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ONG v.

GRIJALDO
PER CURIAM:
The fduciary duty of a lawyer and advocate is what places the law profession in a unique position of
trust and confdence and distin!uishes it fro" any other callin!# $nce this trust and confdence is
%etrayed the faith of the people not only in the individual lawyer %ut also in the le!al profession as a
whole is eroded# To this end all "e"%ers of the %ar are strictly required to at all ti"es "aintain the
hi!hest de!ree of pu%lic confdence in the fdelity honesty and inte!rity of their profession#&'( In this
ad"inistrative case for dis%ar"ent respondent Atty# )oel M# *ri+aldo failed to perfor" his sworn duty to
preserve the di!nity of the le!al profession#
Co"plainant *oretti $n! is a widow residin! in Talayan ,illa!e -ue.on City# /o"eti"e in the early
part of '001 she en!a!ed the services of respondent a practicin! lawyer in 2acolod City as private
prosecutor in Cri"inal Case 3o# 45678 %efore the Metropolitan Trial Court in Cities of 2acolod City
2ranch 4 a!ainst 9e"uel /e"%rano and Arlene ,illa"il for violation of 2atas Pa"%ansa 2ilan! 55#&5(
:urin! one of the hearin!s of the case the accused o;ered to a"ica%ly settle their civil o%li!ation to
co"plainant %y payin! the a"ount of P'6<<<<#<<# Co"plainant accepted the o;er on the condition
that pay"ent shall %e "ade in cash#
At the hearin! held on )uly '= '001 respondent advised co"plainant to wait outside the courtroo"#
>hen he ca"e out he handed to co"plainant cash in the a"ount of P'<<<<<#<< and Metro%an?
Chec? 3o# <=<'518615 for P6<<<<#<< postdated Au!ust '1 '001 drawn %y Atty# Ro!er Reyes
counsel for the accused# Co"plainant o%+ected to the chec? pay"ent and refused to settle the case
%ut he assured her that the chec? was drawn %y a reputa%le lawyer# Co"plainant was prevailed upon
%y respondent into si!nin! an a@davit of desistance %ut she instructed hi" not to fle it in court until
the chec? is cleared#
Upon present"ent on its "aturity date the chec? was dishonored due to a stopApay"ent order fro"
the drawer# Co"plainant i""ediately infor"ed respondent of the dishonor and the latter told her that
he will tal? to Atty# Reyes a%out it# 9ater when co"plainant "et with respondent in Manila he relayed
to her Atty# ReyesB o;er to replace the chec? with cash# /everal wee?s passed without any pay"ent of
the proceeds of the chec? despite co"plainantBs repeated telephone calls to respondent# /o"eti"e in
:ece"%er '001 she su!!ested that respondent "ove for a hearin! of the case %ut he told her that
courts are not inclined to set hearin!s near the Christ"as season#
$n :ece"%er '= '001 co"plainant personally went to 2acolod City to inquire a%out her case# /he
was surprised to learn that the sa"e was dis"issed as early as /epte"%er 51 '001#&8( Apparently
respondent su%"itted her A@davit of :esistance&7( and on the %asis thereof the pu%lic prosecutor
"oved for the dis"issal of the case which was !ranted %y the court# >hen co"plainant confronted
respondent he ad"itted to her that he had already received the a"ount of P6<<<<#<< fro" Atty#
Reyes %ut he used the sa"e to pay for his fnancial o%li!ations#
Thus on April 5 '00= co"plainant fled an Ad"inistrative Co"plaint a!ainst respondent for
dis%ar"ent#&4(
Co"plainant further alle!ed in her co"plaint that respondent represented her in another case entitled
CPeople of the Philippines versus 3or"a MondiaD also for violation of 2#P# 55 where she was the
o;ended party# Respondent approached the accused 3or"a Mondia and o;ered to delay the hearin!
of the case in consideration of the a"ount of P'<<<<#<<# Eowever Mondia did not have that a"ount
of "oney# Attached to the co"plaint is the a@davit of 3or"a Mondia attestin! to this fact#&1(
Further"ore Eenry Tiu a for"er client of respondent eGecuted an a@davit which is attached to the
co"plaint alle!in! that he !ave respondent the a"ount of P8<<<#<< for the purpose of postin! his
%ail %ond %ut respondent did not post his %ail which resulted in TiuBs arrest#&=(
9i?ewise a certain 9u. :i"aili! whose a@davit is also attached to the co"plaint averred that
respondent represented her as counsel for plainti; in a civil case %efore the Re!ional Trial Court of
2acolod City 2ranch 45H that the case was dis"issed %y the trial courtH that the appeal fled %y
respondent to the Court of Appeals was dis"issed due to his failure to fle the appellantBs %riefH and
that the petition for review %efore the /upre"e Court was denied for lac? of proof of service on the
Court of Appeals late flin! and late pay"ent of doc?et fees# Moreover :i"aili! alle!ed that she !ave
respondent the a"ount of P'<<<<#<< for settlin! the said civil case %ut she later learned that he did
not re"it the "oney to the defendants or their counsel#&6(
$n )une 54 '00= respondent was required to fle his co""ent within ten days fro" notice#&0(
Respondent fled a Motion for EGtension of Ti"e alle!in! that he has not received a copy of the
co"plaint#&'<( $n Fe%ruary 4 '006&''( co"plainant furnished respondent a copy of the co"plaint#
Eowever despite receipt of a copy of the co"plaint respondent still failed to fle his co""ent#
$n $cto%er '0 '006 respondent was required to show cause why he should not %e disciplinarily dealt
with or held in conte"pt for failin! to fle his co""ent#&'5( Respondent fled a Co"pliance statin!
that the copy of the co"plaint he received fro" co"plainant was not le!i%le# Co"plainant a!ain
furnished respondent with a clearer and "ore le!i%le copy of the co"plaint includin! its anneGesH %ut
respondent still did not fle his co""ent#
Consequently on )une '7 5<<< another show cause order was issued a!ainst respondent#&'8(
Respondent replied %y statin! that the quality of the copy furnished hi" %y co"plainant was worse
than the frst one he received#
:issatisfed with respondentBs eGplanation respondent was ordered to pay a fne of P'<<<#<< which
he co"plied with on 3ove"%er 5= 5<<<#&'7( Eowever he a!ain failed to fle his co""ent and
instead "oved for additional ti"e to fle said co""ent#
$n Au!ust '8 5<<' this case was referred to the Inte!rated 2ar of the Philippines II2PJ for
investi!ation report and reco""endation#&'4( The records of the I2P show that respondent has not
fled his co""ent to the co"plaint# $n )anuary '6 5<<5 the Investi!atin! Co""issioner Manuel A#
Tiuseco su%"itted his report reco""endin! the dis%ar"ent of respondent#&'1( Eowever in its
Resolution 3o# K,A5<<5A448 dated $cto%er '0 5<<5 the I2P 2oard of *overnors "odifed the penalty
of dis%ar"ent and reco""ended instead respondentBs indefnite suspension fro" the practice of law
for !rossly i""oral conduct and deceit#&'=(
After a careful review of the records of this case we fnd the reco""endation of Co""issioner Manuel
A# Tiuseco wellAta?en#
It is clear that respondent !ravely a%used the trust and confdence reposed in hi" %y his client the
co"plainant# >ere it not for co"plainantBs vi!ilance in inquirin! into the status of her case she would
not have ?nown that the sa"e had already %een dis"issed on /epte"%er 51 '001# Respondent
deli%erately withheld this fact fro" her notwithstandin! that she tal?ed to hi" so"eti"e in :ece"%er
'001#
Canon '6 of the Code of Professional Responsi%ility provides that a lawyer shall serve his client with
co"petence and dili!ence# More specifcally Rule '6#<8 and Rule '6#<7 state:
Rule '6#<8# A lawyer shall not ne!lect a le!al "atter entrusted to hi" and his ne!li!ence in
connection therewith shall render hi" lia%le#
Rule '6#<7# A lawyer shall ?eep the client infor"ed of the status of his case and shall respond within a
reasona%le ti"e to the clientBs request for infor"ation#
Respondent %reached his duty to his client when he failed to infor" co"plainant of the status of the
cri"inal case# Eis ne!li!ence shows a !larin! lac? of the co"petence and dili!ence required of every
lawyer#&'6( Eis infraction is rendered all the "ore deplora%le %y the fact that co"plainant is a resident
of -ue.on City and the case was fled in 2acolod City# It was precisely for this reason that co"plainant
en!a!ed the services of respondent a 2acolodA%ased lawyer so that her interests in the case "ay %e
a"ply protected in her a%sence# RespondentBs failure to loo? after his clientBs welfare in the case was a
!ross %etrayal of his fduciary duty and a %reach of the trust and confdent which was reposed in hi"#
In a si"ilar case we held:
It is settled that a lawyer is not o%li!ed to act as counsel for every person who "ay wish to %eco"e his
client# Ee has the ri!ht to decline e"ploy"ent su%+ect however to the provision of Canon '7 of the
Code of Professional Responsi%ility# $nce he a!rees to ta?e up the cause of a client he owes fdelity to
such cause and "ust always %e "indful of the trust and confdence reposed to hi"# Respondent
Meneses as counsel had the o%li!ation to infor" his client of the status of the case and to respond
within a reasona%le ti"e to his clientBs request for infor"ation# RespondentBs failure to co""unicate
with his client %y deli%erately disre!ardin! its request for an audience or conference is an un+ustifa%le
denial of its ri!ht to %e fully infor"ed of the develop"ents in and the status of its case#&'0(
>orse when respondent used the "oney which he received fro" Atty# Reyes to pay for his own
o%li!ations he violated Canon '1 of the Code of Professional Responsi%ility which states that C&a(
lawyer shall hold in trust all "oneys and properties of his client that "ay co"e into his possession#D
Further"ore:
Rule '1#<'# A lawyer shall account for all "oney or property collected or received for or fro" the client#
Rule '1#<5# A lawyer shall ?eep the funds of each client separate and apart fro" his own and those of
others ?ept %y hi"#
Rule '1#<8# A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon de"and#
Eowever he shall have a lien over the funds and "ay apply so "uch thereof as "ay %e necessary to
satisfy his lawful lees and dis%urse"ents !ivin! notice pro"ptly thereafter to his client# Ee shall also
have a lien to the sa"e eGtent on all +ud!"ents and eGecutions he has secured for his client as
provided for in the Rules of Court#
RespondentBs "isappropriation of the "oney entrusted to hi" and his refusal to account for it to his
client despite repeated de"ands were co"petent proof of his unftness for the confdence and trust
reposed on hi"# Eis acts showed a lac? of personal honesty and !ood "oral character as to render hi"
unworthy of pu%lic confdence# Ee held the "oney in trust for his client as settle"ent of the case he
was handlin!# Upon receipt thereof he was under o%li!ation to i""ediately turn it over in the
a%sence of a showin! that he had a lien over it# As a lawyer he should have %een scrupulously careful
in handlin! "oney entrusted to hi" in his professional capacity %ecause a hi!h de!ree of fdelity and
!ood faith on his part is eGacted#&5<(
A lawyer under his oath pled!es hi"self not to delay any "an for "oney or "alice and is %ound to
conduct hi"self with all !ood fdelity to his clients# Ee is o%li!ated to report pro"ptly the "oney of his
client that has co"e into his possession# Ee should not co""in!le it with his private property or use it
for his personal purposes without his clientBs consent# Respondent %y convertin! the "oney of his
client to his own personal use without her consent was !uilty of deceit "alpractice and !ross
"isconduct# 3ot only did he de!rade hi"self %ut as an unfaithful lawyer he %es"irched the fair na"e
of an honora%le profession#&5'(
Aside fro" violatin! the Code of Professional Responsi%ility respondentBs failure to pro"ptly turn over
the "oney to his client and his conversion of the sa"e for his personal use rendered hi" lia%le for
conte"pt under Rule '86 /ection 54 of the Rules of Court to wit:
Unlawful retention of clientLs fundsH conte"pt#AAA >hen an attorney un+ustly retains in his hands "oney
of his client after it has %een de"anded he "ay %e punished for conte"pt as an o@cer of the court
who has "is%ehaved in his o@cial transactionsH %ut proceedin!s under this section shall not %e a %ar
to a cri"inal prosecution#
Further"ore respondent violated his oath of o@ce and duties as counsel when he approached his
clientBs opponent and o;ered to delay the case in eGchan!e for "oney# Eis o;er to delay the case
would have frustrated the interests of his client which he had sworn to protect# As a lawyer
respondent should avoid any unethical or i"proper practices that i"pede o%struct or prevent the
speedy e@cient and i"partial ad+udication of cases#&55(
$nce he a!rees to ta?e up the cause of a client the lawyer owes fdelity to such cause and "ust
always %e "indful of the trust and confdence reposed in hi"# Ee "ust serve the client with
co"petence and dili!ence and cha"pion the latterBs cause with wholehearted fdelity care and
devotion# Elsewise stated he owes entire devotion to the interest of the client war" .eal in the
"aintenance and defense of his clientBs ri!hts and the eGertion of his ut"ost learnin! and a%ility to
the end that nothin! %e ta?en or withheld fro" his client save %y the rules of law le!ally applied# This
si"ply "eans that his client is entitled to the %eneft of any and every re"edy and defense that is
authori.ed %y the law of the land and he "ay eGpect his lawyer to assert every such re"edy or
defense# If "uch is de"anded fro" an attorney it is %ecause the entrusted privile!e to practice law
carries with it the correlative duties not only to the client %ut also to the court to the %ar and to the
pu%lic# A lawyer who perfor"s his duty with dili!ence and candor not only protects the interest of his
clientH he also serves the ends of +ustice does honor to the %ar and helps "aintain the respect of the
co""unity to the le!al profession#&58(
RespondentBs act of propositionin! his clientBs #opponent and o;erin! to delay the case a!ainst her
was intended to %eneft the latter# Eence such act a"ounted to dou%leAdealin! and conMict of interest
and was unethical practice of law# Attorneys li?e CaesarBs wife "ust not only ?eep inviolate their
clientBs confdence %ut "ust also avoid the appearance of treachery and dou%leAdealin! for only then
can liti!ants %e encoura!ed to entrust their secrets to their attorneys which is of para"ount
i"portance in the ad"inistration of +ustice#&57(
Finally respondentBs cavalier attitude in repeatedly i!norin! the directives of this Court to fle his
co""ent constitutes utter disrespect to the +udicial institution# Eis conduct indicates a hi!h de!ree of
irresponsi%ility# A resolution of this Court is not to %e construed as a "ere request nor should it %e
co"plied with partially inadequately or selectively#&54( RespondentBs o%stinate refusal to co"ply
therewith not only %etrays a recalcitrant Maw in his characterH it also underscores his disrespect of our
lawful orders which is only too deservin! of reproof#
Any departure fro" the path which a lawyer "ust follow as de"anded %y the virtues of his profession
shall not %e tolerated %y this Court as the disciplinin! authority# This is especially so as in the instant
case where respondent even deli%erately defed the lawful orders of the Court for hi" to fle his
co""ent on the co"plaint there%y trans!ressin! Canon '' of the Code of Professional Responsi%ility
which requires a lawyer to o%serve and "aintain the respect due the courts#&51(
All told respondentBs trans!ressions "anifested dishonesty and a"ounted to !rave "isconduct and
!rossly unethical %ehavior which caused dishonor not only to co"plainant %ut to the no%le profession
to which he %elon!s for it cannot %e denied that the respect of liti!ants for the profession is ineGora%ly
di"inished whenever a "e"%er of the 2ar %etrays their trust and confdence#&5=( Ee has proved
hi"self unworthy of "e"%ership in the le!al profession and "ust therefore %e dis%arred#
>EEREF$RE for dishonesty !rave "isconduct and !rossly unethical %ehavior respondent ATTN# )$E9
*RI)A9:$ is :I/2ARRE: fro" the practice law# Eis na"e is ordered /TRICOE3 fro" the Roll of
Attorneys# Ee is further directed to PAN co"plainant *oretti $n! the a"ount of P6<<<<#<< within ten
I'<J days fro" notice of this :ecision#
This :ecision shall ta?e e;ect i""ediately# Copies thereof shall %e furnished the $@ce of the 2ar
Confdant to %e appended to respondentBs personal recordH the Inte!rated 2ar of the PhilippinesH the
$@ce of the PresidentH the :epart"ent of )usticeH the Court of AppealsH the /andi!an%ayanH the
Philippines )ud!es AssociationH and all courts of the land for their infor"ation and !uidance#
/$ $R:ERE:#
:avide )r# C#)# 2ellosillo Puno ,itu! Pan!ani%an NnaresA/antia!o /andovalA*utierre. Carpio
AustriaAMartine. Corona CarpioAMorales Calle+o /r# and A.cuna ))# concur#
-uisu"%in! )# on leave#