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[ A.C. No. 7250 [Formerly CBD Case No.

05-1448], April 20, 2015 ]

ATTY. RICARDO M. ESPINA, COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. JESUS G. CHAVEZ, RESPONDENT.

BRION, J.:
Before this Court is a Complaint for Disbarment/Suspension[1] that Atty. Ricardo M. Espina (Atty. Espina) filed against
Atty. Jesus G. Chavez (Atty. Chavez) with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on March 23, 2005 for violation of
Canon 19, Rule 19.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. [2]

The IBP Report and Recommendation[3] transmitted to this Court on May 29, 2006 recommended the dismissal of the
charge for lack of proof.

On August 28, 2006, Atty. Espina filed with this Court a Petition for Review on Certiorari[4] questioning the IBP findings.
On February 28, 2007, Atty. Chavez filed his Comment on the Petition[5] in compliance with our Resolution of December
11, 2006.

The Facts

On November 3, 2004, Atty. Espina and his law firm represented Atty. Espina's parents in an ejectment suit filed against
Remedios C. Enguio (Enguio) in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Carmen, Agusan Del Norte. Atty. Chavez who was
then a Public Attorney III of the Public Attorney's Office, Regional Office XIII, Butuan City represented Enguio. [6]

On May 20, 2005, the MTC dismissed the ejectment suit for lack of cause of action. On February 13, 2007, the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) affirmed the MTC decision.[7] Neither party appealed the RTC decision.

During the pendency of the ejectment suit, Atty. Chavez committed an act apparently in his official capacity, which
prompted Atty. Espina to file his Complaint for Disbarment/Suspension with the IBP.

While the narratives of Atty. Espina and Atty. Chavez diverged on many points, the following facts are undisputed and
stipulated during the preliminary hearing before the IBP Commissioner on June 24, 2005:[8]

1. Atty. Espina's parents, represented by Atty. Espina, filed an ejectment complaint against Enguio, represented by
Atty. Chavez.

2. During the pendency of the ejectment case, Atty. Espina sent a letter [9] dated December 13, 2004 to the
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary captioned "Abrasive and harassment tactics of Public Attorney IHJesus G.
Chavez." The letter alleged that the Answer Atty. Chavez prepared in the ejectment case contained offensive
statements.[10]

3. Also while the ejectment case was pending, Atty. Chavez, as a Public Attorney, endorsed through a letter
(transmittal letter) to the Provincial Prosecutor,[11] the filing of a criminal complaint for Violation of Article 172
(Falsification by private individual and use of falsified document) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) against Atty.
Espina, his wife (who is a partner in his law office) and his parents.

4. The criminal complaint was based on the affidavit-complaint executed by Enguio.[12] In this affidavit-complaint,
Enguio alleged that "in order to fashion a case for Ejectment, respondents made an untruthful statement in the
narration of facts (par. 4, Article 171)."

The Provincial Prosecutor dismissed the falsification complaint for lack of probable cause.[13]

In the meantime, the DOJ Secretary endorsed Atty. Espina's letter captioned "Abrasive and harassment tactics of Public
Attorney III Jesus G. Chavez" to the Office of the Chief Public Attorney (Chief PAO) for action.

The Chief PAO ordered Atty. Chavez to comment on the letter. Atty. Espina then filed his rebuttal to Atty. Chavez's
comment.
A portion of Atty. Espina's rebuttal letter reads: "Baka kulangpo ng indoctrination itong si Atty. Chavez sa concept ng
Torrens system, i-suspend nyo po muna siya not for the purpose of penalizing him but for him to be given time to take
continuing legal education on Torrens system. "

The Chief PAO, in her Resolution dated May 5, 2005, dismissed the complaint against Atty. Chavez.

The IBP Report and Recommendation[14]

Based on the facts and as stipulated by the parties, the IBP Commissioner distilled the issues to be resolved as follows:

1. Whether or not PAO III Jesus G. Chavez violated Rule 19.01 of Canon 19 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility when he prepared and transmitted the complaint of Remedios Enquio for falsification to the
Provincial Prosecutor of Agusan del Norte.

2. Whether or not the complaint for falsification was an unfounded charge intended to obtain improper advantage in
a case or proceeding.

The IBP Commissioner noted that the complaint is anchored on the alleged indispensable assistance extended by Atty.
Chavez in the preparation and filing of the falsification complaint, as proven by the transmittal letter to the Provincial
Prosecutor.

The IBP Commissioner held that the preparation and transmittal of the criminal complaint to the Provincial Prosecutor's
Office is not per se an unfair and dishonest means employed by Atty. Chavez.

The IBP Commissioner found that the criminal charge endorsed by Atty. Chavez was not exactly unfounded or wanting in
basis. He observed that the complaint for ejectment contained conflicting averments, i.e., while it is alleged that the
discovery of Enguio's occupation of the disputed property was made in November 2003, the letter demand to Enguio to
vacate the property (which was attached to the complaint) categorically stated that the defendant had been notified as
early as 1997 that her possession and/or occupation of the property was illegal.

The IBP Commissioner - based on her examination of the submitted facts and evidence - concluded that Atty. Chavez
was honestly mistaken when he construed the contradictory allegations in the complaint for ejectment as criminal
falsification under the Revised Penal Code. He noted that lawyers are not liable for honest mistakes. He dismissed the
complaint given the dearth of competent evidence on record to substantiate Atty. Espina's allegation that the transmission
of the complaint for falsification was intended to gain an advantage in the civil complaint for ejectment.

The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved in toto the IBP Commissioner's report and recommendation.[15]

Our Ruling

We affirm the IBP Report and Recommendation.

The complaint is anchored on the alleged violation by Atty. Chavez of Canon 19, Rule 19.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, viz:

Canon 1: A lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of law.

Rule 19.01: A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall
not present, participate in presenting or threaten to present unfounded criminal charges to obtain
an improperadvantage in any case or proceeding.

(Underscoring supplied.)

Atty. Espina contends that Atty. Chavez violated the above-quoted provisions when he indispensably participated in the
filing of the falsification complaint against him, his wife and his parents. The falsification case was filed, according to Atty.
Espina, solely for the purpose of gaining an improper advantage and leverage in the ejectment case. [16]

Atty. Espina further argues that Atty. Chavez participated in the filing of the baseless criminal complaint by (i) goading
Enguio to file the criminal complaint and (ii) ensuring that the criminal complaint was acted upon by the Office of the
Provincial Prosecutor by sending the transmittal letter to the said office under Atty. Chavez's signature.[17]

We find Atty. Espina's position unmeritorious and without basis.

What Rule 19.01 prohibits is the filing or the threat of filing patently frivolous and meritless appeals or clearly
groundless actionsfor the purpose of gaining improper advantage in any case or proceeding.[18]

Two elements are indispensable before a lawyer can be deemed to have violated this rule: (i) the filing or threat of filing a
patently frivolous and meritless action or appeal and (ii) the filing or threat of filing the action is intended to gain improper
advantage in any case or proceeding.

Our jurisprudence is replete with cases on these points.

In Pena v. Atty. Aparicio,[19] the lawyer sent a demand letter to his client's employer which contained threats of filing
criminal charges for tax evasion, falsification of documents and cancellation of business license if the separation pay
allegedly due to his client was not paid. The lawyer drafted the demand letter in response to the notice to return to work
sent by the employer.

We held that Atty. Aparicio did exactly what Canon 19 and its Rules prohibit. The threat to file the cases against the
employer was designed to secure leverage to compel the latter to give in to Atty. Aparicio's demands. The letter in this
case contained more than just a simple demand to pay. It contained threat to file retaliatory charges against the
complainant which had nothing to do with the claim for separation pay. The letter was obviously designed to secure
leverage to compel the employer to yield to the client's claims.[20]

In Ong v. Atty. Unto,[21] we reprimanded a lawyer when he sent a demand letter which also contained the threat of various
charges against the complainant if the latter failed to comply with the lawyer's demands. The lawyer, in fact, made good
his promise when the complainant did not heed his warning. The lawyer filed an array of criminal and administrative
charges against the complainant, which charges were irrelevant to his client's claim.

We held in Ong that:

It is evident from the records that he tried to coerce the complainant to comply with his letter-demand by threatening to file
various charges against the latter. When the complainant did not heed his warning, he made good his threat and filed a
string of criminal and administrative cases against the complainant. We find the respondent's action to be malicious as the
cases he instituted against the complainant did not have any bearing or connection to the cause of his client. [22]

In Atty. Briones v. Atty. Gimenez,[23] Atty. Briones charged Atty. Gimenez (a special administrator of an estate) for violating
Rule 19.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. In this case, the Atty. Gimenez filed a criminal complaint [24] against
Atty. Briones for resisting and seriously disobeying an order of the trial court in an estate settlement proceeding, directing
him (Atty. Briones) to deliver the residue of the estate to the heirs.

We noted that before Atty. Gimenez assisted the heirs in filing the criminal complaint, he sent demand letters to Atty.
Briones to comply with the order to deliver the residue of the estate to the heirs. When Atty. Briones did not reply to the
demand letters, Atty. Gimenez filed the criminal complaint on behalf of his clients against Atty. Briones for refusing to obey
the lawful order of the court.[25]

We held that Atty. Gimenez should have first filed the proper motion with the Regional Trial Court for execution of the
order instead of immediately filing the criminal complaint. We concluded that fair play demands that Atty. Gimenez should
have filed the proper motion with the Regional Trial Court to attain his goal of having the residue of the estate delivered to
his clients, instead of prematurely filing criminal charges against Atty. Briones.[26]

It can be gleamed from the above-cited cases that Rule 19.01 is violated only when the criminal complaint filed or
threatened to be filed is patently frivolous, meritless and clearly groundless and is aimed solely at gaining the sole
purpose of improper advantage.
In Pena v. Atty. Aparicio, the demand letter was explicit and blatant in its threat of filing several actions (which included tax
evasion, a matter totally unrelated to the pending labor case) if the employer failed to accede to the demand for payment
of separation pay allegedly due to the employee. It was clearly and obviously done to compel the employer to grant the
demand for separation pay.

Similarly, in Ong v. Atty. Unto, the letter contained threats of criminal prosecution if the complainant did not accede to the
lawyer's demand. The lawyer subsequently filed totally unrelated and irrelevant criminal and administrative cases against
the complainant when the latter failed to comply with the demand letter. Without doubt, these cases were filed to force the
complainant to give in to the lawyer's demands.

Finally, in Atty. Briones v. Atty. Gimenez, the criminal complaint was filed after the complainant did not comply with the
demand letter. There was also an available remedy in the civil action which could have given effect to Atty. Gimenez's
demand without having to file the criminal complaint.

The facts of the present case differed from the above-cited cases. We note that Atty. Espina did not only fail to
substantiate his allegation that Atty. Chavez masterminded the filing of the criminal complaint for falsification; he also
failed to show that the criminal complaint was patently frivolous, meritless and groundless, and that it was filed to gain
improper advantage in favor of his client.

First, the fact that Atty. Chavez endorsed the criminal complaint to the Provincial Prosecutor was, in itself, not contrary to
Rule 19.01.

We point out that Atty. Chavez was then a PAO lawyer. In this capacity, he had the duty to assist clients who could not
afford the services of a private lawyer. His assessment on the merit of the criminal complaint might have been erroneous
but the act of endorsing the affidavit-complaint to the Provincial Prosecutor did not per se violate Rule 19.01.

Moreover, the affidavit-complaint for Falsification was signed and executed by Enguio and not by Atty. Chavez. Atty.
Chavez merely transmitted the affidavit-complaint to the Provincial Prosecutor for the latter's consideration. We cannot
conclude, solely given these facts and Atty. Espina's bare assertions, that Enguio was goaded into filing the criminal
complaint.

Second, the criminal complaint was not patently frivolous and groundless. It was not unreasonable for Atty. Chavez to
conclude (albeit incorrectly according to the assessment of the Provincial Prosecutor) that there was a case for violation of
Article 172 of the RPC.

Article 172 in relation to paragraph 4 of Article 171 of the RPC penalizes the making of untruthful statements in a narration
of facts. The basis of Enguio's affidavit-complaint was the contrary statements in the ejectment complaint on when Atty.
Espina's parents acquired knowledge of Enguio's alleged illegal possession of the property.

The body of the ejectment complaint alleged that the plaintiffs discovered Enguio's illegal possession in November 2003.
On the other hand, the letter attached to the complaint explicitly indicated that Enguio has been notified as early as 1997
that her possession and occupation of the land was illegal. This explains Enguio's allegation in her affidavit-complaint that
"in order to fashion a case for Ejectment, respondent made an untruthful statement in the narration of facts."

As the IBP Commissioner correctly observed, the criminal complaint was not exactly unfounded or wanting in basis. That
it was later dismissed by the Provincial Prosecutor for lack of probable cause is of no consequence. We cannot expect
and require Atty. Chavez (or any lawyer for that matter) to be infallible in his judgment on the merit of every criminal
charge he endorses to the prosecutor. It is only required that the complaint is not patently frivolous and filed solely to
ensure improper advantage.

It is also unwise to characterize every criminal complaint that arose from or is connected with a separate case or
proceeding to be within the coverage of Rule 19.01. The better policy is to balance the prohibition under Rule 19.01 with
the equally important right of the State to prosecute criminal offenses. We stress that the key test is whether the criminal
complaint is patently meritless and clearly filed to gain improper advantage.

Unless the criminal complaint is patently frivolous and obviously meant to secure an improper advantage, a lawyer who
files such criminal complaint should not be automatically deemed to have violated Rule 19.01. Otherwise, lawyers who
have a valid cause for filing a criminal action may be compelled not to proceed because of fear of administrative
sanctions.

Finally, unlike in the cases cited above, there is no clear and concrete proof that the falsification complaint was filed to
ensure improper advantage to Enguio.
Other than the fact that the falsification complaint arose from the narration of facts in the ejectment complaint, Atty. Espina
failed to show that the falsification complaint was meant to ensure improper advantage to Enguio. Atty. Espina merely
made this conclusion by inference but his basic premises were not supported by evidence. We cannot presume that
Enguio gained or stood to gain improper advantage to the detriment of Atty. Espina's parents by the mere filing of the
falsification complaint. After all, both the ejectment and falsification complaints were eventually dismissed.

As a final point, we note with concern the excessive antagonism between Atty. Espina and Atty. Chavez. It appears that
this case is no longer about the alleged violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility but a protracted and bitter fight
between brothers in the legal profession. Both claim that the other party is arrogant and ignorant of the law. The pleadings
contained serious attacks on the professional competence and personal integrity of one another. These are acts that this
Court should not allow to pass without comments.

We take this occasion to remind lawyers of their duties to their professional colleagues. Rule 8.01 of Canon 8 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility is clear: a lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is
abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.

While the fervor shown by Atty. Espina and Atty. Chavez in defending their clients' respective claims has been admirable,
we find it unfortunate that they allowed their personal animosity and bruised egos to affect their handling of these cases.

Although we dismiss the present complaint because of lack of merit, we strongly warn both counsels that any future
infraction of the Code of Professional Responsibility may warrant actual penalty.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby AFFIRM the recommendation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and DISMISS the Disbarment/Suspension complaint against ATTY. JESUS G. CHAVEZ. At the same time, we warn both
counsels about their use of intemperate language in their pleadings and in dealing with one another.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio, (Chairperson), Del Castillo, Mendoza, and Leonen, JJ., concur.


MASMUD VS NLRC

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari[1] assailing the Decision[2] dated October 31, 2007 and the
Resolution dated June 6, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 96279.

The facts of the case are as follows:

On July 9, 2003, Evangelina Masmuds (Evangelina) husband, the late Alexander J. Masmud (Alexander), filed a
complaint[3] against First Victory Shipping Services and Angelakos (Hellas) S.A. for non-payment of permanent disability
benefits, medical expenses, sickness allowance, moral and exemplary damages, and attorneys fees. Alexander engaged
the services of Atty. Rolando B. Go, Jr. (Atty. Go) as his counsel.

In consideration of Atty. Gos legal services, Alexander agreed to pay attorneys fees on a contingent basis, as follows:
twenty percent (20%) of total monetary claims as settled or paid and an additional ten percent (10%) in case of appeal. It
was likewise agreed that any award of attorneys fees shall pertain to respondents law firm as compensation.

On November 21, 2003, the Labor Arbiter (LA) rendered a Decision granting the monetary claims of Alexander. The
dispositive portion of the decision, as quoted in the CA Decision, reads:

WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, judgment is rendered finding the [First Victory Shipping Services and Angelakos
(Hellas) S.A.] jointly and severally liable to pay [Alexanders] total permanent disability benefits in the amount of
US$60,000.00 and his sickness allowance of US$2,348.00, both in Philippine currency at the prevailing rate of exchange
at the time of payment; and to pay further the amount of P200,000.00 as moral damages, P100,000.00 as exemplary
damages and attorneys fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award.

[Alexanders] claim for payment of medical expenses is dismissed for lack of basis.

SO ORDERED.[4]

Alexanders employer filed an appeal before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). During the pendency of
the proceedings before the NLRC, Alexander died. After explaining the terms of the lawyers fees to Evangelina, Atty. Go
caused her substitution as complainant. On April 30, 2004, the NLRC rendered a Decision dismissing the appeal of
Alexanders employer. The employer subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration. The NLRC denied the same in an
Order dated October 26, 2004.

On appeal before the CA, the decision of the LA was affirmed with modification. The award of moral and exemplary
damages was deleted.[5] Alexanders employers filed a petition for certiorari[6] before this Court. On February 6, 2006, the
Court issued a Resolution dismissing the case for lack of merit

Eventually, the decision of the NLRC became final and executory. Atty. Go moved for the execution of the NLRC decision,
which was later granted by the LA. The surety bond of the employer was garnished. Upon motion of Atty. Go, the surety
company delivered to the NLRC Cashier, through the NLRC Sheriff, the check amounting to P3,454,079.20. Thereafter,
Atty. Go moved for the release of the said amount to Evangelina.

On January 10, 2005, the LA directed the NLRC Cashier to release the amount of P3,454,079.20 to Evangelina. Out of
the said amount, Evangelina paid Atty. Go the sum of P680,000.00.

Dissatisfied, Atty. Go filed a motion to record and enforce the attorneys lien alleging that Evangelina reneged on their
contingent fee agreement. Evangelina paid only the amount of P680,000.00, equivalent to 20% of the award as attorneys
fees, thus, leaving a balance of 10%, plus the award pertaining to the counsel as attorneys fees.

In response to the motion filed by Atty. Go, Evangelina filed a comment with motion to release the amount deposited with
the NLRC Cashier. In her comment, Evangelina manifested that Atty. Gos claim for attorneys fees of 40% of the total
monetary award was null and void based on Article 111 of the Labor Code.

On February 14, 2005, the LA issued an Order[7] granting Atty. Gos motion, the fallo of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, and further considering the substitute complainants initial payment of 20% to
movant-counsel of the monetary claims as paid, let the balance or unpaid twenty (20%) per cent of attorneys fees due
movant-counsel (or the amount of P839,587.39) be recorded as lien upon all the monies that may still be paid to
substitute complainant Evangelina Masmud.

Accordingly, the NLRC Cashier is directed to pay movant-counsel the amount of P677,589.96 which is currently deposited
therein to partially satisfy the lien

SO ORDERED.[8]

Evangelina questioned the February 14, 2005 Order of the LA before the NLRC. On January 31, 2006, the NLRC issued a
Resolution[9] dismissing the appeal for lack of merit.

Evangelina then elevated the case to the CA via a petition for certiorari.[10] On October 31, 2007, the CA rendered a
Decision[11] partially granting the petition. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Resolutions dated January 31, 2006 and July 18, 2006 are
hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the Attorneys fees of respondent Atty. Rolando B. Go, Jr. is declared fully
compensated by the amount of P1,347,950.11 that he has already received.

Evangelina filed a motion for reconsideration. However, on June 6, 2008, the CA issued a Resolution[13] denying the
motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.

Hence, the instant petition.

Evangelina presented this issue, viz.:

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW IN ITS DECISION DATED 31
OCTOBER 2007 AND RESOLUTION DATED 6 JUNE 2008 INSOFAR AS IT UPHOLDS RESPONDENT LAWYERS
CLAIM OF FORTY PERCENT (40%) OF THE MONETARY AWARD IN A LABOR CASE AS ATTORNEYS FEES.[14]

In effect, petitioner seeks affirmance of her conviction that the legal compensation of a lawyer in a labor proceeding
should be based on Article 111 of the Labor Code.

There are two concepts of attorney's fees. In the ordinary sense, attorney's fees represent the reasonable compensation
paid to a lawyer by his client for the legal services rendered to the latter. On the other hand, in its extraordinary concept,
attorney's fees may be awarded by the court as indemnity for damages to be paid by the losing party to the prevailing
party,[15] such that, in any of the cases provided by law where such award can be made, e.g., those authorized in Article
2208 of the Civil Code, the amount is payable not to the lawyer but to the client, unless they have agreed that the award
shall pertain to the lawyer as additional compensation or as part thereof.[16]

Here, we apply the ordinary concept of attorneys fees, or the compensation that Atty. Go is entitled to receive for
representing Evangelina, in substitution of her husband, before the labor tribunals and before the court.

Evangelina maintains that Article 111 of the Labor Code is the law that should govern Atty. Gos compensation as her
counsel and assiduously opposes their agreed retainer contract.

Article 111 of the said Code provides:

ART. 111. Attorney's fees. (a) In cases of unlawful withholding of wages the culpable party may be assessed attorney's
fees equivalent to ten percent of the amount of the wages recovered.

Contrary to Evangelinas proposition, Article 111 of the Labor Code deals with the extraordinary concept of attorneys fees.
It regulates the amount recoverable as attorney's fees in the nature of damages sustained by and awarded to the
prevailing party. It may not be used as the standard in fixing the amount payable to the lawyer by his client for the legal
services he rendered.[17]

In this regard, Section 24, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court should be observed in determining Atty. Gos compensation. The
said Rule provides:

SEC. 24. Compensation of attorney's; agreement as to fees. An attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his
client no more than a reasonable compensation for his services, with a view to the importance of the subject matter of the
controversy, the extent of the services rendered, and the professional standing of the attorney. No court shall be bound by
the opinion of attorneys as expert witnesses as to the proper compensation, but may disregard such testimony and base
its conclusion on its own professional knowledge. A written contract for services shall control the amount to be paid
therefor unless found by the court to be unconscionable or unreasonable.[18]

The retainer contract between Atty. Go and Evangelina provides for a contingent fee. The contract shall control in the
determination of the amount to be paid, unless found by the court to be unconscionable or unreasonable.[19] Attorney's
fees are unconscionable if they affront one's sense of justice, decency or reasonableness.[20] The decree of
unconscionability or unreasonableness of a stipulated amount in a contingent fee contract will not preclude recovery. It
merely justifies the fixing by the court of a reasonable compensation for the lawyer's services.[21]

The criteria found in the Code of Professional Responsibility are also to be considered in assessing the proper amount of
compensation that a lawyer should receive. Canon 20, Rule 20.01 of the said Code provides:

CANON 20 A LAWYER SHALL CHARGE ONLY FAIR AND REASONABLE FEES.

Rule 20.01. A lawyer shall be guided by the following factors in determining his fees

(a) The time spent and the extent of the services rendered or required;

(b) The novelty and difficulty of the question involved;

(c) The importance of the subject matter;

(d) The skill demanded;

(e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of acceptance of the proffered case;

(f) The customary charges for similar services and the schedule of fees of the IBP Chapter to which he belongs;

(g) The amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client from the service;

(h) The contingency or certainty of compensation;

(i) The character of the employment, whether occasional or established; and

(j) The professional standing of the lawyer.

Contingent fee contracts are subject to the supervision and close scrutiny of the court in order that clients may be
protected from unjust charges.[22] The amount of contingent fees agreed upon by the parties is subject to the stipulation
that counsel will be paid for his legal services only if the suit or litigation prospers. A much higher compensation is allowed
as contingent fees because of the risk that the lawyer may get nothing if the suit fails.[23] The Court finds nothing illegal in
the contingent fee contract between Atty. Go and Evangelinas husband. The CA committed no error of law when it
awarded the attorneys fees of Atty. Go and allowed him to receive an equivalent of 39% of the monetary award.

The issue of the reasonableness of attorney's fees is a question of fact. Well-settled is the rule that conclusions and
findings of fact of the CA are entitled to great weight on appeal and will not be disturbed except for strong and cogent
reasons which are absent in the case at bench. The findings of the CA, which are supported by substantial evidence, are
almost beyond the power of review by the Supreme Court.[24]

Considering that Atty. Go successfully represented his client, it is only proper that he should receive adequate
compensation for his efforts. Even as we agree with the reduction of the award of attorney's fees by the CA, the fact that a
lawyer plays a vital role in the administration of justice emphasizes the need to secure to him his honorarium lawfully
earned as a means to preserve the decorum and respectability of the legal profession. A lawyer is as much entitled to
judicial protection against injustice or imposition of fraud on the part of his client as the client is against abuse on the part
of his counsel. The duty of the court is not alone to ensure that a lawyer acts in a proper and lawful manner, but also to
see that a lawyer is paid his just fees. With his capital consisting of his brains and with his skill acquired at tremendous
cost not only in money but in expenditure of time and energy, he is entitled to the protection of any judicial tribunal against
any attempt on the part of his client to escape payment of his just compensation. It would be ironic if after putting forth the
best in him to secure justice for his client, he himself would not get his due.[25]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated October 31, 2007 and the Resolution dated June 6, 2008 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 96279 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
ROSA F. MERCADO, complainant, vs. ATTY. JULITO D. VITRIOLO, respondent.

Rosa F. Mercado filed the instant administrative complaint against Atty. Julito D. Vitriolo, seeking his disbarment from the
practice of law. The complainant alleged that respondent maliciously instituted a criminal case for falsification of public
document against her, a former client, based on confidential information gained from their attorney-client relationship.

Let us first hearken to the facts.

Complainant is a Senior Education Program Specialist of the Standards Development Division, Office of Programs and
Standards while respondent is a Deputy Executive Director IV of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).[1]

Complainants husband filed Civil Case No. 40537 entitled Ruben G. Mercado v. Rosa C. Francisco, for annulment of their
marriage with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City. This annulment case had been dismissed by the trial court,
and the dismissal became final and executory on July 15, 1992.[2]

In August 1992, Atty. Anastacio P. de Leon, counsel of complainant, died. On February 7, 1994, respondent entered his
appearance before the trial court as collaborating counsel for complainant.[3]

On March 16, 1994, respondent filed his Notice of Substitution of Counsel,[4] informing the RTC of Pasig City that he has
been appointed as counsel for the complainant, in substitution of Atty. de Leon.

It also appears that on April 13, 1999, respondent filed a criminal action against complainant before the Office of the City
Prosecutor, Pasig City, entitled Atty. Julito Vitriolo, et al. v. Rose Dela Cruz F. Mercado, and docketed as I.S. No. PSG 99-
9823, for violation of Articles 171 and 172 (falsification of public document) of the Revised Penal Code.[5] Respondent
alleged that complainant made false entries in the Certificates of Live Birth of her children, Angelica and Katelyn Anne.
More specifically, complainant allegedly indicated in said Certificates of Live Birth that she is married to a certain
Ferdinand Fernandez, and that their marriage was solemnized on April 11, 1979, when in truth, she is legally married to
Ruben G. Mercado and their marriage took place on April 11, 1978.

Complainant denied the accusations of respondent against her. She denied using any other name than Rosa F. Mercado.
She also insisted that she has gotten married only once, on April 11, 1978, to Ruben G. Mercado.

In addition, complainant Mercado cited other charges against respondent that are pending before or decided upon by
other tribunals (1) libel suit before the Office of the City Prosecutor, Pasig City;[6] (2) administrative case for dishonesty,
grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, pursuit of private business, vocation or profession
without the permission required by Civil Service rules and regulations, and violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act, before the then Presidential Commission Against Graft and Corruption;[7] (3) complaint for dishonesty,
grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service before the Office of the Ombudsman, where
he was found guilty of misconduct and meted out the penalty of one month suspension without pay;[8] and, (4) the
Information for violation of Section 7(b)(2) of Republic Act No. 6713, as amended, otherwise known as the Code of
Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees before the Sandiganbayan.[9]

Complainant Mercado alleged that said criminal complaint for falsification of public document (I.S. No. PSG 99-9823)
disclosed confidential facts and information relating to the civil case for annulment, then handled by respondent Vitriolo as
her counsel. This prompted complainant Mercado to bring this action against respondent. She claims that, in filing the
criminal case for falsification, respondent is guilty of breaching their privileged and confidential lawyer-client relationship,
and should be disbarred.

Respondent filed his Comment/Motion to Dismiss on November 3, 1999 where he alleged that the complaint for
disbarment was all hearsay, misleading and irrelevant because all the allegations leveled against him are subject of
separate fact-finding bodies. Respondent claimed that the pending cases against him are not grounds for disbarment, and
that he is presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise.[10] He also states that the decision of the Ombudsman finding
him guilty of misconduct and imposing upon him the penalty of suspension for one month without pay is on appeal with
the Court of Appeals. He adds that he was found guilty, only of simple misconduct, which he committed in good faith.[11]

In addition, respondent maintains that his filing of the criminal complaint for falsification of public documents against
complainant does not violate the rule on privileged communication between attorney and client because the bases of the
falsification case are two certificates of live birth which are public documents and in no way connected with the confidence
taken during the engagement of respondent as counsel. According to respondent, the complainant confided to him as
then counsel only matters of facts relating to the annulment case. Nothing was said about the alleged falsification of the
entries in the birth certificates of her two daughters. The birth certificates are filed in the Records Division of CHED and
are accessible to anyone.[12]

In a Resolution dated February 9, 2000, this Court referred the administrative case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.[13]

The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline set two dates for hearing but complainant failed to appear in both. Investigating
Commissioner Rosalina R. Datiles thus granted respondents motion to file his memorandum, and the case was submitted
for resolution based on the pleadings submitted by the parties.[14]

On June 21, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors approved the report of investigating commissioner Datiles, finding the
respondent guilty of violating the rule on privileged communication between attorney and client, and recommending his
suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year.

On August 6, 2003, complainant, upon receiving a copy of the IBP report and recommendation, wrote Chief Justice Hilario
Davide, Jr., a letter of desistance. She stated that after the passage of so many years, she has now found forgiveness for
those who have wronged her.

At the outset, we stress that we shall not inquire into the merits of the various criminal and administrative cases filed
against respondent. It is the duty of the tribunals where these cases are pending to determine the guilt or innocence of the
respondent.

We also emphasize that the Court is not bound by any withdrawal of the complaint or desistance by the complainant. The
letter of complainant to the Chief Justice imparting forgiveness upon respondent is inconsequential in disbarment
proceedings.

We now resolve whether respondent violated the rule on privileged communication between attorney and client when he
filed a criminal case for falsification of public document against his former client.

A brief discussion of the nature of the relationship between attorney and client and the rule on attorney-client privilege that
is designed to protect such relation is in order.

In engaging the services of an attorney, the client reposes on him special powers of trust and confidence. Their
relationship is strictly personal and highly confidential and fiduciary. The relation is of such delicate, exacting and
confidential nature that is required by necessity and public interest.[15] Only by such confidentiality and protection will a
person be encouraged to repose his confidence in an attorney. The hypothesis is that abstinence from seeking legal
advice in a good cause is an evil which is fatal to the administration of justice.[16] Thus, the preservation and protection of
that relation will encourage a client to entrust his legal problems to an attorney, which is of paramount importance to the
administration of justice.[17] One rule adopted to serve this purpose is the attorney-client privilege: an attorney is to keep
inviolate his clients secrets or confidence and not to abuse them.[18] Thus, the duty of a lawyer to preserve his clients
secrets and confidence outlasts the termination of the attorney-client relationship,[19] and continues even after the clients
death.[20] It is the glory of the legal profession that its fidelity to its client can be depended on, and that a man may safely
go to a lawyer and converse with him upon his rights or supposed rights in any litigation with absolute assurance that the
lawyers tongue is tied from ever disclosing it.[21] With full disclosure of the facts of the case by the client to his attorney,
adequate legal representation will result in the ascertainment and enforcement of rights or the prosecution or defense of
the clients cause.

Now, we go to the rule on attorney-client privilege. Dean Wigmore cites the factors essential to establish the existence of
the privilege, viz:

(1) Where legal advice of any kind is sought (2) from a professional legal adviser in his capacity as such, (3) the
communications relating to that purpose, (4) made in confidence (5) by the client, (6) are at his instance permanently
protected (7) from disclosure by himself or by the legal advisor, (8) except the protection be waived.[22]

In fine, the factors are as follows:

(1) There exists an attorney-client relationship, or a prospective attorney-client relationship, and it is by reason of this
relationship that the client made the communication.

Matters disclosed by a prospective client to a lawyer are protected by the rule on privileged communication even if the
prospective client does not thereafter retain the lawyer or the latter declines the employment.[23] The reason for this is to
make the prospective client free to discuss whatever he wishes with the lawyer without fear that what he tells the lawyer
will be divulged or used against him, and for the lawyer to be equally free to obtain information from the prospective
client.[24]

On the other hand, a communication from a (prospective) client to a lawyer for some purpose other than on account of the
(prospective) attorney-client relation is not privileged. Instructive is the case of Pfleider v. Palanca,[25] where the client
and his wife leased to their attorney a 1,328-hectare agricultural land for a period of ten years. In their contract, the parties
agreed, among others, that a specified portion of the lease rentals would be paid to the client-lessors, and the remainder
would be delivered by counsel-lessee to client's listed creditors. The client alleged that the list of creditors which he had
confidentially supplied counsel for the purpose of carrying out the terms of payment contained in the lease contract was
disclosed by counsel, in violation of their lawyer-client relation, to parties whose interests are adverse to those of the
client. As the client himself, however, states, in the execution of the terms of the aforesaid lease contract between the
parties, he furnished counsel with the confidential list of his creditors. We ruled that this indicates that client delivered the
list of his creditors to counsel not because of the professional relation then existing between them, but on account of the
lease agreement. We then held that a violation of the confidence that accompanied the delivery of that list would partake
more of a private and civil wrong than of a breach of the fidelity owing from a lawyer to his client.

(2) The client made the communication in confidence.

The mere relation of attorney and client does not raise a presumption of confidentiality.[26] The client must intend the
communication to be confidential.[27]

A confidential communication refers to information transmitted by voluntary act of disclosure between attorney and client
in confidence and by means which, so far as the client is aware, discloses the information to no third person other than
one reasonably necessary for the transmission of the information or the accomplishment of the purpose for which it was
given.[28]

Our jurisprudence on the matter rests on quiescent ground. Thus, a compromise agreement prepared by a lawyer
pursuant to the instruction of his client and delivered to the opposing party,[29] an offer and counter-offer for
settlement,[30] or a document given by a client to his counsel not in his professional capacity,[31] are not privileged
communications, the element of confidentiality not being present.[32]

(3) The legal advice must be sought from the attorney in his professional capacity.[33]

The communication made by a client to his attorney must not be intended for mere information, but for the purpose of
seeking legal advice from his attorney as to his rights or obligations. The communication must have been transmitted by a
client to his attorney for the purpose of seeking legal advice.[34]

If the client seeks an accounting service,[35] or business or personal assistance,[36] and not legal advice, the privilege
does not attach to a communication disclosed for such purpose.

Applying all these rules to the case at bar, we hold that the evidence on record fails to substantiate complainants
allegations. We note that complainant did not even specify the alleged communication in confidence disclosed by
respondent. All her claims were couched in general terms and lacked specificity. She contends that respondent violated
the rule on privileged communication when he instituted a criminal action against her for falsification of public documents
because the criminal complaint disclosed facts relating to the civil case for annulment then handled by respondent. She
did not, however, spell out these facts which will determine the merit of her complaint. The Court cannot be involved in a
guessing game as to the existence of facts which the complainant must prove.

Indeed, complainant failed to attend the hearings at the IBP. Without any testimony from the complainant as to the
specific confidential information allegedly divulged by respondent without her consent, it is difficult, if not impossible to
determine if there was any violation of the rule on privileged communication. Such confidential information is a crucial link
in establishing a breach of the rule on privileged communication between attorney and client. It is not enough to merely
assert the attorney-client privilege.[37] The burden of proving that the privilege applies is placed upon the party asserting
the privilege.[38]

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the complaint against respondent Atty. Julito D. Vitriolo is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 10567 February 25, 2015

WILFREDO ANGLO, Complainant,

vs.

ATTY. JOSE MA. V. VALENCIA, ATTY. JOSE MA. J. CIOCON, ATTY. PHILIP Z. DABAO, ATTY. LILY UYV ALENCIA,
ATTY. JOEY P. DE LA PAZ, ATTY. CRIS G. DIONELA, ATTY. RAYMUNDO T. PANDAN, JR.,* ATTY. RODNEY K.
RUBICA,** and ATTY. WILFRED RAMON M. PENALOSA, Respondents.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

This is an administrative case stemming from a complaint-affidavit1 dated December 4, 2009 filed by complainant
Wilfredo Anglo (complainant) charging respondents Attys. Jose Ma. V. Valencia (Atty. Valencia), Jose Ma. J. Ciocon (Atty.
Ciocon ), Philip Z. Dabao (Atty. Dabao ), Lily Uy-Valencia (Atty. Uy-Valencia), Joey P. De La Paz (Atty. De La Paz), Cris
G. Dionela (Atty. Dionela), Raymundo T. Pandan, Jr. (Atty. Pandan, Jr.), Rodney K. Rubica (Atty. Rubica), and Wilfred
Ramon M. Penalosa (Atty. Penalosa; collectively, respondents) of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR),
specifica1ly the rule against conflict of interest.

The Facts

In his complaint-affidavit, complainant alleged that he availed the services of the law firm Valencia Ciocon Dabao Valencia
De La Paz Dionela Pandan Rubica Law Office(law firm), of which Attys. Valencia, Ciocon, Dabao, Uy-Valencia, De La
Paz, Dionela, Pandan, Jr., and Rubica were partners, for two (2) consolidated labor cases2 where he was impleaded as
respondent. Atty. Dionela, a partner of the law firm, was assigned to represent complainant. The labor cases were
terminated on June 5, 2008 upon the agreement of both parties.3

On September 18, 2009, a criminal case4 for qualified theft was filed against complainant and his wife by FEVE Farms
Agricultural Corporation (FEVE Farms) acting through a certain Michael Villacorta (Villacorta). Villacorta, however, was
represented by the law firm, the same law office which handled complainant’s labor cases. Aggrieved, complainant filed
this disbarment case against respondents, alleging that they violated Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and Canon 21 of the CPR,5 to
wit:

CANON 15 – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND
TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.

xxxx

RULE 15.03 – A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts.

xxxx

CANON 21 – A LAWYER SHALL PRESERVE THE CONFIDENCES AND SECRETS OF HIS CLIENT EVEN AFTER THE
ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATION IS TERMINATED.

In their defense,6 respondents admitted that they indeed operated under the name Valencia Ciocon Dabao Valencia De
La Paz Dionela Pandan Rubica Law Office, but explained that their association is not a formal partnership, but one that is
subject to certain "arrangements." According to them, each lawyer contributes a fixed amount every month for the
maintenance of the entire office; and expenses for cases, such as transportation, copying, printing, mailing, and the like
are shouldered by each lawyer separately, allowing each lawyer to fix and receive his own professional fees exclusively.7
As such, the lawyers do not discuss their clientele with the other lawyers and associates, unless they agree that a case be
handled collaboratively. Respondents claim that this has been the practice of the law firm since its inception. They averred
that complainant’s labor cases were solely and exclusively handled by Atty. Dionela and not by the entire law firm.
Moreover, respondents asserted that the qualified theft case filed by FEVE Farms was handled by Atty. Peñalosa, a new
associate who had no knowledge of complainant’s labor cases, as he started working for the firm after the termination
thereof.8 Meanwhile, Atty. Dionela confirmed that he indeed handled complainant’s labor cases but averred that it was
terminated on June 13, 2008,9 and that complainant did not have any monthly retainer contract.10 He likewise explained
that he did not see the need to discuss complainant’s labor cases with the other lawyers as the issue involved was very
simple,11 and that the latter did not confide any secret during the time the labor cases were pending that would have
been used in the criminal case with FEVE Farms. He also claimed that the other lawyers were not aware of the details of
complainant’s labor cases nor did they know that he was the handling counsel for complainant even after the said cases
were closed and terminated.12 The IBP’s Report and Recommendation

In a Report and Recommendation13 dated September 26, 2011, the IBP Commissioner found respondents to have
violated the rule on conflict of interest and recommended that they be reprimandedtherefor, with the exception of Atty.
Dabao, who had died on January 17, 2010.14 The IBP found that complainant was indeed represented in the labor cases
by the respondents acting together as a law firm and not solely by Atty. Dionela. Consequently, there was a conflict of
interest in this case, as respondents, through Atty. Peñalosa, having been retained by FEVE Farms, created a connection
that would injure complainant in the qualified theft case. Moreover, the termination of attorney-client relation provides no
justification for a lawyer to represent an interest adverse to or in conflict with that of the former client.15

In a Resolution16 dated February 12, 2013, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the IBP Commissioner’s
Report and Recommendation with modification. Instead of the penalty of reprimand, the IBP Board of Governors
dismissed the case with warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely.

Complainant filed a motion for reconsideration17 thereof, which the IBP Board of Governors granted in its Resolution18
dated March 23, 2014 and thereby (a) set aside its February 12, 2013 Resolution and (b) adopted and approved the IBP
Commissioner’s Report and Recommendation, with modification, (1) reprimanding the respondents for violation of the rule
on conflict of interest; (2) dismissing the case against Atty. Dabao in view of his death; and (3) suspending Atty. Dionela
from the practice of law for one year, being the handling counsel of complainant’s labor cases.

The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue in this case is whether or not respondents are guilty of representing conflicting interests in violation of
the pertinent provisions of the CPR.

The Court’s Ruling

Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and Canon 21 of the CPR provide:

CANON 15 – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND
TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.

xxxx

RULE 15.03 – A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts.

xxxx

CANON 21 – A LAWYER SHALL PRESERVE THE CONFIDENCES AND SECRETS OF HIS CLIENT EVEN AFTER THE
ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS TERMINATED.

In Hornilla v. Atty. Salunat,19 the Court explained the concept of conflict of interest in this wise:

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties.1âwphi1 The
test is "whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer’s duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to 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 rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided, but also those in
which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new
retainer 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 called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge
acquired through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new
relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite
suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof.20

As such, a lawyer is prohibited from representing new clients whose interests oppose those of a former client in any
manner, whether or not they are parties in the same action or on totally unrelated cases. The prohibition is founded on the
principles of public policy and good taste.21 In this case, the Court concurs with the IBP’s conclusions that respondents
represented conflicting interests and must therefore be held liable. As the records bear out, respondents’ law firm was
engaged and, thus, represented complainant in the labor cases instituted against him. However, after the termination
thereof, the law firm agreed to represent a new client, FEVE Farms, in the filing of a criminal case for qualified theft
against complainant, its former client, and his wife. As the Court observes, the law firm’s unethical acceptance of the
criminal case arose from its failure to organize and implement a system by which it would have been able to keep track of
all cases assigned to its handling lawyers to the end of, among others, ensuring that every engagement it accepts stands
clear of any potential conflict of interest. As an organization of individual lawyers which, albeit engaged as a collective,
assigns legal work to a corresponding handling lawyer, it behooves the law firm to value coordination in deference to the
conflict of interest rule. This lack of coordination, as respondents’ law firm exhibited in this case, intolerably renders its
clients’ secrets vulnerable to undue and even adverse exposure, eroding in the balance the lawyer-client relationship’s
primordial ideal of unimpaired trust and confidence. Had such system been institutionalized, all of its members, Atty.
Dionela included, would have been wary of the above-mentioned conflict, thereby impelling the firm to decline FEVE
Farms’ subsequent engagement. Thus, for this shortcoming, herein respondents, as the charged members of the law firm,
ought to be administratively sanctioned. Note that the Court finds no sufficient reason as to why Atty. Dionela should
suffer the greater penalty of suspension. As the Court sees it, all respondents stand in equal fault for the law firm’s
deficient organization for which Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and Canon 21 of the CPR had been violated. As such, all of them
are meted with the same penalty of reprimand, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar infraction
would be dealt with more severely.

As a final point, the Court clarifies that respondents' pronounced liability is not altered by the fact that the labor cases
against complainant had long been terminated. Verily, the termination of attorney-client relation provides no justification
for a lawyer to represent an interest adverse to or in conflict with that of the former client. The client's confidence once
reposed should not be divested by mere expiration of professional employment.22

WHEREFORE, respondents Attys. Jose Ma. V. Valencia, Jose Ma. J. Ciocon, Lily Uy-Valencia, Joey P. De La Paz, Cris
G. Dionela, Raymundo T. Pandan, Jr., Rodney K. Rubica, and Wilfred Ramon M. Penalosa are found GUILTY of
representing conflicting interests in violation of Rule 15.03, Canon 15 and Canon 21 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and are therefore REPRIMANDED for said violations, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the
same or similar infraction would be dealt with more severely. Meanwhile, the case against Atty. Philip Dabao is
DISMISSED in view of his death.

Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondents' personal
records as attorneys. Further, let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the
Office of the Court Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all courts in the country for their information and
guidance.

SO ORDERED.
ARIEL G. PALACIOS v. ATTY. BIENVENIDO BRAULIO M. AMORA
PER CURIAM:

The instant administrative case arose from a Complaint dated March 11, 2008[1] filed by Ariel G. Palacios, in his capacity
as the Chief Operating Officer and duly authorized representative of the AFP Retirement and Separation Benefits System
(AFP-RSBS), seeking the disbarment of respondent Atty. Bienvenido Braulio M. Amora, Jr. for alleged violation of: (1)
Canon 1, Rules 1.01 to 1.03; Canon 10, Rules 10.01 to 10.03; Canon 15, Rule 15.03; Canon 17; Canon 21, Rule 21.01
and 21.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR); (2) Section 20, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court; (3) Lawyer's
Oath; and (4) Article 1491 of the Civil Code.

The Facts

The facts as found by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Board of Governors (IBP-BOG), are as follows:

Complainant is the owner[-]developer of more or less 312 hectares of land estate property located at Barangays San
Vicente, San Miguel, Biluso and Lucsuhin, Municipality of Silang, Province of Cavite ("property"). Said property was being
developed into a residential subdivision, community club house and two (2) eighteen[-]hole, world-class championship golf
courses (the "Riviera project"). In 1996, complainant entered into purchase agreements with several investors in order to
finance its Riviera project. One of these investors was Philippine Golf Development and Equipment, Inc. ("Phil Golf"). On
07 March 1996, Phil Golf paid the amount of Php54 Million for the purchase of 2% interest on the Riviera project
consisting of developed residential lots, Class "A" Common Shares, Class "B" Common Shares, and Class "C" Common
Shares of the Riviera Golf Club and Common Shares of the Riviera Golf Sports and Country Club.

On 02 June 1997, complainant retained the services of respondent of the Amora and Associates Law Offices to represent
and act as its legal counsel in connection with the Riviera project (Annex "C" to "C-5" of the complaint). Respondent's
legal services under the said agreement include the following: issuance of consolidated title(s) over the project, issuance
of individual titles for the resultant individual lots, issuance of license to sell by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory
Board, representation before the SEC, and services concerning the untitled lots included in the project. For the said legal
services, respondent charged complainant the amount of Php6,500,000.00 for which he was paid in three different checks
(Annexes "D" to "D3" of the complaint).

On 10 May 1999, complainant entered into another engagement agreement with respondent and the Amora Del Valle &
Associates Law Offices for the registration of the Riviera trademark with the Intellectual Property Office (Annex "E" of the
complainant) where respondent was paid in check in the amount of Php158,344.20 (Annex "F" of the complaint).

On 14 March 2000, another contract for services was executed by complainant and respondent for the latter to act as its
counsel in the reclassification by the Sangguniang Bayan of Silang, Cavite of complainant's agricultural lot to "residential
commercial and/or recreational use" in connection with its Riviera project (Annexes "G" to "G4" of the complaint). Under
this contract, respondent was hired to "act as counsel and representative of AFP-RSBS before the Sangguniang Bayan of
Silang, Cavite in all matters relative to the reclassification of the subject properties from agricultural to non-agricultural
uses." On 21 March 2000, respondent furnished complainant a copy of Resolution No. MI-007, S of 2000 of the
Sangguniang Bayan of Silang dated 21 February 2000 ("resolution") approving the conversion and was paid the amount
of Php1.8M (Annex "H" of the complaint). Notably, the resolution was passed on 21 February 2000 or a month before the
signing of the said 14 March 2000 contract. Clearly, when [the] 14 March 2000 contract was signed by complainant and
respondent, there was already a resolution of the Sangguniang Bayan of Silang approving the conversion of
complainant's properties to residential/commercial. Clearly, the Php1.8M demanded and received by respondent is not
justifiable for the sole and simple reason that respondent could not have performed any service under the 14 March 2000
contract considering that the result sought by the complainant (reclassification) has been fulfilled and completed as early
as 21 February 2000. Respondent, must therefore, be ordered to return this amount to complainant.

On 06 November 2000, complainant entered into another contract for legal services with respondent for which the latter
was paid the amount of Php14,000,000.00 to secure Certificate of Registration and License to Sell from the SEC
(Annexes "I" to "I-5" of the complaint). In addition, complainant further paid respondent the following checks as
professional fees in obtaining the Certificate of Registration and Permit to Offer Securities for shares and other expenses:
EPCIB Check No. 443124 dated 13 February 2003 in the amount of Php1,500,000.00, CENB Check No. 74001 dated 29
February 2000 in the amount of Php6,754.00, CENB Check No. 70291 dated 15 September 1999 in the amount
Php261,305.00, and LBP Check No. 48691 dated 26 January 2001 in the amount of Php221,970.00.
As complainant's legal counsel, respondent was privy to highly confidential information regarding the Riviera project which
included but was not limited to the corporate set-up, actual breakdown of the shares of stock, financial records, purchase
agreements and swapping agreements with its investors. Respondent was also very familiar with the Riviera project[,]
having been hired to secure Certificate of Registration and License to Sell with the HLURB and the registration of the
shares of stock and license to sell of the Riviera Golf Club, Inc. and Riviera Sports and Country Club, Inc. Respondent
further knew that complainant had valid titles to the properties of the Riviera project and was also knowledgeable about
complainant's transactions with Phil Golf.

After complainant terminated respondent's services as its legal counsel, respondent became Phil Golfs representative and
assignee. Respondent began pushing for the swapping of Phil Golfs properties with that of complainant. Respondent sent
swapping proposals to his former client, herein complainant, this time in his capacity as Phil Golfs representative and
assignee. These proposals were rejected by complainant for being grossly disadvantageous to the latter. After
complainant's rejection of the said proposals, respondent filed a case against its former client, herein complainant on
behalf of a subsequent client (Phil Golf) before the HLURB for alleged breach of contract (Annex "R" of the complaint). In
this HLURB case, respondent misrepresented that Phil Golf is a duly organized and existing corporation under and by
virtue of the laws of the Philippines because it appears that Phil Golfs registration had been revoked as early as 03
November 2003. Despite Phil Golfs revoked Certificate of Registration, respondent further certified under oath that he is
the duly authorized representative and assignee of Phil Golf. Respondent, however, was not authorized to act for and on
behalf of said corporation because Phil Golfs corporate personality has ceased. The Director's Certificate signed by Mr.
Benito Santiago of Phil Golf dated 10 May 2007 allegedly authorizing respondent as Phil Golfs representative and
assignee was null and void since the board had no authority to transact business with the public because of the SEC's
revocation of Phil Golfs Certificate of Registration.[2]

Due to the above actuations of respondent, complainant filed the instant action for disbarment.

The IBP's Report and Recommendation

After hearing, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) issued a Report and
Recommendation dated June 21, 2010, penned by Investigating Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez, recommending the
dismissal of the complaint, to wit:

PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is respectfully recommended that the instant complaint be dismissed for lack of merit.

Respectfully submitted.[3]

On review, the IBP-BOG reversed the recommendation of the IBP-CBD and recommended the suspension from the
practice of law of respondent for a period of three (3) years and ordering the return of the amount of PhP1.8 Million to the
complainant within six (6) months. The dispositive portion of the Extended Resolution dated December 28, 2015,[4] reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Board RESOLVED to unanimously REVERSE the Report and Recommendation
dated 21 June 2010 recommending the dismissal of the Complaint dated 11 March 2008 and instead resolved to suspend
respondent from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years and ordered the latter to return the amount of Php1.8
Million to the complainant within six (6) months.

SO ORDERED.[5]

The IBP-BOG found that respondent violated Rules 15.01, 15.03, 21.01 and 21.02 of the CPR, as well as Article 1491 of
the Civil Code.

As provided in Section 12(b), Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court,[6] the IBP Board forwarded the instant case to the Court
for final action.

Issue

The singular issue for the consideration of this Court is whether Atty. Amora should be held administratively liable based
on the allegations on the Complaint.

The Court's Ruling

The Court modifies the findings of the IBP-BOG and the penalty imposed on the respondent who violated the Lawyer's
Oath and Rules 15.01, 15.03, 21.01 and 21.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Respondent represented conflicting interests


The Lawyer's Oath provides:

I ___________ of ___________ do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; I will
support its Constitution and obey laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no
falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any court; I will not wittingly nor willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or
unlawful suit, or give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a
lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients;
and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligations without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me
God. (Emphasis supplied)

while Rules 15.01 and 15.03 of the Code state:

Rule 15.01. - A lawyer, in conferring with a prospective client, shall ascertain as soon as practicable whether the matter
would involve a conflict with another client or his own interest, and if so, shall forthwith inform the prospective client.

Rule 15.03. - A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts.

The requirement under Rule 15.03 is quite clear. A lawyer must secure the written consent of all concerned parties after a
full disclosure of the facts. Respondent, however, failed to present any such document. He points to the fact that
complainant approved several transactions between him and the complainant. In his Position Paper dated October 2,
2008,[7] respondent argues that AFP-RSBS gave its formal and written consent to his status as an investor and allowed
him to be subrogated to all the rights, privileges and causes of action of an investor.

This purported approval, however, is not the consent that the CPR demands.

In Gonzales v. Cabucana, Jr.,[9] the Court ruled that a lawyer's failure to acquire a written consent from both clients after
a full disclosure of the facts would subject him to disciplinary action:

As we explained in the case of Hilado vs. David:

xxxx

In the same manner, his claim that he could not turn down the spouses as no other lawyer is willing to take their case
cannot prosper as it is settled that while there may be instances where lawyers cannot decline representation they cannot
be made to labor under conflict of interest between a present client and a prospective one. Granting also that there really
was no other lawyer who could handle the spouses' case other than him, still he should have observed the requirements
laid down by the rules by conferring with the prospective client to ascertain as soon as practicable whether the matter
would involve a conflict with another client then seek the written consent of all concerned after a full disclosure of the
facts. These respondent failed to do thus exposing himself to the charge of double-dealing.[10] (Emphasis supplied;
citation omitted)

Absent such written consent, respondent is guilty of representing conflicting interests.

Moreover, as correctly pointed out by complainant, respondent did not merely act as its investor at his own behest. In a
letter dated April 26, 2007,[11] the respondent wrote AFP-RSBS stating: "Further to our letter dated 24 April 2007 and on
behalf of my principal, Philippine Golf Development and Equipment, Inc., x x x" Plainly, respondent was acting for and in
behalf of Phil Golf.

Worse, at Phil Golfs instance, he caused the filing of a Complaint dated October 10, 2007[12] against complainant with
the HLURB, stating that he is the duly authorized representative and assignee of Phil Golf and that he caused the
preparation of the complaint.[13]

In Hornilla v. Salunat,[14] We explained the test to determine when a conflict of interest is present, thus:

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties. The test is
"whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer's duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to 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 rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided, but also those in which
no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Also, there is conflict of interest if the acceptance of the new retainer
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 called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquired
through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will
prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of
unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance thereof.[15] (Emphasis supplied)

Without cavil, or further need of elucidation, respondent's representation of Phil Golf violated the rules on conflict of
interest as he undertook to take up the causes of his new client against the interest of his former client.

In Ylaya v. Gacott,[16] the Court was succinct in saying that a lawyer should decline any employment that would involve
any conflict of interest:

The relationship between a lawyer and his client should ideally be imbued with the highest level of trust and confidence.
Necessity and public interest require that this be so. Part of the lawyer's duty to his client is to avoid representing
conflicting interests. He is duty bound to decline professional employment, no matter how attractive the fee offered may
be, if its acceptance involves a violation of the proscription against conflict of interest, or any of the rules of professional
conduct. Thus, a lawyer may not accept a retainer from a defendant after he has given professional advice to the plaintiff
concerning his claim; nor can he accept employment from another in a matter adversely affecting any interest of his
former client. It is his duty to decline employment in any of these and similar circumstances in view of the rule prohibiting
representation of conflicting interests.[17] (Emphasis supplied)

It thus becomes quite clear that respondent's actions fall short of the standard set forth by the CPR and are in violation of
his oath as a lawyer. By representing the interests of a new client against his former client, he violated the trust reposed
upon him. His violation of the rules on conflict of interest renders him subject to disciplinary action.

Respondent used confidential information against his former client, herein complainant

Additionally, by causing the filing of the complaint before the HLURB, the IBP-BOG correctly points out that respondent
must have necessarily divulged to Phil Golf and used information that he gathered while he was complainant's counsel in
violation of Rules 21.01 and 21.02 of the CPR, which state:

CANON 21 - A LAWYER SHALL PRESERVE THE CONFIDENCE AND SECRETS OF HIS CLIENT EVEN AFTER THE
ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATION IS TERMINATED.

Rule 21.01 - A lawyer shall not reveal the confidences or secrets of his client except;

(a) When authorized by the client after acquainting him of the consequences of the disclosure;

(b) When required by law;

(c) When necessary to collect his fees or to defend himself, his employees or associates or by judicial action.

Rule 21.02 - A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his client, use information acquired in the course of employment,
nor shall he use the same to his own advantage or that of a third person, unless the client with full knowledge of the
circumstances consents thereto.

The IBP-BOG properly found thus:

Using confidential information which he secured from complainant while he was the latter's counsel, respondent accused
his former client of several violations. In the process, respondent disclosed confidential information that he secured from
complainant thereby jeopardizing the latter's interest. As discussed below, respondent violated his professional oath and
the CPR.

x x x x In the instant case, despite the obvious conflict of interest between complainant and Phil Golf, respondent
nevertheless agreed to represent the latter in business negotiations and worse, even caused the filing of a lawsuit against
his former client, herein complainant, using information the respondent acquired from his former professional
employment.[18]

In Pacana, Jr. v. Pascual-Lopez,[19] the Court reiterated the prohibition against lawyers representing conflicting interests:

Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

Rule 15.03 - A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after full
disclosure of the facts.

This prohibition is founded on principles of public policy, good taste and, more importantly, upon necessity. In the course
of a lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns all the facts connected with the client's case, including its weak and
strong points. Such knowledge must be considered sacred and guarded with care. No opportunity must be given to him to
take advantage of his client; for if the confidence is abused, the profession will suffer by the loss thereof. 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 their lawyers, which is paramount in the
administration of justice. It is for these reasons that we have described the attorney-client relationship as one of trust and
confidence of the highest degree.

Respondent must have known that her act of constantly and actively communicating with complainant, who, at that time,
was beleaguered with demands from investors of Multitel, eventually led to the establishment of a lawyer-client
relationship. Respondent cannot shield herself from the inevitable consequences of her actions by simply saying that the
assistance she rendered to complainant was only in the form of "friendly accommodations," precisely because at the time
she was giving assistance to complainant, she was already privy to the cause of the opposing parties who had been
referred to her by the SEC.[20] (Emphasis supplied)

It is undeniable that, in causing the filing of a complaint against his former client, respondent used confidential knowledge
that he acquired while he was still employed by his former client to further the cause of his new client. And, as earlier
stated, considering that respondent failed to obtain any written consent to his representation of Phil Golfs interests, he
plainly violated the above rules. Clearly, respondent must be disciplined for his actuations.

No basis for the return of PhP 1.8 Million

Rule 131, Section 3, par. (f) provides:

Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions. - The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted
and overcome by other evidence:

xxxx

(f) That money paid by one to another was due the latter;

xxxx

By alleging that respondent was not entitled to the payment of PhP1.8 Million, it was incumbent upon complainant to
present evidence to overturn the disputable presumption that the payment was due to respondent. This, complainant
failed to do.

Complainant alleged that:

At the time of the signing of said contract, there was already a resolution approved by the Sangguniang Bayan of Silang
approving the conversion of AFP-RSBS' properties to residential/commercial. Atty. Amora could not, thus, have acted as
AFP-RSBS' legal counsel and representative during the said proceedings, which was conducted a month before he was
hired by AFP-RSBS. However, he charged AFP-RSBS and was paid by the latter the amount of 1.8 million pesos for not
doing anything. He did not represent AFP-RSBS and was not instrumental in having the resolution passed and approved
by the Sangguniang Bayan of Silang.[21] (Emphasis supplied)

Notably, complainant never presented any evidence to prove that the resolution was passed without the intervention of
respondent. This it could have done by asking the Sangguniang Bayan of Silang whether respondent represented AFP-
RSBS before them. This, complainant did not do.

The amount of PhP1.8 Million is a substantial amount that, in normal human experience, no person would pay to
someone who did not render any service. Further, the mere fact that the contract was executed after the issuance of the
resolution does not ipso facto mean that respondent did not have any hand in its issuance.

Verily, complainant failed to overcome the abovementioned disputable presumption. Mere allegations cannot suffice to
prove that respondent did not render any service to complainant and, therefore, not entitled to the payment of PhP1.8
Million.

The Court adopts the findings of Commissioner Fernandez of the IBP-CBD that respondent actually rendered the legal
services in connection with the Sangguniang Bayan Resolution converting the land from agricultural to
residential/commercial and that respondent is legally entitled to the payment. The Court finds that the explanation of
respondent is credible and it clarifies why the Agreement came after the issuance of the Resolution, viz:
The amount of Php1.8 Million was paid by complainant AFP-RSBS for fees and expenses related to the approval of
Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. ML-007, Series of 2007. Based on the usual practice during that time, respondent
performed the work upon the instruction of AFP-RSBS even without any written agreement regarding his fees and
expenses. When respondent secured the Sangguniang Bayan Resolution, he then sent a billing for the fees and
expenses amounting to Php1,850,000.00. It was addressed to Engr. Samuel Cruz, the then Project Director of RSBS-
Riviera Project. However, since at that time, AFP-RSBS had a new President, the Head of its Corporation Holding and
Investment Group (Col. Cyrano A. Austria) instructed respondent to draw a new contract to comply with the new policies
and requirements. Thus, respondent and complainant entered into a contract for services if only to document the service
already performed by respondent in accordance with the new policy of AFP-RSBS.[22]

As such, there is no basis to order respondent to return the PhP1.8 Million.

Respondent did not acquire property of a client subject of litigation

Moreover, with regard to the finding of the IBP-BOG that respondent violated Article 1491 of the Civil Code, We have to
digress. The Article reads:

Art. 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even at a public or judicial auction, either in person or
through the mediation of another:

xxxx

(5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of superior and inferior courts, and other officers and employees
connected with the administration of justice, the property and rights in litigation or levied upon an execution before the
court within whose jurisdiction or territory they exercise their respective functions; this prohibition includes the act of
acquiring by assignment and shall apply to lawyers, with respect to the property and rights which may be the object of any
litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their profession

x x x x (Emphasis supplied)

On this point, We sustain the respondent's position that the prohibition contained in Article 1491 does not apply in this
case. "The subject properties which were acquired by respondent Amora were allegedly not in litigation and/or object of
any litigation at the time of his acquisition."[23]

The Court in Sabidong v. Solas, clearly ruled: "For the prohibition to apply, the sale or assignment of the property must
take place during the pendency of the litigation involving the property."[24]

Under the circumstances, Atty. Amora must be suspended

Notwithstanding the respondent's absolution from liability under Article 1491 of the Civil Code, the gravity of his other acts
of misconduct demands that respondent Amora must still be suspended.

Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

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

While the Court cannot allow a lawyer to represent conflicting interests, the Court deems disbarment a much too harsh
penalty under the circumstances. Thus, in Francia v. Abdon, the Court opined:

In Alitagtag v. Atty. Garcia, the Court emphasized, thus:

Indeed, the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and may be imposed only in a clear case of misconduct
that seriously affects the standing and the character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court and as a member of the bar.
Disbarment should never be decreed where any lesser penalty could accomplish the end desired. Without doubt, a
violation of the high moral standards of the legal profession justifies the imposition of the appropriate penalty, including
suspension and disbarment. However, the said penalties are imposed with great caution, because they are the most
severe forms of disciplinary action and their consequences are beyond repair.[25] (citation omitted)
In Quiambao v. Bamba,[26] the Court pointed out that jurisprudence[27] regarding the penalty solely for a lawyer's
representation of conflicting interests is suspension from the practice of law for one (1) to three (3) years. While the IBP-
BOG recommends the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for three (3) years be imposed on respondent, the
Court finds that under the circumstances, a penalty of two (2) years suspension from the practice of law would suffice.
Atty. Amora, however, is warned that a repetition of this and other similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds Atty. Bienvenido Braulio M. Amora, Jr. GUILTY of violating the Lawyer's Oath and Canon
15, Rule 15.03; Canon 21, Rule 21.01 and 21.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years. Atty. Amora is warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts will
be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to the personal record of Atty.
Bienvenido Braulio M. Amora, Jr. as a member of the Bar; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and the Office of the
Court Administrator for dissemination to all trial courts for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.
VENTEREZ VS COSME

Before Us is a Complaint filed by complainants Eliza V. Venterez, Genaro de Vera, Inocencia V. Ramirez, Pacita V. Mills,
Antonina V. Palma and Ramon de Vera against respondent Atty. Rodrigo R. Cosme, charging the latter with
Abandonment, Gross Negligence and Dereliction of Duty.

Complainants contracted the legal services of respondent in Civil Case No. 981 entitled, Sps. Daniel and Lolita Oviedo, et
al. v. Eliza de Vera, et al., for Declaration of Ownership with Damages filed before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of
Calasiao, Pangasinan. Respondent represented the complainants, who were defendants in said case, until a Decision
thereon was rendered by the MTC on 25 February 2004. The MTC ruled against the complainants. Respondent received
a copy of the said Decision on 3 March 2004.

Complainants alleged that they directed the respondent to either file a Motion for Reconsideration or a Notice of Appeal,
but respondent failed or refused to do so. The 15-day period within which to file an appeal or a motion for reconsideration
of the MTC Decision expired on 18 March 2004. Complainant Elisa V. Venterez was constrained to contract another
lawyer to prepare the Motion for Reconsideration which was filed on 19 March 2004. It must be stressed that the said
motion was signed by complainant Elisa V. Venterez herself as the said lawyer did not enter his appearance.

On 23 March 2004, the said Motion for Reconsideration was denied[1] by the MTC. Respondent was not furnished a copy
of the denial of the motion per a Certification[2] issued by Clerk of Court II Zenaida C. de Vera. On 31 March 2004, a
Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution[3] was filed by the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 981 but respondent never bothered
to file an opposition to or any comment on the said motion despite receipt thereof. The motion was eventually granted[4]
by the MTC on 23 April 2004. On 28 April 2004, a Writ of Execution[5] was issued and on 26 April 2004, an Entry of
Judgment[6] was made in the said case.

Two months after respondent received a copy of the Decision, the respondent filed his Notice of Retirement of Counsel
with the MTC on 3 May 2004.

Feeling aggrieved by respondents actuations, complainants filed the instant administrative complaint against him.[7]

In his Answer,[8] respondent denied the claim of complainants that soon after the Decision was rendered by the MTC,
they (complainants) directed him to file an appeal or a motion for reconsideration thereof. For his defense, respondent
averred that Salvador Ramirez (the son of one of the complainants, Inocencia V. Ramirez), informed him that he [was]
withdrawing the case from the respondent because he already engaged another lawyer to take over the case, so
respondent gave the records of the case to him. Respondent explained that after Salvador Ramirez withdrew the case
from the respondent, and engaged another lawyer, the respondent turned over the records of the case to him and the
respondent ceased as the counsel of the complainants. Respondent further alleged that the said Motion for
Reconsideration was already prepared by another lawyer. He denied being furnished a copy of the Motion for
Reconsideration allegedly prepared and filed by another lawyer engaged by complainant Elisa V. Venterez and that he
was served with a copy of the denial of the said Motion by the MTC. Respondent also clarified that the last day of the 15-
day period for the perfection of the appeal is 19 March 2004 since a copy of the decision was served on the respondent
on 4 March 2004. Finally, respondent argued that when the respondent was served a copy of the Motion for Writ of
Execution, he immediately notified Salvador Ramirez about said Motion but Salvador Ramirez came to see the
respondent only on 3 May 2005, when the respondent asked him to sign a Notice of Retirement of Counsel signed by
Salvador Ramirez which respondent immediately filed in court.

Pursuant to the complaint, a hearing was conducted by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) at the IBP Building, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, on 15 February 2006.

On 11 April 2006, Investigating Commissioner Dennis A. B. Funa submitted his Report and Recommendation,[9] finding
respondent liable for gross negligence and recommending the imposition upon him of the penalty of three months
suspension, to wit:

PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is submitted that Respondent is GUILTY of Gross Negligence and should be given the
penalty of THREE (3) MONTHS SUSPENSION.

Thereafter, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution[10] No. XVII-2006-457 dated 8 September 2006, approving
and adopting the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, thus:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of
the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding
the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering that
Respondent is guilty of gross negligence, Atty. Rodrigo Cosme is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three
(3) months.[11]

We sustain the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors.

The core issue is whether the respondent committed culpable negligence in handling complainants case, as would
warrant disciplinary action.

No lawyer is obliged to advocate for every person who may wish to become his client, but once he agrees to take up the
cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in
him.[12] Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes an action impliedly
stipulates to carry it to its termination, that is, until the case becomes final and executory. A lawyer is not at liberty to
abandon his client and withdraw his services without reasonable cause and only upon notice appropriate in the
circumstances.[13] Any dereliction of duty by a counsel affects the client.[14] This means that his client is entitled to the
benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is authorized by the law and he may expect his lawyer to assert every
such remedy or defense.[15]

The Decision in Civil Case No. 981 was rendered by the MTC of Calasaio, Pangasinan, on 25 February 2004.
Respondent admitted[16] that he was served a copy of the said Decision on 4 March 2004. After having received a copy
of the MTC Decision, respondent did not bother to file a Motion for Reconsideration or a notice of appeal with the proper
courts. Thus, complainants were compelled to engage the services of a new counsel to file a Motion for Reconsideration
with the MTC who did not, however, enter his appearance as new counsel. It bears stressing that during this time,
respondent had not yet filed any notice of withdrawal as counsel for the complainants in Civil Case No. 981. Respondent
only formally withdrew as counsel for complainant in Civil Case No. 981 when he filed with the MTC his Notice[17] of
Retirement as Counsel on 5 May 2004, on the ground that "he was also retired as Counsel for the [complainants] two
days after he received copy of the decision rendered in this case when SALVADOR RAMIREZ, a representative of the
[complainants], withdrew all the records of the case from [respondent] to be given to his new counsel.

We cannot accept respondents defense that he had already withdrawn from the case two days after his receipt of the
MTC Decision and that he had allegedly communicated this withdrawal to Salvador Ramirez, son of one of the herein
complainants, Inocencia Ramirez. It is an apparent attempt on the part of respondent to wash his hands of any liability for
failing to pursue any of the available remedies to complainants from the adverse MTC Decision.

The rule in this jurisdiction is that a client has the absolute right to terminate the attorney-client relation at any time with or
without cause.[18] The right of an attorney to withdraw or terminate the relation other than for sufficient cause is, however,
considerably restricted.[19] Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes to
conduct an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its conclusion.[20] He is not at liberty to abandon it without reasonable
cause.[21] A lawyer's right to withdraw from a case before its final adjudication arises only from the client's written consent
or from a good cause.[22]

Section 26, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 26. Change of attorneys -- An attorney may retire at any time from any action or special proceeding, by the written
consent of his client filed in court. He may also retire at any time from an action or special proceeding, without the consent
of his client, should the court, on notice to the client and attorney, and on hearing, determine that he ought to be allowed
to retire. In case of substitution, the name of the attorney newly employed shall be entered on the docket of the court in
place of the former one, and written notice of the change shall be given to the adverse party.

A lawyer may retire at any time from any action or special proceeding with the written consent of his client filed in court
and with a copy thereof served upon the adverse party. Should the client refuse to give his consent, the lawyer must file
an application with the court. The court, on notice to the client and adverse party, shall determine whether the lawyer
ought to be allowed to retire. The application for withdrawal must be based on a good cause.[23]

What constitute good cause for the withdrawal of services by the counsel are identified under Rule 22.01, Canon 22 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides:

CANON 22 -- A LAWYER SHALL WITHDRAW HIS SERVICES ONLY FOR GOOD CAUSE AND UPON NOTICE
APPROPRIATE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES

Rule 22.01-- A lawyer may WITHDRAW his services in any of the following cases:

a) When the client pursues an illegal or immoral course of conduct in connection with the matter he is handling;
b) When the client insists that the lawyer pursue conduct violative of these canons and rules;

c) When his inability to work with co-counsel will not promote the best interest of the client;

d) When the mental or physical condition of the lawyer renders it difficult for him to carry out the employment effectively;

e) When the client deliberately fails to pay the fees for the services or fails to comply with the retainer agreement;

f) When the lawyer is elected or appointed to public office; and

g) Other similar cases.

The instant case does not fall under any of the grounds aforementioned. Neither can the circumstances of this case be
considered analogous to the grounds thus explicitly enumerated. Contrary to respondents contention, his professional
relations as a lawyer with his clients are not terminated by the simple turnover of the records of the case to his clients.
Respondents defense completely crumbles in face of the fact that Salvador Ramirez is not even a party in Civil Case No.
981 and, hence, had no authority to withdraw the records of the said case from respondent or to terminate the latters
services.

Assuming, nevertheless, that respondent was justified in withdrawing his services, he, however, cannot just do so and
leave complainants in the cold, unprotected. The lawyer has no right to presume that his petition for withdrawal will be
granted by the court.[24] Until his withdrawal shall have been approved, the lawyer remains counsel of record who is
expected by his clients, as well as by the court, to do what the interests of his clients require.[25] He must still appear
before the court to protect the interest of his clients by availing himself of the proper remedy, for the attorney-client
relations are not terminated formally until there is a withdrawal of record.

Without a proper revocation of his authority and withdrawal as counsel, respondent remains counsel of record for the
complainants in Civil Case No. 981; and whether he has a valid cause to withdraw from the case, he cannot immediately
do so and leave his clients without representation. An attorney may only retire from the case either by a written consent of
his client or by permission of the court after due notice and hearing, in which event, the attorney should see to it that the
name of the new attorney is recorded in the case.[26] Respondent did not comply with these obligations. Therefore, he
remains the counsel of record for the complainants in Civil Case No. 981 with the duty to protect complainants interest.
Had he made the necessary inquiries as to the status of the case, he would have known that he was still the counsel of
record as no entry of appearance was ever made by another counsel. It would have been easily discernible on his part
that there was no change in his status as complainants lawyer. As of that time, their client-lawyer relationship was still
subsisting. Therefore, he would have known that the Motion for Reconsideration was denied; and a writ of execution had
been issued under the circumstances.

All told, we rule and so hold that on account of respondents failure to protect the interest of complainants, respondent
indeed violated Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which states that a lawyer shall not
neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. Respondent is
reminded that the practice of law is a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are competent intellectually,
academically and morally. This Court has been exacting in its expectations for the members of the Bar to always uphold
the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and
confidence of the public.

The determination of the appropriate penalty to be imposed on an errant lawyer involves the exercise of sound judicial
discretion based on the facts of the case.[27] In cases of similar nature, the penalty imposed by the Court consisted of
reprimand,[28] fine of five hundred pesos with warning,[29] suspension of three months,[30] six months[31] and even
disbarment[32] in an aggravated case.

The facts of the case show that respondent failed to live up to his duties as a lawyer pursuant to the Code of Professional
Responsibility. We conclude that a 3-month suspension from the practice of law is a just penalty under the circumstances.

WHEREFORE, the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors approving and adopting the report and recommendation of
the Investigating Commissioner is hereby AFFIRMED. Accordingly, ATTY. RODRIGO R. COSME is hereby SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for a period of THREE (3) MONTHS, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar
wrongdoing will be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this decision be attached to respondents personal record with the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be
furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts of the land. SO ORDERED.
B.M. No. 1922 June 3, 2008
RE. NUMBER AND DATE OF MCLE CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION/EXEMPTION REQUIRED
IN ALL PLEADINGS/MOTIONS.

"Bar Matter No. 1922. – Re: Recommendation of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Board to
Indicate in All Pleadings Filed with the Courts the Counsel’s MCLE Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of
Exemption. – The Court Resolved to NOTE the Letter, dated May 2, 2008, of Associate Justice Antonio
Eduardo B. Nachura, Chairperson, Committee on Legal Education and Bar Matters, informing the Court of the
diminishing interest of the members of the Bar in the MCLE requirement program.

The Court further Resolved, upon the recommendation of the Committee on Legal Education and Bar Matters,
to REQUIRE practicing members of the bar to INDICATE in all pleadings filed before the courts or quasi-
judicial bodies, the number and date of issue of their MCLE Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of
Exemption, as may be applicable, for the immediately preceding compliance period. Failure to disclose the
required information would cause the dismissal of the case and the expunction of the pleadings from the
records.

The New Rule shall take effect sixty (60) days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation."
Caprio-Morales Velasco, Jr., Nachura, JJ., on official leave. (adv216a)
OCA CIRCULAR NO. 79-2014

SUBJECT: BAR MATTER NO. 1922 (RE: RECOMMENDATION

OF THE MANDATORY CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION [MCLE] BOARD TO INDICATE IN ALL PLEADINGS FILED
WITH THE COURTS THE COUNSEL'S MCLE CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE OR CERTIFICATE OF EXEMPTION)

In the Resolution of the Court En Banc dated January 14, 2014 in the above-cited administrative matter, the Court
RESOLVED, upon the recommendation of the MCLE Governing Board, to:

(a) AMEND the June 3, 2008 resolution by repealing the phrase “Failure to disclose the required information would

cause the dismissal of the case and the expunction of the pleadings from the records” and replacing it with “Failure to

disclose the required information would subject the counsel to appropriate penalty and disciplinary action”; and

(b) PRESCRIBE the following rules for non-disclosure of current MCLE compliance/exemption number in the pleadings:

(i) The lawyer shall be imposed a fine of P2,000.00 for the first offense, P3,000.00 for the second offense and P4,000.00
for the

third offense;

(ii) In addition to the fine, counsel may be listed as a delinquent member of the Bar pursuant to Section 2, Rule 13 of Bar
Matter No. 850 and its implementing rules and regulations;

and

(iii) The non-compliant lawyer shall be discharged from the case and the client/s shall be allowed to secure the services of
a new counsel with the concomitant right to demand the return of fees already paid to the non-compliant lawyer.

This revokes OCA Circular No. 66-2008 dated July 22, 2008, and any prior circular from the Office of the Court
Administrator on this matter which is contrary to the foregoing is hereby superseded.

For your information, guidance and strict compliance.

26 May 2014

JOSE MIDAS P. MARQUEZ


A.M. No. 12-8-8-SC

JUDICIAL AFFIDAVIT RULE

Whereas, case congestion and delays plague most courts in cities, given the huge volume of cases filed each year and
the slow and cumbersome adversarial syste1n that the judiciary has in place;

Whereas, about 40% of criminal cases are dismissed annually owing to the fact that complainants simply give up con1ing
to court after repeated postponements;

Whereas, few foreign businessmen make long-term investments in the Philippines because its courts are unable to
provide ample and speedy protection to their investments, keeping its people poor;

Whereas, in order to reduce the time needed for completing the testimonies of witnesses in cases under litigation, on
February 21, 2012 the Supreme Court approved for piloting by trial courts in Quezon City the compulsory use of judicial
affidavits in place of the direct testimonies of witnesses;

Whereas, it is reported that such piloting has quickly resulted in reducing by about two-thirds the time used for presenting
the testimonies of witnesses, thus speeding up the hearing and adjudication of cases;

Whereas, the Supreme Court Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Court, headed by Senior Associate Justice
Antonio T. Carpio, and the Sub-Committee on the Revision of the Rules on Civil Procedure, headed by Associate Justice
Roberto A. Abad, have recommended for adoption a Judicial Affidavit Rule that will replicate nationwide the success of
the Quezon City experience in the use of judicial affidavits; and

Whereas, the Supreme Court En Banc finds merit in the recommendation;

NOW, THEREFORE, the Supreme Court En Banc hereby issues and promulgates the following:

Section 1. Scope. - (a) This Rule shall apply to all actions, proceedings, and incidents requiring the reception of evidence
before:

(1) The Metropolitan Trial Courts, the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, the Municipal Trial Courts, the Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts, and the Shari' a Circuit Courts but shall not apply to small claims cases under A.M. 08-8-7-SC;

(2) The Regional Trial Courts and the Shari'a District Courts;

(3) The Sandiganbayan, the Court of Tax Appeals, the Court of Appeals, and the Shari'a Appellate Courts;

(4) The investigating officers and bodies authorized by the Supreme Court to receive evidence, including the Integrated
Bar of the Philippine (IBP); and

(5) The special courts and quasi-judicial bodies, whose rules of procedure are subject to disapproval of the Supreme
Court, insofar as their existing rules of procedure contravene the provisions of this Rule.1

(b) For the purpose of brevity, the above courts, quasi-judicial bodies, or investigating officers shall be uniformly referred
to here as the "court."

Section 2. Submission of Judicial Affidavits and Exhibits in lieu of direct testimonies. - (a) The parties shall file with the
court and serve on the adverse party, personally or by licensed courier service, not later than five days before pre-trial or
preliminary conference or the scheduled hearing with respect to motions and incidents, the following:

(1) The judicial affidavits of their witnesses, which shall take the place of such witnesses' direct testimonies; and

(2) The parties' docun1entary or object evidence, if any, which shall be attached to the judicial affidavits and marked as
Exhibits A, B, C, and so on in the case of the complainant or the plaintiff, and as Exhibits 1, 2, 3, and so on in the case of
the respondent or the defendant.

(b) Should a party or a witness desire to keep the original document or object evidence in his possession, he may, after
the same has been identified, marked as exhibit, and authenticated, warrant in his judicial affidavit that the copy or
reproduction attached to such affidavit is a faithful copy or reproduction of that original. In addition, the party or witness
shall bring the original document or object evidence for comparison during the preliminary conference with the attached
copy, reproduction, or pictures, failing which the latter shall not be admitted.

This is without prejudice to the introduction of secondary evidence in place of the original when allowed by existing rules.
Section 3. Contents of judicial Affidavit. - A judicial affidavit shall be prepared in the language known to the witness and, if
not in English or Filipino, accompanied by a translation in English or Filipino, and shall contain the following:

(a) The name, age, residence or business address, and occupation of the witness;

(b) The name and address of the lawyer who conducts or supervises the examination of the witness and the place where
the examination is being held;

(c) A statement that the witness is answering the questions asked of him, fully conscious that he does so under oath, and
that he may face criminal liability for false testimony or perjury;

(d) Questions asked of the witness and his corresponding answers, consecutively numbered, that:

(1) Show the circumstances under which the witness acquired the facts upon which he testifies;

(2) Elicit from him those facts which are relevant to the issues that the case presents; and

(3) Identify the attached documentary and object evidence and establish their authenticity in accordance with the Rules of
Court;

(e) The signature of the witness over his printed name; and

(f) A jurat with the signature of the notary public who administers the oath or an officer who is authorized by law to
administer the same.

Section 4. Sworn attestation of the lawyer. - (a) The judicial affidavit shall contain a sworn attestation at the end, executed
by the lawyer who conducted or supervised the examination of the witness, to the effect that:

(1) He faithfully recorded or caused to be recorded the questions he asked and the corresponding answers that the
witness gave; and

(2) Neither he nor any other person then present or assisting him coached the witness regarding the latter's answers.

(b) A false attestation shall subject the lawyer mentioned to disciplinary action, including disbarment.

Section 5. Subpoena. - If the government employee or official, or the requested witness, who is neither the witness of the
adverse party nor a hostile witness, unjustifiably declines to execute a judicial affidavit or refuses without just cause to
make the relevant books, documents, or other things under his control available for copying, authentication, and eventual
production in court, the requesting party may avail himself of the issuance of a subpoena ad testificandum or duces tecum
under Rule 21 of the Rules of Court. The rules governing the issuance of a subpoena to the witness in this case shall be
the same as when taking his deposition except that the taking of a judicial affidavit shal1 be understood to be ex parte.

Section 6. Offer of and objections to testimony in judicial affidavit. - The party presenting the judicial affidavit of his witness
in place of direct testimony shall state the purpose of such testimony at the start of the presentation of the witness. The
adverse party may move to disqualify the witness or to strike out his affidavit or any of the answers found in it on ground
of inadmissibility. The court shall promptly rule on the motion and, if granted, shall cause the marking of any excluded
answer by placing it in brackets under the initials of an authorized court personnel, without prejudice to a tender of
excluded evidence under Section 40 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

Section 7. Examination of the witness on his judicial affidavit. - The adverse party shall have the right to cross-examine
the witness on his judicial affidavit and on the exhibits attached to the same. The party who presents the witness may also
examine him as on re-direct. In every case, the court shall take active part in examining the witness to determine his
credibility as well as the truth of his testimony and to elicit the answers that it needs for resolving the issues.

Section 8. Oral offer of and objections to exhibits. - (a) Upon the termination of the testimony of his last witness, a party
shall immediately make an oral offer of evidence of his documentary or object exhibits, piece by piece, in their
chronological order, stating the purpose or purposes for which he offers the particular exhibit.

(b) After each piece of exhibit is offered, the adverse party shall state the legal ground for his objection, if any, to its
admission, and the court shall immediately make its ruling respecting that exhibit.
(c) Since the documentary or object exhibits form part of the judicial affidavits that describe and authenticate them, it is
sufficient that such exhibits are simply cited by their markings during the offers, the objections, and the rulings, dispensing
with the description of each exhibit.

Section 9. Application of rule to criminal actions. - (a) This rule shall apply to all criminal actions:

(1) Where the maximum of the imposable penalty does not exceed six years;

(2) Where the accused agrees to the use of judicial affidavits, irrespective of the penalty involved; or

(3) With respect to the civil aspect of the actions, whatever the penalties involved are.

(b) The prosecution shall submit the judicial affidavits of its witnesses not later than five days before the pre-trial, serving
copies if the same upon the accused. The complainant or public prosecutor shall attach to the affidavits such
documentary or object evidence as he may have, marking them as Exhibits A, B, C, and so on. No further judicial affidavit,
documentary, or object evidence shall be admitted at the trial.

(c) If the accused desires to be heard on his defense after receipt of the judicial affidavits of the prosecution, he shall have
the option to submit his judicial affidavit as well as those of his witnesses to the court within ten days from receipt of such
affidavits and serve a copy of each on the public and private prosecutor, including his documentary and object evidence
previously marked as Exhibits 1, 2, 3, and so on. These affidavits shall serve as direct testimonies of the accused and his
witnesses when they appear before the court to testify.

Section 10. Effect of non-compliance with the judicial Affidavit Rule. - (a) A party who fails to submit the required judicial
affidavits and exhibits on time shall be deemed to have waived their submission. The court may, however, allow only once
the late submission of the same provided, the delay is for a valid reason, would not unduly prejudice the opposing party,
and the defaulting party pays a fine of not less than P 1,000.00 nor more than P 5,000.00 at the discretion of the court.

(b) The court shall not consider the affidavit of any witness who fails to appear at the scheduled hearing of the case as
required. Counsel who fails to appear without valid cause despite notice shall be deemed to have waived his client's right
to confront by cross-examination the witnesses there present.

(c) The court shall not admit as evidence judicial affidavits that do not conform to the content requirements of Section 3
and the attestation requirement of Section 4 above. The court may, however, allow only once the subsequent submission
of the compliant replacement affidavits before the hearing or trial provided the delay is for a valid reason and would not
unduly prejudice the opposing party and provided further, that public or private counsel responsible for their preparation
and submission pays a fine of not less than P 1,000.00 nor more than P 5,000.00, at the discretion of the court.

Section 11. Repeal or modification of inconsistent rules. - The provisions of the Rules of Court and the rules of procedure
governing investigating officers and bodies authorized by the Supreme Court to receive evidence are repealed or modified
insofar as these are inconsistent with the provisions of this Rule.1âwphi1

The rules of procedure governing quasi-judicial bodies inconsistent herewith are hereby disapproved.

Section 12. Effectivity. - This rule shall take effect on January 1, 2013 following its publication in two newspapers of
general circulation not later than September 15, 2012. It shall also apply to existing cases.

Manila, September 4, 2012.


A.M. No. 11-9-4-SC

EFFICIENT USE OF PAPER RULE

Whereas, to produce 500 reams of paper, twenty trees are cut and 100,000 liters of water are used, water that is no
longer reusable because it is laden with chemicals and is just released to the environment to poison our rivers and
seas;

Whereas, there is a need to cut the judicial system’s use excessive quantities of costly paper, save our forests, avoid
landslides, and mitigate the worsening effects of climate change that the world is experiencing;

Whereas, the judiciary can play a big part in saving our trees, conserving precious water and helping mother earth;

NOW, THEREFORE, the Supreme Court En Banc hereby issues and promulgates the following:

Sec. 1. Title of the Rule– This rule shall be known and cited as the Efficient Use of Paper Rule.

Sec. 2. Applicability. – This rule shall apply to all courts and quasi-judicial bodies under the administrative supervision
of the Supreme Court.

Sec. 3. Format and Style. – a) All pleadings, motions and similar papers intended for the court and quasi-judicial
body’s consideration and action (court-bound papers) shall written in single space with one-and-a –half space between
paragraphs, using an easily readable font style of the party’s choice, of 14-size font, and on a 13 –inch by 8.5- inch
white bond paper; and

b) All decisions, resolutions and orders issued by courts and quasi-judicial bodies under the administrative supervision
of the Supreme Court shall comply with these requirements. Similarly covered are the reports submitted to the courts
and transcripts of stenographic notes.

Sec. 4. Margins and Prints .— The parties shall maintain the following margins on all court-bound papers: a left hand
margin of 1.5 inches from the edge; an upper margin of 1.2 inches from the edge; a right hand margin of 1.0 inch
from the edge; and a lower margin of 1.0 inch from the edge. Every page must be consecutively numbered.

Sec. 5. Copies to be filed. – Unless otherwise directed by the court, the number of court- bound papers that a party
is required or desires to file shall be as follows:

a. In the Supreme Court, one original (properly marked) and four copies, unless the case is referred to the Court En
Banc, in which event, the parties shall file ten additional copies. For the En Banc, the parties need to submit only two
sets of annexes, one attached to the original and an extra copy. For the Division, the parties need to submit also two
sets of annexes, one attached to the original and an extra copy. All members of the Court shall share the extra copies
of annexes in the interest of economy of paper.

Parties to cases before the Supreme Court are further required, on voluntary basis for the first six months following
the effectivity of this Rule and compulsorily afterwards unless the period is extended, to submit, simultaneously with
their court-bound papers, soft copies of the same and their annexes (the latter in PDF format) either by email to the
Court’s e-mail address or by compact disc (CD). This requirement is in preparation for the eventual establishment of
an e-filing paperless system in the judiciary.

b. In the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan, one original (properly marked) and two copies with their annexes;

c. In the Court of Tax Appeals, one original (properly marked) and two copies with annexes. On appeal to the En
Banc, one Original (properly marked) and eight copies with annexes; and

d. In other courts, one original (properly marked) with the stated annexes attached to it.
Sec. 6. Annexes Served on Adverse Party. – A party required by the rules to serve a copy of his court-bound on the
adverse party need not enclose copies of those annexes that based on the record of the court such party already has
in his possession. In the event a party requests a set of the annexes actually filed with the court, the part who filed
the paper shall comply with the request within five days from receipt.

Sec. 7. Date of Effectivity. – This rule shall take effect on January 1, 2013 after publication in two newspapers of
general circulation in the Philippines.

B.M. Nos. 979 and 986 December 10, 2002

RE: 1999 BAR EXAMINATIONS,

MARK ANTHONY A. PURISIMA, petitioner

Petitioner was conditionally admitted to take the 1999 Bar Examinations. Like many others he was directed "to submit the
required certification of completion of the pre-bar review course within sixty (60) days from the last day of the
examinations."
Petitioner passed the 1999 Examinations. But in a Resolution dated 13 April 2000 the Court disqualified him from
becoming a member of the Philippine Bar and declared his examinations null and void on two (2) grounds: (a) Petitioner
failed to submit the required certificate of completion of the pre-bar review course under oath for his conditional admission
to the 1999 Bar Examinations; and (b) He committed a serious act of dishonesty which rendered him unfit to become a
member of the Philippine Bar when he made it appear in his Petition to Take the 1999 Bar Examinations that he took his
pre-bar review course at the Philippine Law School (PLS) when, as certified by Acting Registrar Rasalie G. Kapauan, PLS
had not offered such course since 1967.

Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the 13 April 2000 Resolution but his motion was denied.

On 29 October 2001, retired Regional Trial Court Judge Amante P. Purisima, father of petitioner, filed a Petition to
Reopen Bar Matter 986. However, the Court in its Resolution of 27 November 2001 "noted without action" the said petition
and further resolved "that no further pleadings will be entertained."

On 2 July 2002 petitioner filed a Motion for Due Process stating, among others, his reasons why in his Petition to Take the
1999 Bar Examinations it was stated that he was enrolled in and regularly attending the pre-bar review course at the PLS
and not at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) where he in fact took the said course as evidenced by the Certification
dated 22 July 1999 of Dean Amado L. Damayuga of the UST Faculty of Civil Law.

Petitioner claimed that the statement in paragraph 8 of his Petition that "he x x x enrolled in and passed the regular fourth
year (law) review classes at the Phil. Law School x x x x" was a "self-evident clerical error and a mere result of an
oversight which is not tantamount to a deliberate and willful declaration of a falsehood."

Petitioner explained that upon obtaining a "ready-made form" of the Petition and affixing his signature on the space
provided therefor, he requested his schoolmate/friend Ms. Lilian A. Felipe to fill up the form, have it notarized and then to
file it for him with the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC). Being "consumed with his preparations for the upcoming bar
examinations," petitioner admitted that he did not have the opportunity to check the veracity of the information supplied by
Ms. Felipe. Had he done this he could have readily seen that Ms. Felipe had erroneously typed "Philippine Law School,"
instead of UST, on the space provided for the school where petitioner attended his pre-bar review course.

Petitioner further averred that on 26 July 1999, a week after the filing of the Petition to take the bar, he (thru Ms. Felipe)
submitted the Certification of Completion of the Pre-Bar Review as Annex "D" of his Petition to prove that he actually
enrolled and attended the pre-bar review course in UST.

To corroborate his enrollment in UST, petitioner submitted (a) the Official Receipt of his payment of tuition fee for the
course; (b) his identification card for the course; (c) car pass to the UST campus; (d) individual affidavits of classmates in
the pre-bar review course in UST that petitioner was their classmate and that he attended the review course; (e) separate
affidavits of five (5) UST students/acquaintances of petitioner that they saw him regularly attending the review lectures; (f)
affidavit of Professor Abelardo T. Domondon attesting to the attendance of petitioner in his review classes and lectures in
Taxation and Bar Review Methods at the UST Faculty of Civil Law; (g) affidavit of Ms. Gloria L. Fernandez, maintenance
staff at the UST Law Department that she knew petitioner very well as he was among those who would arrive early and
request her to open the reading area and turn on the airconditioning before classes started; and, (h) affidavit of Ms.
Melicia Jane Parena, office clerk at the UST Faculty Civil Law, that Dean Dimayuga issued the Certification dated 22 July
1999 to the effect that petitioner was officially enrolled in and had completed the pre-bar review course in UST which
started on 14 April 1999 and ended 24 September 1999.

Petitioner also explained that he did not submit the required certification of completion of the pre-bar review course within
sixty (60) days from the last day of the examinations because he thought that it was already unnecessary in view of the
Certification of Completion (Annex "D" of his Petition) issued by Dean Dimayuga which not only attested to his enrollment
in UST but also his completion of the pre-bar review course.

In a letter dated 17 September 2002, addressed to Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., thru Senior Associate Justice
Josue N. Bellosillo, who took over as Chairman of the 1995 Committee on Bar Examinations, retired Judge Purisima
expressed his concern for his son and stated that his son took the pre-bar review course in UST and that he entry in his
son’s Petition that he took it in PLS is a "self-evident clerical error." He then poised the question that if there was really a
falsehood and forgery in paragraph 8 and Annex "D" of the Petition, which would have been a fatal defect, why then was
his son issued permit to take the 1999 Bar examinations?
Pursuant to the Court Resolution of 1 October 2002, the OBC conducted a summary hearing on 30 October 2002 during
which the Bar Confidant asked clarificatory questions from petitioner who appeared together with his father, retired Judge
Purisima, and Ms. Lilian Felipe.

On 7 November 2002 the OBC submitted its Report and Recommendation the pertinent portions of which are quoted
hereunder:

"Considering petitioner’s explanation fortified by unquestionably genuine documents in support thereof, we respectfully
submit that petitioner should be given the benefit of the doubt.

The Resolution of the Court dated April 2, 2002, in Bar Matter 890, may be cited. In the said case, Victor Rey T. Gingoyon
was given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to take the Lawyer’s Oath.

In said case, Mr. Gingoyon stated in his Petition to take the 1998 Bar that the charge of Grave Threats (Criminal Case No.
9693) against him was still pending before the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Mandaue City, Branch 3, when in fact, in
the decision of MTC dated April 8, 1998, he was already convicted. But the Court believed his explanation that he had no
actual knowledge of his conviction.

In allowing Mr. Gingoyon to take the Lawyer’s Oath, the Court stated, thus:

‘It had been two (2) years past since he first filed the petition to take the lawyer’s oath. Hopefully, this period of time of
being deprived the privilege had been long enough for him to do some introspection.’

In his letter, petitioner’s father also pleaded that the three (3) years denial of his son’s request for oath-taking should be
enough penalty, if there may be any wrong that his son may have unwittingly committed.

It is submitted that the same kindness and compassion extended to Mr. Gingoyon in Bar Matter 890 be given to petitioner.
Three years deprivation of the privilege to practice law may be considered an ample penalty, not to mention that petitioner
has not been convicted of any crime.

As regards petitioner’s failure to submit within sixty days the required certification of completion of the pre-bar review
course, his explanation that there was no need for him to submit another certification because the July 22, 1999
Certification of Dean Dimayuga certified not only his enrollment but also his completion of the course, is impressed with
truth.

Let it be also noted that, in the Resolution dated April 13, 2000, in this Bar Matter 986, the Court declared DISQUALIFIED
from the 1999 Bar examinations not only Purisima but also Josenio Marquez Reoma, Ma. Salvacion Sucgang Revilla and
Victor Estell Tesorero for their failure to submit within sixty days from the last day of the examinations the certification of
completion of the pre-bar review course. However, the Court, in its Resolution dated June 20, 2000, acting on the
separate motions for reconsideration of the Court Resolution dated April 13, 2000 filed by Reoma and Revilla, both were
allowed to take the Lawyer’s Oath.

In the case of Reoma, his explanation that his failure to submit the required certification was due to his honest belief and
assumption that the UP College of Law, where he took his review course, had filed the required certification together with
other required documents, was accepted.

In the case of Revilla, her claim that her failure to submit the required certification within the 60-day period was due to her
erroneous impression that only the certification of enrollment and attendance was arequired, was likewise accepted.

The Court also allowed Mr. Tesorero to take his oath, as he stated that his f ailure to submit within the 60-day period was
due to his honest and mistaken belief that he had substantially complied with the requirements for admission to the Bar
Examinations because he thought that the required certificate of compleltition of the pre-bar review course is the same as
the certificate of enrollment and attendance in the said course.

The OBS respectfully submits that pertitioner’s explanation should also be given credit just like his three co-examinees.

Let it be finally cited that in Bar Matter No. 832, in the Matter of Admission to the Bar of Blas Antonio M. Tuliao, the Court
also favorably considered the report of the Committee on Legal Education which recommended the admission to the Bar
of Mr. Tuliao on grounds of fairness, equal treatment and protection, considering that his co-accused in a criminal case
have been allowed to take the lawyer’s oath. This Court stated, in its Resolution dated November 27, 2001, that there was
no reason to accord a different treatment to Mr. Tuliao, and that the dispensation of justice should be even-handed and
consistent."

The recommendation is well taken.

The foremost question to be resolved is whether petitioner did enrol in and complete his pre-bar review course in UST as
he herein avows.

The testimony of petitioner and Ms. Felipe during the 30 October 2002 hearing that the subject Certification of Dean
Dimayuga was duly submitted to the OBC a week after the filing of the Petition to take the bar appears to be credible. It is
supported by documentary evidence showing that petitioner actually enrolled and completed the required course in UST.

Granting that the Certification of Dean Dimayuga was defective as it certified completion of the pre-bar review course
which was still on-going, this defect should not be attributed to petitioner considering that he had no participation in the
preparation thereof. Whatever it is, the fact remains that there is such a certification issued by the UST which appears to
be genuine. This finding is backed by the affidavit of Ms. Parena, office clerk at the UST Faculty of Civil Law, that she was
the one who released the Certification to petitioner on 26 July 1999.

Indeed, it must be stressed that there is nothing on record which impugns the authenticity of the subject Certification as
well as that of the other documentary evidence proferred by petitioner to establish that he was duly enrolled and took the
pre-bar review course in UST, not in PLS. As to the argument that the Certification of Dean Dimayuga did not include the
"taking and completion" of the pre-bar review course, the realities of our bar reviews render it difficult to record the
attendance religiously of the reviewees every single day for several months.

Considering petitioner’s explanation, fortified by undisputedly genuine documents, at the very least, petitioner should be
given the benefit of the doubt and be allowed to take his oath.

The Court is well aware of instances in the past when ,as a measure of compassion and kindness, it has acted favorably
on similar petitions. In his letter petitioner’s father pleaded that "the denial of permission for Mark to take his oath for about
three (3) years now should be enough penalty." It is time to move on.

At this juncture it may be well to note the Court’s growing concern over the apparent laxity of law schools in the conduct of
their pre-bar review classes. Specifically, it has been observed that the attendance of reviewees is not closely monitored,
such that some reviewees are able to comply with the requisite with minimal attendance. Enrollment and completion of
pre-bar review course is an additional requirement under Rule 138 of the Rules of Court for those who failed the bar
examinations for three (3) or more times.

For the Court to insist on strict compliance may be literally asking for the moon but it can be done. We just have to bear in
mind that this requirement is not an empty or idle ceremony; it is intended to ensure the quality and preparedness of those
applying for admission to the bar.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, as recommended by the Office of the Bar Confidant in its Report and
Recommendation dated 7 November 2002, the prayer in Bar Matters Nos. 979 and 986 is granted and examinee MARK
ANTHONY A. PURISIMA who passed the 1999 Bar Examinations is now allowed to take the Lawyer’s Oath and be
admitted to the Philippine Bar. He is further allowed to sign the Roll of Attorneys upon payment of the required fees.

SO ORDERED

B.M. No. 1222, February 4, 2004.

Per Curiam
FACTS:

On September 22, 2003, there was a rumored leakage in the bar examination on the Mercantile Law subject. Investigation
was lead back to the office of Atty. Marcial O.T. Balgos, then Mercantile Law Examiner, where the leakage started.
Allegedly, Atty. Danilo de Guzman (assistant lawyer in the firm of Balgos and Perez) stole a copy of Atty. Balgos’ file on
Mercantile Law with the proposed test items, and the former sent it to some members of the Beta Sigma Lambda
Fraternity.

ISSUE:

WON Atty. Balgos and Atty. de Guzman are guilty of gross misconduct unbecoming a member of the Bar.

RULING:

Yes. De Guzman abetted cheating or dishonesty by his fraternity brothers in the examination, which is violative of Rule
1.01 of Canon 1, as well as Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for members of the Bar. As for Atty.
Balgos’ negligence, if he had taken those simple precautions to protect the secrecy of his papers, nobody could have
stolen them and copied and circulated them. The integrity of the bar examinations would not have been sullied by the
scandal.

Bar Matter No. 1153

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated March 9, 2010
"B.M. No. 1153 (Re: Letter of Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza Proposing Reforms in the Bar Examinations Through
Amendments to Rule 138 of the Rules of Court). - The Court Resolved to APPROVE the proposed amendments to
Sections 5 and 6 of Rule 138, to wit:

SEC. 5.Additional Requirement for Other Applicants. — All applicants for admission other than those referred to in the two
preceding sections shall, before being admitted to the examination, satisfactorily show that they have successfully
completed all the prescribed courses for the degree of Bachelor of Laws or its equivalent degree, in a law school or
university officially recognized by the Philippine Government or by the proper authority in the foreign jurisdiction where the
degree has been granted.

No applicant who obtained the Bachelor of Laws degree in this jurisdiction shall be admitted to the bar examination unless
he or she has satisfactorily completed the following course in a law school or university duly recognized by the
government: civil law, commercial law, remedial law, criminal law, public and private international law, political law, labor
and social legislation, medical jurisprudence, taxation and legal ethics.

A Filipino citizen who graduated from a foreign law school shall be admitted to the bar examination only upon submission
to the Supreme Court of certifications showing: (a) completion of all courses leading to the degree of Bachelor of Laws or
its equivalent degree; (b) recognition or accreditation of the law school by the proper authority; and (c) completion of all
the fourth year subjects in the Bachelor of Laws academic program in a law school duly recognized by the Philippine
Government.

SEC. 6.Pre-Law. — An applicant for admission to the bar examination shall present a certificate issued by the proper
government agency that, before commencing the study of law, he or she had pursued and satisfactorily completed in an
authorized and recognized university or college, requiring for admission thereto the completion of a four-year high school
course, the course of study prescribed therein for a bachelor's degree in arts or sciences.

A Filipino citizen who completed and obtained his or her Bachelor of Laws degree or its equivalent in a foreign law school
must present proof of having completed a separate bachelor's degree course.

The Clerk of Court, through the Office of the Bar Confidant, is hereby directed to CIRCULARIZE this resolution among all
law schools in the country."

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
NOTICE

Sirs/Mesdames:

Please take notice that the Court en banc issued a Resolution dated FEBRUARY 8, 2011, which reads as follows:

"B.M. No. 2265 (Re: Letter of Justice Roberto A. Abad Proposing Changes for Improving the Conduct of the Bar
Examinations). - The Court Resolved to NOTE the Letter dated January 28, 2011 of Justice Roberto A. Abad re:
Amendment to Section 11, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court (Annual Examination), incident to the implementation of
B.M. No. 2265 (Reforms in the 2011 Bar Examinations).

The Court further Resolved to APPROVE the Amendment to Section 11, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, to wit:

"Section 11. Annual examination. - Examinations for admission to the bar of the Philippines shall take place annually
in the City of Manila. They shall be held in four days to be designated by the chairman of the committee on bar
examiners. The subjects shall be distributed as follows: First day: Political and International Law, and Labor and
Social Legislation (morning) and Taxation (afternoon); Second day: Civil Law (morning) and Mercantile Law
(afternoon); Third day: Remedial Law, and Legal Ethics and Forums (morning) and Criminal Law (afternoon); Fourth
day: Trial Memorandum (morning) and Legal Opinion (afternoon)". (adv107)

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.)ENRIQUETA E. VIDAL
Clerk of Court

Honorable Roberto A. Abad (x)


Associate Justice and Chairperson
2011 Committee on Bar Examinations
Supreme Court

Atty. Ma. Cristina B. Layusa (x)


Deputy Clerk of Court and Bar Confidant
Supreme Court

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

NOTICE

Sirs/Mesdames:

Please take notice that the Court en banc issued a Resolution dated JANUARY 18, 2011, which reads as follows:

"B.M. No. 2265 (Re: Reforms in the 2011 Bar Examinations [Letter of Justice Roberto A. Abad Proposing Changes
for Improving the Conduct of the Bar Examinations]. Acting on the Letter dated January 10, 2011 of Associate
Justice Roberto A. Abad, proposing to move the 2011 Bar Examinations from September to November, the Court
Resolved to NOTE the said Letter and GRANT the proposal of Justice Abad to MOVE the 2011 Bar Examinations
from September to November.

The Court further Resolved to

(a) NOTE the Letter dated September 2, 2010 of Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, Chairperson,
Committee on Legal Education and Bar Matters, recommending the final approval by the Court En Banc of
the proposed changes for improving the conduct of the bar examinations by Justice Abad, inasmuch as the
Court En Banc had provisionally approved the proposals

(b) APPROVE the Reforms in the 2011 Bar Examinations, hereto attached as Annex "A"; and

(c) NOTE Resolution No. 12-991-2010 dated October 1, 2010 of the Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Cebu,
Cebu City Hall, praying anew that the Supreme Court, through the Bar Committee will extend the venue of
the Bar Examinations to Cebu City, and hold simultaneous annual examinations in Manila and Cebu City."
(adv14)

Very truly yours,

ENRIQUETA E. VIDAL
Clerk of Court

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

B.M. No. 2265

RE: REFORMS IN THE 2011 BAR EXAMINATIONS

Preliminary Statement

The Court has found merit in the proposed changes in the conduct of the bar examinations that the Chairperson of
the 2011 Bar Examinations and Philippine Association of Law Schools recommended.

One recommendation concerns the description of the coverage of the annual bar examinations that in the past
consisted merely of naming the laws that each subject covered. This description has been regarded as too general
and provides no specific understanding of the entry-level legal knowledge required of beginning law practitioners.

A second recommendation addresses the predominantly essay-type of bar examinations that the Court conducts.
Because of the enormous growth of laws, doctrines, principles, and precedents, it has been noted that such
examinations are unable to hit a significant cross-section of the subject matter. Further, the huge number of
candidates taking the examinations annually and the limited time available for correcting the answers make fair
correction of purely essay-type examinations difficult to attain. Besides, the use of multiple choice questions,
properly and carefully constructed, is a method of choice for qualifying professionals all over the world because of its
proven reliability and facility of correction.
A third recommendation opts for maintaining the essay-type examinations but dedicating these to the assessment of
the requisite communication skills, creativity, and fine intellect that bar candidates need for the practice of law.

Approved Changes

The Court has previously approved in principle the above recommended changes. It now resolves to approve the
following rules that shall govern the future conduct of the bar examinations:

1. The coverage of the bar examinations shall be drawn up by topics and sub-topics rather than by just
stating the covered laws. The test for including a topic or sub-topic in the coverage of the examinations is
whether it covers laws, doctrines, principles and rulings that a new lawyer needs to know to begin a
reasonably prudent and competent law practice.

The coverage shall be approved by the Chairperson of the Bar Examination in consultation with the
academe, subject to annual review and re-approval by subsequent Chairpersons.

2. The bar examinations shall measure the candidate’s knowledge of the law and its applications through
multiple-choice-questions (MCQs) that are to be so constructed as to specifically:

2.1. Measure the candidate’s knowledge of and ability to recall the laws, doctrines, and principles
that every new lawyer needs in his practice;

2.2. Assess the candidate’s understanding of the meaning and significance of those same laws,
doctrines, and principles as they apply to specific situations; and

2.3. Measure his ability to analyze legal problems, apply the correct law or principle to such
problems, and provide solutions to them.

3. The results of the MCQ examinations shall, if feasible, be corrected electronically.

4. The results of the MCQ examinations in each bar subject shall be given the following weights:

Political Law — 15%

Labor Law — 10%


Civil Law — 15%

Taxation — 10%
Mercantile Law — 15%

Criminal Law — 10%

Remedial Law — 20%


Legal Ethics/Forms — 5%

5. Part of the bar examinations shall be of the essay-type, dedicated to measuring the candidate’s skills in
writing in English, sorting out the relevant facts in a legal dispute, identifying the issue or issues involved,
organizing his thoughts, constructing his arguments, and persuading his readers to his point of view. The
essays will not be bar subject specific.

5.1. One such essay examination shall require the candidate to prepare a trial memorandum or a
decision based on a documented legal dispute. (60% of essays)

5.2 Another essay shall require him to prepare a written opinion sought by a client concerning a
potential legal dispute facing him. (40% of essays)
6. The essays shall not be graded for technically right or wrong aswers, but for the quality of the candidate’s
legal advocacy. The passing standard for correction shall be work expected of a beginning practitioner, not a
seasoned lawyer.

7. The examiners in all eight bar subjects shall, apart from preparing the MCQs for their respective subjects,
be divided into two panels of four members each. One panel will grade the memorandum or decision essay
while the other will grade the legal opinion essay. Each member shall read and grade the examination
answer of a bar candidate independently of the other members in his panel. The final grade of a candidate
for each essay shall be the average of the grades given by the four members of the panel for that essay.

8. The results of the a) MCQ and b) essay-type examinations shall be given weights of 60% and 40%,
respectively, in the computation of the candidate’s final grade.

9. For want of historical data needed for computing the passing grade in MCQ kind of examinations, the
Chairperson of the 2011 Bar

Examinations shall, with the assistance of experts in computing MCQ examination grades, recommend to
the Court the appropriate conversion table or standard that it might adopt for arriving at a reasonable
passing grade for MCQs in bar examinations.

10. In the interest of establishing needed data, the answers of all candidates in the essay-type examinations
in the year 2011 shall be corrected irrespective of the results of their MCQ examinations, which are sooner
known because they are electronically corrected. In future bar examinations, however, the Bar Chairperson
shall recommend to the Court the disqualification of those whose grades in the MCQ are so low that it would
serve no useful purpose to correct their answers in the essay-type examinations.

11. Using the data and experience obtained from the 2011 Bar Examinations, future Chairpersons of Bar
Examination are directed to study the feasibility of:

11.1. Holding in the interest of convenience and economy bar examinations simultaneously in
Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao; and

11.2. Allowing those who pass the MCQ examinations but fail the essay-type examinations to take
removal examinations in the immediately following year.

12. All existing rules, regulations, and instructions that are inconsistent with the above are repealed.

This Bar Matter shall take effect immediately, and shall be published in two newspapers of general circulation in the
Philippines.

January 18, 2011.