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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila

SECOND DIVISION
A.C. No. 6270

January 22, 2007

HEIRS OF THE LATE SPOUSES LUCAS and FRANCISCA


VILLANUEVA, Complainants, vs. ATTY. SALUD P. BERADIO,
Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a disbarment case against Atty. Salud P. Beradio
(respondent), filed by the heirs of the late spouses Lucas and
Francisca Villanueva (spouses Villanueva), namely: Ardenio M.
Fonacier, Araceli M. Fonacier, Alano M. Fonacier, Eusebio M.
Fonacier, Jr., Rolando V. Nazarro, Alejandro V. Nazarro, Margarita V.
Collado, Felisa Collado, and Herminigildo Ylhi (complainants).
The Facts
During their lifetime, the spouses Villanueva acquired several parcels
of land in Pangasinan, one of which was covered by Original
Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 2522. Francisca died in 1968, and
Lucas in 1974. Their five children, namely, Simeona, Susana, Maria,
Alfonso, and Florencia, survived them.
On 22 May 1984, Alfonso executed an Affidavit of Adjudication 1
(affidavit of adjudication) stating that as "the only surviving son and
sole heirs (sic)" of the spouses Villanueva, he was adjudicating to
himself the parcel of land under OCT No. 2522. Alfonso then
executed a Deed of Absolute Sale 2 (deed of sale) on 5 July 1984,
conveying the property to Adriano Villanueva. Respondent appeared
as notary public on both the affidavit of adjudication and the deed of
sale.
Contrary to the misrepresentations of Alfonso, his sister Florencia

was still alive at the time he executed the affidavit of adjudication and
the deed of sale, as were descendants of the other children of the
spouses Villanueva. Complainants claimed that respondent was
aware of this fact, as respondent had been their neighbor in
Balungao, Pangasinan, from the time of their birth, and respondent
constantly mingled with their family. Complainants accused
respondent of knowing the "true facts and surrounding
circumstances" regarding the properties of the spouses Villanueva,
yet conspiring with Alfonso to deprive his co-heirs of their rightful
shares in the property.
In a resolution dated 11 February 2004, this Court required
respondent to comment on the complaint.
In her Comment, 3 respondent admitted that she notarized the
affidavit of adjudication and the deed of sale executed by Alfonso in
1984. However, respondent denied that she conspired with Alfonso to
dispose of fraudulently the property. Respondent alleged that Alfonso
executed the two documents under the following circumstances:
That the properties of the late spouses [Villanueva] have been
divided equally among their compulsory heirs, but said old couple left
for themselves one titled lot, the subject now of the complaint x x x
That said titled property was the only property left by the old couple,
to answer for their needs while they are still alive until their deaths x x
x. Alfonso [and his wife] were tasked to take care of the old
couple, as they were the ones living in the same compound with
their late parents. This fact was and is known by the other
compulsory heirs, and they never questioned the said act of
their parents, as they already had their own share on the estate
of the late [spouses Villanueva]. This fact was also known to me
because [Lucas] and [Alfonso] lived across the street from our
house and I was requested to the house of the old man when he
gave said title to [Alfonso and Tomasa, his wife]. The other
compulsory heirs who were still alive at the time just made visits to
their parents and never stayed in their old house to help in the care of
their parents. Even [when] the parents died, it was [Alfonso and his
wife] who took charge of the funeral and all other acts relative thereto.
xxxx

That said title remain[ed] in the custody of [Alfonso] and after the
death of the old man, when the spouses Alfonso [and Tomasa]
needed money to finance the schooling of their children, it was then
that they thought of disposing the land x x x and said land was sold
by them to one Adriano Villanueva of which in both documents, I
notarized the same (sic).
xxxx
I can say with all clean and good intentions, that if ever I notarized
said documents, it was done in good faith, to do my job as expected
of me, to help, assist and to guide people who come to me for legal
assistance, as contained in my oath as a lawyer when I passed the
bar. x x x 4 (Emphasis supplied)
According to respondent, the fact that none of Alfonsos co-heirs filed
their objections at the time he executed the affidavit of adjudication
proved that most of the properties of the spouses Villanueva had
earlier been distributed to the other heirs. It also proved that the heirs
had agreed to abide by the intention of the spouses Villanueva to
leave the property to Alfonso. Respondent asserted that "the
personal appearances and acknowledgment by the party to the
document are the core of the ritual that effectively convert a private
document into a public document x x x."
On 26 May 2004, we resolved to refer the complaint to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which designated Commissioner Leland
R. Villadolid, Jr. (IBP Commissioner Villadolid) to investigate, and
submit his report and recommendation on, the complaint.
The IBPs Findings
In his Report dated 16 September 2005, IBP Commissioner Villadolid
found that respondent violated the provisions of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and the spirit and intent of the notarial law
when she notarized the affidavit knowing that Alfonso was not the
sole compulsory heir of the spouses Villanueva. Although he found
no evidence of fraudulent intent on respondents part, IBP
Commissioner Villadolid held that respondent "engaged in conduct
that lessened confidence in the legal system." Thus, he
recommended suspension of respondents notarial commission for

one year. He further recommended that respondent be reprimanded


or suspended from the practice of law for up to six months.
The Courts Ruling
We sustain partly the IBPs findings and recommendations.
A notary public is empowered to perform a variety of notarial acts,
most common of which are the acknowledgment and affirmation of a
document or instrument. In the performance of such notarial acts, the
notary public must be mindful of the significance of the notarial seal
as affixed on a document. The notarial seal converts the document
from private to public, after which it may be presented as evidence
without need for proof of its genuineness and due execution. 5 Thus,
notarization should not be treated as an empty, meaningless, or
routinary act. 6 As early as Panganiban v. Borromeo, 7 we held that
notaries public must inform themselves of the facts to which they
intend to certify and to take no part in illegal transactions. They must
guard against any illegal or immoral arrangements. 8
On its face, Alfonsos affidavit does not appear to contain any "illegal
or immoral" declaration. However, respondent herself admitted that
she knew of the falsity of Alfonsos statement that he was the "sole
heir" of the spouses Villanueva. Respondent therefore notarized a
document while fully aware that it contained a material falsehood, i.e.,
Alfonsos assertion of status as sole heir. The affidavit of adjudication
is premised on this very assertion. By this instrument, Alfonso
claimed a portion of his parents estate all to himself, to the exclusion
of his co-heirs. Shortly afterwards, respondent notarized the deed of
sale, knowing that the deed took basis from the unlawful affidavit of
adjudication.
Respondent never disputed complainants allegation of her close
relationship with the Villanueva family spanning several decades.
Respondent even underscored this closeness by claiming that Lucas
himself requested her to come to his house the day Lucas handed to
Alfonso a copy of OCT No. 2522, allegedly so she could hear the
conversation between them.
Respondent claims she is not administratively liable because at the
time Alfonso executed the affidavit, his co-heirs had already received

their respective shares from the estate of the spouses Villanueva.


However, we are not concerned here with the proper distribution of
the spouses Villanuevas estates. Rather, respondents liability
springs from her failure to discharge properly her duties as a notary
public and as a member of the bar.
Where admittedly the notary public has personal knowledge of a false
statement or information contained in the instrument to be notarized,
yet proceeds to affix his or her notarial seal on it, the Court must not
hesitate to discipline the notary public accordingly as the
circumstances of the case may dictate. Otherwise, the integrity and
sanctity of the notarization process may be undermined and public
confidence on notarial documents diminished. In this case,
respondents conduct amounted to a breach of Canon 1 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, which requires lawyers to obey the
laws of the land and promote respect for the law and legal processes.
Respondent also violated Rule 1.01 of the Code which proscribes
lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful
conduct.
We also view with disfavor respondents lack of candor before the
IBP proceedings. The transcript of hearings shows that respondent
denied preparing or notarizing the deed of sale, 9 when she already
admitted having done so in her Comment.
WHEREFORE, for violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, we REVOKE the commission of
respondent Atty. Salud P. Beradio as Notary Public, if still existing,
and DISQUALIFY her from being commissioned a notary public for
one (1) year. We further SUSPEND respondent from the practice of
law for six (6) months effective upon finality of this decision.
Let copies of this decision be furnished the Office of the Bar
Confidant, to be appended to respondents personal record as
attorney. Likewise, copies shall be furnished to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and
guidance.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila


EN BANC
A.C. No. 5439

January 22, 2007

CLARITA J. SAMALA, Complainant, vs. ATTY. LUCIANO D.


VALENCIA, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before us is a complaint1 dated May 2, 2001 filed by Clarita J.
Samala (complainant) against Atty. Luciano D. Valencia (respondent)
for Disbarment on the following grounds: (a) serving on two separate
occasions as counsel for contending parties; (b) knowingly
misleading the court by submitting false documentary evidence; (c)
initiating numerous cases in exchange for nonpayment of rental fees;
and (d) having a reputation of being immoral by siring illegitimate
children.
After respondent filed his Comment, the Court, in its Resolution of
October 24, 2001, referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. 2
The investigation was conducted by Commissioner Demaree Jesus
B. Raval. After a series of hearings, the parties filed their respective
memoranda 3 and the case was deemed submitted for resolution.
Commissioner Wilfredo E.J.E. Reyes prepared the Report and
Recommendation 4 dated January 12, 2006. He found respondent
guilty of violating Canons 15 and 21 of the Code of Professional

Responsibility and recommended the penalty of suspension for six


months.
In a minute Resolution 5 passed on May 26, 2006, the IBP Board of
Governors adopted and approved the report and recommendation of
Commissioner Reyes but increased the penalty of suspension from
six months to one year.
We adopt the report of the IBP Board of Governors except as to the
issue on immorality and as to the recommended penalty.
On serving as counsel for contending parties.
Records show that in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK, filed in the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 272, Marikina City, entitled "Leonora M.
Aville v. Editha Valdez" for nonpayment of rentals, herein respondent,
while being the counsel for defendant Valdez, also acted as counsel
for the tenants Lagmay, Valencia, Bustamante and Bayuga 6 by filing
an Explanation and Compliance before the RTC. 7
In Civil Case No. 98-6804 filed in the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC),
Branch 75, Marikina City, entitled "Editha S. Valdez and Joseph J.
Alba, Jr. v. Salve Bustamante and her husband" for ejectment,
respondent represented Valdez against Bustamante - one of the
tenants in the property subject of the controversy. Defendants
appealed to the RTC, Branch 272, Marikina City docketed as SCA
Case No. 99-341-MK. In his decision dated May 2, 2000, 8 Presiding
Judge Reuben P. dela Cruz 9 warned respondent to refrain from
repeating the act of being counsel of record of both parties in Civil
Case No. 95-105-MK.
But in Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK, filed in the RTC, Branch 273,
Marikina City, entitled "Editha S. Valdez v. Joseph J. Alba, Jr. and
Register of Deeds of Marikina City," respondent, as counsel for
Valdez, filed a Complaint for Rescission of Contract with Damages
and Cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 275500 against
Alba, respondent's former client in Civil Case No. 98-6804 and SCA
Case No. 99-341-MK.
Records further reveal that at the hearing of November 14, 2003,
respondent admitted that in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK, he was the

lawyer for Lagmay (one of the tenants) but not for Bustamante and
Bayuga 10 albeit he filed the Explanation and Compliance for and in
behalf of the tenants. 11 Respondent also admitted that he
represented Valdez in Civil Case No. 98-6804 and SCA Case No. 99341-MK against Bustamante and her husband but denied being the
counsel for Alba although the case is entitled "Valdez and Alba v.
Bustamante and her husband," because Valdez told him to include
Alba as the two were the owners of the property 12 and it was only
Valdez who signed the complaint for ejectment. 13 But, while claiming
that respondent did not represent Alba, respondent, however, avers
that he already severed his representation for Alba when the latter
charged respondent with estafa. 14 Thus, the filing of Civil Case No.
2000-657-MK against Alba.
Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
provides that a lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except
by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the
facts.
A lawyer may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act
as counsel for a person whose interest conflicts with that of his
present or former client. 15 He may not also undertake to discharge
conflicting duties any more than he may represent antagonistic
interests. This stern rule is founded on the principles of public policy
and good taste. 16 It springs from the relation of attorney and client
which is one of trust and confidence. Lawyers are expected not only
to keep inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the
appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only then can
litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers, which
is of paramount importance in the administration of justice. 17
One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the
acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the
lawyer's duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite
suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of
that duty. 18
The stern rule against representation of conflicting interests is
founded on principles of public policy and good taste. It springs from
the attorney's duty to represent his client with undivided fidelity and to

maintain inviolate the client's confidence as well as from the


injunction forbidding the examination of an attorney as to any of the
privileged communications of his client. 19
An attorney owes loyalty to his client not only in the case in which he
has represented him but also after the relation of attorney and client
has terminated. 20 The bare attorney-client relationship with a client
precludes an attorney from accepting professional employment from
the client's adversary either in the same case 21 or in a different but
related action. 22 A lawyer is forbidden from representing a
subsequent client against a former client when the subject matter of
the present controversy is related, directly or indirectly, to the subject
matter of the previous litigation in which he appeared for the former
client. 23
We held in Nombrado v. Hernandez 24 that the termination of the
relation of attorney and client provides no justification for a lawyer to
represent an interest adverse to or in conflict with that of the former
client. The reason for the rule is that the client's confidence once
reposed cannot be divested by the expiration of the professional
employment. 25 Consequently, a lawyer should not, even after the
severance of the relation with his client, do anything which will
injuriously affect his former client in any matter in which he previously
represented him nor should he disclose or use any of the client's
confidences acquired in the previous relation. 26
In this case, respondent's averment that his relationship with Alba
has long been severed by the act of the latter of not turning over the
proceeds collected in Civil Case No. 98-6804, in connivance with the
complainant, is unavailing. Termination of the attorney-client
relationship precludes an attorney from representing a new client
whose interest is adverse to his former client. Alba may not be his
original client but the fact that he filed a case entitled "Valdez and
Alba v. Bustamante and her husband," is a clear indication that
respondent is protecting the interests of both Valdez and Alba in the
said case. Respondent cannot just claim that the lawyer-client
relationship between him and Alba has long been severed without
observing Section 26, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court wherein the
written consent of his client is required.

In Gonzales v. Cabucana, Jr.,


Bamba, 28 we held that:

27

citing the case of Quiambao v.

The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies


to a situation where the opposing parties are present clients in the
same action or in an unrelated action. It is of no moment that the
lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which
the lawyer has to oppose for the other client, or that there would be
no occasion to use the confidential information acquired from one to
the disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly unrelated.
It is enough that the opposing parties in one case, one of whom
would lose the suit, are present clients and the nature or conditions of
the lawyer's respective retainers with each of them would affect the
performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to both clients. 29
Respondent is bound to comply with Canon 21 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which states that "a lawyer shall preserve
the confidences and secrets of his client even after the attorney-client
relation is terminated."
The reason for the prohibition is found in the relation of attorney and
client, which is one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. A
lawyer becomes familiar with all the facts connected with his client's
case. He learns from his client the weak points of the action as well
as the strong ones. Such knowledge must be considered sacred and
guarded with care. 30
From the foregoing, it is evident that respondent's representation of
Valdez and Alba against Bustamante and her husband, in one case,
and Valdez against Alba, in another case, is a clear case of conflict of
interests which merits a corresponding sanction from this Court.
Respondent may have withdrawn his representation in Civil Case No.
95-105-MK upon being warned by the court, 31 but the same will not
exculpate him from the charge of representing conflicting interests in
his representation in Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK.
Respondent is reminded to be more cautious in accepting
professional employments, to refrain from all appearances and acts
of impropriety including circumstances indicating conflict of interests,
and to behave at all times with circumspection and dedication

befitting a member of the Bar, especially observing candor, fairness


and loyalty in all transactions with his clients. 32
On knowingly misleading the court by submitting false
documentary evidence.
Complainant alleges that in Civil Case No. 00-7137 filed before MTC,
Branch 75 for ejectment, respondent submitted TCT No. 273020 as
evidence of Valdez's ownership despite the fact that a new TCT No.
275500 was already issued in the name of Alba on February 2, 1995.
Records reveal that respondent filed Civil Case No. 00-7137 on
November 27, 2000 and presented TCT No. 273020 as evidence of
Valdez's ownership of the subject property. 33 During the hearing
before Commissioner Raval, respondent avers that when the Answer
was filed in the said case, that was the time that he came to know
that the title was already in the name of Alba; so that when the court
dismissed the complaint, he did not do anything anymore. 34
Respondent further avers that Valdez did not tell him the truth and
things were revealed to him only when the case for rescission was
filed in 2002.
Upon examination of the record, it was noted that Civil Case No.
2000-657-MK for rescission of contract and cancellation of TCT No.
275500 was also filed on November 27, 2000, 35 before RTC, Branch
273, Marikina City, thus belying the averment of respondent that he
came to know of Alba's title only in 2002 when the case for rescission
was filed. It was revealed during the hearing before Commissioner
Raval that Civil Case Nos. 00-7137 and 2000-657-MK were filed on
the same date, although in different courts and at different times.
Hence, respondent cannot feign ignorance of the fact that the title he
submitted was already cancelled in lieu of a new title issued in the
name of Alba in 1995 yet, as proof of the latter's ownership.
Respondent failed to comply with Canon 10 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not do
any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he
mislead, or allow the Court to be mislead by any artifice. It matters
not that the trial court was not misled by respondent's submission of
TCT No. 273020 in the name of Valdez, as shown by its decision

dated January 8, 2002 36 dismissing the complaint for ejectment.


What is decisive in this case is respondent's intent in trying to mislead
the court by presenting TCT No. 273020 despite the fact that said title
was already cancelled and a new one, TCT No. 275500, was already
issued in the name of Alba.
In Young v. Batuegas,37 we held that a lawyer must be a disciple of
truth. He swore upon his admission to the Bar that he will "do no
falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court" and he shall
"conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his knowledge
and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his
clients." 38 He should bear in mind that as an officer of the court his
high vocation is to correctly inform the court upon the law and the
facts of the case and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at correct
conclusion. 39 The courts, on the other hand, are entitled to expect
only complete honesty from lawyers appearing and pleading before
them. While a lawyer has the solemn duty to defend his client's rights
and is expected to display the utmost zeal in defense of his client's
cause, his conduct must never be at the expense of truth.
A lawyer is the servant of the law and belongs to a profession to
which society has entrusted the administration of law and the
dispensation of justice. 40 As such, he should make himself more an
exemplar for others to emulate. 41
>On initiating numerous cases in exchange for nonpayment of rental
fees.
Complainant alleges that respondent filed the following cases: (a)
Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK at the RTC, Branch 272; (b) Civil Case
No. 00-7137 at the MTC, Branch 75; and (c) I.S. Nos. 00-4439 and
01-036162 both entitled "Valencia v. Samala" for estafa and grave
coercion, respectively, before the Marikina City Prosecutor.
Complainant claims that the two criminal cases were filed in
retaliation for the cases she filed against Lagmay docketed as I.S.
No. 00-4306 for estafa and I.S. No. 00-4318 against Alvin Valencia
(son of respondent) for trespass to dwelling.
As culled from the records, Valdez entered into a retainer agreement
with respondent. As payment for his services, he was allowed to

occupy the property for free and utilize the same as his office
pursuant to their retainer agreement. 42
Respondent filed I.S. Nos. 00-4439 43 and 01-036162 44 both entitled
"Valencia v. Samala" for estafa and grave coercion, respectively, to
protect his client's rights against complainant who filed I.S. No. 004306 45 for estafa against Lagmay, and I.S. No. 00-4318 46 against
Alvin Valencia 47 for trespass to dwelling.
We find the charge to be without sufficient basis. The act of
respondent of filing the aforecited cases to protect the interest of his
client, on one hand, and his own interest, on the other, cannot be
made the basis of an administrative charge unless it can be clearly
shown that the same was being done to abuse judicial processes to
commit injustice.
The filing of an administrative case against respondent for protecting
the interest of his client and his own right would be putting a burden
on a practicing lawyer who is obligated to defend and prosecute the
right of his client.
On having a reputation for being immoral by siring illegitimate
children.
We find respondent liable for being immoral by siring illegitimate
children.
During the hearing, respondent admitted that he sired three children
by Teresita Lagmay who are all over 20 years of age, 48 while his first
wife was still alive. He also admitted that he has eight children by his
first wife, the youngest of whom is over 20 years of age, and after his
wife died in 1997, he married Lagmay in 1998. 49 Respondent further
admitted that Lagmay was staying in one of the apartments being
claimed by complainant. However, he does not consider his affair
with Lagmay as a relationship 50 and does not consider the latter as
his second family. 51 He reasoned that he was not staying with
Lagmay because he has two houses, one in Muntinlupa and another
in Marikina. 52
In this case, the admissions made by respondent are more than
enough to hold him liable on the charge of immorality. During the

hearing, respondent did not show any remorse. He even justified his
transgression by saying that he does not have any relationship with
Lagmay and despite the fact that he sired three children by the latter,
he does not consider them as his second family. It is noted that
during the hearing, respondent boasts in telling the commissioner that
he has two houses - in Muntinlupa, where his first wife lived, and in
Marikina, where Lagmay lives. 53 It is of no moment that respondent
eventually married Lagmay after the death of his first wife. The fact
still remains that respondent did not live up to the exacting standard
of morality and decorum required of the legal profession.
Under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct. It may be difficult to specify the degree of moral delinquency
that may qualify an act as immoral, yet, for purposes of disciplining a
lawyer, immoral conduct has been defined as that "conduct which is
willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference
to the opinion of respectable members of the community. 54 Thus, in
several cases, the Court did not hesitate to discipline a lawyer for
keeping a mistress in defiance of the mores and sense of morality of
the community. 55 That respondent subsequently married Lagmay in
1998 after the death of his wife and that this is his first infraction as
regards immorality serve to mitigate his liability.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds respondent Atty. Luciano D.
Valencia GUILTY of misconduct and violation of Canons 21, 10 and 1
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for three (3) years, effective immediately upon
receipt of herein Resolution.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished all courts of the land, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines as well as the Office of the Bar
Confidant for their information and guidance, and let it be entered in
respondent's personal records.
SO ORDERED.
--------DIGEST

Clarita J. Samala vs. Atty. Luciano D. Valencia


A.C. No. 5439; January 22, 2007
Austria-Martinez, J.
Facts:
Clarita J. Samala (complainant) filed a complaint against Atty. Luciano D. Valencia (respondent)
for Disbarment on the following grounds:
(a) serving on two separate occasions as counsel for contending parties;
(b) knowingly misleading the court by submitting false documentary evidence;
(c) initiating numerous cases in exchange for non-payment of rental fees; and
(d) having a reputation of being immoral by siring illegitimate children.
After respondent filed his Comment, the Court referred the case to the IBP for investigation,
report, and recommendation.
After a series of hearings, the parties filed their respective memoranda and the case was
deemed submitted for resolution.
The Commissioner found respondent guilty of violating Canons 15 and 21 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and recommended the penalty of suspension for six months.
The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the report and recommendation of
Commissioner Reyes but increased the penalty of suspension from six months to one year.
Issue:
Whether or not the respondent violated Canons 15 and 21 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
Held:
This Court adopts the report of the IBP Board of Governors except as to the issue on immorality
and as to the recommended penalty.
(a) On serving as counsel for contending parties.
Respondent, while being the counsel for defendant Valdez, also acted as counsel for the tenants
Lagmay, Valencia, Bustamante and Bayuga by filing an Explanation and Compliance before the
RTC.
The Presiding Judge warned respondent to refrain from repeating the act of being counsel of
record of both parties in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK.
Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall not
represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts.

A lawyer may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a person
whose interest conflicts with that of his present or former client. He may not also undertake to
discharge conflicting duties any more than he may represent antagonistic interests. This stern
rule is founded on the principles of public policy and good taste. It springs from the relation of
attorney and client which is one of trust and confidence. Lawyers are expected not only to keep
inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and doubledealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers, which
is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.
One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation would
prevent the full discharge of the lawyer's duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or
invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that duty.
(b) On knowingly misleading the court by submitting false documentary evidence.
Complainant alleges that in Civil Case No. 00-7137 filed before MTC, Branch 75 for ejectment,
respondent submitted TCT No. 273020 as evidence of Valdez's ownership despite the fact that a
new TCT No. 275500 was already issued in the name of Alba on February 2, 1995.
During the hearing before Commissioner Raval, respondent avers that when the Answer was
filed in the said case, that was the time that he came to know that the title was already in the
name of Alba; so that when the court dismissed the complaint, he did not do anything anymore.
Respondent further avers that Valdez did not tell him the truth and things were revealed to him
only when the case for rescission was filed in 2002.
Respondent failed to comply with Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which
provides that a lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor
shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be mislead by any artifice. It matters not that the trial
court was not misled by respondent's submission of TCT No. 273020 in the name of Valdez, as
shown by its decision dated January 8, 2002 dismissing the complaint for ejectment. What is
decisive in this case is respondent's intent in trying to mislead the court by presenting TCT No.
273020 despite the fact that said title was already cancelled and a new one, TCT No. 275500,
was already issued in the name of Alba.
(c) On initiating numerous cases in exchange for nonpayment of rental fees.
Complainant alleged that respondent filed the following cases: (a) Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK at
the RTC, Branch 272; (b) Civil Case No. 00-7137 at the MTC, Branch 75; and (c) I.S. Nos. 00-4439
and 01-036162 both entitled "Valencia v. Samala" for estafa and grave coercion, respectively,
before the Marikina City Prosecutor. Complainant claims that the two criminal cases were filed
in retaliation for the cases she filed against Lagmay docketed as I.S. No. 00-4306 for estafa and
I.S. No. 00-4318 against Alvin Valencia (son of respondent) for trespass to dwelling.
As culled from the records, Valdez entered into a retainer agreement with respondent. As
payment for his services, he was allowed to occupy the property for free and utilize the same as
his office pursuant to their retainer agreement.

The Court finds the charge to be without sufficient basis. The act of respondent of filing the
aforecited cases to protect the interest of his client, on one hand, and his own interest, on the
other, cannot be made the basis of an administrative charge unless it can be clearly shown that
the same was being done to abuse judicial processes to commit injustice.
The filing of an administrative case against respondent for protecting the interest of his client
and his own right would be putting a burden on a practicing lawyer who is obligated to defend
and prosecute the right of his client.
(d) On having a reputation for being immoral by siring illegitimate children.
The Court finds respondent liable for being immoral by siring illegitimate children.
During the hearing, respondent admitted that he sired three children by Teresita Lagmay who
are all over 20 years of age, while his first wife was still alive. He also admitted that he has eight
children by his first wife, the youngest of whom is over 20 years of age, and after his wife died in
1997, he married Lagmay in 1998. Respondent further admitted that Lagmay was staying in one
of the apartments being claimed by complainant. However, he does not consider his affair with
Lagmay as a relationship and does not consider the latter as his second family. He reasoned
that he was not staying with Lagmay because he has two houses, one in Muntinlupa and
another in Marikina.
Under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not engage in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. It may be difficult to specify the degree of
moral delinquency that may qualify an act as immoral, yet, for purposes of disciplining a lawyer,
immoral conduct has been defined as that "conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and
which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable members of the community.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds respondent Atty. Luciano D. Valencia GUILTY of misconduct and
violation of Canons 21, 10 and 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for three (3) years, effective immediately upon receipt of herein
Resolution.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila


THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 7204

March 7, 2007

CYNTHIA ADVINCULA, Complainant, vs. ATTY. ERNESTO M.


MACABATA, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Before Us is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by Cynthia Advincula
against respondent Atty. Ernesto M. Macabata, charging the latter
with Gross Immorality.
Complainant alleged the following:
Sometime on 1st week of December 2004 complainant [Cynthia
Advincula] seek the legal advice of the respondent [Atty. Macabata],
regarding her collectibles from Queensway Travel and Tours. As
promised, he sent Demand Letter dated December 11, 2004 (copy
attached as Annex "I") to the concerned parties.
On February 10, 2005, met (sic) at Zensho Restaurant in Tomas
Morato, Quezon City to discuss the possibility of filing the complaint
against Queensway Travel and Tours because they did not settle
their accounts as demanded. After the dinner, respondent sent
complainant home and while she is about to step out of the car,
respondent hold (sic) her arm and kissed her on the cheek and
embraced her very tightly.
Again, on March 6, 2005, at about past 10:00 in the morning, she met
respondent at Starbucks coffee shop in West Avenue, Quezon City to
finalize the draft of the complaint to be filed in Court. After the
meeting, respondent offered again a ride, which he usually did every
time they met. Along the way, complainant was wandering (sic) why
she felt so sleepy where in fact she just got up from bed a few hours
ago. At along Roosevelt Avenue immediately after corner of Felipe
St., in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City when she was almost
restless respondent stopped his car and forcefully hold (sic) her face
and kissed her lips while the other hand was holding her breast.
Complainant even in a state of shocked (sic) succeeded in resisting
his criminal attempt and immediately manage (sic) to go (sic) out of
the car.

In the late afternoon, complainant sent a text message to respondent


informing him that she decided to refer the case with another lawyer
and needs (sic) to get back the case folder from him. The
communications transpired was recorded in her cellular phone and
read as follows:
Sent by complainant
At 5:33:46 pm
replied by respondent
at 6:16:11 pm
sent by complainant
at 6:17:59 pm
Follow-up message
Sent by complainant
At 6:29:30 pm
Replied by respondent
At 6:32:43 pm

- forget the case. I decided to refer it with other


lawyer
- "does this mean I can not c u anymore"
(Does this mean I cannot see you
anymore)
- I feel bad. I cant expect that u will take advantage
of the situation.
- wrong to kiss a girl especially in the lips if you don
have relationship with her.

- "Im veri sri. Its not tking advantage of the situatio


2 put it rightly it s an expression of feeling. S sri" (Im
very sorry. Its not taking advantage of the situation,
to put it rightly it is an expression of feeling)
Follow up message
- Im s sri. Il not do it again. Wil u stil c me s I can
by respondent
show u my sincerity" (Im so sorry. Ill not do it again
at 6:42:25 pm
Will you still see me so I can show you my sincerity
On the following day, March 7, 2005 respondent sent another
message to complainant at 3:55:32 pm saying "I dont know wat 2 do
s u may 4give me. "Im realy sri. Puede bati na tyo." (I dont know
what to do so you may forgive me. Im really sorry. Puede bati na
tayo).
Respondent replied "talk to my lawyer in due time." Then another
message was received by her at 4:06:33 pm saying "Ano k ba. Im
really sri. Pls. Nxt ime bhave n me." (Ano ka ba. Im really sorry.
Please next time behave na ko), which is a clear manifestation of
admission of guilt.2
In his answer,3 respondent admitted that he agreed to provide legal
services to the complainant; that he met with complainant on 10
February 2005 and 6 March 2005, to discuss the relevant matters
relative to the case which complainant was intending to file against
the owners of Queensway Travel and Tours for collection of a sum of

money; that on both occasions, complainant rode with him in his car
where he held and kissed complainant on the lips as the former
offered her lips to him; and, that the corner of Cooper Street and
Roosevelt Avenue, where he dropped off the complainant, was a
busy street teeming with people, thus, it would have been impossible
to commit the acts imputed to him.
By way of defense, respondent further elucidated that: 1) there was a
criminal case for Acts of Lasciviousness filed by complainant against
respondent pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor in
Quezon City; 2) the legal name of complainant is Cynthia Advincula
Toriana since she remains married to a certain Jinky Toriana
because the civil case for the nullification of their marriage was
archived pursuant to the Order dated 6 December 2000 issued by the
Regional Trial Court of Maburao, Occidental Mindoro; 3) the
complainant was living with a man not her husband; and 4) the
complainant never bothered to discuss respondents fees and it was
respondent who always paid for their bills every time they met and
ate at a restaurant.
A hearing was conducted by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) at the IBP Building, Ortigas
Center, Pasig City, on 26 July 2005.
On 30 September 2005, Investigating Commissioner Dennis A. B.
Funa submitted his Report and Recommendation,4 recommending
the imposition of the penalty of one (1) month suspension on
respondent for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Thereafter, the IBP passed Resolution No. XVII-2006-117 dated 20
March 2006, approving and adopting, with modification, the
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, thus:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED
and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation
of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein
made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the
applicable laws and rules, and considering the behavior of
Respondent went beyond the norms of conduct required of a lawyer

when dealing with or relating with a client, Atty. Ernesto A. Macabata


is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months.5
The issue to be resolved in this case is: whether respondent
committed acts that are grossly immoral or which constitute serious
moral depravity that would warrant his disbarment or suspension from
the practice of law.
Simple as the facts of the case may be, the manner by which we deal
with respondents actuations shall have a rippling effect on how the
standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps
morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to
be. This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of
public faith, are burdened with a high degree of social responsibility
and, hence, must handle their personal affairs with greater caution.
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
CANON I x x x
Rule 1.01-- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct.
CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity
of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
xxxx
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.
As may be gleaned from above, the Code of Professional
Responsibility forbids lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct.
Lawyers have been repeatedly reminded that their possession of
good moral character is a continuing condition to preserve their
membership in the Bar in good standing. The continued possession
of good moral character is a requisite condition for remaining in the

practice of law.6 In Aldovino v. Pujalte, Jr.,7 we emphasized that:


This Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity and good
moral character of members of the Bar. They are expected at all
times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and
refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and
confidence reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity
of the legal profession. Membership in the legal profession is a
privilege. And whenever it is made to appear that an attorney is no
longer worthy of the trust and confidence of the public, it becomes not
only the right but also the duty of this Court, which made him one of
its officers and gave him the privilege of ministering within its Bar, to
withdraw the privilege.
It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the
highest standards of morality. The legal profession exacts from its
members nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the
integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of
malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand
no less than the highest degree of morality.8 We explained in
Barrientos v. Daarol9 that, "as officers of the court, lawyers must not
only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of
good moral character and leading lives in accordance with the
highest moral standards of the community."
Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only
upon admission to the Bar but also throughout their legal career, in
order to maintain their good standing in this exclusive and honored
fraternity. They may be suspended from the practice of law or
disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private
activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character,
honesty, probity or good demeanor.10
In Bar Matter No. 1154,11 good moral character was defined as what
a person really is, as distinguished from good reputation, or from the
opinion generally entertained of him, or the estimate in which he is
held by the public in the place where he is known. Moral character is
not a subjective term but one which corresponds to objective reality.
It should be noted that the requirement of good moral character has

four ostensible purposes, namely: (1) to protect the public; (2) to


protect the public image of lawyers; (3) to protect prospective clients;
and (4) to protect errant lawyers from themselves.12
In the case at bar, respondent admitted kissing complainant on the
lips.
In his Answer,13 respondent confessed, thus:
27. When she was about to get off the car, I said can I kiss you
goodnight. She offered her left cheek and I kissed it and with my left
hand slightly pulled her right face towards me and kissed her gently
on the lips. We said goodnight and she got off the car.
xxxx
35. When I stopped my car I said okay. I saw her offered (sic) her left
cheek and I lightly kissed it and with my right hand slightly pulled her
right cheek towards me and plant (sic) a light kiss on her lips. There
was no force used. No intimidation made, no lewd designs displayed.
No breast holding was done. Everything happened very
spontaneously with no reaction from her except saying "sexual
harassment."
During the hearing held on 26 July 2005 at the 3rd floor, IBP Building,
Dona Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas City, respondent candidly
recalled the following events:
ATTY. MACABATA:
That time in February, we met I fetched her I should say,
somewhere along the corner of Edsa and Kamuning because it was
then raining so we are texting each other. So I parked my car
somewhere along the corner of Edsa and Kamuning and I was there
about ten to fifteen minutes then she arrived. And so I said she
opened my car and then she went inside so I said, would you like that
we have a Japanese dinner? And she said yes, okay. So I brought
her to Zensho which is along Tomas Morato. When we were there,
we discussed about her case, we ordered food and then a little while I
told her, would it be okay for you of I (sic) order wine? She said yes
so I ordered two glasses of red wine. After that, after discussing

matters about her case, so I said its about 9:00 or beyond that
time already, so I said okay, lets go. So when I said lets go so I
stood up and then I went to the car. I went ahead of my car and she
followed me then she rode on (sic) it. So I told her where to? She told
me just drop me at the same place where you have been dropping
me for the last meetings that we had and that was at the corner of
Morato and Roosevelt Avenue. So, before she went down, I told her
can I kiss you goodnight? She offered her left cheek and I kissed it
and with the slight use of my right hand, I ... should I say tilted her
face towards me and when shes already facing me I lightly kissed
her on the lips. And then I said good night. She went down the car,
thats it.
COMM. FUNA:
February 10 iyan.
xxxx
ATTY. MACABATA:
Okay. After that were through so I said lets go because I have an
appointment. So we went out, we went inside my car and I said
where to? Same place, she said, so then at the same corner. So
before she went down , before she opened the door of the car, I saw
her offered her left cheek. So I kissed her again.
COMM. FUNA:
Pardon?
ATTY. MACABATA:
I saw her offered her left cheek like that, so I kissed her again and
then with the use of my left hand, pushed a little bit her face and then
kissed her again softly on the lips and thats it. x x x.14 (Emphases
supplied.)
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as
to what is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral
delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of

continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what


appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not
be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.15
In Zaguirre v. Castillo,16 we reiterated the definition of immoral
conduct, as such conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless
as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable
members of the community. Furthermore, for such conduct to warrant
disciplinary action, the same must not simply be immoral, but grossly
immoral. It must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so
unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree or committed
under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the
common sense of decency.
The following cases were considered by this Court as constitutive of
grossly immoral conduct:
In Toledo v. Toledo,17 a lawyer was disbarred from the practice of
law, when he abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with another
woman who had borne him a child.
In Obusan v. Obusan, Jr.,18 a lawyer was disbarred after complainant
proved that he had abandoned her and maintained an adulterous
relationship with a married woman. This court declared that
respondent failed to maintain the highest degree of morality expected
and required of a member of the bar.
In Dantes v. Dantes,19 respondents act of engaging in illicit
relationships with two different women during the subsistence of his
marriage to the complainant constitutes grossly immoral conduct
warranting the imposition of appropriate sanctions. Complainants
testimony, taken in conjunction with the documentary evidence,
sufficiently established that respondent breached the high and
exacting moral standards set for members of the law profession.
In Delos Reyes v. Aznar,20 it was ruled that it was highly immoral of
respondent, a married man with children, to have taken advantage of
his position as chairman of the college of medicine in asking
complainant, a student in said college, to go with him to Manila where
he had carnal knowledge of her under the threat that she would flank
in all her subjects in case she refused.

In Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma,21 respondent lawyer was disbarred when


he abandoned his lawful wife and three children, lured an innocent
woman into marrying him and misrepresented himself as a "bachelor"
so he could contract marriage in a foreign land.
In Macarrubo v. Macarrubo,22 respondent entered into multiple
marriages and then resorted to legal remedies to sever them. There,
we ruled that "[s]uch pattern of misconduct by respondent
undermines the institutions of marriage and family, institutions that
this society looks to for the rearing of our children, for the
development of values essential to the survival and well-being of our
communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole." As
such, "there can be no other fate that awaits respondent than to be
disbarred."
In Tucay v. Tucay,23 respondent contracted marriage with another
married woman and left complainant with whom he has been married
for thirty years. We ruled that such acts constitute "a grossly immoral
conduct and only indicative of an extremely low regard for the
fundamental ethics of his profession," warranting respondents
disbarment.
In Villasanta v. Peralta,24 respondent married complainant while his
first wife was still alive, their marriage still valid and subsisting. We
held that "the act of respondent of contracting the second marriage is
contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality." Thus, lacking the
good moral character required by the Rules of Court, respondent was
disqualified from being admitted to the bar.
In Cabrera v. Agustin,25 respondent lured an innocent woman into a
simulated marriage and thereafter satisfied his lust. We held that
respondent failed to maintain that degree of morality and integrity
which, at all times, is expected of members of the bar. He is,
therefore, disbarred from the practice of law.
Immorality has not been confined to sexual matters, but includes
conduct inconsistent with rectitude, or indicative of corruption,
indecency, depravity and dissoluteness; or is willful, flagrant, or
shameless conduct showing moral indifference to opinions of
respectable members of the community, and an inconsiderate

attitude toward good order and public welfare.26


Guided by the definitions above, we perceived acts of kissing or
beso-beso on the cheeks as mere gestures of friendship and
camaraderie,27 forms of greetings, casual and customary. The acts of
respondent, though, in turning the head of complainant towards him
and kissing her on the lips are distasteful. However, such act, even if
considered offensive and undesirable, cannot be considered grossly
immoral.
Complainants bare allegation that respondent made use and took
advantage of his position as a lawyer to lure her to agree to have
sexual relations with him, deserves no credit. The burden of proof
rests on the complainant, and she must establish the case against
the respondent by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof,28
disclosing a case that is free from doubt as to compel the exercise by
the Court of its disciplinary power.29 Thus, the adage that "he who
asserts not he who denies, must prove."30 As a basic rule in evidence,
the burden of proof lies on the party who makes the allegationsei
incumbit probation, qui decit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam
factum negantis probation nulla sit.31 In the case at bar, complainant
miserably failed to comply with the burden of proof required of her. A
mere charge or allegation of wrongdoing does not suffice. Accusation
is not synonymous with guilt.32
Moreover, while respondent admitted having kissed complainant on
the lips, the same was not motivated by malice. We come to this
conclusion because right after the complainant expressed her
annoyance at being kissed by the respondent through a cellular
phone text message, respondent immediately extended an apology to
complainant also via cellular phone text message. The exchange of
text messages between complainant and respondent bears this out.
Be it noted also that the incident happened in a place where there
were several people in the vicinity considering that Roosevelt Avenue
is a major jeepney route for 24 hours. If respondent truly had
malicious designs on complainant, he could have brought her to a
private place or a more remote place where he could freely
accomplish the same.

All told, as shown by the above circumstances, respondents acts are


not grossly immoral nor highly reprehensible to warrant disbarment or
suspension.
The question as to what disciplinary sanction should be imposed
against a lawyer found guilty of misconduct requires consideration of
a number of factors.33 When deciding upon the appropriate sanction,
the Court must consider that the primary purposes of disciplinary
proceedings are to protect the public; to foster public confidence in
the Bar; to preserve the integrity of the profession; and to deter other
lawyers from similar misconduct.34 Disciplinary proceedings are
means of protecting the administration of justice by requiring those
who carry out this important function to be competent, honorable and
reliable men in whom courts and clients may repose confidence.35
While it is discretionary upon the Court to impose a particular
sanction that it may deem proper against an erring lawyer, it should
neither be arbitrary and despotic nor motivated by personal animosity
or prejudice, but should ever be controlled by the imperative need to
scrupulously guard the purity and independence of the bar and to
exact from the lawyer strict compliance with his duties to the court, to
his client, to his brethren in the profession and to the public.
The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be exercised on the
preservative and not on the vindictive principle, with great caution and
only for the most weighty reasons and only on clear cases of
misconduct which seriously affect the standing and character of the
lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the Bar. Only those
acts which cause loss of moral character should merit disbarment or
suspension, while those acts which neither affect nor erode the moral
character of the lawyer should only justify a lesser sanction unless
they are of such nature and to such extent as to clearly show the
lawyers unfitness to continue in the practice of law. The dubious
character of the act charged as well as the motivation which induced
the lawyer to commit it must be clearly demonstrated before
suspension or disbarment is meted out. The mitigating or aggravating
circumstances that attended the commission of the offense should
also be considered.36
Censure or reprimand is usually meted out for an isolated act of
misconduct of a lesser nature. It is also imposed for some minor

infraction of the lawyers duty to the court or the client. 37 In the Matter
of Darell Adams,38 a lawyer was publicly reprimanded for grabbing a
female client, kissing her, and raising her blouse which constituted
illegal conduct involving moral turpitude and conduct which adversely
reflected on his fitness to practice law.
Based on the circumstances of the case as discussed and
considering that this is respondents first offense, reprimand would
suffice.
We laud complainants effort to seek redress for what she honestly
believed to be an affront to her honor. Surely, it was difficult and
agonizing on her part to come out in the open and accuse her lawyer
of gross immoral conduct. However, her own assessment of the
incidents is highly subjective and partial, and surely needs to be
corroborated or supported by more objective evidence.
WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty.
Ernesto Macabata, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED.
However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED to be more prudent
and cautious in his dealing with his clients with a STERN WARNING
that a more severe sanction will be imposed on him for any repetition
of the same or similar offense in the future.
SO ORDERED.
---------DIGEST

CYNTHIA ADVINCULA, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. ERNESTO M. MACABATA, Respondent
Facts:
The case is a disbarment case against respondent on the ground of
gross immorality. It was alleged that sometime in December 2004,
complainant seek for legal advice from peitioner regarding her collectibles
from a travel company. Respondent sent Demand Letter and sometime in

February 2005, they met at Zensho Restaurant to discuss the possibility of


filing complaint against the travel company because the latter failed to
settle the accounts. That after that said meeting, the respondent "held her
arm and kissed her on the cheek while embracing her very tightly."
The two met again to finalize the draft for the complaint and while
on their way home after the said meeting, the respondent suddenly stopped
the car and things went out of hand. Thus she decided to refer the case to
another lawyer.
Issue:
Whether or not the respondent committed acts are grossly
immoral which would warrant the disbarment or suspension from the
practice of law.
Held:
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
CANON I x x x
Rule 1.01-- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.
CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of
the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
xxxx
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.

The SC held that lawyers are expected to abide the tenets of


morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but all throughtout their legal
career as lawyers belong to an exclusive and honored fraternity. Lawyers
are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the legal profession and should
adhere to the unwaveringly to the highest standard of morality. The
respondent admitted to the act of kissing the complainant on the lips as

evidenced as well of his asking for apology from complainant in his text
message. Regardless of the fact that the respondent admitted that he kissed
the complainant but the Court held that this was not accompanied by
malice because the respondent immediately asked for forgiveness after
sensing the annoyance of the respondent after texting him. Thus the Court
held that this is not grossly immoral nor highly reprehensible which will
warrant disbarment or suspension. But the Court reprimanded respondent
to be more prudent and cautious.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila


THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 6968

August 9, 2006

ATTY. ORLANDO V. DIZON, Complainant, vs. ATTY. MARICHU


C. LAMBINO, Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------x
ATTY. MARICHU C. LAMBINO,
ORLANDO V. DIZON, Respondent.

Complainant, vs. ATTY.

DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
The killing during a rumble on December 8, 1994 of University of the
Philippines (UP) graduating student Dennis Venturina, the
chairperson of the UP College of Public Administration Student
Council, drew the then Chancellor of UP Diliman Roger Posadas to
seek the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Acting on the request of Chancellor Posadas, Atty. Orlando Dizon,
then Chief of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the NBI,

together with his men, repaired to the Office of Col. Eduardo Bentain,
head of the UP Security Force on December 12, 1994.
As two student-suspects in the killing, Francis Carlo Taparan and
Raymundo Narag, were at the time in the office of Col. Bentain, Atty.
Dizon requested to take them into his custody. Atty. Marichu
Lambino, Legal Counsel of UP Diliman, who repaired to the Office of
Col. Bentain, advised against Atty. Dizons move, however, he not
being armed with a warrant for their arrest.
Chancellor Posadas and Vice Chancellor for students Rosario
Torres-Yu, who also repaired to the office of the colonel, joined Atty.
Lambino in opposing the turn-over of the suspects to Atty. Dizon,
despite the latters claim that under its Charter the NBI was
authorized to make warrantless arrests.
The suspects lawyer, one Atty. Villamor, later also showed up at the
office of Col. Bentain and after what appeared to be a heated
discussion between Atty. Dizon and the UP officials, the students
were allowed to go back to their dormitories, with Atty. Villamor
undertaking to accompany them to the NBI the following morning.
The two student-suspects were eventually indicted in court.
Hence, spawned the filing of a complaint by Atty. Dizon against Atty.
Lambino before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), for
violation of Canon 1, Rules 1.1 to 1.3 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, docketed as CBD Case No. 346.
Atty. Dizon had earlier filed a criminal complaint also against Atty.
Lambino, together with Chancellor Posadas and Vice Chancellor
Torres-Yu and Col. Bentain, before the Ombudsman, for violation of
P.D. 1829 which makes it unlawful for anyone to obstruct the
apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenses.
Atty. Lambino in turn charged Atty. Dizon before the IBP with violation
of the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically Canon 1, Rule
1.01, 1.02, and 1.03; Canon 6, Rules 6.01 and 6.02; and Canon 8,
Rule 8.01, docketed as CBD Case No. 373.
The administrative cases were, on motion of Atty. Lambino,

consolidated. Before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD),


the issues were defined as follows:
1. Whether the act of Atty. Lambino in refusing to turn over the
suspected students to the group of Atty. Dizon constitutes violation of
Code of Professional Responsibility.
2. Whether the act of Atty. Dizon in trying to arrest the studentsuspects constitutes violation of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
By Report and Recommendation submitted to the Board of
Governors of the IBP on June 20, 2005, CBD Investigating
Commissioner Siegfrid B. Mison recommended the dismissal of the
complaint against Atty. Lambino in light of a finding that she "acted
within her official duties as she safeguarded the rights of the students
in accordance with the schools substitute parental authority" and
"within the bounds of the law as the NBI agents had no warrants of
arrest."
With respect to the complaint against Atty. Dizon, the Commissioner
recommended to reprimand him for violating the Code of Professional
Responsibility in "recklessly tr[ying] to arrest" the suspects without
warrant.
The IBP Board of Governors, by Resolution of October 22, 2005,
adopted and approved the Commissioners Report. The IBP
thereupon transferred to this Court its Notice of Resolution, together
with the records of the cases which this Court noted by Resolution of
February 1, 2006.
As earlier stated, the issue against Atty. Lambino is whether she
violated the Canons of Professional Ethics in "refusing to turn over
the suspected students to the group of Atty. Dizon."
When the complaint of Atty. Dizon before the Ombudsman against
Chancellor Posadas, Vice Chancellor Torres-Yu and Atty. Lambino
was elevated on Certiorari and Prohibition, this Court addressing in
the negative the two issues raised therein, to wit:
(1) Whether the attempted arrest of the student suspects by the NBI

could be validly made without a warrant; and (2) Whether there was
probable cause for prosecuting petitioner for violation of P.D. No.
1829. x x x,1
held that the objection of the said UP officials to the arrest of the
students "cannot be construed as a violation of P.D. No. 1829, Sec. 1
(c) without rendering it unconstitutional,"2 they having "a right to
prevent the arrest [of the students] at the time because their
attempted arrest was illegal."3
Indeed, Atty. Lambino was legally justified in advising against the turn
over of the suspects to Atty. Dizon, there being no basis for him to
effect a warrantless arrest. Atty. Dizons administrative complaint
against her must then be dismissed.
Respecting the complaint against Atty. Dizon, this Court, also in
Posadas v. Ombudsman, held that "[f]or the failure of the NBI agents
to comply with the constitutional and procedural requirements, . . .
their attempt to arrest [the two student-suspects] without a warrant
was illegal."4
In the main, Atty. Dizon invoked Section 1 (a) of Republic Act 157
(The NBI Charter) which empowers the NBI "to undertake
investigations of crimes and other offenses against the laws of the
Philippines, upon its own initiative and as public interest may require" 5
and to make arrests. The invocation does not impress. Said section
does not grant the NBI the power to make warrantless arrests. The
NBI Charter clearly qualifies the power to make arrests to be "in
accordance with existing laws and rules."
Members of the investigation staff of the Bureau of Investigation shall
be peace officers, and as such have the following powers:
(a) To make arrests, searches and seizures in accordance with
existing laws and rules.6
x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
By persisting in his attempt to arrest the suspected students without a
warrant, Atty. Dizon violated Rule 1.02 of Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which provides:

CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION,


OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR
LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.
xxxx
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.
(Emphasis supplied).
WHEREFORE, CBD Case No. 346 against Atty. Marichu C. Lambino
is DISMISSED.
Atty. Orlando V. Dizon is, in CBD Case No. 373, found guilty of
violation of Canon 1 of Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and is REPRIMANDED and WARNED that a repetition
of the same or similar infraction shall be dealt with more severely.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar
Confidant, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Department
of Justice.
SO ORDERED.