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DUTY TO THE PUBLIC, COURT AND CLIENT Clarita Samala v. Atty. Luciano Valencia A.C. no.

5439, 512 SCRA 01, January 22, 2007 This is a complaint filed by Clarita J. Samala (complainant) against Atty. Luciano D. Valencia (respondent) for Disbarment on the following grounds: (a) serving on two separate occasions as counsel for contending parties; (b) knowingly misleading the court by submitting false documentary evidence; (c) initiating numerous cases in exchange for nonpayment of rental fees; and (d) having a reputation of being immoral by siring illegitimate children. Facts: Complainant Clarita J. Samala filed against Atty. Luciano D. Valencia for Disbarment on the following grounds: serving on two separate occasions as counsel for contending parties, knowingly misleading the court by submitting false documentary evidence, initiating numerous cases in exchange for nonpayment of rental fees and having a reputation of being immoral by siring illegitimate children. Commissioner found respondent guilty of violating Canons 15 and 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended the penalty of suspension for six months. The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the report and recommendation of Commissioner Reyes but increased the penalty of suspension from six months to one year. Issue: Whether or not, the respondent is guilty for violation of Canons 1, 10 and 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Ruling: Under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. It may be difficult to specify the degree of moral delinquency that may qualify an act as immoral, yet, for purposes of disciplining a lawyer, immoral conduct has been defined as that "conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable members of the community. In this case, respondent admitted that he sired three children by Teresita Lagmay who are all over 20 years of age, while his first wife was still alive. He also admitted that he has eight children by his first wife, the youngest of whom is over 20 years of age, and after his wife died, he married Lagmay. These admissions made by respondent are more than enough to hold him liable on the charge of immorality.

The Court also found that the respondent failed to comply with Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice. It was shown that the respondent knowingly submitted to the court a title that was already cancelled, thus, false documentary evidence, in lieu of a new title issued in the name of Alba which misleads the decision of the lower court. Lastly, as a lawyer, respondent is bound to comply with Canon 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which states that "a lawyer shall preserve the confidences and secrets of his client even after the attorney-client relation is terminated." In this case, it is evident that respondent's representation of Valdez and Alba against Bustamante and her husband, in one case, and Valdez against Alba, in another case, is a clear case of conflict of interests which merits a corresponding sanction from this Court. Thus, respondent is reminded to be more cautious in accepting professional employments, to refrain from all appearances and acts of impropriety including circumstances indicating conflict of interests, and to behave at all times with circumspection and dedication befitting a member of the Bar, especially observing candor, fairness and loyalty in all transactions with his clients. Adjudication: The Court finds respondent Atty. Luciano D. Valencia GUILTY of misconduct and violation of Canons 21, 10 and 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) years, effective immediately upon receipt of herein Resolution.

DUTY TO THE PUBLIC Heirs of the Late Spouses Lucas and Francisca Villanueva v. Atty. Salud Beradio A.C. no. 6270, 512 SCRA 17, January 22, 2007 This is a disbarment case against Atty. Salud P. Beradio (respondent), filed by the heirs of the late spouses Lucas and Francisca Villanueva (spouses Villanueva). Facts: During their lifetime, the spouses Villanueva acquired several parcels of land in Pangasinan, one of which was covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 2522. Francisca died in 1968, and Lucas in 1974. Their five children, namely, Simeona, Susana, Maria, Alfonso, and Florencia, survived them. On May 22, 1984, Alfonso executed an Affidavit of Adjudication stating that as "the only surviving son and sole heirs" of the spouses Villanueva, he was adjudicating to himself the parcel of land under OCT No. 2522. Alfonso then executed a Deed of Absolute Sale on July 5, 1984, conveying the property to Adriano Villanueva. Respondent appeared as notary public on both the affidavit of adjudication and the deed of sale. Contrary to the misrepresentations of Alfonso, his sister Florencia was still alive at the time he executed the affidavit of adjudication and the deed of sale, as were descendants of the other children of the spouses Villanueva. Complainants claimed that respondent was aware of this fact, as respondent had been their neighbor in Balungao, Pangasinan, from the time of their birth, and respondent constantly mingled with their family. Complainants accused respondent of knowing the "true facts and surrounding circumstances" regarding the properties of the spouses Villanueva, yet conspiring with Alfonso to deprive his co-heirs of their rightful shares in the property. In a resolution, this Court required respondent to comment on the complaint. In her Comment, respondent admitted that she notarized the affidavit of adjudication and the deed of sale executed by Alfonso in 1984. However, respondent denied that she conspired with Alfonso to dispose of fraudulently the property. Issue: Whether or not, the respondent violated Canon 1 and 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility when she failed to discharge properly her duties as a notary public and as a member of the bar.

Ruling: The Court held that respondent's conduct amounted to a breach of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which requires lawyers to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for the law and legal processes. Respondent also violated Rule 1.01 of the Code which proscribes lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct. It was established that Alfonso's affidavit does not appear to contain any "illegal or immoral" declaration. However, respondent herself admitted that she knew of the falsity of Alfonso's statement that he was the "sole heir" of the spouses Villanueva. Respondent therefore notarized a document while fully aware that it contained a material falsehood, i.e., Alfonso's assertion of status as sole heir. The affidavit of adjudication is premised on this very assertion. By this instrument, Alfonso claimed a portion of his parents' estate all to himself, to the exclusion of his co-heirs. Shortly afterwards, respondent notarized the deed of sale, knowing that the deed took basis from the unlawful affidavit of adjudication. Thus, where admittedly the notary public has personal knowledge of a false statement or information contained in the instrument to be notarized, yet proceeds to affix his or her notarial seal on it, the Court must not hesitate to discipline the notary public accordingly as the circumstances of the case may dictate. Otherwise, the integrity and sanctity of the notarization process may be undermined and public confidence on notarial documents diminished. Adjudication: WHEREFORE, for violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, we REVOKE the commission of respondent Atty. Salud P. Beradio as Notary Public, if still existing, and DISQUALIFY her from being commissioned a notary public for one (1) year. We further SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law for six (6) months effective upon finality of this decision.

DUTY TO THE COURT International Militia of People Against Corruption and Terrorism v. Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. A.C. no. 7197, 512 SCRA 514, January 23, 2007 The petition was filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), by Atty. Elly V. Pamatong, representing the International Militia of People against Corruption and Terrorism who seeks the disbarment of retired Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. Facts: The petition was filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), by Atty. Elly V. Pamatong, representing the International Militia of People against Corruption and Terrorism who seeks the disbarment of retired Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. on the follwing causes of action: overthrow of a duly elected president; abandonment of impeachment proceedings against President Estrada; usurpation of the revenue-raising power of Congress; failure to cooperate in giving due course to impeachment proceedings against him; negligence in handling the election-related case of the petitioner; and persecution of the petitioner. Issue: Whether or not the respondent Chief Justice should be disbarred. Ruling: The Supreme Court held that the causes of action of the petitioner are not grounds for disbarment. They are all related to incidents or proceedings while the respondent was Chief Justice and are related to or connected with the exercise of his authority or the performance of his official duties. It cannot be over-emphasized that the bona fides of such discharge of duty and authority are presumed. Adjudication: WHEREFORE, the Court resolves the instant petition for disbarment against retired Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. is hereby DISMISSED for utter lack of merit.

DUTY TO THE COURT Marissa Mondala v. Judge Rebecca Mariano A.M. no. RTJ-06-2010, 512 SCRA 585, January 25, 2007 This is an administrative matter concerning the letter-complaint of Marissa R. Mondala, Legal Researcher of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 136, against Presiding Judge Rebecca R. Mariano of the same court. Facts: Complainant Mondala charged respondent judge with misrepresenting in her "Report of Pending Cases for January 2005" that she had already decided Civil Case No. 00-564 entitled "Amanet Inc. v. Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc." when in fact the case was still with Mondala for research and drafting of the decision. On the other hand, Judge Mariano denied Mondala's allegations and insisted that at the time she prepared the monthly report, a decision had actually been prepared in the Amanet case and it was mere "oversight" on her part, not misrepresentation, when she reported the status of the subject case as decided. Notwithstanding this, Judge Mariano subsequently prepared and signed "another decision" on the same case. Judge Mariano averred that Mondala should have called her attention regarding the status of the subject case to enable her to address the situation; that Mondala's failure to inform her of the status of the case showed her inefficiency and unworthiness as a public servant. Moreover, respondent judge insisted that what prompted Mondala to write the letter-complaint was to seek revenge and harrassment due to their quarrel which transpired on August 22, 2005. Issues: a. Whether or not Judge Mariano is liable for misrepresentation when she included in the January 2005 monthly report the case of "Amanet Inc. v. Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc." as among the decided cases; b. Whether or not respondent judge made inaccurate entries in the monthly reports and failed to decide the other cases within the 90-day reglementary period. Ruling: a. The Court held that Judge Mariano is liable for misrepresenting that she had decided the case of "Amanet Inc. v. Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc." before it was drafted, printed and signed by her. It is elementary that a draft of a decision does not operate as judgment on a case

until the same is duly signed and delivered to the clerk for filing and promulgation. Hence, rendition of judgment is not effected and completed until after the decision and judgment signed by the trial judge. In this case, Judge Mariano misrepresented herself regarding the date of the promulgation of the decision in the Amanet case. While the January 2005 monthly report of Branch 136 was submitted on March 7, 2005, the subject decision in the Amanet case had not yet been printed. Amanet had obviously not yet been decided in January 2005. b. Judge Mariano is likewise guilty of other administrative transgressions. The January 2005 monthly report of Branch 136 reveals that there were cases submitted for decision but remained undecided beyond the 90-day reglementary period without any request for extension of time within which to decide the same being submitted. In implementing constitutional mandate that all cases or matters must be decided or resolved within 24 months from date of submission for the Supreme Court, and, unless reduced by the Supreme Court, 12 months for all lower collegiate courts, and three months for all other lower courts, Sec. 5, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct exhorts in the section on "Competence and Diligence" that judges shall perform all judicial duties, including the delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently, fairly and with reasonable promptness. Judges should therefore be prompt in the performance of their judicial duties for delay in the administration of justice is a common complaint. They are enjoined to strictly comply with the reglementary period of 90 days in disposing of a case submitted for decision Under Sec. 1, Canon 2 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, judges ought to ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer. Integrity is essential not only to the proper discharge of the judicial office but also to the personal demeanor of judges. In the instant case, respondent was guilty of intentional misrepresentation of her records resulting in a breach of trust and confidence, amounting to the serious charge of gross misconduct due to violations of the Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct and provisions of Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 4-2004; as well as of making untruthful statements in the monthly reports, as provided in Sec. 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court. Adjudication: WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Rebecca R. Mariano of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 136, is found guilty of the serious charge of gross misconduct due to violations of the Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct and provisions of Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 4-2004, as well as of making untruthful statements in the monthly reports; and ordered to pay a FINE in the amount of P40,000.00 directly to this Court, with a stern warning that a commission of the same or a similar offense will be dealt with more severely.

DUTY TO THE COURT AND TO HIS CLIENT Rogelio Villanueva v. Atty. Amado Deloria A.C. no. 5018, 513 SCRA 1, January 26, 2007 This treats of the Complaint for Disbarment dated February 17, 1999 filed by Rogelio H. Villanueva (Villanueva) against Atty. Amado B. Deloria in connection with HLRB Case No. REM-080592-5166, entitled "Spouses Conrado De Gracia v. Estate of Jaime Gonzales, et al." Atty. Deloria, a former full-time Commissioner of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), appeared as counsel for the spouses De Gracia. Facts: Respondent Atty. Deloria is the counsel of spouses De Gracia in the HLRB case entitled "Spouses De Gracia v. Estate of Jaime Gonzales, et al.". Complainant Villanueva avers that a decision in that case was rendered by the Housing and Land Use Arbiter Atty. Alferez, whom Villanueva succeeded, requiring the Estate of Jaime Gonzales to refund to the spouses De Gracia the amount of P69,000.00 plus interest at the prevailing commercial interest rates. Atty. Deloria claims that the Estate of Jaime Gonzales does not want to pay interest based on commercial interest rates. However, Villanueva asserts that his allegation is bellied by the two motions filed by the counsel of the other party and such misrepresentation constitutes violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly Canons 1, 10, 12 and 19, Attorney's Oath of Office and Art. 19 of the Civil Code. Atty. Deloria also allegedly violated Canon 11 of the Code because he sought the substitution of a decision which he knew had already become final and partially executed. Complainant Villanueva's other grounds are: violation of Canon 16 of the Code; violation Canon 13, 15.06 and Art. 212 of the Revised Penal Code when Atty. Deloria offered him money to resolve the motion favorably to the latter; and using his influence to obtain favorable decision from the HLRB arbiter. On the other hand, respondent Atty. Deloria denies any wrongdoing and sought the dismissal of the Complaint for lack of merit. He avers that the refusal of the Estate of Jaime Gonzales to pay the interest stipulated in the decision is evident from the various motions it has filed. Issue: Whether or not this disbarment case will prosper.

Ruling: The Court remanded this administrative case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for further proceedings. The report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner appears to be based solely on the Rollo of the case which the Court sent to the IBP pursuant to the Resolution dated February 19, 2001. The Investigating Commissioner did not conduct any hearing to determine the veracity of the allegations in Villanueva's Complaint and the truthfulness of Atty. Deloria's answers thereto. A formal investigation is a mandatory requirement which may not be dispensed with except for valid and compelling reasons. It must be comply with the procedure for investigation in disbarment and disciplinary proceedings against attorneys before the IBP as provided by Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court. Adjudication: WHEREFORE, the instant administrative case is REMANDED to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for further proceedings. The IBP is also directed to act on this referral with deliberate dispatch.

DUTY TO THE PUBLIC Ligaya Santos v. Judge Rolando How A.M. no. RTJ-05-1946, 513 SCRA 25, January 26, 2007 Before us is an administrative complaint dated January 31, 2005 filed by Ligaya V. Santos, Edna Cortez, Girlie Castillo and Christopher Castillo (complainants) against Judge Rolando G. How (respondent), Regional Trial Court, Branch 257, Paraaque City, for Gross Ignorance of the Law, Manifest Partiality and Serious Misconduct, relative to Criminal Case Nos. 01-0921, entitled People of the Philippines v. Ligaya V. Santos, and 01-0425, entitled People of the Philippines v. Rolly Tonion, Jhunrey Soriano, Christopher Castillo, Girlie Castillo, Robert Bunda and Pedro Jimenez. Facts: Complainants were accused of 2 separate criminal cases involving successive ambush incidents. The judge who handles the said criminal cases inhibited himself and as a result, the cases were re-raffled and eventually assigned to respondent judge before whose court complainants filed their petition for bail. Complainants then filed for petition for bail; however, respondent issued an Order denying bail to the accused. Complainants then assailed the order for being based on a one-sentence conclusion that the evidence of guilt is strong, without any supporting evaluation or consideration of the issues raised. Issue: Whether or not the acts committed by respondent judge constitute gross ignorance of the law, manifest partiality and serious misconduct. Ruling: Canon 3, Rule 3.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that a judge shall be faithful to the laws and maintain professional competence. He is mandated to be conversant with the law and to have more than a cursory acquaintance with the rules and authoritative doctrines. When the law is elementary, not to be aware of it constitutes gross ignorance thereof. Judges are expected to have more than just a modicum of acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules. In this case, respondent's act of cutting short the hearing after the prosecution presented its evidence, without affording the defense to adduce evidence in rebuttal together with his outright denial of complainants request to offer proof, is a clear disregard of the right of the accused to disprove that the evidence of guilt is strong. It is of no moment that respondent required complainants to submit their memorandum. What is significant is that complainants were deprived of their constitutional right to

present evidence during the hearing which the respondent may intelligently appreciate and evaluate in the light of the circumstances then obtaining. The Court also held that respondent was not motivated by malice or corrupt motives to deny the application for bail. Complainants failed to substantiate their other allegations with competent proof besides their own bare allegations. Respondent did what he thought was right under the law and established principles. Hence, respondent could not be held liable for manifest partiality and serious misconduct. The Court cannot presume partiality based on the circumstances alleged in the complaint. In sum, the act of respondent in denying the complainants the right to present evidence constitutes simple ignorance of the law; but in the absence of malice, corrupt motives or improper considerations on the part of the respondent, the penalty of reprimand recommended by the OCA is just and reasonable. Adjudication: Accordingly, the Court finds Judge Rolando G. How guilty of simple ignorance of the law and REPRIMANDS him with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

DUTY TO HIS COLLEAGUES AND PROFESSION Ma. Concepcion Regalado v. Antonio Go G.R. no. 167988, 514 SCRA 616, February 6, 2007 This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, of the Resolution dated 30 August 2004 of the Court of Appeals, finding petitioner Ma. Concepcion L. Regalado (Atty. Regalado) guilty of indirect contempt. Facts: The present controversy stemmed from the complaint of illegal dismissal filed before the Labor Arbiter by herein respondent Antonio S. Go against Eurotech Hair Systems, Inc. (EHSI), and its President Lutz Kunack and General Manager Jose E. Barin, represented by petitioner Atty. Regalado. After the promulgation of the Court of Appeals decision but prior to the receipt of the parties of their respective copies, the parties decided to settle the case and signed a Release Waiver and Quitclaim with the approval of the Labor Arbiter. In view of the amicable settlement, the Labor Arbiter, on the same day, issued an Order dismissing the illegal dismissal case with prejudice. The execution of the compromise agreement was attended by the counsel for EHSI, Kunack and Barin, petitioner Atty. Regalado, and respondent Go, but in the absence and without the knowledge of respondent Go's lawyer. However, after the receipt of a copy of the Court of Appeals decision, respondent Go, through counsel, filed a Manifestation with Omnibus Motion seeking to nullify the Release Waiver and Quitclaim on the ground of fraud, mistake or undue influence. In the same motion, respondent Go, through counsel, moved that petitioner Atty. Regalado be made to explain her unethical conduct for directly negotiating with respondent Go without the knowledge of his counsel. Issue: Whether or not petitioner is guilty of indirect contempt under Rule 71 of the Revised Rules of Court. Ruling: The Court held that the acts of petitioner Atty. Regalado constitute indirect contempt. However, the proceedings conducted in convicting petitioner were not done in accordance with law. In all other cases, charges for indirect contempt shall be commenced by a verified petition with supporting particulars and certified true copies of documents or papers involved therein, and upon

full compliance with the requirements for filing initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court concerned. If the contempt charges arose out of or are related to a principal action pending in the court, the petition for contempt shall allege that fact but said petition shall be docketed, heard and decided separately, unless the court in its discretion orders the consolidation of the contempt charge and the principal action for joint hearing and decision. In this case, the proceedings attendant to the conviction of petitioner Atty. Regalado for indirect contempt suffered a serious procedural defect to which this Court cannot close its eyes without offending the fundamental principles enunciated in the Rules that we, ourselves, had promulgated. Adjudication: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is GRANTED. The indirect contempt proceeding before the Court of Appeals is DECLARED null and void.

DUTY TO HIS CLIENT Francisco Rayos v. Atty. Ponciano Hernandez G.R. no. 169079, 515 SCRA 517, February 12, 2007 This is a Petition for Review of the Resolution dated 12 March 2005 of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), dismissing petitioner Francisco Rayos's complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Ponciano Hernandez. Facts: Respondent was the counsel of petitioner for a civil case against NAPOCOR. The case was dismissed and was later appealed before the Court of Appeals which reversed the lower court's decision and awarded damages in favor of the petitioner. The Supreme Court affirmed the CA's decision and became final and executory. NAPOCOR then issued a check for the damages to respondent. Petitioner demanded to turn over the check from respondent, but the latter refused. Petitioner then filed a motion to direct respondent to deliver to him the check issued by NAPOCOR. Subsequently, the RTC issued an order directing respondent to deliver the check but despite of the court order, the respondent still refused to deliver the said check. Thereafter, respondent deposited the amount of P502,838.79 with Farmers Savings and Loan Bank, Inc., Norzagaray, Bulacan, in the name of petitioner which was eventually received by the latter. Thus, petitioner initiated this complaint for disbarment for the failure of respondent to return the rest of the award in the amount of P557,961.21. Issue: Whether or not respondent is justified in retaining the amount awarded to petitioner to assure payment of his attorney's fees. Ruling: The Court held that a lawyer is not entitled to unilaterally appropriate his client's money for himself by the mere fact alone that the client owes him attorney's fees. The failure of an attorney to return the client's money upon demand gives rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use to the prejudice and violation of the general morality, as well as of professional ethics; it also impairs public confidence in the legal profession and deserves punishment. In short, a lawyer's unjustified withholding of money belonging to his client, as in this case, warrants the imposition of disciplinary action. In the case at bar, when respondent withheld and refused to deliver the

NAPOCOR check representing the amount awarded by the court in Civil Case No. SM-951, which he received on behalf of his client (petitioner herein), he breached the trust reposed on him. It is only after an Order was issued by the RTC ordering the delivery of the check to petitioner that the respondent partially delivered the amount of P502,838.79 to the former, but still retaining for himself the amount of P557,961.21 as payment for his attorney's fees. The claim of the respondent that petitioner failed to pay his attorney's fees is not an excuse for respondent's failure to deliver the amount to the petitioner. Adjudication: WHEREFORE the Court resolves that respondent is guilty of violation of the attorney's oath and of serious professional misconduct and shall be SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months and WARNED that repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.

DUTY TO HIS CLIENT Melvin Small v. Atty. Jerry Banares A.C. no. 7021, 516 SCRA 323, February 21, 2007 This is a complaint for disbarment filed by Melvin D. Small (complainant) against Atty. Jerry Banares (respondent) for failure to render legal services and to return the money received for his legal services. Facts: On 30 August 2001, complainant engaged the services of respondent in connection with several complaints to be filed against one Lyneth Amar (Amar). Complainant paid respondent P20,000 as acceptance fee. On 4 September 2001, complainant gave respondent P60,000 as filing fees for the cases against Amar. Respondent then wrote a demand letter for Amar and talked to Amar on the phone. Respondent also informed complainant that he would be preparing the documents for the cases. Complainant consistently communicated with respondent regarding the status of the cases. But respondent repeatedly told complainant to wait as respondent was still preparing the documents. On 5 January 2002, complainant required respondent to present all the documents respondent had prepared for the cases against Amar. Respondent was not able to present any document. This prompted complainant to demand for a full refund of the fees he had paid respondent. Complainant even hired the services of Atty. Rizalino Simbillo to recover the money from respondent. But respondent failed to return the money. Hence, complainant filed a case for disbarment before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) against respondent. Issue: Whether or not respondent is guilty of violating Canons 16, 18, and 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Ruling: Yes. The Code provides that a lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence. The Code states that a lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the client's request for information. The Code also mandates that every lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys of his client that may come into his possession. Furthermore, a lawyer shall account for all money received from the client and shall deliver the funds of the client upon demand. In this case,

the respondent, after receiving Php 80,000.00 for filing of the case against Amar, failed to give complainant an update on the status of the cases. Moreover, it appears that respondent failed to file the appropriate cases against Amar. Respondent's failure to communicate with complainant was an unjustified denial of complainant's right to be fully informed of the status of the cases. Thus, respondent should have promptly accounted for and returned the money to complainant. But even after demand, respondent did not return the money. Respondent's failure to return the money to complainant upon demand is a violation of the trust reposed on him and is indicative of his lack of integrity. Adjudication: WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Jerry Banares GUILTY of violating Canons 16 and 18 and Rules 16.01, 16.03, and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law for two years effective upon finality of this Decision. We ORDER respondent to RETURN, within 30 days from notice of this decision, complainant's P80,000, with interest at 12% per annum from the date of promulgation of this decision until full payment. We DIRECT respondent to submit to the Court proof of payment within fifteen days from payment of the full amount.

DUTY TO CLIENT Fidela Vda. De Enriquez v. Atty. Manuel San Jose A.C. no. 3569, 516 SCRA 486, February 23, 2007 This is an administrative complaint for disbarment filed by Fidela Vda. De Enriquez against respondent Atty. Manuel G. San Jose for gross negligence. Facts: Complainant Vda. De Enriquez hired the services of respondent Atty. San Jose for the purpose of filing an unlawful detainer case against Rugerio Alipante, complainant's lessee. According to her, she paid P 2,000.00 to the respondent as attorney's fees but the latter failed to file the appropriate case. As a result, she decided to withdraw the case from respondent and demanded the return of pertinent documents but despite repeated demands, respondent refused and failed to return the documents. Furthermore, complainant alleged that her daughter who worked for respondent did not received any salary therefrom. Thus, complainant filed a disbarment case against respondent on the ground of gross negligence. On the other hand, respondent denied being negligent. He alleged that he received a letter from the complainant informing him that the lessee had already agreed to vacate the premises, and thus, the filing of an unlawful detainer case had become unnecessary. Issue: Whether or not the respondent is guilty of gross negligence and violates Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Ruling: Yes. The Code of Professional Responsibility in Rule 18.03 enjoins a lawyer not to neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latter's interest with utmost diligence. It is the duty of a lawyer to serve his client with competence and diligence and he should exert his best efforts to protect, within the bounds of the law, the interest of his client. It is not enough that a practitioner is qualified to handle a legal matter; he is also required to prepare adequately and give the appropriate attention to his legal work. In the instant case, respondent fell short of the diligence required of a lawyer entrusted with a case. It is undisputed that respondent was hired by the complainant on August 28, 1989, and that respondent sent the notice to vacate to the lessee before the appropriate unlawful detainer case could be filed. However, after nine months,

respondent had done nothing further in connection with the case. Moreover, the respondent failed to file the appropriate civil case after sending a demand letter. The failure to file a pleading is by itself inexcusable negligence on the part of respondent. Adjudication: WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Manuel G. San Jose is hereby declared guilty of violation of Canon 18 specifically Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months effective upon notice of this Resolution. He is ordered to return to complainant, within five (5) days from notice, the sum of P2,000 with 12% interest per annum from the date of the promulgation of this Resolution until the full amount shall have been returned.

DUTY TO THE COURT AND PUBLIC Pastora Dela Cruz, et al. v. Judge Placido Vallarta A.M. no. MTJ-04-1531, 517 SCRA 465, March 6, 2007 Before us is a Complaint-Affidavit of Pastora dela Cruz, et al. (complainants) charging Judge Placido B. Vallarta (respondent) with Gross Inefficiency, Gross Negligence and Gross Ignorance of the Law, relative to a Civil Case for Unlawful Detainer with Prayer for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction or Temporary Restraining Order. Facts: Complainants filed a case for Unlawful Detainer with a Prayer for Issuance of Preliminary Injunction or Temporary Restraining Order against Spouses Virgilio and Carmen Bunag. Summons and a copy of the complaint were served upon defendants spouses Bunag but they failed to file an answer. As a result, complainants filed a Motion to Render Judgment; however, respondent judge failed to render judgment on the said motion. Respondent judge should have decided the case within thirty (30) days from the date of the receipt of the motion to render judgment. Issue: Whether or not the respondent judge was remiss in his duty to dispose of the cases with deliberate dispatch. Ruling: Yes. Article VIII, Section 15(1) of the Constitution mandates lower court judges to decide a case within the reglementary period of ninety (90) days. Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct likewise enunciates that judges should administer justice without delay and directs every judge to dispose of the courts business promptly within the period prescribed by law. Rules prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done are indispensable to prevent needless delays in the orderly and speedy disposition of cases. Thus, the ninety-day period is mandatory. A judges failure to resolve motions and other pending incidents within the prescribed period constitutes gross inefficiency. Undue delay in the disposition of cases and motions erodes the faith and confidence of the people in the judiciary and unnecessarily blemishes its stature. In this case, it was found that up to the time of the filing of herein complaint on March 1, 2002, respondent has yet to resolve the Motions filed by complainants, i.e., Motion to Render Judgment dated August 21, 2000 and Motion for Early Resolution dated August 7, 2001. A delay of one (1) year and

seven (7) months in resolving the aforecited Motions certainly erodes the people's faith in the judiciary, thus, tarnishing the image of the judiciary which respondent represents in general, and the name of the judge, in particular. Thus, for failure of respondent to resolve motions and pending incidents relative to Civil Case No. 2000-36, he is found guilty of violation of Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and should be penalized accordingly. Adjudication: The Court finds Judge Placido B. Vallarta GUILTY of gross negligence and is FINED in the amount of P11,000.00. Moreover, he is likewise found guilty of contempt of court and is FINED in the amount of P5,000.00.

DUTY TO THE PUBLIC Cynthia Advincula v. Atty. Ernesto Macabata A.C. no. 7204, 517 SCRA 600, March 7, 2007 A complaint for disbarment was filed by Cynthia Advincula against respondent Atty. Ernesto M. Macabata, charging the latter with Gross Immorality. Facts: Complainant Advincula seek the legal advice of the respondent regarding her collectibles from Queensway Travel and Tours. As promised, he sent Demand Letter to the concerned parties. Subsequently, they met to discuss the possibility of filing against Queensway because they did not settle their accounts as demanded. After their meeting, the respondent sent complainant home and while she is about to step out of the car, respondent hold her arm and kissed her on the cheek and embraced her very tightly. Again, complainant met respondent to finalize the draft of the complaint to be filed in court. After the meeting, respondent offered a ride. Afterwards, respondent forcefully hold complainant's face and kissed her lips while the other hand was holding her breast. Complainant then resisted and managed to go out of the car. Issue: Whether or not the respondent committed acts that are grossly immoral or which constitute serious moral depravity that would warrant his disbarment or suspension from the practice of law. Ruling: As provided by Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsiblity, it forbids lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but also throughout their legal career, in order to maintain their good standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity. In the case at bar, respondent admitted kissing complainant on the lips. However, based on the circumstances established by the court, respondent's acts are not grossly immoral nor highly reprehensible to warrant disbarment or suspension. The Court perceived acts of kissing or beso-beso on the cheeks as mere gestures of friendship and camaraderie forms of greetings, casual and customary. The acts of respondent, though, in turning the head of complainant towards him and kissing her on the lips are distasteful. However, such act, even if considered offensive and undesirable, cannot be considered grossly immoral.

Adjudication: The complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Ernesto Macabata, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED. However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED to be more prudent and cautious in his dealing with his clients with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed on him for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future.

DUTY TO THE COURT Rufa Suan v. Atty. Ricardo Gonzalez A.C. no. 6377, 518 SCRA 82, March 12, 2007 The instant administrative complaint filed by Rufa C. Suan charges respondent Atty. Ricardo D. Gonzalez with violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, perjury and forum shopping, and prays for his suspension or disbarment. Facts: Respondent filed a case for Mandamus, Computation of Interests, Enforcement of Inspection, Dividend and Appraisal Rights, Damages and Attorney's Fees against the Rural Green Bank of Caraga, Inc. and the members of its Board of Directors praying that a temporary restraining order be issued enjoining the conduct of the annual stockholders' meeting and the holding of the election of the Board of Directors. He also posted a bond for the issuance of the TRO together with a certification issued by Court Administrator that SICI has no pending obligation and/or liability to the government insofar as confiscated bonds in civil and criminal cases are concerned. Based on the foregoing, Suan filed this complaint alleging that respondent engaged in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct when he submitted the certification to the RTC despite knowing that the same is applicable only for transactions before the MTCC; and that the bond was defective because it was released by SICI despite respondent's failure to put up the required P100,000.00 collateral. Issue: Whether or not respondent Gonzalez violated the the Code of Professional Responsibility. Ruling: No. The Supreme Court was not persuaded with the argument of the complainant that the act of the respondent of submitting a wrong certification to the RTC, relative to SICI's capacity to issue bonds, was deliberate and with intent to mislead, thereby constituting a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It is well-settled that in disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant and the case against the respondent must be established by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof. Considering the serious consequence of the disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, this Court has consistently held that clear preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of the administrative penalty. In the instant case,

complainant Suan failed to show that respondent willfully and deliberately resorted to falsehood and unlawful and dishonest conduct. She failed to show not only the dubious character of the act done but the motivation as well. Adjudication: The Court affirmed the Resolution of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines recommending the dismissal of the instant complaint for disbarment/suspension against respondent ATTY. RICARDO D. GONZALEZ for lack of merit.

DUTY TO THE COURT AND TO THE PUBLIC Julio Verzosa v. Judge Manuel Contreras A.M. no. MTJ-06-1636, 518 SCRA 94, March 12, 2007 A Verified Complaint was filed by Julio B. Verzosa (complainant) charging Judge Manuel E. Contreras (respondent) with Grave Abuse of Authority, Grave Misconduct (Harassment and Oppression), and Violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, relative to Criminal Case No. 2071, entitled "People of the Philippines v. Rodrigo E. Candelaria. Facts: Verzosa alleges that he is a forest ranger of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Protected Area Office. While conducting surveillance on treasure hunting activities in Mt. Isarog Natural Park, Ocampo, Camarines Sur, he and his co-forest rangers discovered an open pit left in damaged condition, allegedly in violation of Republic Act No. 7586. They likewise found and confiscated in favor of the Government two metal chains used to overturn huge stones in the treasure hunting site. He found out later that the alleged treasure hunters were led by a certain Jose Credo (Credo) a.k.a. "Labaw" and Basilio Sumalde (Sumalde) a.k.a. "Moren". The Executive Director of the DENR Region V Office thereafter ordered Verzosa to continue monitoring the said treasure hunting site. Because of his involvement in the treasure hunting activities and on the basis of the testimony of Credo, he was implicated as an accessory in Criminal Case No. 2071 against Rodrigo Candelaria (Candelaria), et al. for robbery. The said case arose from the alleged information relayed by Judge Contreras to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Officers of Ocampo, Camarines Sur which led to the arrest of the principal accused. Judge Contreras did not inhibit himself from conducting the preliminary investigation despite his proven bias against all of the accused, in apparent violation of the guiding principles of Judicial Ethics and Responsibilities. Verzosa was not among the persons on board the truck when the same was apprehended by members of the PNP. On the basis of the affidavit executed by Credo, Judge Contreras hastily issued an order for Verzosa's arrest. After the information reducing the charge from robbery to simple theft was filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Judge Nilo Malanyaon, in an Order dated September 13, 2004 dismissed the case due to lack of probable cause. Judge Contreras is the mastermind behind the treasure hunting activities in Ocampo, Camarines Sur and the robbery case for which complainant was implicated as an accessory was a way of harassing anybody who opposes the activities. Judge Contreras contends that while at Mt. Isarog, he received information that Candelaria was looting by dismantling the tower antennae of

the Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company (PLDT) used as a relay station but already inoperational. He directed the police of Ocampo, Camarines Sur to investigate the looting of the steel trusses and bars of the PLDT Tower. The second time that he went on mountain hiking at Tinablanan River on April 18, 2004, he was again informed that the steel trusses and bars of the PLDT Tower were already being loaded in a truck bound for the junkshop in Naga City. He then immediately called the PNP Regional Intelligence Group and in a checkpoint set up by the police, the truck was apprehended with Candelaria and several men aboard. Issue: Whether or not respondent judge is guilty for violation of Canon 3, Section 5 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct. Ruling: Yes. Respondent judge failed to consider the proscription under Rule 3.12(a) of Canon 3, Code of Judicial Conduct which provides that A judge should take no part in a proceeding where the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned. These cases include, among others, proceedings where: (a) the judge has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding xxx. A judge should possess proficiency in law so that he can competently construe and enforce the law. However, it is more important that he should act and behave in such a manner that the parties before him have confidence in his impartiality. Indeed, even conduct that gives rise to the mere appearance of partiality is proscribed. The records of the case reveal that respondent had prior knowledge of the looting and dismantling at the PLDT Tower in Ocampo, Camarines Sur and he was instrumental in the apprehension of the robbers. Respondent should have been aware of the impropriety of conducting the preliminary investigation considering that Rule 3.12(a), Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins a judge from taking part in proceedings where the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Respondent ignored said rule, warranting disciplinary sanction from this Court. In sum, the Court finds that respondent is merely guilty of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct in not recusing himself from conducting preliminary investigation. Adjudication: The Court finds Judge Manuel E. Contreras, MTC, Ocampo, Camarines Sur guilty of violation of Rule 3.12(a), Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and is REPRIMANDED with warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely

DUTY TO COURT Remberto Kara-an v. Atty. Reynaldo Pineda A.C. no. 4306, 519 SCRA 143, March 28, 2007 A Complaint for Disbarment was filed by herein complainant Remberto C. Kara-an against respondent-lawyer Reynaldo A. Pineda for gross misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the Bar for violation of the lawyer's oath, specifically his failure to abide by his duties: (1) to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the Philippines; (2) to observe and maintain the respect due the courts of justice and judicial officers; and (3) not to delay any man's cause, for any corrupt motive or interests. Facts: Complainant Remberto C. Kara-an filed a Complaint for Injunction and Damages against one Amado M. Bulauitan and several John Does. Respondent Atty. Reynaldo A. Pineda entered his appearance as counsel for the defendant. On July 12, 1994, the respondent moved for the resetting of the hearing from July 13, 1994 to July 20, 1994 due to a prior professional engagement. In the same pleading, the respondent manifested that he was still in the process of preparing his formal written opposition to the case. On July 20, 1994, the respondent failed to submit any answer or written opposition but instead made an agreement with the judge and the complainant to reset the hearing to August 1, 1994. On August 1, 1994, as the respondent failed to appear, the RTC deferred the hearing to August 15, 1994.[4] On this account, the complainant filed a Motion for Contempt dated August 2, 1994 before the RTC. The complainant then filed this Complaint for Disbarment against the respondent, alleging therein that the respondent failed to appear on August 1, 1994 before the RTC, despite his agreement to set the hearing of the injunction case on the said date, to file his answer or written opposition to the complaint for injunction. Issue: Whether or not the disbarment case filed by the complainant will prosper. Ruling: No. Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power to disbar must always be exercised with great caution, only for the most imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the bar. Accordingly, disbarment should not be decreed where any

punishment less severe - such as a reprimand, suspension, or fine - would accomplish the end desired. As aptly observed by the Investigating Commissioner, the complainant failed to establish by clear and convincing proof that the respondent's failure to appear in the hearing on August 1, 1994 before the RTC was made oppressively or with ill-motives as to qualify the same to gross misconduct, willful disobedience or improper conduct tending to obstruct the administration of justice. Moreover, the penalty of disbarment sought by the complainant is unduly harsh, taking into account that this appears to be the respondent's first offense. Adjudication: The prayer for disbarment is DENIED for lack of merit. Nevertheless, respondent Atty. Reynaldo A. Pineda is hereby REPRIMANDED with STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense in the future shall be dealt with severely. Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the respondent's personal records in the Office of the Bar Confidant.