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Legal Ethics Case Digest Judge Philip Aguinaldo 3AA, A.Y. 2011-2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ATTY. GEORGE C. BRIONES V. ATTY. JACINTO D. JIMENEZ...................1 FERNANDO MARTIN O. PEA V. ATTY. LOLITO G. APARICIO................1 GEORGE C. SOLATAN V. ATTYS. OSCAR A. INOCENTES AND JOSE C. CAMANO.........................................................................................2 RE: LETTER OF THE UP LAW FACULTY ENTITLED RESTORING INTEGRITY: A STATEMENT BY THE FACULTY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND MISREPRESENTATION IN THE SUPREME COURT.......3 RE: LETTER OF THE UP LAW FACULTY ENTITLED RESTORING INTEGRITY: A STATEMENT BY THE FACULTY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND MISREPRESENTATION IN THE SUPREME COURT ....4 TERESITA D. SANTECO V. ATTY. LUNA B. AVANCE..............................6 ATTY. JOSABETH B. ALONSO AND SHALIMAR P. LAZATIN V. ATTY. IBARO B. RELAMIDA, JR....................................................................7 CARLOS REYES V. ATTY. JEREMIAS R.VITAN.......................................8 LUZVIMINDA R. LUSTESTICA VS. ATTY. SERGIO E. BERNABE...............9 JUAN PABLO P. BONDOC V. JUDGE DIVINA LUZ P. AQUINO-SIMBULAN ....................................................................................................10 MANUEL C. YUHICO V. ATTY. FRED L. GUTIERREZ............................13 OFELIA R. SOMOSOT V. ATTY. GERADO F. LARA...............................14 WILSON CHAM V. ATTY. EVA PAITA-MOYA.......................................15 HEIRS OF BOBADILLA V. JAIME CASTILLO........................................16 LETTER OF CECILIO Y. AREVALO, JR., REQUESTING EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF IBP DUES..................................................................17

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Legal Ethics Case Digest Judge Philip Aguinaldo 3AA, A.Y. 2011-2012

RODANTE D. MARCOLETA V. RESURRECCION Z. BORRA AND ROMEO A. BRAWNER.....................................................................................18 ERLINDA R. TAROG V. ATTY. ROMULO L. RICAFORT..........................20 SAN JOSE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION V. ATTY. ROBERTO B. ROMANILLOS................................................................................23 RE: REPORT ON THE FINANCIAL AUDIT OF THE BOOKS OF ATTY. RAQUEL G. KHO.............................................................................25 ATTY. EVELYN J. MAGNO V. ATTY. OLIVIA VELASCO-JACOBA.............25 BENILDA M. MADDELA V. ATTY. ROSALIE DALLONG-GALICINAO........26 XERXES A. ABADIANO V. SPOUSES JESUS AND LOLITA MARTIR.........28

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Legal Ethics Case Digest Judge Philip Aguinaldo 3AA, A.Y. 2011-2012

ATTY. GEORGE C. BRIONES v. ATTY. JACINTO D. JIMENEZ A.C. No. 6691, 27 April 2007, THIRD DIVISION (Austria-Martinez, J.) Atty. Briones is the Special Administrator of the Estate of Luz J. Henson while Atty. Jacinto D. Jimenez is the counsel for the Heirs of Henson. After the probate proceedings, the RTC issued an order directing Jimenez to deliver the residue of the estate to the Heirs in proportion to their shares. Atty Briones refused to deliver the estate. Consequently, Atty. Jimenez and the Heirs filed a criminal complaint and executed an affidavit against Atty Briones for resisting and seriously disobeying the RTC Order. Atty. Briones filed an administrative complaint against Atty. Jimenez for forum shopping and violation of Canons 19 and 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent claims that he acted in good faith and in fact, did not violate Rule 19.01 because he assisted the Heirs in filing the criminal complaint against herein complainant after the latter ignored the demand letters sent to him; and that a lawyer owes his client the exercise of utmost prudence and capability. ISSUE: Whether or not Atty Jimenez violated Canons 19 and 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility HELD: A lawyer must represent his client with zeal, however, the performance of his duties towards his clients must be within the bounds of law. The Court agrees with the OBC that respondent is not guilty of forum shopping. Records show that respondent, as counsel for the heirs of the late Luz J. Henson, filed a special civil action docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70349 assailing the Order of March 12, 2002 appointing the accounting firm of Alba, Romeo and Co. as auditor; and, a regular appeal docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 71488 assailing the Order of April 3, 2002, insofar as it directed the payment of commission to complainant. It is evident that there is identity of parties but different causes of action and reliefs sought. Hence, respondent is not guilty of forum shopping There is sufficient ground in support of complainants claim that respondent violated Rule 19.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Considering that complainant did not reply to the demand letters, respondent opted to file said criminal complaint in behalf of his clients for refusal to obey the lawful order of the court. Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility enjoins a lawyer to represent his client with zeal. However, the same Canon provides that a lawyers performance of his duties towards his client must be within the bounds of the law. Rule 19.01 of the same Canon requires, among others, that a lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client. Canon 15, Rule 15.07 also obliges lawyers to impress upon their clients compliance with the laws and the principle of fairness. To permit lawyers to resort to unscrupulous practices for the protection of the supposed rights of their clients is to defeat one of the purposes of the state the administration of justice. While lawyers owe their entire devotion to the interest of their clients and zeal in the defense of their clients right, they should not forget that they are, first and foremost, officers of the court, bound to exert every effort to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. FERNANDO MARTIN O. PEA v. ATTY. LOLITO G. APARICIO A.C. No. 7298, 25 June 2007, SECOND DIVISION (Velasco, Jr., J.) Aparicio is legal counsel for Hufana in an illegal dismissal case filed with the NLRC against Pena. Pena is president of MOF company. Aparicio sought the payment of separation pay to his client. Pena rejected the demand and sent notice to Hufana to return to work. Aparicio, in a reply letter to Pena, reiterated the claim of his client. In his letter Apparicio also made threats saying that if the claims were not paid they would file multiple criminal charges for tax evasion, falsification and the cellation of Penas business license. Because

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Legal Ethics Case Digest Judge Philip Aguinaldo 3AA, A.Y. 2011-2012

of this Pena filed the administrative proceeding against Aparicio with the IBP for violation of Canon 19, specifically rule 19.01. IBP dismissed the complaint because Pena failed to file his position paper and certification against forum shopping. Aparicio filed an MR reiterating his claim for damages against Pena (defamation) in the amount of 400M. ISSUE: 1) Whether or not the dismissal of the IBP for foreign shopping constitutes a bar in the Administrative proceedings 2) Whether or not Atty Aparicio violated Canon 19 HELD: A lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law.

1) The rule requiring a certification of forum shopping to accompany every initiatory pleading, should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objective or the goal of all rules of procedurewhich is to achieve substantial justice as expeditiously as possible. At any rate, complainant's subsequent compliance with the requirement cured the supposed defect in the original complaint. 2) Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that "a lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law," reminding legal practitioners that a lawyer's duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice; to that end, his client's success is wholly subordinate; and his conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of law and ethics.In particular, Rule 19.01 commands that a "lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or proceeding." Under this Rule, a lawyer should not file or threaten to file any unfounded or baseless criminal case or cases against the adversaries of his client designed to secure a leverage to compel the adversaries to yield or withdraw their own cases against the lawyer's client. Blackmail is "the extortion of money from a person by threats of accusation or exposure or opposition in the public prints,obtaining of value from a person as a condition of refraining from making an accusation against him, or disclosing some secret calculated to operate to his prejudice." In common parlance and in general acceptation, it is equivalent to and synonymous with extortion, the exaction of money either for the performance of a duty, the prevention of an injury, or the exercise of an influence. Not infrequently, it is extorted by threats, or by operating on the fears or the credulity, or by promises to conceal or offers to expose the weaknesses, the follies, or the crime of the victim. Through his letter, he threatened complainant that should the latter fail to pay the amounts they propose as settlement, he would file and claim bigger amounts including moral damages, as well as multiple charges such as tax evasion, falsification of documents, and cancellation of business license to operate due to violations of laws. The threats are not only unethical for violating Canon 19, but they also amount to blackmail. GEORGE C. SOLATAN v. ATTYS. OSCAR A. INOCENTES and JOSE C. CAMANO A.C. No. 6504, 9 August 2005, SECOND DIVISION (Tinga, J.) Atty. Jose A. Camano was an associate in the firm of Atty. Oscar Inocentes. The Oscar Inocentes and Associates Law Office was retained by spouses Genito, owners of an apartment complex when the Genito Apartments were placed under sequestration by the PCGG. They represented the spouses Genito before the PCGG and the Sandiganbayan and in ejectment cases against non-paying tenants occupying the Genito Apartments. Solatans sister was a tenant of the Genito Apartments. She left the apartment to Solatan and other members of her family. A complaint for ejectment for non-payment of rentals was filed against her and a decision was rendered in a judgment by default ordering her to vacate the premises. Solatan was occupying said apartment when he learned of the judgment. He informed Atty. Inocentes of his desire to arrange the

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execution of a new lease contract by virtue of which he would be the new lessee of the apartment. Atty. Inocentes referred him to Atty. Camano, the attorney in charge of ejectment cases against tenants of the Genito Apartments. During the meeting with Atty. Camano, an verbal agreement was made in which complainant agreed to pay the entire judgment debt of his sister, including awarded attorneys fees and costs of suit. Complainant issued a check in the name of Atty. Camano representing half of the attorneys fees. Complainant failed to make any other payment. The sheriff in coordination with Atty. Camano enforced the writ of execution and levied the properties found in the subject apartment. Complainant renegotiated and Atty. Camano agreed to release the levied properties and allow complainant to remain at the apartment. Acting on Atty. Camanos advice, complainant presented an affidavit of ownership to the sheriff who released the levied items. However, a gas stove was not returned to the complainant but was kept by Atty. Camano in the unit of the Genito Apartments where he was temporarily staying. Complainant filed the instant administrative case for disbarment against Atty. Camano and Atty. Inocentes. The IBP Board of Governors resolved to suspend Atty. Camano from the practice of law for 1 year and to reprimand Atty. Inocentes for exercising command responsibility. ISSUE: 1) Whether or not Atty. Camano violated the Code of Professional Responsibility 2) Whether or not Atty. Inocentes violated the Code of Professional Responsibility HELD: clients. All lawyers must observe loyalty in all transactions and dealings with their

An attorney has no right to act as counsel or legal representative for a person without being retained. No employment relation was offered or accepted in the instant case. Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility requires all lawyers to observe loyalty in all transactions and dealings with their clients. Unquestionably, an attorney giving legal advice to a party with an interest conflicting with that of his client may be held guilty of disloyalty. However, the advice given by Atty. Camano in the context where the complainant was the rightful owner of the incorrectly levied properties was in consonance with his duty as an officer of the court. It should not be construed as being in conflict with the interest of the spouses Genito as they have no interest over the properties. The act of informing complainant that his properties would be returned upon showing proof of his ownership may hint at infidelity to his clients but lacks the essence of double dealing and betrayal. 2. Atty. Inocentes failure to exercise certain responsibilities over matters under the charge of his law firm is a blameworthy shortcoming. As name practitioner of the law office, Atty. Inocentes is tasked with the responsibility to make reasonable efforts to ensure that all lawyers in the firm should act in conformity to the Code of Professional Responsibility. Atty. Inocentes received periodic reports from Atty. Camano on the latters dealings with complainant. This is the linchpin of his supervisory capacity over Atty. Camano and liability by virtue thereof. Partners and practitioners who hold supervisory capacities are legally responsible to exert ordinary diligence in apprising themselves of the comings and goings of the cases handled by persons over which they are exercising supervisory authority and in exerting necessary efforts to foreclose violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility by persons under their charge. RE: LETTER OF THE UP LAW FACULTY ENTITLED RESTORING INTEGRITY: A STATEMENT BY THE FACULTY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND MISREPRESENTATION IN THE SUPREME COURT A.M. No. 10-10-4-SC, June 7, 2011, EN BANC (Leonardo-De Castro, J.)

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Legal Ethics Case Digest Judge Philip Aguinaldo 3AA, A.Y. 2011-2012

Last March 8, 2011 on A.M. No. 10-10-4-SC, the Supreme Court reminded University of the Philippines (UP) law professors Tristan A. Catindig and Carina C. Laforteza and 35 other faculty members of the UP College of Law, as well as admonishing Dean Marvic Leonen for vio, Restoring Integrity, a scathing manifesto calling for SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillos resignation for the latters alleged plagiarism on his decision on the case of Vinuya, et al. v. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 162230) promulgated last April 28, 2010. Consequently, Motion for Reconsideration was filed by Catindig and Laforteza and a manifestation filed by Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen and Prof. Theodore O. Te, relying on the ground that the proceeding, while docketed as an administrative matter, is premised on a finding of indirect contempt and that they were not accorded due process under indirect contempt proceedings. ISSUE: Whether or not SC erred in finding that the respondents are in breach of their ethical obligations for having issued the restoring integrity statement HELD: Contumacious speech and/or behaviour directed against the Court on the part of a lawyer may be punishable either as contempt or an ethical violation, or both in the discretion of the Court. The petition was denied for No substantial arguments to warrant a reconsideration of the Decision dated March 8, 2011 nor to justify the grant of the reliefs prayed for in their motion. The Manifestation, apart from being an expression of support for Professors Catindig and Lafortezas motion for reconsideration, did not raise any new matter nor pray for any affirmative relief, the Court resolves to merely note the same. Contumacious speech or conduct directed against a court or judicial officer, if committed by a member of the Bar, subject the offender to disciplinary proceedings under the Code of Professional Responsibility, which prescribes that lawyers observe and promote due respect for the courts. In such disciplinary cases, the sanctions are not penal but administrative such as, disbarment, suspension, reprimand or admonition. Contumacious speech and/or behaviour directed against the Court on the part of a lawyer may be punishable either as contempt or an ethical violation, or both in the discretion of the Court. When the Court initiates contempt proceedings and/or disciplinary proceedings against lawyers for intemperate and discourteous language and behaviour directed at the courts, the evil sought to be prevented is the same the degradation of the courts and the loss of trust in the administration of justice. Verily, when the Court chooses to institute an administrative case against a respondent lawyer, the mere citation or discussion in the orders or decision in the administrative case of jurisprudence involving contempt proceedings does not transform the action from a disciplinary proceeding to one for contempt. Had this Court opted to cite respondents for contempt of court, which is punishable by imprisonment or fine, this Court would have initiated contempt proceedings in accordance with the Rules of Court. RE: LETTER OF THE UP LAW FACULTY ENTITLED RESTORING INTEGRITY: A STATEMENT BY THE FACULTY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND MISREPRESENTATION IN THE SUPREME COURT A.M. NO. 10-10-4-SC, 8 MARCH 2011, EN BANC (Leonardo-De Castro, J.) SC Justice Mariano Del Castillo rendered a decision in Vinuya, et al. v. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 162230). Counsels Attys. H. Harry L. Roque, Jr. (Atty. Roque) and Romel Regalado Bagares (Atty. Bagares) for Vinuya, et al. (the Malaya Lolas), filed a supplemental Motion for Reconsideration, on the ground that, inter alia, charge of plagiarism as one of the grounds for reconsideration of the Vinuya decision and a twisting of the true intents of the plagiarized sources by the ponencia was made to suit the arguments of the assailed Judgment for denying the Petition. Works allegedly plagiarized in the Vinuya decision were namely: (1) Evan J. Criddle and Evan Fox-Decents article A Fiduciary Theory of Jus Cogens; (2) Christian

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Legal Ethics Case Digest Judge Philip Aguinaldo 3AA, A.Y. 2011-2012

J. Tams book Enforcing Erga Omnes Obligations in International Law; and (3) Mark Ellis article Breaking the Silence: On Rape as an International Crime. Such supplemental motion for reconsideration appeared on internet sites. Thereafter, a statement entitled Restoring Integrity: A Statement by the Faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law on the Allegations of Plagiarism and Misrepresentation in the Supreme Court was submitted by Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leone to the Court through Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. The statement basically conveys that the plagiarism committed in the case of Vinuya v Executive Secretary is unacceptable, unethical and in breach of the high standards of moral conduct and judicial and professional competence expected of the Supreme Court. (See attachment for complete text of the statement). The SC Ethics Committee referred this matter to the Court en banc. The high court said the UP law professors statement was evidently intended to discredit its April 28 decision on the Vinuya et al. v the Executive Secretary et al. case. It claimed that the law faculty wanted to undermine the courts honesty, integrity and competence in addressing the motion for reconsideration of 70 comfort women. Accordingly, the Court directed the 37 UP law faculty-signatories to show cause, within ten (10) days from receipt why they should not be disciplined as members of the Bar for violation of Canons 1, 11 and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. ISSUE: Whether or not respondents should be disciplined as Members of the Bar under the Code of Professional Responsibility HELD: All lawyers, whether they are judges, court employees, professors or private practitioners, are officers of the Court and have voluntarily taken an oath, as an indispensable qualification for admission to the Bar, to conduct themselves with good fidelity towards the courts. The administrative matter is decided by reminding the Thirty-five UP professors of their duty as officers of the court while Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen was admonished to be more mindful of his duty, as a member of the Bar, an officer of the Court, and a Dean and professor of law, to observe full candor and honesty in his dealings with the Court and warned that the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely. While a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive. The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates: CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes. RULE 1.02 A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. CANON 10 A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court. Rule 10.01 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. Rule 10.02 A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent the contents of paper, the language or the argument of opposing counsel, or the text of a decision or authority, or knowingly cite as law a provision already rendered inoperative by repeal or amendment, or assert as a fact that which has not been proved. Rule 10.03 A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. CANON 11 A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others. RULE 11.05 A lawyer shall submit grievances against a Judge to the proper authorities only. CANON 13 A lawyer shall rely upon the merits of his cause and refrain from any impropriety which tends to influence, or gives the appearance of influencing the court.

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Legal Ethics Case Digest Judge Philip Aguinaldo 3AA, A.Y. 2011-2012

What respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of equally important public interest. One of these fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There is no antinomy between free expression and the integrity of the system of administering justice. For the protection and maintenance of freedom of expression itself can be secured only within the context of a functioning and orderly system of dispensing justice, within the context, in other words, of viable independent institutions for delivery of justice which are accepted by the general community. The Show Cause Resolution does not interfere with respondents academic freedom. Even if the Court was willing to accept respondents proposition in the Common Compliance that their issuance of the Statement was in keeping with their duty to participate in the development of the legal system by initiating or supporting efforts in law reform and in the improvement of the administration of justice under Canon 4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, we cannot agree that they have fulfilled that same duty in keeping with the demands of Canons 1, 11 and 13 to give due respect to legal processes and the courts, and to avoid conduct that tends to influence the courts. Members of the Bar cannot be selective regarding which canons to abide by given particular situations. With more reason that law professors are not allowed this indulgence, since they are expected to provide their students exemplars of the Code of Professional Responsibility as a whole and not just their preferred portions thereof. The Court finds that there was indeed a lack of observance of fidelity and due respect to the Court, particularly when respondents knew fully well that the matter of plagiarism in the Vinuya decision and the merits of the Vinuya decision itself, at the time of the Statements issuance, were still both sub judice or pending final disposition of the Court. TERESITA D. SANTECO v. ATTY. LUNA B. AVANCE A.C. 5834, 22 February 2011, EN BANC (Per Curiam) An administrative complaint was filed by Teresita D. Santeco against respondent Atty. Luna B. Avance for mishandling Civil Case No. 97-275, which was filed before the RTC of Makati City. The result of such administrative complaint was the suspension of Avance from the practice of law for five years and ordered to return P3,900 to her client after she was found guilty of gross misconduct for abandoning her client in bad faith and persistent refusal to comply with lawful orders directed at her without any explanation for doing so. However, while still suspended, Avance appeared in three cases as Atty. Liezl Tanglao as stated in a letter-report of Judge Consuelo Amog-Bocar, presiding Judge of the RTC of Iba, Zambales. In a resolution, the Court ordered Avance to comment on said letter-report. However, she failed to do so. The Court then reiterated its order. Again, despite receipt of the two resolutions, she still failed to comply. Thus, the Court issued a resolution finding Avance guilty of indirect contempt and ordering her to pay a fine amounting to P30,000. It also sternly warned her that a repetition of the same or similar infractions will be dealt with more severely. Despite due notice, she failed to pay the fine. ISSUE: Whether or not the action or inaction of Atty. Avance is a ground for her disbarment HELD: A lawyer who willfully disobeys the lawful order of the court deserves the ultimate penalty of disbarment. It held that respondents conduct evidently fell short of what is expected of her as an officer of the court as she obviously possesses a habit of defying this Courts orders. She willfully disobeyed this Court when she continued her law practice despite the five-year suspension order against her and even misrepresented herself to be another person in order to evade said penalty. Thereafter, when she was twice ordered to comment on her continued law practice while still suspended, nothing was heard from her

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Legal Ethics Case Digest Judge Philip Aguinaldo 3AA, A.Y. 2011-2012

despite receipt of two Resolutions form this Court. Neither did she pay the P30,000 fine imposed in the Resolution. In repeatedly disobeying this Courts orders, respondent proved herself unworthy of membership in the Philippine Bar. Worse, she remains indifferent to the need to reform herself. Clearly, she is unfit to discharge the duties of an officer of the court and deserves the ultimate penalty of disbarment. ATTY. JOSABETH B. ALONSO and SHALIMAR P. LAZATIN v. ATTY. IBARO B. RELAMIDA, JR. A.C. No. 8481, 3 August 2010, EN BANC (Peralta, J.) Jennifer Ebanen filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against Servier Philippines in the NLRC. The labor Arbiter ruled in favor of Servier, stating that Ebanen voluntarily resigned. Ebanen appealed to the NLRC which only affirmed the appealed decision. Ebanen then filed for reconsideration but was denied. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court. The Courts Resolution has already become final and executory; thus, a corresponding Entry of Judgment has been issued dismissing the petition and holding that there was no illegal dismissal. However, despite the judgment, Ebanen through Atty. Relamida, Jr. filed a second complaint for illegal dismissal based on the same cause of action of constructive dismissal against Servier. Thus, Servier, thru counsel, filed a letter-complaint addressed to the then Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., praying that respondents be disciplinary sanctioned for violation of the rules on forum shopping and res judicata. Respondents admitted the filing of the second complaint against Servier. However, they opined that the dismissal did not amount to res judicata, since the decision was null and void for lack of due process since the motion for the issuance of subpoena duces tecum for the production of vital documents filed by the complainant was ignored by the Labor Arbiter. ISSUE: Whether or not respondent is guilty of forum shopping and res judicata thus violating Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility HELD: A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client, but not at the expense of truth and the administration of justice. During the IBP hearing, it was manifested that Ebanen is not a lawyer but the daughter of Atty. Aurelio the senior partner in a law firm where Atty. Relamida is employed as associate lawyer. The latter then reasoned out that as a courtesy to Atty. Aurelio and Ebanen, he had no choice but to represent the latter. Moreover, he stressed that his client was denied of her right to due process due to the denial of her motion for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum. He then argued that the decision of the Labor Arbiter was null and void; thus, there was no res judicata. He maintained that he did not violate the lawyers oath by serving the interest of his client. The IBP-CBD recommended that Atty. Relamida, Jr. be suspended for 6 months for violating the rules on forum shopping and res judicata. The Supreme Court agrees to this finding. A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client, but not at the expense of truth and the administration of justice. The filing of multiple petitions constitutes abuse of the courts processes and improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade the administration of justice and will be punished as contempt of court. Needless to state, the lawyer who files such multiple or repetitious petitions (which obviously delays the execution of a final and executory judgment) subjects himself to disciplinary action for incompetence (for not knowing any better) or for willful violation of his duties as an attorney to act with all good fidelity to the courts, and to maintain only such actions as appear to him to be just and are consistent with truth and honor.

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Legal Ethics Case Digest Judge Philip Aguinaldo 3AA, A.Y. 2011-2012

The filing of another action concerning the same subject matter, in violation of the doctrine of res judicata, runs contrary to Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which requires a lawyer to exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. By his actuations, respondent also violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04 of the Code, as well as a lawyers mandate "to delay no man for money or malice." CARLOS REYES v. ATTY. JEREMIAS R.VITAN A.C. No. 5835, 18 August 2010, EN BANC (Nachura, J.) Four (4) administrative cases were filed against Atty. Jeremias R. Vitan, in each of which he was found guilty and meted the penalty of suspension from the practice of law. All the four cases against him involved grave issues of dishonesty and deceit. Recidivism or habitual delinquency was patent. The 4 offenses deserved disbarment as a final penalty. Yet, the Court contented itself with mere suspensions. In the first case, A.C. No. 6441, (Violeta R. Tahaw v. Atty. Jeremias R. Vitan), promulgated on October 21, 2004, Atty. Vitan was suspended for six (6)months, effective immediately upon receipt of the Decision. He was further ordered to return the amount of P30,000 to complainant for legal services he did not render. The records disclose that respondent received the Decision on November 12, 2004 and the period of suspension would have ended on May 12, 2005. In A.C. No. 5835, (Carlos B. Reyes v. Atty. Jeremias R. Vitan), promulgated on April 15, 2005, Atty. Vitan was suspended for six (6) months; and ordered to pay complainant P17,000.00 with interest of 12% per annum from the date of the promulgation of the Decision until the full amount shall have been returned. Per records, the Courts decision was received by him on May 13, 2005, and his suspension would have ended on November 13, 2005. In A.C. No. 6955 (Mar Yuson v. Atty. Jeremias R. Vitan), promulgated on July 27, 2006, respondent was found liable for his failure to pay a just debt in the amount of P100,000.00. Upon investigation, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) imposed the penalty of Suspension for two (2) years. This was modified by the Court after finding that there was partial payment of the loan, and the penalty was reduced to six (6) months suspension with warning, effective upon receipt of the Decision. In a Motion to Lift Order of Suspension, respondent moved for the reconsideration of the decision, asserting that there was full payment of the loan. The motion was denied in the Resolution dated March 6, 2007. In the decision in the fourth case, A.C. No. 6051, (Celia Arroyo-Pesidio v. Atty. Jeremias R. Vitan), promulgated on April 2, 2007, respondent was found to have failed to render the legal services sought after he had received the amount of P100,000, and was once again, suspended for one (1) year, with stern warning. The Decision was received on April 18, 2007, so the suspension period should have lapsed on April 18, 2008. In a Report dated February 23, 2010, the OBC noted that respondent has been repeatedly suspended from the practice of law, for an aggregate period of 30 months or 2 years. Accordingly, respondent should have served the orders of suspension successively pursuant to the Courts resolution in A.M. No. RTJ-04-1857, entitled Gabriel de la Paz v. Judge Santos B. Adiong, where the Court clearly stated that in case of two or more suspensions, the same shall be served successively by the erring respondent. It is, therefore, incumbent upon respondent to show to the Court that he has desisted from the practice of law for a period of at least 2 years. ISSUE: Whether or not the suspension can be lifted HELD: The Court, in the recent case of Ligaya Maniago v. Atty. Lourdes I. De Dios, issued the guidelines on the lifting of orders of suspension, and has advised strict observance thereof. However, the Court will not

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hesitate to withhold the privilege of the practice of law if it is shown that respondent, as an officer of the Court, is still not worthy of the trust and confidence of his clients and of the public. Thus, applying the guidelines in Maniago, the Court Resolved to GRANT Respondents Petition for Reinstatement, effective upon his submission to the Court of a Sworn Statement attesting to the fact: 1) that he has completely served the four (4) suspensions imposed on him successively; 2) that he had desisted from the practice of law, and has not appeared as counsel in any court during the periods of suspension, as follows: (a) Six (6) months suspension in A.C. No. 5835 from May 13, 2005 to November 13, 2005; (b) One (1) year suspension in A.C. No. 6051 from April 18, 2007 to April 18, 2008; (c) Six (6) months suspension in A.C. No. 6441 from November 12, 2004 to May 12, 2005; and (d) Six (6) months suspension in A.C. No. 6955 from date of receipt of the Resolution dated March 6, 2007 denying the Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision dated July 27, 2006. 3) that he has returned the sums of money to the complainants as ordered by the Court in the following cases, attaching proofs thereof: (a) In A.C. No. 5835 the sum of P17,000 with interest of 12% per annum from the date of promulgation of the Decision until the full amount shall have been returned; and (b) In A.C. No. 6441 the amount of P30,000. Atty. Jeremias R. Vitan is further directed to FURNISH copies of the Sworn Statement to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Executive Judge(s), as mandated in Maniago. LUZVIMINDA R. LUSTESTICA vs. ATTY. SERGIO E. BERNABE A.C. No. 6258, 24 August 2010, EN BANC (Per Curiam) Atty Bernabe applied for consideration of the disbarment complaint filed by Luzviminda R. Lustestica (complainant) against Atty. Sergio E. Bernabe (respondent) for notarizing a falsified or forged Deed of Donation of real property despite the non-appearance of the donors, Benvenuto H. Lustestica (complainant's father) and his first wife, Cornelia P. Rivero, both of whom were already dead at the time of execution of the said document. Atty Bernabe admitted the fact of death of Benvenuto H. Lustestica and Cornelia P. Rivero, considering their death certificates attached to the complaint. The respondent claimed, however, that he had no knowledge that the real Benvenuto H. Lustestica and Cornelia P. Rivero were already dead at the time he notarized the Deed of Donation. 2 cralaw He also claimed that he exerted efforts to ascertain the identities of the persons who appeared before him and represented themselves as the donors under the Deed of Donation. ISSUE: Whether or not Respondent committed a falsehood in violation of his oath as a lawyer and his duties as Notary Public HELD: We cannot overemphasize the important role a notary public performs. In Gonzales v. Ramos, we stressed that notarization is not an empty, meaningless routinary act but one invested with substantive public interest. The notarization by a notary public converts a private document into a public document, making it admissible in evidence without further proof of its authenticity. A notarized document is, by law, entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. It is for this reason that a notary public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of his duties; otherwise, the publics confidence in the integrity of a notarized document would be undermined.

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The records undeniably show the gross negligence exhibited by the respondent in discharging his duties as a notary public. He failed to ascertain the identities of the affiants before him and failed to comply with the most basic function that a notary public must do, i.e., to require the parties presentation of their residence certificates or any other document to prove their identities. Given the respondents admission in his pleading that the donors were already dead when he notarized the Deed of Donation, we have no doubt that he failed in his duty to ascertain the identities of the persons who appeared before him as donors in the Deed of Donation. Under the circumstances, we find that the respondent should be made liable not only as a notary public but also as a lawyer. He not only violated the Notarial Law (Public Act No. 2103), but also Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Section 1 of Public Act No. 2103 (Old Notarial Law) states: (a) The acknowledgment shall be made before a notary public or an officer duly authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents in the place where the act is done. The notary public or the officer taking the acknowledgment shall certify that the person acknowledging the instrument or document is known to him and that he is the same person who executed it, and acknowledged that the same is his free act and deed. The certificate shall be made under his official seal, if he is by law required to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall so state. JUAN PABLO P. BONDOC v. JUDGE DIVINA LUZ P. AQUINO-SIMBULAN A.M. No. RTJ-09-2204, 26 October 2009 Former representative of Pampanga Juan Pablo P. Bondoc (Bondoc) charged Judge Divina Luz P. Aquino-Simbulan (Simbulan) with partiality, gross ignorance of the law, and gross misconduct in the handling of the criminal cases for violation of R.A. 3019 and falsification of public documents against Spouses Salvador and Flordeliz Totaan (accused). Bondoc alleged that Judge Simbulan, after having issued an order suspending the accused pendent lite, asked the lawyers of the parties to approach the bench and suggested that the cases be settled because she did not want the accused to be administratively suspended. That at the continuation of the pre-trial, Judge Simbulan asked the accused to choose a date and promised to accommodate the accused in order to effect a speedy trial in view of their suspension. Bondoc also alleged that on the same day, Judge Simbulan directed Atty. Lanee Cui-David (Lanee) to be prepared for the hearing of the cases since accused had been suspended upon motion of Private Prosecutor Stephen David (Stephen), Atty. Lanees husband and cocounsel for Bondoc in the criminal cases. It was also averred that Judge Simbulan never carried out the suspension order against the accused and that despite Atty. Lanees explanation that Atty. Militante (Ombudsman Investigator) refused to testify on the ground that the substance of her testimony is covered by official documents, Judge Simbulan issued an order requiring Atty. Militante to explain why she should not be cited in contempt for failure to follow lawful orders of the court. In the supplemental complaint, Bondoc charged Judge Simbulan with conduct unbecoming of a judge for her denial of private prosecutors motion foe her inhibition. Judge Simbulan, in her Comment, stated that she did not fast track the resolution of the case but it was her habit to act fast on all cases before her. She also denied the charge of partiality for her failure to act on the suspension claiming that it was private prosecutors duty to file a motion to cite responsible heads of government agencies for indirect contempt for their failure to implement the lawful orders of the court. Judge Simbulan also explained that her persistence in requiring Atty. Militantes appearance was due to the misunderstanding between Atty. Militante and the private prosecutors, therefore, she wants to find out the truth. In Bondocs Opposition to the Comment, it was stated that Judge Simbulan refused to answer the serious charges of partiality, abuse of authority and conduct unbecoming of a judge. In Judges Simbulans rejoinder, she requested that Bondoc be made to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt of

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court, and Attys. Stephen and Lanee to show cause why they should not be administratively sanctioned as members of the bar and officers of the court. The complaint against Judge Simbulan was dismissed, hence, OCA recommended that Attys. Stephen and Lanee be cited for indirect contempt since the complaint against Judge Simbulan could not have been filed without the active prodding and instigation of the lawyers and that private prosecutors were the primary sources of the allegations contained therein which Bondoc did not personally witness. HELD: Lawyers have the duty not to promote distrust in the administration of justice.

Attys. Stephen and Lanee David crossed the line of accepted and protected conduct as members of the bar and as officers of the court in the filing of the administrative complaint against the respondent. As the OCA noted, while the complaint was filed in the name of former Representative Juan Pablo P. Bondoc, he never really appeared in court and could not have woven the tale of unfair treatment in the complaint which spoke of intricate courtroom proceedings. The complainant thus relied primarily on the information relayed to him by his lawyers for the particulars of the complaint. More to the point, the two lawyers can reasonably be considered to have authored the allegations in their clients complaint. Nothing is inherently wrong with the complainants dependence on Attys. Stephen and Lanee David for the substance of the complaint. Nonetheless, as officers of the court, counsels are expected to be as truthful and as objective as possible in providing information to their client regarding developments in the courtroom. Needless to say, they owe candor, fairness and good faith to the court. In these regards, Attys. Stephen and Lanee David proved to be wanting. From the pre-trial records quoted below, we find sufficient justification for the conclusion that the information Attys. Stephen and Lanee David supplied their client was patently misleading and slanted to cover up their gross shortcomings as lawyers, as the respondent aptly put it. On four occasions, private prosecutors never appeared before the court prepared. No proof was presented to corroborate the charge that the respondent sought to have the criminal cases settled; neither was there a showing that the respondent fast tracked the cases to favor the accused. The defense of Attys. Stephen and Lanee David that what they did is just a consequence of their commitment to their client can hardly exculpate them. A clients cause does not permit an attorney to cross the line between liberty and license. Lawyers must always keep in perspective that since they are administrators of justice, oath-bound servants of society, their first duty is not to their clients, as many suppose, but to the administration of justice. As a lawyer, he is an officer of the court with the duty to uphold its dignity and authority and not promote distrust in the administration of justice. ALFREDO B. ROA, vs. ATTY. JUAN R. MORENO A.C. No. 8382, 21 April 2010, EN BANC (Carpio, J.) Atty. Juan R. Moreno sold to Roa a parcel of land to Alfredo B. Roa and paid Atty. Moreno P70,000 in cash as full payment for the lot. Atty. Moreno did not issue a deed of sale instead he issued a temporary receipt and a Certificate of Land Occupancy. Atty. Moreno assured Roa that he could use the lot from then on. Roa learned that the Certificate of Land Occupancy could not be registered in the Register of Deeds. When Roa went to see Atty. Moreno, the latter admitted that the real owner of the lot was a certain Rubio. He also said there was a pending legal controversy over the lot. Thereafter, Roa sent a letter to Atty. Moreno demanding the return of the P70,000 paid for the lot. Roa then filed a criminal case against Atty. Moreno. MTC rendered a decision convicting Atty. Moreno of the crime of other forms of swindling under Article 316, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code. On appeal, the RTC, for lack of evidence establishing Atty. Morenos guilt beyond reasonable doubt, acquitted Atty. Moreno.

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Roa filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) an Affidavit-Complaint against Atty. Moreno. The IBP found Atty. Moreno guilty of violating Rules 1.01 and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended to suspend Atty. Moreno from the practice of law for three months and ordered him to return the amount of P70,000. The IBP Board of Governors forwarded the present case to the Supreme Court. ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Moreno should be disciplined and ordered to return the amount of money paid for the sale HELD: Atty. Morenos refusal to return to Roa the money paid for the lot is unbecoming a member of the bar and an officer of the court. By his conduct, Atty. Moreno failed to live up to the strict standard of professionalism required by the Code of Professional Responsibility. Atty. Morenos credibility is highly questionable. Records show that he even issued a bogus Certificate of Land Occupancy to Roa whose only fault was that he did not know better. The Certificate of Land Occupancy has all the badges of intent to defraud. It purports to be issued by the "Office of the General Overseer." It contains a verification by the "Lead, Record Department" that the lot plan "conforms with the record on file." It is even printed on parchment paper strikingly similar to a certificate of title. To the unlettered, it can easily pass off as a document evidencing title. True enough, Roa actually tried, but failed, to register the Certificate of Land Occupancy in the Register of Deeds. Roa readily parted with P70,000 because of the false assurance afforded by the sham certificate. The innocent public who deal in good faith with the likes of Atty. Moreno are not without recourse in law. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states "A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, xxx." Further, Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides "A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct." Conduct, as used in the Rule, is not confined to the performance of a lawyers professional duties. A lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed either in his professional or private capacity. The test is whether his conduct shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or whether it renders him unworthy to continue as an officer of the court. In the present case, Atty. Moreno acted in his private capacity. He misrepresented that he owned the lot he sold to Roa. He refused to return the amount paid by Roa. As a final blow, he denied having any transaction with Roa. It is crystal-clear in the mind of the Court that he fell short of his duty under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The practice of law is not a right but a privilege. It is enjoyed only by those who continue to display unassailable character. Thus, lawyers must conduct themselves beyond reproach at all times, not just in their dealings with their clients but also in their dealings with the public at large, and a violation of the high moral standards of the legal profession justifies the imposition of the appropriate penalty, including suspension and even disbarment. Atty. Morenos refusal to return to Roa the money paid for the lot is unbecoming a member of the bar and an officer of the court. By his conduct, Atty. Moreno failed to live up to the strict standard of professionalism required by the Code of Professional Responsibility. Atty. Morenos acts violated the trust and respect Roa reposed in him as a member of the Bar and an officer of the court. However, the penalty of three-month suspension recommended by the IBP is insufficient to atone for Atty. Morenos misconduct in this case. Supreme Court did not sustain the IBPs recommendation ordering Atty. Moreno to return the money paid by Roa. In disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the only issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to be allowed to continue as a member of the Bar. The court's only concern is the determination of Atty. Morenos administrative liability.

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MANUEL C. YUHICO v. ATTY. FRED L. GUTIERREZ A.C. No. 8391, 23 November 2010, EN BANC (Per Curiam) Atty. Fred Gutierrez asked for a cash loan of P30,000.00 from Manuel Yuhico. Gutierrez then claimed that he needed money to pay for the medical expenses of his mother who was seriously ill. Yuhico immediately handed the money. In turn, Gutierrez promised to pay the loan very soon, since he was expecting to collect his attorney's fees from a Japanese client. Gutierrez again asked Yuhico for a loan, in the amount of P60,000.00, allegedly to pay the medical expenses of his wife who was also hospitalized. Again, Yuhico readily issued to Gutierrez a check amounting to P60,000.00. Again, Gutierrez promised to pay his two loans totalling to P90,000.00 "within a short time." Yuhico asked Gutierrez to pay his loans. Gutierrez failed to pay and in a text message he asked for an extension of time to pay. Later, thru a text message, Gutierrez attempted to borrow money from Yuhico again. Gutierrez claimed that his daughter needed P70,000.00 to pay the fees required to take the licensure examination in the U.S. Medical Board. Gutierrez assured him that he will pay all his debts within a month. However, this time, Yuhico refused to lend Gutierrez any amount of money. Instead, he demanded from Gutierrez the payment of his debts. Gutierrez then sent another text message to Yuhico and requested him to give him another week to pay his debts. Gutierrez failed to make the payment. Yuhico's counsel sent a demand letter to Gutierrez to pay his debts, but to no avail. Thus, Yuhico filed the instant complaint against Gutierrez before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD). On January 12, 2006, the IBP-CBD directed Gutierrez to submit his Answer on the complaint against him. In a Resolution, IBP-CBD found Gutierrez guilty of non-payment of just debts and ordered him to return the amount of P90,000.00 to Yuhico, with interest until full payment. ISSUE: Whether or not Gutierrez guilty of non-payment of just debts and likewise guilty of gross misconduct HELD: Lawyers must, at all times, faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, the courts and to their clients, which include prompt payment of financial obligations Deliberate failure to pay just debts constitutes gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of law. Lawyers are instruments for the administration of justice and vanguards of our legal system. They are expected to maintain not only legal proficiency, but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing so that the peoples faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured. They must, at all times, faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, the courts and to their clients, which include prompt payment of financial obligations. They must conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. In the instant case, there is no question as to Gutierrez's guilt. His admission of the loan he contracted and his failure to pay the same leaves no room for interpretation. Neither can he justify his act of non-payment of debt by his dire financial condition. Gutierrez should not have contracted loans which are beyond his financial capacity to pay. Likewise, it cannot be overlooked Gutierrez's propensity of employing deceit and misrepresentations for the purpose of obtaining debts without the intention of paying them. Records show Gutierrez's pattern of habitually making promises of paying his debts, yet repeatedly failing to deliver. The series of text messages he sent to Yuhico promising to pay his loans, while simultaneously giving excuses without actually making good of his promises, is clearly reprehensible. Undoubtedly, his acts demonstrate

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lack of moral character to satisfy the responsibilities and duties imposed on lawyers as professionals and as officers of the court. Supreme Court also noted that in Huyssen v. Atty. Gutierrez, the Court had already disbarred Gutierrez from the practice of law for gross misconduct due to non-payment of just debts and issuance of bouncing checks. In view of the foregoing, while the court agrees with the findings of the IBP, it cannot, however, adopt its recommendation to disbar Gutierrez for the second time, considering that Gutierrez had already been previously disbarred. Indeed, as the IBP pointed out, the court does not have double or multiple disbarments in its laws or jurisprudence. Neither do it have a law mandating a minimum 5-year requirement for readmission, as cited by the IBP. Thus, while Gutierrez's infraction calls for the penalty of disbarment, court cannot disbar him anew. OFELIA R. SOMOSOT v. ATTY. GERADO F. LARA A.C. No. 7024, 30 January 2009, SECOND DIVISION (Brion, J.) In support of her complaint for disbarment, the complainant alleged that she retained the services of the respondent as her counsel in a collection case filed by Golden Collection Marketing Corporation against her and other co-defendants. Her defense was that it was the corporation who actually owed her P800,000.00. She claimed that she had the evidence to prove this defense at the trial. The respondent agreed to handle the case and duly entered his appearance as counsel after securing his acceptance fee. She alleged, however, that after filing the Answer to the Complaint, the respondent failed to fully inform her of further developments in the case. She only heard about the case when there was already a decision against her and her co-defendants. She even belatedly learned that the respondent had sought his discharge as counsel without her knowledge and consent. Contrary to the respondent's claim that he could no longer locate her, she claimed that the respondent knew all along where she lived and could have easily contacted her had he been in good faith. Execution of the court's decision followed, resulting in the sale of her house and lot at public auction despite her efforts to reverse the judgment with the help of another lawyer. Thereafter, a third party to whom her property had been mortgaged sued her. She found the respondent's excuse - that he could not contact her because she had changed her office address - to be unsatisfactory. She accused the respondent of miserably failing to comply with his oath as a lawyer and to discharge his duty of ably representing her. Respondent denied that he failed to exercise the diligence required of him as counsel. The respondent contended that he had good reasons not to continue as the complainant's counsel. He reasoned out that under the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer may withdraw from a case upon a good cause such as when the client deliberately fails to pay the fees for the lawyer's services, or fails to comply with the terms of the retainer agreement, or when the lawyer is elected or appointed to public office. Two of these possible causes applied to his situation; he was appointed legal consultant at the BOI requiring fulltime work and the complainant had failed to pay his legal fees to him amounting to P27,000.00. He filed the formal notice of withdrawal without the conformity of the complainant because he could not locate her. ISSUE: Whether or not respondent failed to serve his client diligently HELD: We find that the respondent deserves to be sanctioned for having fallen short of the standards required of him as defense counsel. He violated the basic rule, expressed under Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, that "a lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence." While it may be said that the respondent did not completely abandon the case, his handling of the complainant's defense left much to be desired. The complainant was never informed the development of the case and the omission eventually led to the grant of the plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings, which in turn led to the decision against the defendants. The respondent failed to precisely allege in his submissions how he tried to contact the

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defendant on or about the time the interrogatories and request for admission were pending. It appears that he really had not; by his own admission, his attempt to contact the complainant came in December 2001 and only to inform her of his government appointment and to collect his billings. It was only after the discovery of the closure of the defendant's office did the respondent try to contact the complainant and her husband by cellular phone, but they could not be reached. Assuming the non-payment to be true, such failure should not be a reason not to inform the client of an important development, or worse, to withhold vital information from her. The respondent failed to provide details on the developments that led to the adverse rulings on the interrogatories/admissions and the judgment on the pleadings. On the matter of the respondent's withdrawal from the case, the respondent might have had valid reasons to withdraw and terminate his relationship with his client. As the respondent now states, he could withdraw under paragraphs (e) and (f) of the Code of Professional Responsibility - i.e., deliberate failure of the client to pay the fees for the services, or failure to comply with the retainer agreement, or appointment or election to public office. However, he does not appear to have cited these reasons before the trial court. Instead, he merely filed a Notice of Withdrawal of Appearance, citing his client's unknown location and failure to communicate as reasons for his client's lack of express consent to his withdrawal. It is undisputed that the trial court denied the respondent's notice of withdrawal; thus, he remained as counsel of record burdened with all the responsibilities that his representation carried. What lightens the impact of the respondent's mishandling of the case is the complainant's own failings as a client. The non-payment of fees is a factor that we cannot simply disregard. As a rule, law practice is not a pro bono proposition and a lawyer's sensitivity and concern for unpaid fees are understandable; lawyers incur expenses in running their practice and generally depend, too, on their law practice income for their living expenses. Likewise, the respondent's appointment as a consultant should be considered although it is a matter that none of the parties have fully examined. Both the non-payment of fees and the appoint to a public office, however, were not reasons properly presented before the trial court through a motion that informed the court of all the surrounding circumstances of the desired withdrawal. Instead, another reason was given by way of a mere notice lacking the client's express consent. Thus, the court's denial of the desired withdrawal was not totally unexpected. However, we cannot also disbar the respondent as the complainant demands in light of the complainant's own contributory faults. Disbarment is an ultimate remedy in the professional world, no less serious and weighty as the power to impose reclusion perpetua in criminal cases; in both, recovery from the penalty - although not totally impossible - is extremely difficult to attain. Thus, we must at all times act with caution and due consideration, taking into account not only the interests of the immediate parties, but the interest of the public, the bar and the administration of justice as well. WILSON CHAM v. ATTY. EVA PAITA-MOYA A.C. No. 7494, 27 June 2008, THIRD DIVISION (Chico-Nazario, J.) A disbarment complaint was filed by Wilson Cham against respondent Atty. Eva Paita-Moya, who he alleged committed deceit in occupying a leased apartment unit and, thereafter, vacating the same without paying the rentals due. Respondent entered into a Contract of Lease with Greenville Realty and Development Corp. (GRDC), represented by complainant as its President and General Manager, involving a residential apartment unit owned by GRDC located at No. 61-C Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City, for a consideration of P8,000.00 per month for a term of one year. Upon the expiration of said lease contract, respondent informed the complainant that she would no longer renew the same but requested an extension of her stay at the apartment unit until 30 June 2000 with a commitment that she would be paying the monthly rental during the extension period. Complainant approved such request but increased the rental rate to P8,650.00 per month. Respondent stayed in said premises for several months without paying any rent and even failing to pay her electric bills. A report reached complainant's office that respondent had secretly vacated the apartment unit, bringing along with

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her the door keys. Also, respondent did not heed complainant's repeated written demands for payment of her obligations despite due receipt of the same, compelling complainant to file the present Complaint. Respondent alleged that she had religiously paid her monthly rentals and had not vacated the apartment unit surreptitiously. She also averred that she transferred to another place because she was given notice by the complainant to vacate the premises to give way for the repair and renovation of the same, but which never happened until presently. Respondent actually wanted to ask that complainant to account for her deposit for the apartment unit, but she could not do so since she did not know complainant's address or contact number. For the same reason, she could not turn over to the complainant the door keys to the vacated apartment unit. ISSUE: Whether or not respondent has violated the Code of Professional Responsibility HELD: Lawyers must promptly pay their financial obligations.

A review of the records would reveal that respondent is, indeed, guilty of willful failure to pay just debt. Complainant is able to fully substantiate that respondent has existing obligations that she failed to settle. Respondent did not expressly deny receipt of letters of demand in her Answer to the Complaint. Having failed to rebut the foregoing allegations, she must be deemed to have admitted them. A receipt is a written and signed acknowledgment that money or goods have been delivered. In the instant case, the respondent failed to discharge the burden of proving payment, for she was unable to produce receipts or any other proof of payment. It is thus evident to this Court that respondent willfully failed to pay her just debts. It is thus evident to this Court that respondent willfully failed to pay her just debts. Having incurred just debts, respondent had the moral duty and legal responsibility to settle them when they became due. Respondent should have complied with just contractual obligations, and acted fairly and adhered to high ethical standards to preserve the court's integrity, since she is an employee thereof. Indeed, when respondent backtracked on her duty to pay her debts, such act already constituted a ground for administrative sanction. Respondent left the apartment unit without settling her unpaid obligations, and without the complainant's knowledge and consent. Respondent's abandonment of the leased premises to avoid her obligations for the rent and electricity bills constitutes deceitful conduct violative of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly Canon I and Rule 1.01 thereof, which explicitly state: "CANON 1- A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes. "Rule 1.01- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to their clients. As part of those duties, they must promptly pay their financial obligations. Their conduct must always reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. On these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend lawyers for any professional or private misconduct showing them to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor -- or to be unworthy to continue as officers of the Court. HEIRS OF BOBADILLA v. JAIME CASTILLO G.R. No. 165771, 29 June 2007, SECOND DIVISION (CARPIO MORALES, J.) For over 20 years, Antonio Bobadilla, Maria Del Mundo and Ernesto, Danilo, Policarpio, have been leasing portions of a 348 square meter parcel of land located at Gen. Luna Street in Caloocan City on a verbal agreement from owner Virginia Rayo. After August 1991, Rayo offered to sell the land to Bobadilla. Rayo gave Bobadilla two months to decide whether to purchase the land. Having heard nothing from Bobadilla after two months, Rayo sold the parcel of land to Jaime Castillo.

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Castillo required Bobadilla, Del Mundo and the Serranos to vacate the land after failing to heed his previous demands to pay a monthly rental of P10 per square meter. Bobadilla instituted a complaint at the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to annul the sale between Rayo and Castillo based on fraud and bad faith. Bobadilla asserted the right of first refusal of their predecessor-in-interest under Presidential Decree No. 1517, otherwise known as the Urban Land Reform Act. As the decree is not self-executing, Proclamation No. 1967 was issued identifying 244 specific sites in Metropolitan Manila as Areas for Priority Development (APD) and Urban Land Reform Zones (ULRZ). HELD: pleadings. Lawyers must exercise utmost care and complete candor in the preparation of

This Court observes the perfunctory manner by which Castillo complied with this Courts Resolution requiring him to comment on the petition. In his terse comment incorporated in his Compliance, he pithily averred in one sweeping paragraph that the allegations contained in the petition are all rehash or reiterations of the issues and arguments already passed upon by the appellate court. With such lackadaisical outlook, Castillo blinded himself with what appeared to be gross misrepresentation foisted by Bobadilla, which would have otherwise put him on guard. At this juncture, it is apropos to firmly remind lawyers of their duties, as officers of the court, to exercise utmost care and complete candor in the preparation of pleadings and to lay before the court the pertinent facts with methodical and meticulous attention, without any suppression, obscuration, misrepresentation or distortion thereof. RE: LETTER OF PRESIDING JUSTICE CONRADO M. VASQUEZ, JR. ON CA-G.R.-SP NO. 103692 [ANTONIO ROSETE, ET AL. V. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, ET AL.] A.M. No. 08-8-11-CA, 9 September 2008, EN BANC (PER CURIAM)

LETTER OF CECILIO Y. AREVALO, JR., REQUESTING EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF IBP DUES B.M. 1370, 9 May 2005, EN BANC (Chico-Nazario, J.) Atty. Cecilio Y. Arevalo, Jr. (Arevalo) sought exemption from payment of IBP dues as alleged unpaid accountability for the years 1977-2005. He claims that after having been admitted to the bar on 1961 he worked for the Civil Service Commission from 1962 to 1986. Subsequently, he migrated to the United States and until his retirement in 2003. He maintains that he cannot be assessed IBP dues for the years that he was working in the Philippine Civil Service since the Civil Service law prohibits the practice of one's profession while in government service, and neither can he be assessed for the years when he was working in the USA. The IBP submitted its comment stating: that membership in the IBP is not based on the actual practice of law; that a lawyer continues to be included in the Roll of Attorneys as long as he continues to be a member of the IBP; that one of the obligations of a member is the payment of annual dues as determined by the IBP Board of Governors and duly approved by the Supreme Court as provided for in Sections 9 and 10, Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court; that the validity of imposing dues on the IBP members has been upheld as necessary to defray the cost of an Integrated Bar Program; and that the policy of the IBP Board of Governors of no exemption from payment of dues is but an implementation of the Court's directives for all members of the IBP to help in defraying the cost of integration of the bar. It maintained that there is no rule allowing the exemption of payment of annual dues as requested by respondent, that what is allowed is voluntary termination and reinstatement of membership. It asserted that what petitioner could have done was to inform the secretary of the IBP of his intention to stay abroad, so that his membership in the IBP could have been terminated, thus, his obligation to pay dues could have been stopped.

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In his reply, Atty. Arevalo contends that the Policy of Non-Exemption would indubitably be oppressive to him considering that he has been in an inactive status and is without income derived from his law practice. He adds that his removal from nonpayment of annual membership dues would constitute deprivation of property right without due process of law. ISSUE: Whether or not an inactive member of the Bar may be compelled to pay his IBP dues HELD: Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions, one of which is the payment of membership dues - failure to abide by any of them entails the loss of such privilege if the gravity thereof warrants such drastic move. An "Integrated Bar" is a State-organized Bar, to which every lawyer must belong, as distinguished from bar association organized by individual lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary. Integration of the Bar is essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is afforded an opportunity to do his shares in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as well as obliged to bear his portion of its responsibilities. Organized by or under the direction of the State, an Integrated Bar is an official national body of which all lawyers are required to be members. They are, therefore, subject to all the rules prescribed for the governance of the Bar, including the requirement of payment of a reasonable annual fee for the effective discharge of the purposes of the Bar. The integration of the Philippine Bar means the official unification of the entire lawyer population. This requires membership and financial support of every attorney as condition sine qua non to the practice of law and the retention of his name in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court. Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is free to attend or not to attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses. The only compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment of his annual dues. Moreover, there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the Court, under its constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules concerning the admission to the practice of law and in the integration of the Philippine Bar - which power required members of a privileged class, such as lawyers are, to pay a reasonable fee toward defraying the expenses of regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is quite apparent that the fee is, indeed, imposed as a regulatory measure, designed to raise funds for carrying out the noble objectives and purposes of integration. The compulsory nature of payment of dues subsists for as long as one's membership in the IBP remains regardless of the lack of practice of, or the type of practice, the member is engaged in. IBP in its comment stated that the IBP Board of Governors is in the process of discussing the situation of members under inactive status and the nonpayment of their dues during such inactivity. In the meantime, Atty. Arevalo is duty bound to comply with his obligation to pay membership dues to the IBP. Atty. Arevalo also contends that the enforcement of the penalty of removal would amount to a deprivation of property without due process and hence infringes on one of his constitutional rights. Petitioner also contends that the enforcement of the penalty of removal would amount to a deprivation of property without due process and hence infringes on one of his constitutional rights. As a final note, it must be borne in mind that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions, one of which is the payment of membership dues. Failure to abide by any of them entails the loss of such privilege if the gravity thereof warrants such drastic move. RODANTE D. MARCOLETA v. RESURRECCION Z. BORRA AND ROMEO A. BRAWNER A.C. No. 7732, 30 March 2009, SECOND DIVISION (Carpio Morales, J.) Atty. Marcoleta filed a complaint for disbarment against Comelec Commissioners Atty. Borra and Atty. Brawner for violating Canons 1 (1.01, 1.02 and 1.03) and 3 (3.01, 3.02, 3.05 and 3.06) of the Code of Judicial Conduct CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW OF AND LEGAL PROCESSES. Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

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Rule 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. Rule 1.03 - A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any man's cause. Canon 3 - A JUDGE SHOULD PERFORM OFFICIAL DUTIES HONESTLY, AND WITH IMPARTIALITY AND DILIGENCE ADJUDICATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES Rule 3.01. A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. Rule 3.02. In every case, a judge shall endeavor diligently to ascertain the facts and the applicable law unswayed by partisan interests, public opinion or fear of criticism. Rule 3.05. A judge shall dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases within the required periods. Rule 3.06. While a judge may, to promote justice, prevent waste of time or clear up some obscurity, property intervene in the presentation of evidence during the trial, it should always be borne in mind that undue interference may prevent the proper presentation of the cause or the ascertainment of truth. and Canons 4, 5, 6 and 17 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics. Additionally, complainant charges respondents of violating Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. During the 2007 National and Local Elections, the warring factions of complainant and Diogenes S. Osabel (Osabel) each filed a separate list of nominees for the party-list group Alagad. With Alagad winning a seat in the House of Representatives, the two protagonists contested the right to represent the party. By Omnibus Resolution of July 18, 2007, the dispute was resolved by the Comelecs First Division in favor of Osabel. Commissioner Borra wrote the ponencia while Commissioner Brawner concurred. The dispute was elevated to the Comelec En Banc which, by Resolution of November 6, 2007, reversed the First Division Resolution and reinstated the certificate of nomination of complainants group. For failing to muster the required majority voting, however, the Comelec ordered the re-hearing of the controversy. Notwithstanding the conduct of a re-hearing, the necessary majority vote could not still be obtained. The Comelecs First Divisions Omnibus Resolution was eventually affirmed. Respondent Brawner, in his Answer dated April 2, 2008, asserted in the main that the remedy of complainant is not to file a complaint for disbarment, but to file an appeal before [the Supreme Court] via [p]etition for [c]ertiorari, and that being members of a constitutional body enjoying presumption of regularity in the performance of their functions, he and co-respondent Borra are supposed to be insulated from a disbarment complaint for being impeachable officers. In his Comment, respondent Borra contended that the Code of Judicial Conduct and Canons of Judicial Ethics could be made to apply to him and his co-respondent, they not being members of the judiciary; and that since they performed quasi-judicial functions as well as administrative duties, they were bound by the Comelecs own set of internal rules and procedure over and above a Code of Conduct that prescribed the norms and standards of behavior to be observed by the officials and employees of the Comelec, a constitutional body. Respondent Borra further contended that present complaint was premature as the validity and legality of the resolutions are still subject to review; and that the complaint was meant to harass [him] and punish him for exercising his judgment on the case filed before him. The Court took notice that respondent Borra had retired from the Comelec on February 2, 2008 while respondent Brawner passed away on May 29, 2008. As regards respondent Brawner then, the present case was already moot. ISSUE: Whether or not complaint for disbarment is the proper remedy and not appeal HELD: An impeachable officer who is a member of the Bar cannot be disbarred without first being impeached. At the outset, the Court, guided by its pronouncements in previous cases, has laid down the rule that an impeachable officer who is a member of the Bar cannot be disbarred without first being impeached. As an impeachable officer who is at the same time a member of the Bar, respondent Borra must first be

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removed from office via the constitutional route of impeachment before he may be held to answer administratively for his supposed errant resolutions and actions. The Court thus found respondent Borras contention that the grounds-bases of the disbarment complaint, fastened on supposed errors of judgment or grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts, were proper for an appeal, hence, complainants remedy was judicial, not administrative. The Court stated that the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary applied only to courts of law, of which the Comelec was not, hence, sanctions pertaining to violations thereof were made exclusively applicable to judges and justices in the judiciary, not to quasi-judicial officers like the Comelec chairman and members, who have their own codes of conduct to steer them. Even if the Court were to gauge the assailed actions of respondent Borra under the Code of Professional Responsibility, no specific incidents and sufficient evidence can be gathered to show that respondent did engage in dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct in his capacity as a lawyer. It bears reiteration that the acts particularized in the complaint pertain to respondent Borras duties as a Comelec commissioner. As for the release of retirement benefits to respondent Borra, there was nothing irregular therewith, the same being in line with Memorandum Circular No. 10 (series of 1995) of the Office of the Ombudsman reading: x x x a person retiring from the government service, whether optional or compulsory, needs only to present a certification from this Office whether or not he has a pending criminal or administrative case with it. In the event the certification presented states that the prospective retiree has a pending case, the responsibility of determining whether to release his retirement benefits, as well as the imposition of necessary safeguards to ensure restitution thereof in the event the retiree is found guilty, rests upon and shall be left to the sound discretion of the head of the department, office or agency concerned. ERLINDA R. TAROG v. ATTY. ROMULO L. RICAFORT A.C. No. 8253 (Formerly CBD Case No. 03-1067), 15 March 2011, EN BANC (Per Curiam) The Tarogs engaged the services of Atty. Ricafort as their attorney on accountregarding their bankforeclosed property located in the Bicol Region. Atty. Ricafort required the Tarogs to pay P7,000.00 as filing fee, which they gave to him. He explained the importance of depositing P65,000.00 in court to counter the P60,000.00 deposited by Antonio Tee, the buyer of the foreclosed property. After some time, the Tarogs visited Atty. Ricafort to verify the status of the consignation. Atty. Ricafort informed them that he had not deposited the amount (in check) in court, but in his own account. He promised to return the money, plus interest. Despite several inquiries about when the amount would be returned, however, the Tarogs received mere assurances from Atty. Ricafort that the money was in good hands. The Tarogs furthered delivered P15,000.00 to Atty. Ricafort for making a memorandum, but he did not file the memorandum. When it became apparent to the Tarogs that Atty. Ricafort would not make good his promise of returning the P65,000.00, plus interest, Arnulfo demanded by his letter dated December 3, 2002 that Atty. Ricafort return the P65,000.00, plus interest, and the P15,000.00 paid for the filing of the memorandum. Yet, they did not receive any reply from Atty. Ricafort. In his defense, Atty. Ricafort denied that the P65,000.00 was intended to be deposited in court, insisting that the amount was payment for his legal services under a "package deal. Findings of the IBP Commissioner: Atty. Romulo L. Ricafort be DISBARRED and be ordered to return the amount of P65,000 and P15,000 which he got from his client. Commissioner Reyes concluded that Atty. Ricafort violated Canon 15, and Rules 16.01, 16.02 and 16.03 of Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility by taking advantage of the vulnerability of his clients and by being dishonest in his dealings with them by refusing to return the amount of P65,000.00 to them.

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The IBP Board of Governors adopted the Resolution resolving to return the matter to Commissioner Reyes for a clarification of whether or not there was evidence to support the claim that the P65,000.00 had been in payment of attorney's fees and other expenses. Commissioner Reyes issued a second Report and Recommendation, in which he declared that Atty. Ricafort did not present any retainer agreement or receipt to prove that the amount of P65,000.00 had been part of his attorney's fees; that Atty. Ricafort had willfully ignored the demand of Arnulfo by not replying to the demand letter; that, instead, Atty. Ricafort had insisted that the househelp who had received the demand letter had not given it to him; and that in his (Commissioner Reyes) presence, Atty. Ricafort had also promised to the complainant that he would settle his liability, but Atty. Ricafort did not make good his promise despite several resettings to allow him to settle his obligation. The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Reyes and recommended the disbarment of Atty. Ricafort and the order for him to return the amounts of P65,000.00 and P15,000.00 to Erlinda. Atty. Ricafort moved for reconsideration, maintaining that a retainer agreement was immaterial because he had affirmed having received the P65,000.00 and having issued a receipt for the amount; that he had not kept the receipt because "the practice of lawyers in most instances is that receipt is issued without duplicate as it behooves upon the client to demand for a receipt and considering that the Tarogs had produced a photocopy of the receipt he had issued for the P30,000.00 in connection with their appeal, it followed that a similar receipt for attorney's fees had been made at the time when the case had been about to be filed in the RTC. Acting on Atty. Ricafort's motion for reconsideration, the IBP Board of Governors downgraded the penalty from disbarment to indefinite suspension. Atty. Ricafort filed a second motion for reconsideration, assailing the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors for violating Section 12, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court requiring the decision of the IBP Board of Governors to be in writing and to clearly and distinctly state the facts and reasons on which the decision was based. Hence, the administrative case is now before the Court for resolution. ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Ricafort may be disbarred based on the grounds mentioned HELD: SC affirmed the findings of the Commissioner Reyes, because they were supported by substantial evidence. However, SC imposed the penalty of disbarment instead of the recommended penalty of indefinite suspension considering that Atty. Ricafort committed a very serious offense that was aggravated by his having been previously administratively sanctioned for a similar offense on the occasion of which he was warned against committing a similar offense. Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that Rule 16.01 - A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client. Atty. Ricafort explained that he had no copies of the receipts for the P65,000.00 and P15,000.00 issued to the Tarogs because "the practice of lawyers in most instances is that receipt is issued without duplicate as it behooves upon the client to demand for a receipt." But such explanation does not persuade the Court. Ethical and practical considerations made it both natural and imperative for him to issue receipts, even if not demanded, and to keep copies of the receipts for his own records. He was all too aware that he was accountable for the moneys entrusted to him by the clients, and that his only means of ensuring accountability was by issuing and keeping receipts. Atty. Ricafort's acts and actuations constituted serious breach of his fiduciary duties as an attorney. Undoubtedly, Atty. Ricafort was required to hold in trust any money and property of his clients that came into his possession, and he needed to be always mindful of the trust and confidence his clients reposed in him.Thus, having obtained the funds from the Tarogs in the course of his professional employment, he had the obligation to deliver such funds to his clients (a) when they became due, or (b) upon demand.

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Furthermore, Rule 16.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, imposes on an attorney the positive obligation to keep all funds of his client separate and apart from his own and from those of others kept by him, to wit: Rule 16.02 - A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own and those of others kept by him. Atty. Ricafort's plain abuse of the confidence reposed in him by his clients rendered him liable for violation of Canon 16, particularly Rule 16.01, supra, and Canon 17, all of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Canon 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. His acts and actuations constituted a gross violation of general morality and of professional ethics that impaired public confidence in the legal profession and deserved punishment. Conrado G. Fernandez vs. Atty. Maria Angelica P. De Ramos-Villalon A.C. No. 7084, Fernandez was the respondent in a Civil case in which Palacios sought to nullify the Deed of donation he purportedly executed in favor of Fernandez. Atty. Villalon was Palacios counsel at the early part of that case until she withdrew after her appointment as prosecutor of QC. In that civil case, Palacios alleged that he was the owner of a lot in Brgy. San Lorenzo, Makati City and he became aware that his lot was being eyed by a land-grabbing syndicate by pretending to be him and filing a Petition for Reconstitution of Lost Owners Duplicate Original Copy of his title. Palacios seek the help of Fernandez and they eventually succeeded. Palacios visited the Village administrator of the San Lorenzo Village Association and bumped into Mrs. Lirio who expressed her interest in Palacios property. She heard that it was being sold by Fernandez. Palacios was shocked and upon investigation he discovered that Fernandez had falsified a Deed of donation that he (Palacios) purportedly executed in favor of Fernandez. The deed was duly registered and the TCT in Palacios name was cancelled and a new TCT was issued in Fernandez name. Palacios then employed the services of Atty. Villalon to file a complaint for the declaration of nullity of the Deed of Donation. In his Answer, Fernandez claimed that the transfer of title in his name was proper on account of a Deed of Absolute Sale and it was Palacios who falsified the Deed of Donation to cheat the government in paying lower taxes (donors tax instead of capital gains tax) and in order to have a ground for the annulment of the new TCT issued in favor of him and to recover the property. Fernandez filed a complaint for DISBARMENT against Atty. Villalon for violation of Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. Rule 10.01 - 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. Rule 10.02 - A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or mispresent the contents of a paper, the language or the argument of opposing counsel, or the text of a decision or authority, or knowingly cite as law a provision already rendered inoperative by repeal or amendment, or assert as a fact that which has not been proved. Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. Rule 1.01, Rule 7.03, Rule 10.01, Rule 10.02 and Rule 10.03 if the Canons of Professional Responsibility in the ff. grounds:

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1. suppressed and excluded in the Original and Amended Complaint her knowledge about the existence of the Deed of Absolute Sale dated January 12, 2005; 2. used the fake and spurious Deed of Donation to deceive the court into trying Civil Case No. 051071, the action for the annulment of TCT No. 220869, despite her knowledge of the existence of the Deed of Absolute Sale; 3. committed misrepresentations as follows: to verify whether the attached Deed of Absolute Sale was properly notarized, the respondent Villalon personally inquired before the notarial section of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City thru a letter-request, whether a record of the deed existed in the said office; in the letter-request, the respondent misrepresented that there was already a pending case in the RTC of Makati before November 9, 2005; 4. refused to receive the complainants Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim so that she could file on behalf of her client an Amended Complaint without leave of court and without presenting the Deed of Absolute Sale; 5. induced her witness Agnes Heredia (Heredia) to sign a false Affidavit by telling her that it would only be for purposes of compelling Fernandez to pay additional sums to her client; however, Atty. Villalon used it as evidence to frame the complainant Fernandez for her own personal gain; 6. only submitted the Deed of Donation for signature examination and certification by the NBI and intentionally failed to submit the Deed of Absolute Sale The Court referred the case to the IBP for investigation. Commissioner Funa of the IBP recommended dismissal the case stating that Atty.Villalon did not commit any act for which she should be disciplined or administratively sanctioned. With regard to the first & second ground, Commissioner agrees with Atty. Villalons argument that only the clients opeative facts and not other evidentiary facts need to be included in the Complaint. It is correct for the respondent to argue that said Deed of Sale was a matter of defense which defendant can freely point out to the trial judge through his own pleading. It cannot be said that respondent suppressed it when in fact the existence of the document is known to everyone else especially the opposing party. With regard to the third ground, assuming a misrepresentation was committed, such act does not attain a degree of materiality or gravity so as to attribute evil malice on the part of the respondent. The intent remains which is to obtain relevant information. Besides a civil complaint was in fact filed the very next day the letter was sent. As to the fourth ground, such has not been factually substantiated. Fernandez filed a Petition for Review in the SC alleging that Commissioner Funa committed a grave abuse of discretion in recommending the dismissal of the disbarment case and in failing to resolve one of the matters regarding the affidavit of Heredia. ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Villalon can be disbarred on such grounds HELD: A lawyer has the duty to be truthful in all his dealings, however, such duty does not require that a lawyer advance matters of defense on behalf of the clients opponent. A lawyer, as an officer of the court, has a duty to be truthful in all his dealings. However, this duty does not require that the lawyer advance matters of defense on behalf of his or her clients opponent. A lawyer is his or her clients advocate; while duty-bound to utter no falsehood, an advocate is not obliged to build the case for his or her clients opponent. Assuming arguendo that the respondent knew of the presence of the Deed of Absolute Sale, its existence, is, indeed a matter of defense for Fernandez. SAN JOSE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION v. ATTY. ROBERTO B. ROMANILLOS A.C. No. 5580, 15 June 2005, EN BANC (Per Curiam) Atty. Roberto B. Romanillos (Romanillos) represented San Jose Homeowners Association, Inc. (SJHAI) before the Human Settlements Regulation Commission (HSRC) in a case against Durano and

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Corp., Inc. (DCI). The suit was for violation of the Subdivision and Condominium Buyers Protection Act (PD 957). SJHAI alleged that a certain lot was designated as a school site in the subdivision plan that DCI submitted to the Bureau of Lands, but no school was ever built, and in fact, the subject lot was sold by DCI to spouses Ramon and Beatriz Durano. While Atty. Robert B. Romanillos (Romanillos) was still counsel for San Jose Homeowners Association, Inc. (SJHAI), he represented Myrna and Antonio Montealegre in requesting for SJHAIs conformity to construct a school building in the subject lot, to be purchased from the spouses Durano. This request was denied, and Romanillos applied for clearance before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) in behalf of the Montealegres. It was at this point that SJHAI terminated his services as counsel, and got another lawyer. When Romanillos acted as counsel for Lydia Durano-Rodriguez against SJHAI, the latter filed a disbarment case against him. Upon investigation, it was found and recommended that Romanillos failed to observe candor and fairness in dealing with his clients, representing the Montealegres against SJHAI even when he served as Board Member and counsel of the latter, and even served as counsel for DCI in a suit against SJHAI. Romanillos got off with an admonition but continued to act as DCIs counsel in the latter case, which prompted SJHAI to file a second disbarment case, concerning such representation, and adding that Romanillos has been using the title Judge in his advertisements. ISSUE: Whether or not Romanillos is guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility HELD: Lawyers must at all times uphold and respect the law.

It is inconsequential that petitioner never questioned the propriety of respondents continued representation of Lydia Durano-Rodriguez. The lack of opposition does not mean tacit consent. As long as the lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two (2) or more opposing clients, he is guilty of violating his oath. Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility specifically mandates that a lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure. Incidentally, it is also misleading for respondent to insist that he was exonerated in A.C. No. 4783. We agree with the IBP that respondents continued use of the title "Judge" violated Rules 1.01 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in deceitful conduct and from using any misleading statement or claim regarding qualifications or legal services. The quasi-judicial notice he posted in the billboards referring to himself as a judge is deceiving. It was a clear attempt to mislead the public into believing that the order was issued in his capacity as a judge when he was dishonorably stripped of the privilege. Roomanillos did not honorably retire from the judiciary. He resigned from being a judge during the pendency of Zarate v. Judge Romanillos, where he was eventually found guilty of grave and serious misconduct and would have been dismissed from the service had he not resigned. In that case, respondent was found guilty of illegal solicitation and receipt of P10,000.00 from a party litigant. The penalty imposed upon him in said case included forfeiture of all leave and retirement benefits and privileges to which he may be entitled with prejudice to reinstatement and/or reemployment in any branch or instrumentality of government, including government-owned or controlled agencies or corporations. Certainly, the use of the title Judge is one of such privileges. Membership in the legal profession is a special privilege burdened with conditions. It is bestowed upon individuals who are not only learned in law, but also known to possess good moral character. Lawyers should act and comport themselves with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach, in order to promote the publics faith in the legal profession. To say that lawyers must at all times uphold and respect the law is to state the obvious, but such statement can never be overemphasized. Considering that, "of all classes and professions, lawyers are most sacredly bound to uphold the law," it is imperative that they live by the law. Accordingly, lawyers who violate their oath and engage in deceitful conduct have no place in the legal profession.

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RE: REPORT ON THE FINANCIAL AUDIT OF THE BOOKS OF ATTY. RAQUEL G. KHO A.M. No. P-06-2177, 19 April 2007, FIRST DIVISION (Corona, J.) During an audit of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) of the books of accounts of Atty. Raquel G. Kho (Kho), former clerk of court of the RTC in Eastern Samar, it was found that there was a shortage of money in the General Fund, the Sheriffs General Fund, the Fiduciary Fund, and the Special Allowance for the Judiciary Fund. According to Kho, he was not able to deposit the money immediately with the Land Bank since there was no branch thereof in their locality. He said that it had been his practice to keep the money in the courts safety vault. In addition to such shortages, it was found that Kho and his common-law wife had been in the practice of lending out the money the former receives in his capacity as clerk of court. They would then earn interest on the money loaned out. It was also found that some of the money had been kept in the vault for more than year, in clear violation of the OCA Circular in 1993. ISSUE: Whether or not Kho has violated the Code of Professional Responsibility HELD: Public office is a public trust. Those charged with the dispensation of justice, from the justices and judges to the lowliest clerks, should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. Not only must their conduct at all times be characterized by propriety and decorum but, above all else, it must be beyond suspicion. A clerk of court, aside from being the custodian of the courts funds, revenues, property and premises, is also entrusted with the primary responsibility of correctly and effectively implementing regulations regarding fiduciary funds. Safekeeping of funds and collections is essential to an orderly administration of justice and no protestation of good faith can override the mandatory nature of the circulars designed to promote full accountability for government funds. Clerks of court have always been reminded of their duty to immediately deposit the various funds received by them to the authorized government depositories for they are not supposed to keep funds in their custody. The failure to remit the funds in due time constitutes gross dishonesty and gross misconduct. It diminishes the faith of the people in the Judiciary. Dishonesty, being in the nature of a grave offense, carries the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service even if committed for the first time. However, Kho showed remorse by immediately restituting the cash shortages and complying with the directives of the audit team. And considering that this is his first offense, we find that the penalty of P10,000 fine is sufficient. Moreover, his misconduct reflects on his fitness as a member of the bar. His malfeasance prima facie contravenes Canon 1, Rule 1.01of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Hence, he should explain why no further disciplinary sanction should be imposed on him. ATTY. EVELYN J. MAGNO V. ATTY. OLIVIA VELASCO-JACOBA A.C. No. 6296, 22 November 2005, THIRD DIVISION (Garcia, J.) Atty. Evelyn Magno (Magno) had a disagreement with her uncle, Lorenzo Inos (inos) over a landscaping contract they had entered into. In order to set things right, Magno addressed a letter, styled Sumbong to Bonifacio Alcantara (Alcantara), their barangay captain. During the conciliation/confrontation proceedings, Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba (Jacoba) appeared for Inos, on the strength of a Special Power of Attorney, together with Inos son, Lorenzito. When Magno objected to Jacobas appearance, the latter said that she was there not as counsel, but only as attorney-in-fact.

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However, Jacoba, according to Magnos evidence, acted as counsel during the proceedings, asserting her procedural know-how into every stage thereof, which made the proceedings drag on longer than normal. It was because of these numerous instances that Magno charged Jacoba with willful violation of the Local Government Code and the Code of Professional Responsibility. ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba is guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility HELD: Jacoba alleged that the administrative complaint was filed with the Office of the Punong Barangay, instead of before the Lupong Tagapamayapa, and heard by Punong Barangay Bonifacio Alcantara alone, instead of the collegial Lupon or a conciliation panel known as pangkat. Prescinding from this premise, she submits that the prohibition against a lawyer appearing to assist a client in katarungan pambarangay proceedings does not apply. Further, she argued that her appearance was not as a lawyer, but only as an attorney-in-fact. The rationale behind the personal appearance requirement in the LGC is to enable the lupon to secure first hand and direct information about the facts and issues, the exception being in cases where minors or incompetents are parties. There can be no quibbling that laymen of goodwill can easily agree to conciliate and settle their disputes between themselves without what sometimes is the unsettling assistance of lawyers whose presence could sometimes obfuscate and confuse issues. Worse still, the participation of lawyers with their penchant to use their analytical skills and legal knowledge tend to prolong instead of expedite settlement of the case. The prohibition against the presence of a lawyer in a barangay conciliation proceedings was not, to be sure, lost on respondent. Her defense that the aforequoted Section 415 of the LGC does not apply since complainant addressed her Sumbong to the barangay captain of Brgy. San Pascual who thereafter proceeded to hear the same is specious at best. In this regard, suffice it to state that complainant wrote her Sumbong with the end in view of availing herself of the benefits of barangay justice. That she addressed her Sumbong to the barangay captain is really of little moment since the latter chairs the Lupong Tagapamayapa. Given the above perspective, the Supreme Court joins the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline in its determination that respondent transgressed the prohibition prescribed in Section 415 of the LGC. However, its recommended penalty of mere admonition must have to be modified. Doubtless, respondents conduct tended to undermine the laudable purpose of the katarungan pambarangay system. What compounded matters was when respondent repeatedly ignored complainants protestation against her continued appearance in the barangay conciliation proceedings. BENILDA M. MADDELA v. ATTY. ROSALIE DALLONG-GALICINAO A.C. No. 6491, 31 January 2005, FIRST DIVISION (Davide, CJ, J.) A disbarment case was filed before the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) by herein complainant Benilda M. Maddela (Maddela) against Atty. Rosalie Dallong-Galicinao (Atty. Galicinao) for acts unbecoming a public servant and a lawyer, grave misconduct and slander. Maddela averred that she loaned an amount of Forty Thousand Pesos (P40,000.00) from Atty. Galicinao. In November 2001, since part of the loan remained unpaid, Atty. Galicinao went to Maddela's office and took the latters cash gift check amounting to Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000) in her absence and without her knowledge. There, Atty. Galicinao 'uttered unsavory and humiliating words' against her. On other occasions, Atty. Galicinao collected from Maddela an amount equivalent to one-half of the face value of the checks she received as benefit from the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).

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On 10 December 2002, the respondent went again to the office of the complainant and demanded one-half of the value of the check representing a cash gift of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000). Maddela refused, reasoning that it was a cash gift, not a JDF check and, therefore, not covered by their agreement. Maddela's refusal to part with the amount angered Atty. Galicinao, prompting the latter to raise her voice, utter 'unsavory remarks' against Maddela, and banged her fist on top of the Maddela's table, causing the glass top of the table to break. To further support her bid for the disbarment of Atty. Galiciano, Maddela, through the affidavit of a certain Mr. Rilloraza, alleged that Atty. Galicinao is also guilty of notarizing documents outside the area of her commission. Maddela claimed that although Atty. Galicinao was not yet a lawyer, she was issued a notarial commission and even notarized certain documents outside of her commission. Maddela likewise alleged that despite the death of Atty. Galicinaos husband, Atty. Galicinao continued to receive and encash for at least (3) three months checks corresponding to her husband's salaries as Ex-OfficioSheriff of the Office of the Clerk of Court of Nueva Vizcaya. Maddela even pointed out that Atty. Galicinao continued to claim the higher allowable deductions as a married individual despite the death of her husband. Atty. Galiciano denied the allegations but with respect to the documents that she notarized outside of her notarial commission, she reasoned that she did such for her relatives and she did not derive any income from the transactions . In 2004, Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala submitted her report and recommendation. She stated that Atty. Galicinao was able to prove that she was not the creditor of the Maddela and that Atty. Galicinao did not claim her husband's salary and avail herself of the higher allowable tax deductions even after his death. However, she will be suspended for six (6) months for the acts of notarizing outside the area of her notarial commission and obtaining the JDF checks of the complainant from the cash clerk in violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 27-2001. On 16 April 2004, the Board of Governors of the IBP issued Resolution No. XVI-2004-227 in CBD No. 03-1060, annulling and setting aside Commissioner Maala's recommendation; dismissing the administrative complaint against Atty. Galicinao with respect to the charge of violating a Supreme Court Circular for collecting a loan for which she acted as a guarantor; and imposing upon the respondent the penalty of reprimand for her act of notarizing documents outside the area where she was commissioned as a notary public. The said ruling was affirmed by the Supreme Court with a modification as to the penalty. ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Galicinao should be disciplined for having notarized documents outside of her notarial commission HELD: Notarization is invested with substantive public interest such that only those who are qualified may act as notaries public. We have declared on several occasions, that notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. The protection of that interest necessarily requires that those not qualified or authorized to act must be prevented from imposing upon the public, the courts, and the administrative offices in general. It must be underscored that the notarization by a notary public converts a private document into a public document, making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of the authenticity thereof (Nunga v. Viray, A.C. No. 4758, 366 Phil. 155, 160 [1999]). Thus, we are not satisfied with respondent's explanation that she notarized documents outside of the area of her notarial commission as a favor to her relatives and for free. Whether the respondent derived profit from her act of notarizing outside the area of her authority is of no moment. The fact remains that she notarized outside the area of her commission. Considering, however, that her misconduct as a notary public was committed while she was not yet a lawyer, she could not be disciplinarily dealt with as a lawyer. The penalty that should be meted to her should, therefore, be as a notary public before she was admitted to the Bar. The penalty of fine would be a sufficient sanction.

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XERXES A. ABADIANO v. SPOUSES JESUS AND LOLITA MARTIR G.R. No. 156310, 31 July 2008, THIRD DIVISION (Nachura, J.) A parcel of land covered by Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 20461 was issued on November 19, 1923 in the name of the spouses Inocentes Baares and Feliciana Villanueva is the subject of the instant case. Before the issuance of OCT No. 20461, Inocentes and the heirs of Feliciana Villanueva (who had predeceased her husband) executed an Agreement of Partition dated June 1, 1922 over said property. The lot was partitioned and distributed to Demetrio Banares, Ramon and David Abadiano and Amando Banares. The partition is embodied in a Deed of Partition executed on June 1, 1922 and notarized the following day by Notary Public Jose Peralta with notarial inscriptions "Reg. No. 64, Pag. 69, Libro III.". OCT No. 20461 was administratively reconstituted on February 15, 1962 and in lieu thereof OCT No. RO-8211 (20461) was issued over the same property, still in the name of Inocentes Baares and Felicidad Villanueva. On June 14, 1957 Demetrio Baares sold his share of the lot to his son, Leopoldo. The same was annotated at the back of OCT No. RO-8211 (20461). Subsequently, on February 21, 1962, Leopoldo Baares filed before the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Negros Occidental an ex-parte petition praying for: first, the confirmation of the Agreement of Partition, the Conformity executed by David Abadiano, and the Deed of Sale between him and his father; and second, the cancellation of OCT No. RO-8211 (20461) and, in lieu thereof, the issuance of a new certificate of title over the property. In an Order dated February 22, 1962, the court ordered the cancellation of OCT No. RO8211 (20461) and the issuance of a new certificate of title in the names of Dr. Leopoldo Baares, Amando Baares, and Ramon and David Abadiano. Pursuant thereto, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-31862 was issued by the Register of Deeds for Negros Occidental. On the other hand, spouses Jesus and Lolita Martir (Spouses Martir) alleged that, prior to the issuance of TCT No. T-31862, Ramon Abadiano, for himself and on behalf of David Abadiano, had already sold their rights and interests over the property to Victor Garde. The sale was allegedly evidenced by a document of sale (Compra Y Venta) dated June 3, 1922 and acknowledged before Notary Public Jose Peralta and bearing notarial inscription "Doc. No. 64, Pag. No. 60, Book No. III, series of 1922." The sale was allegedly affirmed by David Abadiano in a document dated September 30, 1939. They further alleged that from the time of the sale, Victor Garde and his heirs were in continuous, public, peaceful, and uninterrupted possession and occupation in the concept of an owner of the property. Thus, Spouses Martir filed the Action to Quiet Title and/or Recovery of Possession with Damages before the then CFI of Negros Occidental. Herein Petitioners denied allegations of Spouses Martir and it was maintained that the property was never conferred to Victor Garde through a Compra Y Vente. Xerxes Abadiano intervened in the proceedings before the trial court alleging likewise that his predecessor Ramon Abadiano never sold their share of the property to Victor Garde. The trial court ruled in favor of Spouses Martir declaring them as the true and legitimate owners of the property. The Court of Appeals likewise affirmed the decision of the trial court. Hence, this petition. ISSUE: Whether or not the Deed of Sale is a spurious document HELD: The Supreme Court, in its decision, discussed the due execution and authenticity of the Compra Y Venta. Rule 130, Section 3 of the Revised Rules of Court reads: Original document must be produced; exceptions. When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself, except in the following cases: (a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court without bad faith on the part of the offeror;

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(b) When the original is in the custody or under the control of the party against whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails to produce it after reasonable notice; (c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot be examined in court without great loss of time and the fact sought to be established from them is only the general result of the whole; (d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office. Respondents attached only a photocopy of the Compra Y Venta to their complaint. According to respondent Lolita Martir, the original of said document was in the office of the Register of Deeds. They allegedly tried to obtain a copy from that office but their request was refused. No other evidence but these bare assertions, however, was presented to prove that the original is indeed in the custody of the Register of Deeds or that respondents due and diligent search for the same was unsuccessful. The Rule states that when the original document is unavailable, has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated. In the case at bar, respondents failed to establish that the offer in evidence of the document was made in accordance with any of the exceptions allowed under the abovequoted rule, and yet, the trial court accepted the document as genuine and proceeded to determine its validity based on such assumption. The trial court likewise brushed aside the apparent defect that the document presented contained the same notarial inscription as the Agreement on Partition. Indeed, the Deed of Partition and the Compra Y Venta, though executed on different days, were notarized on the same day, and both documents contained the signatures of the same witnesses and the same notarial inscription. In this case, while it is true that the error in the notarial inscription would not have invalidated the sale if indeed it took place the same error would have meant that the document cannot be treated as a notarial document and thus, not entitled to the presumption of regularity. The document would be taken out of the realm of public documents whose genuineness and due execution need not be proved. Accordingly, respondents not having proven the due execution and genuineness of the purported Compra Y Venta, the weight of evidence preponderates in favor of petitioner.