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G.R. No. L-33672 September 28, 1973 VICENTE MUOZ, petitioner, vs.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and THE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents, DELIA T. SUTTON, respondent. RESOLUTION

FERNANDO, J.: We have before us a task far from pleasant. Respondent, Delia T. Sutton, a member of the Philippine Bar, connected with the law firm of Salonga, Ordoez, Yap, Parlade, and Associates, must be held accountable for failure to live up to that exacting standard expected of counsel, more specifically with reference to a duty owing this Tribunal. She failed to meet the test of candor and honesty required of pleaders when, in a petition for certiorari prepared by her to review a Court of Appeals decision, she attributed to it a finding of facts in reckless disregard, to say the least, of what in truth was its version as to what transpired. When given an opportunity to make proper amends, both in her appearance before us and thereafter in her memorandum, there was lacking any showing of regret for a misconduct so obvious and so inexcusable. Such an attitude of intransigence hardly commends itself. Her liability is clear. Only her relative inexperience in the ways of the law did save her from a penalty graver than severe censure. So we rule.
The background of the incident before us was set forth in our resolution of July 12, 1971. It reads as follows: "Acting upon the petition for review in G.R. No. L33672, Vicente Muoz v. People of the Philippines and the Court of Appeals, and considering that the main issue therein is whether petitioner Muoz is guilty of homicide through reckless negligence, as charged in the information; that in the language of the decision of the Court of Appeals "the prosecution and the defense offered two conflicting versions of the incident that gave rise to the case"; that, upon examination of the evidence, the Court of Appeals found, as did the trial court, that the version of the prosecution is the true one and that of the defense is unbelievable; that this finding of the Court of Appeals is borne out by substantial evidence, whereas the version of the defense is inconsistent with some established facts, for: (a) petitioner's theory, to the effect that his boat had been rammed by that of the complainant, is refuted by the fact that after hitting the left frontal outrigger of the latter's boat, the prow and front outrigger of petitioner's motorboat hit also the left front portion of complainant's boat where the complainant was seated, thereby hitting him on the back and inflicting the injury that cause his death so that, immediately after the collision - part of petitioner's boat was on top of that of the complainant; (b) these circumstances, likewise, indicate the considerable speed at which petitioner's motorboat was cruising, (c) petitioner's motorboat had suffered very little damage, which would have been considerable had it been rammed by the offended party's boat, the latter being bigger than, as well as provided with an engine twice as powerful as,

that of the petitioner; and (d) although appellant's boat carried several passengers, including children, and was, in fact, overloaded, appellant acted as pilot and, at the same time, as its machinist, thereby rendering it difficult for him to manuever it properly; the Court resolved to [deny] the petition upon the ground that it is mainly factual and for lack of merit. Considering further, that the petition quotes, on page 5 thereof a portion of the decision appealed from, summing up evidence for the defense, and makes reference thereto "findings" of the Court of Appeals, which is not true; that, on page 6 of the petition, petitioner states, referring to a portion of the same quotation, that the same "are the established uncontroverted facts recognized by the Court of Appeals," which is, likewise, untrue; that, on page 8 of the petition, it is averred "It being conceded that the two versions recounted above are by themselves credible, although they are conflicting the same cannot be binding on, and is therefore, reviewable by the Honorable Supreme Court. Where the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals [are conflicting], the same [are not binding] on the Supreme Court. (Cesica v. Villaseca, G.R. L-9590, April 30, 1957)" although, in fact, no conflicting findings of fact are made in the decision appealed from; and that, on page 9 of the petition, it is alleged that the Court of Appeals had"affirmed the minimum penalty of one (1) year and one (1) day imposed by the lower court," although, in fact, minimum penalty imposed by the trial court was "four(4) months of arresto mayor"; the Court resolved to require counsel for the petitioner to show cause, within ten (10) days from notice, why they should not be dealt with for contempt of court [or] otherwise subjected to disciplinary action for making aforementioned misrepresentations." " 1 A pleading entitled "Compliance with Resolution" by the aforesaid law firm was filed on August 14, 1971. There was no attempt at justification, because in law there is none, but it did offer what was hoped to be a satisfactory explanation. If so, such optimism was misplaced. It betrayed on its face more than just a hint of lack of candor, of minimizing the effects of grave inaccuracies in the attribution to the Court of Appeals certain alleged facts not so considered as such. It was then to say that the least a far from meticulous appraisal of the matter in issue. Much of what was therein contained did not ring true.

Under the circumstances, we set the matter for hearing on September 14 of the same year, requiring all lawyers-partners in said firm to be present. At such a hearing, respondent Delia T. Sutton appeared. While her demeanor was respectful, it was obvious that she was far from contrite. On the contrary, the impression she gave the Court was that what was done by her was hardly deserving of any reproach. Even when subjected to intensive questioning by several members of the Court, she was not to be budged from such an untenable position. It was as if she was serenely unconcerned, oblivious of the unfavorable reaction to, which her evasive answers gave rise. There certainly was lack of awareness of the serious character of her misdeed. The act of unruffled assurance under the circumstances was hard to understand. Perhaps realizing that the Court was not disposed to look at the matter as a minor peccadillo, Attorney Sedfrey A. Ordoez of the law firm expressly acknowledged that what appeared in its petition for certiorari prepared by respondent Delia T. Sutton insofar as it did misrepresent what is set forth in the Court of Appeals decision sought to be reviewed was reprehensible, and did make with the proper spirit of humility the necessary expression of regret.

What is more, the law firm in a pleading entitled "Joint Apology to the Supreme Court" filed on December 1, 1971, signed jointly by Sedfrey A. Ordoez and Delia Sutton, did seek to make amends thus: "1. That undersigned attorney, Delia T. Sutton, together with Messrs. Sedfrey A. Ordoez, Pedro L. Yap and Custodio O. Parlade, partners in the firm of Salonga, Ordoez, Yap, Parlade & Associates, appeared before this Honorable Court on November 22, 1971, pursuant to an order dated October 18, 1971; 2. That with all the sincerity and candor at the command of undersigned attorney, the circumstances surrounding her preparation of the pleading which gave rise to the instant citation to show cause why she should not be punished for contempt of court were explained by her, with the assistance of Atty. Sedfrey A. Ordoez; 3. That the undersigned Delia T. Sutton had no intention to misrepresent any question of fact before this Honorable Court for her personal gain or benefit, and that it was her lack of adequate extensive experience in preparing petitions for certiorari which may have caused the inaccurate statements in the said petition which were enumerated in the order of this Honorable Court; 4. That undersigned Delia T. Sutton contritely realizes the errors which she committed in the preparation of the said petition for certiorari and that the same will not recur in the future as she will always abide by the provisions on candor and fairness in the Canons of Professional Ethics, which reads: "22. [Candor and Fairness]. The conduct of the lawyer before the court and with other lawyers should be characterized by candor and fairness. It is not candid or fair for the lawyer knowingly to misquote the contents of a paper, the testimony of a witness, the language or the argument of opposing counsel, or the language of a decision or a textbook or; with knowledge of its invalidity, to cite as authority a decision that has been overruled, or a statute that has been repealed; or in argument to assert as fact that which has not been proved, or in those jurisdictions where a side has the opening and closing arguments to mislead his opponent by concealing or withholding positions in his opening argument upon which his side then intends to rely. ..." 5. That undersigned Atty. Sedfrey A. Ordoez joins Atty. Delia T. Sutton in expressing his own apologies to the Honorable Court for not having thoroughly supervised the preparation by Atty. Delia T. Sutton of a type of pleading with which she was not thoroughly familiar." 2 The "Joint Apology" thus offered did mitigate to some extent the liability of respondent Sutton. Some members of the Court feel, however, that it does not go far enough. While expressing regret and offering apology, there was lacking that free admission that what was done by her should not characterized merely as "errors" consisting as they do of "inaccurate statements." If there were a greater sincerity on her part, the offense should have been acknowledged as the submission of deliberate misstatements. There ought to be, for the apology to gain significance, no further attempt at minimizing the enormity of the misdeed. It is then as if there was hardly any retreat from the untenable stand originally taken. The mood, even at this stage, seems to be that she could brazen it out as long as the words indicative of an apology were offered. This Court does not view matters thus. To purge herself of the contempt, she ought to have displayed the

proper spirit of contrition and humility. The burden cast on the judiciary would be intolerable if it could not take at face value what is asserted by counsel. The time that will have to be devoted just to the task of verification of allegations submitted could easily be imagined. Even with due recognition then that counsel is expected to display the utmost zeal in defense of a client's cause, it must never be at the expense of deviation from the truth. As set forth in the applicable Canon of Legal Ethics: "Nothing operates more certainly to create or to foster popular prejudice against lawyers as a class, and to deprive the profession of that full measure of public esteem and confidence which belongs to the proper discharge of its duties than does the false claim, often set up by the unscrupulous in defense of questionable transactions, that it is the duty of the lawyer to do whatever may enable him to succeed in winning his client's cause." 3 What is more, the obligation to the bench, especially to this Court, for candor and honesty takes precedence. It is by virtue of such considerations that punishment that must fit the offense has to be meted out to respondent Delia T. Sutton. At the same time, the attitude displayed by one of the senior partners, Attorney Sedfrey A. Ordoez, both in the appearances before the Court and in the pleadings submitted, must be commended. He has made manifest that his awareness of the role properly incumbent on counsel, especially in his relationship to this Court, is deep-seated. It must be stated, however, that in the future he, as well as the other senior partners, should exercise greater care in the supervision of the attorneys connected with their law firm, perhaps inexperienced as yet but nonetheless called upon to comply with the peremptory tenets of ethical conduct. WHEREFORE, respondent Delia T. Sutton is severely censured. Let a copy of this resolution be spread on her record.
G.R. No. L-19798 September 20, 1966

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ALOD MANOBO and MALOMPON MANOBO, defendants-appellants. Breva Law Office for defendants-appellants. Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

REYES, J.B.L., J.: The accused-appellants, Alod Manobo and Malompon Manobo, with two others, were indicted for robbery with triple homicide in the Court First Instance of Davao, per its Criminal Case No. 3014. After trial, they were convicted only of triple homicide and sentenced each to suffer the indeterminate penalty of from TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY OF prision mayor to SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of reclusion temporal for the death of Uy Kee Kang alias Chiquito, with the accessory penalties

provided for by law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Chiquito in the sum of P3,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; another indeterminate penalty of from TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor to SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of reclusion temporal for the death of Mandoloon-Manoba, with the accessory penalties provided for by law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Mandoloon in the sum of P3,000.00 without subsidiary, imprisonment in case of insolvency; and still another indeterminate penalty of from TEN (10) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor to SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of reclusion temporal, for the death of Chinaman Te Chu alias Tiago, with the accessory penalties provided for by law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Tiago in the sum of P3,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the proportionate of the proceeding. Pursuant to the provisions of Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code, the total penalty to be served by each accused shall not exceed forty (40) years.1 They appealed to the Court of Appeals which, in CA-G.R. No. 15933-R, finding that the imposable penalty for each appellant should be reclusion perpetua "for each of the three murders", certified the case to the Supreme Court. Review of the evidence discloses that along the beach in the barrio of Kilain, which is three hours ride by motor launch to the town of Malita, Davao, and against a background of thick tropical foliage and mountainous terrain, stood the house of a Chinese hemp merchant, Uy Kee Kang, alias Chiquito. In this house which doubled as a store, he lived with his wife, Mandolo-on Manoba, their infant child, and another Chinese, Te Chu, alias Tiago. From this store, a path led some two hundred to three hundred meters away to the house of the nearest neighbor, the accused Alod Manobo. Further up the slope is the house of Angoy Manobo, and still further up is the house of Simeon Te and his wife, Sadia Manoba; and, not far distant, stands the house of Mansag Manobo, a barrio lieutenant. After suppertime on 9 August 1954, the accused Malompon Manobo reported to the above-named barrio lieutenant that there was trouble in the house of Uy Kee Kang, whereupon, Mansag sounded his agong to call for his tribesmen. Several persons responded and constituted themselves into a posse. It proceeded to the house of Uy Kee Kang and surrounded it. Noting that nothing was astir, the group went inside and there saw lying on the floor side by side the blood-bathed corpses of Tiago and Mandoloon Manoba; the latter's baby was alive and still suckling its dead mother's breast. An open wooden chest was noticed, but Uy Kee Kang was nowhere to be found. A search was started and he was discovered lying among the bushes about a hundred meters from his store in a semi-recumbent position, riddled with bullets and soaked with blood. Rigor mortis had already set in. Autopsy examinations showed: on Uy Kee Kang, total hematoma on the face and hand and fivecentimeter-diameter gunshot wounds in the clavicle, right chest, back and inner ventral thigh, with his lungs, liver and intestines perforated. On Mandoloon Manoba, an incised gaping wound two inches in length in the neck, transverse position, cutting the esophagus and principal blood vessels of the neck; another incised wound, triangular in form, an inch in diameter in the mid-sternum; another in the chest, somewhere deviating to the left side, and a fourth but superficial incised wound in the abdomen, right hyperchrondium. On Te Chu, an incised wound an inch below the left nipple to the mid-sternum; another in the left chest penetrating the lung substance; another in the right chest; and others, below the right nipple, abdomen, forearm, knee and right arm, ventral side. As a result of police and PC investigation at the scene of the crime, a bronze dagger and an empty .22 caliber shell were recovered. The house's main door was found open while a rear door was found forced open, and in one of the windows were the blood-stained prints of two hands. A sum of P4,300.00, which had been delivered to Uy Kee Kang on 4 August 1954 in payment of abaca sold by the deceased to the Columbian Rope Company, was not found in the house, despite search.

On 16 August 1954, in the town of Malita, the above-named appellants, Alod and Malompon, executed separate extra-judicial confessions, Exhibits "D" and "E", the jurat of both affidavits appearing under the signature and seal of the local justice of the peace, Enrique A. de los Santos. These confessions relate that at about four o'clock in the afternoon of 9 August 1954, Malompon, Alod, Sabonal and Antonino met at the house of Alod and planned to rob and kill Chiquito and his family; that they thus, respectively, armed themselves with a "sangot", a "nanawe" (sharp bladed instruments), a firearm and a bolo; that they went to Chiquito's store at about seven o'clock; that, in accordance with their plan, Alod knocked at the door and pretended to buy fishing rope while the others stationed themselves at the main door; that when Tiago opened the door they simultaneously entered; that Antonino shot Chiquito, who was writing at that time; that Chiquito ran and passed outside thru the backdoor but Antonino chased and fired several shots at him; that Malompon and Sabonal stabbed Tiago to death while Alod disposed of Mandoloon. In his confession, Alod also stated that he took the money; on the part of Malompon, he stated that it was part of their plan for him to notify the barrio lieutenant to cast away suspicion and that he had hidden the "sangot", but later had taken it from its hiding place and had handed it to the investigators.1awphl.nt According to the version of the prosecution, during the investigation that followed the gory occurrence, Dominga, the wife of Malompon, had hinted to PC Captain (then a Lieutenant) Miguel Lagura that her husband knew something about the killings. Lagura lost no time in contacting Malompon, who had gone to Malita to attend the burial of the deceased Chinese. When Lagura met Malompon, the latter blamed the Masaglang brothers. Lagura, forthwith, went to Cubog to interrogate these brothers. The brothers Masaglang denied to Lagura any knowledge or participation in the crime, and so, Lagura brought them to Kilain and confronted Malompon. Malompon broke down and admitted having killed the deceased; he then accompanied Lagura to the house of Alod where he showed and identified the "sangot". Lagura found in a box the "nanawe", still bearing stains of blood, and the shirt of Alod, also with spots of blood, hanging in an extension by the kitchen. Thereafter, Alod and Malompon were taken to Malita, their confessions reduced in writing which they thumbmarked after the same were translated to them in the Manobo dialect. Appellants, on the other hand, claim that they did not kill the victims and that they signed their confessions only because they could not longer stand the maltreatment they received at the hands of the PC, the police, and the father of Chiquito, who had held them incommunicado for four days; that Malompon, furthermore, was duped by Lagura's promise that he would be utilized as a state witness; that at the time of the killings they were in the house of Alod eating their supper; that when they heard the shots and shouts for help of Mandoloon, Malompon went to report the matter to barrio lieutenant Mansag. The appellants Alod and Malompon having confessed to conspiring and carrying out the killing of Kee Kang alias Chiquito, his wife. Mandoloon, and that of Chinaman Chu alias Tiago, with intent to commit robbery, the main issue naturally revolves around the credibility to be accorded to the confessions, Exhibits "D" and "E". These were executed in the office of the Chief of Police of Malita, Davao, and sworn to by both appellants before Justice of the Peace De los Santos, after the contents had been read and translated to both appellants, as already noted. The latter stoutly assert that they signed their confessions because they were unbearably maltreated by the investigating PC officers, Lieutenant (later Captain) Lagura and Sgt. Robrico (whom accused called Federico), assisted by Kee Kang's father, Vicente Uy. Close examination of the testimony of appellants Alod, Malompon and their witnesses leave this Court unconvinced that their confessions were obtained by maltreatment, as they maintain. Appellant Alod described in detail how he was repeatedly hit with a broom handle; how the investigators inserted bullets (cartridges) between his fingers and pressed them together, causing intense pain and producing a lump at the base of his fourth finger; and how, while handcuffed, Vicente Uy had shoved the handcuffs against Alod's mouth with such violence that one of his upper front teeth (which he brought and exhibited at the trial) was dislodged and three other teeth were loosened. Yet no complaint was formulated by Alod to the Justice of the Peace when the confession was sworn; and when defense counsel brought Alod to a physician for examination the latter certified (Exhibit "17") that Alod showed no external signs of injury, though he complained of pain over the right chondral arch, a complaint that of course was unverifiable by the doctor. No mention appears to have been made to the physician, nor to the Justice of the

Peace, of the missing tooth nor of the finger lump, although Alod sought to explain that he forgot to do so; this, despite the fact that the examination was made for the express purpose of establishing his injuries. Nor does the record contain any plausible reason why only the fourth finger showed signs of damage, when bullets, according to this appellant, had been inserted between all his fingers, that were then forced together. His attempted explanation that after inserting three bullets (cartridges) between Alod's fingers two were removed is too artificial to merit consideration. Similarly, the alleged violence to Alod's teeth by his investigators was emphatically disproved when, in demonstrating before the trial Judge, with similar handcuffs on his wrists, it was found that the handcuffs would not reach Alod's teeth. Moreover, as noted in the appealed decision, in the process of knocking out his teeth, Alod's lips must have been lacerated; yet he showed no trace of any such injury. Counsel's theorizing that a different kind of handcuffs was used in the court demonstration is not supported by the record. With regard to appellant Malompon, he affirmed in court to having been maltreated for four days, and was promised besides that he would be made a state witness. Like Alod, he showed no visible signs of injury, but merely complained of pain to the physician (Exhibit "18"). This appellant, moreover, appears to have made three differing statements: one pointing out to the Masaglang brothers as presumable authors of the crime; a second one confessing to having planned, with Alod, and Sabonal and Antonino (sons of Alod), to rob and kill the victims; and to have entered the house of the victims through a ruse (Exhibit "D"); and a third one the following day, Exhibit "8", that he, Alod, Sabonal and Antonino had been induced by Manobos Semion, Angos and Monsad to go with them to the house of the victims, and that it was the three last named who carried out the massacre. It is incredible that all these statements were dictated by the Constabulary investigators: what interest could the latter have in extorting contradictory statements? If Malompon's implication of the Masaglangs had been merely dictated by the PC investigators, the latter would not have taken the trouble of bringing the Masaglangs all the way from Cubog to Malita for confrontation with appellants, as no man in his right senses would go chasing after his own fabrications. Lagura's testimony that when confronted with the Masaglangs these appellants confessed their guilt is neither improbable in itself nor inconsistent with general experience. Nor can we see why, after securing the confessions of Alod and Malompon (Exhibits "D" and "E") on the 16th of August, the investigators should extort from them on the very next day, August 17th, another statement (Exhibit "8") pointing out to an entirely different set of killers. The argument that the PC investigators wished to implicate also other persons to explain the shooting of Kee Kang is pure conjecture. In another portion of the record, Malompon testified that when he was brought to the house of Alod and then PC Lt. Lagura found the weapons (a "nanawe" and a "sangot"), he was asked by Lagura whether they were the ones used in the killing, and Malompon nodded, which indirectly corroborates Lagura's testimony that, when shown the "nanawe" and asked if it was the one used by Alod, Malompon answered that it was. It is, therefore, plain that Malompon's claim to innocence about the crime was feigned, and his claim that maltreatment impelled him to nod his head in token of assent to the identity of the fatal weapons is not credible. Both Alod and Malompon testified that they were maltreated in the presence of many persons besides the investigators, a pretense that renders the alleged maltreatment all the more improbable, considering that violence upon prisoners to force a confession is a criminal act that is usually done in secret. True, defense witness Mansag deposed that accused Sabonal and Antonino were taken from jail and maltreated in the public plaza; this story is not only unbelievable, but is peculiar that the latter were precisely the ones who did not confess and, in fact, were acquitted below. Witness for the defense William Joyce, who had been Malompon's employer, and had engaged the attorney for the defense in the trial court, testified that Justice of the Peace De los Santos expressed to him, in the course a conversation, that the Judge believed the accused not guilty, but signed the confessions due to maltreatment. De los Santos denied having made the statement, and reiterated his testimony for the

prosecution that the confessants never claimed in his presence that they were coerced into making their statements, Exhibits "D" and "E". Both Captain Lagura and Sgt. Robrico, likewise, denied torturing the appellants, and the trial court did not give credence Mr. Joyce we find no reason to alter this view, consisting that Vice Mayor Santisteban, who, according to Joyce was also present, did not corroborate him; Santisteban declared that when Joyce asked Judge De los Santos if the accused were guilty the latter merely responded "Maybe". It is more credible that Joyce did misunderstand Judge De los Santos, for the latter knew that the murders were not triable by him, and, therefore, had no cause to pronounce whether the accused were guilty or not. It is pointed out that some expressions in the confessions are not consistent with the ignorance and lack of culture of the appellants. This is true, but it must be remembered that Exhibits "D" and "E" are English translations of their original answers in the dialect, and some deformation through interpretation can hardly be avoided. Thus, that the confessions used the expression "stabbed to death" when the wounds were actually incised is not strange in persons not trained in medical precision, and no more outrageous than the defense claim that when Mansag testified that the rear door was "shut" he really meant it was "locked". At any rate, the essential admissions of guilt are present, and the appellants themselves avow that their statements were translated to them by Peralta and Santisteban before the thumbmarking thereof. The rule is well established that a voluntary extra-judicial confession, when supported by evidence of corpus delicti, sustains a finding of guilt. The corpus delicti as to the slayings is unquestionable, and the appellants not having proved that their confessions were involuntary, the appealed verdict of guilty can not be overturned, particularly since the confession is supported by the finding of the murder weapons in Alod's house and by the incomplete entry in Kee Kang's account book, which testifies to the sudden irruption of the appellants into the Chinaman's house, as narrated in their confessions. To be sure, the investigators appear to have been remiss in failing to ascertain the origin of the bloody handprints found outside the window of Chiquito's house, what rifle fired the bullet that killed him and ejected the empty shell that was found near the kitchen, and whether the stains in Alod's shirt and the weapons were caused by human blood or not. We believe that the true cause is not a desire to hide the truth, as the defense avers, but the lamentably deficient preparation of the investigators and a general tendency to rely excessively on confessions on the part of law officers. Be that as it may, the failure to follow these leads does not justify the assumption that, if made, the result would necessarily favor the herein appellants, or raise reasonable doubt over the guilt admitted by them. A confessant carries the burden of convincing the judge that his admissions are involuntary or untrue, as well as to establish exculpatory facts. Much stress is laid on the fact that the rear door of the victim's house was found by Lt. Lagura to have been open and the testimony of the defense witnesses that when they first arrived ahead of the police investigators that door was shut. It is argued that such circumstance does not dovetail with appellants' confessions that they secured entrance through the ruse of pretending to buy rope. But the uncontradicted testimony is that blood drops or dots were found "leading outside passing through the rear door" leading to the place where Kee Kang's corpse was found. The probabilities are that if the door was forced open it was by Kee Kang himself, in his haste to escape the assailants. The allegations of the defense are not supported by unbiased evidence, since their main witnesses are members of the appellants' own family. We, therefore, find no adequate justification in deviating from the appreciation of the trial court, who saw the witnesses testify. The virulent and personal attacks of defense counsel, some of them based on facts admittedly not on record, must be deplored and condemned. This Court feels constrained to reiterate that passionate insults do not constitute argument, and that it is debasing to the administration of justice that a member of the bar, who feels called upon to protect their client's constitutional rights, should be the one to deny due process to the trial judge by attacking him behind his back in the appeal brief. We reiterate here what was said in Perkins vs. Perkins, 57 Phil. 223, 236: The court notices with considerable regret the heated and acrimonious tone of the remarks of the counsel for appellant in his brief, in speaking of the action of the trial judge. We desire to

express our opinion that excessive language weakens rather than strengthens the persuasive force of legal reasoning. We have noticed a growing tendency to use language that experience has shown not to be conducive to the orderly and proper administration of justice. We therefore bespeak the attorneys of this court to desist from such practices, and to treat their opposing attorneys, and the judges who have decided their cases in the lower court, adversely to their contentions with that courtesy all have a right to expect. On the nature of the crime committed, we agree with the trial court that these appellants may not be convicted of robbery with homicide, there being no adequate independent proof of the robbery. There is no sufficient evidence, outside of the confessions, that anything was stolen from the house of the victims. While there is testimony that four or five days prior to the crime Kee Kang received a large amount of money, there is nothing to prove that the money remained with him until the time the killings were committed several days later. The hiatus between the reception of the money and the delict itself was long enough for the deceased to send the money elsewhere. Nor is there evidence that anything was taken from the house or the trunks therein. That the appellants intended, as they admitted, to rob Kee Kang does not constitute actual robbery. Without separate proof of corpus delicti, the extra-judicial confessions will not support conviction for robbery (Rule 133, section 3) No robbery being proved; conviction for robbery with homicide becomes impossible (People vs. Bamego 61 Phil. 318; People vs. Panaligan, 43 Phil. 131; People vs. Labita, 99 Phil. 1068). The slaying of Kee Kang, his wife Mandoloon, and his clerk Te Chu must thus be considered as triple murder (People vs. Barruga, 61 Phil. 318, 351, and cases cited), qualified by treachery (which absorbs nocturnity), and aggravated by the circumstance of having been perpetrated in the dwelling of the victims. The apposite penalty would be death, but, for lack of a sufficient number of votes, the sentence is reduced to reclusion perpetua. The sentence appealed from is modified, by increasing the penalty, from that imposed by the court below, to reclusion perpetua. In all other respects, the same is affirmed. Each appellant to pay one-half of the costs. The attention of the authorities concerned is called to the testimony of the accused and their witnesses to the effect that they were detained for several days for purposes of investigation, which is in violation of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code. A thorough investigation of the matter is in order, so that if the charge is substantiated the persons responsible may undergo condign punishment.

A.M. No. 1625 February 12, 1990 ANGEL L. BAUTISTA, complainant, vs. ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES, respondent. RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM: In a verified complaint filed by Angel L. Bautista on May 19, 1976, respondent Ramon A. Gonzales was charged with malpractice, deceit, gross misconduct and violation of lawyer's oath. Required by this Court to answer the charges against

him, respondent filed on June 19, 1976 a motion for a bill of particulars asking this Court to order complainant to amend his complaint by making his charges more definite. In a resolution dated June 28, 1976, the Court granted respondent's motion and required complainant to file an amended complaint. On July 15, 1976, complainant submitted an amended complaint for disbarment, alleging that respondent committed the following acts:
1. Accepting a case wherein he agreed with his clients, namely, Alfaro Fortunado, Nestor Fortunado and Editha Fortunado [hereinafter referred to as the Fortunados] to pay all expenses, including court fees, for a contingent fee of fifty percent (50%) of the value of the property in litigation. 2. Acting as counsel for the Fortunados in Civil Case No. Q15143, wherein Eusebio Lopez, Jr. is one of the defendants and, without said case being terminated, acting as counsel for Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No. Q-15490; 3. Transferring to himself one-half of the properties of the Fortunados, which properties are the subject of the litigation in Civil Case No. Q-15143, while the case was still pending; 4. Inducing complainant, who was his former client, to enter into a contract with him on August 30, 1971 for the development into a residential subdivision of the land involved in Civil Case No. Q15143, covered by TCT No. T-1929, claiming that he acquired fifty percent (50%) interest thereof as attorney's fees from the Fortunados, while knowing fully well that the said property was already sold at a public auction on June 30, 1971, by the Provincial Sheriff of Lanao del Norte and registered with the Register of Deeds of Iligan City; 5. Submitting to the Court of First Instance of Quezon City falsified documents purporting to be true copies of "Addendum to the Land Development Agreement dated August 30, 1971" and submitting the same document to the Fiscal's Office of Quezon City, in connection with the complaint for estafa filed by respondent against complainant designated as I.S. No. 7512936; 6. Committing acts of treachery and disloyalty to complainant who was his client; 7. Harassing the complainant by filing several complaints without legal basis before the Court of First Instance and the Fiscal's Office of Quezon City; 8. Deliberately misleading the Court of First Instance and the Fiscal's Office by making false assertion of facts in his pleadings; 9. Filing petitions "cleverly prepared (so) that while he does not intentionally tell a he, he does not tell the truth either."

Respondent filed an answer on September 29, 1976 and an amended answer on November 18, 1976, denying the accusations against him. Complainant filed a reply to respondent's answer on December 29, 1976 and on March 24, 1977 respondent filed a rejoinder. In a resolution dated March 16, 1983, the Court referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation. In the investigation conducted by the Solicitor General, complainant presented himself as a witness and submitted Exhibits "A" to "PP", while respondent appeared both as witness and counsel and submitted Exhibits "1" to "11". The parties were required to submit their respective memoranda. On May 16, 1988 respondent filed a motion to dismiss the complaint against him, claiming that the long delay in the resolution of the complaint against him constitutes a violation of his constitutional right to due process and speedy disposition of cases. Upon order of the Court, the Solicitor General filed a comment to the motion to dismiss on August 8, 1988, explaining that the delay in the investigation of the case was due to the numerous requests for postponement of scheduled hearings filed by both parties and the motions for extension of time to file their respective memoranda." [Comment of the Solicitor General, p. 2; Record, p. 365]. Respondent filed a reply to the Solicitor General's comment on October 26, 1988. In a resolution dated January 16, 1989 the Court required the Solicitor General to submit his report and recommendation within thirty (30) days from notice. On April 11, 1989, the Solicitor General submitted his report with the recommendation that Atty. Ramon A. Gonzales be suspended for six (6) months. The Solicitor General found that respondent committed the following acts of misconduct:
a. transferring to himself one-half of the properties of his clients during the pendency of the case where the properties were involved; b. concealing from complainant the fact that the property subject of their land development agreement had already been sold at a public auction prior to the execution of said agreement; and c. misleading the court by submitting alleged true copies of a document where two signatories who had not signed the original (or even the xerox copy) were made to appear as having fixed their signatures [Report and Recommendation of the Solicitor General, pp. 17-18; Rollo, pp. 403-404].

Respondent then filed on April 14, 1989 a motion to refer the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation and disposition pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court. Respondent manifested that he intends to submit more evidence before the IBP. Finally, on November 27, 1989, respondent filed a supplemental motion to refer this case to the IBP, containing additional arguments to bolster his contentions in his previous pleadings.

I. Preliminarily, the Court will dispose of the procedural issue raised by respondent. It is respondent's contention that the preliminary investigation conducted by the Solicitor General was limited to the determination of whether or not there is sufficient ground to proceed with the case and that under Rule 139 the Solicitor General still has to file an administrative complaint against him. Respondent claims that the case should be referred to the IBP since Section 20 of Rule 139-B provides that:
This Rule shall take effect on June 1, 1988 and shall supersede the present Rule 139 entitled DISBARMENT OR SUSPENSION OF ATTORNEYS. All cases pending investigation by the Office of the Solicitor General shall be transferred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors for investigation and disposition as provided in this Rule except those cases where the investigation has been substantially completed.

The above contention of respondent is untenable. In the first place, contrary to respondent's claim, reference to the IBP of complaints against lawyers is not mandatory upon the Court [Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 79690-707; Zaldivar v. Gonzales, G.R. No. 80578, October 7, 1988]. Reference of complaints to the IBP is not an exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court [Ibid]. Under Sections 13 and 14 of Rule 139-B, the Supreme Court may conduct disciplinary proceedings without the intervention of the IBP by referring cases for investigation to the Solicitor General or to any officer of the Supreme Court or judge of a lower court. In such a case, the report and recommendation of the investigating official shall be reviewed directly by the Supreme Court. The Court shall base its final action on the case on the report and recommendation submitted by the investigating official and the evidence presented by the parties during the investigation. Secondly, there is no need to refer the case to the IBP since at the time of the effectivity of Rule 139-B [June 1, 1988] the investigation conducted by the Office of the Solicitor General had been substantially completed. Section 20 of Rule 139-B provides that only pending cases, the investigation of which has not been substantially completed by the Office of the Solicitor General, shall be transferred to the IBP. In this case the investigation by the Solicitor General was terminated even before the effectivity of Rule 139-B. Respondent himself admitted in his motion to dismiss that the Solicitor General terminated the investigation on November 26, 1986, the date when respondent submitted his reply memorandum [Motion to Dismiss, p. 1; Record, p. 353]. Thirdly, there is no need for further investigation since the Office of the Solicitor General already made a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the case. To refer the case to the IBP, as prayed for by the respondent, will result not only in duplication of the proceedings conducted by the Solicitor General but also to

further delay in the disposition of the present case which has lasted for more than thirteen (13) years. Respondent's assertion that he still has some evidence to present does not warrant the referral of the case to the IBP. Considering that in the investigation conducted by the Solicitor General respondent was given ample opportunity to present evidence, his failure to adduce additional evidence is entirely his own fault. There was therefore no denial of procedural due process. The record shows that respondent appeared as witness for himself and presented no less than eleven (11) documents to support his contentions. He was also allowed to cross-examine the complainant who appeared as a witness against him. II. The Court will now address the substantive issue of whether or not respondent committed the acts of misconduct alleged by complainant Bautista. After a careful review of the record of the case and the report and recommendation of the Solicitor General, the Court finds that respondent committed acts of misconduct which warrant the exercise by this Court of its disciplinary power. The record shows that respondent prepared a document entitled "Transfer of Rights" which was signed by the Fortunados on August 31, 1971. The document assigned to respondent one-half (1/2) of the properties of the Fortunados covered by TCT No. T-1929, with an area of 239.650 sq. mm., and TCT No. T3041, with an area of 72.907 sq. m., for and in consideration of his legal services to the latter. At the time the document was executed, respondent knew that the abovementioned properties were the subject of a civil case [Civil Case No. Q15143] pending before the Court of First Instance of Quezon City since he was acting as counsel for the Fortunados in said case [See Annex "B" of Original Complaint, p. 12; Rollo, p. 16]. In executing the document transferring one-half (1/2) of the subject properties to himself, respondent violated the law expressly prohibiting a lawyer from acquiring his client's property or interest involved in any litigation in which he may take part by virtue of his profession [Article 1491, New Civil Code]. This Court has held that the purchase by a lawyer of his client's property or interest in litigation is a breach of professional ethics and constitutes malpractice [Hernandez v. Villanueva, 40 Phil. 774 (1920); Go Beltran v. Fernandez, 70 Phil. 248 (1940)]. However, respondent notes that Canon 10 of the old Canons of Professional Ethics, which states that "[t]he lawyer should not purchase any interests in the subject matter of the litigation which he is conducting," does not appear anymore in the new Code of Professional Responsibility. He therefore concludes that while a purchase by a lawyer of property in litigation is void under Art. 1491 of the Civil

Code, such purchase is no longer a ground for disciplinary action under the new Code of Professional Responsibility. This contention is without merit. The very first Canon of the new Code states that "a lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal process" (Emphasis supplied), Moreover, Rule 138, Sec. 3 of the Revised Rules of Court requires every lawyer to take an oath to 44 obey the laws [of the Republic of the Philippines] as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein." And for any violation of this oath, a lawyer may be suspended or disbarred by the Supreme Court [Rule 138, Sec. 27, Revised Rules of Court]. All of these underscore the role of the lawyer as the vanguard of our legal system. The transgression of any provision of law by a lawyer is a repulsive and reprehensible act which the Court will not countenance. In the instant case, respondent, having violated Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, must be held accountable both to his client and to society. Parenthetically, it should be noted that the persons mentioned in Art. 1491 of the Civil Code are prohibited from purchasing the property mentioned therein because of their existing trust relationship with the latter. A lawyer is disqualified from acquiring by purchase the property and rights in litigation because of his fiduciary relationship with such property and rights, as well as with the client. And it cannot be claimed that the new Code of Professional Responsibility has failed to emphasize the nature and consequences of such relationship. Canon 17 states that "a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him." On the other hand, Canon 16 provides that "a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession." Hence, notwithstanding the absence of a specific provision on the matter in the new Code, the Court, considering the abovequoted provisions of the new Code in relation to Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, as well as the prevailing jurisprudence, holds that the purchase by a lawyer of his client's property in litigation constitutes a breach of professional ethics for which a disciplinary action may be brought against him. Respondent's next contention that the transfer of the properties was not really implemented, because the land development agreement on which the transfer depended was later rescinded, is untenable. Nowhere is it provided in the Transfer of Rights that the assignment of the properties of the Fortunados to respondent was subject to the implementation of the land development agreement. The last paragraph of the Transfer of Rights provides that:
... for and in consideration of the legal services of ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES, Filipino, married to Lilia Yusay, and a resident of 23 Sunrise Hill, New Manila, Quezon City, rendered to our entire satisfaction, we hereby, by these presents, do transfer and convey to the said ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES, his heirs, successor, and assigns, one-half (1/2) of our rights and interests in the abovedescribed property, together with all the improvements found therein [Annex D of the Complaint, Record, p. 28; Emphasis supplied].

It is clear from the foregoing that the parties intended the transfer of the properties to respondent to be absolute and unconditional, and irrespective of whether or not the land development agreement was implemented. Another misconduct committed by respondent was his failure to disclose to complainant, at the time the land development agreement was entered into, that the land covered by TCT No. T-1929 had already been sold at a public auction. The land development agreement was executed on August 31, 1977 while the public auction was held on June 30, 1971. Respondent denies that complainant was his former client, claiming that his appearance for the complainant in an anti-graft case filed by the latter against a certain Gilbert Teodoro was upon the request of complainant and was understood to be only provisional. Respondent claims that since complainant was not his client, he had no duty to warn complainant of the fact that the land involved in their land development agreement had been sold at a public auction. Moreover, the sale was duly annotated at the back of TCT No. T-1929 and this, respondent argues, serves as constructive notice to complainant so that there was no concealment on his part. The above contentions are unmeritorious. Even assuming that the certificate of sale was annotated at the back of TCT No. T-1929, the fact remains that respondent failed to inform the complainant of the sale of the land to Samauna during the negotiations for the land development agreement. In so doing, respondent failed to live up to the rigorous standards of ethics of the law profession which place a premium on honesty and condemn duplicitous conduct. The fact that complainant was not a former client of respondent does not exempt respondent from his duty to inform complainant of an important fact pertaining to the land which is subject of their negotiation. Since he was a party to the land development agreement, respondent should have warned the complainant of the sale of the land at a public auction so that the latter could make a proper assessment of the viability of the project they were jointly undertaking. This Court has held that a lawyer should observe honesty and fairness even in his private dealings and failure to do so is a ground for disciplinary action against him [Custodio v. Esto, Adm. Case No. 1113, February 22, 1978, 81 SCRA 517]. Complainant also charges respondent with submitting to the court falsified documents purporting to be true copies of an addendum to the land development agreement. Based on evidence submitted by the parties, the Solicitor General found that in the document filed by respondent with the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, the signatories to the addendum to the land development agreement namely, Ramon A. Gonzales, Alfaro T. Fortunado, Editha T. Fortunado, Nestor T. Fortunado, and Angel L. Bautistawere made to appear as having signed the original document on December 9, 1972, as indicated by the letters (SGD.)

before each of their names. However, it was only respondent Alfaro Fortunado and complainant who signed the original and duplicate original (Exh. 2) and the two other parties, Edith Fortunado and Nestor Fortunado, never did. Even respondent himself admitted that Edith and Nestor Fortunado only signed the xerox copy (Exh. 2-A) after respondent wrote them on May 24, 1973, asking them to sign the said xerox copy attached to the letter and to send it back to him after signing [Rejoinder to Complainant's Reply, pp. 4-6; Rollo, pp. 327-329]. Moreover, respondent acknowledged that Edith and Nestor Fortunado had merely agreed by phone to sign, but had not actually signed, the alleged true copy of the addendum as of May 23, 1973 [Respondent's Supplemental Motion to Refer this Case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, p. 16]. Thus, when respondent submitted the alleged true copy of the addendum on May 23, 1973 as Annex "A" of his Manifestation filed with the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, he knowingly misled the Court into believing that the original addendum was signed by Edith Fortunado and Nestor Fortunado. Such conduct constitutes willful disregard of his solemn duty as a lawyer to act at all times in a manner consistent with the truth. A lawyer should never seek to mislead the court by an artifice or false statement of fact or law [Section 20 (d), Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court; Canon 22, Canons of Professional Ethics; Canon 10, Rule 10.01, Code of Professional Responsibility]. Anent the first charge of complainant, the Solicitor General found that no impropriety was committed by respondent in entering into a contingent fee contract with the Fortunados [Report and Recommendation, p. 8; Record, p. 394]. The Court, however, finds that the agreement between the respondent and the Fortunados, which provides in part that:
We the [Fortunados] agree on the 50% contingent fee, provided, you [respondent Ramon Gonzales] defray all expenses, for the suit, including court fees. A l f a r o T . F o r t u n a d o

[ s i g n e d ] E d i t h a T . F o r t u n a d o [ s i g n e d ] N e s t o r T . F o r t u n a d

o [ s i g n e d ] CONFORME R a m o n A . G o n z a l e s [ s i g n e d ] [Annex A to the Complaint, Record, p. 4].

is contrary to Canon 42 of the Canons of Professional Ethics which provides that a lawyer may not properly agree with a client to pay or bear the expenses of litigation. [See also Rule 16.04, Code of Professional Responsibility]. Although a lawyer may in good faith, advance the expenses of litigation, the same should be subject to reimbursement. The agreement between respondent and the Fortunados, however, does not provide for reimbursement to respondent of litigation expenses paid by him. An agreement whereby an attorney agrees to pay expenses of proceedings to enforce the client's rights is champertous [JBP Holding Corp. v. U.S. 166 F. Supp. 324 (1958)]. Such agreements are against public policy especially where, as in this case, the attorney has agreed to carry on the action at his own expense in consideration of some bargain to have part of

the thing in dispute [See Sampliner v. Motion Pictures Patents Co., et al., 255 F. 242 (1918)]. The execution of these contracts violates the fiduciary relationship between the lawyer and his client, for which the former must incur administrative sanctions. The Solicitor General next concludes that respondent cannot be held liable for acting as counsel for Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No. Q-15490 while acting as counsel for the Fortunados against the same Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No. Q-15143. The Court, after considering the record, agrees with the Solicitor General's findings on the matter. The evidence presented by respondent shows that his acceptance of Civil Case No. Q-15490 was with the knowledge and consent of the Fortunados. The affidavit executed by the Fortunados on June 23, 1976 clearly states that they gave their consent when respondent accepted the case of Eusebio Lopez, Jr. [Affidavit of Fortunados, dated June 23, 1976; Rollo, p. 198]. One of the recognized exceptions to the rule against representation of conflicting interests is where the clients knowingly consent to the dual representation after full disclosure of the facts by counsel [Canon 6, Canons of Professional Ethics; Canon 15, Rule 15.03, Code of Professional Responsibility]. Complainant also claims that respondent filed several complaints against him before the Court of First Instance and the Fiscal's Office of Quezon City for the sole purpose of harassing him. The record shows that at the time of the Solicitor General's investigation of this case, Civil Case No. Q-18060 was still pending before the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, while the complaints for libel (I.S. No. 76-5912) and perjury (I.S. No. 5913) were already dismissed by the City Fiscal for insufficiency of evidence and lack of interest, respectively [Report and Recommendation, pp. 16-17; Rollo, pp. 402-403]. The Solicitor General found no basis for holding that the complaints for libel and perjury were used by respondent to harass complainant. As to Civil Case No. Q-18060, considering that it was still pending resolution, the Solicitor General made no finding on complainants claim that it was a mere ploy by respondent to harass him. The determination of the validity of the complaint in Civil Case No. Q-18060 was left to the Court of First Instance of Quezon City where the case was pending resolution. The Court agrees with the above findings of the Solicitor General, and accordingly holds that there is no basis for holding that the respondent's sole purpose in filing the aforementioned cases was to harass complainant. Grounds 6, 8 and 9 alleged in the complaint need not be discussed separately since the above discussion on the other grounds sufficiently cover these remaining grounds. The Court finds clearly established in this case that on four counts the respondent violated the law and the rules governing the conduct of a member of

the legal profession. Sworn to assist in the administration of justice and to uphold the rule of law, he has "miserably failed to live up to the standards expected of a member of the Bar." [Artiaga v. Villanueva, Adm. Matter No. 1892, July 29, 1988, 163 SCRA 638, 647]. The Court agrees with the Solicitor General that, considering the nature of the offenses committed by respondent and the facts and circumstances of the case, respondent lawyer should be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months. WHEREFORE, finding that respondent Attorney Ramon A. Gonzales committed serious misconduct, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law for SIX (6) months effective from the date of his receipt of this Resolution. Let copies of this Resolution be circulated to all courts of the country for their information and guidance, and spread in the personal record of Atty. Gonzales. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 100643 December 12, 1995 ADEZ REALTY, INCORPORATED, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THE PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, Br. 79, Morong Rizal, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS FOR QUEZON CITY, and AGUEDO EUGENIO, respondents. RESOLUTION

BELLOSILLO, J.: On 30 October 1992 the Court found movant, Atty. Benjamin M. Dacanay, guilty of intercalating a material fact in a decision of the Court of Appeals, which he appealed to this Court on certiorari, thereby altering the factual findings of the Court of Appeals with the apparent purpose of misleading this Court in order to obtain a favorable judgment. Consequently, Atty. Dacanay was disbarred from the practice of law. 1 On 20 November 1992 movant filed a Motion for Reconsideration and Leave to Offer Evidence Re Charge of Unauthorized Intercalation in a Judicial Record dated 18 November 1992. He claimed that the inserted words were written by his client, the President of Adez Realty, Inc., in the draft of the petition to be filed before the Supreme Court and unwittingly adopted by movant's secretary when the latter formalized the petition. He manifested that he would not risk committing the act for which he was found guilty considering that he was a nominee of the Judicial and Bar Council to the President for appointment as regional trial judge. 2

But the Court on 3 December 1992 denied the motion for want of a compelling reason to justify a reversal of the questioned resolution. 3 On 23 February 1994 movant Dacanay filed a Motion to Lift (Disbarment) stating that he was already 62 years old, has learned his lesson from his mistake, was terribly sorry for what he had done, and in all candor promised that if given another chance he would live up to the exacting demands of the legal profession. He appended to his motion certifications of good moral character from: Fr. Celso Fernando, Parochial Vicar, Parish of St. Michael Archangel, Marilao, Bulacan; Fr. Lauro V. Larlar, OAR, Rector, San Sebastian College-Recoletos; Sis. Aniceta B. Abion, EMM, Chairperson, Center for Housing and Ecology Development Foundation, Inc.; Dean Rufus B. Rodriquez, College of Law, San Sebastian College-Recoletos; Judge Pedro T. Santiago, Executive Judge, RTC, Quezon City; Judge Teodoro P. Regino, RTC-Br. 84, Quezon City; Judge Antonio P. Solano, RTC-Br. 86, Quezon City; and Judge Gregorio D. Dayrit, MTC-Br. 35, Quezon City. 4 However, on 11 August 1994 the Court denied the motion. 5 On 1 December 1994 movant again filed an Ex-Parte Motion to Lift Disbarment alleging among others that he had been deprived of his means to life; he had pursued civic, religious and community work, especially for the poor and the underprivileged short of extending legal assistance because of his incapacity; he had admitted "with profound regret and with utmost humility his commission of an unpardonable mistake and ask(ed) that he be given another chance;" and, he was "remorseful for what he has done and comes to this Honorable Court with a contrite heart." 6 His wife Norma M. Dacanay likewise wrote the Court on 1 December 1994 saying that while she did not condone what her husband had done, it had been her fervent wish that the Court took a second look into its decision disbarring her husband as her entire family had been traumatized by his disbarment. 7 On 6 March 1995 movant sent a letter addressed to the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Court reiterating his Ex-Parte Motion to Lift Disbarment of 1 December 1994. Thus
I am truly penitent for the serious offense I committed and admit full responsibility for it. I realize it was dishonest and unfair to pass the blame to my secretary who was merely following my instructions. The intercalation was my own act and I am justly punished for it. Your Honors, I do not question your decision but I only beg for your mercy. I have a wife and children to support but my only means of livelihood has been withdrawn from me. I am destitute and desperate and can only turn to you for relief . . . . Looking back, I cannot imagine how I could have even thought of blackening the law profession, to which I owe so much. Please let me redeem myself by

admitting me back to its precincts, where I swear to live strictly according to its canons . . . . 8

On 21 March 1995 the Court noted the letter of 6 March 1995 of movant Dacanay. On 4 August 1995 movant again prayed for his reinstatement
It has been 33 long months since my disbarment, during which time I have been struggling to make both ends meet to provide for my wife and three children. Please give me the chance to prove that I am a reformed offender who will henceforth do nothing whatsoever to dishonor the legal profession. 9

On 12 September 1995 the Court noted respondent's 4 August 1995 letter. 10 On 17 November, 1995 movant once more wrote the Court
I humbly acknowledge again that I committed a grievous offense for which I was justly punished at the time with the extreme sanction of disbarment. I have been suffering much since my disbarment more than 36 months ago, but it is my wife and children who have suffered more for my transgression. Although innocent, they bear with me the stigma and burden of my punishment. 11

The disbarment of movant Benjamin M. Dacanay for three (3) years has, quite apparently, given him sufficient time and occasion to soul-search and reflect on his professional conduct, redeem himself and prove once more that he is worthy to practice law and be capable of upholding the dignity of the legal profession. His admission of guilt and repeated pleas for compassion and reinstatement show that he is ready once more to meet the exacting standards the legal profession demands from its practitioners. Accordingly, the Court lifts the disbarment of Benjamin M. Dacanay. However he should be sternly warned that
[T]he practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. Adherence to the rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality and faithful compliance with the rules of the legal profession are the conditions required for remaining a member of good standing of the bar and for enjoying the privilege to practice law. The Supreme Court, as guardian of the legal profession, has ultimate disciplinary power over attorneys. This authority to discipline its members is not only a right, but a bounden duty as well . . . That is why respect and fidelity to the Court is demanded of its members . . . 12

WHEREFORE, the disbarment of BENJAMIN M. DACANAY from the practice of law is LIFTED and he is therefore allowed to resume the practice of law upon payment of the required legal fees. This resolution is effective immediately. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-35469 October 9, 1987 ENCARNACION BANOGON, ZOSIMA MUNOZ, and DAVIDINA MUNOZ, petitioners, vs. MELCHOR ZERNA, CONSEJO ZERNA DE CORNELIO, FRANCISCO ZERNA, and the HON. CIPRIANO VAMENTA, JR., Judge of the Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental (Branch III).

CRUZ, J.: It's unbelievable. The original decision in this case was rendered by the cadastral court way back on February 9, 1926, sixty one years ago. A motion to amend that decision was filed on March 6, 1957, thirty one years later. This was followed by an amended petition for review of the judgment on March 18, 1957, and an opposition thereto on March 26, 1957. On October 11, 1971, or after fourteen years, a motion to dismiss the petition was filed. The petition was dismissed on December 8, 1971, and the motion for reconsideration was denied on February 14, 1972. 1 The petitioners then came to us on certiorari to question the orders of the respondent judge. 2 These dates are not typographical errors. What is involved here are errors of law and lawyers. The respondent court dismissed the petition for review of the decision rendered in 1926 on the ground that it had been filed out of time, indeed thirty one years too late. Laches, it was held, had operated against the petitioners. 3 The petitioners contend that the said judgment had not yet become final and executory because the land in dispute had not yet been registered in favor of the private respondents. The said judgment would become so only after one year from the issuance of the decree of registration. If any one was guilty of laches, it was the private respondents who had failed to enforce the judgment by having the land registered in their the pursuant thereto. 4 For their part, the private respondents argue that the decision of February 9, 1926, became final and executory after 30 days, same not having been appealed by the petitioners during that period. They slept on their rights for thirty one years before it occurred to them to question the judgment of the cadastral court. In fact, their alleged predecessor-in-interest, Filomeno Banogon, lived for nineteen more years after the 1926 decision and did not see fit to challenge it until his death in 1945. The herein petitioners themselves waited another twelve years, or until 195 7, to file their petition for review. 5

While arguing that they were not guilty of laches because the 1926 decision had not yet become final and executory because the land subject thereof had not yet been registered, the petitioners rationalize: "If an aggrieved party is allowed the remedy of re-opening the case within one year after the issuance of the decree, why should the same party be denied this remedy before the decree is issued? 6 Why not indeed? Why then did they not file their petition earlier? Why do they now pretend that they have all the time in the world because the land has not yet been registered and the one-year reglementary period has not yet expired? Thinking to support their position, the petitioners cite Rivera v. Moran 7 where it was held:
... It is conceded that no decree of registration has been entered and section 38 of the Land Registration Act provides that a petition for review of such a decree on the grounds of fraud must be filed "within one year after entry of the decree." Giving this provision a literal interpretation, it may first blush seem that the petition for review cannot be presented until the final decree has been entered. But on further reflection, it is obvious that such could not have been the intention of the Legislature and that what it meant would have been better expressed by stating that such petitioners must be presented before the expiration of one year from the entry of the decree. Statutes must be given a reasonable construction and there can be no possible reason for requiring the complaining party to wait until the final decree is entered before urging his claim of fraud. We therefore hold that a petition for review under section 38, supra, may be filed at any time the rendition of the court's decision and before the expiration of one year from the entry of the final decree of registration. (Emphasissupplied).

A reading thereof will show that it is against their contentions and that under this doctrine they should not have delayed in asserting their claim of fraud. Their delay was not only for thirty one days but for thirty one years. Laches bars their petition now. Their position is clearly contrary to law and logic and to even ordinary common sense. This Court has repeatedly reminded litigants and lawyers alike:
"Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is assent essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not, through a mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must therefore guard against any scheme calculated to bring about that result. Constituted as they are to put an end to controversies, courts should frown upon any attempt to prolong them." 8 There should be a greater awareness on the part of litigants that the time of the judiciary, much more so of this Court, is too valuable to be wasted or frittered away by efforts, far from commendable, to evade the operation of a decision final and executory, especially so, where, as shown in this case, the clear and manifest absence of any right calling for vindication, is quite obvious and indisputable. 9

This appeal moreover, should fail, predicated as it is on an insubstantial objection bereft of any persuasive force. Defendants had to display ingenuity to conjure a technicality. From Alonso v. Villamor, a 1910 decision, we have left no doubt as to our disapproval of such a practice. The aim of a lawsuit is to render justice to the parties according to law. Procedural rules are precisely designed to accomplish such a worthy objective. Necessarily, therefore, any attempt to pervert the ends for which they are intended deserves condemnation. We have done so before. We do so again. 10

Regarding the argument that the private respondents took fourteen years to move for the dismissal of the petition for review, it suffices to point out that an opposition thereto had been made as early as March 26, 1957, or nine days after the filing of the petition. 11 Moreover, it was for the petitioners to move for the hearing of the petition instead of waiting for the private respondents to ask for its dismissal. After all, they were the parties asking for relief, and it was the private respondents who were in possession of the land in dispute. One reason why there is a degree of public distrust for lawyers is the way some of them misinterpret the law to the point of distortion in a cunning effort to achieve their purposes. By doing so, they frustrate the ends of justice and at the same time lessen popular faith in the legal profession as the sworn upholders of the law. While this is not to say that every wrong interpretation of the law is to be condemned, as indeed most of them are only honest errors, this Court must express its disapproval of the adroit and intentional misreading designed precisely to circumvent or violate it. As officers of the court, lawyers have a responsibility to assist in the proper administration of justice. They do not discharge this duty by filing pointless petitions that only add to the workload of the judiciary, especially this Court, which is burdened enough as it is. A judicious study of the facts and the law should advise them when a case, such as this, should not be permitted to be filed to merely clutter the already congested judicial dockets. They do not advance the cause of law or their clients by commencing litigations that for sheer lack of merit do not deserve the attention of the courts. This petition is DISMISSED, with costs against the petitioners. This decision is immediately executory. It is so ordered. G.R. No. 118584 October 24, 1995 AURELIA S. GOMEZ, petitioner, vs. HON. PRESIDING JUDGE, RTC, Branch 15, Ozamis City; COURT OF APPEALS, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. RESOLUTION

DAVIDE, JR., J.: In our resolution of 31 May 1995 dismissing this petition for "utter lack of merit," we required attorneys for petitioner to show cause "why they should not be disciplinarily dealt with for impeding the execution of the judgment in Criminal case No. 85-49 and for misusing the rules of procedure to defeat the ends of justice in violation of Rule 10.03, Canon 10 and Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility." The backdrop of our order is summarized in the resolution in this wise:
The petitioner seeks the issuance of the extraordinary writs of certiorari and mandamus to annul and set aside the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Ozamis City, Branch 15, in Criminal Case No. 85-49, the Resolution of the Court of Appeals of 5 September 1990 in CA-G.R. CR No. 07482, and the Resolution of this Court in G.R. No. 108331; and to order the Court of Appeals to give due course to the petitioner's appeal upon the filing of appellant's brief. The Comment of the Office of the Solicitor General reveals the following procedural antecedents, some of which are suppressed in the petition. In spite of its resolution of 5 September 1990 in CA-G.R. CR No. 07482 dismissing the petitioner's appeal from the RTC decision in Criminal Case No. 85-49 for failure to file the appellant's brief, the Court of Appeals accepted her Memorandum of 28 September 1990 wherein she raised the errors allegedly committed by the trial court. On 8 April 1991, the Office of the Solicitor General filed the Appellee's Brief refuting all the assigned errors. Since no reply brief was filed by the petitioner, the Court of Appeals, in its resolution of 21 June 1991, resolved to consider the case submitted for decision without the said brief. On 9 June 1992, the Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the decision of the trial court, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds the accused Aurelia Gomez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Libel, defined and penalized under Article 355, in relation to Article 355 (sic) end 354 of the Revised Penal Code, and there being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances present, she is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from six (6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, to pay a fine of P2,000.00 to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to pay the offended party Marieto M. Tan, Sr. the amount of P70,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages, and to pay the costs. SO ORDERED. Her motion to reconsider the decision of the Court of Appeals having been denied, the petitioner elevated the case to this Court on a petition for review on certiorari which was docketed as G.R. No. 108331. This petition was, however, denied for non-compliance with Circular Nos. 1-88 and 28-91.

Acting on the petitioner's motion for reconsideration, this Court, in the resolution of 31 March 1993, reinstated the petition but denied it nonetheless "for being factual and for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that respondent court had committed any reversible error in the questioned judgment." Petitioner's motion and supplemental motion for reconsideration of the resolution of 31 March 1993 were denied with finality. On 28 June 1993, this Court noted without action the petitioner's letter requesting that the issues raised in the supplemental motion for reconsideration be given due consideration. In the resolution of 23 August 1993, this Court denied the petitioner's motion to admit second motion for reconsideration and the second motion for reconsideration. Entry of judgment in G.R. No. 108331 was accordingly made on 8 September 1993. The petition further discloses that this Court denied the petitioner's petition (G.R. No. 116398) to set aside the RTC's denial of her application for probation. The motion for reconsideration met the same fate. Upon the prosecution's motion for execution of the judgment in Criminal Case No. 85-49, the trial court issued a warrant of arrest. In the final analysis then, the instant petition is to annul and set aside this Court's final resolution in G.R. No. 108331. The attorneys for the petitioner know, or ought to know, that the special civil action for certiorari will not lie against a final judgment of this Court. Even granting for the sake of argument that it could, this petition must fail for being filed one (1) year, four (4) months, and nineteen (19) days after the entry of judgment in G.R. No. 108331 or long after the jurisprudentially established "reasonable time" prescribed for the remedy under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. As this Court sees it, the instant petition is a clever ploy to further delay the execution of the judgment in Criminal Case No. 85-49.

In their Explanation dated 21 June 1995 submitted in compliance with the above show-cause order, attorneys for petitioner, namely: Alvin C. Go, Fernando C. Cojuangco, Vigor D. Mendoza, II, and Antonio A. Ligon, averred:
Counsel for petitioner beg the indulgence of this Honorable Court in asking for the extraordinary relief of seeking a declaration of mistrial of the libel case tried in the lower court through the special civil action for certiorari as they were impelled by their conviction that petitioner performed a moral and legal obligation in writing the letter which was the basis for libel, as she did, which disclosed the price fixing and price rigging of oil products by the private complainant, Mr. Marieto Tan, for his private benefit (in Criminal Case No. 85-49, RTC-Ozamiz City). While counsel for petitioner are aware that their first bounden duty as officers of the Court is to honor and follow Court rules issued for the orderly and efficient administration of justice (Banogon vs. Zerna, 154 SCRA 593; Toledo vs. Burgos, 168 SCRA 513), they are equally burdened by their foremost obligation to prevent any miscarriage of justice in accordance with their convictions. Herein counsel had perused the available pleadings and court processes in the libel against petitioner, and were fully convinced thereof and impelled by their desire to legally assist the latter to substantiate her innocence for the crime of libel. If

they had overstretched the parameters of the conduct required of lawyers in trying to protect their client's liberty by resorting to this judicial process of certiorari, herein counsel had acted in good faith and beg the kind indulgence of this Honorable Court for such action. Contrary to the representations of the Office of the Solicitor General, herein counsel were candid in the presentation of the factual and procedural antecedents based on pleadings given to them by their client. Counsel disclosed in the petition in page 10 thereof that there is already an Entry of Judgment in Criminal Case No. 85-49. Herein counsel similarly disclosed that Moreover, up to this date, Atty. Pactolin refused to surrender the records of the aforementioned case, so that accused-petitioner experienced extreme difficulties in filing the instant petition. And consequently, accused-petitioner stands helpless in determining the material dates of receipt of all orders, judgments, and other processes of the trial court, Court of Appeals, and that of this Honorable Court, all of which were addressed to Atty. Rodolfo Pactolin. . . . Hence, it could not be stated that herein counsel misrepresented on the procedural antecedents in this case. Rather, when counsel did institute the present petition, they were invoking the equity jurisdiction of this Honorable Court such that procedural rules be set aside to serve the ends of justice, as the liberty of a person is at stake. Herein counsel comprehend the difficulty in questioning procedural parameters for the efficient and orderly administration of justice in strictly following Court orders and jurisprudence implementing thereof, but equally compelling is their sworn duty to protect a client who has been innocently charged and stands to suffer deprivation of liberty should counsel omit to resort to the extraordinary relief they sought in this petition.

In the resolution of 9 August 1995, we then required the aforenamed lawyers to inform the Court if they were willing to submit the disciplinary matter for resolution on the basis of their Explanation. In compliance therewith, on 8 September 1995, they filed a Manifestation wherein they expressed that it had not been their intention to violate the Code of professional Responsibility and likewise apologized to the Court "for whatever inconvenience the filing of the instant petition may have entailed." We find the explanation proferred unsatisfactory and the justification set forth for their action flimsy. As to the charge of suppression of factual and procedural antecedents, we cannot lend credence to the gossamer claim of petitioner's counsel that they were "candid" in their presentation of these antecedents as evidenced by their disclosure, on page 10 of the petition, that there already was an entry of

judgment in Criminal Case No. 85-49. Neither can we find tenable the allegation that up to the date the petition was filed, Atty. Pactolin refused to surrender the records of the case, for which reason, petitioner stood "helpless in determining the material dates of receipt of all orders, judgments, and other processes of the trial court, Court of Appeals and that of this Honorable Court, all of which were addressed to Atty. Rodolfo Pactolin." In the first place, attorneys for petitioner do not even claim that Atty. Pactolin unreasonably refused to turn over the records to petitioner; ex hypothesi, he could have legitimately retained them pursuant to Section 37, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court until petitioner paid him his lawful fees. In any event, Attorneys Go, Cojuangco, Mendoza, and Ligon were fully aware of the existence of their client's (petitioner's) case with the trial court, Court of Appeals, and this Court, and had unhampered access to the records thereof, especially those of the Court of Appeals and this Court since their office is located near said Courts. In less than half a day, any one of them or their authorized representatives could have personally sought the information they wanted from said Courts. Anent the records of the criminal case in Ozamiz City, if for whatever reason petitioner could not personally secure photocopies of pertinent pleadings, orders, decisions, and other processes therein, counsel could have merely requested the Clerk of Court thereof for the necessary information. As a matter of fact, the annexes attached to the petition showed beyond cavil that counsel could have, without exerting undue effort, obtained the requisite information with respect to the cases before the trial court, the Court of Appeals, and this Court. Obviously then, the suppression of vital facts by counsel for petitioner, exposed by the Office of the Solicitor General, was not due to the unavailability of such facts to counsel nor the difficulty of obtaining them; in legal contemplation, excusable negligence was not present in the instant case. Plainly, the concealment resorted to was nothing but a stratagem to give the petition a semblance of a valid grievance or a viable cause of action. Petitioner's counsel knew, or were reasonably expected to know, the hopelessness of their client's cause since the petition was filed, it bears repeating, one year, four months, and nineteen days after the entry of judgment in G.R. No. 108331 long after the lapse of the jurisprudentially established measure of "reasonable time" prescribed for the remedy under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Howsoever viewed, the filing of the instant petition was nothing but a scheme to frustrate and further delay the execution of the judgment in Criminal Case No. 85-49. Neither could a claim of denial of due process save the day for petitioner as the judgment of the trial court was affirmed only after due proceedings by the Court of Appeals which, parenthetically, even extended the utmost liberality to petitioner who failed to file her Brief. Said judgment was ultimately sustained by us in the resolution of 31 March 1993 in G.R. No. 108331, which had long become final, with the entry of judgment made on 8 September 1993 yet. Thus, no depth of honest belief as to the innocence of the accused could alter the final

verdict. Petitioner's counsel, if they are so minded, can only seek to relieve their client from the effects of the judgment from another forum, e.g., they may consider executive clemency. Counsel's gambit is condemnable for it clearly disregards a lawyer's duty to maintain absolute candor, fairness, and good faith to the Court (Canon 10, Code of Professional Responsibility). In Santos vs. Paguio (227 SCRA 770, 779 [1993]), we declared, in no uncertain terms, that this Court can neither condone nor tolerate attempts to mislead it through suppression of important facts which would have a bearing on its initial action. We stress once again what we said before, that litigations must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, it being essential to the effective administration of justice that once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not, through a mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Hence, courts must guard themselves against any scheme to bring about that result, for constituted as they are to put an end to controversies, they should frown upon any attempt to prolong it (Lim Kim Tho vs. Go Siu Kao, 82 Phil. 776 [1949]). Public policy and sound practice demand that at the risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts should become final and irrevocable at some definite date fixed by law. Interes rei publicae ut finis sit litium (Tolentino vs. Ongsiako, 7 SCRA 1001 [1963]; Villaflor vs. Reyes, 22 SCRA 385 [1968]). And for lawyers who disregard these postulates, we stated in Banogon vs. Zerna (154 SCRA 593 [1987]), reiterated in Chua Huat vs. Court of Appeals (199 SCRA 1, 15 [1991]), that:
As officers of the court, lawyers have a responsibility to assist in the proper administration of justice. They do not discharge this duty by filing pointless petitions that only add to the workload of the judiciary, especially this Court, which is burdened enough as it is. A judicious study of the facts and law should advise them when a case, such as this, should not be permitted to be filed to merely clutter the already congested judicial dockets. They do not advance the cause of law or their clients by commencing litigations that for sheer lack of merit do not deserve the attention of the courts.

While lawyers owe entire devotion to the interest of their clients, warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of their rights; and the exertion of their utmost learning and ability, to the end that nothing be taken away or be withheld from them, save by the rules of law legally applied (Canon 15, Canons of Professional Ethics), they should not forget that they are officers of the court, bound to exert every effort and placed under duty, to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice (Canon 12, Canons of Professional Responsibility). They should not, therefore, misuse the rules of procedure to defeat the ends of justice (Rule 10.03, Canon 10, Id.) or unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse court processes (Rule 12.04, Canon 12, Id.). As a final point, we wish to state that the apology contained in the Explanation is misplaced. Counsel ought to know that they were not required to show cause for

the inconvenience the filing of the petition caused this Court. The apology insinuates, rather smartly, that we required them to show cause out of our whims or caprice, which, of course, is baseless, as demonstrated by our observations in the resolution of 31 May 1995, particularly on the suppression of vital facts by the attorneys for petitioner. We do not then hesitate to declare that counsel for petitioner, Attorneys Alvin C. Go, Fernando C. Cojuangco, Vigor D. Mendoza, II, and Antonio A. Ligon have breached the foregoing Canons and Rules. WHEREFORE, Attorneys ALVIN C. GO, FERNANDO C. COJUANGCO, VIGOR D. MENDOZA, II, and ANTONIO A. LIGON are hereby CENSURED and warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED.