why respondent aside.
In view of the foregoing, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is granted in
part and denied in part. Considering the conclusion arrived at by us,
respondent Francisco G. H. Salva is hereby publicly reprehended and
censured for the uncalled for and wide publicity and sensationalism that he
had given to and allowed in connection with his investigation, which we
consider and find to be contempt of court; and, furthermore, he is warned
that a repetition of the same would meet with a more severe disciplinary
action and penalty. No costs.

Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion and


Barrera, JJ., concur.
served through other means less distracting, degrading, and prejudicial than
live TV and radio coverage.1âwphi1.nêt
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT The Court has considered the arguments of the parties on this important
Manila issue and, after due deliberation, finds no reason to alter or in any way
modify its decision prohibiting live or real time broadcast by radio or
EN BANC television of the trial of the former president. By a vote of nine (9) to six (6) of
its members,1 the Court denies the motion for reconsideration of the
A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC September 13, 2001 Secretary of Justice.

RE: REQUEST FOR LIVE RADIO-TV COVERAGE OF THE TRIAL IN THE In lieu of live TV and radio coverage of the trial, the Court, by the vote of
SANDIGANBAYAN OF THE PLUNDER CASES AGAINST FORMER eight (8) Justices,2 has resolved to order the audio-visual recording of the
PRESIDENT JOSEPH E. ESTRADA trial.

What follows is the opinion of the majority.lawphil.net


SECRETARY OF JUSTICE HERNANDO PEREZ, KAPISANAN NG MGA
BRODKASTER NG PILIPINAS, CESAR SARINO, RENATO CAYETANO,
and ATTY. RICARDO ROMULO, petitioners, Considering the significance of the trial before the Sandiganbayan of former
vs. President Estrada and the importance of preserving the records thereof, the
JOSEPH E. ESTRADA and INTEGRATED BAR OF THE Court believes that there should be an audio-visual recording of the
PHILIPPINES,oppositors. proceedings. The recordings will not be for live or real time broadcast but for
documentary purposes. Only later will they be available for public showing,
RESOLUTION after the Sandiganbayan shall have promulgated its decision in every case to
which the recording pertains. The master film shall be deposited in the
National Museum and the Records Management and Archives Office for
MENDOZA, J.: historical preservation and exhibition pursuant to law.4

This is a motion for reconsideration of the decision denying petitioners' For the purpose of recording the proceedings, cameras will be
request for permission to televise and broadcast live the trial of former inconspicuously installed in the courtroom and the movement of TV crews
President Estrada before the Sandiganbayan. The motion was filed by the will be regulated, consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the
Secretary of Justice, as one of the petitioners, who argues that there is really proceedings. The trial shall be recorded in its entirety, except such portions
no conflict between the right of the people to public information and the thereof as the Sandiganbayan may decide should not be held public
freedom of the press, on the one hand, and, on the other, the right of the pursuant to Rule 119, §21 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. No
accused to a fair trial; that if there is a clash between these rights, it must be comment shall be included in the documentary except annotations which
resolved in favor of the right of the people and the press because the people, may be necessary to explain certain scenes which are depicted. The audio-
as the repository of sovereignty, are entitled to information; and that live visual recordings shall be made under the supervision and control of the
media coverage is a safeguard against attempts by any party to use the Sandiganbayan or its Division as the case may be.
courts as instruments for the pursuit of selfish interests.
There are several reasons for such televised recording.1awphil.net First, the
On the other hand, former President Joseph E. Estrada reiterates his hearings are of historic significance. They are an affirmation of our
objection to the live TV and radio coverage of his trial on the ground that its commitment to the rule that "the King is under no man, but he is under God
allowance will violate the sub judice rule and that, based on his experience and the law." (Quod Rex non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et Lege.)
with the impeachment trial, live media coverage will only pave the way for so- Second, the Estrada cases involve matters of vital concern to our people who
called "expert commentary" which can trigger massive demonstrations aimed have a fundamental right to know how their government is conducted. This
at pressuring the Sandiganbayan to render a decision one way or the other. right can be enhanced by audio visual presentation. Third, audio-visual
Mr. Estrada contends that the right of the people to information may be presentation is essential for the education and civic training of the people.
Above all, there is the need to keep audio-visual records of the hearings for Indeed, a somewhat similar proposal for documentary recording of
documentary purposes. The recordings will be useful in preserving the celebrated cases or causes célèbres was made was made way back in 1971
essence of the proceedings in a way that the cold print cannot quite do by Paul Freund of the Harvard Law School. As he explained:
because it cannot capture the sights and sounds of events. They will be
primarily for the use of appellate courts in the event a review of the In fairness let me refer to an American experience many of my lay
proceedings, rulings, or decisions of the Sandiganbayan is sought or friends found similarly moving. An educational television network
becomes necessary. The accuracy of the transcripts of stenographic notes filmed a trial in Denver of a Black Panther leader on charges of
taken during the trial can be checked by reference to the tapes. resisting arrest, and broadcast the document in full, in four
installments, several months after the case was concluded --
On the other hand, by delaying the release of the tapes for broadcast, concluded incidentally, with a verdict of acquittal.
concerns that those taking part in the proceedings will be playing to the
cameras and will thus be distracted from the proper performance of their No one could witness the trial without a feeling of profound respect
roles -- whether as counsel, witnesses, court personnel, or judges -- will be for the painstaking way in which the truth was searched for, for the
allayed. The possibility that parallel trials before the bar of justice and the bar ways whereby law copes with uncertainties and ambiguities through
of public opinion may jeopardize, or even prevent, the just determination of presumptions and burden of proof, and the sense of gravity with
the cases can be minimized. The possibility that judgment will be rendered which judge and jury carried out their responsibilities.
by the popular tribunal before the court of justice can render its own will be
avoided.
I agree in general with the exclusion of television from the courtroom,
for the familiar good reasons. And yet the use of television at a trial
At the same time, concerns about the regularity and fairness of the trial -- for documentary purposes, not for the broadcast of live news, and
which, it may be assumed, is the concern of those opposed to, as much as of with the safeguards of completeness and consent, is an educational
those in favor of, televised trials - will be addressed since the tapes will not experiment that I would be prepared to welcome. Properly
be released for public showing until after the decision of the cases by the safeguarded and with suitable commentary, the depiction of an
Sandiganbayan. By delaying the release of the tapes, much of the problem actual trial is an agency of enlightenment that could have few equals
posed by real time TV and radio broadcast will be avoided. in its impact on the public understanding.

Thus, many important purposes for preserving the record of the trial can be Understanding of our legal process, so rarely provided by our
served by audio-visual recordings without impairing the right of the accused educational system, is now a desperate need.7
to a fair trial.
Professor Freund's observation is as valid today as when it was made thirty
Nor is the right of privacy of the accused a bar to the production of such years ago. It is perceptive for its recognition of the serious risks posed to the
documentary. In Ayer Productions Pty. Ltd. V. Capulong,5 this Court set fair administration of justice by live TV and radio broadcasts, especially when
aside a lower court's injunction restraining the filming of "Four Day emotions are running high on the issues stirred by a case, while at the same
Revolution," a documentary film depicting, among other things, the role of time acknowledging the necessity of keeping audio-visual recordings of the
then Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile in the 1986 EDSA proceedings of celebrated cases, for public information and exhibition, after
people power. This Court held: "A limited intrusion into a person's privacy passions have subsided.
has long been regarded as permissible where that person is a public figure
and the information sought to be elicited from him or to be published about
WHEREFORE, an audio-visual recording of the trial of former President
him constitute matters of a public character."6 Estrada before the Sandiganbayan is hereby ordered to be made, for the
account of the Sandiganbayan, under the following conditions: (a) the trial
No one can prevent the making of a movie based on the trial. But, at least, if shall be recorded in its entirety, excepting such portions thereof as the
a documentary record is made of the proceedings, any movie that may later Sandiganbayan may determine should not be held public under Rule 119,
be produced can be checked for its accuracy against such documentary and §21 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure; (b) cameras shall be installed
any attempt to distort the truth can thus be averted. inconspicuously inside the courtroom and the movement of TV crews shall
be regulated consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings; (c)
the audio-visual recordings shall be made for documentary purposes only 2 CHIEF JUSTICE DAVIDE, JR. and JUSTICES BELLOSILLO, MELO, PUNO, MENDOZA, PANGANIBAN,

and shall be made without comment except such annotations of scenes QUISUMBING, and GONZAGA-REYES.

depicted therein as may be necessary to explain them; (d) the live broadcast 3 JUSTICES VITUG, KAPUNAN, PARDO, BUENA, YNARES-SANTIAGO, DE LEON, and SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ.

of the recordings before the Sandiganbayan shall have rendered its decision 4 R.A. No. 8492 provides in pertinent parts:

in all the cases against the former President shall be prohibited under pain of SEC. 7. Duties and Function. - The [National] Museum shall have the following duties and functions:

contempt of court and other sanctions in case of violations of the prohibition; 7.1. Acquire documents, collect, preserve, maintain, administer and exhibit to the public, cultural materials, objects of

(e) to ensure that the conditions are observed, the audio-visual recording of art, archaeological artifacts, ecofacts, relics and other materials embodying the cultural and natural heritage of the

the proceedings shall be made under the supervision and control of the Filipino national, as well as those of foreign origin. Materials relevant to the recent history of the country shall be

Sandiganbayan or its Division concerned and shall be made pursuant to likewise acquired, collected, preserved, maintained, advertised and exhibited by the Museum. (Emphasis added)

rules promulgated by it; and (f) simultaneously with the release of the audio- DEPARTMENT ORDER NO. 13-A, dated May, 9, 1985, of the Department of Education Culture and Sports provides:

visual recordings for public broadcast, the original thereof shall be deposited Rule 7. Transfer of Records to Archives. -

in the National Museum and the Records Management and Archives Office 7.5 Preservation of Archival Records.

for preservation and exhibition in accordance with law. 7.5.1 Archival records shall be stored under one roof and authorize their accessibility to the public, subject to certain
security and safety measures to preserve the integrity of the records.
7.5.2 It shall be the responsibility of the Archives Division to protect archival documents in its custody and undertake
SO ORDERED.
corrective measures to rehabilitate weakened or brittled documents in accordance with modern techniques.
5 160 SCRA 861 (1988). Cf. Lagunzad v. Soto Vda. De Gonzales, 92 SCRA 476 (1979), involving the novelized film
Davide, Jr., C.J., Melo, Puno, Panganiban, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur. on the life of Mioses Padilla, a majoralty candidate of Magallon, Negros Occidental, who was murdered for political
reasons at the instance of then Governor Rafael Lacson.
Bellosillo, J. I am for full live coverage hence I maintain my original view; 6 Id. At 870.
nonetheless. I concur. 7 Paul A. Freund, Contempt Power: Prevention, Not Retribution, TRIAL, January-February 1971 at 13.
Separate Opinion

Kapunan, J. I maintain my original view prohibiting live T.V. and radio VITUG, J.:

coverage and concur with the separate opinion of Justice Vitug. Due Process is timeless. It is a precious fundamental right that secures and protects, under a rule of law, the life, and
liberty of a person from the oppression of power. A cherished fixture in our bill of rights, its encompassing guarantee
will not be diminished by advances in science and technology. I fail to perceive it to be otherwise.
Quisumbing, J. Although earlier I respectfully Dissented as I favor live TV
Precisely, in its 29th June 2001 decision, the Court did not consider it propitous to allow live television and radio
coverage, I now concur in the result.
coverage of the trial in order to help ensure a just and fair trial. The Court felt it judicious to insulate not only the
Sandiganbayan but also the trial participants, the lawyers and witnesses, from being unduly influenced by possible
Pardo, J. I concur with the denial of the motion for reconsideration only. The
adverse effects that such a coverage could bring. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the above ruling and
conditions are inadequate. I join J. Vitug's opinion.
countered that, if one must be pitted against the other, the right to public information of grave national interest should
be held more paramount than the right of the accused to a "fair and public trial," the former being appurtenant to the
Buena, J. I concur with the Separate Opinion of Justice Vitug. sovereign and latter being merely a privilege bestowed to an individual.
I am not ready to accept such a notion. I see it as being an implicit retreat, unwisely, from an age-old struggle of the
Ynares-Santiago, J. I concur with the separate opinion of J. Jose Vitug. individual against the tyranny of the sovereign.1 The right of the public to information, in any event, is not here really
being sacrified. The right to know can very well be achieved via other media coverage; the windows of information

De Leon, Jr., J. I concur with Separate Opinion of Justice Vitug. through which the public might observe and learn are not closed.
In addressing the present motion for reconsideration, colleagues on the Court opine that there should be an audio-
visual recording of the proceedings for documentary purposes because, first, the hearings are of historic
Sandoval-Gutierrez, J. I concur but only in the denial with finality of the MR.
significance, second, the Estrada cases involve matters of vital concern to our people who have a fundamental right to
know how their government works; third, the audio-visual presentation is essential for education and civil training of
Footnote the people; and fourth, such recording can be used by appellate courts in the event that the review of the proceedings,
1 Nine (9) members of the Court, namely, JUSTICES VITUG, KAPUNAN, MENDOZA, PARDO, BUENA, GONZAGA-
ruling, or decisions of the Sandiganbayan is sought or becomes necessary.lawphil.net2
REYES, YNARES-SANTIAGO, DE LEON, and SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, vote to deny reconsideration, while six (6),
The proposition has novel features, regrettably, I still find it hard to believe that the presence of the cameras inside the
namely, CHIEF JUSTICE DAVIDE, JR. and JUSTICES BELLOSILLO, MELO, PUNO, PANGANIBAN, and
courtroom will not have an untoward impact on the court proceedings. No empirical data has been shown to suggest
QUISUMBING, vote to grant a reconsideration.
otherwise. To the contrary, experience attests to the intimidating effect of cameras and electronic devices in
courtrooms on the litigants, witnesses and jurors.3 In addition, the natural reticence of witnesses at the stand can even
easily be exacerbated by placing them on camera in contravention of normal experience.4 The demeanor of the
witnesses can also have an abstruse effect on the ability of the judge to accurately assess the credibility of such
witnesses.5 The presence of cameras, for whatever reason, may not adequately address the dangers mentioned in the
Court's decision of 29 June 2001. There are just too many imponderables.
Most importantly, it does not seem right to single out and make a spectacle of the cases against Mr. Estrada. Dignity is
a precious part of personability innate in ever human being, and there can be no cogent excuse for impinging it even to
the slightest degree. It is not the problem of privacy that can cause concern more than the erosion of reality that
cameras tend to cast.
In the petition, albeit entitled an administrative matter, the only issue raised is whether the case of a former President
pending before the Sandiganbayan can be covered by live television and radio broadcast. The matter now being
sought to be addressed by my esteemed colleagues is not even an issue. If it has to be considered at all, the rule must
be of general application and promulgated after a thorough study and deliberation, certainly far more than what have
been said and done in this case. Hearings, where expert opinion is sought and given, should prove to be helpful and of
value.1âwphi1.nêt
WHEREFORE, I concur but only in the denial with finality of the motion for reconsideration.
Footnote
1 See Frankfurter, J. in Bridges v. California, 314 US 252.
2 Resolution, pp. 3-4.
3 Picturing Justice: Images of Law and Lawyers in the Visual Media, Gerard uelmen, University of San Francisco law
review, Summer 1996.
4 "The Continuing debate Over Cameras in the Courtroom," Federal Lawyers, July 1995.
5 Supra.
... a resolution issue ordering the Clerk of Court to receive
the certificate of the undersigned attorney and counsellor-at-
Republic of the Philippines law IN TRUST with reservation that at any time in the future
SUPREME COURT and in the event we regain our faith and confidence, we may
Manila retrieve our title to assume the practice of the noblest
profession.
EN BANC
He reiterated and disclosed to the press the contents of the aforementioned
petition. Thus, on September 26, 1967, the Manila Times published
statements attributed to him, as follows:
G.R. No. L-27654 February 18, 1970
Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition, said he
did it to expose the tribunal's"unconstitutional and
IN THE MATTER OF PROCEEDINGS FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION obnoxious" practice of arbitrarily denying petitions or appeals
AGAINST ATTY. VICENTE RAUL ALMACEN In L-27654, ANTONIO H. without any reason.
CALERO,
Because of the tribunal's "short-cut justice," Almacen
vs. deplored, his client was condemned to pay P120,000,
without knowing why he lost the case.
VIRGINIA Y. YAPTINCHAY.
xxx xxx xxx
RESOLUTION
There is no use continuing his law practice, Almacen said in
this petition, "where our Supreme Court is composed of men
who are calloused to our pleas for justice, who ignore
CASTRO, J.: without reason their own applicable decisions and commit
culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity.
Before us is Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen's "Petition to Surrender Lawyer's
Certificate of Title," filed on September 25, 1967, in protest against what he xxx xxx xxx
therein asserts is "a great injustice committed against his client by this
Supreme Court." He indicts this Court, in his own phrase, as a tribunal He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of his title
"peopled by men who are calloused to our pleas for justice, who ignore by which he earns his living, the present members of the
without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit culpable Supreme Court "will become responsive to all cases brought
violations of the Constitution with impunity." His client's he continues, who to its attention without discrimination, and will purge itself of
was deeply aggrieved by this Court's "unjust judgment," has become "one of those unconstitutional and obnoxious "lack of merit" or
the sacrificial victims before the altar of hypocrisy." In the same breath that "denied resolutions. (Emphasis supplied)
he alludes to the classic symbol of justice, he ridicules the members of this
Court, saying "that justice as administered by the present members of the Atty. Almacen's statement that
Supreme Court is not only blind, but also deaf and dumb." He then vows to
argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum," so that "the people may
know of the silent injustice's committed by this Court," and that "whatever ... our own Supreme Court is composed of men who are
mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were committed must never be calloused to our pleas of [sic] justice, who ignore their own
applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the
repeated." He ends his petition with a prayer that
Constitution with impunity
was quoted by columnist Vicente Albano Pacis in the issue of the Manila applicable case. Again, the Court of Appeals denied the motion for
Chronicle of September 28, 1967. In connection therewith, Pacis commented reconsideration, thus:
that Atty. Almacen had "accused the high tribunal of offenses so serious that
the Court must clear itself," and that "his charge is one of the constitutional Before this Court for resolution are the motion dated May 9,
bases for impeachment." 1967 and the supplement thereto of the same date filed by
defendant- appellant, praying for reconsideration of the
The genesis of this unfortunate incident was a civil case entitled Virginia Y. resolution of May 8, 1967, dismissing the appeal.
Yaptinchay vs. Antonio H. Calero,1 in which Atty. Almacen was counsel for
the defendant. The trial court, after due hearing, rendered judgment against Appellant contends that there are some important
his client. On June 15, 1966 Atty. Almacen received a copy of the decision. distinctions between this case and that of Manila Surety and
Twenty days later, or on July 5, 1966, he moved for its reconsideration. He Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., G.R. No. L-
served on the adverse counsel a copy of the motion, but did not notify the 16636, June 24, 1965, relied upon by this Court in its
latter of the time and place of hearing on said motion. Meanwhile, on July 18, resolution of May 8, 1967. Appellant further states that in the
1966, the plaintiff moved for execution of the judgment. For "lack of proof of latest case,Republic vs. Venturanza, L-20417, May 30,
service," the trial court denied both motions. To prove that he did serve on 1966, decided by the Supreme Court concerning the
the adverse party a copy of his first motion for reconsideration, Atty. Almacen question raised by appellant's motion, the ruling is contrary
filed on August 17, 1966 a second motion for reconsideration to which he to the doctrine laid down in the Manila Surety & Fidelity Co.,
attached the required registry return card. This second motion for Inc. case.
reconsideration, however, was ordered withdrawn by the trial court on August
30, 1966, upon verbal motion of Atty. Almacen himself, who, earlier, that is, There is no substantial distinction between this case and that
on August 22, 1966, had already perfected the appeal. Because the plaintiff
of Manila Surety & Fidelity Co.
interposed no objection to the record on appeal and appeal bond, the trial
court elevated the case to the Court of Appeals.
In the case of Republic vs. Venturanza, the resolution
denying the motion to dismiss the appeal, based on grounds
But the Court of Appeals, on the authority of this Court's decision in Manila
similar to those raised herein was issued on November 26,
Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., L-16636, June 24,
1962, which was much earlier than the date of promulgation
1965, dismissed the appeal, in the following words:
of the decision in the Manila Surety Case, which was June
24, 1965. Further, the resolution in the Venturanza case was
Upon consideration of the motion dated March 27, 1967, interlocutory and the Supreme Court issued it "without
filed by plaintiff-appellee praying that the appeal be prejudice to appellee's restoring the point in the brief." In the
dismissed, and of the opposition thereto filed by defendant- main decision in said case (Rep. vs. Venturanza the
appellant; the Court RESOLVED TO DISMISS, as it hereby Supreme Court passed upon the issue sub silencio
dismisses, the appeal, for the reason that the motion for presumably because of its prior decisions contrary to the
reconsideration dated July 5, 1966 (pp. 90-113, printed resolution of November 26, 1962, one of which is that in the
record on appeal) does not contain a notice of time and Manila Surety and Fidelity case. Therefore Republic vs.
place of hearing thereof and is, therefore, a useless piece of Venturanza is no authority on the matter in issue.
paper (Manila Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu
Construction & Co., G.R. No. L-16636, June 24, 1965),
Atty. Almacen then appealed to this Court by certiorari. We refused to take
which did not interrupt the running of the period to appeal,
the case, and by minute resolution denied the appeal. Denied shortly
and, consequently, the appeal was perfected out of time. thereafter was his motion for reconsideration as well as his petition for leave
to file a second motion for reconsideration and for extension of time. Entry of
Atty. Almacen moved to reconsider this resolution, urging that Manila Surety judgment was made on September 8, 1967. Hence, the second motion for
& Fidelity Co. is not decisive. At the same time he filed a pleading entitled reconsideration filed by him after the Said date was ordered expunged from
"Latest decision of the Supreme Court in Support of Motion for the records.
Reconsideration," citing Republic of the Philippines vs. Gregorio A.
Venturanza, L-20417, decided by this Court on May 30, 1966, as the
It was at this juncture that Atty. Almacen gave vent to his disappointment by be judged, and with what measure you
filing his "Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title," already adverted measure, it shall be measured to you. But
to — a pleading that is interspersed from beginning to end with the insolent why dost thou see the speck in thy brother's
contemptuous, grossly disrespectful and derogatory remarks hereinbefore eye, and yet dost not consider the beam in
reproduced, against this Court as well as its individual members, a behavior thy own eye? Or how can thou say to thy
that is as unprecedented as it is unprofessional. brother, "Let me cast out the speck from thy
eye"; and behold, there is a beam in thy own
Nonetheless we decided by resolution dated September 28, 1967 to withhold eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam
action on his petition until he shall have actually surrendered his certificate. from thy own eye, and then thou wilt see
Patiently, we waited for him to make good his proffer. No word came from clearly to cast out the speck from thy
him. So he was reminded to turn over his certificate, which he had earlier brother's eyes."
vociferously offered to surrender, so that this Court could act on his petition.
To said reminder he manifested "that he has no pending petition in "Therefore all that you wish men to do to
connection with Case G.R. No. L-27654, Calero vs. Yaptinchay, said case is you, even to do you also to them: for this is
now final and executory;" that this Court's September 28, 1967 resolution did the Law and the Prophets."
not require him to do either a positive or negative act; and that since his offer
was not accepted, he "chose to pursue the negative act." xxx xxx xxx

In the exercise of its inherent power to discipline a member of the bar for Your respondent has no intention of disavowing the
contumely and gross misconduct, this Court on November 17, 1967 resolved statements mentioned in his petition. On the contrary, he
to require Atty. Almacen to show cause "why no disciplinary action should be refirms the truth of what he stated, compatible with his
taken against him." Denying the charges contained in the November 17 lawyer's oath that he will do no falsehood, nor consent to the
resolution, he asked for permission "to give reasons and cause why no doing of any in court. But he vigorously DENY under oath
disciplinary action should be taken against him ... in an open and public that the underscored statements contained in the CHARGE
hearing." This Court resolved (on December 7) "to require Atty. Almacen to are insolent, contemptuous, grossly disrespectful and
state, within five days from notice hereof, his reasons for such request, derogatory to the individual members of the Court; that they
otherwise, oral argument shall be deemed waived and incident submitted for tend to bring the entire Court, without justification, into
decision." To this resolution he manifested that since this Court is "the disrepute; and constitute conduct unbecoming of a member
complainant, prosecutor and Judge," he preferred to be heard and to answer of the noble profession of law.
questions "in person and in an open and public hearing" so that this Court
could observe his sincerity and candor. He also asked for leave to file a
xxx xxx xxx
written explanation "in the event this Court has no time to hear him in
person." To give him the ampliest latitude for his defense, he was allowed to
file a written explanation and thereafter was heard in oral argument. Respondent stands four-square that his statement is borne
by TRUTH and has been asserted with NO MALICE
BEFORE AND AFTER THOUGHT but mainly motivated with
His written answer, as undignified and cynical as it is unchastened, offers -no
the highest interest of justice that in the particular case of our
apology. Far from being contrite Atty. Almacen unremittingly repeats his
client, the members have shown callousness to our various
jeremiad of lamentations, this time embellishing it with abundant sarcasm
pleas for JUSTICE, our pleadings will bear us on this matter,
and innuendo. Thus:
...

At the start, let me quote passages from the Holy Bible,


xxx xxx xxx
Chapter 7, St. Matthew: —
To all these beggings, supplications, words of humility,
"Do not judge, that you may not be judged. appeals for charity, generosity, fairness, understanding,
For with what judgment you judge, you shall sympathy and above all in the highest interest of JUSTICE,
— what did we get from this COURT? One word, DENIED, The INJUSTICES which we have attributed to this Court and
with all its hardiness and insensibility. That was the unfeeling the further violations we sought to be prevented is impliedly
of the Court towards our pleas and prayers, in simple word, it shared by our President. ... .
is plain callousness towards our particular case.
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
What has been abhored and condemned, are the very things that were
Now that your respondent has the guts to tell the members applied to us. Recalling Madam Roland's famous apostrophe during the
of the Court that notwithstanding the violation of the French revolution, "O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name", we
Constitution, you remained unpunished, this Court in the may dare say, "O JUSTICE, what technicalities are committed in thy name'
reverse order of natural things, is now in the attempt to inflict or more appropriately, 'O JUSTICE, what injustices are committed in thy
punishment on your respondent for acts he said in good name."
faith.
xxx xxx xxx
Did His Honors care to listen to our pleadings and
supplications for JUSTICE, CHARITY, GENEROSITY and We must admit that this Court is not free from commission of
FAIRNESS? Did His Honors attempt to justify their stubborn any abuses, but who would correct such abuses considering
denial with any semblance of reason, NEVER. Now that your that yours is a court of last resort. A strong public opinion
respondent is given the opportunity to face you, he reiterates must be generated so as to curtail these abuses.
the same statement with emphasis, DID YOU? Sir. Is this.
the way of life in the Philippines today, that even our own
xxx xxx xxx
President, said: — "the story is current, though nebulous ,is
to its truth, it is still being circulated that justice in the
Philippines today is not what it is used to be before the war. The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolize in paintings that
There are those who have told me frankly and brutally that can be found in all courts and government offices. We have
justice is a commodity, a marketable commodity in the added only two more symbols, that it is also deaf and dumb.
Philippines." Deaf in the sense that no members of this Court has ever
heard our cries for charity, generosity, fairness,
understanding sympathy and for justice; dumb in the sense,
xxx xxx xxx
that inspite of our beggings, supplications, and pleadings to
give us reasons why our appeal has been DENIED, not one
We condemn the SIN, not the SINNER. We detest the word was spoken or given ... We refer to no human defect or
ACTS, not the ACTOR. We attack the decision of this Court, ailment in the above statement. We only describe the.
not the members. ... We were provoked. We were compelled impersonal state of things and nothing more.
by force of necessity. We were angry but we waited for the
finality of the decision. We waited until this Court has
xxx xxx xxx
performed its duties. We never interfered nor obstruct in the
performance of their duties. But in the end, after seeing that
the Constitution has placed finality on your judgment against As we have stated, we have lost our faith and confidence in
our client and sensing that you have not performed your the members of this Court and for which reason we offered
duties with "circumspection, carefulness, confidence and to surrender our lawyer's certificate, IN TRUST ONLY.
wisdom", your Respondent rise to claim his God given right Because what has been lost today may be regained
to speak the truth and his Constitutional right of free speech. tomorrow. As the offer was intended as our self-imposed
sacrifice, then we alone may decide as to when we must end
our self-sacrifice. If we have to choose between forcing
xxx xxx xxx ourselves to have faith and confidence in the members of
the Court but disregard our Constitution and to uphold the
Constitution and be condemned by the members of this brief, for refusing to take these cases. The tune that would
Court, there is no choice, we must uphold the latter. be required is prohibitive. Apart from the fact that as already
indicated different reasons not infrequently move different
But overlooking, for the nonce, the vituperative chaff which he claims is not members of the Court in concluding that a particular case at
intended as a studied disrespect to this Court, let us examine the grain of his a particular time makes review undesirable.
grievances.
Six years ago, in Novino, et al., vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 1,21098, May 31,
He chafes at the minute resolution denial of his petition for review. We are 1963 (60 O.G. 8099), this Court, through the then Chief Justice Cesar
quite aware of the criticisms2 expressed against this Court's practice of Bengzon, articulated its considered view on this matter. There, the petitioners
rejecting petitions by minute resolutions. We have been asked to do away counsel urged that a "lack of merit" resolution violates Section 12 of Article
with it, to state the facts and the law, and to spell out the reasons for denial. VIII of the Constitution. Said Chief Justice Bengzon:
We have given this suggestion very careful thought. For we know the abject
frustration of a lawyer who tediously collates the facts and for many weary In connection with identical short resolutions, the same
hours meticulously marshalls his arguments, only to have his efforts rebuffed question has been raised before; and we held that these
with a terse unadorned denial. Truth to tell, however, most petitions rejected "resolutions" are not "decisions" within the above
by this Court are utterly frivolous and ought never to have been lodged at constitutional requirement. They merely hold that the petition
all.3 The rest do exhibit a first-impression cogency, but fail to, withstand for review should not be entertained in view of the provisions
critical scrutiny. By and large, this Court has been generous in giving due of Rule 46 of the Rules of Court; and even ordinary lawyers
course to petitions for certiorari. have all this time so understood it. It should be remembered
that a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals
Be this as it may, were we to accept every case or write a full opinion for is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion; and
every petition we reject, we would be unable to carry out effectively the so there is no need to fully explain the court's denial. For one
burden placed upon us by the Constitution. The proper role of the Supreme thing, the facts and the law are already mentioned in the
Court, as Mr. Chief Justice Vinson of the U.S. Supreme Court has defined it, Court of Appeals' opinion.
is to decide "only those cases which present questions whose resolutions will
have immediate importance beyond the particular facts and parties involved." By the way, this mode of disposal has — as intended —
Pertinent here is the observation of Mr. Justice Frankfurter in Maryland vs. helped the Court in alleviating its heavy docket; it was
Baltimore Radio Show, 94 L. ed 562, 566: patterned after the practice of the U.S. Supreme Court,
wherein petitions for review are often merely ordered
A variety of considerations underlie denials of the writ, and "dismissed".
as to the same petition different reasons may read different
justices to the same result ... . We underscore the fact that cases taken to this Court on petitions
for certiorari from the Court of Appeals have had the benefit of appellate
Since there are these conflicting, and, to the uninformed, review. Hence, the need for compelling reasons to buttress such petitions if
even confusing reasons for denying petitions for certiorari, it this Court is to be moved into accepting them. For it is axiomatic that the
has been suggested from time to time that the Court indicate supervisory jurisdiction vested upon this Court over the Court of Appeals is
its reasons for denial. Practical considerations preclude. In not intended to give every losing party another hearing. This axiom is implied
order that the Court may be enabled to discharge its in sec. 4 of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which recites:
indispensable duties, Congress has placed the control of the
Court's business, in effect, within the Court's discretion. Review of Court of Appeals' decision discretionary.—A
During the last three terms the Court disposed of 260, 217, review is not a matter of right but of sound judicial discretion,
224 cases, respectively, on their merits. For the same three and will be granted only when there are special and
terms the Court denied, respectively, 1,260, 1,105,1,189 important reasons therefor. The following, while neither
petitions calling for discretionary review. If the Court is to do controlling nor fully measuring the court's discretion, indicate
its work it would not be feasible to give reasons, however the character of reasons which will be considered:
(a) When the Court of Appeals has decided a question of If Atty. Almacen failed to move the appellate court to review the lower court's
substance, not theretofore determined by the Supreme judgment, he has only himself to blame. His own negligence caused the
Court, nor has decided it in a way probably not in accord forfeiture of the remedy of appeal, which, incidentally, is not a matter of right.
with law or with the applicable decisions of the Supreme To shift away from himself the consequences of his carelessness, he looked
Court; for a "whipping boy." But he made sure that he assumed the posture of a
martyr, and, in offering to surrender his professional certificate, he took the
(b) When the Court of Appeals has so far departed from the liberty of vilifying this Court and inflicting his exacerbating rancor on the
accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, or so far members thereof. It would thus appear that there is no justification for his
sanctioned such departure by the lower court, as to call for scurrilous and scandalous outbursts.
the exercise of the power of supervision.
Nonetheless we gave this unprecedented act of Atty. Almacen the most
Recalling Atty. Almacen's petition for review, we found, upon a circumspect consideration. We know that it is natural for a lawyer to express
thoroughgoing examination of the pleadings. and records, that the Court of his dissatisfaction each time he loses what he sanguinely believes to be a
Appeals had fully and correctly considered the dismissal of his appeal in the meritorious case. That is why lawyers are given 'wide latitude to differ with,
light of the law and applicable decisions of this Court. Far from straying away and voice their disapproval of, not only the courts' rulings but, also the
from the "accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings," it traced the manner in which they are handed down.
procedural lines etched by this Court in a number of decisions. There was,
therefore, no need for this Court to exercise its supervisory power. Moreover, every citizen has the right to comment upon and criticize the
actuations of public officers. This right is not diminished by the fact that the
As a law practitioner who was admitted to the Bar as far back as 1941, Atty. criticism is aimed at a judicial authority,4 or that it is articulated by a
Almacen knew — or ought to have known — that for a motion for lawyer.5 Such right is especially recognized where the criticism concerns a
reconsideration to stay the running of the period of appeal, the movant must concluded litigation,6 because then the court's actuations are thrown open to
not only serve a copy of the motion upon the adverse party (which he did), public consumption.7 "Our decisions and all our official actions," said the
but also notify the adverse party of the time and place of hearing (which Supreme Court of Nebraska,8 "are public property, and the press and the
admittedly he did not). This rule was unequivocally articulated in Manila people have the undoubted right to comment on them, criticize and censure
Surety & Fidelity vs. Batu Construction & Co., supra: them as they see fit. Judicial officers, like other public servants, must answer
for their official actions before the chancery of public opinion."
The written notice referred to evidently is prescribed for
motions in general by Rule 15, Sections 4 and 5 (formerly The likely danger of confusing the fury of human reaction to an attack on
Rule 26), which provides that such notice shall state the one's integrity, competence and honesty, with "imminent danger to the
time, and place of hearing and shall be served upon all the administration of justice," is the reason why courts have been loath to inflict
Parties concerned at least three days in advance. And punishment on those who assail their actuations.9 This danger lurks
according to Section 6 of the same Rule no motion shall be especially in such a case as this where those who Sit as members of an
acted upon by the court without proof of such notice. Indeed entire Court are themselves collectively the aggrieved parties.
it has been held that in such a case the motion is nothing but
a useless piece of paper (Philippine National Bank v. Courts thus treat with forbearance and restraint a lawyer who vigorously
Damasco, I,18638, Feb. 28, 1963; citing Manakil v. Revilla, assails their actuations. 10 For courageous and fearless advocates are the
42 Phil. 81; Roman Catholic Bishop of Lipa v. Municipality of strands that weave durability into the tapestry of justice. Hence, as citizen
Unisan, 41 Phil. 866; and Director of Lands vs. Sanz, 45 and officer of the court, every lawyer is expected not only to exercise the
Phil. 117). The reason is obvious: Unless the movant sets right, but also to consider it his duty to expose the shortcomings and
the time and place of hearing the Court would have no way indiscretions of courts and judges. 11
to determine whether that party agrees to or objects to the
motion, and if he objects, to hear him on his objection, since Courts and judges are not sacrosanct. 12 They should and expect critical
the Rules themselves do not fix any period within which he evaluation of their performance. 13 For like the executive and the legislative
may file his reply or opposition.
branches, the judiciary is rooted in the soil of democratic society, nourished preservation of an able and upright bench. (State Board of
by the periodic appraisal of the citizens whom it is expected to serve. Examiners in Law v. Hart, 116 N.W. 212, 216)

Well-recognized therefore is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the To curtail the right of a lawyer to be critical of the foibles of courts and judges
court and as a citizen, to criticize in properly respectful terms and through is to seal the lips of those in the best position to give advice and who might
legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges. The reason is that consider it their duty to speak disparagingly. "Under such a rule," so far as
the bar is concerned, "the merits of a sitting judge may be rehearsed, but as
An attorney does not surrender, in assuming the important to his demerits there must be profound silence." (State v. Circuit Court, 72
place accorded to him in the administration of justice, his N.W. 196)
right as a citizen to criticize the decisions of the courts in a
fair and respectful manner, and the independence of the bar, But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona fide,
as well as of the judiciary, has always been encouraged by and shall not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm
the courts. (In re Ades, 6 F Supp. 487) . exists between fair criticism, on the One hand, and abuse and slander of
courts and the judges thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair criticism
Criticism of the courts has, indeed, been an important part of the traditional is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is Such a misconduct
work of the bar. In the prosecution of appeals, he points out the errors of that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
lower courts. In written for law journals he dissects with detachment the
doctrinal pronouncements of courts and fearlessly lays bare for -all to see For, membership in the Bar imposes upon a person obligations and duties
that flaws and inconsistence" of the doctrines (Hill v. Lyman, 126 NYS 2d which are not mere flux and ferment. His investiture into the legal profession
286). As aptly stated by Chief Justice Sharswood in Ex Parte Steinman, 40 places upon his shoulders no burden more basic, more exacting and more
Am. Rep. 641: imperative than that of respectful behavior toward the courts. He vows
solemnly to conduct himself "with all good fidelity ... to the courts; 14 and the
No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope Rules of Court constantly remind him "to observe and maintain the respect
in the expansion or publication of opinions as to the capacity, due to courts of justice and judicial officers." 15 The first canon of legal ethics
impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. enjoins him "to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude, not for the
They have the best opportunities for observing and forming a sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the
correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the maintenance of its supreme importance."
courts. ... To say that an attorney can only act or speak on
this subject under liability to be called to account and to be As Mr. Justice Field puts it:
deprived of his profession and livelihood, by the judge or
judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and ... the obligation which attorneys impliedly assume, if they do
expose, is a position too monstrous to be not by express declaration take upon themselves, when they
entertained. ... . are admitted to the Bar, is not merely to be obedient to the
Constitution and laws, but to maintain at all times the respect
Hence, as a citizen and as Officer of the court a lawyer is expected not only due to courts of justice and judicial officers. This obligation is
to exercise the right, but also to consider it his duty to avail of such right. No not discharged by merely observing the rules of courteous
law may abridge this right. Nor is he "professionally answerable for a scrutiny demeanor in open court, but includes abstaining out of court
into the official conduct of the judges, which would not expose him to legal from all insulting language and offensive conduct toward
animadversion as a citizen." (Case of Austin, 28 Am. Dee. 657, 665). judges personally for their judicial acts. (Bradley, v. Fisher,
20 Law. 4d. 647, 652)
Above all others, the members of the bar have the beat
Opportunity to become conversant with the character and The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential
efficiency of our judges. No class is less likely to abuse the to the orderly administration of justice. Hence, in the — assertion of their
privilege, as no other class has as great an interest in the clients' rights, lawyers — even those gifted with superior intellect are
enjoined to rein up their tempers.
The counsel in any case may or may not be an abler or more 2. In In Re Glenn, 130 N.W. 2d 672, an attorney was suspended for putting
learned lawyer than the judge, and it may tax his patience out and circulating a leaflet entitled "JUSTICE??? IN OTUMWA," which
and temper to submit to rulings which he regards as accused a municipal judge of having committed judicial error, of being so
incorrect, but discipline and self-respect are as necessary to prejudiced as to deny his clients a fair trial on appeal and of being subject to
the orderly administration of justice as they are to the the control of a group of city officials. As a prefatory statement he wrote:
effectiveness of an army. The decisions of the judge must be "They say that Justice is BLIND, but it took Municipal Judge Willard to prove
obeyed, because he is the tribunal appointed to decide, and that it is also DEAF and DUMB!" The court did not hesitate to find that the
the bar should at all times be the foremost in rendering leaflet went much further than the accused, as a lawyer, had a right to do.
respectful submission. (In Re Scouten, 40 Atl. 481)
The entire publication evidences a desire on the part Of the
We concede that a lawyer may think highly of his intellectual accused to belittle and besmirch the court and to bring it into
endowment That is his privilege. And he may suffer disrepute with the general public.
frustration at what he feels is others' lack of it. That is his
misfortune. Some such frame of mind, however, should not 3. In In Re Humphrey, 163 Pac. 60, the Supreme Court of California affirmed
be allowed to harden into a belief that he may attack a the two-year suspension of an attorney who published a circular assailing a
court's decision in words calculated to jettison the time- judge who at that time was a candidate for re-election to a judicial office. The
honored aphorism that courts are the temples of right. (Per circular which referred to two decisions of the judge concluded with a
Justice Sanchez in Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer, L- statement that the judge "used his judicial office to enable -said bank to keep
22979. June 26, 1967) that money." Said the court:

In his relations with the courts, a lawyer may not divide his personality so as We are aware that there is a line of authorities which place
to be an attorney at one time and a mere citizen at another. Thus, statements no limit to the criticism members of the bar may make
made by an attorney in private conversations or communications 16 or in the regarding the capacity, impartiality, or integrity of the courts,
course of a political, campaign, 17 if couched in insulting language as to bring even though it extends to the deliberate publication by the
into scorn and disrepute the administration of justice, may subject the attorney capable of correct reasoning of baseless
attorney to disciplinary action. insinuations against the intelligence and integrity of the
highest courts. See State Board, etc. v. Hart. 116 N.W. 212,
Of fundamental pertinence at this juncture is an examination of relevant 17 LRA (N.S.) 585, 15 Ann Cas 197 and note: Ex parte
parallel precedents. Steinman 95 Pac. 220, 40 Am. Rep. 637. In the first case
mentioned it was observed, for instance:
1. Admitting that a "judge as a public official is neither sacrosanct nor
immune to public criticism of his conduct in office," the Supreme Court "It may be (although we do not so decide)
of Florida in State v. Calhoon, 102 So. 2d 604, 608, nevertheless declared that a libelous publication by an attorney,
that "any conduct of a lawyer which brings into scorn and disrepute the directed against a judicial officer, could be
administration of justice demands condemnation and the application of so vile and of such a nature as to justify the
appropriate penalties," adding that: disbarment of its author."

It would be contrary to, every democratic theory to hold that Yet the false charges made by an attorney in that case were
a judge or a court is beyond bona fide comments and of graver character than those made by the respondent here.
criticisms which do not exceed the bounds of decency and But, in our view, the better rule is that which requires of
truth or which are not aimed at. the destruction of public those who are permitted to enjoy the privilege of practicing
confidence in the judicial system as such. However, when law the strictest observance at all times of the principles of
the likely impairment of the administration of justice the truth, honesty and fairness, especially in their criticism of the
direct product of false and scandalous accusations then the courts, to the end that the public confidence in the due
rule is otherwise. administration of justice be upheld, and the dignity and
usefulness of the courts be maintained. In re Collins, 81 Pac. A calumny of that character, if believed, would tend to
220. weaken the authority of the court against whose members it
was made, bring its judgments into contempt, undermine its
4. In People ex rel Chicago Bar Asso. v. Metzen, 123 N.E. 734, an attorney, influence as an unbiased arbiter of the people's right, and
representing a woman who had been granted a divorce, attacked the judge interfere with the administration of justice. ...
who set aside the decree on bill of review. He wrote the judge a threatening
letter and gave the press the story of a proposed libel suit against the judge Because a man is a member of the bar the court will not,
and others. The letter began: under the guise of disciplinary proceedings, deprive him of
any part of that freedom of speech which he possesses as a
Unless the record in In re Petersen v. Petersen is cleared up citizen. The acts and decisions of the courts of this state, in
so that my name is protected from the libel, lies, and perjury cases that have reached final determination, are not exempt
committed in the cases involved, I shall be compelled to from fair and honest comment and criticism. It is only when
resort to such drastic action as the law allows and the case an attorney transcends the limits of legitimate criticism that
warrants. he will be held responsible for an abuse of his liberty of
speech. We well understand that an independent bar, as
well as independent court, is always a vigilant defender of
Further, he said: "However let me assure you I do not intend to allow such
civil rights. In Re Troy, 111 Atl. 723. 725.
dastardly work to go unchallenged," and said that he was engaged in dealing
with men and not irresponsible political manikins or appearances of men.
Ordering the attorney's disbarment, the Supreme Court of Illinois declared: 6. In In Re Rockmore, 111 NYS 879, an attorney was suspended for six
months for submitting to an appellate court an affidavit reflecting upon the
judicial integrity of the court from which the appeal was taken. Such action,
... Judges are not exempt from just criticism, and whenever
the Court said, constitutes unprofessional conduct justifying suspension from
there is proper ground for serious complaint against a judge,
practice, notwithstanding that he fully retracted and withdrew the statements,
it is the right and duty of a lawyer to submit his grievances to
the proper authorities, but the public interest and the and asserted that the affidavit was the result of an impulse caused by what
he considered grave injustice. The Court said:
administration of the law demand that the courts should have
the confidence and respect of the people. Unjust criticism,
insulting language, and offensive conduct toward the judges We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that there is a growing
personally by attorneys, who are officers of the court, which habit in the profession of criticising the motives and integrity
tend to bring the courts and the law into disrepute and to of judicial officers in the discharge of their duties, and
destroy public confidence in their integrity, cannot be thereby reflecting on the administration of justice and
permitted. The letter written to the judge was plainly an creating the impression that judicial action is influenced by
attempt to intimidate and influence him in the discharge of corrupt or improper motives. Every attorney of this court, as
judicial functions, and the bringing of the unauthorized suit, well as every other citizen, has the right and it is his duty, to
together with the write-up in the Sunday papers, was submit charges to the authorities in whom is vested the
intended and calculated to bring the court into disrepute with power to remove judicial officers for any conduct or act of a
the public. judicial officer that tends to show a violation of his duties, or
would justify an inference that he is false to his trust, or has
improperly administered the duties devolved upon him; and
5. In a public speech, a Rhode Island lawyer accused the courts of the state
such charges to the tribunal, if based upon reasonable
of being influenced by corruption and greed, saying that the seats of the
Supreme Court were bartered. It does not appear that the attorney had inferences, will be encouraged, and the person making
criticized any of the opinions or decisions of the Court. The lawyer was them
protected. ... While we recognize the inherent right of an
charged with unprofessional conduct, and was ordered suspended for a
attorney in a case decided against him, or the right of the
period of two years. The Court said:
Public generally, to criticise the decisions of the courts, or
the reasons announced for them, the habit of criticising the
motives of judicial officers in the performance of their official
duties, when the proceeding is not against the officers as to public officials, whether he labors in a judicial capacity
whose acts or motives are criticised, tends to subvert the or otherwise, would be served by denying this right of free
confidence of the community in the courts of justice and in speech to any individual. But such right does not have as its
the administration of justice; and when such charges are corollary that members of the bar who are sworn to act
made by officers of the courts, who are bound by their duty honestly and honorably both with their client and with the
to protect the administration of justice, the attorney making courts where justice is administered, if administered at all,
such charges is guilty of professional misconduct. could ever properly serve their client or the public good by
designedly misstating facts or carelessly asserting the law.
7. In In Re Mitchell, 71 So. 467, a lawyer published this statement: Truth and honesty of purpose by members of the bar in such
discussion is necessary. The health of a municipality is none
the less impaired by a polluted water supply than is the
I accepted the decision in this case, however, with patience,
health of the thought of a community toward the judiciary by
barring possible temporary observations more or less
the filthy wanton, and malignant misuse of members of the
vituperative and finally concluded, that, as my clients were
foreigners, it might have been expecting too much to look for bar of the confidence the public, through its duly established
a decision in their favor against a widow residing here. courts, has reposed in them to deal with the affairs of the
private individual, the protection of whose rights he lends his
strength and money to maintain the judiciary. For such
The Supreme Court of Alabama declared that: conduct on the part of the members of the bar the law itself
demands retribution — not the court.
... the expressions above set out, not only transcend the
bounds of propriety and privileged criticism, but are an 9. In Bar Ass'n of San Francisco v. Philbrook, 170 Pac. 440, the filing of an
unwarranted attack, direct, or by insinuation and innuendo, affidavit by an attorney in a pending action using in respect to the several
upon the motives and integrity of this court, and make out judges the terms criminal corrupt, and wicked conspiracies,," "criminal
a prima facie case of improper conduct upon the part of a confederates," "colossal and confident insolence," "criminal prosecution,"
lawyer who holds a license from this court and who is under "calculated brutality," "a corrupt deadfall," and similar phrases, was
oath to demean himself with all good fidelity to the court as considered conduct unbecoming of a member of the bar, and the name of
well as to his client. the erring lawyer was ordered stricken from the roll of attorneys.

The charges, however, were dismissed after the attorney apologized to the 10. In State Board of Examiners v. Hart, 116 N.W. 215, the erring attorney
Court. claimed that greater latitude should be allowed in case of criticism of cases
finally adjudicated than in those pending. This lawyer wrote a personal letter
8. In State ex rel. Dabney v. Breckenridge, 258 Pac. 747, an attorney to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Minnesota impugning both the
published in a newspaper an article in which he impugned the motives of the intelligence and the integrity of the said Chief Justice and his associates in
court and its members to try a case, charging the court of having arbitrarily the decisions of certain appeals in which he had been attorney for the
and for a sinister purpose undertaken to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. defeated litigants. The letters were published in a newspaper. One of the
The Court suspended the respondent for 30 days, saying that: letters contained this paragraph:

The privileges which the law gives to members of the bar is You assigned it (the property involved) to one who has no
one most subversive of the public good, if the conduct of better right to it than the burglar to his plunder. It seems like
such members does not measure up to the requirements of robbing a widow to reward a fraud, with the court acting as a
the law itself, as well as to the ethics of the profession. ... fence, or umpire, watchful and vigilant that the widow got no
undue
The right of free speech and free discussion as to judicial advantage. ... The point is this: Is a proper motive for the
determination is of prime importance under our system and decisions discoverable, short of assigning to the court
ideals of government. No right thinking man would concede emasculated intelligence, or a constipation of morals and
for a moment that the best interest to private citizens, as well faithlessness to duty? If the state bar association, or a
committee chosen from its rank, or the faculty of the officer of this court. When, however he proceeded and thus
University Law School, aided by the researches of its assailed the Chief Justice personally, he exercised no right
hundreds of bright, active students, or if any member of the which the court can recognize, but, on the contrary, willfully
court, or any other person, can formulate a statement of a violated his obligation to maintain the respect due to courts
correct motive for the decision, which shall not require and judicial officers. "This obligation is not discharged by
fumigation before it is stated, and quarantine after it is made, merely observing the rules of courteous demeanor in open
it will gratify every right-minded citizen of the state to read it. court, but it includes abstaining out of court from all insulting
language and offensive conduct toward the judges
The Supreme Court of Minnesota, in ordering the suspension of the attorney personally for their official acts."Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall.
for six months, delivered its opinion as follows: (U.S.) 355, 20 L. Ed. 646. And there appears to be no
distinction, as regards the principle involved, between the
indignity of an assault by an attorney upon a judge, induced
The question remains whether the accused was guilty of
by his official act, and a personal insult for like cause by
professional misconduct in sending to the Chief Justice the
letter addressed to him. This was done, as we have found, written or spoken words addressed to the judge in his
for the very purpose of insulting him and the other justices of chambers or at his home or elsewhere. Either act constitutes
misconduct wholly different from criticism of judicial acts
this court; and the insult was so directed to the Chief Justice
addressed or spoken to others. The distinction made is, we
personally because of acts done by him and his associates
think entirely logical and well sustained by authority. It was
in their official capacity. Such a communication, so made,
recognized in Ex parte McLeod supra. While the court in that
could never subserve any good purpose. Its only effect in
any case would be to gratify the spite of an angry attorney case, as has been shown, fully sustained the right of a
and humiliate the officers so assailed. It would not and could citizen to criticise rulings of the court in actions which are
ended, it held that one might be summarily punished for
not ever enlighten the public in regard to their judicial
assaulting a judicial officer, in that case a commissioner of
capacity or integrity. Nor was it an exercise by the accused
the court, for his rulings in a cause wholly concluded. "Is it in
of any constitutional right, or of any privilege which any
reputable attorney, uninfluenced by passion, could ever have the power of any person," said the court, "by insulting or
any occasion or desire to assert. No judicial officer, with due assaulting the judge because of official acts, if only the
assailant restrains his passion until the judge leaves the
regard to his position, can resent such an insult otherwise
building, to compel the judge to forfeit either his own self-
than by methods sanctioned by law; and for any words, oral
respect to the regard of the people by tame submission to
or written, however abusive, vile, or indecent, addressed
the indignity, or else set in his own person the evil example
secretly to the judge alone, he can have no redress in any
action triable by a jury. "The sending of a libelous of punishing the insult by taking the law in his own hands? ...
communication or libelous matter to the person defamed No high-minded, manly man would hold judicial office under
such conditions."
does not constitute an actionable publication." 18 Am. &
Eng. Enc. Law (2d Ed.) p. 1017. In these respects the
sending by the accused of this letter to the Chief Justice was That a communication such as this, addressed to the Judge
wholly different from his other acts charged in the personally, constitutes professional delinquency for which a
accusation, and, as we have said, wholly different principles professional punishment may be imposed, has been directly
are applicable thereto. decided. "An attorney who, after being defeated in a case,
wrote a personal letter to the trial justice, complaining of his
conduct and reflecting upon his integrity as a justice, is guilty
The conduct of the accused was in every way discreditable;
of misconduct and will be disciplined by the court." Matter of
but so far as he exercised the rights of a citizen, guaranteed
by the Constitution and sanctioned by considerations of Manheim 133 App. Div. 136, 99 N.Y. Supp. 87 The same is
held in Re Griffin (City Ct.) 1 N.Y. 7 and in Re Wilkes (City
public policy, to which reference has been made, he was
Ct.) 3 N.Y. In the latter case it appeared that the accused
immune, as we hold, from the penalty here sought to be
attorney had addressed a sealed letter to a justice of the City
enforced. To that extent his rights as a citizen were
Court of New York, in which it was stated, in reference to his
paramount to the obligation which he had assumed as an
decision: "It is not law; neither is it common sense. The dishonest in reaching his decisions and unfair in his general conduct of a
result is I have been robbed of 80." And it was decided that, case.
while such conduct was not a contempt under the state, the
matter should be "called to the attention of the Supreme 13. In In Re Doss, 12 N.E. 2d 659, an attorney published newspaper
Court, which has power to discipline the attorney." "If," says articles after the trial of cases, criticising the court in intemperate language.
the court, "counsel learned in the law are permitted by The invariable effect of this sort of propaganda, said the court, is to breed
writings leveled at the heads of judges, to charge them with disrespect for courts and bring the legal profession into disrepute with the
ignorance, with unjust rulings, and with robbery, either as public, for which reason the lawyer was disbarred.
principals or accessories, it will not be long before the
general public may feel that they may redress their fancied 14. In State v. Grimes, 354 Pac. 2d 108, an attorney, dissatisfied with the
grievances in like manner, and thus the lot of a judge will be
loss of a case, prepared over a period of years vicious attacks on jurists. The
anything but a happy one, and the administration of justice
Oklahoma Supreme Court declared that his acts involved such gross moral
will fall into bad repute."
turpitude as to make him unfit as a member of the bar. His disbarment was
ordered, even though he expressed an intention to resign from the bar.
The recent case of Johnson v. State (Ala.) 44 South. 671,
was in this respect much the same as the case at bar. The
The teaching derived from the above disquisition and impressive affluence of
accused, an attorney at law, wrote and mailed a letter to the
judicial pronouncements is indubitable: Post-litigation utterances or
circuit judge, which the latter received by due course of mail,
publications, made by lawyers, critical of the courts and their judicial
at his home, while not holding court, and which referred in actuations, whether amounting to a crime or not, which transcend the
insulting terms to the conduct of the judge in a cause permissible bounds of fair comment and legitimate criticism and thereby tend
wherein the accused had been one of the attorneys. For this
to bring them into disrepute or to subvert public confidence in their integrity
it was held that the attorney was rightly disbarred in having
and in the orderly administration of justice, constitute grave professional
"willfully failed to maintain respect due to him [the judge] as a
misconduct which may be visited with disbarment or other lesser appropriate
judicial officer, and thereby breached his oath as an
disciplinary sanctions by the Supreme Court in the exercise of the
attorney." As recognizing the same principle, and in support prerogatives inherent in it as the duly constituted guardian of the morals and
of its application to the facts of this case, we cite the
ethics of the legal fraternity.
following: Ex parte Bradley, 7 Wall (U.S.) 364, 19 L. Ed.
214; Beene v. State, 22 Ark. 149;Commonwealth v.
Dandridge, 2 Va. Cas. 408; People v. Green, 7 Colo 237, Of course, rarely have we wielded our disciplinary powers in the face of
244, 3 Pac. 65, 374, 49 Am. Rep. 351; Smith's Appeal, 179 unwarranted outbursts of counsel such as those catalogued in the above-
Pa. 14, 36 Atl. 134; Scouten's Appeal, 186 Pa. 270, Atl. 481. cited jurisprudence. Cases of comparable nature have generally been
disposed of under the power of courts to punish for contempt which, although
resting on different bases and calculated to attain a different end,
Our conclusion is that the charges against the accused have
nevertheless illustrates that universal abhorrence of such condemnable
been so far sustained as to make it our duty to impose such
practices.
a penalty as may be sufficient lesson to him and a suitable
warning to others. ...
A perusal of the more representative of these instances may afford
enlightenment.
11. In Cobb v. United States, 172 F. 641, the court affirmed a lawyer's
suspension for 18 months for publishing a letter in a newspaper in which he
accused a judge of being under the sinister influence of a gang that had 1. In Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724, where counsel branded the denial
paralyzed him for two years. of his motion for reconsideration as "absolutely erroneous and constituting an
outrage to the rigths of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of the
popular will expressed at the polls," this Court, although conceding that
12. In In Re Graves, 221 Pac. 411, the court held that an attorney's
unjustifiable attack against the official acts and decisions of a judge
constitutes "moral turpitude." There, the attorney was disbarred for criticising It is right and plausible that an attorney, in defending the
not only the judge, but his decisions in general claiming that the judge was cause and rights of his client, should do so with all the fervor
and energy of which he is capable, but it is not, and never number of Justices from eleven, so as to change the
will be so for him to exercise said right by resorting to members of this Court which decided the Parazo case, who
intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and respect according to his statement, are incompetent and narrow
which the dignity of the courts requires. The reason for this is minded, in order to influence the final decision of said case
that respect for the courts guarantees the stability of their by this Court, and thus embarrass or obstruct the
institution. Without such guaranty, said institution would be administration of justice. But the respondent also attacks the
resting on a very shaky foundation, honesty and integrity of this Court for the apparent purpose
of bringing the Justices of this Court into disrepute and
found counsel guilty of contempt inasmuch as, in its opinion, the statements degrading the administration. of justice ... .
made disclosed
To hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last
... an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the court and years committing deliberately so many blunders and
an intentional contempt of its dignity, because the court is injustices, that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of
thereby charged with no less than having proceeded in utter Que party knowing that the law and justice is on the part of
disregard of the laws, the rights to the parties, and 'of the the adverse party and not on the one in whose favor the
untoward consequences, or with having abused its power decision was rendered, in many cases decided during the
and mocked and flouted the rights of Attorney Vicente J. last years, would tend necessarily to undermine the
Francisco's client ... . confidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the
members of this Court, and consequently to lower ,or
2. In In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595, counsel, a senator and the author of the Press degrade the administration of justice by this Court. The
Supreme Court of the Philippines is, under the Constitution,
Freedom Law, reaching to, the imprisonment for contempt of one Angel
the last bulwark to which the Filipino people may repair to
Parazo, who, invoking said law, refused to divulge the source of a news item
obtain relief for their grievances or protection of their rights
carried in his paper, caused to be published in i local newspaper a statement
when these are trampled upon, and if the people lose their
expressing his regret "that our High Tribunal has not only erroneously
interpreted said law, but it is once more putting in evidence the incompetency confidence in the honesty and integrity of the members of
this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice
or narrow mindedness of the majority of its members," and his belief that "In
therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their own
the wake of so many blunders and injustices deliberately committed during
hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result.
these last years, ... the only remedy to put an end to go much evil, is to
As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts, Atty.
change the members of the Supreme Court," which tribunal he denounced
as "a constant peril to liberty and democracy" and "a far cry from the Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in duty bound to uphold the
impregnable bulwark of justice of those memorable times of Cayetano dignity and authority of this Court, to which he owes fidelity
according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not
Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who were
to promote distrust in the administration of justice. Respect
the honor and glory of the Philippine Judiciary." He there also announced
to the courts guarantees the stability of other institutions,
that one of the first measures he would introduce in then forthcoming session
which without such guaranty would be resting on a very
of Congress would have for its object the complete reorganization of the
Supreme Court. Finding him in contempt, despite his avowals of good faith shaky foundation.
and his invocation of the guarantee of free speech, this Court declared:
Significantly, too, the Court therein hastened to emphasize that
But in the above-quoted written statement which he caused
to be published in the press, the respondent does not merely ... an attorney as an officer of the court is under special
criticize or comment on the decision of the Parazo case, obligation to be respectful in his conduct and communication
which was then and still is pending consideration by this to the courts; he may be removed from office or stricken
Court upon petition of Angel Parazo. He not only intends to from the roll of attorneys as being guilty of flagrant
intimidate the members of this Court with the presentation of misconduct (17 L.R.A. [N.S.], 586, 594.)
a bill in the next Congress, of which he is one of the
members, reorganizing the Supreme Court and reducing the
3. In Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer: In re Proceedings against Alfonso The rule that bars contempt after a judicial proceeding has terminated, has
Ponce Enrile, et al., supra, where counsel charged this Court with having lost much of its vitality. For sometime, this was the prevailing view in this
"repeatedly fallen" into ,the pitfall of blindly adhering to its previous jurisdiction. The first stir for a modification thereof, however, came when,
"erroneous" pronouncements, "in disregard of the law on jurisdiction" of the inPeople vs. Alarcon, 20 the then Chief Justice Manuel V. Moran dissented
Court of Industrial Relations, our condemnation of counsel's misconduct was with the holding of the majority, speaking thru Justice Jose P. Laurel, which
unequivocal. Articulating the sentiments of the Court, Mr. Justice Sanchez upheld the rule above-adverted to. A complete disengagement from the
stressed: settled rule was later to be made in In re Brillantes, 21 a contempt proceeding,
where the editor of the Manila Guardian was adjudged in contempt for
As we look back at the language (heretofore quoted) publishing an editorial which asserted that the 1944 Bar Examinations were
employed in the motion for reconsideration, implications conducted in a farcical manner after the question of the validity of the said
there are which inescapably arrest attention. It speaks of one examinations had been resolved and the case closed. Virtually, this was an
pitfall into which this Court has repeatedly fallen whenever adoption of the view expressed by Chief Justice Moran in his dissent
the jurisdiction of the Court of Industrial Relations comes into in Alarcon to the effect that them may still be contempt by publication even
question. That pitfall is the tendency of this Court to rely on after a case has been terminated. Said Chief Justice Moran in Alarcon:
its own pronouncements in disregard of the law on
jurisdiction. It makes a sweeping charge that the decisions of A publication which tends to impede, obstruct, embarrass or
this Court, blindly adhere to earlier rulings without as much influence the courts in administering justice in a pending suit
as making any reference to and analysis of the pertinent or proceeding, constitutes criminal contempt which is
statute governing the jurisdiction of the industrial court. The 'summarily punishable by courts. A publication which tends
plain import of all these is that this Court is so patently inept to degrade the courts and to destroy public confidence in
that in determining the jurisdiction of the industrial court, it them or that which tends to bring them in any way into
has committed error and continuously repeated that error to disrepute, constitutes likewise criminal contempt, and is
the point of perpetuation. It pictures this Court as one which equally punishable by courts. What is sought, in the first kind
refuses to hew to the line drawn by the law on jurisdictional of contempt, to be shielded against the influence of
boundaries. Implicit in the quoted statements is that the newspaper comments, is the all-important duty of the courts
pronouncements of this Court on the jurisdiction of the to administer justice in the decision of a pending case. In the
industrial court are not entitled to respect. Those statements second kind of contempt, the punitive hand of justice is
detract much from the dignity of and respect due this Court. extended to vindicate the courts from any act or conduct
They bring into question the capability of the members — calculated to bring them into disfavor or to destroy public
and some former members of this Court to render justice. confidence in them. In the first there is no contempt where
The second paragraph quoted yields a tone of sarcasm there is no action pending, as there is no decision which
which counsel labelled as "so called" the "rule against might in any way be influenced by the newspaper
splitting of jurisdiction." publication. In the second, the contempt exists, with or
without a pending case, as what is sought to be protected is
Similar thoughts and sentiments have been expressed in other the court itself and its dignity. Courts would lose their utility if
cases 18 which, in the interest of brevity, need not now be reviewed in detail. public confidence in them is destroyed.

Of course, a common denominator underlies the aforecited cases — all of Accordingly, no comfort is afforded Atty. Almacen by the circumstance that
them involved contumacious statements made in pleadings filed pending his statements and actuations now under consideration were made only after
litigation. So that, in line with the doctrinal rule that the protective mantle of the judgment in his client's appeal had attained finality. He could as much be
contempt may ordinarily be invoked only against scurrilous remarks or liable for contempt therefor as if it had been perpetrated during the pendency
malicious innuendoes while a court mulls over a pending case and not after of the said appeal.
the conclusion thereof, 19 Atty. Almacen would now seek to sidestep the
thrust of a contempt charge by his studied emphasis that the remarks for More than this, however, consideration of whether or not he could be held
which he is now called upon to account were made only after this Court had liable for contempt for such post litigation utterances and actuations, is here
written finis to his appeal. This is of no moment. immaterial. By the tenor of our Resolution of November 17, 1967, we have
confronted the situation here presented solely in so far as it concerns Atty. Indeed, in this jurisdiction, that power to remove or suspend has risen above
Almacen's professional identity, his sworn duty as a lawyer and his fitness as being a mere inherent or incidental power. It has been elevated to an
an officer of this Court, in the exercise of the disciplinary power the morals express mandate by the Rules of Court. 25
inherent in our authority and duty to safeguard and ethics of the legal
profession and to preserve its ranks from the intrusions of unprincipled and Our authority and duty in the premises being unmistakable, we now proceed
unworthy disciples of the noblest of callings. In this inquiry, the pendency or to make an assessment of whether or not the utterances and actuations of
non-pendency of a case in court is altogether of no consequence. The sole Atty. Almacen here in question are properly the object of disciplinary
objective of this proceeding is to preserve the purity of the legal profession, sanctions.
by removing or suspending a member whose misconduct has proved himself
unfit to continue to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging
The proffered surrender of his lawyer's certificate is, of course, purely
to the office of an attorney.
potestative on Atty. Almacen's part. Unorthodox though it may seem, no
statute, no law stands in its way. Beyond making the mere offer, however, he
Undoubtedly, this is well within our authority to do. By constitutional went farther. In haughty and coarse language, he actually availed of the said
mandate, 22 our is the solemn duty, amongst others, to determine the rules move as a vehicle for his vicious tirade against this Court. The integrated
for admission to the practice of law. Inherent in this prerogative is the entirety of his petition bristles with vile insults all calculated to drive home his
corresponding authority to discipline and exclude from the practice of law contempt for and disrespect to the Court and its members. Picturing his client
those who have proved themselves unworthy of continued membership in as "a sacrificial victim at the altar of hypocrisy," he categorically denounces
the Bar. Thus — the justice administered by this Court to be not only blind "but also deaf and
dumb." With unmitigated acerbity, he virtually makes this Court and its
The power to discipline attorneys, who are officers of the members with verbal talons, imputing to the Court the perpetration of "silent
court, is an inherent and incidental power in courts of record, injustices" and "short-cut justice" while at the same time branding its
and one which is essential to an orderly discharge of judicial members as "calloused to pleas of justice." And, true to his announced threat
functions. To deny its existence is equivalent to a declaration to argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum," he caused the
that the conduct of attorneys towards courts and clients is publication in the papers of an account of his actuations, in a calculated effort
not subject to restraint. Such a view is without support in any ;to startle the public, stir up public indignation and disrespect toward the
respectable authority, and cannot be tolerated. Any court Court. Called upon to make an explanation, he expressed no regret, offered
having the right to admit attorneys to practice and in this no apology. Instead, with characteristic arrogance, he rehashed and
state that power is vested in this court-has the inherent right, reiterated his vituperative attacks and, alluding to the Scriptures, virtually
in the exercise of a sound judicial discretion to exclude them tarred and feathered the Court and its members as inveterate hypocrites
from practice. 23 incapable of administering justice and unworthy to impose disciplinary
sanctions upon him.
This, because the admission of a lawyer to the practice of law is a
representation to all that he is worthy of their confidence and respect. So The virulence so blatantly evident in Atty. Almacen's petition, answer and
much so that — oral argumentation speaks for itself. The vicious language used and the
scurrilous innuendoes they carried far transcend the permissible bounds of
... whenever it is made to appear to the court that an legitimate criticism. They could never serve any purpose but to gratify the
attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of spite of an irate attorney, attract public attention to himself and, more
the public and of the courts, it becomes, not only the right, important of all, bring ;this Court and its members into disrepute and destroy
but the duty, of the court which made him one of its officers, public confidence in them to the detriment of the orderly administration of
and gave him the privilege of ministering within its bar, to justice. Odium of this character and texture presents no redeeming feature,
withdraw the privilege. Therefore it is almost universally held and completely negates any pretense of passionate commitment to the truth.
that both the admission and disbarment of attorneys are It is not a whit less than a classic example of gross misconduct, gross
judicial acts, and that one is admitted to the bar and violation of the lawyer's oath and gross transgression of the Canons of Legal
exercises his functions as an attorney, not as a matter of Ethics. As such, it cannot be allowed to go unrebuked. The way for the
right, but as a privilege conditioned on his own behavior and exertion of our disciplinary powers is thus laid clear, and the need therefor is
the exercise of a just and sound judicial discretion. 24 unavoidable.
We must once more stress our explicit disclaimer of immunity from criticism. the Bar of men unfit to discharge the solemn responsibilities of membership
Like any other Government entity in a viable democracy, the Court is not, in the legal fraternity.
and should not be, above criticism. But a critique of the Court must be
intelligent and discriminating, fitting to its high function as the court of last Finally, the power to exclude persons from the practice of law is but a
resort. And more than this, valid and healthy criticism is by no means necessary incident of the power to admit persons to said practice. By
synonymous to obloquy, and requires detachment and disinterestedness, constitutional precept, this power is vested exclusively in this Court. This duty
real qualities approached only through constant striving to attain them. Any it cannot abdicate just as much as it cannot unilaterally renounce jurisdiction
criticism of the Court must, possess the quality of judiciousness and must be legally invested upon it. 31 So that even if it be conceded that the members
informed -by perspective and infused by philosophy. 26 collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, that fact alone does not and
cannot disqualify them from the exercise of that power because public policy
It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the exercise of our authority demands that they., acting as a Court, exercise the power in all cases which
in ;the premises, that, as Atty. Almacen would have appear, the members of call for disciplinary action. The present is such a case. In the end, the
the Court are the "complainants, prosecutors and judges" all rolled up into imagined anomaly of the merger in one entity of the personalities of
one in this instance. This is an utter misapprehension, if not a total distortion, complainant, prosecutor and judge is absolutely inexistent.
not only of the nature of the proceeding at hand but also of our role therein.
Last to engage our attention is the nature and extent of the sanctions that
Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the may be visited upon Atty. Almacen for his transgressions. As marked out by
present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this the Rules of Court, these may range from mere suspension to total removal
proceeding is not — and does not involve — a trial of an action or a suit, but or disbarment. 32 The discretion to assess under the circumstances the
is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers. 27 Not imposable sanction is, of course, primarily addressed to the sound discretion
being intended to. inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution. of the Court which, being neither arbitrary and despotic nor motivated by
Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein It may be personal animosity or prejudice, should ever be controlled by the imperative
initiated by the Court motu proprio. 28 Public interest is its primary objective, need that the purity and independence of the Bar be scrupulously guarded
and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a and the dignity of and respect due to the Court be zealously maintained.
fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its
disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to That the misconduct committed by Atty. Almacen is of considerable gravity
account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of cannot be overemphasized. However, heeding the stern injunction that
preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest disbarment should never be decreed where a lesser sanction would
administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their accomplish the end desired, and believing that it may not perhaps be futile to
misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with hope that in the sober light of some future day, Atty. Almacen will realize that
the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. 29 In abrasive language never fails to do disservice to an advocate and that in
such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a every effervescence of candor there is ample room for the added glow of
prosecutor. respect, it is our view that suspension will suffice under the circumstances.
His demonstrated persistence in his misconduct by neither manifesting
Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a certain degree, aggrieved repentance nor offering apology therefor leave us no way of determining how
parties. Any tirade against the Court as a body is necessarily and inextricably long that suspension should last and, accordingly, we are impelled to decree
as much so against the individual members thereof. But in the exercise of its that the same should be indefinite. This, we are empowered to do not alone
disciplinary powers, the Court acts as an entity separate and distinct from the because jurisprudence grants us discretion on the matter 33 but also
individual personalities of its members. Consistently with the intrinsic nature because, even without the comforting support of precedent, it is obvious that
of a collegiate court, the individual members act not as such individuals but. if we have authority to completely exclude a person from the practice of law,
only as a duly constituted court. Their distinct individualities are lost in the there is no reason why indefinite suspension, which is lesser in degree and
majesty of their office.30 So that, in a very real sense, if there be any effect, can be regarded as falling outside of the compass of that authority.
complainant in the case at bar, it can only be the Court itself, not the The merit of this choice is best shown by the fact that it will then be left to
individual members thereof — as well as the people themselves whose Atty. Almacen to determine for himself how long or how short that
rights, fortunes and properties, nay, even lives, would be placed at grave suspension shall last. For, at any time after the suspension becomes
hazard should the administration of justice be threatened by the retention in
effective he may prove to this Court that he is once again fit to resume the Alarcon; In re Contempt Proceedings, Mangahas, 69 Phil.
practice of law. 265 (1939). SeePennekamp v. State of Florida, 328 U.S.
331, 90 L. ed. 1295; In re Bozorth, 118 A. 2d 432; In re
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS THE SENSE of the Court that Atty. Vicente Raul Jameson, 340 Pac. 2d 432 (1959) ; In re Pryor, 26 Am. Rep.
Almacen be, as he is hereby, suspended from the practice of law until further 474; Hill vs. Lyman, 126 NYS 2d 286;Caig v. Hecht, 68 L.
orders, the suspension to take effect immediately. ed. 293 (Concurring opinion of Justice Taft).

Let copies of this resolution. be furnished the Secretary of Justice, the 7 Strebel v. Figueras, 96 Phil. 321 (1954).
Solicitor General and the Court of Appeals for their information and guidance.
8 State v. Bee Pub. Co., 83 N.W. 204, Sullivan, J. See
Concepcion,. C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, also State ex rel Atty. Gen. v. Circuit Ct., 72 N. W. 193.
Teehankee, Barredo and Villamor JJ., concur.
9 In re Jameson, 340 Pac. 2d 432 (1959).
Fernando, J., took no part.
10 U.S. vs. Bustos, 37 Phil. 731 (1918) ; In re Gomez, 43
Phil. 376; Cabansag v. Fernandez, L-18974, Oct. 18,
1957; Austria vs. Masaquel, L-22536, Aug. 31, 1967; Re
Troy (1920), 111 Atl. 723; State ex rel. Atty. Gen. v. Circuit
Footnotes
Ct. (1897), 65 Am. St. Rep. 90; Goons v. State, 134 N.E.
194; State vs. Sweetland, 54 N.W. 415; Hill vs. Lyman, 126
1 Docketed as Civil Case 8909 on September 17, 1965 in NYS 2d 286; Case of Austin, 28 Am. Dec. 657.
the Court of First Instance of Rizal.
11 State Board of Examiners v. Hart, 116 N.W. 212, 17 LRA
2 See e.g. "Mounting Discontent against the Supreme (NS) 585; Re Pryor, 26 Am. Rep. 747; Ex Parte Steinman,
Court's Minute Resolution," 32 Lawyers J. p. 325; "Lack of 40 Am. Rep. 637; Case of Austin, 28 Am. Dec. 657; Brannon
Merit Resolutions are Obnoxious," 31 Lawyers J. p. 329. v. State, 29 So. 2d 918;Medgar Evers v. State, 131 So. 2d
653; Re Ades, 6 F 2d 467.
3 In the years 1966, 1967 and 1968, this Court rejected by
minute resolutions 803, 682 and 848 petitions, respectively, 12 "A judge as a public official," said Justice Thornal in State
and resolved by extended decisions or resolutions 584, 611 v. Calhoon, 102 So. 2d 604, "is neither sacrosanct nor
and 760 cases, respectively. For the period covering the first immune to public criticism of his conduct in office."
six months of the year 1969, this Court rejected by minute
resolutions 445 petitions, and resolved by extended decision
13 In re Bozorth, 118 Atl. 432: "The harsh and sometimes
or resolutions 279 cases.
unfounded criticism of the members of any of the three
branches of our Government may be unfortunate lot of public
4 U.S. vs. Bustos, 37 Phil. 731 (1918); In re Gomez, 43 Phil. officials ..., but it has always been deemed a basic principle
376; Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil. 736 (Malcolm, J., that such comment may be made by the public ... . Nor
dissenting); Austria vs. Masaquel, G.R. L-22536, Aug. 31, should the judicial branch ... enjoy any more enviable
1967; Cabansag vs. Fernandez, et al., G.R. L-8974, Oct. 18, condition than the other two branches."
1957.
In Bridges v. California, 86 L. ed. 192, Mr. Justice Black,
5 In re Gomez, supra. speaking for the majority, said: "... an enforced silence,
however, limited, solely in the name of preserving the dignity
6 In re Gomez, supra; In re Lozano and Quevedo, 54 Phil. of the bench, would probably engender resentment,
801 (1930) ; In re Abistado 57 Phil. 668 (1932); People vs. suspicion, and contempt much more than it would enhance
respect." Mr. Justice Frankfurter, who wrote the minority 18 Medina vs. Rivera, 66 Phil. 151; In the matter of the
opinion, said: "Judges as persons, or courts as institutions, Intestate Estate of Rosario Olba, Contempt proceedings
are entitled to no greater immunity from criticism than other against Antonio Franco, 67 Phil. 312, 315; People
persons or institutions. Just because the holders of judicial vs. Carillo, 77 Phil. 579; People vs. Venturanza, et al., 85
office are identified with the interest of justice they may Phil. 211, 214; De Joya, et al. vs. CFI of Rizal, 99 Phil. 907,
forget their common human frailties and fallibilities. There 914; Sison vs. Sandejas, L-9270, April 29, 1959; Paragas vs.
have sometimes been martinets upon the bench as there Cruz, L-24438, July 30, 1965; Cornejo vs. Tan, 85 Phil. 772,
have sometimes been wielders of authority who have used 775.
the paraphernalia of power in support of what they called
their dignity. Therefore judges must be kept mindful of their 19 In re Gomez, 43 Phil. 376; In re Lozano, 54 Phil. 801; In
limitations and of their ultimate public responsibility by a re Abistado, 57 Phil. 668; People vs. Alarcon, 69 Phil.
vigorous stream of criticism expressed with candor however 1965; Cornejo vs. Tan, 85 Phil. 772, 775. State vs. Dist.
blunt "A man cannot be summarily laid by the heels because Court, 151 Pac. 2d 1002; In re Shannon, 27 Pac. 352; State
his words may make public feeling more unfavorable in case ex rel. Grice vs. Dist. Court, 97 Pac. 1032; Weston vs.
the judge should be asked to act at some later date, any Commonwealth, 77 S.E. 2d 405; State vs. Kaiser, 13 P.
more than he can for exciting public feeling against a judge 964; State vs. Bee Pub. Co. 83 N.W. 204;Patterson vs.
for what he already has done." ... Courts and judges mast Colorado. 51 L. ed. 879; Re Hart, 116 N.W. 212.
take their share of the gains and pains of discussion which is
unfettered except by laws of libel, by self- restraint, and by
20 69 Phil. 265.
good taste. Winds of doctrine should freely blow for the
promotion of good and the correction of evil. Nor should
restrictions be permitted that cramp the feeling of freedom in 21 42 O.G. 59.
the use of tongue or pen regardless of the temper of the
truth of what may be uttered." 22 Article VIII, Section 12, Constitution.

14 Sec. 3, Rule 138. 23 Re Simpson, 83 N.W. 541.

15 Sec. 20(b), Rule 138. 24 Re Thatcher, 89 N.E. 39, 84.

16 See e.g. Re Chopac, 66 F. Supp., where an attorney was 25 Section 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court.
suspended for three years for writing a judge a letter in
which he said that the judge in signing an order took 26 See Norman Dorsen, Frontiers of Civil Liberties, pp. 60-
"advantage of your office to rule with passion and 61; Griswold, "Of Time and Attitudes," 74Harvard Law
vehemence." Also People v. Green, 3 P. 65, where an Review, 81, 94; Paul A. Freund, The Supreme Court of the
attorney was disbarred for stopping a judge upon the street United States, (1961) pp. 176-177; see also Freund, On Law
and addressed abusive, insulting language to him. See and Justice (1968) ch. 4.
alsoJohnson v. State, 44 So. 671; In re McCowan, 170 P.
1101; State v. Calhoon, 102, 2d 604; Re Huppe, 11 Pac. 2d 27 In re Montagne and Dominguez, 3 Phil. 577; De
793; State v. Rhodes, 131 NW 2d 118; Re Rogers, 212 Pac. Durant, 10 Ann. Cas. 1913, 1220.
1034; In re Griffin, 1 NYS 7; In re Wilkes, 3 NYS 753; Re
Manheim, 99 NYS 87; Re Greenfield, 262 NYS 2d 349; In re
28 State vs. Peck, 91 Atl. 274; 286; Fairfield County Bar vs.
Klein, 262 NYS 2d 416; In re Smith, 36 A 130.
Taylor, 22 Atl. 441.
17 In re Humphrey, 163 P. 60; In re Thatcher, 89 N.E. 39; In
Snyder's Case, 76 ALR 666; Re Troy, 111 A. 723; State v.
Sprigs, 155 P. 2d 285.
29 Ex Parte Tyler, 40 Pac. 33, 34; Treadwell's case, 7 Pac.
724; Deles vs. Aragona, March 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 634,
644, and the cases therein cited.

30 Sarcos vs. Castillo, et al., L-29755, January 21, 1969.

31 Cf. Radiowealth, Inc. vs. Agregado, 47 O.G., No. 12


(Supp) pp. 87, 89, citing Cooley, Constitutional Limitations,
Vol. 2, P. 870; Perfecto vs. Meer, 85 Phil. 552, 553; Ex parte
Alabama State Bar Ass'n., 8 So. 768.

32 Section 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court.

33 Melville vs. Wettengel, 57 Pa. 2d 699; People vs.


Winogard, 287 Pac. 864; People vs. Kelly, 285 Pac. 767;
People vs. Harris, 112 N.E. 978; People vs. Anderson, 112
N.E. 273; In re Gullickson, 181 Atl. 716; Haitmanek vs.
Turano, 158 A. 878; Grimsell vs. Wilcox, 98 A. 799; States
vs. Kern, 233 N.W. 629; In re Borchardt, 192 N.E. 383; State
vs. Trapley, 259 Pac. 783; State vs. Jennings, 159 S.E. 627;
In re Jacobson, 126 S.E. 2d 346; Mulvey vs. O'Niell, 44 Atl.
2d 880; State ex rel Oklahoma Bar Ass'n vs. Hatcher, 209
Pac. 2d 873; Cleveland Bar Ass'n vs. Wilkerson, 156 N.E. 2d
136 N.E. 2d 136; In re Eddy, 292 N.Y.S. 619.
Sometime in December, 1968, a conference was held in the house of Atty.
Eduardo Jovellanos to settle the land dispute between Serapia Raymundo
Republic of the Philippines (Serapia in short) another heir of Pedro Raymundo, and the Valencia
SUPREME COURT spouses since both were relatives and distant kin of Atty. Jovellanos. Serapia
Manila was willing to relinquish ownership if the Valencias could show documents
evidencing ownership. Paulino exhibited a deed of sale written in the Ilocano
dialect. However, Serapia claimed that the deed covered a different property.
EN BANC
Paulino and Serapia were not able to settle their differences. (Report of
Investigating Judge Catalino Castaneda, Jr., pp. 21-22).

On December 15, 1969 Serapia, assisted by Atty. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting,


filed a complaint against Paulino for the recovery of possession with
A.M. Nos. 1302, 1391 and 1543 April 26, 1991 damages. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. V-2170, entitled
"Serapia Raymundo, Plaintiff, versus Paulino Valencia, Defendant." (Report,
PAULINO VALENCIA, complainant, p. 11).
vs.
ATTY. ARSENIO FER CABANTING, respondent. Summoned to plead in Civil Case No. V-2170, the Valencias engaged the
services of Atty. Dionisio Antiniw. Atty. Antiniw advised them to present a
CONSTANCIA L. VALENCIA, complainant, notarized deed of sale in lieu of the private document written in Ilocano. For
vs. this purpose, Paulino gave Atty. Antiniw an amount of P200.00 to pay the
ATTY. DIONISIO C. ANTINIW, ATTY. EDUARDO U. JOVELLANOS and person who would falsify the signature of the alleged vendor (Complaint, p.
ATTY. ARSENIO FER. CABANTING,respondents. 2; Rollo, p. 7). A "Compraventa Definitiva" (Exh. B) was executed purporting
to be a sale of the questioned lot.
LYDIA BERNAL, complainant,
vs. On January 22, 1973, the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Branch V,
ATTY. DIONISIO C. ANTINIW, respondent. rendered a decision in favor of plaintiff, Serapia Raymundo. The lower court
expressed the belief that the said document is not authentic. (Report, p. 14)

Paulino, thereafter, filed a Petition for Certiorari, under Rule 65, with
Preliminary Injunction before the Court of Appeals alleging that the trial court
PER CURIAM: failed to provide a workable solution concerning his house. While the petition
was pending, the trial court, on March 9, 1973, issued an order of execution
These consolidated administrative cases seek to disbar respondents Dionisio stating that "the decision in this case has already become final and
Antiniw, Arsenio Fer. Cabanting and Eduardo Jovellanos (the last named, executory" (Exhibits 3 and 3-A). On March 14, 1973, a writ of execution was
now an MCTC Judge) for grave malpractice and misconduct in the exercise issued.
of their legal profession committed in the following manner:
On March 20, 1973, Serapia sold 40 square meters of the litigated lot to Atty.
1. Administrative Cases No. 1302 and 1391. Jovellanos and the remaining portion she sold to her counsel, Atty. Arsenio
Fer. Cabanting, on April 25, 1973. (Annex "A" of Administrative Case No.
1302).
In 1933, complainant Paulino Valencia (Paulino in short) and his wife
Romana allegedly bought a parcel of land, where they built their residential
house, from a certain Serapia Raymundo, an heir of Pedro Raymundo the On March 4, 1974, Paulino filed a disbarment proceeding (docketed as
original owner. However, they failed to register the sale or secure a transfer Administrative Case No. 1302) against Atty. Cabanting on the ground that
certificate of title in their names. said counsel allegedly violated Article 1491 of the New Civil Code as well as
Article II of the Canons of Professional Ethics, prohibiting the purchase of On consultation, Atty., Antiniw advised them to execute a deed of sale. Atty.
property under litigation by a counsel. Antiniw allegedly prepared and notarized the deed of sale in the name of her
grandfather (deceased at the time of signing) with her grandmother's
On March 21, 1974 the appellate court dismissed the petition of Paulino. approval.

On October 14, 1974, Constancia Valencia, daughter of Paulino, filed a Felicidad Bernal-Duzon, her aunt who had a claim over the property filed a
disbarment proceeding (docketed as Administrative Case No. 1391) against complaint against her (Lydia Bernal) and her counsel, Atty. Antiniw for
Atty. Dionisio Antiniw for his participation in the forgery of "Compraventa falsification of a public document. (Complaint, pp. 1-2) The fiscal exonerated
Definitiva" and its subsequent introduction as evidence for his client; and the counsel for lack of evidence, while a case was filed in court against Lydia
also, against Attys. Eduardo Jovellanos and Arsenio Cabanting for Bernal.
purchasing a litigated property allegedly in violation of Article 1491 of the
New Civil Code; and against the three lawyers, for allegedly rigging Civil On October 3, 1975, Lydia Bernal filed a disbarment proceeding (docketed
Case No. V-2170 against her parents. On August 17, 1975, Constancia as Administrative Case No.1543) against Atty. Antiniw for illegal acts and bad
Valencia filed additional charges against Atty. Antiniw and Atty. Jovellanos as advice.
follows:
Pursuant to the resolution of the First Division of this Court dated December
1. AGAINST ATTY. DIONISIO ANTINIW: 9, 1974, the resolution of the Second Division dated March 3, 1975 and the
two resolutions of the Second Division both dated December 3, 1975,
In the year 1973 Atty. Dionisio Antiniw fraudulently and in Administrative Cases Nos. 1302, 1391 and 1543 were referred to the Office
confabulation with one Lydia Bernal had a deed of sale, fabricated, of the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation.
executed and ratified before him as Notary Public by one Santiago
Bernal in favor of Lydia Bernal when as a matter of fact said Upon formal request of Constancia L. Valencia and Lydia Bernal dated
Santiago Bernal had died already about eight years before in the March 3, 1976, all of these cases were ordered consolidated by Solicitor
year 1965. General Estelito P. Mendoza per his handwritten directive of March 9, 1976.

2. AGAINST ATTY. EDUARDO JOVELLANOS: On April 12, 1988, We referred the investigation of these cases to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines.1âwphi1 When Atty. Jovellanos was
In the year 1954 Atty. Eduardo Jovellanos, fraudulently and in bad appointed as Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge of Alcala-Bautista,
faith, in confabulation with Rosa de los Santos as vendee had, as Pangasinan, We referred the investigation of these cases to Acting Presiding
Notary Public, executed and ratified before him, two (2) deeds of Judge Cesar Mindaro, Regional Trial Court, Branch 50, Villasis, Pangasinan,
sale in favor of said Rosa de los Santos when as a matter of fact the for further investigation.
said deeds were not in fact executed by the supposed vendor Rufino
Rincoraya and so Rufino Rincoraya had filed a Civil Case in Court to In view of the seriousness of the charge against the respondents and the
annul and declare void the said sales (p. 7, Report) alleged threats against the person of complainant Constancia L. Valencia,
We directed the transfer of investigation to the Regional Trial Court of Manila.
2. Administrative Case No. 1543.
The three administrative cases were raffled to Branch XVII of the Regional
A deed of donation propter nuptias involving the transfer of a piece of land by Trial Court of Manila, under the sala of Judge Catalino Castaneda, Jr.
the grandparents of Lydia Bernal (complainant,) in favor of her parents, was
lost during the last world war. For this reason, her grandmother (the living After investigation, Judge Catalino Castañeda, Jr., recommended the
donor) executed a deed of confirmation of the donation propter nuptias with dismissal of cases against Atty. Jovellanos and Atty. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting;
renunciation of her rights over the property. (Complaint, p. 1). dismissal of Administrative Case No. 1543 and the additional charges in
Notwithstanding the deed, her grandmother still offered to sell the same Administrative Case No. 1391 against Antiniw and Judge Jovellanos;
property in favor of the complainant, ostensibly to strengthen the deed of however, he recommended the suspension of Atty. Antiniw from the practice
donation (to prevent others from claim-ing the property).
of law for six months finding him guilty of malpractice in falsifying the that it becomes subject to the judicial action of the judge. (Gan Tingco vs.
"Compraventa Definitiva." Pabinguit, 35 Phil. 81). Logic indicates, in certiorari proceedings, that the
appellate court may either grant or dismiss the petition. Hence, it is not safe
The simplified issues of these consolidated cases are: to conclude, for purposes under Art. 1491 that the litigation has terminated
when the judgment of the trial court become final while a certiorari connected
therewith is still in progress. Thus, purchase of the property by Atty.
I. Whether or not Atty. Cabanting purchased the subject property in
Cabanting in this case constitutes malpractice in violation of Art. 1491 and
violation of Art. 1491 of the New Civil Code.
the Canons of Professional Ethics. Clearly, this malpractice is a ground for
suspension.
II. Whether or not Attys. Antiniw and Jovellanos are guilty of
malpractice in falsifying notarial documents.
The sale in favor of Atty. Jovellanos does not constitute malpractice. There
was no attorney-client relationship between Serapia and Atty. Jovellanos,
III. Whether or not the three lawyers connived in rigging Civil Case considering that the latter did not take part as counsel in Civil Case No. V-
No. V-2170. 2170. The transaction is not covered by Art. 1491 nor by the Canons
adverted to.
I
II
Under Article 1491 of the New Civil Code:
It is asserted by Paulino that Atty. Antiniw asked for and received the sum of
The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even at a public P200.00 in consideration of his executing the document "Compraventa
of judicial auction, either in person or through the mediation of Definitiva" which would show that Paulino bought the property. This charge,
another: Atty. Antiniw simply denied. It is settled jurisprudence that affirmative
testimony is given greater weight than negative testimony (Bayasen vs. CA,
xxx xxx xxx L-25785, Feb. 26, 1981; Vda. de Ramos vs. CA, et al., L40804, Jan. 31,
1978). When an individual's integrity is challenged by evidence, it is not
(5) . . . this prohibition includes the act of acquiring by assignment enough that he deny the charges against him; he must meet the issue and
and shall apply to lawyers, with respect to the property and rights overcome the evidence for the relator and show proofs that he still maintains
which may be the object of any litigation in which they make take the highest degree of morality and integrity which at all time is expected of
part by virtue of their profession. him. (De los Reyes vs. Aznar, Adm. Case No. 1334, Nov. 28, 1989).

Public policy prohibits the transactions in view of the fiduciary relationship Although Paulino was a common farmer who finished only Grade IV, his
involved. It is intended to curtail any undue influence of the lawyer upon his testimony, even if not corroborated by another witness, deserves credence
client. Greed may get the better of the sentiments of loyalty and and can be relied upon. His declaration dwelt on a subject which was so
disinterestedness. Any violation of this prohibition would constitute delicate and confidential that it would be difficult to believe the he fabricated
malpractice (In re: Attorney Melchor Ruste, 40 O.G. p. 78) and is a ground his evidence.
for suspension. (Beltran vs. Fernandez, 70 Phil. 248).
There is a clear preponderant evidence that Atty. Antiniw committed
Art. 1491, prohibiting the sale to the counsel concerned, applies only while falsification of a deed of sale, and its subsequent introduction in court
the litigation is pending. (Director of Lands vs. Adaba, 88 SCRA 513; prejudices his prime duty in the administration of justice as an officer of the
Hernandez vs. Villanueva, 40 Phil. 775). court.

In the case at bar, while it is true that Atty. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting purchased A lawyer owes entire devotion to the interest of his client (Santos vs.
the lot after finality of judgment, there was still a Dichoso, 84 SCRA 622), but not at the expense of truth. (Cosmos Foundry
pending certiorari proceeding. A thing is said to be in litigation not only if Shopworkers Union vs. La Bu, 63 SCRA 313). The first duty of a lawyer is
there is some contest or litigation over it in court, but also from the moment not to his client but to the administration of justice. (Lubiano vs. Gordalla, 115
SCRA 459) To that end, his client's success is wholly subordinate. His The additional charge against Atty. Antiniw in Administrative Case No. 1391
conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of law and is predicated on the information furnished by Lydia Bernal. It was not based
ethics. While a lawyer must advocate his client's cause in utmost on the personal knowledge of Constancia L. Valencia: hence, hearsay. "Any
earnestness and with the maximum skill he can marshal, he is not at liberty evidence, whether oral or documentary, is hearsay if its probative value is not
to resort to illegal means for his client's interest. It is the duty of an attorney based on the personal knowledge of the witness but on the knowledge of
to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him, such some other person not on the witness stand." (Regalado, Remedial Law
means as are consistent with truth and honor. (Pangan vs. Ramos, 93 SCRA Compendium, 6th ed., vol. 2, 1989, p. 486). Being hearsay, the evidence
87). presented is inadmissible.

Membership in the Bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. By far, the The additional charge filed by Constancia L. Valencia against Atty.
most important of them is mindfulness that a lawyer is an officer of the court. Jovellanos in Administrative Case No. 1391 was not proved at all.
(In re: Ivan T. Publico, 102 SCRA 722). This Court may suspend or disbar a Complainant failed to prove her additional charges.
lawyer whose acts show his unfitness to continue as a member of the Bar.
(Halili vs. CIR, 136 SCRA 112). Disbarment, therefore, is not meant as a III
punishment depriving him of a source of livelihood but is rather intended to
protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this
There is no evidence on record that the three lawyers involved in these
function should be competent, honorable and reliable in order that courts and
administrative cases conspired in executing the falsified "Compraventa
the public may rightly repose confidence in them. (Noriega vs. Sison, 125
Definitiva" and rigged the Civil Case No. V-2170.
SCRA 293). Atty. Antiniw failed to live up to the high standards of the law
profession.
Atty. Jovellanos is a distant kin of the Raymundos and Valencias. In fact, he
and the Valencias are neighbors and only two meters separate their houses.
The other charges of malpractice against Atty. Antiniw and Atty. Jovellanos
It would not be believable that Atty. Jovellanos, a practicing lawyer, would
should be dismissed for lack of evidence.
hold a meeting with the heirs of Pedro Raymundo in his house with the
intention of inducing them to sue the Valencias. Atty. Jovellanos even tried to
During the proceedings in Administrative Case No. 1543, Lydia Bernal settle the differences between the parties in a meeting held in his house. He
testified in full on direct examination, but she never submitted herself for appeared in Civil Case No. V-2170 as an involuntary witness to attest to the
cross-examination. Several subpoenas for cross-examination were holding of the conference.
unheeded. She eventually requested the withdrawal of her complaint.
Besides, the camaraderie among lawyers is not proof of conspiracy, but a
Procedural due process demands that respondent lawyer should be given an sign of brotherhood among them. One of the fourfold duties of a lawyer is his
opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses against him.1âwphi1 He enjoys duty to the Bar. A lawyer should treat the opposing counsel, and his brethren
the legal presumption that he is innocent of the charges against him until the in the law profession, with courtesy, dignity and civility. They may "do as
contrary is proved. (Santos vs. Dichoso, 84 SCRA 622). The case must be adversaries do in law: strive mightily but (they) eat and drink as friends." This
established by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof. (Camus vs. Diaz, friendship does not connote conspiracy.
Adm. Case No. 1616, February 9, 1989), Since Atty. Antiniw was not
accorded this procedural due process, it is but proper that the direct
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring: 1. Dionisio Antiniw
testimony of Lydia Bernal be stricken out.
DISBARRED from the practice of law, and his name is ordered stricken off
from the roll of attorneys; 2. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting SUSPENDED from the
In view also of the affidavit of desistance executed by the complainant, practice of law for six months from finality of this judgment; and 3.
Administrative Case No. 1543 should be dismissed. Although the filing of an Administrative Case No. 1391 against Attorney Eduardo Jovellanos and
affidavit of desistance by complainant for lack of interest does not ipso additional charges therein, and Administrative Case No. 1543 DISMISSED.
factoresult in the termination of a case for suspension or disbarment of an
erring lawyer (Munar vs. Flores, 122 SCRA 448), We are constrained in the
SO ORDERED.
case at bar, to dismiss the same because there was no evidence to
substantiate the charges.
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras,
Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea,
Regalado and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.
On May 14, 1955, the law firm of Juan Chuidian, on behalf of the defendant
employer, filed a petition to set aside the judgment on the ground of
Republic of the Philippines misunderstanding, mistake and excusable neglect, which petition was denied
SUPREME COURT by the lower court in its order of May 31.
Manila
The employer appealed from this order — not from the decision on the merits
EN BANC — to the Court of Appeals claiming that the court a quo committed a grave
abuse of discretion in denying its petition for relief. The Court of Appeals,
G.R. No. L-11724 November 23, 1959 finding no justification for the employer's failure to appear at the hearing,
upheld the order appealed from.
WACK WACK GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB, INC., petitioner,
vs. There is no disagreement as to the facts allegedly constituting the mistake,
COURT OF APPEALS, PETRONILO ARCANGEL and ANTONIO D. accident, or excusable negligence upon which the employer's petition for
BERNARDO, respondents. relief was based. As put down in petitioner-appellant's brief filed in the Court
of Appeals, and adopted by said court, they are:
Juan T. Chuidian Law Office for petitioner.
Amado A. Yatco for respondent Petronilo Arcangel. The records of this case show that defendant-appellant (employer)
Deogracias T. Reyes, Benjamin C. Yatco and Ernesto Pangalangan for was represented by the law office of Balcoff and Poblador and Angel
respondent Antonino B. Bernardo. Cruz from the inception of this case up to May 14, 1955, when law
Office Juan T. Chuidian filed its appearance upon being referred by
law office of Balcoff and Poblador on May 12, 1955 the copy of the
BARRERA, J.: decision dated May 10, 1955 of the trial Court.

These petitions were filed by the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, Inc., to "Sometime before May 5, 1955 the defendant-appellant Wack Wack
review the decisions of the Court of Appeals in two cases involving the same Golf and Country Club Inc., had manifested its desire to replace their
corporation. (CA-G. R. No. 15910-R and CA-G. R. No. 15902-R). As the counsel Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and Poblador in this case with Law
issues raised in said cases relate to the same principle of law, we shall take Office Juan Chuidian. On May 5, 1955 Atty. Jesus Sayoc of the
them up jointly and resolve the questions assigned therein in a single undersigned law firm conferred with Atty. Angel Cruz of Messrs.
decision. G. R. No. L-11724, (CA-G. R. No. 15910). Paredes, Balcoff and Poblador for the purpose of securing the court
file in this case and effect the substitution of attorney. Unfortunately,
Petronilo Arcangel, a former employee of the Wack Wack Golf and Country Mr. Balcoff was not in the office at the moment and attorney Angel
Club, Inc., filed with the Court of First Instance of Manila a money claim for Cruz declared he had no authority to turn over to Law office of Juan
overtime services rendered to said employer, for unenjoyed vacation leave, T. Chuidian the court papers and file in this case; besides, there
moral damages and attorney's fees. The employer having filed its answer to were unpaid bill due Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and Poblador. Arriving
the complaint, the case was accordingly set for trial. At the hearing of May 6, at the office, Mr. Jesus Sayoc advised Mr. Juan Chuidian of the
1955, however, neither the defendant (employer) nor its counsel, Balcoff, reluctance of Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and Poblador to turn over the
Poblador and Angel Cruz appeared notwithstanding the fact that they were court file of the case to the former. In view of this development, Atty.
duly notified of the hearing since March 22, 1955; hence, the plaintiff was Chuidian called up Atty. Balcoff by telephone and it was agreed
allowed to continue presenting his evidence without the presence of between the two gentlemen that inasmuch as Attys. Paredes, Balcoff
defendant. and Poblador were still the attorneys of record in the case, Atty.
Balcoff would sent a representative of his law office to appear at the
On May 10, 1955, the lower court rendered judgment for the plaintiff hearing of the case of the following day, May 6, 1955 in order to ask
employee, awarding him a total of P7,702.78. for postponement of the case. Consequently, nobody in Law Office
Juan Chuidian appeared in behalf of defendant-appellant on May 6,
1955 before the Trial Court. As a matter of fact, the records of the
case were turned over to Law Office Juan T. Chuidian only on May
13, 1955 after Law Office Juan T. Chuidian had received on May 12, employee was permitted to continue presenting his evidence before the
1955 through Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and Poblador a copy of the Deputy Clerk of Court who was delegated for this purpose.
decision dated May 10, 1955 of the Trial Court. On the other hand,
Atty. Angel Cruz or any associate lawyer of Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff On May 14, 1955, the lower court adjudged the plaintiff entitled to the claim,
and Poblador did not appear for defendant-appellant on May 6, and sentenced defendant-employer to pay the total sum of P26,422.78.
1955.
On the same day, May 14, 1955, the employer represented by the law office
We are with the Court of Appeals in the observation that as of May 6, 1955, of Juan Chuidian, filed a petition for relief from the order authorizing the
the law firm of Balcoff and Poblador and Angel Cruz were still the employer's Deputy Clerk of Court to receive plaintiff's evidence and for the re-opening of
counsel of record, the law office of Juan Chuidian having entered its the case. The petition was later supplemented by another similarly praying
appearance in the case only on May 14, 1955. As such counsel of record, for the setting aside of the decision rendered therein, on the ground of
said law firm must have known that, its impending relief as counsel for the accident or excusable negligence. Upon plaintiff's opposition, these petitions
defendant notwithstanding, it is under obligation to protect the client's interest were denied by the court in its order of May 31, 1955. From this order of
(which includes appearance at the hearing) until its final release from the denial, defendant employer appealed to the Court of Appeals. On October
professional relationship with such client. For its part, the court could 30, 1956, the Court of Appeals affirmed the disputed order, for the reason
recognize no other representation on behalf of the client except such counsel that under the circumstances, there was no justification for defendant's
of record until a formal substitution of attorney is effected. Thus, any counsel to anticipate that the justification for defendant's counsel to
agreement or arrangement such counsel of record and its client may reach anticipate that the Court would grant a motion for postponement of the
regarding the presentation of the client' case in the court is purely their hearing of May 12, 1955.
private concern. Proceedings in the court cannot be made to depend on
them. The lack of coordination or understanding between the two law firms in
The accident or excusable negligence referred to by the new counsel for
the instant case cannot be considered as a legal excuse or falling within the
defendant employer is stated in the petition for relief filed in the lower court,
ambit of excusable negligence to justify the granting of relief from the order
thus:
declaring the client in default, or as in the case, from a decision entered after
presentation of evidence in his absence.
1. That defendant heretofore had been represented by attorney
Angel Cruz; that for certain reasons the defendant recently
Where the defendants were given every reasonable opportunity to
contracted the services of law office of Juan T. Chuidian to handle
try their case and no legal excuse was presented for a further
this case; in substitution of Atty. Angel Cruz, the appearance of the
adjournment, and order denying defendant's motion to set aside their undersigned law office has been filed with this Honorable Court on
default and vacate the judgment against them entered upon such May 12, 1955;
default, was proper. (Centerville Creamy Co. vs. Waxler, 30 N.T.S.
2d. 232, 262 App. Div. 1055.)
2. That it was only in the afternoon of May 11, 1955, that the records
of this case were sent to the undersigned Law Office, and that Atty.
G.R. No. L-11724 (CA-G.R. No. 15902-R):. Juan T. Chuidian was then out of town and, consequently, nobody
knew what action to take in this case;
On February 18, 1953, Antonino Bernardo, former official of appellant, filed
with the Court of First Instance of Manila a claim against the Wack Wack Golf
3. That in the morning of May 12, 1955, Atty. Juan T. Chuidian
& Country Club, Inc. for overtime pay, unenjoyed vacation and sick leaves
telephoned the undersigned law office and requested that one of the
from 1946 to 1951 and attorney's fees. As the employer denied the claim, the assistant attorneys appear at the sala in connection with the
case was set for trial. scheduled hearing of the above-entitled case, and to move for the
postponement thereof on the obvious reason that the undersigned
At the hearing of May 12, 1955, after about 8 previous postponements, law firm was not prepared right then and there to proceed with the
nobody appeared for the employer although said defendant was represented trial of the case inasmuch as the facts of the case were not then
from the commencement of the proceeding by Atty. Angel Cruz and was duly sufficiently known to any of the associate attorneys;
notified of the hearing since March 26, 1955. Consequently, the plaintiff-
4. That when Attorney Suntay of the undersigned law office arrived granted the liberality of the court or generosity of the plaintiff by
at the sala of this Honorable Court, he was informed that the case appearing, through an assistant of his, after the case had been
had been called earlier in the calendar and in view of the failure of actually called on the calendar and while the evidence of the plaintiff
any person to appear in behalf of defendant, the Deputy Clerk of was already being received, and then only to ask (verbally) for
Court was authorized to receive the evidence for the plaintiff; another postponement.

5. The subsequent efforts of Attorney Suntay to suspend the All motions for postponement should be presented at such time as is
reception of plaintiff's evidence and postpone the hearing and proved practicable to prevent the adverse party from incurring unnecessary
fruitless; ... expenses by coming to trial, otherwise postponement shall be
denied. And a party moving for the postponement should be in court
From the foregoing facts, it is evident that Atty. Suntay's appearance (late by on the day for trial if the motion was not acted upon favorably before
some 35 minutes) at the hearing of the case was solely for the purpose of that day. He has no right to rely either on the liberality of the court, or
securing another postponement of the trial; that his delay was brought about on the generosity of the adverse party." (Moran on Rules of Court,
by the absence of the principal counsel in town, and by want of instructions 1952 edition, pp. 651-653, citing Linus vs. Robira, 61 Phil., 907;
from the latter as to what action his assistants should take on the matter; that Macondray & Co. vs. Paredes, G. R. No. 38255, Sept. 5 1933;
the records of the case were only turned over to the new counsel on May 11, Sunico vs. Villapando, 14 Phil., 352.)
and that there was no time to prepare for the trial. Under these
circumstances, the employer's charge that the trial court abused its discretion In addition, the records of these two cases reveal that even prior to May 5,
in denying its petition for relief from the order authorizing the reception of 1955, defendant-appellant had manifested its desire to replace its former
plaintiff's evidence in the absence of the defendant and the judgment counsel Messrs. Paredes, Balcoff and Poblador with the law office of Atty.
rendered in the case, is premised on the ground (1) that counsel's tardiness Juan Chuidian. If this were so, it was the bounden duty of both law firms to
or delay as well as his unpreparedness to go to trial are accidental or may be have made the necessary arrangement for the protection of the interest of
considered as excusable negligence, and (2) that the trial court should have their client. Their failure to do so cannot certainly be considered excusable
allowed the motion for postponement. neglect to the extent of making the action of the trial court, as well as the
Court of Appeals in denying relief based thereon, an abuse of discretion
Both points find adequate answer in the Court of Appeals ruling which we constituting reversible error.
quote with approval:
Although no longer necessary in view of the conclusions already reached
The hearing on May 12, 1955 had been fixed, with the conformity of and expressed, attention may be drawn to the lack of the required affidavits
both parties, as early as March 18, 1955. Not only that, but the of merit to support the petitions for relief. While there are sworn statements
verbal order issued in open court was supplemented by a written on the alleged mistake, accident, and/or excusable negligence, there is in
order, copy of which was received by defendant's counsel on March G.R. No. L-11724, total absence of, and in G.R. No. L-11725, insufficient
26, 1955. On the date of the trial defendant was still represented by affidavit showing the facts constituting the valid defense which the movant
Atty. Angel Cruz as counsel of record. Up to then there had been no may prove in case a new trial is granted. Even in the latter case, the only
substitution of attorneys, nor had Attorney Cruz withdrawn his reference made in the affidavit of the assistant lawyer in the law firm of Atty.
appearance in the case. Indeed the record does not show that he Chuidian, who as admitted in the pleadings submitted by them, did not know
ever did withdraw his appearance or filed a motion for substitution. the facts of the case, was the statement "that the defendant has genuine
The responsibility for representing defendant at the trial on May 12, and bona fide defenses to the claims interposed by plaintiff, more particularly
1955 was therefore still his. On the other hand if it is true, as alleged set out in its Amended Answer dated August 4, 1954." This amended answer
by appellant, that the services of Attorney Juan Chuidian had been is not under oath. Consequently, the mere incorporation thereof by reference
engaged sometime prior to May 11, 1955 then it was the latter's duty made by one who had no knowledge of the said defenses does not comply
to file his appearance opportunely and prepare for the trial on May with the requirements of the rules and decisions on the matter. The affidavits
12, 1955. It is to be presumed that in accepting the case Attorney of merit must state facts, and not mere conclusions or opinions, otherwise
Chuidian knew that the trial was to be held on that date; and he they are not valid.1
certainly was not justified in accepting the case unless he was
prepared to go to trial as scheduled. He had no right to take for
Anent the question raised by petitioner in both instances regarding the
legality of the lower court's order authorizing the Deputy Clerk of Court to
receive plaintiff's evidence, we again make our own the Court of Appeals
ruling, thus:

Defendant next contends that the trial court acted contrary to law and
gravely abused its discretion when it delegated the Deputy Clerk of
Court to receive plaintiff's evidence. It should be borne in mind that
the delegation was made in view of the absence of defendant and
his counsel and that the function thus delegated was merely
ministerial, namely, the taking down of the testimony of the
witnesses and the marking down of whatever documentary evidence
would be presented. There could be no occasion for the exercise of
judicial discretion such as might have been called for if the other
party had been present to object to questions that were propounded
or to the admission of exhibits. It cannot therefore be seriously
maintained that any prejudice was caused to defendant by the action
taken by the Court.

Wherefore, finding no error in the decisions of the Court of Appeals sought to


be nullified, the petitions filed in these two cases are hereby dismissed, with
costs. It is so ordered.

Paras, C. J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Bautista Angelo, Labrador,


Reyes, J.B.L., Endencia, and Gutierrez David, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1Estrella vs. Zamora, 5 Phil., 415; Philippine Engineering Co. vs.


Argosino, 49 Phil., 983; Coombs vs. Santos, 24 Phil., 446.
Remedios, Mauro Jr., Marylene, Idelfonso, Rosalind, Mary Jean -- all
surnamed Edrial -- and Susan Edrial-Valenzuela. The case was docketed as
Republic of the Philippines Civil Case No. 6315 and raffled to Branch 39 of the Regional Trial Court
SUPREME COURT (RTC) of Dumaguete City.5 The Court of Appeals presented the facts of this
Manila case as follows:

THIRD DIVISION "Atty. Gerardo Lituanas, a lawyer of the LAPIL (IBP) Negros Oriental, who
was also an [e]lection [r]egistrar of the COMELEC, filed the complaint in
G.R. No. 133625 September 6, 2000 1975;

REMEDIOS F. EDRIAL, MAURO EDRIAL JR., MARYLENE EDRIAL, Atty. Lituanas was able to present evidence on the following dates:
ILDEFONSO EDRIAL, ROSALIND EDRIAL, MARY JEAN EDRIAL, and
SUSAN EDRIAL-VALENZUELA, petitioners, July 10, 1981
vs.
PEDRO QUILAT-QUILAT, GABRIELA QUILAT-QUILAT, ISIDRA QUILAT- First plaintiffs' witness Atilano Ramirez, 73 years old, was presented;
QUILAT, and ESTANISLAO QUILAT-QUILAT, respondents.
July 16, 1981
DECISION
Continuation of the testimony of Atilano Ramirez;
PANGANIBAN, J.:
August 24, 1982
Parties who prayed for and were granted several postponements and caused
repeated delays cannot ask for the reopening of the trial for the purpose of Continuation of the testimony of Atilano Ramirez;
presenting additional evidence. After squandering several opportunities given
them to ventilate their claims, they can no longer complain of alleged November 20, 1984
violation of their right to due process.
Continuation of the testimony of Atilano Ramirez;
The Case
February 28, 1984
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari, assailing the October 17,
1997 Decision1 and the March 19, 1998 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals
(CA)3 in CA-GR SP No. 42660. The CA affirmed the Order of the trial court, Direct Examination of 2ndPlaintiffs' witness Ignacio Tomias. Cross-
which had denied their Motion to Reopen the Case and to allow them to examination was waived.
complete the presentation of their evidence. The assailed Decision disposed
as follows:4 August 21, 1985

"WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED." Plaintiff Pedro Quilat-Quilat was presented on direct examination.

The Resolution denied reconsideration of the challenged Decision. "On December 16, 1986, the Citizen Legal Assistance Office (CLAO) entered
its appearance as new [private respondents'] counsel after Atty. Gerardo
The Facts Lituanas has filed his withdrawal. The subsequent events are as follows:

Respondents Pedro, Gabriela, Isidra and Estanislao - all surnamed Quilat- February 23, 1987
Quilat -- filed an action for recovery of a parcel of land against Petitioners
The case was set for hearing on April 21, 1987. No hearing was held as the certification from the Bureau of Forest
Development [was] being awaited.
April 21, 1987
March 16, 1989
The hearing was reset due to the projected amendment of the complainant to
implead Primitiva Torrecampo. The said certification [was] still being awaited.

June 19, 1987 May 25, 1989

The third amended complaint was admitted. The testimony of [Private Respondent] Pedro Quilat-Quilat [was] suspended
after a question was [propounded] that would require him to use reading
September 9, 1987 eyeglasses which he did not have at the moment.

Hearing was postponed at the instance of the defendants [herein petitioners]. December 14, 1989

October 22, 1987 Hearing [was] reset due to the illness of [private respondents'] counsel.

The hearing was suspended for the reason that the Court would require the September 20, 1990
[private respondents] to submit a certification from the Bureau of Forest
Development that the land involved in this case [was] not a part of the public Atty. Eleccion, [petitioners'] counsel did not appear despite due notice. At this
forest. time, the [private respondents] rested their case.

December 17, 1987 October 15, 1990

The hearing was postponed at the request of [private respondents'] counsel Atty. Eleccion [private respondents'] counsel did not appear. Hearing [was]
for the reason that she [would] be attending [a] conference in Cebu City. reset to October 16, 1990.

March 18, 1988 October 16, 1990

The hearing was aborted due to the fact that the Bureau of Forest Atty. Eleccion did not appear. Hearing [was] reset to December 10, 11 and
Development report ha[d] not yet been finished. 12.

July 5, 1988 December 10, 1990

The hearing [was] reset upon agreement of both counsel. Atty. Eleccion asked for postponement. Hearing [was] reset to December 11,
1990.
September 15, 1988
December 11, 1990
The hearing [was] reset upon the Court's instance.
Atty. Eleccion did not appear. The case [was] submitted for decision as of
December 8, 1988 th[at] day.

August 21, 1992


The transcript of stenographic notes which was taken down by stenographer February 14, 1994
Alexander Yberley, was missing. He was ordered to produce the transcript.
Hearing [was] reset at the instance of Atty. Sedillo who want[ed] to recall his
October 30, 1992 witness Atty. Bonganciso. Hearing [was] reset to March 23, 1994.

Witness Atilano Ramirez was recalled for cross-examination since March 24, 1994
stenographer Yberley manifested that the record was burned. Despite due
notice, nobody appeared for the [petitioners]. So as of this day, the cross- Hearing [was] postponed to May 6, 1994 to find avenue for settlement.
examination of Atilano Ramirez was considered waived and the case was
finally submitted for decision.
May 6, 1994

December 11, 1992 Due to the conflict of schedule by Atty. Sedillo and due to the absence of
recalled 2nd [petitioners'] witness Bongaciso, hearing [was] reset to June 17,
Court granted the prayer of Atty. Sedillo and the case [was] set for hearing 1994.
on March 22, 29 and April 5 1993.
June 17, 1994
March 22, 1993
Atty. Sedillo asked for postponement. He [would] attend a Kiwanis Training
Atty. Sedillo did not present evidence but instead moved for a resetting of the Conference. Hearing [was] reset to July 4, 1994.
hearing to April 12, 1993. He [was] advised by the Court to be prepared on
the next scheduled hearing. July 4, 1994

June 4, 1993
Atty. Sedillo was present but Atty. Rosalinda Ybanez [was] available at 10:00
a.m. so the case [was] reset to August 15, 1994.
Judge [was] on leave. Hearing [was] reset to July 2, 1993.
August 15, 1994
July 2, 1993
Judge [was] on leave. Hearing [was] reset to October 3, 1994.
Flaviano Umbac was presented as first [petitioners'] witness. Hearing [was]
scheduled [for] August 27, 1993.
October 3, 1994

August 27, 1993


The hearing [was] reset to November 17, 1994 due to non-availability of
[petitioners'] witness Atty. Roque Bonganciso who [was] on recall.
[Petitioners] moved for a resetting to October 7, 1993.
November 17, 1994
October 7, 1993
There [was] talk about [a] proposed settlement, hearing [was] held in
Atty. Bongaciso was presented as second witness for the [petitioners]. His abeyance.
testimony [was] terminated and hearing [was] reset to December 13, 1993.
January 6, 1995
December 13, 1993
Since no settlement [was] realized a [private respondents'] motion to set [the]
Judge [was] on leave. Hearing [was] reset to February 14, 1994. case for hearing was filed and the case was reset to [February] 27, 1995.
February 27, 1995 The Court issued an order setting the case [for] April 26, 1996. This order
was received by the wife of the [Petitioner] Mauro Edrial, Jr.
Earlier, [petitioners'] counsel, Atty. Sedillo filed a motion for postponement as
he [would be] appearing in a case in Manila. Atty. Ybanez manifested that on April 26, 1996
February 26, 1995 Atty. Sedillo was in Dumaguete and further that this case
ha[d] been delayed by the failure of the [petitioners] to complete the There was no appearance from the [petitioners]. Hence, the case was
presentation of their evidence. The Court then ordered the case submitted for submitted for decision for the FOURTH TIME.
decision for the THIRD TIME.
July 8, 1996
March 16, 1995
Atty. Sedillo filed a motion to reopen the case and in effect reentered his
The Court issued an order reconsidering the February 27, 1995 order upon appearance.
motion of Atty. Sedillo and set the case for the [petitioners] for June 16, 1995
with a STERN WARNING TO THE [PETITIONERS].
August 20, 1996

June 16, 1995 Private respondents thru counsel filed opposition to the motion of the
[petitioners].
The hearing set for [this day] was cancelled as the Judge [was] on leave and
reset to September 8, 1995.
September 6, 1996

September 8, 1995 The Hon. Judge issued an order denying the motion to reopen hereby
affirming the April 26, 1996 order submitting the case for decision.
The [petitioners'] counsel did not appear. Hearing [was] reset to November
16, 1995.
September 11, 1996

November 16, 1995


[Petitioners] filed a motion for reconsideration.

The [petitioners'] counsel did not appear. Neither did his client. The hearing
October 2, 1996
[was] reset to February 13, 1996.
Court denied the motion for reconsideration.
February 9, 1996
October 23, 1996
The [petitioners'] counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel.
Private respondents received a copy of the Petition for Certiorari."6
February 12, 1996
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The Court issued an order granting the withdrawal of the [petitioners']
counsel. The [petitioners were] directed to immediately engage the services
of a new counsel. This notice was received personally by the wife of The CA dismissed petitioners' appeal because, in issuing the questioned
[Petitioner] Mauro Edrial, Jr. Orders, the trial judge committed no grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction. In giving petitioners more than ample time to complete
their presentation of evidence and in granting their Motions for
February 13, 1996 Postponement, the judge was accommodating them more than they actually
deserved.
Hence, this Petition.7 True, respondents also asked for continuances, but petitioners were
ultimately to blame for the inexcusable delay. The case was submitted for
Issues decision three times -- on December 11, 1990, October 30, 1992, and
February 27, 1995 - but petitioners and/or their counsel did not appear in
court each time. After having failed to take advantage of opportunities to
Petitioners submit that the CA erred in affirming the twin Orders of the
ventilate their claims below, parties may no longer be accorded the same
Dumaguete City RTC, Branch 39. They contend that a reversal thereof would
chances, in the absence of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial
have allowed them to complete their presentation of evidence. Hence, by
affirming those Orders, the CA allegedly violated their right to due process.8 court, as in this case.9

The Court frowns on lawyers' practice of repeatedly seeking extensions of


This Court's Ruling
time to file pleadings and thereafter simply letting the period lapse without
submitting any pleading or even any explanation or manifestation of their
The Petition is without merit. failure.10 The same principle applies more forcefully to motions for
continuance. Postponement is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial
Main Issue discretion. Actions thereon will not be disturbed by appellate courts in the
absence of a clear or manifest abuse of discretion, resulting in a denial of
Due Process and Reopening of Trial substantial justice.11 We concur with the CA that there is no such denial in
this case.1âwphi1
Counsel for petitioners alleges that the addresses of his clients on file in his
law firm were incorrect; hence, the notices and other forms of communication It is highly suspicious how the counsel for petitioners continued to represent
he had sent to them were not received. He allegedly discovered this fact only his clients effectively for several years despite allegedly having lost their
after he had filed his withdrawal as their counsel. He also argues that the correct addresses. It was definitely his duty to know the correct ones. Indeed,
denial of the Motion to Reopen Trial was "plainly capricious and oppressive" it was too late for him to do so after he had withdrawn as their counsel.
because private respondents were equally guilty of delay and procrastination. According to him, after April 16, 1996, he sent an office employee to verify
Finally, he maintains that allowing petitioners to present their remaining the whereabouts of Mauro Edrial Jr. The inquiry yielded the information that
evidence would be "in the interest of substantial due process and humane Mauro actually resided in San Jose, Negros Oriental, and that Susan Edrial
justice." Valenzuela resided in Gomez St., Dumaguete City.12 He should have
undertaken the search before withdrawing as counsel. Further, notice might
Respondents disagree, reasoning that the trial court thrice reconsidered its not have been received by petitioners themselves, but that did not excuse
Order to submit the case for decision; that is, petitioners were given several counsel's failure to appear during trials.
opportunities to present their evidence, but they squandered them.
Petitioners, they further point out, were intentionally seeking to delay the Counsel for petitioners further avers that he had difficulty in presenting Atty.
resolution of the case because they were in physical possession of the land Roque Bonganciso because of the latter's prior commitments which
in dispute. conflicted with the scheduled trial dates. The last witness was Mauro Edrial
Jr., but counsel had the wrong address on file. He should just have adjusted
Counsel's excuses are unsatisfactory and unacceptable. The CA ruled that the order of presentation of witnesses and called Edrial Jr. later. Such move
petitioners were given "more than enough time" to complete their could have prevented the postponement. Besides, finding an available date
presentation of evidence. Respondents rested their case as early as in his calendar would not have taken Atty. Bonganciso three years.
September 1992. Petitioners' lawyer, at his own request, was allowed to start
presenting evidence only on April 12, 1993. From that day until April 26, 1996 The Code of Professional Responsibility requires that lawyers, after obtaining
or for a period of three years, counsel presented only two witnesses. The trial extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, shall not let the
judge was in fact liberal in granting petitioners' Motions for Postponement. period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for their
But enough was enough; when they attempted to delay the trial some more, failure to do so (Rule 12.03).13 Moreover, they should avoid any action that
the trial judge finally and correctly refused to go along. would unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse
court processes (Rule 12.04).
For the benefit of the bench and bar, worth repeating is the CA's reminder to 8Petition, p. 19; rollo, p. 22. Petitioners' Memorandum was filed by
petitioners' counsel of his duty to his client and to the court: Sedillo Icao Hernando and Associates, represented by Atty. Eduardo
T. Sedillo who failed/neglected to sign it.
"Being an officer of the court a lawyer is part of the machinery in the
administration of justice. Like the court itself, he is an instrument to advance 9Inciong Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 257 SCRA 578, 585, June 26,
its ends-the speedy, efficient, impartial, correct and inexpensive adjudication 1996.
of cases and the prompt satisfaction of final judgments. A lawyer should not
only help attain these objectives but should likewise avoid any unethical or 10Achacoso v. Court of Appeals, 51 SCRA 424, 424-425, June 28,
improper practices that impede, obstruct or prevent their realization, charged 1973; Casals v. Cusi Jr., 52 SCRA 58, 63-64, July 12, 1973.
as he is with the primary task of assisting in the speedy and efficient
administration of justice."14 11Pepsi Cola Products Phils., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 299 SCRA
518, 525, December 2, 1998; Reyes v.Court of Appeals, 267 SCRA
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision and 543, 550, February 6, 1997.
Resolution AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners.
12 Petition, p. 18; rollo, p. 21.
SO ORDERED.
13 People v. Compendio Jr., 258 SCRA 254, 270, July 5, 1996.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
14CA Decision, p. 11; citing Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 ed., p.
123; rollo, p. 40.

Footnotes

1 Rollo, pp. 30-40.

2 Rollo, p. 45.

3Former Special Ninth Division; penned by Justice Buenaventura J.


Guerrero, chairman; with the concurrence of Justices Conrado M.
Vasquez Jr. and Oswaldo D. Agcaoili, members.

4 CA Decision, p. 11; rollo, p. 40.

5 Presided by Judge Teopisto L. Calumpang.

6 Rollo, pp. 79-84.

7 The case was deemed submitted for decision upon the Court's
receipt of the Memorandum for the Respondents on February 22,
2000. Said Memorandum was signed by Atty. Marcelo B. Suerte
Felipe of the Public Attorney's Office.
Atty. Teodoro Almine Governor & Vice-President for Bicolandia

Republic of the Philippines Atty. Porfirio Siyangco Governor & Vice-President for Eastern Visayas
SUPREME COURT
Manila Atty. Ricardo Teruel Governor & Vice-President for Western Visayas

EN BANC Atty. Gladys Tiongco Governor & Vice-President for Eastern Mindanao

Atty. Simeon Datumanong Governor & Vice-President for Western Mindanao


A.M. No. 491 October 6, 1989

IN THE MATTER OF THE INQUIRY INTO THE 1989 ELECTIONS OF THE The newly-elected officers were set to take the their oath of office on July
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES. 4,1989, before the Supreme Court en banc. However,disturbed by the
widespread reports received by some members of the Court from lawyers
who had witnessed or participated in the proceedings and the adverse
comments published in the columns of some newspapers about the intensive
electioneering and overspending by the candidates, led by the main
PER CURIAM:
protagonists for the office of president of the association, namely, Attorneys
Nereo Paculdo, Ramon Nisce, and Violeta C. Drilon, the alleged use of
In the election of the national officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines government planes, and the officious intervention of certain public officials to
(hereafter "IBP") held on June 3, 1989 at the Philippine International influence the voting, all of which were done in violation of the IBP By-Laws
Convention Center (or PICC), the following were elected by the House of which prohibit such activities. The Supreme Courten banc, exercising its
Delegates (composed of 120 chapter presidents or their alternates) and power of supervision over the Integrated Bar, resolved to suspend the oath-
proclaimed as officers: taking of the IBP officers-elect and to inquire into the veracity of the reports.

NAME POSITION It should be stated at the outset that the election process itself (i.e. the voting
and the canvassing of votes on June 3, 1989) which was conducted by the
Atty. Violeta Drilon President "IBP Comelec," headed by Justice Reynato Puno of the Court of Appeals,
was unanimously adjudged by the participants and observers to be above
Atty. Bella Tiro Executive Vice-President board. For Justice Puno took it upon himself to device safeguards to prevent
tampering with, and marking of, the ballots.
Atty. Salvador Lao Chairman, House of Delegates
What the Court viewed with considerable concern was the reported
Atty. Renato F. Ronquillo Secretary, House of Delegates electioneering and extravagance that characterized the campaign conducted
by the three candidates for president of the IBP.
Atty. Teodoro Quicoy Treasurer, House of Delegates

Atty. Oscar Badelles Sergeant at Arms, House of Delegates I. MEDIA ACCOUNT OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN.

Atty. Justiniano Cortes Governor & Vice-President for Northern Luzon Emil Jurado, in his column "IBP Group Questions Drilon Election" (Manila
Standard, Sunday, June 17, 1989), Luis Mauricio, in two successive
Atty. Ciriaco Atienza Governor & Vice-President for Central Luzon columns: "The Invertebrated Bar" (Malaya, June 10, 1989) and "The
Disintegrating Bar" (Malaya, June 20, 1989), and Teodoro Locsin Jr. in an
Atty. Mario Jalandoni Governor & Vice-President for Metro Manila article, entitled "Pam-Pam" (The Philippines Free Press, July 8,1989), and
the editorial, entitled 'Wrong Forum" of the Daily Globe (June 8, 1989), were
Atty. Jose Aguilar Grapilon Governor & Vice-President for Southern Luzon unanimously critical of the "vote-buying and pressure tactics" allegedly
employed in the campaign by the three principal candidates: Attys. Violeta C.
Drilon, Nereo Paculdo and Ramon Nisce who reportedly "poured heart, soul, In that resolution the Court "call[ed] to mind that a basic postulate of the
money and influence to win over the 120 IBP delegates." Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), heavily stressed at the time of its
organization and commencement of existence, is that the IBP shall be non-
Mr. Jurado mentioned the resentment of Atty. Drilon's rivals who felt at a political in character and that there shall be no lobbying nor campaigning in
disadvantage because Atty. Drilon allegedly used PNB helicopters to visit far- the choice of members of the Board of Governors and of the House of
flung IBP chapters on the pretext of distributing Bigay Puso donations, and Delegates, and of the IBP officers, national, or regional, or chapter. The
she had the added advantage of having regional directors and labor arbiters fundamental assumption was that officers, delegates and governors would
of the Department of Labor and Employment (who had been granted leaves be chosen on the basis of professional merit and willingness and ability to
of absence by her husband, the Labor Secretary) campaigning for her. serve."
Jurado's informants alleged that there was rampant vote-buying by some
members of the U.P. Sigma Rho Fraternity (Secretary Drilon's fraternity), as The resolution went on to say that the "Court is deeply disturbed to note that
well as by some lawyers of ACCRA (Angara, Concepcion, Cruz, Regala and in connection with the election of members of the Board of Governors and of
Abello Law Office) where Mrs. Drilon is employed, and that government the House of Delegates, there is a widespread belief, based on reports
positions were promised to others by the office of the Labor Secretary. carried by media and transmitted as well by word of mouth, that there was
extensive and intensive campaigning by candidates for IBP positions as well
Mr. Mauricio in his column wrote about the same matters and, in addition, as expenditure of considerable sums of money by candidates, including vote-
mentioned "talk of personnel of the Department of Labor, especially buying, direct or indirect."
conciliators and employers, notably Chinese Filipinos, giving aid and comfort
to her (Atty. Drilon's) candidacy," the billeting of out-of-town delegates in The venerable retired Supreme Court Justice and IBP President Emeritus,
plush hotels where they were reportedly "wined and dined continuously, Jose B.L. Reyes, attended the dialogue, upon invitation of the Court, to give
womened and subjected to endless haggling over the price of their votes x x counsel and advice. The meeting between the Court en banc on the one
x" which allegedly "ranged from Pl5,000 to P20,000, and, on the day of the hand, and the outgoing and in coming IBP officers on the other, was an
election, some twelve to twenty votes which were believed crucial, informal one. Thereafter, the Court resolved to conduct a formal inquiry to
appreciated to P50,000." determine whether the prohibited acts and activities enumerated in the IBP
By-Laws were committed before and during the 1989 elections of IBP's
In his second column, Mr. Mauricio mentioned "how a top official of the national officers.
judiciary allegedly involved himself in IBP politics on election day by closeting
himself with campaigners as they plotted their election strategy in a room of The Court en banc formed a committee and designated Senior Associate
the PICC (the Philippine International Convention Center where the Justice Andres R. Narvasa, as Chairman, and Associate Justices Teodoro R.
convention/election were held) during a recess x x x." Padilla, Emilio A. Gancayco, Abraham F. Sarmiento, and Carolina C. Griño-
Aquino, as members, to conduct the inquiry. The Clerk of Court, Atty. Daniel
Mr. Locsin in his column and editorial substantially re-echoed Mauricio's Martinez, acted as the committee's Recording Secretary.
reports with some embellishments.
A total of forty-nine (49) witnesses appeared and testified in response to
II. THE COURT'S DECISION TO INVESTIGATE. subpoenas issued by the Court to shed light on the conduct of the elections.
The managers of three five-star hotels the Philippine Plaza, the Hyatt, and
Responding to the critical reports, the Court, in its en banc resolution dated the Holiday Inn where the three protagonists (Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo)
allegedly set up their respective headquarters and where they billeted their
June 15, 1989, directed the outgoing and incoming members of the IBP
Board of Governors, the principal officers and Chairman of the House of supporters were summoned. The officer of the Philippine National Bank and
Delegates to appear before it on Tuesday, June 20, 1989, at 2:00 o'clock the Air Transport Office were called to enlighten the Court on the charge that
an IBP presidential candidate and the members of her slate used PNB
p.m., and there to inform the Court on the veracity of the aforementioned
planes to ferry them to distant places in their campaign to win the votes of
reports and to recommend, for the consideration of the Court, appropriate
delegates. The Philippine Airlines officials were called to testify on the charge
approaches to the problem of confirming and strengthening adherence to the
that some candidates gave free air fares to delegates to the convention.
fundamental principles of the IBP.
Officials of the Labor Department were also called to enable the Court to
ascertain the truth of the reports that labor officials openly campaigned or (a) Distribution, except on election day, of election campaign
worked for the election of Atty. Drilon. material;

The newspaper columnists, Messrs. Luis Mauricio, Jesus Bigornia and Emil (b) Distribution, on election day, of election campaign
Jurado were subpoenaed to determine the nature of their sources of material other than a statement of the biodata of a candidate
information relative to the IBP elections. Their stories were based, they said, on not more than one page of a legal-size sheet of paper; or
on letters, phone calls and personal interviews with persons who claimed to causing distribution of such statement to be done by persons
have knowledge of the facts, but whom they, invoking the Press Freedom other than those authorized by the officer presiding at the
Law, refused to identify. elections;

The Committee has since submitted its Report after receiving, and analyzing (c) Campaigning for or against any candidate, while holding
and assessing evidence given by such persons as were perceived to have an elective, judicial, quasi-judicial or prosecutory office in the
direct and personal knowledge of the relevant facts; and the Court, after Government or any political subdivision, agency or
deliberating thereon, has Resolved to accept and adopt the same. instrumentality thereof;

III. PROHIBITED ACTS AND PRACTICES UNDER IBP BY-LAWS. (d) Formation of tickets, single slates, or combinations of
candidates, as well as the advertisement thereof;
Article I, Section 4 of the IBP By-Laws emphasizes the "strictly non-political"
character of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, thus: (e) For the purpose of inducing or influencing a member to
withhold his vote, or to vote for or against a candidate, (1)
"SEC. 4. Non-political Bar. — The Integrated Bar is strictly payment of the dues or other indebtedness of any member;
non-political, and every activity tending to impair this basic (2) giving of food, drink, entertainment, transportation or any
feature is strictly prohibited and shall be penalized article of value, or any similar consideration to any person; or
accordingly. No lawyer holding an elective, judicial, quasi- (3) making a promise or causing an expenditure to be made,
judicial, or prosecutory office in the Government or any offered or promised to any person."
political subdivision or instrumentality thereof shall be eligible
for election or appointment to any position in the Integrated Section 12(d) of the By-Laws prescribes sanctions for violations of the above
Bar or any Chapter thereof. A Delegate, Governor, officer or rules:
employee of the Integrated Bar, or an officer or employee of
any Chapter thereof shall be considered ipso facto resigned (d) Any violation of the rules governing elections or
from his position as of the moment he files his certificate of commission of any of the prohibited acts and practices
candidacy for any elective public office or accepts defined in Section 14 prohibited Acts and Practices relative
appointment to any judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory to elections) of the by-laws of the Integrated Bar shall be a
office in the Government or any political subdivision or ground for the disqualification of a candidate or his removal
instrumentality thereof. "' from office if elected, without prejudice to the imposition of
sanctions upon any erring member pursuant to the By-laws
Section 14 of the same By-Laws enumerates the prohibited of the Integrated Bar.
acts relative to IBP elections:
At the formal investigation which was conducted by the investigating
SEC. 14. Prohibited acts and practices relative to elections. committee, the following violations were established:
— The following acts and practices relative to election are
prohibited, whether committed by a candidate for any (1) Prohibited campaigning and solicitation of votes by the candidates for
elective office in the Integrated Bar or by any other member, president, executive vice-president, the officers of candidate the House of
directly or indirectly, in any form or manner, by himself or Delegates and Board of Governors.
through another person:
The three candidates for IBP President Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo began Medialdea, Jr., Paulino G. Clarin, Julius Z. Neil, Roem J. Arbolado Democrito
travelling around the country to solicit the votes of delegates as early as April M. Perez, Abelardo Fermin, Diosdado B. Villarin, Jr., Daniel C. Macaraeg,
1989. Upon the invitation of IBP President, Leon Garcia, Jr. (t.s.n., July Confesor R. Sansano Dionisio E. Bala, Jr., Emesto A. Amores, Romeo V.
13,1989, p. 4), they attended the Bench and Bar dialogues held in Cotabato Pefianco, Augurio C. Pamintuan, Atlee T. Viray, Ceferino C. Cabanas, Jose
in April 1989 (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, p. 123), in Tagaytay City, Pampanga, S. Buban, Diosdado Z. Reloj, Jr., Cesar C. Viola, Oscar C. Fernandez,
and in Baguio City (during the conference of chapter presidents of Northern Ricardo B. Teruel Rodrigo R. Flores, Sixto Marella, Jr., Arsenio C. Villalon,
Luzon (t.s.n., July 3,1989, p. 113; t.s.n., July 10, p. 41; t.s.n., July 13, p. 47) Renato F. Ronquillo, Antonio G. Nalapo Romualdo A. Din Jr., Jose P.
where they announced their candidacies and met the chapter presidents. Icaonapo Jr., and Manuel S. Person.

Atty. Nisce admitted that he went around the country seeking the help of IBP Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms at the Hyatt Hotel based on the
chapter officers, soliciting their votes, and securing their written commitments he had obtained (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-85).
endorsements. He personally hand-carried nomination forms and requested Unfortunately, despite those formal commitments, he obtained only 14 votes
the chapter presidents and delegates to fill up and sign the forms to formalize in the election (t.s.n., June 29, 1 989, p. 86). The reason, he said, is that.
their commitment to his nomination for IBP President. He started some of those who had committed their votes to him were "manipulated,
campaigning and distributing the nomination forms in March 1989 after the intimidated, pressured, or remunerated" (t.s.n., June 29,1989, pp. 8695;
chapter elections which determined the membership of the House of Exhibit "M-4-Nisce," t.s.n., July 4, 1989, pp. 100-1 04).
Delegates composed of the 120 chapter presidents (t.s.n., June 29, 1989,
pp. 82-86). He obtained forty (40) commitments. He submitted photocopies (2) Use of PNB plane in the campaign.
of his nomination forms which read:
The records of the Philippine National Bank (Exhibit C-1-Crudo and Exhibit
"Nomination Form C-2-Crudo) show that Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. of the Department
of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) borrowed a plane from the
Philippine National Bank for his Bicol CORD (Cabinet Officers for Regional
Development) Assistant, Undersecretary Antonio Tria. The plane manifest
I Join in Nominating (Exh. C-2-Crudo) listed Atty. Violeta Drilon, Arturo Tusi (Tiu), Assistant
Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Tony Tria, Atty.
Gladys Tiongco, and Amy Wong. Except for Tony Tria, the rest of the
RAMON M. NISCE
passengers were IBP candidates.
as
Atty. Drilon admitted that she "hitched" a ride on a PNB plane. She said that
she was informed by Atty. Tiu about the availability of a PNB plane (t.s.n.,
National President of the July 3,1989, pp. 116-118).

Integrated Bar of the Philippines Atty. Tiu, who ran for the position of IBP executive vice-president in the
Drilon ticket, testified that sometime in May 1989 he failed to obtain booking
from the Philippine Airlines for the projected trip of his group to Bicol. He
went to the DENR allegedly to follow up some papers for a client. While at
______________ _______________ the DENR, he learned that Assistant Secretary Tria was going on an official
business in Bicol for Secretary Fulgencio Factoran and that he would be
Chapter Signature" taking a PNB plane. As Assistant Secretary Tria is his fraternity brother, he
asked if he, together with the Drilon group, could hitch a ride on the plane to
Bicol. His request was granted. Their purpose in going to Bicol was to assess
Among those who signed the nomination forms were: Onofre P. Tejada,
their chances in the IBP elections. The Drilon company talked with the IBP
Candido P. Balbin, Jr., Conizado V. Posadas, Quirico L. Quirico Ernesto S.
chapter presidents in Daet, Naga, and Legaspi, and asked for their support
Salun-at, Gloria C. Agunos, Oscar B. Bernardo, Feliciano F. Wycoco, Amor
(t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 549).
L. Ibarra, Jose M. Atienza, Jose N. Contreras, Romeo T. Mendoza, Leo C.
Assistant Secretary Antonio S. Tria confirmed the use of a PNB plane by was a voting delegate. Nisce, however, failed to get a written commitment
Atty. Drilon and her group. He recalled that on May 23,1989, DENR from him because Atty. Medialdea assured him (Nisce) "sigurado na 'yan,
Secretary Factoran instructed him to go to Bicol to monitor certain regional h'wag mo nang papirmahin." Badelles won as sergeant-at-arms, not in
development projects there and to survey the effect of the typhoon that hit Nisce's ticket, but in that of Drilon.
the region in the middle of May. On the same day, Atty. Tiu, a fraternity
brother (meaning that Tiu belongs to the Sigma Rho fraternity) went to the Badelles admitted that Nisce sent him three airplane tickets, but he Badelles
DENR office and requested the Secretary (Factoran) if he (Tiu) could be said that he did not use them, because if he did, he would be committed to
allowed to hitch a ride on the plane. Assistant Secretary Tria, together with Nisce, and he Badelles did not want to be committed (t.s.n., July 4,1989, pp.
the Drilon group which included Attorneys Drilon, Grapilon, Amy Wong, 77-79, 95-96).
Gladys Tiongco, and Tiu, took off at the Domestic Airport bound for Naga,
Daet and Legaspi. In Legaspi the Drilon group had lunch with Atty. Vicente
Nisce also sent a plane ticket to Atty. Atilano, who was his candidate, and
Real, Jr., an IBP chapter president (t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 54-69).
another ticket to Mrs. Linda Lim of Zamboanga. Records of the Philippine
Airlines showed that Atty. Nisce paid for the plane tickets of Vicente Real, Jr.
(3) Formation of tickets and single slates. (Exh. D-1-Calica), Romeo Fortes (Exh. D-1-Calica), Cesar Batica (Exh. D-2-
Calica), Jose Buban of Leyte (Exh. D-2-Calica), Delsanto Resuello (Exh. D-
The three candidates, Paculdo, Nisce and Drilon, admitted having formed 3- Calica), and Ceferino Cabanas (Exh. D-3-Calica).
their own slates for the election of IBP national officers on June 3, 1989.
In spite of his efforts and expense, only one of Nisce's candidates won:
Atty. Paculdo's slate consisted of — himself for President; Bella D. Tiro, for Renato Ronquillo of Manila 4, as Secretary of the House of Delegates (t.s.n.
Executive Vice-President; and for Governors: Justiniano P. Cortez (Northern July 3, p. 161).
Luzon), Oscar C. Fernandez (Central Luzon), Mario C.V. Jalandoni (Greater
Manila), Petronilo A. de la Cruz (Southern Luzon), Teodorico C. Almine, Jr. (5) Giving free hotel accommodations, food, drinks, entertainment to
(Bicolandia), Ricardo B. Teruel (Western Visayas), Porfirio P. Siyangco delegates.
(Eastern Visayas), Jesus S. Anonat (Western Mindanao), Guerrero A.
Adaza, Jr. (Eastern Mindanao) (Exhibit M-Nisce).
(a) ATTY. NEREO PACULDO

The Drilon ticket consisted of. Violeta C. Drilon for President, Arturo Tiu for
Atty. Paculdo alleged that he booked 24 regular rooms and three suites at
Executive Vice President, Salvador Lao for Chairman of the House of the Holiday Inn, which served as his headquarters. The 24 rooms were to be
Delegates, and, for Governors: Basil Rupisan (Northern 'Luzon), Acong
occupied by his staff (mostly ladies) and the IBP delegates. The three suites
Atienza (Central Luzon), Amy Wong (Metro Manila), Jose Grapilon (Southern
were to be occupied by himself, the officers of the Capitol Bar Association,
Tagalog), Teodoro Almine (Bicolandia), Baldomero Estenzo (Eastern
and Atty. Mario Jalandoni. He paid P150,000 for the hotel bills of his
Visayas), Joelito Barrera (Western Visayas), Gladys Tiongco (Eastern
delegates at the Holiday Inn, where a room cost P990 per day with breakfast.
Mindanao), Simeon Datumanong (Western Mindanao) (Exhibit M-1-Nisce).
Those listed as guests of Atty. Paculdo at the Holiday Inn were: Emesto C.
Atty. Ramon N. Nisce's line-up listed himself and Confessor B. Sansano
Perez, Tolomeo Ligutan Judge Alfonso Combong, Ricardo Caliwag, Antonio
Benjamin B. Bernardino, Antonio L. Nalapo Renato F. Ronquillo, Gloria C.
Bisnar, Benedicto Balajadia, Jesus Castro, Restituto Villanueva, Serapio
Agunos, Mario Valderrama, Candido P. Balbin Jr., Oscar C. Fernandez,
Cribe Juanita Subia, Teodorico J. Almine, Rudy Gumban, Roem Arbolado,
Cesar G. Viola, Leo C. Medialdea, Jr., Vicente P. Tordilla, Jr., Jose S. Ricardo Teruel, Shirley Moises, Ramon Roco, Alberto Trinidad, Teodoro
Buban, Joel A. Llosa, Jesus T. Albacite and Oscar V. Badelles. Quicoy Manito Lucero, Fred Cledera Vicente Tordilla, Julian Ocampo,
Francisco Felizmenio Marvel Clavecilla, Amador Capiral, Eufronio Maristela,
(4) Giving free transportation to out-of-town delegates and alternates. Porfirio Siyangco, William Llanes, Jr., Marciano Neri, Guerrero Adaza,
Diosdado Peralta, Luis C. Formilleza, Jr., Democrito Perez, Bruno Flores,
Atty. Nisce admitted having bought plane tickets for some delegates to the Dennis Rendon, Judge Ceferino Chan, Mario Jalandoni, Kenneth Siruelo
convention. He mentioned Oscar Badelles to whom he gave four round-trip Bella Tiro, Antonio Santos, Tiburcio Edano James Tan, Cesilo A. Adaza,
tickets (worth about P10,000) from Iligan City to Manila and back. Badelles Francisco Roxas, Angelita Gacutan, Jesse Pimentel, Judge Jaime Hamoy,
Jesus Anonat, Carlos Egay, Judge Carlito Eisma, Judge Jesus Carbon,
(f) Angangco Tan (Angara Law Office) 10,000
Joven Zach, and Benjamin Padon.
(g) Alfonso Reyno 20,000
Noel de Guzman, Holiday Inn's credit manager, testified that Atty. Paculdo
booked 52 (not 24) rooms, including the presidential suite, which was used (h) Cosme Rossel 15,300
as the Secretariat. The group bookings were made by Atty. Gloria Paculdo,
the wife of Nereo Paculdo (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 63-68). The total sum of
P227,114.89 was paid to Holiday Inn for the use of the rooms. (t.s.n. July 4, 1 989, pp. 3-4)

(b) ATTY. VIOLETA C. DRILON Atty. Callanta explained that the above listed persons have been contributing
money every time the IBP embarks on a project. This time, they contributed
so that their partners or associates could attend the legal aid seminar and the
The delegates and supporters of Atty. Drilon were billeted at the Philippine
IBP convention too.
Plaza Hotel where her campaign manager, Atty. Renato Callanta, booked 40
rooms, 5 of which were suites. According to Ms. Villanueva, Philippine Plaza
banquet and conventions manager, the contract that Atty. Callanta signed Atty. Drilon alleged that she did not know that Atty. Callanta had billeted her
with the Philippine Plaza was made in the name of the "IBP c/o Atty. delegates at the Philippine Plaza. She allegedly did not also know in whose
Callanta." name the room she occupied was registered. But she did ask for a room
where she could rest during the convention. She admitted, however, that she
paid for her hotel room and meals to Atty. Callanta, through Atty. Loanzon
Mrs. Lourdes Juco, a sales manager of the Philippine Plaza, recalled that it
(t.s.n. July 3,1989).
was Mr. Mariano Benedicto who first came to book rooms for the IBP
delegates. She suggested that he obtain a group (or discounted) rate. He
gave her the name of Atty. Callanta who would make the arrangements with The following were listed as having occupied the rooms reserved by Atty.
her. Mr. Benedicto turned out to be the Assistant Secretary of the Callanta at the Philippine Plaza: Violeta Drilon, Victoria A. Verciles, Victoria
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). C. Loanzon, Leopoldo A. Consulto Ador Lao, Victoria Borra, Aimee Wong,
Callanta, Pena, Tiu, Gallardo, Acong Atienza, D. Bernardo, Amores, Silao
Caingat, Manuel Yuson, Simeon Datumanong, Manuel Pecson, Sixto
The total sum of P316,411.53 was paid by Atty. Callanta for the rooms, food,
Marella, Joselito Barrera, Radon Macalalag, Oscar Badelles, Antonio
and beverages consumed by the Drilon group, with an unpaid balance of
Acyatan, Ildefonso C. Puerto, Nestor Atienza, Gil Batula Array Corot,
P302,197.30. Per Attorney Daniel Martinez's last telephone conversation
Dimakuta Corot Romeo Fortes Irving Petilla, Teodoro Palma, Gil Palma,
with Ms. Villanueva, Atty. Callanta still has an outstanding account of
Danilo Deen, Delsanto, Resuello, Araneta, Vicente Real, Sylvio Casuncad
P232,782.65 at Philippine Plaza.
Espina, Guerrero, Julius Neri, Linda Lim, Ben Lim, C. Batica, Luis Formilleza,
Felix Macalag Mariano Benedicto, Atilano, Araneta, Renato Callanta.
Atty. Callanta admitted that he signed the contract for 40 rooms at the
Philippine Plaza. He made a downpayment of P123,000. His "working sheet'
Atty. Nilo Pena admitted that the Quasha Law Office of which he is a senior
showed that the following persons contributed for that down payment:
partner, gave P25,000 to Callanta for rooms at the Philippine Plaza so that
some members of his law firm could campaign for the Drilon group (t.s.n.
(a) Nilo Pena (Quasha Law Office) P 25,000 July 5,1989, pp. 7678) during the legal aid seminar and the IBP convention.
Most of the members of his law firm are fraternity brothers of Secretary Drilon
(b) Antonio Carpio 20,000 (meaning, members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity). He admitted being
sympathetic to the candidacy of Atty. Drilon and the members of her slate,
(c) Toto Ferrer (Carpio Law Office) 10,000 two of whom Jose Grapilon and Simeon Datumanong — are Sigma Rhoans.
They consider Atty. Drilon as a "sigma rho sister," her husband being a
(d) Jay Castro 10,000 sigma rhoan.

(e) Danny Deen 20,000


Atty. Antonio Carpio, also a Sigma Rhoan, reserved a room for the members being my boss, the significance there is that the husband is my brother in the
of his own firm who attended the legal aid seminar and the convention. He Sigma Rho."
made the reservation through Atty. Callanta to whom he paid P20,000 (t.s.n.
July 6,1989, pp. 30-34). He cheered up Mrs., Drilon when her spirits were low. He talked to her
immediate circle which included Art Tiu, Tony Carpio, Nilo Pena, Amy Wong,
Atty. Carpio assisted Atty. Drilon in her campaign during the convention, by Atty. Grapilon, Victor Lazatin, and Boy Reyno. They assessed the progress
soliciting the votes of delegates he knew, like Atty. Albacite his former of the campaign, and measured the strengths and weaknesses of the other
teacher (but the latter was already committed to Nisce), and Atty. Romy groups The group had sessions as early as the later part of May.
Fortes, a classmate of his in the U.P. College of Law (t. t.s.n. July 6, 1989,
pp. 22, 29, 39). Room 114, the suite listed in the name of Assistant Secretary Benedicto
toted up a bill of P23,110 during the 2-day IBP convention/election. A total of
(c) ATTY. RAMON NISCE. 113 phone calls (amounting to Pl,356) were recorded as emanating from his
room.
Atty. Nisce, through his brother-in-law, Ricardo Paras, entered into a contract
with the Hyatt Hotel for a total of 29 rooms plus one (1) seventh-floor room. Opposite Room 114, was Room 112, also a suite, listed in the names of Mrs.
He made a downpayment of P20,000 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p. 58) on April Drilon, Gladys Tiongco (candidate for Governor, Eastern Mindanao) and Amy
20, 1989, and P37,632.45 on May 10, or a total of P57,632.45. Wong (candidate for Governor, Metro Manila). These two rooms served as
the "action center' or "war room" where campaign strategies were discussed
Ms. Cecile Flores, Ms. Milagros Ocampo, and Mr. Ramon Jacinto, the sales before and during the convention. It was in these rooms where the
department manager, credit manager, and reservation manager, respectively supporters of the Drilon group, like Attys. Carpio, Callanta, Benedicto, the
of the Hyatt, testified that Atty. Nisce's bill amounted to P216,127.74 (t.s.n. Quasha and the ACCRA lawyers met to plot their moves.
June 28, 1989, pp. 57-58; Exhibits E-Flores, F-Jacinto G-Ocampo).
(7) Paying the dues or other indebtedness of any number (Sec. 14[e], IBP
As earlier mentioned, Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms for those BY-Laws).
who committed themselves to his candidacy.
Atty. Teresita C. Sison, IBP Treasurer, testified that she has heard of
The hotel guests of Atty. Nisce were: Gloria Agunos Dennis Habanel B. candidates paying the IBP dues of lawyers who promised to vote for or
Batula, John E. Asuncion, Reynaldo Cortes, Lourdes Santos, Elmer Datuin, support them, but she has no way of ascertaining whether it was a candidate
Romualdo Din, Antonio Nalapo, Israel Damasco, Candido Balbin, Serrano who paid the delinquent dues of another, because the receipts are issued in
Balot, Ibarra, Joel Llosa, Eltanal, Ruperto, Asuncion, Q. Pilotin Reymundo P. the name of the member for whom payment is made (t.s.n. June 28, 1989,
Guzman, Zoilo Aguinaldo, Clarin, R. Ronquillo, Dominador Carillo, Filomeno pp. 24-28).
Balinas, Ernesto Sabulan, Yusop Pangadapun, A. Viray, Icampo, Abelardo
Fermin, C. Quiaoit, Augurio Pamintuan, Daniel Macaraeg, Onofre Tejada. She has noticed, though, that there is an upsurge of payments in March,
April, May during any election year. This year, the collections increased by
(6) Campaigning by labor officials for Atty. Violeta Drilon P100,000 over that of last year (a non-election year from Pl,413,425 to
Pl,524,875 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p. 25).
In violation of the prohibition against "campaigning for or against a candidate
while holding an elective, judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the (8) Distribution of materials other than bio-data of not more than one page of
Government' (Sec. 14[c], Art. I, IBP By-Laws), Mariano E. Benedicto II, legal size sheet of paper (Sec. 14[a], IBP By-Laws).
Assistant Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment, testified that he
took a leave of absence from his office to attend the IBP convention. He On the convention floor on the day of the election, Atty. Paculdo caused to
stayed at the Philippine Plaza with the Drilon group admittedly to give "some be distributed his bio-data and copies of a leaflet entitled "My Quest," as wen
moral assistance" to Atty. Violeta Drilon. He did so because he is a member as, the lists of his slate. Attys. Drilon and Nisce similarly distributed their
of the Sigma Rho Fraternity. When asked about the significance of Sigma tickets and bio-data.
Rho, Secretary Benedicto explained: "More than the husband of Mrs. Drilon
The campaign materials of Atty. Paculdo cost from P15,000 to P20,000. Another Nisce candidate, Cesar Viola, withdrew from the race and refused to
They were printed by his own printing shop. be nominated (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, p. 104). Vicente P. Tordilla who was
Nisce's candidate for Governor became Paculdo's candidate instead (t.s.n.
(9) Causing distribution of such statement to be done by persons other than June 29, 1989, p. 104).
those authorized by the officer presiding at the election (Sec. 14[b], IBP By-
Laws). Nisce recalled that during the Bench and Bar Dialogue in Cotabato City,
Court Administrator Tiro went around saying, "I am not campaigning, but my
Atty. Paculdo employed uniformed girls to distribute his campaign materials wife is a candidate." Nisce said that the presidents of several IBP chapters
on the convention floor. Atty. Carpio noted that there were more campaign informed him that labor officials were campaigning for Mrs. Drilon (t.s.n. June
materials distributed at the convention site this year than in previous years. 29,1989, pp. 109-110). He mentioned Ciony de la Cerna, who allegedly
The election was more heated and expensive (t.s.n. July 6,1989, p. 39). campaigned in La Union (t.s.n. June 29,1989,p.111)

Atty. Benjamin Bernardino, the incumbent President of the IBP Rizal Atty. Joel A. Llosa, Nisce's supporter and candidate for governor of the
Chapter, and a candidate for chairman of the House of Delegates on Nisce's Western Visayas, expressed his disappointment over the IBP elections
ticket, testified that campaign materials were distributed during the because some delegates flip-flopped from one camp to another. He testified
convention by girls and by lawyers. He saw members of the ACCRA law firm that when he arrived at the Manila Domestic Airport he was met by an
campaigning for Atty. Drilon (t.s.n. July 3,1989, pp. 142-145). assistant regional director of the DOLE who offered to bring him to the
Philippine Plaza, but he declined the offer. During the legal aid seminar, Atty.
(10) Inducing or influencing a member to withhold his vote, or to vote for or Drilon invited him to transfer to the Philippine Plaza where a room had been
reserved for him. He declined the invitation (t.s.n. July 4,1989, pp. 102-106).
against a candidate (Sec. 14[e], IBP BY-Laws).

Atty. Llosa said that while he was still in Dumaguete City, he already knew
Atty. Bernardino disclosed that his cousin, Atty. Romeo Capulong, urged him
to withdraw his candidacy for chairman of the House of Delegates and to run that the three candidates had their headquarters in separate hotels: Paculdo,
as vice-chairman in Violy Drilon's slate, but he declined (t.s.n. July 3,1989, at the Holiday Inn; Drilon, at the Philippine Plaza; and Nisce, at the Hyatt. He
knew about this because a week before the elections, representatives of
pp. 137, 149).
Atty. Drilon went to Dumaguete City to campaign. He mentioned Atty. Rodil
Montebon of the ACCRA Law Office, accompanied by Atty. Julve the
Atty. Gloria Agunos personnel director of the Hyatt Terraces Hotel in Baguio Assistant Regional Director of the Department of Labor in Dumaguete City.
and president of the Baguio-Benguet IBP Chapter, recalled that in the third These two, he said, offered to give him two PAL tickets and accommodations
week of May 1989, after the Tripartite meet of the Department of Labor & at the Philippine Plaza (t.s.n. July 4,1989, pp. 101-104). But he declined the
Employment at the Green Valley Country Club in Baguio City, she met Atty. offer because he was already committed to Atty. Nisce.
Drilon, together with two labor officers of Region 1, Attys. Filomeno Balbin
and Atty. Mansala Atty. Drilon solicited her (Atty. Agunos') vote and invited
her to stay at the Philippine Plaza where a room would be available for her. Atty. Llosa also revealed that before he left for Manila on May 31, 1989, a
Atty. Paculdo also tried to enlist her support during the chapter presidents' businessman, Henry Dy, approached him to convince him to vote for Atty.
Paculdo. But Llosa told Dy that he was already committed to Nisce.
meeting to choose their nominee for governor for the Northern Luzon region
(t.s.n. July 13,1989, pp. 43-54).
He did not receive any plane tickets from Atty. Nisce because he and his two
Atty. Nisce testified that a Manila Chapter 4 delegate, Marcial Magsino, who companions (Atty. Eltanal and Atty. Ruperto) had earlier bought their own
had earlier committed his vote to Nisce changed his mind when he was tickets for Manila (t.s.n. July 4, 1989, p. 101).
offered a judgeship (This statement, however, is admittedly hearsay). When
Nisce confronted Magsino about the alleged offer, the latter denied that there SUMMARY OF CAMPAIGN EXPENSES INCURRED
was such an offer. Nisce's informant was Antonio G. Nalapo an IBP
candidate who also withdrew. BY THE CANDIDATES
Atty. Paculdo admitted having spent some P250,000 during his three weeks assistance by the Undersecretary of Labor to Mrs. Drilon and her group; the
of campaigning. Of this amount, the Capitol Bar Association (of which he was use of labor arbiters to meet delegates at the airport and escort them to the
the chapter president) contributed about P150,000. The Capitol Bar Philippine Plaza Hotel; the giving of pre-paid plane tickets and hotel
Association is a voluntary bar association composed of Quezon City lawyers. accommodations to delegates (and some families who accompanied them) in
exchange for their support; the pirating of some candidates by inducing them
He spent about P100,000 to defray the expenses of his trips to the provinces to "hop" or "flipflop" from one ticket to another for some rumored
(Bicol provinces, Pampanga, Abra, Mountain Province and Bulacan) (t.s.n. consideration; all these practices made a political circus of the proceedings
June 29,1989, pp. 9-14). and tainted the whole election process.

Atty. Nisce's hotel bills at the Hyatt amounted to P216,127.74. This does not The candidates and many of the participants in that election not only violated
include the expenses for his campaign which began several months before the By-Laws of the IBP but also the ethics of the legal profession which
the June 3rd election, and his purchases of airplane tickets for some imposes on all lawyers, as a corollary of their obligation to obey and uphold
delegates. the constitution and the laws, the duty to "promote respect for law and legal
processes" and to abstain from 'activities aimed at defiance of the law or at
lessening confidence in the legal system" (Rule 1.02, Canon 1, Code of
The records of the Philippine Plaza Hotel, headquarters of Atty. Drilon's
Professional Responsibility). Respect for law is gravely eroded when lawyers
camp, showed that her campaign rang up over P600,000 in hotel bills. Atty.
themselves, who are supposed to be millions of the law, engage in unlawful
Callanta paid P316,411.53 for the rooms, food, and beverage consumed by
practices and cavalierly brush aside the very rules that the IBP formulated for
Atty. Drilon's supporters, but still left an unpaid bill of P302,197.30 at
convention's end. their observance.

The unseemly ardor with which the candidates pursued the presidency of the
FINDINGS.
association detracted from the dignity of the legal profession. The spectacle
of lawyers bribing or being bribed to vote one way or another, certainly did
From all the foregoing, it is evident that the manner in which the principal not uphold the honor of the profession nor elevate it in the public's esteem.
candidates for the national positions in the Integrated Bar conducted their
campaign preparatory to the elections on June 3, 1989, violated Section 14
The Court notes with grave concern what appear to be the evasions, denials
of the IBP By-Laws and made a travesty of the idea of a "strictly non-political"
and outright prevarications that tainted the statements of the witnesses,
Integrated Bar enshrined in Section 4 of the By-Laws.
including tome of the candidates, during the initial hearing conducted by it
before its fact-finding committee was created. The subsequent investigation
The setting up of campaign headquarters by the three principal candidates conducted by this Committee has revealed that those parties had been less
(Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo) in five-star hotels: The Philippine Plaza, the than candid with the Court and seem to have conspired among themselves
Holiday Inn and The Hyatt the better for them to corral and entertain the to deceive it or at least withhold vital information from it to conceal the
delegates billeted therein; the island hopping to solicit the votes of the irregularities committed during the campaign.
chapter presidents who comprise the 120-member House of Delegates that
elects the national officers and regional governors; the formation of tickets,
CONCLUSIONS.
slates, or line-ups of candidates for the other elective positions aligned with,
or supporting, either Drilon, Paculdo or Nisce; the procurement of written
commitments and the distribution of nomination forms to be filled up by the It has been mentioned with no little insistence that the provision in the 1987
delegates; the reservation of rooms for delegates in three big hotels, at the Constitution (See. 8, Art. VIII) providing for a Judicial and Bar Council
expense of the presidential candidates; the use of a PNB plane by Drilon and composed of seven (7) members among whom is "a representative of the
some members of her ticket to enable them to "assess their chances" among Integrated Bar," tasked to participate in the selection of nominees for
the chapter presidents in the Bicol provinces; the printing and distribution of appointment to vacant positions in the judiciary, may be the reason why the
tickets and bio-data of the candidates which in the case of Paculdo position of IBP president has attracted so much interest among the lawyers.
admittedly cost him some P15,000 to P20,000; the employment of uniformed The much coveted "power" erroneously perceived to be inherent in that office
girls (by Paculdo) and lawyers (by Drilon) to distribute their campaign might have caused the corruption of the IBP elections. To impress upon the
materials on the convention floor on the day of the election; the giving of participants in that electoral exercise the seriousness of the misconduct
which attended it and the stern disapproval with which it is viewed by this Section 47. National Officers. — The Integrated Bar of the
Court, and to restore the non-political character of the IBP and reduce, if not Philippines shall have a President and Executive Vice-
entirely eliminate, expensive electioneering for the top positions in the President to be chosen by the Board of Governors from
organization which, as the recently concluded elections revealed, spawned among nine (9) regional governors, as much as practicable,
unethical practices which seriously diminished the stature of the IBP as an on a rotation basis. The governors shall be ex oficio Vice-
association of the practitioners of a noble and honored profession, the Court President for their respective regions. There shall also be a
hereby ORDERS: Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Governors to be
appointed by the President with the consent of the Board.
1. The IBP elections held on June3,1989 should be as they are hereby
annulled. 6. Section 33(b), Art. V, IBP By-Laws, is hereby amended as follows:

2. The provisions of the IBP By-Laws for the direct election by the House of (b) The President and Executive Vice President of the IBP
Delegates (approved by this Court in its resolution of July 9, 1985 in Bar shall be the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of
Matter No. 287) of the following national officers: the House of Delegates. The Secretary, Treasurer, and
Sergeant-at-Arms shall be appointed by the President with
(a) the officers of the House of Delegates; the consent of the House of Delegates.'

(b) the IBP president; and 7. Section 33(g) of Article V providing for the positions of Chairman, Vice-
Chairman, Secretary-Treasurer and Sergeant-at- Arms of the House of
Delegates is hereby repealed
(c) the executive vice-president,

be repealed, this Court being empowered to amend, modify or repeal the By- 8. Section 37, Article VI is hereby amended to read as follows:
Laws of the IBP under Section 77, Art. XI of said By-Laws.
Section 37. Composition of the Board. — The Integrated Bar
of the Philippines shall be governed by a Board of Governors
3. The former system of having the IBP President and Executive Vice-
consisting of nine (9) Governors from the nine (9) regions as
President elected by the Board of Governors (composed of the governors of
the nine [91 IBP regions) from among themselves (as provided in Sec. 47, delineated in Section 3 of the Integration Rule, on the
representation basis of one (1) Governor for each region to
Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be restored. The right of automatic
be elected by the members of the House of Delegates from
succession by the Executive Vice-President to the presidency upon the
that region only. The position of Governor should be rotated
expiration of their two-year term (which was abolished by this Court's
among the different Chapters in the region.
resolution dated July 9,1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby
restored.
9. Section 39, Article V is hereby amended as follows:
4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-President
shall automatically succeed to the office of president. The incoming board of Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors at
governors shall then elect an Executive Vice-President from among least one (1) month before the national convention the
themselves. The position of Executive Vice-President shall be rotated among delegates from each region shall elect the governor for their
the nine (9) IBP regions. One who has served as president may not run for region, the choice of which shall as much as possible be
election as Executive Vice-President in a succeeding election until after the rotated among the chapters in the region.
rotation of the presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been
completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew. 10. Section33(a), Article V hereby is amended by addingthe following
provision as part of the first paragraph:
5. Section 47 of Article VII is hereby amended to read as follows:
No convention of the House of Delegates nor of the general
membership shall be held prior to any election in an election
year.

11. Section 39, (a), (b), (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7) of Article VI should
be as they are hereby deleted.

All other provisions of the By-Laws including its amendment by the


Resolution en banc of this Court of July 9, 1985 (Bar Matter No. 287) that are
inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed or modified.

12. Special elections for the Board of Governors shall be held in the nine (9)
IBP regions within three (3) months, after the promulgation of the Court's
resolution in this case. Within thirty (30) days thereafter, the Board of
Governors shall meet at the IBP Central Office in Manila to elect from among
themselves the IBP national president and executive vice-president. In these
special elections, the candidates in the election of the national officers held
on June 3,1989, particularly identified in Sub-Head 3 of this Resolution
entitled "Formation of Tickets and Single Slates," as well as those identified
in this Resolution as connected with any of the irregularities attendant upon
that election, are ineligible and may not present themselves as candidate for
any position.

13. Pending such special elections, a caretaker board shall be appointed by


the Court to administer the affairs of the IBP. The Court makes clear that the
dispositions here made are without prejudice to its adoption in due time of
such further and other measures as are warranted in the premises.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla. Bidin,


Sarmiento, Cortes, Griño-Aquino and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Fernan, C.J. and Medialdea, J., took no part.

Gutierrez, Jr., J., is on leave.


In his defense, respondent claimed that his act of accommodating
Encarnacion Pascual's request to make payments to the SSS did not amount
Republic of the Philippines to professional misconduct but was rather an act of Christian charity.
SUPREME COURT Furthermore, he claimed that the action was moot and academic, the amount
Manila of P1,804.00 having already been paid by him to the SSS. Lastly, he
disclaimed liability on the ground that the acts complained of were not done
by him in his capacity as a practicing lawyer but on account of his office as a
EN BANC
prosecutor.

On September 3, 1998, the Commission recommended that the respondent


be reprimanded, with a warning that the commission of the same or similar
A.C. No. 167 March 9, 1999 offense would be dealt with more severely in the future. On November 5,
1998, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
ATTY. PRUDENCIO S. PENTICOSTES, complainant, adopted and approved its Commission's recommendation.
vs.
PROSECUTOR DIOSDADO S. IBAÑEZ, respondent. This Court adopts the recommendation of the IBP and finds respondent guilty
of professional misconduct. While there is no doubt that payment of the
contested amount had been effected to the SSS on November 23, 1990, it is
clear, however, that the same was made only after a complaint had been
ROMERO, J.: filed against respondent. Furthermore, the duties of a provincial prosecutor
do not include receiving money from persons with official transactions with
Sometime in 1989, Encarnacion Pascual, the sister-in-law of Atty. Prudencio his office.
S. Penticostes (herein complainant) was sued for non-remittance of SSS
payments. The complaint was docketed as I.S. 89-353 and assigned to This court has repeatedly admonished lawyers that a high sense of morality,
Prosecutor Diosdado S. Ibañez (herein respondent) for preliminary honesty and fair dealing is expected and required of a member of the bar.
investigation. In the course of the investigation, Encarnacion Pascual gave Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that "[a] lawyer
P1,804.00 to respondent as payment of her Social Security System (SSS) shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."
contributions in arrears. Respondent, however, did not remit the amount to
the system. The fact of non-payment was certified to by the SSS on October It is glaringly clear that respondent's non-remittance for over one year of the
2, 1989. funds coming from Encarnacion Pascual constitutes conduct in gross
violation of the above canon. The belated payment of the same to the SSS
On November 16, 1990 or over a year later, complainant filed with the does not excuse his misconduct. While Pascual may not strictly be
Regional Trial Court of Tarlac a complaint for professional misconduct considered a client of respondent, the rules relating to a lawyer's handling of
against Ibañez due to the latter's failure to remit the SSS contributions of his funds of a client is applicable. In Daroy v. Legaspi, 1 this court held that "(t)he
sister-in-law. The complaint alleged that respondent's misappropriation of relation between an attorney and his client is highly fiduciary in nature...
Encarnacion Pascual's SSS contributions amounted to a violation of his oath [thus] lawyers are bound to promptly account for money or property received
as a lawyer. Seven days later, or on November 23, 1990, respondent paid by them on behalf of their clients and failure to do so constitutes professional
P1,804.00 to the SSS on behalf of Encarnacion Pascual. misconduct." The failure of respondent to immediately remit the amount to
the SSS gives rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his
In the meantime, the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the own use. This is a gross violation of general morality as well as professional
Philippines-Tarlac Chapter, the court observing that it had no competence to ethics; it impairs public confidence in the legal profession and deserves
receive evidence on the matter. Upon receipt of the case, the Tarlac Chapter punishment. 2
forwarded the same to the IBP's Commission on Bar Discipline.
Respondent's claim that he may not be held liable because he committed
such acts, not in his capacity as a private lawyer, but as a prosecutor is
unavailing. Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

These canons shall apply to lawyers in government services


in the discharge of their official tasks.

As stated by the IBP Committee that drafted the Code, "a lawyer does not
shed his professional obligations upon assuming public office. In fact, his
public office should make him more sensitive to his professional obligations
because a lawyer's disreputable conduct is more likely to be magnified in the
public's eye. 3 Want of moral integrity is to be more severely condemned in a
lawyer who holds a responsible public office. 4

ACCORDINGLY, this Court REPRIMANDS respondent with a STERN


WARNING that the commission of the same or similar offense will be dealt
with more severely in the future.

LET copies of this decision be spread in his records and copies be furnished
the Department of Justice and the Office of the Bar Confidant.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza,


Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ.,
concur.

Footnotes

1 65 SCRA 304 (1975).

2 RAGPALO, Legal Ethics, 194 (4th ed., 1989).

3 Comments of the IBP Committee, p. 30.

4 Macoco v. Diaz, 70 Phil. 97.


"3. That after the Case No. 11204 was finally won, and a Writ of
Execution was issued by the Honorable Municipal Trial Court in
Republic of the Philippines Cities of Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 3, the same respondent
SUPREME COURT lawyer represented the petitioners herein;
Baguio City
"4. That when respondent counsel disturbed the association
THIRD DIVISION (Cagayan de Oro Landless Residents Association, Inc.), to which all
the complainants belong, by surreptitiously selling some rights to
A.C. No. 4346 April 3, 2002 other persons without the consent of the petitioners herein, they
decided to sever their client-lawyer relationship;
ERLINDA ABRAGAN, MILA GINA JAVIER, REYNALDO MERCADO,
PATERNO TORRES, BENIGNA ANTIBO, ELEISER SALVADOR, EDNA "5. That in fact, the National Bureau of Investigation of Cagayan de
SAPON, JULIANA CUENCA, ESPERANZA BUENAFE, VICENTE Oro City, is presently undertaking an investigation on the illegal
BARNAGA, MARTHA SAPON, JOSEFINA OPEÑA, PUREZA WABE, activities of Atty. Maximo Rodriguez pertaining to his express
RONULFO LOPEZ, DOMINADOR HERNANDEZ, FELIPA EMBATE, involvement in the illegal and unauthorized apportionment,
ROQUE CATIIL, JERRY SAPON, CONCEPCION MATANOG, and PABLO assignment and sale of parcels of land subject to the Case No.
SALOMON, complainants, 11204, where he represented the poor landless claimants of
vs. Cagayan de Oro City, which include your petitioners in this case;
ATTY. MAXIMO G. RODRIGUEZ, respondent.
"6. That petitioners herein later filed an indirect contempt charge
PANGANIBAN, J.: under Civil Case No. 11204 against Sheriff Fernando Loncion et al.,
on August 2, 1991 engaging the services of Atty. LORETO O.
SALVA, SR., an alleged former student of law of Atty. Maximo
Lawyers violate their oath of office when they represent conflicting interests. Rodriguez, [and a] certified true and correct copy of the complaint
They taint not only their own professional practice, but the entire legal thereat consisting of four (4) pages is herewith attached and
profession itself.1âwphi1.nêt photocopies of which are also attached to the duplicates hereof, and
correspondingly marked as their Annex 'B';
The Case and the Facts
"7. That respondent lawyer, Atty. Maximo Rodriguez, (in the Indirect
Before us is a verified Petition1 praying for the disbarment of Atty. Maximo G. Contempt Case under the same Civil Case No. 11204,)
Rodriguez because of alleged illegal and unethical acts. The Petition REPRESENTED and actively took up the defense of FERNANDO
relevantly reads as follows: LONCION et al. much to the dismay, damage and prejudice of the
herein petitioners, [and] a copy of Atty. Rodriguez's Answer, which is
"2. That sometime in 1986, the petitioners hired the services of the also certified true and correct by Clerk of Court III Gerardo Ucat of
respondent and the latter, represented the former in the case entitled Branch 3 of MTCC – Cagayan de Oro City, consisting of three (3)
PABLO SALOMON et al vs. RICARDO DACALUZ et al., before the pages, is attached to the original of this Petition, while photocopies of
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 3 the same are attached to the other copies hereof and accordingly
docketed as Civil Case No. 11204, for Forcible Entry with Petition for marked as Annex 'C';
a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Damages, [and] a Certified True
and Correct Copy of the COMPLAINT by Clerk of Court III Gerardo "8. That the records will bear the petitioners out that their counsel,
B. Ucat of the said Court, is herewith attached to the original of this Atty. SALVA SR. later on withdrew the case of Indirect Contempt
PETITION, while photocopies of the same are also attached to the upon the suggestion of Atty. Maximo Rodriguez; and instead, filed
duplicate copies of this same Petition and marked as Annex 'A' the Motion for the Issuance of an Alias Writ of Execution;
hereof;
"9. That on January 12, 1993, the herein respondent, without "14. That to make matters worse, respondent Atty. Rodriguez
consulting the herein Petitioners who are all poor and ignorant of eventually fenced an area consisting of about 10, 200 square meters
court procedures and the law, filed in behalf of the plaintiffs (which within Lot No. 1982[,] the subject matter in Civil Case No. 11204
include the herein Petitioners) in Civil Case No. 11204, a Motion to without the consent of the herein petitioners. He even openly and
Withdraw Plaintiffs' Exhibits, [and] a certified true and correct copy of publicly proclaimed his possession and ownership thereof, which fact
said Motion by Mr. Gerardo Ucat of MTCC Branch 3, Cagayan de is again and also under NBI investigation;
Oro City is herewith attached to the original of this Petition, while
photocopies of the same are also attached to the rest of the copies "15. That all the foregoing acts of respondent lawyer plus his
of this same Petition, and are correspondingly marked as their Annex continuing and ongoing illegal and unethical maneuvers have
'D'. deprived the herein petitioners of their vested rights to possess and
eventually own the land they have for decades possessed, and
"10. That the illegal and unethical actions of Atty. Maximo Rodriguez declared as such by final judgment in Civil Case No. 11204."
are most obnoxious, condemnable, and highly immoral, to say the
least, more so if we consider his social standing and ascendancy in In his Comment,2 respondent flatly denied the accusations of petitioners. He
the community of Cagayan de Oro City; explained that the withdrawal of the exhibits, having been approved by the
trial court, was not "illegal, obnoxious, undesirable and highly immoral." He
"11. That the records of Civil Case No. 11204 which are voluminous added that he took over the 8,000 square meters of land only after it had
will bear the petitioners' allegations against the herein respondent, been given to him as attorney's fees. In his words:
who, after representing them initially, then transferring allegiance and
services to the adverse parties (Lonchion, Palacio and NHA "14. Respondent ADMITS that he fenced an area of about 8,000 sq.
Manager), came back to represent the herein petitioners without any [m]. after the association had awarded the same as attorney's fees in
regard [for] the rules of law and the Canons of Professional Ethics, Civil Case Number 11204, the dismissal of the appeal by the NHA,
which is highly contemptible and a clear violation of his oath as a the successful handling of three (3) cases in the SUPREME COURT,
lawyer and an officer of the courts of law; the pending case of QUIETING OF TITLE filed by the NHA, and for
the pending reconveyance case, Civil Case No. 93-573, supra.
"12. That these acts are only those that records will bear, because These area of 8,000 sq. [m]., was awarded as attorney's fees, which
outside of the court records, respondent, without regard [for] [were] supposed to be ten percent of the 22 hectares, Lot No. 1982,
delicadeza, fair play and the rule of law, has assigned, apportioned the subject matter of Civil Case No. 11204, but the association and
and sold parcels of land[,] subject matter in Civil Case No. 11204 its members were able to take actual possession by judgment of the
which legally have been pronounced and decided to be in the courts only o[f] the twelve (12) hectares. [This] area consisting of
possession of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 11204, who are partly 8,000 sq. [m]., and consisting of two (2) lots [was] fenced by the
the petitioners herein. Thus, they cannot yet enjoy the fruits of the respondent to prevent squatters from entering the area. The rights of
tedious and protracted legal battle because of respondent's illegal possession and ownership o[f] this area by the respondent depends
acts, which have instilled fear among the plaintiffs and the petitioners upon the outcome of Civil Case No. 93-573, supra, for reconveyance
herein; of title by the association and its members versus the NHA, et. al. If it
is true that this is under investigation by the NBI, then why, not wait
"13. That respondent lawyer even represented ERLINDA ABRAGAN, and submit the investigation of the NHA, instead of filing this
one of the herein petitioners, in a later proceedings in Civil Case No. unwarranted, false and fabricated charge based on preposterous
11204 wherein the apportionment of parcels of land was and ridiculous charges without any proof whatsoever, except the vile
erroneously, unprocedurally and illegally submitted to a [language] of an irresponsible lawyer."3
commissioner, and that ERLINDA ABRAGAN, after winning in the
said Civil Case was later on dispossessed of her rights by Thereafter, petitioners filed a Reply4 in which they reiterated their allegations
respondent counsel's maneuver, after the decision (in Civil Case No. against respondent and added that the latter likewise violated Rule 15.03 of
11208) became final executory; the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Court referred the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and/or
decision.5
Report of the Investigating Commissioner At the outset, we agree with Commissioner Navarro's conclusion that apart
from their allegations in their various pleadings, petitioners did not proffer any
In her Report and Recommendation dated January 23, 2001, Investigating proof tending to show that respondent had sold to other persons several
IBP Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro recommended that respondent be rights over the land in question; and that he had induced the former counsel
suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months for violation of Rule for petitioners, Atty. Salva Jr., to withdraw the indirect contempt case that
15.03 of Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Her report they had filed. Neither did the IBP find anything wrong as regards the 8,000
reads in part as follows: square meters awarded to respondent as payment for his legal services.
Petitioners' bare assertions, without any proof to back them up, would not
"From the facts obtaining, it is apparent that respondent represented justify the imposition of a penalty on respondent.
conflicting interest considering that the complainants were the same
plaintiffs in both cases and were duly specified in the pleadings Having said that, we find, however, that respondent falls short of the integrity
particularly in the caption of the cases. Under the said predicament and good moral character required from all lawyers. They are expected to
even if complainants were excluded as members of the Association uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times. The trust and
represented by the respondent; the latter should have first secured confidence clients repose in them require a high standard and appreciation of
complainants' written consent before representing defendants in the the latter's duty to the former, the legal profession, the courts and the public.
Indirect Contempt case particularly Macario Palacio, president of the Indeed, the bar must maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as
Association, or inhibited himself. of honesty and fair dealings. To this end, lawyers should refrain from doing
anything that might tend to lessen the confidence of the public in the fidelity,
"It is very unfortunate that in his desire to render service to his client, honesty and integrity of their profession.7
respondent overlooked the fact that he already violated Rule 15.03 of
[C]anon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit: In the present case, respondent clearly violated Rule 15.03 of Canon 15 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that "a lawyer shall
not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned
'Rule 15.03 - A lawyer shall not represent conflicting
interests except by written consent of all concerned given given after full disclosure of the facts."
after a full disclosure of the facts.'
The Court explained in Buted v. Hernando:8
"We have no alternative but to abide by the rules."6
"[A] lawyer represents conflicting interests when, in behalf of one
client, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another client
IBP Board of Governors' Resolution
requires him to oppose.
Upholding the above-quoted Report, the Board of Governors of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines recommended via its May 26, 2001 "The obligation to represent the client with undivided fidelity and not
Resolution that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two (2) to divulge his secrets or confidence forbids also the
subsequent acceptance of retainers or employment from others in
months for violation of Rule 15.03 of Canon 15 of the Code of Professional
matters adversely affecting any interest of the client with respect to
Responsibility.
which confidence has been reposed."9 (Italics in the original)
This Court's Ruling
In the case at bar, petitioners were the same complainants in the indirect
contempt case and in the Complaint for forcible entry in Civil Case No.
We agree with the findings and the recommendation of the IBP Board of 11204.10 Respondent should have evaluated the situation first before
Governors, but hold that the penalty should be six-month suspension as agreeing to be counsel for the defendants in the indirect contempt
recommended by the investigating commissioner. proceedings. Attorneys owe undivided allegiance to their clients, and should
at all times weigh their actions, especially in their dealings with the latter and
Administrative Liability of Respondent the public at large. They must conduct themselves beyond reproach at all
times.
The Court will not tolerate any departure from the "straight and narrow" path hereby SUSPENDED for six (6) months from the practice of law, effective
demanded by the ethics of the legal profession.1âwphi1.nêt upon his receipt of this Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the same
or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.1âwphi1.nêt
In Hilado v. David,11 which we quote below, the Court advised lawyers to be
like Caesar's wife – to be pure and to appear to be so. Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent as attorney
and served on the IBP, as well as on the Court Administrator who shall
"This stern rule is designed not alone to prevent the dishonest circulate it to all courts for their information and guidance.
practitioner from fraudulent conduct, but as well as to protect the
honest lawyer from unfounded suspicion of unprofessional practice. SO ORDERED.
It is founded on principles of public policy, on good taste. As has
been said in another case, the question is not necessarily one of the Melo, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio, JJ., concur.
rights of the parties, but as to whether the attorney has adhered to Vitug, J.,abroad on official business.
proper professional standard. With these thoughts in mind, it
behooves attorneys, like Caesar's wife, not only to keep inviolate the
client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery
and double-dealing. Only thus can litigants be encouraged to entrust
their secrets to their attorneys which is of paramount importance in
the administration of justice." Footnotes

1 Rollo, pp. 1-6.


Because of his divided allegiance, respondent has eroded, rather than 2
enhanced, the public perception of the legal profession. His divided loyalty Ibid., pp. 46-57.
3 Id., pp. 53-54.
constitutes malpractice for which he may be suspended, following Section 4 Id., p. 81.
27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, which provides: 5 Resolution dated December 4, 1995; id., p. 100.
6 Report and Recommendation filed on June 7, 2001, pp. 7-8.
"SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of Attorneys by Supreme Court, 7 Marcelo v. Javier Sr., 214 SCRA 1, 12-13, September 18,
grounds therefor. – Any member of the bar may be disbarred or
1992; Fernandez v. Grecia, 223 SCRA 425, 434, June 17, 1993.
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any 8 203 SCRA 1, October 17, 1991.
deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly 9 Ibid., p. 5, per curiam.
immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving 10 Rollo, p. 9.
moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required 11 84 Phil. 571, 578-579, September 21, 1949, per Tuason, J.
to take before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience 12 See Nombrado v. Hernandez, 26 SCRA 13, November 25,
appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to 1968; San Jose v. Cruz, 57 Phil. 792, February 4, 1933.
do. x x x." 13 Buted v. Hernando, supra.
14 See Vda. De Alisbo v. Jalandoon Sr., 199 SCRA 321, July 31,
Complainants ask that respondent be disbarred. We find however that 1991; Bautista v. Barrios, 9 SCRA 695, December 21, 1963; Natan
suspension of six (6) months from the practice of law, as recommended by v. Capule, 91 Phil. 640, July 23, 1952; Cantorne v. Ducosisn, 57 Phil.
Commissioner Navarro, is sufficient to discipline respondent. 24, August 9, 1932.

A survey of cases involving conflicting interests on the part of counsel


reveals that the Court has imposed on erring attorneys 12 either a reprimand,
or a suspension from the practice of law from five (5) months 13 to as high as
two (2) years.14

WHEREFORE, Maximo G. Rodriguez is found guilty of violating Rule 15.03


of Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is
helped him prepare standard quitclaims for creditors. In sum, complainant
avers that a lawyer-client relationship was established between him and
Republic of the Philippines respondent although no formal document was executed by them at that time.
SUPREME COURT A Retainer Agreement4 dated January 15, 2003 was proposed by
Manila respondent. Complainant, however, did not sign the said agreement because
respondent verbally asked for One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00)
as acceptance fee and a 15% contingency fee upon collection of the
EN BANC
overpayment made by Multitel to Benefon,5 a telecommunications company
based in Finland. Complainant found the proposed fees to be prohibitive and
A.C. No. 8243 July 24, 2009 not within his means.6 Hence, the retainer agreement remained unsigned.7

ROLANDO B. PACANA, JR., Complainant, After a few weeks, complainant was surprised to receive a demand letter
vs. from respondent8 asking for the return and immediate settlement of the funds
ATTY. MARICEL PASCUAL-LOPEZ, Respondent. invested by respondent’s clients in Multitel. When complainant confronted
respondent about the demand letter, the latter explained that she had to send
DECISION it so that her clients – defrauded investors of Multitel – would know that she
was doing something for them and assured complainant that there was
PER CURIAM: nothing to worry about.9

This case stems from an administrative complaint1 filed by Rolando Pacana, Both parties continued to communicate and exchange information regarding
Jr. against Atty. Maricel Pascual-Lopez charging the latter with flagrant the persistent demands made by Multitel investors against complainant. On
violation of the provisions of the Code of Professional these occasions, respondent impressed upon complainant that she can
Responsibility.2Complainant alleges that respondent committed acts closely work with officials of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the
constituting conflict of interest, dishonesty, influence peddling, and failure to Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the
render an accounting of all the money and properties received by her from Bureau of Immigration and Deportations (BID),10 and the Securities and
complainant. Exchange Commission (SEC)11 to resolve complainant’s problems.
Respondent also convinced complainant that in order to be absolved from
On January 2, 2002, complainant was the Operations Director for Multitel any liability with respect to the investment scam, he must be able to show to
Communications Corporation (MCC). MCC is an affiliate company of Multitel the DOJ that he was willing to divest any and all of his interests in Precedent
International Holdings Corporation (Multitel). Sometime in July 2002, MCC including the funds assigned to him by Multitel.12
changed its name to Precedent Communications Corporation (Precedent). 3
Respondent also asked money from complainant allegedly for safekeeping to
According to complainant, in mid-2002, Multitel was besieged by demand be used only for his case whenever necessary. Complainant agreed and
letters from its members and investors because of the failure of its gave her an initial amount of P900,000.00 which was received by respondent
investment schemes. He alleges that he earned the ire of Multitel investors herself.13 Sometime thereafter, complainant again gave
after becoming the assignee of majority of the shares of stock of Precedent respondent P1,000,000.00.14 Said amounts were all part of Precedent’s
and after being appointed as trustee of a fund amounting to Thirty Million collections and sales proceeds which complainant held as assignee of the
Pesos (P30,000,000.00) deposited at Real Bank. company’s properties.15

Distraught, complainant sought the advice of respondent who also happened When complainant went to the United States (US), he received several
to be a member of the Couples for Christ, a religious organization where messages from respondent sent through electronic mail (e-mail) and short
complainant and his wife were also active members. From then on, messaging system (SMS, or text messages) warning him not to return to the
complainant and respondent constantly communicated, with the former Philippines because Rosario Baladjay, president of Multitel, was arrested and
disclosing all his involvement and interests in Precedent and Precedent’s that complainant may later on be implicated in Multitel’s failed investment
relation with Multitel. Respondent gave legal advice to complainant and even system. Respondent even said that ten (10) arrest warrants and a hold
departure order had been issued against him. Complainant, thereafter,
received several e-mail messages from respondent updating him of the have to work with people I am comfortable with. Efren Santos will sign as
status of the case against Multitel and promised that she will settle the matter your lawyer although I will do all the work. He can help with all his
discreetly with government officials she can closely work with in order to connections. Val’s friend in the NBI is the one is (sic) charge of organized
clear complainant’s name.16 In two separate e-mail messages,17 respondent crime who is the entity (sic) who has your warrant. My law partner was the
again asked money from complainant, P200,000 of which was handed by state prosecutor for financial fraud. Basically we have it covered in all
complainant’s wife while respondent was confined in Saint Luke’s Hospital aspects and all departments. I am just trying to liquidate the phones I have
after giving birth,18 and anotherP700,000 allegedly to be given to the NBI.19 allotted for you s ana (sic) for your trooper kasi whether we like it or not, we
have to give this agencies (sic) to make our work easier according to Val.
Through respondent’s persistent promises to settle all complainant’s legal The funds with Mickey are already accounted in the quit claims (sic) as
problems, respondent was able to convince complainant who was still in the attorneys (sic) fees. I hope he will be able to send it so we have funds to
US to execute a deed of assignment in favor of respondent allowing the latter work with.
to retrieve 178 boxes containing cellular phones and accessories stored in
complainant’s house and inside a warehouse.20 He also signed a blank deed As for your kids, legally they can stay here but recently, it is the children who
of sale authorizing respondent to sell his 2002 Isuzu Trooper. 21 (sic) the irate clients and government officials harass and kidnap to make the
individuals they want to come out from hiding (sic). I do not want that to
Sometime in April 2003, wary that respondent may not be able to handle his happen. Things will be really easier on my side.
legal problems, complainant was advised by his family to hire another lawyer.
When respondent knew about this, she wrote to complainant via e-mail, as Please do not worry. Give me 3 months to make it all disappear. But if you
follows: hire Coco, I will give him the free hand to work with your case. Please trust
me. I have never let you down, have I? I told you this will happen but we are
Dear Butchie, ready and prepared. The clients who received the phones will stand by you
and make you the hero in this scandal. I will stand by you always. This is my
expertise. TRUST me! That is all. You have an angel on your side. Always
Hi! Ok ka lang? Hope you are fine. Sorry if I shocked you but I had to do it as
your friend and lawyer. The charges are all non-bailable but all the same as pray though to the best legal mind up there. You will be ok!
the SEC report I told you before. The findings are the same, i.e. your
company was the front for the fraud of Multitel and that funds were provided Candy22
you.
On July 4, 2003, contrary to respondent’s advice, complainant returned to the
I anticipated this, that is why I really pushed for a quitclaim. Rolly is willing to country. On the eve of his departure from the United States, respondent
return the Crosswind, laptap (sic) and [P]alm [P]ilot. Manny Cancio really called up complainant and conveniently informed him that he has been
helped. Anthony na lang. Then, I will need the accounting of all the funds you cleared by the NBI and the BID.23
received from the sale of the phones, every employees and directors[’]
quitclaim (including yours), the funds transmitted to the clients through me, About a month thereafter, respondent personally met with complainant and
the funds you utilized, and whatelse (sic) is still unremitted, every centavo his wife and told them that she has already accumulated P12,500,000.00 as
must be accounted for as DOJ and NBI can have the account opened. attorney’s fees and was willing to give P2,000,000.00 to complainant in
appreciation for his help. Respondent allegedly told complainant that without
I will also need the P30 M proof of deposit with Real [B]ank and the trust his help, she would not have earned such amount. Overwhelmed and
given [to] you. So we can inform them [that] it was not touched by you. relieved, complainant accepted respondent’s offer but respondent, later on,
changed her mind and told complainant that she would instead invest
the P2,000,000.00 on his behalf in a business venture. Complainant declined
I have been informed by Efie that your family is looking at hiring Coco
and explained to respondent that he and his family needed the money
Pimentel. I know him very well as his sister Gwen is my best friend. I have no
instead to cover their daily expenses as he was no longer employed.
problem if you hire him but I will be hands off. I work differently kasi. In this
Respondent allegedly agreed, but she failed to fulfill her promise.24
cases (sic), you cannot be highprofile (sic) because it is the clients who will
be sacrificed at the expense of the fame of the lawyer. I have to work quietly
and discreetly. No funfare. Just like what I did for your guys in the SEC. I
Respondent even publicly announced in their religious organization that she To bolster her claim that the complaint was without basis, respondent noted
was able to help settle the ten (10) warrants of arrest and hold departure that a complaint for estafa was also filed against her by complainant before
order issued against complainant and narrated how she was able to defend the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City citing the same grounds. The
complainant in the said cases.25 complaint was, however, dismissed by Assistant City Prosecutor Josephus
Joannes H. Asis for insufficiency of evidence.38 Respondent argued that on
By April 2004, however, complainant noticed that respondent was evading this basis alone, the administrative case must also be dismissed.
him. Respondent would either refuse to return complainant’s call or would
abruptly terminate their telephone conversation, citing several reasons. This In her Position Paper,39 respondent also questioned the admissibility of the
went on for several months.26 In one instance, when complainant asked electronic evidence submitted by complainant to the IBP’s Commission on
respondent for an update on the collection of Benefon’s obligation to Bar Discipline. Respondent maintained that the e-mail and the text messages
Precedent which respondent had previously taken charge of, respondent allegedly sent by respondent to complainant were of doubtful authenticity and
arrogantly answered that she was very busy and that she would read should be excluded as evidence for failure to conform to the Rules on
Benefon’s letter only when she found time to do so. Electronic Evidence (A.M. No. 01-7-01-SC).

On November 9, 2004, fed up and dismayed with respondent’s arrogance After due hearing, IBP Investigating Commissioner Patrick M. Velez issued a
and evasiveness, complainant wrote respondent a letter formally asking for a Report and Recommendation40finding that a lawyer-client relationship was
full accounting of all the money, documents and properties given to the established between respondent and complainant despite the absence of a
latter.27 Respondent rendered an accounting through a letter dated written contract. The Investigating Commissioner also declared that
December 20, 2004.28 When complainant found respondent’s explanation to respondent violated her duty to be candid, fair and loyal to her client when
be inadequate, he wrote a latter expressing his confusion about the she allowed herself to represent conflicting interests and failed to render a
accounting.29 Complainant repeated his request for an audited financial full accounting of all the cash and properties entrusted to her. Based on
report of all the properties turned over to her; otherwise, he will be these grounds, the Investigating Commissioner recommended her
constrained to file the appropriate case against respondent.30 Respondent disbarment.
replied,31explaining that all the properties and cash turned over to her by
complainant had been returned to her clients who had money claims against Respondent moved for reconsideration,41 but the IBP Board of Governors
Multitel. In exchange for this, she said that she was able to secure quitclaim issued a Recommendation42 denying the motion and adopting the findings of
documents clearing complainant from any liability. 32 Still unsatisfied, the Investigating Commissioner.
complainant decided to file an affidavit-complaint33against respondent before
the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines The case now comes before this Court for final action.
(IBP) seeking the disbarment of respondent.
We affirm the findings of the IBP.
In her Answer-Affidavit,34 respondent vehemently denied being the lawyer for
Precedent. She maintained that no formal engagement was executed
between her and complainant. She claimed that she merely helped Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional responsibility provides:
complainant by providing him with legal advice and assistance because she
personally knew him, since they both belonged to the same religious Rule 15.03 – A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by
organization.35lavvph!1 written consent of all concerned given after full disclosure of the facts.

Respondent insisted that she represented the group of investors of Multitel This prohibition is founded on principles of public policy, good taste43 and,
and that she merely mediated in the settlement of the claims her clients had more importantly, upon necessity. In the course of a lawyer-client
against the complainant. She also averred that the results of the settlement relationship, the lawyer learns all the facts connected with the client’s case,
between both parties were fully documented and accounted including its weak and strong points. Such knowledge must be considered
for.36 Respondent believes that her act in helping complainant resolve his sacred and guarded with care. No opportunity must be given to him to take
legal problem did not violate any ethical standard and was, in fact, in accord advantage of his client; for if the confidence is abused, the profession will
with Rule 2.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. 37 suffer by the loss thereof.44 It behooves lawyers not only to keep inviolate the
client’s confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double
─ dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been
their lawyers, which is paramount in the administration of justice.45 It is for confided, but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be
these reasons that we have described the attorney-client relationship as one used. Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new retainer
of trust and confidence of the highest degree.46 will require the attorney to perform an act which will injuriously affect his first
client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will be
Respondent must have known that her act of constantly and actively called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge
communicating with complainant, who, at that time, was beleaguered with acquired through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of
demands from investors of Multitel, eventually led to the establishment of a interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney
lawyer-client relationship. Respondent cannot shield herself from the from the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client
inevitable consequences of her actions by simply saying that the assistance or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance
she rendered to complainant was only in the form of "friendly thereof.52
accommodations,"47precisely because at the time she was giving assistance
to complainant, she was already privy to the cause of the opposing parties Indubitably, respondent took advantage of complainant’s hapless situation,
who had been referred to her by the SEC.48 initially, by giving him legal advice and, later on, by soliciting money and
properties from him. Thereafter, respondent impressed upon complainant
Respondent also tries to disprove the existence of such relationship by that she had acted with utmost sincerity in helping him divest all the
arguing that no written contract for the engagement of her services was ever properties entrusted to him in order to absolve him from any liability. But
forged between her and complainant.49 This argument all the more reveals simultaneously, she was also doing the same thing to impress upon her
respondent’s patent ignorance of fundamental laws on contracts and of basic clients, the party claimants against Multitel, that she was doing everything to
ethical standards expected from an advocate of justice. The IBP was correct reclaim the money they invested with Multitel. Respondent herself admitted
when it said: to complainant that without the latter’s help, she would not have been able to
earn as much and that, as a token of her appreciation, she was willing to
share some of her earnings with complainant.53Clearly, respondent’s act is
The absence of a written contract will not preclude the finding that there was
shocking, as it not only violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of
a professional relationship between the parties. Documentary formalism is
not an essential element in the employment of an attorney; the contract may Professional Responsibility,54 but also toyed with decency and good taste.
be express or implied. To establish the relation, it is sufficient that the advice
and assistance of an attorney is sought and received in any matter pertinent Respondent even had the temerity to boast that no Multitel client had ever
to his profession.50 (Emphasis supplied.)1awphi1 complained of respondent’s unethical behavior.55 This remark indubitably
displays respondent’s gross ignorance of disciplinary procedure in the Bar.
Given the situation, the most decent and ethical thing which respondent As a member of the Bar, she is expected to know that proceedings for
disciplinary actions against any lawyer may be initiated and prosecuted by
should have done was either to advise complainant to engage the services of
the IBP Board of Governors, motu proprio or upon referral by this Court or by
another lawyer since she was already representing the opposing parties, or
the Board of Officers of an IBP Chapter56 even if no private individual files
to desist from acting as representative of Multitel investors and stand as
any administrative complaint.
counsel for complainant. She cannot be permitted to do both because that
would amount to double-dealing and violate our ethical rules on conflict of
interest. Upon review, we find no cogent reason to disturb the findings and
recommendations of the IBP Investigating Commissioner, as adopted by the
IBP Board of Governors, on the admissibility of the electronic evidence
In Hornilla v. Atty. Salunat,51 we explained the concept of conflict of interest,
submitted by complainant. We, accordingly, adopt the same in toto.
thus:

Finally, respondent argues that the recommendation of the IBP Board of


There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of
Governors to disbar her on the grounds of deceit, malpractice and other
two or more opposing parties. The test is "whether or not in behalf of one
gross misconduct, aside from violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, has been
client, it is the lawyer’s duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to
rendered moot and academic by voluntary termination of her IBP
oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this
argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client." This membership, allegedly after she had been placed under the Department of
Justice’s Witness Protection Program.57 Convenient as it may be for
respondent to sever her membership in the integrated bar, this Court cannot
allow her to do so without resolving first this administrative case against her. PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, ANTONIO EDUARDO B.
JR. NACHURA
Associate Justice Associate Justice
The resolution of the administrative case filed against respondent is
necessary in order to determine the degree of her culpability and liability to
complainant. The case may not be dismissed or rendered moot and TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE
ARTURO D. BRION*
academic by respondent’s act of voluntarily terminating her membership in CASTRO
Associate Justice
the Bar regardless of the reason for doing so. This is because membership in Associate Justice
the Bar is a privilege burdened with conditions.58 The conduct of a lawyer
may make him or her civilly, if not criminally, liable to his client or to third DIOSDADO M. PERALTA LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
parties, and such liability may be conveniently avoided if this Court were to Associate Justice Associate Justice
allow voluntary termination of membership. Hence, to terminate one’s
membership in the Bar voluntarily, it is imperative that the lawyer first prove
that the voluntary withdrawal of membership is not a ploy to further prejudice
the public or to evade liability. No such proof exists in the present case.
Footnotes
WHEREFORE, respondent Attorney Maricel Pascual-Lopez is hereby
DISBARRED for representing conflicting interests and for engaging in * On official leave.
unlawful, dishonest and deceitful conduct in violation of her Lawyer’s Oath
and the Code of Professional Responsibility. 1 Rollo, pp. 1-45.
Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the respondent’s record as a 2
member of the Bar, and notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar Id. at 8.
of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation
3 Id. at 1 and 622.
to all courts in the country.

4 Id. at 13; Annex "B."


SO ORDERED.

5 Id. at 376; 554.


REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
6 Id.

CONSUELO YNARES- 7 Id. at 13.


LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Associate Justice 8 Id. at 10-12; Annex "A."

ANTONIO T. CARPIO RENATO C. CORONA 9 Id. at 2.


Associate Justice Associate Justice
10 Id. at 554.
CONCHITA CARPIO
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
MORALES 11 Id. at 377.
Associate Justice
Associate Justice
12 Id. at 554.
13 Id. at 3 and 14; Annex "C." 34 Id. at 49-213.

14 Id. at 3 and 19; Annex "F." 35 Id. at 50.

15 Id. 36 Id. at 51.

16 Id. at 3-4 and 20-24; Annexes "G," "H," and "I." 37Rule 2.02 of Canon 2 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
reads in full:
17 Id. at 20-24; Annexes "H" and "I."
Rule 2.02 – In such cases, even if the lawyer does not accept a
18 Id. at 6 and 555. case, he shall not refuse to render legal advice to the person
concerned if only to the extent necessary to safeguard the latter’s
19 rights.
Id. at 6 and 24; Annex "I."
38 Id. at 235-237.
20 Id. at 4, 15 and 554; Annex "D."
39 Id. at 215-238.
21 Id. at 5, 16-17 and 554; Annex "E."
40 Id. at 550-566.
22 Id. at 20; Annex "G."
41 Id. at 567-576.
23 Id. at 6.
42 Id. at 618.
24 Id.
43Hilado v. David, 84 Phil. 569, 579 (1949) cited in Quiambao v.
25 Id. at 360; Exhibit "33."
Bamba, A.C. No. 6708, August 25, 2005, 468 SCRA 1, 9-10.
26 Id. at 7. 44 US v. Laranja, 21 Phil. 500 (1912).
27 Id. at 27; Annex "K." 45 Hilado v. David, supra note 43.
28 Id. at 28-30; Annex "L." 46 Maturan v. Gonzales, 350 Phil. 882, 887 (1998).
29 Id. at 31-32; Annex "M." 47 Rollo, p. 50.
30 Id. at 32. 48 Id. at 51.
31 Id. at 33-39; Annex "N." 49 Id. at 49.
32 Id. 50 Id. at 629.
33 Id. at 1-45. 51 453 Phil. 108 (2003).
52 Id. at 111-112. Appeals and the Sandiganbayan, and Judges of the Court of
Tax Appeals and lower courts, even if lawyers are jointly
53 Id. at 6, 38-39 charged with them, shall be filed with the Supreme Court;
Provided, further, That charges filed against Justices and
54 Judges before the IBP, including those filed prior to their
Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
appointment in the Judiciary, shall immediately be forwarded
provides in full:
to the Supreme Court for disposition and adjudication.
Rule 9.02 – A lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a
Six (6) copies of the verified complaint shall be filed with the
fee for legal services with persons not licensed to practice
Secretary of the IBP or the Secretary of any of its chapters
law, except:
who shall forthwith transmit the same to the IBP Board of
Governors for assignment to an investigator.
a) Where there is a pre-existing agreement with a partner or
associate that, upon the latter’s death, money shall be paid 57 Rollo, pp. 577-584.
over a reasonable period of time to his estate or to the
persons specified in the agreement; or
58St. Loius University Laboratory High School (SLU-LHS) Faculty
b) Where a lawyer undertakes to complete unfinished legal and Staff v. Atty. Rolando C. dela Cruz A.C. No. 6010, August 28,
business of a deceased lawyer; or 2006.

c) Where a lawyer or law firm includes non-lawyer


employees in a retirement plan, even if the plan is based in
whole or in part, on a profit-sharing arrangement.

55 Rollo, pp. 66-67; respondent’s Answer-Affidavit.

56Section 1 of Rule 139-B on Disbarment and Discipline of Attorneys


provides in full:

SECTION 1. How instituted. – Proceedings for disbarment,


suspension or discipline of attorneys may be taken by the
Supreme Court motu proprio, or by the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) upon the verified complaint of any person.
The complaint shall state clearly and concisely the facts
complained of and shall be supported by affidavits or
persons having personal knowledge of the facts therein
alleged and/or by such documents as may substantiate said
facts.

The IBP Board of Governors may, motu prorprio or upon


referral by the Supreme Court or by a Chapter Board of
Officers, or at the instance of any person, initiate and
prosecute proper charges against any erring attorneys
including those in the government service; Provided,
however, That all charges against Justices of the Court of
On March 29, 1979, complainant sought to recover the Moran property by
filing with the then Court of First Instance (CFI) of Baguio City an action for
Republic of the Philippines reconveyance with damages against respondent and his corporation. In
SUPREME COURT defense, respondent claimed absolute ownership over the property and
Manila denied that a trust was created over it.

SECOND DIVISION During the pendency of the action for reconveyance, complainant filed this
administrative case to disbar the respondent. She charged that respondent
violated professional ethics when he:

A.C. No. 2040 March 4, 1998 I. Assigned to his family corporation the Moran property
(Pulong Maulap) which belonged to the estate he was
settling as its lawyer and auditor.
IMELDA A. NAKPIL, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. CARLOS J. VALDES, respondent. II. Excluded the Moran property from the "inventory of real
estate properties" he prepared for a client-estate and, at the
same time, charged the loan secured to purchase the said
excluded property as a liability of the estate, all for the
purpose of transferring the title to the said property to his
PUNO, J.: family corporation.

The friendship of JOSE NAKPIL and respondent CARLOS J. VALDES dates III. Prepared and defended monetary claims against the
back to the '50s during their school days in De La Salle and the Philippine estate that retained him as its counsel and auditor.2
Law School. Their closeness extended to their families and respondent
became the business consultant, lawyer and accountant of the Nakpils. On the first charge, complainant alleged that she accepted respondent's offer
to serve as lawyer and auditor to settle her husband's estate. Respondent's
In 1965, Jose Nakpil became interested in purchasing a summer residence in law firm then filed a petition for settlement of the estate of the deceased
Moran Street, Baguio City.1 For lack of funds, he requested respondent to Nakpil but did not include the Moran property in the estate's inventory.
purchase the Moran property for him. They agreed that respondent would Instead, respondent transferred the property to his corporation, Caval Realty
keep the property in trust for the Nakpils until the latter could buy it back. Corporation, and title was issued in its name. Complainant accused
Pursuant to their agreement, respondent obtained two (2) loans from a bank respondent of maliciously appropriating the property in trust knowing that it
(in the amounts of P65,000.00 and P75,000.00) which he used to purchase did not belong to him. She claimed that respondent has expressly
and renovate the property. Title was then issued in respondent's name. acknowledged that the said property belonged to the late Nakpil in his
correspondences3 with the Baguio City Treasurer and the complainant.
It was the Nakpils who occupied the Moran summer house. When Jose
Nakpil died on July 8, 1973, respondent acted as the legal counsel and On the second charge, complainant alleged that respondent's auditing firm
accountant of his widow, complainant IMELDA NAKPIL. On March 9, 1976, (C. J. Valdes & Co., CPAs) excluded the Moran property from the inventory
respondent's law firm, Carlos J. Valdes & Associates, handled the of her husband's estate, yet included in the claims against the estate the
proceeding for the settlement of Jose's estate. Complainant was appointed amounts of P65,000.00 and P75,000.00, which respondent represented as
as administratrix of the estate. her husband's loans applied "probably for the purchase of a house and lot in
Moran Street, Baguio City."
The ownership of the Moran property became an issue in the intestate
proceedings. It appears that respondent excluded the Moran property from As to the third charge, complainant alleged that respondent's law firm (Carlos
the inventory of Jose's estate. On February 13, 1978, respondent transferred J. Valdes and Associates) filed the petition for the settlement of her
his title to the Moran property to his company, the Caval Realty Corporation. husband's estate in court, while respondent's auditing firm (C.J. Valdes &
Co., CPAs) acted as accountant of both the estate and two of its creditors. as 1974. He alleged that it was Atty. Percival Cendaña (from the law firm
She claimed that respondent represented conflicting interests when his Carlos Valdes & Associates) who filed the intestate proceedings in court in
accounting firm prepared the list of claims of creditors Angel Nakpil and 1976.
ENORN, Inc. against her husband's estate which was represented by
respondent's law firm. Complainant averred that there is no distinction As to the third charge, respondent denied there was a conflict of interest
between respondent's law and auditing firms as respondent is the senior and when his law firm represented the estate in the intestate proceedings while
controlling partner of both firms which are housed in the same building. his accounting firm (C.J. Valdes & Co., CPAs) served as accountant of the
estate and prepared the claims of creditors Angel Nakpil and ENORN, Inc.
We required respondent to answer the charges against him. In his against the estate. He proffered the following reasons for his thesis: First, the
ANSWER, 4 respondent initially asserted that the resolution of the first and two claimants were closely related to the late Nakpil. Claimant ENORN, Inc.
second charges against him depended on the result of the pending action in is a family corporation of the Nakpils of which the late Nakpil was the
the CFI for reconveyance which involved the issue of ownership of the Moran President. Claimant Angel Nakpil is a brother of the late Nakpil who, upon the
property. latter's death, became the President of ENORN, Inc. These two claimants
had been clients of his law and accounting firms even during the lifetime of
On the merit of the first charge, respondent reiterated his defense in the Jose Nakpil. Second, his alleged representation of conflicting interests
reconveyance case that he did not hold the Moran property in trust for the was with the knowledge and consent of complainant as administratrix. Third,
Nakpils as he is its absolute owner. Respondent explained that the Nakpils there was no conflict of interests between the estate and the claimants
never bought back the Moran property from him, hence, the property for they had forged a modus vivendi, i.e., that the subject claims would be
remained to be his and was rightly excluded from the inventory of Nakpil's satisfied only after full payment of the principal bank creditors. Complainant,
estate. as administratrix, did not controvert the claims of Angel Nakpil and ENORN,
Inc. Complainant has started paying off the claims of Angel Nakpil and
ENORN, Inc. after satisfying the banks' claims. Complainant did not assert
As to the second charge, respondent denied preparing the list of claims
that their claims caused prejudice to the estate. Fourth, the work of Carlos
against the estate which included his loans of P65,000.00 and P75,000.00
J. Valdes & Co. as common auditor redounded to the benefit of the estate for
for the purchase and renovation of the Moran property. In charging his loans
the firm prepared a true and accurate amount of the claim. Fifth, respondent
against the estate, he stressed that the list drawn up by his accounting firm
resigned from his law and accounting firms as early as August 15, 1974.6 He
merely stated that the loans in respondent's name were applied "probably for
rejoined his accounting firm several years later. He submitted as proof the
the purchase of the house and lot in Moran Street, Baguio City." Respondent
SEC's certification of the filing of his accounting firm of an Amended Articles
insisted that this was not an admission that the Nakpils owned the property
of Partnership. Thus, it was not he but Atty. Percival Cendaña, from the firm
as the phrase "probably for the purchase" did not imply a consummated
transaction but a projected acquisition. Carlos J. Valdes & Associates, who filed the intestate proceedings in court.
On the other hand, the claimants were represented by their own counsel
Atty. Enrique O. Chan. Sixth, respondent alleged that in the remote
Respondent also disclaimed knowledge or privity in the preparation of a letter possibility that he committed a breach of professional ethics, he committed
(Exhibit "H") of his accounting firm to the Baguio City treasurer remitting the such "misconduct" not as a lawyer but as an accountant who acted as
real estate taxes for the Moran property on behalf of the Nakpils. He common auditor of the estate and its creditors. Hence, he should be held
contended that the letter could be a mere error or oversight. accountable in another forum.

Respondent averred that it was complainant who acknowledged that they did On November 12, 1979, complainant submitted her REPLY.7 She maintained
not own the Moran property for: (1) complainant's February 1979 Statement that the pendency of the reconveyance case is not prejudicial to the
of Assets and Liabilities did not include the said property, and; (2) investigation of her disbarment complaint against respondent for the issue in
complainant, as administratrix, signed the Balance Sheet of the Estate where the latter is not the ownership of the Moran property but the ethics and
the Moran property was not mentioned. morality of respondent's conduct as a CPA-lawyer.

Respondent admitted that complainant retained the services of his law and Complainant alleged that respondent's Annexes to his Reply (such as the
accounting firms in the settlement of her husband's estate.5 However, he Statement of Assets & Liability of the Nakpils and the Balance Sheet of the
pointed out that he has resigned from his law and accounting firms as early Estate) which showed that complainant did not claim ownership of the Moran
property were all prepared by C.J. Valdes & Co. as accountant of the estate ownership pending with the CFI was not prejudicial to her complaint which
of Jose Nakpil and filed with the intestate court by C.J. Valdes & Associates involved an entirely different issue, i.e., the unethical acts of respondent as a
as counsel for the estate. She averred that these Annexes were not proofs CPA-lawyer. We granted her motion and referred the administrative case to
that respondent owned the Moran property but were part of respondent's the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for investigation, report and
scheme to remove the property from the estate and transfer it to his family recommendation. 10
corporation. Complainant alleged that she signed the documents because of
the professional counsel of respondent and his firm that her signature In 1983, the CFI of Baguio dismissed the action for reconveyance. The trial
thereon was required. Complainant charged respondent with greed for court ruled that respondent held the Moran property in trust for the Nakpils
coveting the Moran property on the basis of defects in the documents he but found that complainant waived her right over it.
himself prepared..
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court. The appellate
Complainant urged that respondent cannot disown unfavorable documents court held that respondent was the absolute owner of the Moran property.
(the list of claims against the estate and the letter regarding Nakpil's payment The Decision was elevated to this Court.
of realty tax on the Moran property) which were prepared by his law and
accounting firms and invoke other documents prepared by the same firms On February 18, 1986, during the pendency of complainant's appeal to this
which are favorable to him. She averred that respondent must accept Court, the OSG submitted its Report 11on the disbarment complaint. The
responsibility not just for some, but for all the representations and OSG relied heavily on the decision of the Court of Appeals then pending
communications of his firms. review by this Court. The OSG found that respondent was not put on notice
of complainant's claim over the property. It opined that there was no trust
Complainant refuted respondent's claim that he resigned from his firms from agreement created over the property and that respondent was the absolute
March 9, 1976 to "several years later." She alleged that none of the owner thereof. Thus, it upheld respondent's right to transfer title to his family
documents submitted as evidence referred to his resignation from his law corporation. It also found no conflict of interests as the claimants were
firm.The documents merely substantiated his resignation from his accounting related to the late Jose Nakpil. The OSG recommended the dismissal of the
firm. administrative case.

In his REJOINDER,8 respondent insisted that complainant cannot hold him Prefatorily, we note that the case at bar presents a novel situation as it
liable for representing the interests of both the estate and the claimants involves the disbarment of a CPA-lawyer for his demeanor in his accounting
without showing that his action prejudiced the estate. He urged that it is profession and law practice in connection with the property of his client.
not per se anomalous for respondent's accounting firm to act
as accountant for the estate and its creditors. He reiterated that he is not
As a rule, a lawyer is not barred from dealing with his client but the business
subject to the jurisdiction of this Court for he acted not as lawyer, but as transaction must be characterized with utmost honesty and good faith. 12 The
accountant for both the estate and its claimants.
measure of good faith which an attorney is required to exercise in his
dealings with his client is a much higher standard than is required in business
He alleged that his accounting firm merely prepared the list of claims of the dealings where the parties trade at "arms length." 13 Business transactions
creditors Angel Nakpil and ENORN, Inc. Their claims were not defended by between an attorney and his client are disfavored and discouraged by the
his accounting or law firm but by Atty. Enrique Chan. He averred that his law policy of the law. Hence, courts carefully watch these transactions to assure
firm did not oppose these claims as they were legitimate and not because that no advantage is taken by a lawyer over his client. This rule is founded on
they were prepared by his accounting firm. He emphasized that there was no public policy for, by virtue of his office, an attorney is in an easy position to
allegation that the claims were fraudulent or excessive and that the failure of take advantage of the credulity and ignorance of his client. Thus, no
respondent's law firm to object to these claims damaged the estate. presumption of innocence or improbability of wrongdoing is considered in an
attorney's favor. 14
In our January 21, 1980 Resolution,9 we deferred further action on the
disbarment case until after resolution of the action for reconveyance between In the case at bar, we cannot subscribe to the findings of the OSG in its
the parties involving the issue of ownership by the then CFI of Baguio. Report. These findings were based mainly on the decision of the Court
Complainant moved for reconsideration on the ground that the issue of
of Appeals in the action for reconveyance which was reversed by this Court respondent Valdes would . . . "take over the total loan of
in 1993. 15 P140,000.00 and pay all of the interests due on the notes"
while the heirs of the late Jose Nakpil would continue to live
As to the first two charges, we are bound by the factual findings of this Court in the disputed property for five (5) years without
in the aforementioned reconveyance case. 16 It is well-established that remuneration save for regular maintenance expenses. This
respondent offered to the complainant the services of his law and accounting does not mean, however, that if at the end of the five-year
firms by reason of their close relationship dating as far back as the '50s. She period petitioner (Nakpil) failed to reimburse Valdes for his
reposed her complete trust in respondent who was the lawyer, accountant advances, . . . Valdes could already automatically assume
and business consultant of her late husband. Respondent and the late Nakpil ownership ofPulong Maulap. Instead, the remedy of
agreed that the former would purchase the Moran property and keep it in respondents Carlos J. Valdes and Caval Realty Corporation
trust for the latter. In violation of the trust agreement, respondent claimed was to proceed against the estate of the late Jose M. Nakpil
absolute ownership over the property and refused to sell the property to and/or the property itself." (emphasis supplied)
complainant after the death of Jose Nakpil. To place the property beyond the
reach of complainant and the intestate court, respondent later transferred it In the said reconveyance case, we further ruled that complainant's
to his corporation. documentary evidence (Exhibits "H", "J" and "L"), which she also adduced in
this administrative case, should estop respondent from claiming that he
Contrary to the findings of the OSG, respondent initially acknowledged and bought the Moran property for himself, and not merely in trust for Jose
respected the trust nature of the Moran property. Respondent's bad faith in Nakpil. 18
transferring the property to his family corporation is well discussed in this
Court's Decision,17 thus: It ought to follow that respondent's act of excluding the Moran property from
the estate which his law firm was representing evinces a lack of fidelity to the
. . . Valdes (herein respondent) never repudiated the trust cause of his client. If respondent truly believed that the said property
during the lifetime of the late Jose Nakpil. On the contrary, belonged to him, he should have at least informed complainant of his
he expressly recognized it. . . . (H)e repudiated the trust adverse claim. If they could not agree on its ownership, respondent should
when (he) excluded Pulong Maulap from the list of properties have formally presented his claim in the intestate proceedings instead of
of the late Jose Nakpil submitted to the intestate court in transferring the property to his own corporation and concealing it from
1973. . . . complainant and the judge in the estate proceedings. Respondent's misuse
of his legal expertise to deprive his client of the Moran property is clearly
xxx xxx xxx unethical.

To make matters worse, respondent, through his accounting firm, charged


The fact that there was no transfer of ownership intended by
the two loans of P65,000.00 and P75,000.00 as liability of the estate, after
the parties . . . can be bolstered by Exh. "I-2," an annex to
said loans were obtained by respondent for the purchase and renovation of
the claim filed against the estate proceedings of the late
Jose Nakpil by his brother, Angel Nakpil, which was the property which he claimed for himself. Respondent seeks to exculpate
prepared by Carlos J. Valdes & Co., the accounting firm of himself from this charge by disclaiming knowledge or privity in the
preparation of the list of the estate's liabilities. He theorizes that the inclusion
herein respondent. Exhibit "I-2," which is a list of the
of the loans must have been a mere error or oversight of his accounting firm.
application of the proceeds of various FUB loans contracted
It is clear that the information as to how these two loans should be treated
as of 31 December 1973 by the late Jose Nakpil, . . .
could have only come from respondent himself as the said loans were in his
contains the two (2) loans contracted in the name of
respondent. If ownership of Pulong Maulap was already name. Hence, the supposed error of the accounting firm in charging
transferred or ceded to Valdes, these loans should not have respondent's loans against the estate could not have been committed without
respondent's participation. Respondent wanted to "have his cake and eat it
been included in the list.
too" and subordinated the interest of his client to his own pecuniary gain.
Respondent violated Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Indeed, as we view it, what the parties merely agreed to which provides that a lawyer owes fidelity to his client's cause and enjoins
under the arrangement outlined in Exh. "J" was that him to be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him.
As regards the third charge, we hold that respondent is guilty of representing claimants against it. 26 The fact, however, that complainant, as administratrix,
conflicting interests. It is generally the rule, based on sound public policy, that did not object to the set-up cannot be taken against her as there is nothing in
an attorney cannot represent adverse interests. It is highly improper to the records to show that respondent or his law firm explained the legal
represent both sides of an issue. 19 The proscription against representation of situation and its consequences to complainant. Thus, her silence regarding
conflicting interests finds application where the conflicting interests arise with the arrangement does not amount to an acquiescence based on an informed
respect to the same general matter 20 and is applicable however slight such consent.
adverse interest may be. It applies although the attorney's intentions and
motives were honest and he acted in good faith. 21 However, representation We also hold that the relationship of the claimants to the late Nakpil does not
of conflicting interests may be allowed where the parties consent to the negate the conflict of interest. When a creditor files a claim against an estate,
representation, after full disclosure of facts. Disclosure alone is not enough his interest is per se adverse to the estate. As correctly pointed out by
for the clients must give their informed consent to such representation. The complainant, if she had a claim against her husband's estate, her claim is still
lawyer must explain to his clients the nature and extent of the conflict and the adverse and must be filed in the intestate proceedings.
possible adverse effect must be thoroughly understood by his clients. 22
Prescinding from these premises, respondent undoubtedly placed his law
In the case at bar, there is no question that the interests of the estate and firm in a position where his loyalty to his client could be doubted. In the
that of its creditors are adverse to each other. Respondent's accounting firm estate proceedings, the duty of respondent's law firm was to contest the
prepared the list of assets and liabilities of the estate and, at the same time, claims of these two creditors but which claims were prepared by
computed the claims of two creditors of the estate. There is clearly a conflict respondent's accounting firm. Even if the claims were valid and did not
between the interest of the estate which stands as the debtor, and that of the prejudice the estate, the set-up is still undesirable. The test to determine
two claimants who are creditors of the estate. In fact, at one instance, whether there is a conflict of interest in the representation is probability, not
respondent's law firm questioned the claims of creditor Angel Nakpil against certainty of conflict. It was respondent's duty to inhibit either of his firms from
the estate. said proceedings to avoid the probability of conflict of interest.

To exculpate himself, respondent denies that he represented complainant in Respondent advances the defense that assuming there was conflict of
the intestate proceedings. He points out that it was one Atty. Percival interest, he could not be charged before this Court as his alleged
Cendaña, from his law firm Carlos J. Valdes & Associates, who filed the "misconduct" pertains to his accounting practice.
intestate case in court. However, the fact that he did not personally file the
case and appear in court is beside the point. As established in the records of
We do not agree. Respondent is a CPA-lawyer who is actively practicing
this case and in the reconveyance case, 23 respondent acted as counsel and
both professions. He is the senior partner of his law and accounting firms
accountant of complainant after the death of Jose Nakpil. Respondent's which carry his name. In the case at bar, complainant is not charging
defense that he resigned from his law and accounting firms as early as 1974
respondent with breach of ethics for being the common accountant of the
(or two years before the filing of the intestate case) is unworthy of merit.
estate and the two creditors. He is charged for allowing his accounting firm to
Respondent's claim of resignation from his law firm is not supported by any
represent two creditors of the estate and, at the same time, allowing his law
documentary proof. The documents on record 24 only show respondent's
firm to represent the estate in the proceedings where these claims were
resignation from his accounting firm in 1972 and 1974. Even these presented. The act is a breach of professional ethics and undesirable as it
documents reveal that respondent returned to his accounting firm on July 1, placed respondent's and his law firm's loyalty under a cloud of doubt. Even
1976 and as of 1978, the intestate proceedings for the settlement of Jose's
granting that respondent's misconduct refers to his accountancy practice, it
estate had not yet been terminated. It does not escape us that when
would not prevent this Court from disciplining him as a member of the Bar.
respondent transferred the Moran property to his corporation on February 13,
The rule is settled that a lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for ANY
1978, the intestate proceedings was still pending in court. Thus, the
misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him
succession of events shows that respondent could not have been totally to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good
ignorant of the proceedings in the intestate case. demeanor. 27 Possession of good moral character is not only a prerequisite
to admission to the bar but also a continuing requirement to the practice of
Respondent claims that complainant knew that his law firm Carlos J. Valdes law.
& Associates was the legal counsel of the estate 25 and his accounting firm,
C.J. Valdes & Co., CPAs, was the auditor of both the estate and the two
Public confidence in law and lawyers may be eroded by the irresponsible and (Rollo, at p. 76) and the SEC certification that the letter of
improper conduct of a member of the bar. Thus, a lawyer should determine resignation was duly presented to said body (Rollo, at p. 77).
his conduct by acting in a manner that would promote public confidence in
the integrity of the legal profession. Members of the Bar are expected to 7 Rollo, pp. 137-155.
always live up to the standards embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility as the relationship between an attorney and his client is highly 8 Rollo, pp. 182-197.
fiduciary in nature and demands utmost fidelity and good faith.28 In the case
at bar, respondent exhibited less than full fidelity to his duty to observe
candor, fairness and loyalty in his dealings and transactions with his 9 Ibid., p. 200.
clients. 29
10 See Resolution, dated July 18, 1984; Rollo, at p. 305.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court finds respondent ATTY. CARLOS J.
VALDES guilty of misconduct. He is suspended from the practice of law for a 11 Rollo, pp. 306-342.
period of one (1) year effective from receipt of this Decision, with a warning
that a similar infraction shall be dealt with more severely in the future. 12 7 C.J.S. 966.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts, as well as the Integrated 13 Gould v. State, 69 ALR 709.
Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Bar Confidant.
14 5 Am. Jur. 338.
SO ORDERED.
15 Nakpil v. IAC, 225 SCRA 456.
Regalado, Mendoza and Martinez, JJ., concur.
16 Ibid.
Melo, J., took no part.
17 Nakpil v. IAC, supra.
Footnotes
18 Ibid., at p. 465.
1 The Moran property consists of a four-bedroom bungalow
on a 2,490 square meter lot. 19 7A C.J.S. 206-209, citing U.S. — Brown & Williamson
Tobacco Corporation vs. Daniel Intern Corporation, C.A.
2 Letter-complaint, dated June 16, 1979; Rollo, pp. 1-9. Ga., 563.

3 Exhibits "H", "J" and "L", adduced also in the 20 Md. — Rippon vs. Mercantile Safe Deposit & T. Co. of
reconveyance case. Baltimore, 131 A. 2d 695, 699, 213 Md. 215.

4 Rollo, pp. 44-63. 21 U.S. — Cinema 5 Ltd. vs. Cinerama, Inc., C.A.N.Y., 528
F. 2d 1384.
5 Attached to his Answer is the retainership agreement,
dated February 20, 1976, between complainant and his 22 7A C.J.S. 215-216; Pa. — Jedwabny vs. Philadelphia
firms; Rollo, pp. 73-75. Transport Co., 135 A.2d 252, 390 Pa. 231; 78 S. Ct. 557,
355 U.S. 966, 2 L. Ed. 2d 541.
6 He attached to his Answer his letter of resignation
addressed to the managing partner of his accounting firm 23 Nakpil vs. IAC, supra, at p. 458.
24 Amendment to Amended Articles of Partnership of
respondent's accounting firm which contains the following
information: (a) on July 17, 1973, a week after Jose Nakpil
died, the SEC approved the recall of respondent's
withdrawal from his accounting firm in 1972; see Rollo, at pp.
80-81; (b) on August 31, 1974, respondent resigned again
from his accounting firm; see Respondent's letter of
resignation from his accounting firm, dated August 15,
1974; Rollo, at p. 76; (c) On July 1, 1976, barely three
months after the filing of the intestate case in court,
respondent rejoined the accounting firm; Rollo, at p. 89. All
the foregoing documents refer to respondent's resignation
from his accounting firm. Moreover, it appears from the
records that as of 1978, the intestate case was still pending
in court.

25 Rollo, at p. 60.

26 Ibid., at p. 59.

27 Nadayag vs. Grageda, 237 SCRA 202 [1994].

28 Igual vs. Javier, 254 SCRA 416 [1996].

29 Canon 15, Code of Professional Responsibility.


Makati, Branch 146, respondent who had since left the employ of
complainant bank, appeared as one of the counsels of Mrs. Ong Siy.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT Similarly, when the same transaction became the subject of an administrative
Manila case filed by complainant bank against his former subordinate Emmanuel
Elefan, for grave misconduct and dishonesty, respondent appeared as
EN BANC counsel for Elefan only to be later disqualified by the Civil Service
Commission.

Moreover, while respondent was still the Asst. Vice President of


A.C. No. 3701 March 28, 1995 complainant’s Asset Management Group, he intervened in the handling of
the loan account of the spouses Ponciano and Eufemia Almeda with
complainant bank by writing demand letters to the couple. When a civil action
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, complainant, ensued between complainant bank and the Almeda spouses as a result of
vs. this loan account, the latter were represented by the law firm "Cedo, Ferrer,
ATTY. TELESFORO S. CEDO, respondent. Maynigo & Associates" of which respondent is one of the Senior Partners.

RESOLUTION In his Comment on the complaint, respondent admitted that he appeared as


counsel for Mrs. Ong Siy but only with respect to the execution pending
appeal of the RTC decision. He alleged that he did not participate in the
litigation of the case before the trial court. With respect to the case of the
BIDIN, J.: Almeda spouses, respondent alleged that he never appeared as counsel for
them. He contended that while the law firm "Cedo Ferrer, Maynigo &
In a verified letter-complaint dated August 15, 1991, complainant Philippine Associates" is designated as counsel of record, the case is actually handled
National Bank charged respondent Atty. Telesforo S. Cedo, former Asst. only by Atty. Pedro Ferrer. Respondent averred that he did not enter into a
Vice-President of the Asset Management Group of complainant bank with general partnership with Atty. Pedro Ferrer nor with the other lawyers named
violation of Canon 6, Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, therein. They are only using the aforesaid name to designate a law firm
thus: maintained by lawyers, who although not partners, maintain one office as
well as one clerical and supporting staff. Each one of them handles their own
cases independently and individually receives the revenues therefrom which
A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept
are not shared among them.
engagement or employment in connection with any matter in
which he had intervened while in said service.
In the resolution of this Court dated January 27, 1992, this case was referred
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), for investigation, report and
by appearing as counsel for individuals who had transactions with
recommendation.
complainant bank in which respondent during his employment with aforesaid
bank, had intervened.
During the investigation conducted by the IBP, it was discovered that
respondent was previously fined by this Court in the amount of P1,000.00 in
Complainant averred that while respondent was still in its employ, he
connection with G.R. No. 94456 entitled "Milagros Ong Siy vs. Hon. Salvador
participated in arranging the sale of steel sheets (denominated as Lots 54-M
Tensuan, et al." for forum shopping, where respondent appeared as counsel
and 55-M) in favor of Milagros Ong Siy for P200,000. He even "noted" the
for petitioner Milagros Ong Siy "through the law firm of Cedo Ferrer Maynigo
gate passes issued by his subordinate, Mr. Emmanuel Elefan, in favor of
and Associates."
Mrs. Ong Siy authorizing the pull-out of the steel sheets from the DMC Man
Division Compound. When a civil action arose out of this transaction between
Mrs. Ong Siy and complainant bank before the Regional Trial Court of The IBP further found that the charges herein against respondent were fully
substantiated. Respondent's averment that the law firm handling the case of
the Almeda spouses is not a partnership deserves scant consideration in the use against his client any information or evidence acquired
light of the attestation of complainant's counsel, Atty. Pedro Singson, that in by him as counsel it cannot be denied that he did become
one of the hearings of the Almeda spouses' case, respondent attended the privy to information regarding the ownership of the parcel of
same with his partner Atty. Ferrer, and although he did not enter his land which was later litigated in the forcible entry case, for it
appearance, he was practically dictating to Atty. Ferrer what to say and was the dispute over the land that triggered the mauling
argue before the court. Furthermore, during the hearing of the application for incident which gave rise to the criminal action for physical
a writ of injunction in the same case, respondent impliedly admitted being the injuries. This Court's remarks in Hilado vs. David, 84 Phil.
partner of Atty. Ferrer, when it was made of record that respondent was 571, are apropos:
working in the same office as Atty. Ferrer.
"Communications between attorney and client are, in a great
Moreover, the IBP noted that assuming the alleged set-up of the firm is true, number of litigations, a complicated affair, consisting of
it is in itself a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility (Rule entangled relevant and irrelevant, secret and well-known
15.02) since the client’s secrets and confidential records and information are facts. In the complexity of what is said in the course of
exposed to the other lawyers and staff members at all times. dealings between an attorney and client, inquiry of the
nature suggested would lead to the revelation, in advance of
From the foregoing, the IBP found a deliberate intent on the part of the trial, of other matters that might only further prejudice the
respondent to devise ways and means to attract as clients former borrowers complainant's cause."
of complainant bank since he was in the best position to see the legal
weaknesses of his former employer, a convincing factor for the said clients to Whatever may be said as to whether or not respondent
seek his professional service. In sum, the IBP saw a deliberate sacrifice by utilized against his former client information given to him in a
respondent of his ethics in consideration of the money he expected to earn. professional capacity, the mere fact of their previous
relationship should have precluded him from appearing as
The IBP thus recommended the suspension of respondent from the practice counsel for the other side in the forcible entry case. In the
of law for 3 years. case ofHilado vs. David, supra, this Tribunal further said:

The records show that after the Board of Governors of the IBP had, on Hence the necessity of setting the existence of the bare
October 4, 1994, submitted to this Court its Report and recommendation in relationship of attorney and client as the yardstick for testing
this case, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated October 25, incompatibility of interests. This stern rule is designed not
1994 of the recommendation contained in the said Report with the IBP Board alone to prevent the dishonest practitioner from fraudulent
of Governors. On December 12, 1994, respondent also filed another "Motion conduct, but as well to protect the honest lawyer from
to Set Hearing" before this Court, the aforesaid Motion for Reconsideration. unfounded suspicion of unprofessional practice. . . . It is
In resolving this case, the Court took into consideration the aforesaid founded on principles of public policy, of good taste. As has
pleadings. been said in another case, the question is not necessarily
one of the rights of the parties, but as to whether the
In addition to the findings of the IBP, this Court finds this occasion attorney has adhered to proper professional standard. With
these thoughts in mind, it behooves attorney, like Caesar's
appropriate to emphasize the paramount importance of avoiding the
representation of conflicting interests. In the similar case of Pasay Law and wife, not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence, but
Conscience Union, Inc. vs. Paz, (95 SCRA 24 [1980]) where a former Legal also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double
dealing. Only thus can litigants. be encouraged to entrust
Officer and Legal Prosecutor of PARGO who participated in the investigation
of the Anti-Graft case against Mayor Pablo Cuneta later on acted as counsel their secrets to their attorneys which is of paramount
for the said Mayor in the same anti-graft case, this Court, citing Nombrado importance in the administration of justice.
vs. Hernandez (26 SCRA 13 119681) ruled:
The foregoing disquisition on conflicting interest applies with equal force and
effect to respondent in the case at bar. Having been an executive of
The Solicitor General is of the opinion, and we find no
reason to disagree with him, that even if respondent did not complainant bank, respondent now seeks to litigate as counsel for the
opposite side, a case against his former employer involving a transaction
which he formerly handled while still an employee of complainant, in violation
of Canon 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics on adverse influence and
conflicting interests, to wit:

It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except


by express conflicting consent of all concerned given after a
full disclosure of the facts. Within the meaning of this canon,
a lawyer represents conflicting interest when, in behalf on
one client, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to
another client requires him to oppose.

ACCORDINGLY, this Court resolves to SUSPEND respondent ATTY.


TELESFORO S. CEDO from the practice of law for THREE (3) YEARS,
effective immediately.

Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and all courts in Metro Manila.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Romero, Bellosillo,


Melo, Quiason, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza and Francisco, JJ., concur.
revealed that said account had actually been incurred by Ramon Sy, with
Dewey Dee merely signing for the chits. Private respondent communicated
Republic of the Philippines said information to petitioner's a father and also assured him that Caesar's
SUPREME COURT Palace was not in any way linked to the mafia. 2
Manila
In June, 1981, private respondent personally talked with the president of
SECOND DIVISION Caesar's Palace at Las Vegas, Nevada. He advised the president that for the
sake and in the interest of the casino it would be better to make Ramon Sy
G.R. No. 77439 August 24, 1989 answer for the indebtedness. The president told him that if he could convince
Ramon Sy to acknowledge the obligation, Dewey Dee would be exculpated
from liability for the account. Upon private respondent's return to Manila, he
DONALD DEE petitioner, conferred with Ramon Sy and the latter was convinced to acknowledge the
vs. indebtedness. In August, 1981, private respondent brought to Caesar's
COURT OF APPEALS and AMELITO MUTUC, respondents. Palace the letter of Ramon Sy owning the debt and asking for a discount.
Thereafter, the account of Dewey Dee was cleared and the casino never
Tanjuatco, Oreta & Tanjuatco for petitioner. bothered him. 3

Amelito R. Mutuc for and in his own behalf Having thus settled the account of petitioner's brother, private respondent
sent several demand letters to petitioner demanding the balance of
P50,000.00 as attorney's fees. Petitioner, however, ignored said letters. On
October 4, 1982, private respondent filed a complaint against petitioner in the
REGALADO, J.: Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch CXXXVI, for the collection of
attorney's fees and refund of transport fare and other expenses. 4
Petitioner assails the resolution of respondent court, dated February
12,1987, reinstating its decision promulgated on May 9, 1986 in AC-G.R. CV Private respondent claimed that petitioner formally engaged his services for a
No. 04242 wherein it affirmed the decision of the that court holding that the fee of P100,000.00 and that the services he rendered were professional
services rendered by private respondent was on a professional, and not on services which a lawyer renders to a client. Petitioner, however, denied the
a gratis et amore basis and ordering petitioner to pay private respondent the existence of any professional relationship of attorney and client between him
sum of P50,000.00 as the balance of the latter's legal fee therefor. and private respondent. He admits that he and his father visited private
respondent for advice on the matter of Dewey Dee's gambling account.
However, he insists that such visit was merely an informal one and that
The records show that sometime in January, 1981, petitioner and his father
private respondent had not been specifically contracted to handle the
went to the residence of private respondent, accompanied by the latter's
problem. On the contrary, respondent Mutuc had allegedly volunteered his
cousin, to seek his advice regarding the problem of the alleged indebtedness
services "as a friend of defendant's family" to see what he could do about the
of petitioner's brother, Dewey Dee, to Caesar's Palace, a well-known
situation. As for the P50,000.00 inceptively given to private respondent,
gambling casino at Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A. Petitioner's father was
petitioner claims that it was not in the nature of attomey's fees but merely
apprehensive over the safety of his son, Dewey, having heard of a link
"pocket money" solicited by the former for his trips to Las Vegas and the said
between the mafia and Caesar's Palace and the possibility that his son may
amount of P50,000.00 was already sufficient remuneration for his strictly
be harmed at the instance of the latter. 1
voluntary services.

Private respondent assured petitioner and his father that he would inquire
After trial, the court a quo rendered judgment ordering herein petitioner to
into the matter, after which his services were reportedly contracted for
pay private respondent the sum of P50,000.00 with interest thereon at the
P100,000. 00. From his residence, private respondent called up Caesar's
legal rate from the filing of the complaint on October 4, 1982 and to pay the
Palace and, thereafter, several long distance telephone calls and two trips to
costs. All other claims therein of private respondent and the counterclaim of
Las Vegas by him elicited the information that Dewey Dee's outstanding
petitioner were dismissed. 5 On appeal, said judgment was affirmed by the
account was around $1,000,000.00. Further investigations, however,
then Intermediate Appellate Court on May 9, 1986. 6
Petitioner, in due time, filed a motion for reconsideration contending that the compensation from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada,
Appellate Court overlooked two important and decisive factors, to wit: (1) At the entity with whom defendant-appellant was having a
the time private respondent was ostensibly rendering services to petitioner problem and for which he had engaged the services of
and his father, he was actually working "in the interest" and "to the plaintiff-appellee. The crux of the matter, therefore, is
advantage" of Caesar's Palace of which he was an agent and a consultant, whether or not the evidence on record justifies this finding of
hence the interests of the casino and private respondent were united in their the IAC.
objective to collect from the debtor; and (2) Private respondent is not justified
in claiming that he rendered legal services to petitioner and his father in view Plaintiff-appellee maintains that his professional services to
of the conflicting interests involved. defendant-appellant were rendered between the months of
July and September of 1981, while his employment as
In its resolution of July 31, 1986, respondent court reconsidered its decision collection agent and consultant of Caesar's Palace covered
and held that the sum of P50,000.00 already paid by petitioner to private the period from December 1981 to October 1982. This
respondent was commensurate to the services he rendered, considering that positive testimony of plaintiff-appellee, however, was
at the time he was acting as counsel for petitioner he was also acting as the disregarded by the IAC for the following reasons:
collecting agent and consultant of, and receiving compensation from,
Caesar's Palace. 7 However, upon a motion for reconsideration thereafter 1. In August l983, plaintiff-appellee testified that he was a
filed by private respondent, the present respondent Court of Appeals issued representative of Caesar's Palace in the Philippines 'about
another resolution, dated February 12, 1987, reinstating the aforesaid two or three years ago.' From this the IAC concluded that the
decision of May 9, 1986. 8 period covers the time plaintiff-appellee rendered
professional services to defendant-appellant.
Petitioner is now before us seeking a writ of certiorari to overturn the latter
resolution. We do not think that IAC's conclusion is necessarily correct.
When plaintiff-appellee gave the period 'about two or three
It is necessary, however, to first clear the air of the questions arising from the years ago,' he was merely stating an approximation.
change of stand of the First Civil Cases Division of the former Intermediate Considering that plaintiff-appellee was testifying in August
Appellate Court when, acting on the representations in petitioner's undated 1983, and his employment with Caesar's Palace began in
motion for reconsideration supposedly filed on May 28,1986, it promulgated December 1981, the stated difference of two years is
its July 31, 1986 resolution reconsidering the decision it had rendered in AC- relatively correct. . . .
G.R. CV No. 04242. Said resolution was, as earlier noted, set aside by the
Twelfth Division of the reorganized Court of Appeals which, at the same time, 2. The plaintiff appellee had testified that he was working for
reinstated the aforesaid decision. the sake,' 'in the interest,' and 'to the advantage' of Caesar's
Palace. x x x "We detect nothing from the above which
Because of its clarificatory relevance to some issues belatedly raised by would support IAC's conclusion that plaintiff-appellee was
petitioner, which issues should have been disregarded 9 but were then in the employ of Caesar's Palace. What is gathered is
nevertheless auspiciously discussed therein, at the risk of seeming prolixity that plaintiff-appellee was simply fulfilling a condition which
we quote hereunder the salient portions of the assailed resolution which plaintiff-appellee had proposed to, and was accepted by,
demonstrate that it was not conceived in error. Caesar's Palace, for the release of Dewey Dee from his
obligation to Caesar's Palace.
The reason for then IAC's action is that it deemed the
P50,000.00 plaintiff-appellee had previously received from 3. Caesar's Palace would not have listened to, and acted
defendant-appellant as adequate compensation for the upon, the advice of plaintiff-appellee if he were no longer its
services rendered by am for defendant-appellant, consultant and alter ego.
considering that at the time plaintiff-appellee was acting as
counsel for defendant-appellant, he was also acting as the Why not? We are witnesses to many successful negotiations
collecting agent and consultant of, and receiving between contending parties whose representing lawyers
were not and were never in the employ of the opposite party. implied. To establish the relation, it is sufficient that the advice and
The art of negotiation is precisely one of the essential tools assistance of an attorney is sought and received in any matter pertinent to
of a good practitioner, and mastery of the art takes into his profession. An acceptance of the relation is implied on the part of the
account the circumstance that one may be negotiating, attorney from his acting on behalf of his client in pursuance of a request from
among others, with a person who may not only be a the latter. 12
complete stranger but antagonistic as well. The fact that
plaintiff-appellee was able to secure a favorable concession There is no question that professional services were actually rendered by
from Caesar's Palace for defendant-appellant does not private respondent to petitioner and his family. Through his efforts, the
justify the conclusion that it could have been secured only account of petitioner's brother, Dewey Dee, with Caesar's Palace was
because of plaintiff-appellee's professional relationship with assumed by Ramon Sy and petitioner and his family were further freed from
Caesar's Palace. It could have been attributable more to the apprehension that Dewey might be harmed or even killed by the so-
plaintiff-appellee's stature as a former ambassador of the called mafia. For such services, respondent Mutuc is indubitably entitled to
Philippines to the United States, his personality, and his receive a reasonable compensation and this right cannot be concluded by
negotiating technique. petitioner's pretension that at the time private respondent rendered such
services to petitioner and his family, the former was also the Philippine
Assuming, however, that plaintiff-appellee was employed by consultant of Caesar's Palace.
Caesar's Palace during the time that he was rendering
professional services for defendant-appellant, this would not On the first aspect, the evidence of record shows that the services of
automatically mean the denial of additional attorney's fees to respondent Mutuc were engaged by the petitioner for the purposes
plaintiff appellee. The main reason why the IAC denied hereinbefore discussed. The previous partial payments totalling P50,000.00
plaintiff-appellee additional compensation was because the made by petitioner to respondent Mutuc and the tenor of the demand letters
latter was allegedly receiving compensation from Caesar's sent by said private respondent to petitioner, the receipt thereof being
Palace, and, therefore, the amount of P50,000.00 plaintiff- acknowledged by petitioner, ineluctably prove three facts, viz: that petitioner
appellee had previously received from defendant-appellant is hired the services of private respondent Mutuc; that there was a prior
'reasonable and commensurate. This conclusion, however, agreement as to the amount of attorney's fees to be given to the latter; and
can only be justified if the fact and amount of remuneration there was still a balance due and payable on said fees. The duplicate original
had been established. These were not proven at all. No copy of the initial receipt issued and signed in this connection by private
proof was presented as to the nature of plaintiff-appellee's respondent reads:
remuneration, and the mode or manner in which it was paid..
. . 10
RECEIVED from Mr. Donald Dee, for professional services
rendered, the sum of THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS
Both the lower court and the appellate court concur in their findings that there (P30,000.00) as partial payment, leaving a balance of
was a lawyer-client relationship between petitioner and private respondent SEVENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P70,000.00), payable on
Mutuc. We find no reason to interfere with this factual finding. There may be demand.
instances when there is doubt as to whether an attorney-client relationship
has been created. The issue may be raised in the trial court, but once the Makati, Metro Manila, July 25,1981. 13
trial court and the Court of Appeals have found that there was such a
relationship the Supreme Court cannot disturb such finding of fact, 11 absent
cogent reasons therefor. Thereafter, several demand letters for payment of his fees, dated August 6,
1981, December 2, 1981, January 29, 1982, March 7, 1982, and September
7, 1982 were sent by private respondent to petitioner, 14 all to no avail.
The puerile claim is advanced that there was no attorney-client relationship
between petitioner and private respondent for lack of a written contract to
that effect. The absence of a written contract will not preclude the finding that On the second objection, aside from the facts stated in the aforequoted
there was a professional relationship which merits attorney's fees for resolution of respondent Court of Appeals, it is also not completely accurate
professional services rendered. Documentary formalism is not an essential to judge private respondent's position by petitioner's assumption that the
element in the employment of an attorney; the contract may be express or interests of Caesar's Palace were adverse to those of Dewey Dee. True, the
casino was a creditor but that fact was not contested or opposed by Dewey SO ORDERED.
Dee, since the latter, as verifications revealed, was not the debtor. Hence,
private respondent's representations in behalf of petitioner were not in Melencio-Herrera, (Chairperson), Paras, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.
resistance to the casino's claim but were actually geared toward proving that
fact by establishing the liability of the true debtor, Ramon Sy, from whom
payment was ultimately and correctly exacted. 15
Footnotes
Even assuming that the imputed conflict of interests obtained, private
respondent's role therein was not ethically or legally indefensible. Generally,
an attorney is prohibited from representing parties with contending positions. 1 Petition, 4 Rollo, 9.
However, at a certain stage of the controversy before it reaches the court, a
lawyer may represent conflicting interests with the consent of the parties. 16 A 2 Rollo, 9-10, 21-22.
common representation may work to the advantage of said parties since a
mutual lawyer, with honest motivations and impartially cognizant of the 3 Rollo, 10.
parties' disparate positions, may well be better situated to work out an
acceptable settlement of their differences, being free of partisan inclinations 4 Civil Case No. 1736 (47992): Original Record, 1-4.
and acting with the cooperation and confidence of said parties.
5 Judge Ricardo J. Francisco, presiding: Original Record,
Here, even indulging petitioner in his theory that private respondent was 127-132.
during the period in question an agent of Caesar's Palace, petitioner was not
unaware thereof, hence he actually consented to and cannot now decry the
6 Penned by Presiding Justice Ramon G. Gaviola, Jr.,
dual representation that he postulates. This knowledge he admits, thus:
Justices Ma. Rosario Quetulio-Losa and Leonor Ines
Luciano concurring; First Civil Cases Division.
It is a fair question to ask why, of all the lawyers in the land,
it was the private respondent who was singled out by the
7 Penned, likewise, by Presiding Justice Gaviola, Jr., with
petitioner's father for consultation in regard to an apparent
the concurrence of Justices Quetulio-Losa and Luciano of
problem, then pending in Caesar's Palace. The testimony of
the same Division.
Arthur Alejandrino, cousin to private respondent, and the
admission of the private respondent himself supply the
answer. Alejandrino testified that private respondent was the 8 Justice Luis A. Javellana, ponente, with whom concurred
representative of Caesar's Palace in the Philippines (p. 23, Justices Pedro A. Ramirez and Cecilio L. Pe Twelfth
t.s.n., Nov. 29, 1983).lâwphî1.ñèt Private respondent Division.
testified that he was such representative tasked by the
casino to collect the gambling losses incurred by Filipinos in 9 Sec. 18, Rule 46 and Sec. 7, Rule 51, Rules of Court; De
Las Vegas. (p. 5, t.s.n., Sept. 21, 1983). 17 la Santa vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 140 SCRA 44 (1985);
Dihiansan et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al.. 153 SCRA 712
A lawyer is entitled to have and receive the just and reasonable (1987).
compensation for services rendered at the special instance and request of
his client and as long as he is honestly and in good faith trying to serve and 10 Rollo, 52-55.
represent the interests of his client, the latter is bound to pay his just fees. 18
11 Vda. de Reyes vs. Court of Appeals et al., 116 SCRA 607
WHEREFORE, the resolution of respondent Court of Appeals, dated (1982).
February 12,1987, reinstating its original decision of May 9, 1986 is hereby
AFFIRMED, with costs against l petitioner.
12 See C.J.S., 848-849, and Hirach Bros. & Co. vs. R.E.
Kennington Co., 88 A.L.R 1, as cited in Hilado vs. Gutierrez
David, et al., 84 Phil. 569 (1949).

13 Exhibit S, Folder of Exhibits. While objected to as self-


serving (Original Record, 102), the authenticity and due
execution of this document was not definitively denied by
petitioner in his testimony (TSN, Nov. 21, 1983, 20-21).

14 Exhibits B, D, E, F, and G, Ibid.

15 Canon 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics, then in


force, provides; "Within the meaning of this canon a lawyer
represents conflicting interests when, in behalf of one client,
it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another client
requires him to oppose."

16 Canon 6, Id.

17 Memorandum of Petitioner, 5; Rollo, 88.

18 De Guzman vs. Visayan Rapid Transit Co., Inc. et al., 68


Phil. 643 (1939).