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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. 1892 July 29, 1988
ATTY. LUIS V. ARTIAGA JR., complainant,
vs.
ATTY. ENRIQUE C. VILLANUEVA, respondent.

PER CURIAM:
In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on April 2, 1978, Atty. Luis V. Artiaga Jr. sought the disbarment of Atty.
Enrique C. Villanueva for alleged unethical practices.
By a resolution dated May 24, 1978, this Court required respondent Atty. Enrique C. Villanueva to answer the
complaint. To the answer of respondent dated July 5, 1978, complainant Atty. Luis V. Artiaga Jr. filed his reply of July
31, 1978.
After considering the answer of respondent, this Court resolved to refer the case to the Solicitor General for
investigation, report and recommendation. The solicitor General forwarded to the Court his Report and
Recommendation dated May 4, 1988 with the finding that respondent was guilty of misconduct and with the
recommendation that he be suspended from the practice of law for a period of at least six (6) months.
The complaint for disbarment arose from four (4) separate cases and several incidental cases with Juliano Estolano,
client of complainant Atty. Artiaga, Jr. and Glicerio Aquino and/or Florentina Guanzon, clients of respondent Atty.
Villanueva, as adversaries in all of these cases involving the same property.
The factual background of these cases is summed up in the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No.
SP06600 dated November 16, 1977, a petition for certiorari and prohibition, an offshoot of Civil Case No. 183-C for
Recovery of Possession filed by Estolano against Aquino and Guanzon before the Court of First Instance of Laguna,
Branch VI on June 11, 1974. Quoted hereunder are pertinent portions of the Court's decision:
There were three parcels of land involved herein. All continuos and adjoining to each other and
located in Bambang, Los Banos, Laguna. The first covered an area of 2.6793 hectares; the second,
an area of one hectare; and the third, an area of one-half hectare. On July 20,1950, petitioner
Juliano Estolano was issued original Certificate of Title No. P-286 in his name over the first parcel.
There is no controversy, therefore, in respect of this first parcel, the dispute being confined to the
second and third parcels.
The second and third parcels were the object of Revocable Permit Applications by Paciano
Malabayabas and Canuto Suyo, both filed on March 31, 1951. On June 12, 1956, Canuto
transferred his right over the third parcel to petitioner. On March 4, 1958, Malabayabas also sold his
rights over the second parcel to petitioner. On May 15, 1958, petitioner filed Insular Government
Property Sales Application No. 1772 (New) covering the second and third parcels.

On November 7, 1958, Glicerio Aquino, private respondent, filed his Revocable Permit Application
over an area of 8,000 square meters, which was later found to cover a part of the first parcel already
titled in favor of petitioner and of the third parcel transferred to him by Suyo. On December 29, 1958,
private respondent Florentina Guanzon, Aquino's sister-in-law, also filed Revocable Permit
Application over the second parcel.
Eventually, the conflicts were taken cognizance of by the Bureau of Lands (B.L. Conflict No. 3-953,
and B.L.O. Conflict No. 236). On May 21, 1962, the Director of Lands rendered a Decision against
private respondents, as follows:
WHEREFORE, it is ordered that the Revocable Permit Application No. V-14105 of
Glicerio Aquino be, as hereby it is, rejected, forfeiting in favor of the Government
whatever amount has been paid on account thereof. The Revocable Permit
Application No. V-14142 of Florentina Guanzon shall remain, as it is, rejected.
Glicerio Aquino and Florentina Guanzon shall vacate the land within sixty (60) days
from their receipt of a copy hereof The new Insular Government Property Sales
Application of Julian Estolano shall be given due course after the survey of the land
covered thereby.'
Private respondents moved for the reconsideration of the aforequoted Decision, and the Director of
Lands, in an Order of August 13, 1962, amended his previous Decision as follows:
WHEREFORE, our decision of May 21, 1962, is hereby modified by awarding to
protesting Glicerio Aquino preferential right to that area actually occupied and
cultivated by him, indicated as portion "K" in the sketch drawn on the back hereof,
and amending the Insular Government Property Sales Application (New) of Juliano
Estolano so as to exclude therefrom the said portion. With this modification, the
decision stands confirmed.
Petitioner and private respondents appealed the amended Decision of the Director of Lands to the
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources who, in a Decision dated September 9, 1963,
dismissed the appeals of private respondents, set aside the Order of the Director of Lands dated
August 13, 1962, and affirmed the latter's Decision of May 21, 1962. Respondent Guanzon moved
for the reconsideration of the Secretary's Decision but said Motion was denied.
Respondent Aquino appealed the Decision of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources to
the Office of the President of the Philippines, which likewise affirmed the Decision appealed from.
The Decision of the Director of Lands having become final, an order of Execution thereof was issued
on January 4, 1967, but this notwithstanding, private respondents remained in possession of the
subject property. For failure to obtain possession thereof, petitioner filed, on June 15, 1974, the
principal case, (Civil Case No. 183-C) in the lower court which eventually gave rise to the
proceedings now challenged in this Petition." (pp. 3-7, Decision in CA-G.R. No. Sp-06600)
The restraining order issued in Civil Case No. 183-C on October 27, 1976 enjoining the Director of Lands from
enforcing the Order of Execution was set aside by the Court of Appeals and the writ of prohibition prayed for by
petitioner Estolano was granted.
Meanwhile, on April 13, 1974, respondent's clients, Aquino and Guanzon, filed a complaint for forcible entry against
complainant's client, Estolano, in the Municipal Court of Los Banos Laguna docketed as Civil Case No. 192. This
case was dismissed by the Municipal Court on January 5, 1977. On appeal to the Court of First Instance (CFI), the

order of dismissal was affirmed on November 4, 1979 in Civil Case No. 386-C. No appeal was interposed from this
decision, thus it became final.
The third case for annulment of Estolano's title over the same land was filed by respondent's client, Aquino, with the
CFI on May 15, 1974 docketed as Civil Case No. 179-C which was dismissed on April 23, 1976. On appeal to the
Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA-G.R. No. 62576-R, the dismissal by the trial court was affirmed on
June 25, 1981. On October 21, 1981, the case was remanded to the trial court for execution.
Finally, while their petition for certiorari and prohibition over Civil Case No. 183-C was pending before the Court of
Appeals, respondent's clients, Aquino, filed a complaint with the Court of Agrarian Relations (CAR) at San Pablo
City docketed as CAR Case No. 7043 against Estolano and the Director of Lands on July 1, 1977. On July 2, 1977,
the CAR issued an order requiring Estolano to respect Aquino's possession. On May 18, 1979, the CAR dismissed
the case and on appeal, its dismissal was affirmed in a decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 5, 1981 in
CA-G.R. No. 11635-CAR.
Respondent Atty. Enrique C. Villanueva is charged with the following unethical practices: (1) That respondent had
caused his client to perjure himself; (2) That he lacks candor and respect toward his adversary and the courts; and
(3) That he had been abusive of the right of recourse to the courts.
We find respondent Atty. Villanueva guilty as above charged.
Anent the first charge, the complaint and amended complaint for forcible entry in Civil Case No. 192 filed by
respondent's client are clear proofs that respondent had indeed caused his client Glicerio Aquino to perjure himself
as to the date he lost possession of the subject property so as to place the case within the jurisdiction of the court.
Paragraph 5 of the original complaint filed on April 18, 1974 reads:
5. That sometime in the early part of 1960, defendant Julian Estolano was able to dispossess
plaintiffs spouses Glicerio Aquino and Lorenzo Magpantay of a portion of the above-described parcel
of land ... (Emphasis supplied.) 1
Paragraph 5 of the Amended Complaint dated June 19, 1974 reads:
5. That sometime in the early part of June, 1973, defendant Julian Estolano and Segundo de los
Santos unlawfully dispossessed and/or deprived or turned out plaintiffs Sps. Aquino and Magpantay
thru stealth, strategy, force and intimidation of and/or possession over a certain portion (now caused
by defendant Segundo de los Santos to be planted to bananas now of less than a year old as of the
filing of the original complaint) located on the southern portion of their above-described
landholding . .... (Emphasis supplied.) 2
In the original complaint, respondent's client alleged that he was dispossessed of the subject land in 1960, while in
the amended complaint, he alleged it was in June, 1973. Clearly, this was a ploy concocted by respondent to enable
the court to acquire jurisdiction over the case since a forcible entry case must be filed within one year from the
accrual of the cause of action under Rule 70, Section 1.
Such action of respondent counsel is a clear violation of his oath that "he will do no falsehood nor consent to the
doing of any in court." 3 A legal counsel is of course expected to defend his client's cause with zeal, but not at the
disregard of the truth. 4 The duty of an attorney to the courts to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided
to him, such means as are consistent with truth and honor cannot be overemphasized. 5 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 conclusions. He
violated his oath of office when he resorted to deception. 6 Worse, he had caused his client to perjure himself thus
subjecting the latter to criminal prosecution for perjury brought before the Municipal Court of Los Banos, Laguna. 7 Instead

of safeguarding the interests of his client as his responsibility dictates, he did exactly the opposite by causing his client to
commit a felony.

From the foregoing, the lack of candor of respondent counsel towards the court is evident. This lack of candor and
honesty to the courts and his adversary is further demonstrated by other acts of respondent.
In Civil Case No. 192, respondent's clients were restored to the possession of the 2-1/2 hectares of the untitled
portion of subject property by virtue of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction issued by the court on May 21,
1974 upon filing of a property bond by respondent. Upon the dismissal of the case on January 5, 1977, the writ of
preliminary mandatory injunction was dissolved and respondent's clients were ordered to restore possession of
subject property to complainant's client Estolano. However, respondent blocked the order by filing an urgent exparte motion seeking clarification as to whether the dispositive portion of the order of January 5, 1977 was
immediately executory and asking the court to allow his clients to remain in the meantime in the premises. Before
the court could even resolve the motion, respondent perfected his appeal from the order of January 5, 1977 on
January 25, 1977. Thus, when the court's order affirming its previous order came out on January 26, 1977, the
Provincial Sheriff of Laguna refused to implement the orders of January 5 and 26, 1977 until the appeal has been
finally disposed of. On appeal, the CFI of Laguna, affirmed the questioned orders of the Municipal Court. When the
decision of the CFI became final because respondent failed to appeal, his clients refused to abide by the Order of
Execution issued by the Municipal Court.
Consequently, Estolano filed an ex-parte motion asking that the Provincial Sheriff be authorized to forcibly evict
respondent's clients. On the date set for the hearing of the motion, respondent did not appear and instead filed his
"Opposition/ Manifestation" informing the court of a petition for certiorari filed against the presiding judge before the
Court of First Instance of Laguna. In deference to this petition, the Municipal Court resolved to hold in abeyance
the ex-parte motion of Estolano until resolution of said petition.
Indeed, the manner in which respondent counsel handled the forcible entry case filed against the client of
complainant shows his total lack of candor and respect for the courts and the rights of his adversary. He had
employed every step necessary to forestall complainant's client from taking rightful possession of subject property.
He has shown utter disregard of the proper rules of procedure to suit his purpose. While he filed his urgent exparte motion for clarification, he chose not to wait for its resolution and instead perfected his appeal to the Court of
First Instance. When finally the decision became executory because of his failure to appeal to the Court of Appeals,
he filed a petition for certiorari against the decision of the CFI which petition is obviously frivolous and a mere tactic
to delay enforcement of the court's decision. In the meantime, the clients of respondents refused to obey the order
of execution.
A lawyer should obey all lawful orders and rulings of the court. 8 He should have counseled his clients to submit to the
order of the court instead of encouraging them to resist such order. The actuations of respondent of employing dilatory
tactics by filing a clearly frivolous case amount to obstruction of the administration of justice which constitutes misconduct
and justifies disciplinary action against him. 9
Respondents counsel further demonstrated his questionable motive by filing another case, this time for annulment
of the title of complainant's client to the other 2-1/2 hectares of subject land with the Court of First Instance of
Laguna, Branch VI. This case was dismissed on the ground of res judicata and prescription. Respondent appealed
this ruling to the Court of Appeals where it was pending resolution at the time the instant complaint for disbarment
was filed. The decision of the trial court was affirmed and remanded to the lower court for execution.
Not satisfied with the above-mentioned appeal, respondent counsel brought another case against complainant's
client this time before the Court of Agrarian Relations (CAR Case No. 7043) for determination allegedly of who had
a better right over the subject property when he was well aware e of the absence of any tenancy relationship
between the parties.

An examination of the records shows that respondent did not disclose before the Court of Agrarian Relations (CAR)
prior law suits and decisions rendered relative to the subject land. As a result, respondent was able to secure exparte from the CAR a restraining order against the Director of Lands and Estolano on July 2, 1977. So when the
decision of the Court of First Instance of Laguna in Civil Case No. 386-C affirming the decision of the trial court in
the forcible entry case No. 192 was rendered on November 4, 1977 ordering the immediate restoration of subject
land to Estolano, because of the restraining order issued by the agrarian court, the execution of the said decision
cannot be fully satisfied, To make matters worse, respondent even filed a criminal complaint against complainant
and his client, among others, for alleged violation of P.D. 316 and the restraining order issued by the Court of
Agrarian Relations in CAR Case No. 7043. 10 The CAR dismissed this case and on appeal, the dismissal was affirmed.
We also note that after respondent filed the case with the CAR on July 1, 1 977, he filed on July 5, 1977 in Civil
Case No. 179-C before the CFI of Laguna, a motion to dismiss the present action without prejudice to his clients'
right to prosecute their present action with the Court of Agrarian Relations. The lower court denied the motion since
it had already dismissed the case on some other ground and their appeal was already perfected without plaintiffs'
manifesting that they are abandoning their appeal. Thus, respondent was able to elevate two (2) separate appeals-CA-G.R. No. 62576-R re: annulment of title (Civil Case No. 179-C) and CA-G.R. No. 11635-CAR arising from the
CAR Case No. 7043, before the Court of Appeals over the same issues involving the same subject property titled to
Estolano.
The cause of respondent's clients is obviously bereft of merit. Respondent was aware of this fact so he resorted to
forum shopping, continuously seeking the court where he may possibly obtain favorable judgment, thereby adding
to the already clogged dockets of the courts with the unmeritorious cases he filed. He grossly abused his right of
recourse to the courts by filing multiple petitions or complaints for a cause that had been previously rejected in the
false hope of getting some favorable action, somehow, thus, obstructing the administration of justice. 11 He was
derelict in his duty as counsel to maintain such actions or proceedings only as appears to him to be just, and such
defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law. 12 He had thus prostituted his office at the expense of
justice.
The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to certain standards of mental and moral
fitness. 13 For a counsel who has been sworn to assist in the administration of justice and to uphold the rule of law,
respondent has miserably failed to live up to the standards expected of a member of the Bar. Instead of assisting in the
speedy disposition of cases, he made a mockery of our system of justice, thus deserving to be censured and penalized by
this Court. No doubt, respondent is guilty of gross misconduct in office.
WHEREFORE, the respondent is hereby SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY from the practice of law from date of notice
until such time that he can demonstrate to the court that he has rehabilitated himself and deserves to resume the
practice of law. Let this decision be noted in the bar records of respondent.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin,
Sarmiento, Cortes, Grio-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1 Exhibit "D".
2 Exhibit "F".
3 Rule 138, Sec. 3.
4 Cosmos Foundry Shop Workers Union v. Lo Bu, 63 SCRA 313; Muoz v. People, 53 SCRA 190.

5 Rule 138, Sec. 20 (d).


6 Pangan v. Ramos, 93 SCRA 87.
7 Docketed as Criminal Case No. 2447 (Exhibit "GG").
8 In re Dianala Jo, I SCRA 31.
9 People v. Jardin 124 SCRA 167.
10 Docketed as I.S. No. 3075.
11 People v. Jardin, supra; Cabagui v. CA, 67 SCRA 299.
12 Rule 138, Sec. 20 (c).
13 In re Gutierrez, 5 SCRA 661.