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THE COURT RULING

The Court finds the respondent, Atty. Jaime V. Agtang, guilty of gross
misconduct in violation of Rules 1, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (CPR). The court sets aside the recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of IBP-BOG for the three (3) month suspension of
said respondent due to its insufficiency as penalty. His blatant disregard of the
Lawyers Oath and the provisions of the CPR render him unfit to be a continuing
member of the Bar.
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR, provides that [a] lawyers shall not
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. A lawyer once
admitted to the bar shall be able to fully utilize his legal profession but not to the
extent of engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. He must
uphold his values and prioritize the display and exercise of good moral values and
conduct. This canon serves as a safeguard of the legal profession so that it may
retain its integrity and pride within itself.
The respondent, through his actions, is guilty of engaging in dishonest and
deceitful conduct both in his professional and private capacity. He clearly misled
the complainant into believing that the filing fees for her case were worth more
than it should have been. He lied about the high price of the land involved in the
case and also included the expenses and accommodation of the sheriff. He
demanded the high amount of P150, 000.00 as the initial filing fee when it truth it
only amounted to P22, 410.00. He supported his action of taking the amount of
money with the alleged insistence of the client to take the money. Such allegations
deserve no credit because no man would just give away a huge sum of money
knowing that they are going through a litigation process which would hamper on
their financial resources. Even if the complainant was willing to provide for the
amount of money, a lawyer must be knowledgeable of the amount to be paid
during litigation. The action of the respondent of asking for increase amount of
filing fees is tantamount to his deceitful actions.
The respondent must also present to his clients the actual amount due to
maintain the values of transparency and honesty due from a lawyer. It is required
that if the amount given to the lawyer by the client was not used for an intended
purpose, it is the duty of the lawyer to return the amount in full because the
continued possession of the lawyer of the money gives rise to the presumption that
he had misappropriated the funds which were placed in his care.

The respondent, having received from his client several amounts of money,
did not even account for any single item. He failed in performing his duty to
account all the money he received. According to Rule 16.01, Canon 16 of the
CPR [a] lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for
or from the client. Having deliberately violated the canon for the accounting
responsibilities of the client, he has impaired the trust in the client-lawyer
relationship that the respondent and the complainant have.
Through the non-disclosure of the respondent of his prior connections with
the past work he did for the company of Tierra Realty. Such action fall under the
violation of Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the CPR this states that [a] lawyer shall
not represent conflicting interest except by written consent of all concerned given
after a full disclosure of the facts. The client requires the full allegiance of his or
her lawyer. Before he can be able to handle cases with conflicting interests both
parties must have agreed and only after the full disclosure of facts can the lawyer
carry on as the counsel on the case.
Non-disclosure of facts can lead to serious damages to either parties as the
lawyer has knowledge about the other that he may use in court to the positive
results for the one he represents now.
A lawyer by virtue of preserving the strict client-lawyer relationship shall
not borrow money from his clients. Under Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the CPR
states that [a] lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients
interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice.
Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of
justice; he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for
the client.