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[A.C. NO.

6288 : June 16, 2006] On March 6, 2000, complainants, through their counsel, wrote respondent, informing
him that they were still willing to pay the balance of the purchase price of the townhouse on
the condition that respondent work on Crown Asia's execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale in
their favor. In the alternative, complainants demanded the return of the amount
of P937,500.00, plus legal interest, within ten days.3 The amount of P937,500.00 represents
MARILI C. RONQUILLO, ALEXANDER RONQUILLO and JON ALEXANDER RONQUILLO, the P750,000.00 down payment and the first quarterly installment of P187,500.00 which
represented by their Attorney-in-Fact SERVILLANO A. complainants paid respondent.
CABUNGCAL, Complainants, v. ATTY. HOMOBONO T. CEZAR, Respondent.

In a letter dated May 2, 2000, addressed to complainants,4 respondent claimed that


he was "working now on a private project which hopefully will be realized not long from now,"
and requested for "a period of twenty days from May 15, 2000 within which to either
DECISION completely pay Crown Asia or return the money at your (complainants') option." The period
lapsed but respondent did not make good his promise to pay Crown Asia in full, or return the
PUNO, J.: amount paid by complainants.

On February 21, 2002, complainants' counsel sent respondent a second


letter5 demanding the return of the amount of P937,500.00, including legal interest, for failing
to comply with his promise. The demand was unheeded.
Complainants seek the disbarment or suspension of respondent from the practice of
law for unlawful, dishonest, immoral and deceitful conduct. They allege that respondent sold
them a piece of property over which he has no right nor interest, and that he refuses to return Hence, this administrative complaint6 that respondent engaged in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
to them the amount they have paid him for it. or deceitful conduct. Allegedly, respondent violated his oath under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility and he ought to be disbarred or suspended from the
practice of law.
Complainant Marili C. Ronquillo is a Filipino citizen currently residing in Cannes,
France, together with her minor children, Alexander and Jon Alexander.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San
1
Juan, to whom the instant disciplinary case was assigned for investigation, report and
In May 1999, complainants and respondent entered into a Deed of Assignment. For recommendation, found respondent guilty of dishonest and deceitful conduct proscribed under
the price of P1.5M, respondent transferred, in favor of the complainants, his rights and Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. In her Report dated October 9,
interests over a townhouse unit and lot, located at 75 Granwood Villas Subd., BF Homes, 2003, she recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period
Quezon City. Respondent also obligated himself to deliver to complainants a copy of the of three (3) years. The IBP Board of Governors, through Resolution No. XVI-2003-226, dated
Contract to Sell he executed with Crown Asia, the townhouse developer, dated April 19, 1996. October 25, 2003, approved the recommendation of Commissioner San Juan.
Upon full payment of the purchase price, respondent further undertook to have Crown Asia
execute a Deed of Absolute Sale over the property in favor of the complainants.
We agree.

Respondent received from complainants P750,000.00 upon execution of the Deed


of Assignment. The balance was to be paid by complainants in four equal quarterly Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, a member of the Bar
installments of P187,500.00 each. Thus, complainants issued in favor of respondent four may be disbarred or suspended on any of the following grounds: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice or
postdated checks in the amount of P187,500.00 each. Respondent was able to encash the other gross misconduct in office; (3) grossly immoral conduct; (4) conviction of a crime
first check dated August 17, 1999.2 involving moral turpitude; (5) violation of the lawyer's oath; (6) willful disobedience of any
lawful order of a superior court; and (7) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without
authority. Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that "A
Complainants subsequently received information from Crown Asia that respondent lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." "Conduct,"
has not paid in full the price of the townhouse at the time he executed the Deed of as used in this rule, does not refer exclusively to the performance of a lawyer's professional
Assignment. Respondent also failed to deliver to complainants a copy of the Contract to Sell duties. This Court has made clear in a long line of cases7 that a lawyer may be disbarred or
he allegedly executed with Crown Asia. For these reasons, complainant Marili Ronquillo suspended for misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to
ordered the bank to stop payment on the second check she issued to respondent in the be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor, or unworthy to continue
amount of P187,500.00. as an officer of the court.
In the instant case, respondent may have acted in his private capacity when he profession justifies the imposition of the appropriate penalty, including suspension and
entered into a contract with complainant Marili representing to have the rights to transfer title disbarment.12
over the townhouse unit and lot in question. When he failed in his undertaking, respondent fell
short of his duty under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It Be that as it may, we cannot grant complainants' prayer that respondent be directed
cannot be gainsaid that it was unlawful for respondent to transfer property over which one has to return the money he received from them in the amount of P937,500.00. Disciplinary
no legal right of ownership. Respondent was likewise guilty of dishonest and deceitful conduct proceedings against lawyers do not involve a trial of an action, but rather investigations by the
when he concealed this lack of right from complainants. He did not inform the complainants court into the conduct of one of its officers. The only question for determination in these
that he has not yet paid in full the price of the subject townhouse unit and lot, and, therefore, proceedings is whether or not the attorney is still fit to be allowed to continue as a member of
he had no right to sell, transfer or assign said property at the time of the execution of the Deed the Bar.13 Thus, this Court cannot rule on the issue of the amount of money that should be
of Assignment. His acceptance of the bulk of the purchase price amounting to Nine Hundred returned to the complainants.
Thirty-Seven Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P937,500.00), despite knowing he was not
entitled to it, made matters worse for him.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, respondent Atty. Homobono T. Cezar is SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for a period of THREE (3) YEARS, effective immediately. Let a copy of this
Respondent's adamant refusal to return to complainant Marili Ronquillo the money Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
she paid him, which was the fruit of her labor as an Overseas Filipino Worker for ten (10) and all courts for their information and guidance.
years, is morally reprehensible. By his actuations, respondent failed to live up to the strict
standard of morality required by the Code of Professional Responsibility and violated the trust
and respect reposed in him as a member of the Bar, and an officer of the court.

Respondent's culpability is therefore clear. He received a letter from complainants' counsel


demanding the execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of the complainants, or, in the
alternative, the return of the money paid by complainants. In reply to said letter, respondent
acknowledged his obligation, and promised to settle the same if given sufficient time, thus:

xxx

I am working now on a private project which hopefully will be realized not long from
now but I need a little time to fix some things over. May I please request for a period of 20
days from May 15, 2000 within which to either completely pay Crown Asia or return the
money at your option. (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary

In no uncertain terms, respondent admitted not having full ownership over the
subject townhouse unit and lot, as he has yet to completely pay Crown Asia. Respondent
even failed to produce the Contract to Sell he allegedly executed with Crown Asia over the
subject unit, which would show the extent of his right of ownership, if any, over the townhouse
unit and lot in question.

To be sure, complainants gave respondent sufficient time to fulfill his obligation. It


was only after almost two years had passed, after respondent promised to pay Crown Asia or
return to complainants the amount they paid him, that complainants sent respondent a second
letter8demanding solely the return of the amount of P937,500.00, including legal interest. By
this time, it was indubitable that respondent would not be able to perform his end of their
agreement.

The practice of law is not a right but a privilege. It is granted only to those of good
moral character.9The Bar must maintain a high standard of honesty and fair dealing.10 Lawyers
must conduct themselves beyond reproach at all times, whether they are dealing with their
clients or the public at large,11 and a violation of the high moral standards of the legal
VICTOR LINGAN, A.C. No. 5377
Complainant,

-versus-

ATTYS. ROMEO CALUBAQUIB


and JIMMY P. BALIGA, Respondents.
June 15, 2006

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RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

This is a complaint for disbarment[1] filed by Victor Lingan against Attys.


Romeo Calubaquib and Jimmy Baliga on November 16, 2000. Complainant alleged that
respondents, both notaries public, falsified certain public documents.

The case has its roots in a complaint for annulment of title with damages [2] filed by Isaac
Villegas against complainant with the Regional Trial Court of Tuguegarao, Cagayan, docketed
as Civil Case No. 5036. Respondent Calubaquib signed the verification and certification of
non-forum shopping[3] of the complaint as notary public and entered the same as Doc. No.
182; Page No. 38; Book No. CLXXII; Series of 1996. Complainant alleges that this document
was falsified because according to the records of the National Archives, the document entered
as Doc. No. 182; Page 38; Book No. CLXXII; Series of 1996 in
respondent Calubaquibs notarial register was an affidavit of one Daniel Malayao.[4]
The trial court decided Civil Case No. 5036 in favor of complainant [5] and, as a result, the
plaintiff there, through respondent Calubaquib, appealed it to the Court of Appeals, where it
was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 55837.

On file with the records of this case is a special power of attorney [6] dated September
10, 1996 executed by Isaac Villegas appointing respondent Calubaquib as his attorney-in-fact
to enter into a compromise agreement under such terms and conditions acceptable to him
which was notarized by respondent Baliga and entered as Doc. No. 548, Page No. 110; Book
No. VIII; Series of 1996.[7] Complainant alleged that this special power of attorney was also
falsified because, according to respondent Baligas notarial register, Doc. No. 548; Page No.
110; Book No. VIII; Series of 1996 pertains to an affidavit of loss of one Pedro Telan,[8] dated
August 26, 1996.

In addition, on January 2, 1995, respondent Baliga filed a petition for reappointment as notary
public for and in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, which was notarized by respondent Calubaquib and
entered in his notarial register as Doc. No. 31, Page No. 08, Book No. CXXX, Series of
1995.However, Notarial Register Book No. CXXX was for the year 1996 and entered there as
Doc. No. 31, Page No. 08 was a cancellation of real estate mortgage dated January 11, 1996.

In his answer,[9] respondent Baliga admitted the incorrectness of the entries and
simply attributed them to the inadvertence in good faith of his secretary to whom he had left
the task of entering all his notarial documents.
Respondent Calubaquibs comment,[10] however, contained a much lengthier account defraud complainant whose allegations, if true, are serious enough to merit the disbarment of
of the alleged events leading up to this case, the bulk of which was meant to cast complainant both respondents.
and his motives in a sinister light. In a nutshell, he made it appear that the reason for the The missing link, as it were, between the admitted infractions of respondents and
complaint was that he (respondent) thwarted a fraudulent attempt by complainant to grab a the nefarious machinations alleged by complainant is whether or not the latter was able to
parcel of land. He also stated that complainant had filed a case for falsification of documents prove that Villegas signature on the documents notarized by respondents was in fact forged.
against him with the Ombudsman but it was dismissed.
Forgery cannot be presumed. It must be proved by clear, positive and convincing
In the end, however, he (like his co-respondent Baliga) admitted to the mistaken evidence. Mere allegation thereof is not evidence. [20] One who alleges forgery has the burden
entries and also ascribed the same to his legal assistants. Similarly, by way of defense, he of proving the same.[21] We find that complainant failed to discharge this burden.
pointed out that the Notarial Law provides that only contracts need to have their copies
included in the notarialrecords. It does not require affidavits, verifications or subscriptions of Complainant alleged mainly that Villegas could not possibly have signed the
petitions which are mere allegations of facts to be entered in the NotarialRegister, despite documents in question because he was a fugitive from justice, with several civil and criminal
widespread practice to the contrary. cases pending against him. Assuming this allegation to be true, it proved nothing. The mere
Upon receipt of respondents comments, we referred the case to the Integrated Bar fact that Villegas was a fugitive from justice did not preclude the possibility that he might have
of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. secretly met with his lawyer for purposes of filing a suit. It would have been different had
complainant presented evidence that Villegas was, at the time the questioned documents
In the course of the proceedings before the IBP, complainant alleged that were executed, definitely somewhere else. But the bare argument that Villegas being a fugitive
respondent Calubaquib, with the help of respondent Baliga and several other persons, was rendered it impossible for him to sign some documents was simply too nebulous to inspire
trying to deprive him (complainant) of a parcel of land he had bought from Isaac Villegas belief.
mother-in-law. According to complainant, respondent impersonated Villegas, who was in hiding
due to several civil and criminal cases pending against him, by forging his signature in all As additional evidence, complainant presented, as attachments to his motion for
documents and pleadings related to the civil case filed against him (complainant). He pointed reconsideration, a number of documents purportedly bearing Villegas real signature, the latest
to the incorrect notarial entries as proof of this falsification. of which was the motion to withdraw allegedly filed by Villegas himself. However, the veracity
of the last of those documents was vigorously contested by an affidavit also purportedly filed
He presented in evidence a motion for withdrawal[11] filed in the Court of Appeals, by Villegas. The two documents, both notarized, effectively cancelled each other out, absent
apparently by Villegas, disavowing any involvement in the case filed by some other credible proof.
respondent Calubaquib.
It is true that there were dissimilarities between the signatures purportedly belonging
To further buttress his allegations of falsification, complainant pointed out that to Villegas and his genuine signature on the conformeof the general power of
respondent Calubaquib seemed unable to physically produce Villegas. For example, when the attorney[22] executed by his wife in favor of his mother-in-law. However, the fact of forgery
Ombudsman ordered him to produce Villegas, respondent Calubaquib merely presented an cannot be presumed simply because there are dissimilarities between the standard and the
affidavit[12]supposedly executed by Villegas and sworn to before a highly regarded [Department questioned signatures.[23] If complainant was so sure the signatures were fake, he should have
of Justice] official. submitted them for expert analysis to the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine
National Police or some other handwriting expert. The records are bereft of any such analysis
In the IBPs report and recommendation, [13] dated December 7, 2001, Commissioner or even any attempt to have the signatures examined.
Rebecca Villanueva-Maala found respondents liable for inexcusable negligence and
recommended the revocation of the commission of respondents Calubaquib and Baliga as Furthermore, all the documents on which the contested signature appeared were
notaries public for two years from receipt of the final decision. Commissioner Maalas report did notarized. Notarial documents carry the presumption of regularity. To contradict them, the
not touch on complainants allegations of forgery. evidence presented must be clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant.
[24]
Complainants uncorroborated theory of an entire conspiracy of lawyers and government
When the IBP resolved[14] to adopt Commissioner Maalas report and officials beholden to respondent Calubaquib did not constitute such evidence.
recommendation, both complainant[15] and respondent Baliga[16]filed motions for
reconsideration[17] with this Court. Respondent Calubaquib opposed[18] complainants motion for The forgery of Villegas signature having remained unproven, we can only hold
reconsideration. respondents liable for their omissions that have actually been proved.

In his motion for reconsideration, complainant assailed the penalty recommended by In this respect, we find that the recommendations of IBP
the IBP as grossly inadequate. Reiterating his allegation of forgery, he attached documents Commissioner Maala adopted by the IBP were supported by the evidence on record,
bearing Villegas allegedly forged signature as well as documents with his supposed real particularly the documents themselves as well as the respondents own admission.
signature[19] for comparison.
In response, on the other hand, to respondents feeble attempts to deflect the blame
In his opposition/comment, respondent Calubaquib refuted complainants scathing from themselves and onto their staff, we call their attention to Sections 245, 246 and 249(b) of
accusations of fraud and abuse of his public position, and prayed for the dismissal of the the Notarial Law.[25]
complaint. In his motion for reconsideration, respondent Baliga decried the penalty imposed as
disproportionate to the infraction he had committed. Sections 245 and 246 of the Notarial Law provided:

The respondents having admitted responsibility for the notarial entries, the question SEC. 245. Notarial Register. Every notary public shall keep a register
now is whether these were the product of a mere mistake or evidence of larger scheme to to be known as the notarial register, wherein record shall be made
of all his official acts as notary; and he shall supply a certified copy of
such record, or any part thereof, to any person applying for it and paying violation of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility [30] and Section 27,
the legal fees therefore. (emphasis supplied) Rule 138 of the Rules of Court which provides:

xxx xxx xxx SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme


SEC. 246. Matters to be entered therein. The notary public shall enter in Court; grounds therefore.A member of the bar may be disbarred or
such register, in chronological order, the nature of each instrument suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any
executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him, the person executing, deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly
swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument, the witnesses, if any, to the immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
signature, the date of execution, oath, or acknowledgment of the turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which is required to take before
instrument, the fees collected by him for his services as notary in admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a
connection therewith, and, when the instrument is a contract, he shall superior court, or for corruptly and willfully appearing as an attorney for a
keep a correct copy thereof as part of his records, and shall likewise enter party to a case without authority to do so. The practice of soliciting cases
in said records a brief description of the substance thereof and shall give at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or
to each entry a consecutive number, beginning with number one in each brokers, constitutes malpractice.
calendar year. The notary shall give to each instrument executed, sworn
to, or acknowledged before him a number corresponding to the one in his WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondents Atty. Romeo I. Calubaquib and
register, and shall also state on the instrument the page or pages of his Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga are hereby found guilty of violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
register on which the same is recorded. No blank line shall be left Professional Responsibility and of their lawyers oath. They are both
between entries. ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE YEAR effective immediately, with a
warning that another infraction shall be dealt with more severely.
xxx xxx xxx
Their present commissions as notaries public, if any, are hereby REVOKED,
In this connection, Section 249(b) stated: with DISQUALIFICATION from reappointment as notaries public for a period of two years.

SEC. 249. Grounds for revocation of commission.The following Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the personal records of Atty. Romeo
derelictions of duty on the part of a notary public shall, in the discretion of I. Calubaquib and Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga, and copies furnished the Integrated Bar of the
the proper judge of first instance, be sufficient ground for the revocation of Philippines, the Office of the Court Administrator and Office of the Bar Confidant for
his commission: dissemination to all courts nationwide.
This Resolution is immediately executory.
xxx xxx xxx

(b) The failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries
in his notarial register touching his notarial acts in the
manner required by law.

xxx xxx xxx

From the language of the subsection, it is abundantly clear that the notary public
is personally accountable for all entries in his notarialregister. Respondents cannot be relieved
of responsibility for the violation of the aforesaid sections by passing the buck to their
secretaries, a reprehensible practice which to this day persists despite our open
condemnation.[26] Respondents, especially Calubaquib, a self-proclaimed prominent legal
practitioner, should have known better than to give us such a simple-minded excuse.

We likewise remind respondents that notarization is not an empty, meaningless


or routinary act but one invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who are
qualified or authorized to do so may act as notaries public. The protection of that interest
necessarily requires that those not qualified or authorized to act must be prevented from
inflicting themselves upon the public, the courts and the administrative offices in general.[27]

Notarization by a notary public converts a private document into a public one and
makes it admissible in evidence without further proof of its authenticity.[28] Notaries public must
therefore observe utmost care with respect to the basic requirements of their duties.[29]

Being not only lawyers but also public officers, respondents should have been
acutely aware of their responsibilities. Respondents acts did not amount to mere simple and
excusable negligence. Having failed to perform their sworn duty, respondents were squarely in
LETICIA ADRIMISIN,
Complainant,
A.C. No. 2591

- versus -

ATTY. ROLANDO S. JAVIER,

Respondent. September 8, 2006

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DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case
On 12 September 1983, Leticia Adrimisin (complainant) filed a complaint-affidavit [1] with the
Ministry of Justice seeking the disbarment of Atty. Rolando S. Javier (respondent) for deceit
and misrepresentation.

The Facts
Complainant alleges that on 12 July 1983, she was introduced by her cousin, Pablo Adrimisin,
to respondent. She needed the help of a lawyer in having her son-in-law, Alfredo Monterde
(Monterde), who was charged with the crime of qualified theft, released from the Caloocan
City Jail. Complainant claims that respondent advised her to file a bail bond. Complainant
informed respondent that her only money was P500. Complainant contends that respondent
received the money, issued a receipt[2] and promised that Monterde would be released from jail
the following day.

Complainant also alleges that respondent failed to keep his promise in having Monterde
released. Complainant went to respondents office several times but it seemed that respondent
was avoiding her. Monterde was later released upon settlement of the case with his employer.
Complainant claims that she demanded for the return of the P500 but respondent failed to
return this amount.

Respondent did not file any comment or answer. He only appeared in the investigative
hearings conducted by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). Respondent, in his testimony,
claims he was not hired by complainant as legal counsel. Respondent alleges complainant
only asked his help to secure a bail bond.[3] Respondent admits he receivedP500 for the bail
bond and called up Carlos Alberto (Alberto), an insurance agent. [4] Respondent claims he
gave the P500 to Alberto. However, the amount was not sufficient to pay for the bond.
[5]
Respondent denies that he promised to have Monterde released immediately.[6] Respondent
claims he advised complainant to get back her money directly from Alberto.[7]
Alberto, the insurance agent, was presented during the hearing. He testified that on 20 July Thirdly, respondents witness, Alfredo Brigoli, the general manager of the AAF House
1983, respondent came to him to secure a bail bond for qualified theft. [8] Alberto showed a of Bonds, admitted that Exhibit 1 was not finally approved. On cross-
copy of the personal bail bond dated 20 July 1983, issued by Philippine Phoenix Surety & examination, he declared:
Insurance, Inc. (Philippine Phoenix Surety) with a premium of P940 and costs of documentary
stamps, notarial fees and clearances at P279 for a total of P1,219.[9] Alberto claimed he issued Q Have you signed that as finally approved?
a genuine bond but it was not filed in court because complainant failed to pay the balance. A No, sir. When they called up asking for my signature on the
[10]
He also testified that Pablo Adrimisin asked for the refund of the P500 but the amount could deleted portion of the bond, Mr. Alberto never came
not be refunded due to expenses already incurred and forfeiture of the remainder in favor of to my office.
Albertos office.[11] Q In other words that bond has not been finally approved.
A Not finally approved because there is no signature yet.
The bail bond which was marked as Exhibit 1 contained a stamped Limitation of Liability (p. 20, tsn, Sept. 30, 1985).
clause. The clause states Authorized limit of the bond shall not exceed P20,000 and it is not
valid for theft and robbery cases.[12] The portion Not valid for theft and robbery cases was As held by this Honorable Court in Royong v. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859, 868-869 (1963),
deleted with a marking pen but this cancellation was not signed or initialed. Alberto was asked The respondents misconduct, although unrelated to his office, may
why the cancellation was unsigned. Alberto replied that he had no knowledge on who made constitute sufficient grounds for disbarment. And in Quingwa v. Puno, 19
the stamp or the cancellation. [13] When asked if it is the policy of Philippine Phoenix Surety not SCRA 439, 445 (1967), it also held that, Indeed, it is important that
to post personal bail bond with respect to theft and robbery cases, Alberto answered in the members of this ancient and learned profession of law must conform
affirmative.[14] themselves in accordance with the highest standards of morality.

Alberto also clarified that he is not connected with Philippine Phoenix Surety but he is an Specifically, for deceit and misrepresentation, respondent may be suspended or
employee of the House of Bonds, which is the general agent of the former.[15] disbarred (In re Paraiso, 41 Phil. 24, 25 [1920]).[20]

Mr. Alfredo Brigoli (Brigoli), General Manager of the House of Bonds, was also presented as The Courts Ruling
one of respondents witnesses. Brigoli explained that he gives Alberto 5 sets of pre-signed bail The Court finds respondent liable for violation of Canon 16 and Rule 18.03 of the
bond forms.[16] However, in theft, robbery and drug cases, Alberto is required to seek his Code of Professional Responsibility (Code). The Code mandates every lawyer to hold in trust
approval before the bond is issued. all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession.
[21]
Brigoli testified that it was Albertos daughter who called him up for approval to issue a bond for Consequently, a lawyer should account for the money received from a client.[22] The Code
qualified theft.[17] He informed Albertos daughter to bring the original bond and its duplicate also enjoins a lawyer not to neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, [23] and his negligence in
copies to his office in Intramuros for his signature, but the same was not done. [18] Due to the connection therewith shall render him liable.
lack of his signature, Brigoli claimed that the bond has not been approved. [19] Brigoli
also testified that since the bond was not forwarded to his office, the same was not recorded Respondent himself admitted the receipt of P500 from complainant as payment for the bail
and the payment was not remitted. bond as shown in his testimony and in Exhibit A. By his receipt of the amount, respondent
agreed to take up complainants cause and owed fidelity to complainant and her cause, even if
The OSGs Report and Recommendation complainant never paid any fee. Lawyering is not a business. It is a profession in which duty to
The OSGs Investigating Solicitor Antonio G. Castro heard the case and submitted a Report public service, not money, is the primary consideration.[24]
and Recommendation (Report). The OSG recommended that respondent be suspended from Respondent claims that on 12 July 1983, he called up Alberto for the issuance of the bail bond
the practice of law for not less than one year. The Report reads: but it took 8 days before the bail bond was prepared. In failing to immediately secure the bail
bond, respondent clearly neglected to exercise ordinary diligence or that reasonable degree of
The charge of deceit and misrepresentation against respondent has been care and skill required by the circumstances.
sufficiently established. Respondent himself admits that he received from
complainant the sum of P500.00 for the bail bond of complainants son-in- There were also irregularities in the personal bail bond. Firstly, it was issued on 20
law Alfredo Monterde; that he failed to secure Monterdes release from jail; July 1983 but notarized sometime in 1984 as seen in the Notarial Certificate. The Court
and that he did not return the sum of P500.00 to complainant (pp. 9-20, therefore agrees with OSGs finding that respondents defense that he secured a bail bond was
tsn, March 14, 1985). a mere afterthought. Furthermore, complainant filed her complaint on 12 September 1983,
xxxx which means that the bond was notarized only after the complaint was filed. Secondly, the bail
bond was not valid for theft and robbery cases. Although there was a cancellation of such
Respondents defense that he actually secured a bail bond for Monterde is a mere phrase through marking pen, the same was not countersigned, and hence the cancellation
afterthought. Firstly, complainant confided to him that she had no more was void. Thirdly, the payment for the bond was not recorded and neither was it remitted to the
money except P500.00. He would not, therefore, secure a bail bond with issuer of the bond. This means that the bond was a mere piece of paper without any value for
higher premium than P500.00. it failed to serve its purpose.
Complainant demanded for the return of the P500 but respondent kept on
Secondly, while he declared that the records of Monterdes case in the Regional Trial insisting that complainant seek refund from Alberto. Respondent has the duty to account for
Court in Caloocan City, Branch XXV, sala of Judge Oscar Herrera showed the money entrusted to him by complainant. In Parias v. Paguinto,[25] we held that a lawyer
that the recommended bail wasP8,000.00 (pp. 8-9, tsn, March 14, 1985), shall account for all money or property collected from the client. Money entrusted to alawyer
the personal bail bond, marked as Exhibit 1, which was allegedly for a specific purpose, such as for filing fee, but not used for failure to file the case must
prepared, was for P9,400.00 (Exh. 1, p. 7, Folder of Exhs.). immediately be returned to the client on demand. In the present case, money for the payment
of the bonds premium was not used for the purpose intended. Hence, respondent must return
the amount to complainant upon demand.
A lawyers failure to return upon demand the funds held by him on behalf of his client
gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use in violation of
the trust reposed in him by his client. Such act is a gross violation of general morality as well
as of professional ethics. It impairs public confidence in the legal profession and deserves
punishment.[26]

This is not the first time respondent is found to have unlawfully withheld and
misappropriated money. In Igual v. Javier,[27] the Court held that respondent had unjustifiably
refused to return Iguals money upon demand and his absence of integrity was highlighted by
his half-baked excuses, hoary pretenses and blatant lies in his testimony before the IBP
Committee on Bar Discipline. The Court suspended Javier from the practice of law for a period
of one month and ordered him to restitute the amount of P7,000 toIgual. In that case, we
reminded respondent that he was expected to always live up to the standards embodied in the
Code of Professional Responsibility for the relationship between an attorney and his client is
highly fiduciary in nature and demands utmost fidelity and good faith. [28]

We reiterate this reminder. Lawyers who convert the funds entrusted to them are in
gross violation of professional ethics and are guilty of betrayal of public confidence in the legal
profession.[29] Those who are guilty of such infraction may be disbarred or suspended from the
practice of law.[30]

WHEREFORE, we SUSPEND Atty. Rolando S. Javier from the practice of law for SIX
MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision. We ORDER respondent to restitute
complainant Leticia Adrimisin the Five Hundred Pesos (P500) with legal interest computed
from 12 September 1983 until full payment. Respondent shall submit to the Court proof
of restitution within ten (10) days from payment.

Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to
respondents personal record, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The Court
Administrator shall furnish copies to all courts of the land for their information and guidance.
The background facts are summarized in a Report and Recommendation dated 13
January 2004[4] of Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline,
which Report reads in part, as follows:

Complainant alleged that on February 9, 1965 the children of Ledesma de Jesus Paras-
Sumabong namely Conegunda, Justo, Corazon, Carmen and Cataluna all surnamed Paras
executed a Special Power of Attorney prepared by the respondent to sell parcels of land
located in Matobato, Bindoy, Negros Oriental giving authority to their mother to sell the subject
real properties previously registered in the name of the heirs of Vicente Paras wherein
respondent was one of the signatories therein.

Complainant alleged that on May 4, 1966 on the basis of said Special Power of Attorney,
Ledesma J. Paras-Sumabang executed a Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of Aurora Dy-Yap
over the subject real property located in Matobato, Bindoy, Negros Oriental which was with the
respondents full knowledge since he was residing at the house of Soledad Dy-Yap at that time
and from that time, the Yap family had been in possession of the subject real property up to
the present.

Complainant alleged that sometime in June 1998 her attention was called to the fact that a
free patent title to the aforesaid property was issued in respondents name and upon
verification with the DENR, Bureau of Lands, Dumaguete City, complainant was able to get
copies of the documents for lot Nos. 660, 490 and 585 pertaining to the Notice of Application
for Free Patent dated April 2, 1985 signed by the respondent; over the aforesaid lots
previously sold by Ledesma de Jesus to Aurora D. Yap; Quitclaim/Renunciation of Property
Rights and Interest Over Real Property executed by Ledesma de Jesus dated May 28, 1985;
[A.C. No. 4947. February 14, 2005] Letter of Application dated April 2, 1985 signed by respondent under oath before Apolonio Tan
authorized officer to administer oath; Letter of Certification signed by Apolonio Tan dated June
4, 1985 and Order of Approval dated August 19, 1985 signed by District Land Officer Teopisto
L. Gallozo with a Free Patent No. 328 in the name of respondent Justo J. Paras.
ROSA YAP-PARAS, petitioner, vs. ATTY. JUSTO PARAS, respondent.
Complainant alleged that the aforementioned application was made by the respondent without
her knowledge and consent and those acts of deceit, machinations and falsification of
documents were deliberately willfully, and maliciously committed by the respondent in violation
of Art. 172 in relation to Art. 171 of the RPC; in betrayal of his oath as a lawyer and a
RESOLUTION
transgression of the Canons of Professional Responsibility.

Complainant alleged that respondent surreptitiously obtained a free patent title over real
properties which had been previously sold by his own mother to Aurora D. Yap and now still
GARCIA, J.: under the control and possession of complainants natural family, a fact respondent allegedly
withheld from the Bureau of Lands which he had full knowledge in successfully causing the
Before us is this verified Petition [1] filed by Rosa Yap-Paras praying for the disbarment of release of a free patent in his name and unjustly and unlawfully deprived the rightful owners of
her estranged husband Atty. Justo Paras on alleged acts of deceit, malpractice, grave their legitimate title to the said property in betrayal of the court to pervert the administration of
misconduct, grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer. justice in gross violation of his oath of office.

On 18 January 1989, respondent filed his comment[2] to the Petition. xxx xxx xxx

In a Resolution dated 10 February 1999,[3] the Court referred the case to the Integrated In his Comment, respondent alleged that complainant was obviously not the owner of the
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. properties and considering that the properties were applied for free patent titling during their
marital union prior to its breakage, complainant was likewise a communal owner thereof and Respondent alleged that he sought and prayed for recovery of possession of all
as such was also complaining against herself. conjugal/communal properties including the herein questioned properties for after he left the
conjugal home in 1988 possession of all these properties, real and personal were until now
Respondent alleged that later on, a great portion of the public lands classified as forested with the complainant and her biological family.
zone in Matobato were declared and reclassified into public agricultural lands, then publicly
surveyed and parcelized by lots identified in the survey map based on actual or known Respondent prayed for the outright dismissal of the petition for lack of merit.
occupants; then the Bureau of Lands allegedly made a public announcement that the lands
were available for private ownership thru Free Patent Application available only to native Complainant subsequently filed a Reply[5] to respondents Comment, therein refuting
settlers or natural born Filipinos. respondents claims that he was used as a dummy since complainant and her siblings had
previously acquired Free Patents in their names. Complainant further alleged that respondent
Respondent alleged that none of the Yaps including complainant being native or natural born is morally unfit to continue to be an officer of the court because of his falsely declaring under
Filipinos muchless Aurora D. Yap who in 1985 was said to be already an American citizen; oath that he had been occupying the subject real property since 1985 when in fact he did not
complainant and her family; the Yaps prevailed upon him to apply for free patent over said and was never in occupation/possession thereof.
questioned properties for the reason that respondent had already occupied the properties;
introduced improvements thereon; acted as owner thereof; and could easily align his right to On 27 August 1999, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline issued an Order [6] noting the
the property which had been identified in the public survey as Heirs of Vicente Paras, filing of the last pleading and setting the instant case for hearing. Several hearings [7] were
otherwise the questioned properties allegedly according to the Yaps will be applied for and conducted wherein complainant presented all her witnesses together with their respective
awarded to other qualified natural born Filipinos. affidavits and supporting documents[8], which were all subjected to cross-examination by the
respondent. Likewise, respondent presented his Counter-Affidavit[9] and supporting
Respondent alleged that Free Patent Application was filed by him over the communal property documents.
of him and the complainant as well as those purchased by him including the portion whose
occupancy of a public land was purchased by Aurora D. Yap from Ledesma Vda de Paras Based on the foregoing, the Investigating Commissioner concluded her Report and
upon the prodding of the Yaps for all of them were not qualified to apply for ownership of an made a recommendation, as follows:
agricultural public land via free patent; none of them being a natural born Filipino or native
settler and were disqualified from a gratuitous grant of public land from the government.
From the facts obtaining respondent committed deceit and falsehood in having applied for free
patent over lands owned by another over which he had no actual physical possession being
Respondent alleged that the whole idea of giving to him and the complainant the properties aware of the fact that the same was previously transferred in the name of Aurora Yap; an act
was hatched and executed by the Yaps, most particularly Atty. Francisco D. Yap to circumvent which adversely reflected on his fitness to practice law in violation of Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the
the law and prevent the properties from being given by the government to some other qualified Code of Professional Responsibility.
persons. He allegedly applied for issuance of free patent in good faith and thereafter took
dominion and control of the properties in the concept of a legitimate owner under authority of a
gratuitous grant of the government. It is immaterial as to who instituted the complaint for as long as there was a violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility which partakes the nature of proper disciplinary action
pursuant to Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Disbarment and Discipline of Attorneys.
Respondent alleged that complainant or any member of her family much less American citizen
Aurora Dy Yap had not made any prior demand for the return of the questioned properties; nor
filed a complaint under the Katarungang Pambarangay Law; nor filed an administrative Wherefore in view of the foregoing, the Undersigned respectfully recommends for the
remedy before the DENR for the cancellation and reversion/transfer of the Free Patent and suspension of Atty. Justo Paras from the practice of his law profession for a period of three (3)
Title to them; nor brought any action in any civil court for either quieting of title, or cancellation months from receipt hereof.
of free patent title or recovery of ownership or whatever.
It is also hereby recommended that the IBP Chapter wherein respondent Paras is a registered
Respondent alleged that even without such civil court determination on whether or not member be furnished a copy of the Order and notified of the said suspension for proper
complainant or her family were qualified to become grantee of a government gratuitous grant enforcement.
of public agricultural land, if the Honorable Supreme Court will decide that complainant, her
mother, brothers and sisters were within the ambit of the term natural born citizen or native Via Resolution No. XVI-2004-120 dated 27 February 2004, [10] the IBP Board of
citizens under the 1946 Constitution and to them rightfully belong the ownership of the Governors adopted the Report of the Investigating Commissioner but modified the latters
questioned titled public agricultural lands; and that he can never be guilty of the Anti-Dummy recommended penalty by recommending that respondent be suspended from the practice of
Law consequent to such cession, respondent alleged that he will gladly deliver and transfer law for six (6) months for violation of Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the Code of Professional
title to them. Responsibility.
The case is now before us for confirmation. Candor in all their dealings is the very essence of a practitioners honorable membership in the
legal profession. Lawyers are required to act with the highest standard of truthfulness, fair play
We agree with the IBP Board of Governors that respondent should be sanctioned. We and nobility in the conduct of litigation and in their relations with their clients, the opposing
find, however, that the recommended penalty is not commensurate to the gravity of the wrong parties, the other counsels and the courts. They are bound by their oath to speak the truth and
perpetrated. to conduct themselves according to the best of their knowledge and discretion, and with fidelity
to the courts and their clients. x x x

The Court has always reminded that a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and
dignity of the legal profession[11] as the bar should always maintain a high standard of legal In the instant case, it is clear to the Court that respondent violated his lawyers oath as
proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing among its members. By and large, a lawyer well as the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates upon each lawyer, as his duty
can do honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to to society and to the courts, the obligation to obey the laws of the land and to do no falsehood
the courts and to his clients. [12] To this end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal nor consent to the doing of any in court. Respondent has been deplorably lacking in the
fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence and trust reposed by the candor required of him as a member of the Bar and an officer of the court in his acts of
public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of the legal profession. [13] applying for the issuance of a free patent over the properties in issue despite his knowledge
that the same had already been sold by his mother to complainants sister. This fact,
respondent even admitted in the comment that he filed before this Court when he alleged that
In Marcelo v. Javier[14], we held: the said properties were public land under the Forestal Zone when the mother of the
respondent ceded to Aurora Yap some portions of entire occupancy of the Parases [17].
It bears stressing that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. A lawyer Moreover, respondent committed deceit and falsehood in his application for free patent over
has the privilege and right to practice law during good behavior and can only be deprived of it the said properties when he manifested under oath that he had been in the actual possession
for misconduct ascertained and declared by judgment of the court after opportunity to be and occupation of the said lands despite the fact that these were continuously in the
heard has been afforded him. Without invading any constitutional privilege or right, an possession and occupation of complainants family, as evidenced no less by respondents own
attorneys right to practice law may be resolved by a proceeding to suspend or disbar him, statements in the pleadings filed before the IBP.
based on conduct rendering him unfit to hold a license or to exercise the duties and
responsibilities of an attorney. It must be understood that the purpose of suspending or Anent his argument questioning the status of complainant and her family as natural born
disbarring an attorney is to remove from the profession a person whose misconduct has citizens, this Court holds that the instant case is not the proper forum to address such issue.
proved him unfit to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging to the office of Furthermore, as correctly held by the Investigating Commissioner, [i]t is immaterial as to who
an attorney, and thus to protect the public and those charged with the administration of justice, instituted the complaint for as long as there was a violation of the Code of Professional
rather than to punish the attorney. Responsibility. Likewise, any other action which the parties may make against each other has
no material bearing in this case. For, it must be remembered that administrative cases against
An attorney may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath or of his duties as an lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and may proceed independently
attorney and counsellor which include the statutory grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule of civil and criminal cases.
138 of the Rules of Court. These statutory grounds are so broad as to cover practically any
misconduct of a lawyer in his professional or private capacity. It is a settled rule that the In line herewith, this Court in In re Almacen,[18] held:
enumeration of the statutory grounds for disciplinary action is not exclusive and a lawyer may
be disciplined on grounds other than those specifically provided in the law. Generally a lawyer
may be disbarred or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his professional or private Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis.
capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity and good Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this proceeding is not and does not involve a trial of an
demeanor or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court, or an unfit or unsafe person to action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers. Not
enjoy the privileges and to manage the business of others in the capacity of an attorney, or for being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there
conduct which tends to bring reproach on the legal profession or to injure it in the favorable is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio.
opinion of the public. Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not
the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of
its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his
Indeed, the practice of law is not a right but merely a privilege bestowed by the State actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal
upon those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications required profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of
by law for the conferment of such privilege.[15] One of those requirements is the observance of members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted
honesty and candor. with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. xxx

And in the recent case of Bergonia v. Merrera[16], we ruled:


The facts and evidence obtaining in the instant case indubitably reveal respondents
failure to live up to his duties as a lawyer in consonance with the strictures of the lawyers oath
and the Code of Professional Responsibility, thereby occasioning sanction from this Court.

At this juncture, we take note that on 18 October 2000, in our Decision in A.C. No. 5333
formerly A.C. No. CBD-371, entitled Rosa Yap Paras v. Atty. Justo de Jesus Paras, respondent
was previously meted with suspension from the practice of law for six (6) months on the
charge of falsifying his wifes signature in bank documents and other related loan instruments,
and for one (1) year from the practice of law on the charges of immorality and abandonment of
his own family.

Considering the serious nature of the instant offense and in light of respondents prior
misdemeanors for which he was penalized with a six (6) month and one (1) year suspension
from the practice of law, his deplorable behavior in the present case which grossly degrades
the legal profession warrants the imposition of a much graver penalty.

WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Justo J. Paras guilty of committing a falsehood


in violation of his lawyers oath and of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Court
Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year, with a
WARNING that commission of the same or similar offense in the future will result in the
imposition of a more severe penalty.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the IBP, as well as the Office of the Bar
Confidant and the Court Administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for their information
and guidance and likewise be entered in the record of respondent as attorney.
A.C. No. 7136 August 1, 2007

JOSELANO GUEVARRA, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, respondent.

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4, 2002 a Complaint for


Disbarment1 before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline
(CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala a.k.a. Noli Eala (respondent) for "grossly immoral
conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyer's oath."
In his complaint, Guevarra gave the following account: Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I have enough memories of us to last
me a lifetime. Always remember though that in my heart, in my mind and in my soul,
He first met respondent in January 2000 when his (complainant's) then-fiancee YOU WILL ALWAYS
Irene Moje (Irene) introduced respondent to him as her friend who was married to Marianne
(sometimes spelled "Mary Ann") Tantoco with whom he had three children. . . . AND THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO!

After his marriage to Irene on October 7, 2000, complainant noticed that from January to BE MINE . . . . AND MINE ALONE, and I WILL ALWAYS BE YOURS AND YOURS
March 2001, Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone calls, as well as messages ALONE!
some of which read "I love you," "I miss you," or "Meet you at Megamall."
I LOVE YOU FOREVER, I LOVE YOU FOR ALWAYS. AS LONG AS I'M LIVING MY
Complainant also noticed that Irene habitually went home very late at night or early TWEETIE YOU'LL BE!"2
in the morning of the following day, and sometimes did not go home from work. When he
asked about her whereabouts, she replied that she slept at her parents' house in Binangonan,
Rizal or she was busy with her work.
Eternally yours,
In February or March 2001, complainant saw Irene and respondent together on two NOLI
occasions. On the second occasion, he confronted them following which Irene abandoned the
conjugal house.

Complainant soon saw respondent's car and that of Irene constantly parked at No.
On April 22, 2001, complainant went uninvited to Irene's birthday celebration at
71-B 11th Street, New Manila where, as he was to later learn sometime in April 2001, Irene was
which he saw her and respondent celebrating with her family and friends. Out of
already residing. He also learned still later that when his friends saw Irene on or about January
embarrassment, anger and humiliation, he left the venue immediately. Following that incident,
18, 2002 together with respondent during a concert, she was pregnant.
Irene went to the conjugal house and hauled off all her personal belongings, pieces of
furniture, and her share of the household appliances.
In his ANSWER,3 respondent admitted having sent the I LOVE YOU card on which the above-
quoted letter was handwritten.
Complainant later found, in the master's bedroom, a folded social card bearing the
words "I Love You" on its face, which card when unfolded contained a handwritten letter dated
October 7, 2000, the day of his wedding to Irene, reading:

On paragraph 14 of the COMPLAINT reading:

My everdearest Irene, 14. Respondent and Irene were even FLAUNTING THEIR ADULTEROUS
RELATIONSHIP as they attended social functions together. For instance, in or about
the third week of September 2001, the couple attended the launch of the "Wine All
By the time you open this, you'll be moments away from walking down the aisle. I
You Can" promotion of French wines, held at the Mega Strip of SM Megamall B at
will say a prayer for you that you may find meaning in what you're about to do.
Mandaluyong City. Their attendance was reported in Section B of the Manila
Standard issue of 24 September 2001, on page 21. Respondent and Irene were
Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me to find fleeting happiness but photographed together; their picture was captioned: "Irene with Sportscaster Noli
experience eternal pain? Is it only for us to find a true love but then lose it again? Or Eala." A photocopy of the report is attached as Annex C.4 (Italics and emphasis in
is it because there's a bigger plan for the two of us? the original; CAPITALIZATION of the phrase "flaunting their adulterous relationship"
supplied),
I hope that you have experienced true happiness with me. I have done everything
humanly possible to love you. And today, as you make your vows . . . I make my respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:
own vow to YOU!

4. Respondent specifically denies having ever flaunted an adulterous


I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you from the first time I laid eyes on you, relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the truth of the
to the time we spent together, up to the final moments of your single life. But more matter being that their relationship was low profile and known only to the
importantly, I will love you until the life in me is gone and until we are together again. immediate members of their respective families, and that Respondent, as far as
the general public was concerned, was still known to be legally married to Mary respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:
Anne Tantoco.5 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
7. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the Complaint,
On paragraph 15 of the COMPLAINT reading: the reason being that under the circumstances the acts of Respondent with respect
to his purely personal and low profile special relationship with Irene is neither
15. Respondent's adulterous conduct with the complainant's wife and his under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral
apparent abandoning or neglecting of his own family, demonstrate his gross moral conduct as would be a ground for disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of
depravity, making him morally unfit to keep his membership in the bar. He flaunted the Rules of Court.11 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
his aversion to the institution of marriage, calling it a "piece of paper." Morally
reprehensible was his writing the love letter to complainant's bride on the very day of
her wedding, vowing to continue his love for her "until we are together again," as
now they are.6 (Underscoring supplied), To respondent's ANSWER, complainant filed a REPLY,12 alleging that Irene gave birth to a girl
and Irene named respondent in the Certificate of Live Birth as the girl's father. Complainant
respondent stated in his ANSWER as follows: attached to the Reply, as Annex "A," a copy of a Certificate of Live Birth 13 bearing Irene's
signature and naming respondent as the father of her daughter Samantha Irene Louise Moje
5. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 15 of the Complaint who was born on February 14, 2002 at St. Luke's Hospital.
regarding his adulterousrelationship and that his acts demonstrate gross moral
depravity thereby making him unfit to keep his membership in the bar, the reason Complainant's REPLY merited a REJOINDER WITH MOTION TO DISMISS 14 dated January
being that Respondent's relationship with Irene was not under scandalous 10, 2003 from respondent in which he denied having "personal knowledge of the Certificate of
circumstances and that as far as his relationship with his own family: Live Birth attached to the complainant's Reply."15 Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint
due to the pendency of a civil case filed by complainant for the annulment of his marriage to
5.1 Respondent has maintained a civil, cordial and peaceful relationship with [his Irene, and a criminal complaint for adultery against respondent and Irene which was pending
wife] Mary Anne as in fact they still occasionally meet in public, even if Mary Anne is before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office.
aware of Respondent's special friendship with Irene.
During the investigation before the IBP-CBD, complainant's Complaint-Affidavit and Reply to
xxxx Answer were adopted as his testimony on direct examination.16 Respondent's counsel did not
cross-examine complainant.17

5.5 Respondent also denies that he has flaunted his aversion to the institution of
marriage by calling the institution of marriage a mere piece of paper because his After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, in a 12-page
reference [in his above-quoted handwritten letter to Irene] to the marriage between REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION18 dated October 26, 2004, found the charge against
Complainant and Irene as a piece of paper was merely with respect to the formality respondent sufficiently proven.
of the marriage contract.7 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The Commissioner thus recommended19 that respondent be disbarred for violating Rule 1.01
Respondent admitted8 paragraph 18 of the COMPLAINT reading: of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility reading:

18. The Rules of Court requires lawyers to support the Constitution and obey the Rule 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
laws. The Constitution regards marriage as an inviolable social institution and is the deceitful conduct (Underscoring supplied),
foundation of the family (Article XV, Sec. 2).9
and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code reading:
And on paragraph 19 of the COMPLAINT reading:
Rule 7.03: A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness
19. Respondent's grossly immoral conduct runs afoul of the Constitution and the to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous
laws he, as a lawyer, has been sworn to uphold. In pursuing obsessively his illicit manner to the discredit of the legal profession. (Underscoring supplied)
love for the complainant's wife, he mocked the institution of marriage, betrayed
his own family, broke up the complainant's marriage, commits adultery with his wife, The IBP Board of Governors, however, annulled and set aside the Recommendation of the
and degrades the legal profession.10 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied), Investigating Commissioner and accordingly dismissed the case for lack of merit, by
Resolution dated January 28, 2006 briefly reading:
RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2006-06 complainant's wife Irene supplied the information that respondent was the
father of the child. Given the fact that the respondent admitted his special
CBD Case No. 02-936 relationship with Irene there is no reason to believe that Irene would lie or make
Joselano C. Guevarra vs. any misrepresentation regarding the paternity of the child. It should be
Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala underscored that respondent has not categorically denied that he is the father
a.k.a. Noli Eala of Samantha Louise Irene Moje.25 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

RESOLVED to ANNUL and SET ASIDE, as it is hereby ANNULLED AND SET Indeed, from respondent's Answer, he does not deny carrying on an adulterous relationship
ASIDE, the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and to APPROVE with Irene, "adultery" being defined under Art. 333 of the Revised Penal Code as that
the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled case for lack of merit.20 (Italics and emphasis "committed by any married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her
in the original) husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her, knowing her to be married, even if
the marriage be subsequently declared void."26 (Italics supplied) What respondent denies
is having flaunted such relationship, he maintaining that it was "low profile and known only to
Hence, the present petition21 of complainant before this Court, filed pursuant to Section 12 (c), the immediate members of their respective families."
Rule 13922 of the Rules of Court.

In other words, respondent's denial is a negative pregnant,


The petition is impressed with merit.

a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial facts in the pleading
Oddly enough, the IBP Board of Governors, in setting aside the Recommendation of the responded to which are not squarely denied. It was in effect an admission of the
Investigating Commissioner and dismissing the case for lack of merit, gave no reason therefor averments it was directed at. Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a form of
as its above-quoted 33-word Resolution shows. negative expression which carries with it in affirmation or at least an implication of
some kind favorable to the adverse party. It is a denial pregnant with an admission
Respondent contends, in his Comment23 on the present petition of complainant, that there is of the substantial facts alleged in the pleading. Where a fact is alleged with
no evidence against him.24 The contention fails. As the IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner qualifying or modifying language and the words of the allegation as so qualified or
observed: modified are literally denied, it has been held that the qualifying circumstances
alone are denied while the fact itself is admitted.27 (Citations omitted; emphasis
While it may be true that the love letter dated October 7, 2000 (Exh. "C") and the and underscoring supplied)
news item published in the Manila Standard (Exh. "D"), even taken together do not
sufficiently prove that respondent is carrying on an adulterous relationship with A negative pregnant too is respondent's denial of having "personal knowledge" of Irene's
complainant's wife, there are other pieces of evidence on record which support the daughter Samantha Louise Irene Moje's Certificate of Live Birth. In said certificate, Irene
accusation of complainant against respondent. named respondent a "lawyer," 38 years old as the child's father. And the phrase "NOT
MARRIED" is entered on the desired information on "DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE." A
It should be noted that in his Answer dated 17 October 2002, respondent comparison of the signature attributed to Irene in the certificate28 with her signature on the
through counsel made the following statements to wit: "Respondent specifically Marriage Certificate29 shows that they were affixed by one and the same person. Notatu
denies having [ever] flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene as alleged in dignum is that, as the Investigating Commissioner noted, respondent never denied being the
paragraph [14] of the Complaint, the truth of the matter being [that] their relationship father of the child.
was low profile and known only to immediate members of their respective families . .
. , and Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the Franklin A. Ricafort, the records custodian of St. Luke's Medical Center, in his January 29,
complaint, the reason being that under the circumstances the acts of the 2003 Affidavit30 which he identified at the witness stand, declared that Irene gave the
respondents with respect to his purely personal and low profile relationship with information in the Certificate of Live Birth that the child's father is "Jose Emmanuel Masacaet
Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral Eala," who was 38 years old and a lawyer.31
conduct . . ."
Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between respondent and Irene has been sufficiently
These statements of respondent in his Answer are an admission that there is proven by more than clearly preponderant evidence that evidence adduced by one party
indeed a "special" relationship between him and complainant's wife, Irene, which is more conclusive and credible than that of the other party and, therefore, has greater
[which] taken together with the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha Louise weight than the other32 which is the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative case
Irene Moje (Annex "H-1") sufficiently prove that there was indeed an illicit against a lawyer.
relationship between respondent and Irene which resulted in the birth of the child
"Samantha". In the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha it should be noted that
Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and "Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of
they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases. marriage should be characterized as 'grossly immoral conduct' depends on the surrounding
circumstances."35 The case at bar involves a relationship between a married lawyer and a
. . . of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal case, proof beyond married woman who is not his wife. It is immaterial whether the affair was carried out
reasonable doubt is necessary; in an administrative case for disbarment or discreetly. Apropos is the following pronouncement of this Court in Vitug v. Rongcal:36
suspension, "clearly preponderant evidence" is all that is required.33 (Emphasis
supplied) On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extra-marital
affair with complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not "so corrupt and
Respondent insists, however, that disbarment does not lie because his relationship with Irene false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a
was not, under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, reading: high degree" in order to merit disciplinary sanction. We disagree.

SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds xxxx


therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross While it has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations
misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction between two unmarriedadults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for
of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is such illicit behavior, it is not so with respect to betrayals of the marital vow of
required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing fidelity. Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under penal
as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of law, sexual relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it
soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid manifests deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital
agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws.37 (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a competent
court or other disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been And so is the pronouncement in Tucay v. Atty. Tucay:38
admitted as an attorney is a ground for his disbarment or suspension if the basis of
such action includes any of the acts hereinabove enumerated. The Court need not delve into the question of whether or not the respondent did
contract a bigamous marriage . . . It is enough that the records of this administrative
The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall case substantiate the findings of the Investigating Commissioner, as well as the IBP
be prima facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension (Emphasis and Board of Governors, i.e., that indeed respondent has been carrying on an illicit
underscoring supplied), affair with a married woman, a grossly immoral conduct and indicative of an
extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his profession. This
under scandalous circumstances.34 detestable behavior renders him regrettably unfit and undeserving of the
treasured honor and privileges which his license confers upon
him.39 (Underscoring supplied)
The immediately-quoted Rule which provides the grounds for disbarment or suspension uses
the phrase "grossly immoral conduct," not "under scandalous circumstances." Sexual
intercourse under scandalous circumstances is, following Article 334 of the Revised Penal Respondent in fact also violated the lawyer's oath he took before admission to practice law
Code reading: which goes:

ART. 334. Concubinage. - Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal I _________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the
dwelling, or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a Philippines, do solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the
woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution andobey the laws as well
punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods. as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood,
nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue
any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will
x x x x, delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to
the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well as to the courts
an element of the crime of concubinage when a married man has sexual intercourse with a as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any
woman elsewhere. mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God. (Underscoring supplied)
Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article XV (The Family) of the Constitution Parenthetically the totality of evidence adduced by complainant would, in the fair
reading: estimation of the Department, sufficiently establish all the elements of the offense of
adultery on the part of both respondents. Indeed, early on, respondent Moje
Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family conceded to complainant that she was going out on dates with respondent Eala,
and shall be protected by the State. and this she did when complainant confronted her about Eala's frequent phone calls
and text messages to her. Complainant also personally witnessed Moje and Eala
having a rendezvous on two occasions. Respondent Eala never denied the fact that
In this connection, the Family Code (Executive Order No. 209), which echoes this he knew Moje to be married to complainant[.] In fact, he (Eala) himself was married
constitutional provision, obligates the husband and the wife "to live together, observe mutual to another woman. Moreover, Moje's eventual abandonment of their conjugal home,
love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support."40 after complainant had once more confronted her about Eala, only served to confirm
the illicit relationship involving both respondents. This becomes all the more
Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional apparent by Moje's subsequent relocation in No. 71-B, 11th Street, New Manila,
Responsibility which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in "unlawful, dishonest, immoral or Quezon City, which was a few blocks away from the church where she had
deceitful conduct," and Rule 7.03 of Canon7 of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer from exchange marital vows with complainant.
engaging in any "conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law."
It was in this place that the two lovers apparently cohabited. Especially since Eala's
Clutching at straws, respondent, during the pendency of the investigation of the case before vehicle and that of Moje's were always seen there. Moje herself admits that she
the IBP Commissioner, filed a Manifestation41 on March 22, 2005 informing the IBP-CBD that came to live in the said address whereas Eala asserts that that was where he held
complainant's petition for nullity of his (complainant's) marriage to Irene had been granted by office. The happenstance that it was in that said address that Eala and Moje had
Branch 106 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, and that the criminal complaint for decided to hold office for the firm that both had formed smacks too much of a
adultery complainant filed against respondent and Irene "based on the same set of facts coincidence. For one, the said address appears to be a residential house, for that
alleged in the instant case," which was pending review before the Department of Justice was where Moje stayed all throughout after her separation from complainant. It was
(DOJ), on petition of complainant, had been, on motion of complainant, withdrawn. both respondent's love nest, to put short; their illicit affair that was carried out there
bore fruit a few months later when Moje gave birth to a girl at the nearby hospital of
The Secretary of Justice's Resolution of January 16, 2004 granting complainant's Motion to St. Luke's Medical Center. What finally militates against the respondents is
Withdraw Petition for Review reads: the indubitable fact that in the certificate of birth of the girl, Moje furnished the
information that Eala was the father. This speaks all too eloquently of the
unlawful and damning nature of the adulterous acts of the respondents.
Considering that the instant motion was filed before the final resolution of the Complainant's supposed illegal procurement of the birth certificate is most certainly
petition for review, we are inclined to grant the same pursuant to Section 10 of beside the point for both respondents Eala and Moje have not denied, in any
Department Circular No. 70 dated July 3, 2000, which provides that "notwithstanding categorical manner, that Eala is the father of the child Samantha Irene Louise
the perfection of the appeal, the petitioner may withdraw the same at any time Moje.45 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
before it is finally resolved, in which case the appealed resolution shall stand as
though no appeal has been taken."42 (Emphasis supplied by complainant)
It bears emphasis that adultery is a private offense which cannot be prosecuted de oficio and
thus leaves the DOJ no choice but to grant complainant's motion to withdraw his petition for
That the marriage between complainant and Irene was subsequently declared void ab initio is review. But even if respondent and Irene were to be acquitted of adultery after trial, if the
immaterial. The acts complained of took place before the marriage was declared null and Information for adultery were filed in court, the same would not have been a bar to the present
void.43 As a lawyer, respondent should be aware that a man and a woman deporting administrative complaint.
themselves as husband and wife are presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into
a lawful contract of marriage.44 In carrying on an extra-marital affair with Irene prior to the
judicial declaration that her marriage with complainant was null and void, and despite Citing the ruling in Pangan v. Ramos,46 viz:
respondent himself being married, he showed disrespect for an institution held sacred by the
law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer. x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the criminal charge is not a bar to these
[administrative] proceedings. The standards of legal profession are not satisfied by
As for complainant's withdrawal of his petition for review before the DOJ, respondent glaringly conduct which merely enables one to escape the penalties of x x x criminal
omitted to state that before complainant filed his December 23, 2003 Motion to Withdraw his law. Moreover, this Court, in disbarment proceedings is acting in an entirely different
Petition for Review, the DOJ had already promulgated a Resolution capacity from that which courts assume in trying criminal case47 (Italics in the
on September 22, 2003 reversing the dismissal by the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office of original),
complainant's complaint for adultery. In reversing the City Prosecutor's Resolution, DOJ
Secretary Simeon Datumanong held: this Court in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pools, Inc. v. Atty. Naldoza,48 held:
Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are
distinct from and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Resolution No. XVII-2006-06 passed on January


28, 2006 by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.

Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, is DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct,
violation of his oath of office, and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately executory, be made part of the records of
respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines. And let copies A.C. No. 5816, March 10, 2015
of the Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all courts.
DR. ELMAR O. PEREZ, Complainant, v. ATTY. TRISTAN A. CATINDIG AND ATTY. KAREN
E. BAYDO, Respondents.

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

Before the Court is an administrative complaint1 for disbarment filed by Dr. Elmar O. Perez (Dr.
Perez) with the Office of the Bar Confidant on August 27, 2002 against Atty. Tristan A. Catindig
(Atty. Catindig) and Atty. Karen E. Baydo (Atty. Baydo) (respondents) for gross immorality and
violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

The Facts

In her complaint, Dr. Perez alleged that she and Atty. Catindig had been friends since the mid-
1960s when they were both students at the University of the Philippines, but they lost touch
after their graduation. Sometime in 1983, the paths of Atty. Catindig and Dr. Perez again
crossed. It was at that time that Atty. Catindig started to court Dr.
Perez.2chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindig admitted to Dr. Perez that he was already wed to Lily Corazon Gomez (Gomez),
having married the latter on May 18, 1968 at the Central Methodist Church in Ermita, Manila,
which was followed by a Catholic wedding at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Quezon
City.3 Atty. Catindig however claimed that he only married Gomez because he got her
pregnant; that he was afraid that Gomez would make a scandal out of her pregnancy should
he refuse to marry her, which could have jeopardized his scholarship in the Harvard Law
School.4chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindig told Dr. Perez that he was in the process of obtaining a divorce in a foreign
country to dissolve his marriage to Gomez, and that he would eventually marry her once the
divorce had been decreed. Consequently, sometime in 1984, Atty. Catindig and Gomez
obtained a divorce decree from the Dominican Republic. Dr. Perez claimed that Atty. Catindig
assured her that the said divorce decree was lawful and valid and that there was no longer
any impediment to their marriage.5chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Thus, on July 14, 1984, Atty. Catindig married Dr. Perez in the State of Virginia in the United
States of America (USA). Their union was blessed with a child whom they named Tristan
Jegar Josef Frederic.6chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Years later, Dr. Perez came to know that her marriage to Atty. Catindig is a nullity since the
divorce decree that was obtained from the Dominican Republic by the latter and Gomez is not
recognized by Philippine laws. When she confronted Atty. Catindig about it, the latter allegedly
assured Dr. Perez that he would legalize their union once he obtains a declaration of nullity of He denied that Atty. Baydo was the reason that he left Dr. Perez, claiming that his relationship
his marriage to Gomez under the laws of the Philippines. He also promised to legally adopt with Dr. Perez started to fall apart as early as 1997. He asserted that Atty. Baydo joined his law
their son.7chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary firm only in September 1999; and that while he was attracted to her, Atty. Baydo did not
reciprocate and in fact rejected him. He likewise pointed out that Atty. Baydo resigned from his
Sometime in 1997, Dr. Perez reminded Atty. Catindig of his promise to legalize their union by firm in January 2001.21chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
filing a petition to nullify his marriage to Gomez. Atty. Catindig told her that he would still have
to get the consent of Gomez to the said petition.8chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary For her part, Atty. Baydo denied that she had an affair with Atty. Catindig. She claimed that
Atty. Catindig began courting her while she was employed in his firm. She however rejected
Sometime in 2001, Dr. Perez alleged that she received an anonymous letter9 in the mail Atty. Catindigs romantic overtures; she told him that she could not reciprocate his feelings
informing her of Atty. Catindigs scandalous affair with Atty. Baydo, and that sometime later, since he was married and that he was too old for her. She said that despite being turned
she came upon a love letter10 written and signed by Atty. Catindig for Atty. Baydo dated April down, Atty. Catindig still pursued her, which was the reason why she resigned from his law
25, 2001. In the said letter, Atty. Catindig professed his love to Atty. Baydo, promising to marry firm.22chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
her once his impediment is removed. Apparently, five months into their relationship, Atty.
Baydo requested Atty. Catindig to put a halt to their affair until such time that he is able to On January 29, 2003, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
obtain the annulment of his marriage. On August 13, 2001, Atty. Catindig filed a petition to for investigation, report and recommendation within 90 days from
declare the nullity of his marriage to Gomez.11chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary notice.23chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

On October 31, 2001, Atty. Catindig abandoned Dr. Perez and their son; he moved to an On June 2, 2003, the IBPs Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) issued an Order 24 setting the
upscale condominium in Salcedo Village, Makati City where Atty. Baydo was frequently seen. mandatory conference of the administrative case on July 4, 2003, which was later reset to
August 29, 2003. During the conference, the parties manifested that they were already
In a Resolution13 dated October 9, 2002, the Court directed the respondents to file their submitting the case for resolution based on the pleadings already submitted. Thereupon, the
respective comments, which they separately did on November 25, IBP-CBD directed the parties to submit their respective position papers within 10 days from
2002.14chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary notice. Respondents Atty. Catindig and Atty. Baydo filed their position papers on October 17,
200325 and October 20, 2003,26 respectively. Dr. Perez filed her position paper27 on October
Atty. Catindig, in his Comment,15 admitted that he married Gomez on May 18, 1968. He 24, 2003.
claimed, however, that immediately after the wedding, Gomez showed signs that she was
incapable of complying with her marital obligations, as she had serious intimacy problems; and Findings of the IBP Investigating Commissioner
that while their union was blessed with four children, their relationship simply deteriorated.
On May 6, 2011, after due proceedings, the Investigating Commissioner of the IBP-CBD
Eventually, their irreconcilable differences led to their de facto separation in 1984. They then issued a Report and Recommendation,28 which recommended the disbarment of Atty. Catindig
consulted Atty. Wilhelmina Joven (Atty. Joven), a mutual friend, on how the agreement to for gross immorality, violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional
separate and live apart could be implemented. Atty. Joven suggested that the couple adopt a Responsibility. The Investigating Commissioner pointed out that Atty. Catindigs act of marrying
property regime of complete separation of property. She likewise advised the couple to obtain Dr. Perez despite knowing fully well that his previous marriage to Gomez still subsisted was a
a divorce decree from the Dominican Republic for whatever value it may have and comfort it grossly immoral and illegal conduct, which warrants the ultimate penalty of disbarment. The
may provide them.16chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Investigating Commissioner further opined that:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
In this case, the undisputed facts gathered from the evidence and the admissions of Atty.
Thus, on April 27, 1984, Atty. Catindig and Gomez each executed a Special Power of Attorney Catindig established a pattern of grossly immoral conduct that warrants fustigation and his
addressed to a Judge of the First Civil Court of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, appointing disbarment. His conduct was not only corrupt or unprincipled; it was reprehensible to the
an attorney-in-fact to institute a divorce action under its laws. Atty. Catindig likewise admitted highest degree.
that a divorce by mutual consent was ratified by the Dominican Republic court on June 12,
1984. Further, Atty. Catindig and Gomez filed a Joint Petition for Dissolution of Conjugal There is no dichotomy of morality. A lawyer and a professor of law, both in his official and
Partnership before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 133, which was granted on personal conduct, must display exemplary behavior. Respondents bigamous marriage and his
June 23, 1984.17chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary proclivity for extramarital adventurism have definitely caused damage to the legal and teaching
professions. How can he hold his head up high and expect his students, his peers and the
Atty. Catindig claimed that Dr. Perez knew of the foregoing, including the fact that the divorce community to look up to him as a model worthy of emulation when he failed to follow the
decreed by the Dominican Republic court does not have any effect in the Philippines. tenets of morality? In contracting a second marriage notwithstanding knowing fully well that he
Notwithstanding that she knew that the marriage of Atty. Catindig and Gomez still subsisted, has a prior valid subsisting marriage, Atty. Catindig has made a mockery of an otherwise
Dr. Perez demanded that Atty. Catindig marry her. Thus, Atty. Catindig married Dr. Perez in inviolable institution, a serious outrage to the generally accepted moral standards of the
July 1984 in the USA.18chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary community.29
On the other hand, the Investigating Commissioner recommended that the charge against
Atty. Catindig claimed that Dr. Perez knew that their marriage was not valid since his previous Atty. Baydo be dismissed for dearth of evidence; Dr. Perez failed to present clear and
marriage to Gomez was still subsisting, and that he only married Dr. Perez because he loved preponderant evidence in support of the alleged affair between the respondents.
her and that he was afraid of losing her if he did not. He merely desired to lend a modicum of Findings of the IBP Board of Governors
legitimacy to their relationship.19chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
On December 10, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors issued a Resolution,30 which adopted and
Atty. Catindig claimed that his relationship with Dr. Perez turned sour. Eventually, he left their approved the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.
home in October 2001 to prevent any acrimony from developing.20chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Atty. Catindig sought a reconsideration31 of the December 10, 2011 Resolution of the IBP upright and respectable members of the community. Immoral conduct is gross when it is so
Board of Governors, claiming that the Investigating Commissioner erred in relying solely on Dr. corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high
Perezs uncorroborated allegations. He pointed out that, under Section 1 of Rule 139-B of the degree, or when committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the
Rules of Court, a complaint for disbarment must be supported by affidavits of persons having communitys sense of decency. The Court makes these distinctions, as the supreme penalty of
knowledge of the facts therein alleged and/or by such documents as may substantiate said disbarment arising from conduct requires grossly immoral, not simply immoral,
facts. He said that despite the absence of any corroborating testimony, the Investigating conduct.36chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Commissioner gave credence to Dr. Perez testimony.
Contracting a marriage during the subsistence of a previous one amounts to a grossly
He also claimed that he had absolutely no intention of committing any felony; that he never immoral conduct.
concealed the status of his marriage from anyone. In fact, Atty. Catindig asserted that he had
always been transparent with both Gomez and Dr. Perez. The facts gathered from the evidence adduced by the parties and, ironically, from Atty.
Catindigs own admission, indeed establish a pattern of conduct that is grossly immoral; it is
The IBP Board of Governors, in its Resolution32 dated December 29, 2012, denied Atty. not only corrupt and unprincipled, but reprehensible to a high degree.
Catindigs motion for reconsideration.
Atty. Catindig was validly married to Gomez twice a wedding in the Central Methodist Church
The Issue in 1968, which was then followed by a Catholic wedding. In 1983, Atty. Catindig started
pursuing Dr. Perez when their paths crossed again. Curiously, 15 years into his first marriage
The issue in this case is whether the respondents committed gross immorality, which would and four children after, Atty. Catindig claimed that his first marriage was then already falling
warrant their disbarment. apart due to Gomez serious intimacy problems.

Ruling of the Court A year after pursuing Dr. Perez, Atty. Catindig had a de facto separation from Gomez,
dissolved their conjugal partnership of gains, obtained a divorce decree from a court in the
After a thorough perusal of the respective allegations of the parties and the circumstances of Dominican Republic, and married Dr. Perez in the USA all in the same year. Atty. Catindig was
this case, the Court agrees with the findings and recommendations of the Investigating so enchanted with Dr. Perez at that time that he moved heaven and earth just so he could
Commissioner and the IBP Board of Governors. marry her right away a marriage that has at least a semblance of legality.

The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: From his own admission, Atty. Catindig knew that the divorce decree he obtained from the
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. court in the Dominican Republic was not recognized in our jurisdiction as he and Gomez were
Canon 7 A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession both Filipino citizens at that time. He knew that he was still validly married to Gomez; that he
and support the activities of the Integrated Bar. cannot marry anew unless his previous marriage be properly declared a nullity. Otherwise, his
subsequent marriage would be void. This notwithstanding, he still married Dr. Perez. The
Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to foregoing circumstances seriously taint Atty. Catindigs sense of social propriety and moral
practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to values. It is a blatant and purposeful disregard of our laws on marriage.
the discredit of the legal profession.
In Arnobit v. Atty. Arnobit,33 the Court held: It has also not escaped the attention of the Court that Atty. Catindig married Dr. Perez in the
[T]he requirement of good moral character is of much greater import, as far as the general USA. Considering that Atty. Catindig knew that his previous marriage remained valid, the
public is concerned, than the possession of legal learning. Good moral character is not only a logical conclusion is that he wanted to marry Dr. Perez in the USA for the added security of
condition precedent for admission to the legal profession, but it must also remain intact in avoiding any charge of bigamy by entering into the subsequent marriage outside Philippine
order to maintain ones good standing in that exclusive and honored fraternity. Good moral jurisdiction.
character is more than just the absence of bad character. Such character expresses itself in
the will to do the unpleasant thing if it is right and the resolve not to do the pleasant thing if it is Moreover, assuming arguendo that Atty. Catindigs claim is true, it matters not that Dr. Perez
wrong. This must be so because vast interests are committed to his care; he is the recipient knew that their marriage is a nullity. The fact still remains that he resorted to various legal
of unbounded trust and confidence; he deals with his clients property, reputation, his life, his strategies in order to render a faade of validity to his otherwise invalid marriage to Dr. Perez.
all.34 (Citation omitted) Such act is, at the very least, so unprincipled that it is reprehensible to the highest degree.
In this regard, Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that a lawyer may be
removed or suspended from the practice of law, inter alia, for grossly immoral conduct. Thus: Further, after 17 years of cohabiting with Dr. Perez, and despite the various legal actions he
Sec. 27. Attorneys removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. A member resorted to in order to give their union a semblance of validity, Atty. Catindig left her and their
of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme son. It was only at that time that he finally decided to properly seek the nullity of his first
Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral marriage to Gomez. Apparently, he was then already entranced with the much younger Atty.
conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any Baydo, an associate lawyer employed by his firm.
violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a
wilfull disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willful appearing While the fact that Atty. Catindig decided to separate from Dr. Perez to pursue Atty. Baydo, in
as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases itself, cannot be considered a grossly immoral conduct, such fact forms part of the pattern
at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes showing his propensity towards immoral conduct. Lest it be misunderstood, the Courts finding
malpractice. (Emphasis ours) of gross immoral conduct is hinged not on Atty. Catindigs desertion of Dr. Perez, but on his
A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct showing any fault or deficiency contracting of a subsequent marriage during the subsistence of his previous marriage to
in his moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor.35 Immoral conduct involves acts Gomez.
that are willful, flagrant, or shameless, and that show a moral indifference to the opinion of the
The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such The charge of gross immorality against Atty. Karen E. Baydo is hereby DISMISSED for lack of
includes conduct that outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community, evidence.
conduct for instance, which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution of
marriage.37 In various cases, the Court has held that disbarment is warranted when a lawyer
abandons his lawful wife and maintains an illicit relationship with another woman who has
borne him a child.38chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindigs subsequent marriage during the subsistence of his previous one definitely
manifests a deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by
the Constitution and affirmed by our laws. By his own admission, Atty. Catindig made a
mockery out of the institution of marriage, taking advantage of his legal skills in the process.
He exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as a member of the
bar, which thus warrant the penalty of disbarment.

The Court is not unmindful of the rule that the power to disbar must be exercised with great
caution, and only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and SPOUSES VIRGILIO and ANGELINA ARANDA,
character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court and as a member of the bar. Where a lesser Petitioners,
penalty, such as temporary suspension, could accomplish the end desired, disbarment should
never be decreed. Nevertheless, in this case, the seriousness of the offense compels the - versus -
Court to wield its power to disbar, as it appears to be the most appropriate penalty.
ATTY. EMMANUEL F. ELAYDA,
Atty. Catindigs claim that Dr. Perezs allegations against him are not credible since they are
uncorroborated and not supported by affidavits contrary to Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Rules
Respondent.
of Court, deserves scant consideration. Verily, Atty. Catindig himself admitted in his pleadings
that he indeed married Dr. Perez in 1984 while his previous marriage with Gomez still
subsisted. Indubitably, such admission provides ample basis for the Court to render
disciplinary sanction against him.

There is insufficient evidence to prove the affair between the respondents.

The Court likewise agrees with the Investigating Commissioner that there is a dearth of
evidence to prove the claimed amorous relationship between the respondents. As it is, the
evidence that was presented by Dr. Perez to prove her claim was mere allegation, an
anonymous letter informing her that the respondents were indeed having an affair and the
purported love letter to Atty. Baydo that was signed by Atty. Catindig.

The Court has consistently held that in suspension or disbarment proceedings against
lawyers, the lawyer enjoys the presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof rests upon A.C. No. 7907
the complainant to prove the allegations in his complaint. The evidence required in suspension
or disbarment proceedings is preponderance of evidence.39chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The presentation of the anonymous letter that was received by Dr. Perez only proves that the
latter indeed received a letter informing her of the alleged relations between the respondents;
it does not prove the veracity of the allegations therein. Similarly, the supposed love letter, if at
all, only proves that Atty. Catindig wrote Atty. Baydo a letter professing his love for her. It does
not prove that Atty. Baydo is indeed in a relationship with Atty. Catindig.
December 15, 2010
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the Court resolves x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
to ADOPT the recommendations of the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines. Atty. Tristan A. Catindig is found GUILTY of gross immorality and of violating DECISION
the Lawyers Oath and Rule 1.01, Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and is hereby DISBARREDfrom the practice of law. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
Let a copy of this Decision be entered into the records of Atty. Tristan A. Catindig in the Office The instant case stemmed from an administrative complaint filed by the spouses
of the Bar Confidant and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Virgilio and Angelina Aranda (spouses Aranda) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Likewise, copies of this Decision shall be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline, charging their former counsel, Atty. Emmanuel F. Elayda
circulated by the Court Administrator to all appellate and trial courts. (Atty. Elayda), with gross negligence or gross misconduct in handling their case. The spouses
Aranda were the defendants in Civil Case No. 232-0-01, entitled Martin V. Guballa v. Spouses
Angelina and Virgilio Aranda, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Olongapo City, 14. That they were deprived of their right to present their
Branch 72. evidence in the said case and of their right to appeal because of the gross
negligence of respondent.[3]
In the Complaint dated August 11, 2006, [1] the spouses Aranda alleged that Atty. Elaydas
handling of their case was sorely inadequate, as shown by his failure to follow elementary In its Order[4] dated August 15, 2006, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline directed Atty.
norms of civil procedure and evidence,[2] to wit: Elayda to submit his Answer to the complaint with a warning that failure to do so will result in
his default and the case shall be heard ex parte.
4. That on February 14, 2006 hearing of the said case, the case Atty. Elayda filed his Answer[5] dated September 1, 2006, in which he narrated:
was ordered submitted for decision [the spouses Aranda] and [Atty.
Elayda] did not appear; certified copy of the order is attached as Annex C; 7. That this case also referred to [Atty. Elayda] sometime December 2004
after the [spouses Aranda] and its former counsel failed to appear in court
5. That the order setting this case for hearing on February 14, on February 7, 2005;
2006 was sent only to [Atty. Elayda] and no notice was sent to [the
spouses Aranda] that is they were unaware of said hearing and [Atty. 8. That from December 2004, the [spouses Aranda] did not bother to
Elayda] never informed them of the setting; contact [Atty. Elayda] to prepare for the case and in fact on May 30, 2005,
[Atty. Elayda] had to ask for postponement of the case for reason that he
6. That despite receipt of the order dated February 14, 2006, still have to confer with the [spouses Aranda] who were not around;
[Atty. Elayda] never informed them of such order notwithstanding the 9. That contrary to the allegations of the [spouses Aranda], there was not
follow-up they made of their case to him; a single instance from December 2004 that the [spouses Aranda] called
up [Atty. Elayda] to talk to him regarding their case;
7. That [Atty. Elayda] did not lift any single finger to have the
order dated February 14, 2006 reconsidered and/or set aside as is 10. That the [spouses Aranda] from December 2004 did not even bother
normally expected of a counsel devoted to the cause of his client; to follow up their case in court just if to verify the status of their case and
that it was only on July 19, 2006 that they verified the same and also the
8. That in view of the inaction of [Atty. Elayda] the court only time they tried to contact [Atty. Elayda];
naturally rendered a judgment dated March 17, 2006 adverse to [the
spouses Aranda] which copy thereof was sent only to [Atty. Elayda] and 11. That the [spouses Aranda] admitted in their Complaint that they only
[the spouses Aranda] did not receive any copy thereof, certified xerox tried to contact [Atty. Elayda] when the writ of execution was being
copy of the decision is attached as Annex D; implemented on them;

9. That they were totally unaware of said judgment as [Atty. 12. That during the scheduled hearing of the case on February 14, 2006,
Elayda] had not again lifted any single finger to inform them of such [Atty. Elayda] was in fact went to RTC, Branch 72, Olongapo City and
adverse judgment and that there is a need to take a remedial recourse asked Mrs. Edith Miano to call him in Branch 73 where he had another
thereto; case if the [spouses Aranda] show up in court so that [Atty. Elayda] can
talk to them but obviously the [spouses Aranda] did not appear and
10. That [Atty. Elayda] did not even bother to file a notice of Mrs. Miano did not bother to call [Atty. Elayda];
appeal hence the judgment became final and executory hence a writ of
execution was issued upon motion of the plaintiff [Martin Guballa] in the 13. That [Atty. Elayda] was not at fault that he was not able to file the
said case; necessary pleadings in court because the [spouses Aranda] did not get in
touch with him;
11. That on July 18, 2006 Sheriff IV Leandro R. Madarag
implemented the writ of execution and it was only at this time that [the 14. That [Atty. Elayda] cannot contact the [spouses Aranda] for the latter
spouses Aranda] became aware of the judgment of the Court, certified failed to give their contact number to [Atty. Elayda] nor did the [spouses
xerox copy of the writ of execution is attached as Annex E; Aranda] go to his office to leave their contact number;

12. That on July 19, 2006, they wasted no time in verifying the 14. That the [spouses Aranda] were negligent in their I dont care
status of their case before Regional Trial Court, Branch 72, Olongapo City attitude towards their case and for this reason that they alone should be
and to their utter shock, dismay and disbelief, they found out that they blamed for what happened to their case x x x.
have already lost their case and worst the decision had already become
final and executory; At the mandatory conference hearing held on March 14, 2007, all the parties appeared with
their respective counsels. The parties were then given a period of 10 days from receipt of the
13. That despite their plea for a reasonable period to take a order within which to submit their position papers attaching therewith all documentary exhibits
remedial recourse of the situation (the Sheriff initially gave them fifteen and affidavits of witnesses, if any.
(15) days), Sheriff Madarag forcibly took possession and custody of their
Mitsubishi Pajero with Plate No. 529; After the submission of the parties position papers, Investigating Commissioner Jordan M.
Pizarras came out with his Decision[6] finding Atty. Elayda guilty of gross negligence, and
recommending his suspension from the practice of law for a period of six months, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent Atty. Rule 18.02 A lawyer shall not handle any legal matter
Emmanuel F. Elayda is suspended from the practice of law for a period of without adequate preparation.
six months, which shall take effect from the date of notice of receipt of the
finality of this DECISION. He is sternly WARNED that a repetition of the Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter
same or similar acts will merit a more severe penalty.[7] entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable.
Thereafter, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XVIII-2008-128 [8] dated March
6, 2008, adopting and approving Investigating Commissioner Pizarras report, to wit: Rule 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of
the status of his case and shall respond within a
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and reasonable time to the clients request for information.
APPROVED the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this CANON 19 A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL
Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully supported WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE LAW.
by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and in view
of respondents negligence and unmindful of his sworn duties to his From the foregoing, it is clear that Atty. Elayda is duty bound to uphold and safeguard the
clients, Atty. Emmanuel F. Elayda is hereby SUSPENDED from the interests of his clients. He should be conscientious, competent and diligent in handling his
practice of law for six (6) months with Warning that a repetition of the clients cases. Atty. Elayda should give adequate attention, care, and time to all the cases he is
same or similar acts will merit a more severe penalty.[9] handling. As the spouses Arandas counsel, Atty. Elayda is expected to monitor the progress of
said spouses case and is obligated to exert all efforts to present every remedy or defense
Aggrieved, Atty. Elayda filed with this Court a Petition for Review maintaining that he was not authorized by law to protect the cause espoused by the spouses Aranda.
negligent in handling the spouses Arandas case as to warrant suspension, which was too
harsh a penalty under the circumstances. Regrettably, Atty. Elayda failed in all these. Atty. Elayda even admitted that the spouses
Aranda never knew of the scheduled hearings because said spouses never came to him and
After a careful review of the records of the instant case, this Court finds no cogent reason to that he did not know the spouses whereabouts. While it is true that communication is a shared
deviate from the findings and the conclusion of the IBP Board of Governors that Atty. Elayda responsibility between a counsel and his clients, it is the counsels primary duty to inform his
was negligent and unmindful of his sworn duties to his clients. clients of the status of their case and the orders which have been issued by the court. He
cannot simply wait for his clients to make an inquiry about the developments in their
In Abay v. Montesino,[10] this Court held: case. Close coordination between counsel and client is necessary for them to adequately
prepare for the case, as well as to effectively monitor the progress of the case. Besides, it is
The legal profession is invested with public trust. Its goal is to elementary procedure for a lawyer and his clients to exchange contact details at the initial
render public service and secure justice for those who seek its aid. Thus, stages in order to have constant communication with each other. Again, Atty. Elaydas excuse
the practice of law is considered a privilege, not a right, bestowed by the that he did not have the spouses Arandas contact number and that he did not know their
State on those who show that they possess and continue to possess the address is simply unacceptable.
legal qualifications required for the conferment of such privilege.

Verily, lawyers are expected to maintain at all times a high


Furthermore, this Court will not countenance Atty. Elaydas explanation that he cannot be
standard of legal proficiency and of morality which includes honesty,
integrity and fair dealing. They must perform their four-fold duty to society, faulted for missing the February 14, 2006 hearing of the spouses Arandas case. The Court
the legal profession, the courts and their clients in accordance with the quotes with approval the disquisition of Investigating Commissioner Pizarras:
values and norms of the legal profession, as embodied in the Code of
Professional Responsibility.Any conduct found wanting in these
considerations, whether in their professional or private capacity, shall
subject them to disciplinary action. In the present case, the failure of Moreover, his defense that he cannot be faulted for what had
respondent to file the appellants brief was a clear violation of his happened during the hearing on February 14, 2006 because he was just
professional duty to his client.[11] at the other branch of the RTC for another case and left a message with
the court stenographer to just call him when [the spouses Aranda] come,
The Canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility provide: is lame, to say the least. In the first place, the counsel should not be at
another hearing when he knew very well that he has a scheduled hearing
CANON 17 A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS for the [spouses Arandas] case at the same time. His attendance at the
CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND hearing should not be made to depend on the whether [the spouses
CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM. Aranda] will come or not. The Order submitting the decision was given at
the instance of the other partys counsel mainly because of his absence
CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH there. Again, as alleged by the [the spouses Aranda] and as admitted by
COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE. [Atty. Elayda] himself, he did not take the necessary remedial measure in
order to ask that said Order be set aside.[12]
xxxx
It is undisputed that Atty. Elayda did not act upon the RTC order submitting the spouses
Arandas case for decision. Thus, a judgment was rendered against the spouses Aranda for a
sum of money. Notice of said judgment was received by Atty. Elayda who again did not file any
notice of appeal or motion for reconsideration and thus, the judgment became final and
executory. Atty. Elayda did not also inform the spouses Aranda of the outcome of the
case. The spouses Aranda came to know of the adverse RTC judgment, which by then had
already become final and executory, only when a writ of execution was issued and
subsequently implemented by the sheriff.

Evidently, Atty. Elayda was remiss in his duties and responsibilities as a member of the legal
profession. His conduct shows that he not only failed to exercise due diligence in handling his
clients case but in fact abandoned his clients cause. He proved himself unworthy of the trust
reposed on him by his helpless clients. Moreover, Atty. Elayda owes fealty, not only to his
clients, but also to the Court of which he is an officer.[13]

On a final note, it must be stressed that whenever a lawyer accepts a case, it deserves his full
attention, diligence, skill and competence, regardless of its importance and whether or not it is
for a fee or free.[14] Verily, in Santiago v. Fojas,[15] the Court held:

Once he agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity
to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed in him. He must serve the client with competence and diligence,
and champion the latters cause with wholehearted fidelity, care, and
devotion. Elsewise stated, he owes entire devotion to the interest of the
client, warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his clients rights, and
the exertion of his utmost learning and ability to the end that nothing be
taken or withheld from his client, save by the rules of law, legally
applied. This simply means that his client is entitled to the benefit of any
and every remedy and defense that is authorized by the law of the land
and he may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. If
much is demanded from an attorney, it is because the entrusted privilege
to practice law carries with it the correlative duties not only to the client
but also to the court, to the bar, and to the public. A lawyer who performs
his duty with diligence and candor not only protects the interest of his
client; he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the bar, and helps
maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession.[16]

WHEREFORE, the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors approving and adopting the
Decision of the Investigating Commissioner is hereby AFFIRMED. Accordingly,
respondent ATTY. EMMANUEL F. ELAYDA is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law
for a period of SIX (6) MONTHS, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or a similar
act will be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Elaydas personal record with the Office of the
Bar Confidant and be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to
all the courts in the country for their information and guidance.

JOVITO S. OLAZO, A.M. No. 10-5-7-SC


Complainant,
December 7, 2010
- versus -

JUSTICE DANTE O. TINGA (Ret.),


Respondent.
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
respondent in this regard executed an Assurance where he stated that he was the lawyer of
DECISION Ramon Lee and Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez.

The Third Charge: Violation of Rule 1.01


BRION, J.:
The complainant alleged that the respondent engaged in unlawful conduct
Before us is the disbarment case against retired Supreme Court Associate Justice considering his knowledge that Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez was not a qualified beneficiary under
Dante O. Tinga (respondent) filed by Mr. Jovito S. Olazo (complainant). The respondent is Memorandum No. 119. The complainant averred that Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez is not a bona
charged of violating Rule 6.02,[1] Rule 6.03[2] and Rule 1.01[3] of the Code of Professional fide resident of the proclaimed areas and does not qualify for an award. Thus, the approval of
Responsibility for representing conflicting interests. his sales application by the Committee on Awards amounted to a violation of the objectives of
Proclamation No. 172 and Memorandum No. 119.
Factual Background
The complainant also alleged that the respondent violated Section 7(b)(2) of the
In March 1990, the complainant filed a sales application covering a parcel of land situated Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act
in Barangay Lower Bicutan in the Municipality of Taguig. The land (subject land) was (R.A.) No. 6713 since he engaged in the practice of law, within the one-year prohibition period,
previously part of Fort Andres Bonifacio that was segregated and declared open for disposition when he appeared as a lawyer for Ramon Lee and Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez before the
pursuant to Proclamation No. 2476,[4] issued on January 7, 1986, and Proclamation No. 172, Committee on Awards.
[5]
issued on October 16, 1987.
In his Comment,[7] the respondent claimed that the present complaint is the third malicious
To implement Proclamation No. 172, Memorandum No. 119 was issued by then charge filed against him by the complainant. The first one was submitted before the Judicial
Executive Secretary Catalino Macaraig, creating a Committee on Awards whose duty was to and Bar Council when he was nominated as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; the
study, evaluate, and make a recommendation on the applications to purchase the lands second complaint is now pending with the Office of the Ombudsman, for alleged violation of
declared open for disposition. The Committee on Awards was headed by the Director of Lands Section 3(e) and (i) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended.
and the respondent was one of the Committee members, in his official capacity as the With his own supporting documents, the respondent presented a different version of
Congressman of Taguig and Pateros (from 1987 to 1998); the respondents district includes the the antecedent events.
areas covered by the proclamations.
The respondent asserted that Miguel Olazo owned the rights over the subject land
The First Charge: Violation of Rule 6.02 and he later conveyed these rights to Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez. Miguel Olazos rights over the
subject land and the transfer of his rights to Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez were duly recognized by
In the complaint,[6] the complainant claimed that the respondent abused his position the Secretary of the DENR before whom the conflict of rights over the subject land (between
as Congressman and as a member of the Committee on Awards when he unduly interfered Miguel Olazo and Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez, on one hand, and the complainant on the other
with the complainants sales application because of his personal interest over the subject land. hand) was brought. In its decision, the DENR found Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez a qualified
The complainant alleged that the respondent exerted undue pressure and influence over the applicant, and his application over the subject land was given due course. The respondent
complainants father, Miguel P. Olazo, for the latter to contest the complainants sales emphasized that the DENR decision is now final and executory. It was affirmed by the Office of
application and claim the subject land for himself. The complainant also alleged that the the President, by the Court of Appeals and by the Supreme Court.
respondent prevailed upon Miguel Olazo to accept, on various dates, sums of money as
payment of the latters alleged rights over the subject land. The complainant further claimed The respondent also advanced the following defenses:
that the respondent brokered the transfer of rights of the subject land between Miguel Olazo
and Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez, who is the nephew of the respondents deceased wife. (1) He denied the complainants allegation that Miguel Olazo told him (complainant)
that the respondent had been orchestrating to get the subject land. The
As a result of the respondents abuse of his official functions, the complainants sales respondent argued that this allegation was without corroboration and was
application was denied. The conveyance of rights to Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez and his sales debunked by the affidavits of Miguel Olazo and Francisca Olazo, the
application were subsequently given due course by the Department of Environment and complainants sister.
Natural Resources (DENR).
(2) He denied the complainants allegation that he offered the
The Second Charge: Violation of Rule 6.03 complainant P50,000.00 for the subject land and that he (the respondent) had
exerted undue pressure and influence on Miguel Olazo to claim the rights over
The second charge involves another parcel of land within the proclaimed areas the subject land. The respondent also denied that he had an inordinate interest
belonging to Manuel Olazo, the complainants brother. The complainant alleged that the in the subject land.
respondent persuaded Miguel Olazo to direct Manuel to convey his rights over the land to
Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez. As a result of the respondents promptings, the rights to the land (3) He claimed that there was nothing wrong in signing as a witness in Miguel
were transferred to Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez. Olazos affidavit where the latter asserted his rights over the subject land. The
affidavit merely attested to the truth.
In addition, the complainant alleged that in May 1999, the respondent met with
Manuel for the purpose of nullifying the conveyance of rights over the land to Joseph Jeffrey (4) He asserted that he and Miguel Olazo were cousins and that the latter decided
Rodriguez. The complainant claimed that the respondent wanted the rights over the land to sell his rights over the subject land for the medical treatment of his heart
transferred to one Rolando Olazo, the Barangay Chairman of Hagonoy, Taguig.The condition and the illness of his daughter, Francisca Olazo. The respondent
insisted that the money he extended to them was a form of loan.
Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility highlights the continuing standard of
(5) The respondents participation in the transaction between Miguel Olazo and ethical conduct to be observed by government lawyers in the discharge of their official tasks.
Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez involved the payment of the loan that the respondent In addition to the standard of conduct laid down under R.A. No. 6713 for government
extended to Miguel Olazo. employees, a lawyer in the government service is obliged to observe the standard of conduct
under the Code of Professional Responsibility.
(6) Manuels belated and secondhand allegation in his Sinumpaang Salaysay, dated
January 20, 2000, regarding what his father told him, cannot prevail over his Since public office is a public trust, the ethical conduct demanded upon lawyers in
earlier Sinumpaang Salaysay with Francisca Olazo, dated August 2, 1997. In the government service is more exacting than the standards for those in private practice.
the said Sinumpaang Salaysay, Manuel categorically asserted that his father Lawyers in the government service are subject to constant public scrutiny under norms of
Miguel Olazo, not the complainant, was the farmer-beneficiary. Manuel also public accountability. They also bear the heavy burden of having to put aside their private
expressed his agreement to the transfer of rights (Pagpapatibay Sa Paglilipat interest in favor of the interest of the public; their private activities should not interfere with the
Ng Karapatan) in favor of Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez, and the withdrawal of his discharge of their official functions.[11]
fathers application to give way to Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguezs application.
The first charge involves a violation of Rule 6.02 of the Code of Professional
(7) The complainants allegation that the respondent had pressured and influenced Responsibility. It imposes the following restrictions in the conduct of a government lawyer:
Miguel Olazo to sell the subject land was not sufficient as it was lacking in
specificity and corroboration. The DENR decision was clear that the A lawyer in the government service shall not use his public position to
complainant had no rights over the subject land. promote or advance his private interests, nor allow the latter to interfere
with his public duties.
The respondent additionally denied violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. He alleged that during his third term as Congressman from 1995 to 1997, the The above provision prohibits a lawyer from using his or her public position to: (1)
conflicting applications of the complainant, Miguel Olazo and Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez were promote private interests; (2) advance private interests; or (3) allow private interest to interfere
not included in the agenda for deliberation of the Committee on Awards. Rather, their with his or her public duties. We previously held that the restriction extends to all
conflicting claims and their respective supporting documents were before the Office of the government lawyers who use their public offices to promote their private interests. [12]
Regional Director, NCR of the DENR. This office ruled over the conflicting claims only on
August 2, 2000. This ruling became the basis of the decision of the Secretary of the DENR. In Huyssen v. Gutierrez,[13] we defined promotion of private interest to include soliciting gifts or
anything of monetary value in any transaction requiring the approval of his or her office, or
Similarly, the respondent cannot be held liable under Rule 6.02 of the Code of may be affected by the functions of his or her office. In Ali v. Bubong,[14] we recognized that
Professional Responsibility since the provision applies to lawyers in the government service private interest is not limited to direct interest, but extends to advancing the interest of
who are allowed by law to engage in private law practice and to those who, though prohibited relatives. We also ruled that private interest interferes with public duty when the respondent
from engaging in the practice of law, have friends, former associates and relatives who are in uses the office and his or her knowledge of the intricacies of the law to benefit relatives. [15]
the active practice of law.[8] In this regard, the respondent had already completed his third term
in Congress and his stint in the Committee on Awards when he represented Joseph Jeffrey In Vitriolo v. Dasig,[16] we found the act of the respondent (an official of the
Rodriguez on May 24, 1999. Commission on Higher Education) of extorting money from persons with applications or
requests pending before her office to be a serious breach of Rule 6.02 of the Code of
Lastly, the respondent claimed that he cannot be held liable under Rule 6.03 of the Professional Responsibility.[17] We reached the same conclusion in Huyssen, where we found
Code of Professional Responsibility since he did not intervene in the disposition of the the respondent (an employee of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation) liable under Rule
conflicting applications of the complainant and Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez because the 6.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, based on the evidence showing that he
applications were not submitted to the Committee on Awards when he was still a member. demanded money from the complainant who had a pending application for visas before his
office.[18]
The Courts Ruling Similarly, in Igoy v. Soriano[19] we found the respondent (a Court Attorney of this Court) liable
for violating Rule 6.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, after considering the
Generally, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be disciplined as a evidence showing that he demanded and received money from the complainant who had a
member of the Bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official. [9]He pending case before this Court.
may be disciplined by this Court as a member of the Bar only when his misconduct also
constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer.[10] Applying these legal precepts to the facts of the case, we find the absence of any
concrete proof that the respondent abused his position as a Congressman and as a member
The issue in this case calls for a determination of whether the respondents actions of the Committee on Awards in the manner defined under Rule 6.02 of the Code of
constitute a breach of the standard ethical conduct first, while the respondent was still an Professional Responsibility.
elective public official and a member of the Committee on Awards; and second, when he was
no longer a public official, but a private lawyer who represented a client before the office he First, the records do not clearly show if the complainants sales application was ever
was previously connected with. brought before the Committee on Awards. By the complaints own account, the complainant
filed a sales application in March 1990 before the Land Management Bureau. By 1996, the
After a careful evaluation of the pleadings filed by both parties and their respective pieces of complainants sales application was pending before the Office of the Regional Director, NCR of
evidence, we resolve to dismiss the administrative complaint. the DENR due to the conflicting claims of Miguel Olazo, and, subsequently, of Joseph Jeffrey
Rodriguez. The records show that it was only on August 2, 2000 that the Office of the Regional
Accountability of a government lawyer in public office Director, NCR of the DENR rendered its decision, or after the term of the respondents elective
public office and membership to the Committee on Awards, which expired in 1997.
As proof that the respondent was engaged in an unauthorized practice of law after
These circumstances do not show that the respondent did in any way promote, his separation from the government service, the complainant presented the Sinumpaang
advance or use his private interests in the discharge of his official duties. To repeat, since the Salaysay, dated January 20, 2000, of Manuel and the document entitled Assurance where the
sales application was not brought before the Committee on Awards when the respondent was respondent legally represented Ramon Lee and Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez. Nevertheless, the
still a member, no sufficient basis exists to conclude that he used his position to obtain foregoing pieces of evidence fail to persuade us to conclude that there was a violation of Rule
personal benefits. We note in this regard that the denial of the complainants sales application 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
over the subject land was made by the DENR, not by the Committee on Awards.
Second, the complainants allegation that the respondent orchestrated the efforts to In Cayetano v. Monsod,[28] we defined the practice of law as any activity, in and out
get the subject land does not specify how the orchestration was undertaken. What appears of court, that requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and
clear in the records is the uncorroborated Sinumpaang Salaysay of Miguel Olazo, dated May experience. Moreover, we ruled that to engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts
25, 2003,[20] categorically stating that the respondent had no interest in the subject land, and which are characteristics of the profession; to practice law is to give notice or render any kind
neither was he a contracting party in the transfer of his rights over the subject land. In the of service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill.
absence of any specific charge, Olazos disclaimer is the nearest relevant statement on the
respondents alleged participation, and we find it to be in the respondents favor. Under the circumstances, the foregoing definition should be correlated with R.A. No.
6713 and Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which impose certain
Third, the other documents executed by Miguel Olazo, that the complainant restrictions on government lawyers to engage in private practice after their separation from the
presented to support his claim that the respondent exerted undue pressure and influence over service.
his father (namely: the letter, dated June 22, 1996, to the DENR Regional Director-NCR; Section 7(b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713 reads:
[21]
the Sinumpaang Salaysay dated July 12, 1996;[22] and the Sinumpaang Salaysaydated July
17, 1996[23]), do not contain any reference to the alleged pressure or force exerted by the Section 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. In addition to acts and
respondent over Miguel Olazo. The documents merely showed that the respondent helped omissions of public officials and employees now prescribed in the
Miguel Olazo in having his farm lots (covered by the proclaimed areas) surveyed. They also Constitution and existing laws, the following shall constitute prohibited
showed that the respondent merely acted as a witness in the Sinumpaang Salaysay dated acts and transactions of any public official and employee and are hereby
July 17, 1996. To our mind, there are neutral acts that may be rendered by one relative to declared to be unlawful:
another, and do not show how the respondent could have influenced the decision of Miguel
Olazo to contest the complainants sales application. At the same time, we cannot give any xxxx
credit to the Sinumpaang Salaysay, dated January 20, 2000, of Manuel. They are not only (b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. Public
hearsay but are contrary to what Miguel Olazo states on the record. We note that Manuel had officials and employees during their incumbency shall not:
no personal knowledge, other than what Miguel Olazo told him, of the force allegedly exerted xxxx
by the respondent against Miguel Olazo.
(2) Engage in the private practice of their profession unless authorized by
In turn, the respondent was able to provide a satisfactory explanation - backed by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend
corroborating evidence - of the nature of the transaction in which he gave the various sums of to conflict with their official functions; x x x
money to Miguel Olazo and Francisca Olazo in the year 1995. In her affidavits dated May 25,
2003[24] and July 21, 2010,[25] Francisca Olazo corroborated the respondents claim that the These prohibitions shall continue to apply for a period of one (1) year after
sums of money he extended to her and Miguel Olazo were loans used for their medical resignation, retirement, or separation from public office, except in the case
treatment. Miguel Olazo, in his Sinumpaang Salaysay dated May 25, 2003, asserted that of subparagraph (b) (2) above, but the professional concerned cannot
some of the money borrowed from the respondent was used for his medical treatment and practice his profession in connection with any matter before the office he
hospitalization expenses. used to be with, in which case the one-year prohibition shall likewise
apply.
The affidavit of Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez further corroborated the respondents claim
that the latters involvement was limited to being paid the loans he gave to Miguel Olazo and As a rule, government lawyers are not allowed to engage in the private practice of
Francisca Olazo. According to Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez, he and Miguel Olazo agreed that a their profession during their incumbency.[29] By way of exception, a government lawyer can
portion of the loan would be directly paid by Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez to the respondent and engage in the practice of his or her profession under the following conditions: first, the private
the amount paid would be considered as part of the purchase price of the subject land.[26] practice is authorized by the Constitution or by the law; and second, the practice will not
conflict or tend to conflict with his or her official functions. [30] The last paragraph of Section 7
It also bears stressing that a facial comparison of the documentary evidence, provides an exception to the exception. In case of lawyers separated from the government
specifically the dates when the sums of money were extended by the respondent on February service who are covered under subparagraph (b) (2) of Section 7 of R.A. No. 6713, a one-year
21, 1995, September 2, 1995 and October 17, 1995, and the date when the Deed of prohibition is imposed to practice law in connection with any matter before the office he used
Conveyance[27] over the subject land was executed or on October 25, 1995, showed that the to be with.
sums of money were extended prior to the transfer of rights over the subject land. These Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility echoes this restriction and
pieces of evidence are consistent with the respondents allegation that Miguel Olazo decided to prohibits lawyers, after leaving the government service, to accept engagement or employment
sell his rights over the subject land to pay the loans he obtained from the respondent and, in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in the said service. The
also, to finance his continuing medical treatment. keyword in Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is the term intervene which
we previously interpreted to include an act of a person who has the power to influence the
Private practice of law after separation from public office proceedings.[31] Otherwise stated, to fall within the ambit of Rule 6.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, the respondent must have accepted engagement or employment
in a matter which, by virtue of his public office, he had previously exercised power to influence
the outcome of the proceedings.

As the records show, no evidence exists showing that the respondent previously
interfered with the sales application covering Manuels land when the former was still a
member of the Committee on Awards. The complainant, too, failed to sufficiently establish that
the respondent was engaged in the practice of law. At face value, the legal service rendered
by the respondent was limited only in the preparation of a single document. In Borja, Sr. v.
Sulyap, Inc.,[32] we specifically described private practice of law as one that contemplates a
succession of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding ones self to the public
as a lawyer.

In any event, even granting that respondents act fell within the definition of practice
of law, the available pieces of evidence are insufficient to show that the legal representation
was made before the Committee on Awards, or that the Assurance was intended to be
presented before it. These are matters for the complainant to prove and we cannot consider
any uncertainty in this regard against the respondents favor.

Violation of Rule 1.01

Rule 1.01 prohibits a lawyer from engaging in unlawful, immoral or deceitful


conduct. From the above discussion, we already struck down the complainants allegation that
respondent engaged in an unauthorized practice of law when he appeared as a lawyer for
Ramon Lee and Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez before the Committee on Awards.

We find that a similar treatment should be given to the complainants claim that the
respondent violated paragraph 4(1)[33] of Memorandum No. 119 when he encouraged the sales
application of Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez despite his knowledge that his nephew was not a
qualified applicant. The matter of Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguezs qualifications to apply for a sales
application over lots covered by the proclaimed areas has been resolved in the affirmative by
the Secretary of the DENR in the decision dated April 3, 2004, [34]when the DENR gave due
course to his sales application over the subject land. We are, at this point, bound by this
finding.

As pointed out by the respondent, the DENR decision was affirmed by the Office of
the President, the Court of Appeals[35] and, finally, the Court, per our MinuteResolution, dated
October 11, 2006, in G.R. No. 173453. In our Resolution, we dismissed the petition for review
on certiorari filed by the complainant after finding, among others, that no reversible error was
committed by the Court of Appeals in its decision.[36]

All told, considering the serious consequences of the penalty of disbarment or


suspension of a member of the Bar, the burden rests on the complainant to present clear,
convincing and satisfactory proof for the Court to exercise its disciplinary powers. [37] The
respondent generally is under no obligation to prove his/her defense, [38] until the burden shifts
to him/her because of what the complainant has proven. Where no case has in the first place
been proven, nothing has to be rebutted in defense.[39]
With this in mind, we resolve to dismiss the administrative case against the
respondent for the complainants failure to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the
former committed unethical infractions warranting the exercise of the Courts disciplinary
power.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DISMISS the administrative case for


violation of Rule 6.02, Rule 6.03 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, filed
against retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Dante O. Tinga, for lack of merit.
x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a complaint filed by Avelino O. Angeles, Maria O. Angeles, Lauro O. Angeles, Rosalina
O. Angeles, and Connie M. Angeles in representation of the deceased Loreto Angeles
(collectively, complainants) against Atty. Amado O. Ibaez (respondent) for disbarment for
notarizing the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale without a notarialcommission and in
the absence of the affiants.

The Facts

The facts of CBD Case No. 06-1830, as stated in the Report and Recommendation of the
Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), read as follows:

II. Statement of the Complaint


Complainants ... are residents of Highway, Sapang I, Ternate, Cavite.
Respondent Atty. Amado Ibaez is a practicing lawyer who holds office at
2101 Carolina (now Madre Ignacia) St., Malate, Manila.
The lengthy and confusing narrative of what appears to be a bitter land
dispute notwithstanding, it can be gleaned from the Complaint and
Position Paper, and the personal clarification by the complainants
themselves after questioning by the undersigned during the Mandatory
Conference, that the present administrative case is limited to an
Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale which respondent
Atty. Amado Ibaez allegedly notarized in the City of Manila on 18 February
1979, and entered in his Notarial Book as Doc. No. 735, p. 157 and Book
No. II, Series of 1979.
The complainants denied that they executed the said document or that
they ever appeared before respondent Atty. Ibaez for this purpose. They
alleged that respondent Atty. Ibaez did not even have the authority to
notarize the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale as he did not have a
commission as a notary public at that time.
The complainants alleged that the respondent and his relatives are
presently using the said document in judicial proceedings pending before
the Regional Trial Court of Naic, Cavite to their damage and prejudice.
The complainants contend that respondent Atty. Ibaezs act of notarizing
the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale without requiring the
presence of the parties thereto, and despite his alleged lack of
a notarial commission, constitutes professional misconduct for which
reason he should be disbarred.
In support of their allegations, the complainants attached to their
Complaint and Position Paper the following documents:
1. Tax Declaration Nos. 20-004-00052, 1356, 1809 in the name
of Barselisa Angeles, and Tax Declarations 198, 283, 403 and 1544, in
the name of Juan Angeles.

AVELINO O. ANGELES, 2. Certification dated 24 March 2006 issued by the Office of the
LAURO O. ANGELES, Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Manila stating that the Master
MARIA O. ANGELES, List of Notaries Public shows that Atty. Amado O. Ibaez was not appointed
ROSALINA O. ANGELES, and CONNIE M. ANGELES, as such for and in the City of Manila for the year 1976-1977.
Complainants,
3. Certification dated 28 April 2006 issued by the National Trial Court of Cavite, Branch 1, Trece Martires City. He explained that the
Archives stating that there is no notarial record on file with the said office designation of Manila as the place of execution of the said document was
of Amado Ibaez, a notary public for and within the City of Manila, and it a mistake of his former legal secretary, who failed to correct the same
has no copy on file of an affidavit allegedly executed by through oversight.
Gabriel, Estebana, Eutiquio, Gloria, Leocadio, Jovita, Samonte, Respondent Atty. Ibaez alleged that he notarized the Extrajudicial Partition
and Renato, all surnamed Angeles, ratified sometime in 1977 by the said with Absolute Sale in his capacity as the official Notary Public of
notary public and acknowledged as Doc. No. 202, Page No. 42, Book No. Puerto Azul, and the same was actually prepared and typewritten by
1, Series of 1977. complainant Rosalina Angeles for a consideration of Php20,000.00 as
4. Certification dated 11 April 2006 issued by the National evidenced by a photocopy of Commercial Bank & Trust Co. Cashiers
Archives stating that there is no notarial record on file with the said office Check dated 31 January 1979 on file with the Puerto Azul office, as well
of Amado Ibaez, a notary public for and within the City of Manila, and it as an Exclusive Authority attached to the said document. The respondent
has no copy on file of a partition w/renunciation [sic] and affidavit allegedly also alleged that complainant Rosalina Angeles was at that time employed
executed by and among Gabriela, Estebana, Eutiquio, as a typist at Puerto Azul and that she enjoyed the trust and confidence of
Gloria, Leocadio, Jovita, Samonte and Renato, all surnamed Angeles, the Puerto Azul management.
ratified sometime in 1977 by the said notary public and acknowledged as The respondent stated that the land subject of the sale was surveyed for
Doc. No. 201, Page No. 41, Series of 1977. Mrs. Trinidad Diaz-Enriquez by the late Angel Salvacion, the official
5. Two (2) versions of surveyor of Puerto Azul, and was submitted to the Bureau of Lands for
a Partihang Labas sa Hukuman at Ganap na Bilihan dated 28 March verification and approval and was approved on 14 February 1985 as CCN
1978, executed by and between Gloria Angeles, Leocadio Angeles and No. 04-000038-D. Respondent Atty. Ibaez alleged that the property is
Gabriela, Estebana, Eutiquio, Jovita, Samonte and Renato, all surnamed presently in the actual possession of Puerto Azul, with
Torres. former Sapang I Bgy. Captain Johnny Andra as tenant.
6. Flow chart showing the history of Tax Declaration No. 403,
from 1948 to 1974. The respondent alleged that Puerto Azuls ownership of the property is
7. Application for Free Patent over Cadastral Lot No. 460-C of anchored on the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale, which is in turn
the Ternate Cadastral Sketching (CADS-617-D), SWO-04-000598 and the subject of a case, CA GR SP No. 2006-1668, which is presently
Cadastral Lot No. 460-B, executed by Atty. AmadoO. Ibaez. pending in the Court of Appeals.
8. Certification dated 24 March 2006 issued by the Office of the Respondent Atty. Ibaez alleged that a defect in the notarization of a
Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Manila stating that the Master document of sale does not invalidate the transaction, and he stated that
List of Notaries Public shows that Atty. Amado O. Ibaez was not appointed his failure to require the presence of the parties to the Extrajudicial
as such for and in the year 1978-1979. Partition with Absolute Sale is wholly justified because of the assurance of
9. Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale (with various complainant Rosalina Angeles that the signatures appearing in the said
marginal notes made by the complainants) notarized by document were indeed those of her co-heirs. The respondent also alleged
Atty. Amado Ibaez in the City of Manila on 18 February 1979, and entered that almost all the complainants submitted their residence certificates, the
in his Notarial Book as Doc. No. 735, p. 147 and Book No. II, Series of numbers of which were recorded in the acknowledgement portion of the
1979. document.
The respondent denied that he had committed any crime when he
notarized the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale because the
10. Real Estate Mortgage executed by Flora Olano in favor of the offenses in the Revised Penal Code are mala in se where the intention to
Rural Bank of Naic, Inc., in the amount of Php350.00, covering property commit the crime is required, which is lacking in his case. The respondent
located in Zapang, Ternate, Cavite and described in Tax Declaration No. added that there is regularity in the performance of his duty as the official
1657-1658. notary public of Puerto Azul.
11. Certification dated 12 January 2007 issued by the Office of The respondent pointed out that nearly twenty eight (28) years have
the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Trece Martires City stating lapsed without anyone questioning not only the sale of the said property,
that Atty. Amado O. Ibaez was not duly commissioned as a notaryt [sic] but Puerto Azuls long possession of the same as well. He alleged that the
public for and within the Province of Cavite in the year 1979, and that it complainants are now denying the sale because they want to make it
has no copy in its records of an Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale appear that they have land within or adjoining a quarry site which they
allegedly notarized by Atty. Amado Ibaez on 18 February 1979 and have invaded and taken over. He reiterated that the defect in his
entered in his Notarial Book as Doc. No. 735, p. 147 and Book No. II. notarization of the sale document notwithstanding, the sale remains valid.
Series of 1979. By way of his defense, respondent Atty. Ibaez submitted the following
III. Respondents Position/Defense documents:
In his Motion to Dismiss and Position Paper, respondent 1. Photocopy of a Supreme Court Resolution dated 31 July
Atty. Ibaez contended that the complainants are guilty of forum-shopping 2000 denying the complainants motion for reconsideration in
inasmuch as they had previously filed the same complaint, docketed as Administrative Case No. 3581, entitled Rosalina Angeles, et al. vs.
Administrative Case No. 3581, which was eventually dismissed by then Atty. Amado Ibaez
IBP CBD Comm. Victor Fernandez. 2. Photocopy of IBP Board of Governors Resolution dated 27
The respondent admitted that he notarized the Extrajudicial Partition with June 1999, adopting and approving the Report and Recommendation of
Absolute Sale but clarified that he did so as Notary Public of Comm. Victor Fernandez dismissing Administrative Case No. 3581,
the Province of Cavite, with a notarial commission issued by the Regional entitled Rosalina Angeles, et al. vs. Atty. Amado Ibaez
3. Photocopy of a Counter-Affidavit filed by The present administrative complaint may be in one way or another
Atty. Amado Ibaez in OMB-1-C 06-0368-C/OMB-L C 06-0272-C, related to the alleged land-grabbing which was the subject of
entitled Mario O. Angeles vs. Sony Peji, et al., Administrative Case No. 3581, but it pertains to an altogether different
4. Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale notarized by matter. In the present complaint, respondent Atty. Ibaez is not being
Atty. Amado Ibaez in the City of Manila on 18 February 1979, and entered accused of land-grabbing or falsification, but rather, for misconduct in
in his Notarial Book as Doc. No. 735, p. 147 and Book No. II, Series of notarizing a document.
1979, with attached Exclusive Authority executed by Maria Angeles, Flora We would point out that respondent Atty. Amado Ibaez admitted that he
Angeles, Lauro Angeles and Avelino Angeles in favor of Rosalina did not require the presence of the parties to the document because he
Angeles.[1] was assured as to the authenticity of their signatures. We would also
stress that the respondent never denied that he notarized the Extrajudicial
Partition with Absolute Sale, but claimed that he did so not in Manila as
The IBPs Report and Recommendation stated in document, but in Cavite where he claimed to be a commissioned
notary public; he attributed the mistake to his legal secretary, and he
insisted that the sale remained valid despite the defects in notarization.
In a Report[2] dated 21 January 2008, IBP Commissioner for Bar Discipline Rico That is not the point, however. The validity of the transaction covered by
A. Limpingco (Commissioner Limpingco) found that respondent notarized the Extrajudicial the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale is not at issue in this
Partition with Absolute Sale in the absence of affiants and without administrative case for that is a matter for the courts to adjudicate, if they
a notarial commission. Thus: have not already done so.
As it is, no less than the respondent himself categorically admitted
As stated earlier, the present administrative complaint may seem at first to that he notarized the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale in the
be one for falsification, land grabbing, etc., but a closer examination of the absence of the parties thereto. To make matters worse, the
complainants allegations coupled with their own verbal confirmation certifications submitted by the complainants clearly indicate that
during the Mandatory Conference, shows that the complainants are respondent Atty. Amado Ibaez did not have any notarial commission
actually accusing respondent Atty. Amado Ibaez of notarizing an whether for Manila orCavite, in 18 February 1979 when he notarized
Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale in the City of Manila on 18 the subject document. The respondent, for his part, has been
February 1979 (entered in his Notarial Book as Doc. No. 735, p. 147 and completely unable to proffer any kind of proof of his claim that he
Book No. II, Series of 1979) without requiring the presence of the parties had a commission as a notary public for and in the Province
thereto, and further, for notarizing the said document even if he did not of Cavite in 1979, or of his submission of notarial reports
have a notarial commission at that time. and notarial register during the said period.
The respondent contends that the complainants have previously filed the xxx
same administrative complaint against him, docketed as Administrative While the case of respondent Atty. Amado Ibaez is not perfectly identical
Case No. 3581, and that the same was eventually dismissed by the to the facts and circumstances obtaining in these cases, his act of
Supreme Court. He alleged that as in this prior complaint, the present notarizing a document without the necessary commission is nonetheless
case must likewise be dismissed for forum shopping. clear and undeniable. Guided by the foregoing rulings of the Supreme
It appears, however, that Administrative Case No. 3581 is entirely different Court vis-a-vis the facts in the present complaint, it is therefore
and distinct from the present complaint. A reading of the photocopy of IBP respectfully recommended that respondent Atty. Amado Ibaez:
Board of Governors Resolution dated 27 June 1999, adopting and 1. Be barred from being commissioned as a notary public for a
approving the attached Report and Recommendation of Comm. Victor period of two (2) years, and in the event that he is presently
Fernandez dismissing Administrative Case No. 3581, entitled Rosalina commissioned as a notary public, that his commission be immediately
Angeles, et al. vs. Atty. Amado Ibaez (as attached by the respondent revoked and suspended for such period; and
himself in his Motion to Dismiss) shows that this earlier complaint pertains 2. Be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1)
to herein respondents alleged land-grabbing of two (2) parcels of land year.
in Bgy. Zapang, Ternate, Cavite. As stated in the report authored by then
Commissioner Victor Fernandez, the earlier administrative case relates to Respectfully submitted.[3] (Emphasis added)
the sale of the said property to the Sps. DaniloAndra and Angela Olano,
and its subsequent sale to the respondent, Atty. Amado Ibaez, who for his
part later applied for, and was granted, free patent titles over the
same. Branding the transaction as land-grabbing, the complainants filed In a Resolution[4] dated 6 February 2008, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
an action in court to recover possession and annul the titles but the case approved the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Limpingco. The Office of the Bar
was eventually dismissed by the Supreme Court for lack of merit.The Confidant received the notice of the Resolution and the records of the case on 10 April 2008.
complainants then filed the same complaint with the Office of the
Ombudsman, the Dept. of Justice, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Respondent filed a supplemental position paper on 28 May 2008 before the IBP
the Supreme Court, which eventually referred the matter to the IBP. In his Board of Governors. In a Resolution dated 29 May 2008, the IBP Board of Governors referred
report, then-Commissioner Victor Fernandez declared that the respondents submission to the Office of the Bar Confidant. Respondent attached photocopies
complainants were engaged in forum-shopping, reasoning that of the following: respondents Petition for Commission as Notary Public for and within the
unsuccessful in their effort to obtain the result they desire from the courts, Province of Cavite filed before the said Court on 16 February 1978; respondents commission
they would attempt to refile their dismissed action under the guise of an as Notary Public for the province of Cavite for the term 1978 until 1979 issued by Executive
administrative case.
Judge Pablo D. Suarez on 21 February 1978; and respondents oath of office as notary public
dated 21 February 1978. Under the facts and circumstances of the case, respondents notarial commission should not
only be suspended but respondent must also be suspended from the practice of law.
The Ruling of the Court
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Amado O. Ibaez GUILTY of notarizing the
We sustain the findings of the IBP and adopt its recommendations with Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale in the absence of the affiants.Accordingly, the
modification. Respondent violated his oath as a lawyer and the Code of Professional Court SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for one year, REVOKES his
Responsibility when he notarized the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale in the absence incumbent notarial commission, if any, and PROHIBITS him from being commissioned as a
of the affiants. notary public for one year, effective immediately, with a stern warning that a repetition of the
same or similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.
Respondent Notarized the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to
in the Absence of the Affiants 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.

Respondent himself admits that he merely relied on the representation of Rosalina Angeles
that the signatures appearing on the Extrajudicial Partition with Absolute Sale subject of the
A.C. No. 7973 and A.C. No. 10457 February 3, 2015
present complaint are those of her co-heirs.[5] Respondent claims that he reposed confidence
upon Rosalina Angeles because she is his confidential secretary.Unfortunately for respondent,
he cannot exculpate himself from the consequences of his recklessness and his failure to MELVYN G. GARCIA, Complainant,
comply with the requirements of the law by relying on his confidential secretary. vs.
ATTY. RAUL H. SESBRENO, Respondent.
Time and again, we have reminded lawyers commissioned as notaries public that the affiants
must personally appear before them. Section 1 of Public Act No. 2103, or the Notarial Law,
provides: DECISION

Sec. 1. (a) The acknowledgement shall be before a notary public or an


officer duly authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgements of PER CURIAM:
instruments or documents in the place where the act is done. The notary
public or the officer taking the acknowledgement shall certify that the
Two complaints for disbarment were filed by Dr. Melvyn G. Garcia (Garcia) against Atty. Raul
person acknowledging the instrument or document is known to him and
that he is the same person who executed it, acknowledged that the same H. Sesbrefio (Sesbrefio). The two cases, docketed as A.C. No. 7973 and A.C. No. 10457, were
is his free act and deed. The certificate shall be made under the official consolidated in the Court's Resolution dated 30 September 2014.
seal, if he is required by law to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall
so state.
A.C. No. 7973
Section 2(b) of Rule IV of the Rules on Notarial Practice of 2004 reads:
On 30 July 2008, Garcia filed a complaint for disbarment against Sesbreo before the Office of
A person shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved as the Bar Confidant. The case was docketed as A.C. No. 7973. Garcia alleged that in 1965, he
signatory to the instrument or document - married Virginia Alcantara in Cebu. They had two children, Maria Margarita and Angie Ruth. In
(1) is not in the notarys presence personally at the time of the
1971, he and Virginia separated. He became a dentist and practiced his profession in
notarization; and
(2) is not personally known to the notary public or otherwise identified by Cabanatuan City. Garcia alleged that in1992, Virginia filed a petition for the annulment of their
the notary public through competent evidence of identity as defined by marriage, which was eventually granted.
these Rules.
Garcia alleged that in 2005 while he was in Japan, Sesbreo, representing Maria Margarita
The physical presence of the affiants enables the notary public to verify the genuineness of
the signatures of the acknowledging parties and to ascertain that the document is the parties and Angie Ruth, filed an action for support against him and his sister Milagros Garcia Soliman.
free act and deed.[6] At the time of the filing of the case, Maria Margarita was already 39 years old while Angie Ruth
was 35 years old. The case was dismissed. In 2007, Garcia returned from Japan. When
Notarization of a private document converts such document into a public Sesbreo and Garcias children learned abouthis return, Sesbreo filed a Second Amended
one, and renders it admissible in court without further proof of its Complaint against him. Garcia alleged that he learned that Sesbreo was convicted by the
authenticity. Courts, administrative agencies and the public at large must Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 18, for Homicide in Criminal Case No. CBU-31733.
be able to rely upon the acknowledgment executed by a notary public and
Garcia alleged that Sesbreo is only on parole. Garcia alleged that homicide is a crime against
appended to a private instrument. Notarization is not an empty routine; to
the contrary, it engages public interest in a substantial degree and the moral turpitude; and thus, Sesbreo should not be allowed to continue his practice of law.
protection of that interest requires preventing those who are not qualified
or authorized to act as notaries public from imposing upon the public and In his Comment, Sesbreo alleged that on 15 August 2008, Garcia filed a similar complaint
the courts and administrative offices generally.[7]
against him before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-
CBD), docketed as CBC Case No. 08-2273. Sesbreo alleged that Garcias complaint was Dizon, supra, the respondent, by his conduct, displayed extreme arrogance and feeling of self-
motivated by resentment and desire for revenge because he acted as pro bono counsel for importance. Respondent acted like a god who deserved not to be slighted by a couple of
Maria Margarita and Angie Ruth. drunks who may have shattered the stillness of the early morning with their boisterous antics,
natural display of loud bravado of drunken men who had one too many. Respondents
In the Courts Resolution dated 18 January 2010, the Court referred A.C. No. 7973 to the IBP inordinate over reaction to the ramblings of drunken men who were not even directed at
for investigation, report and recommendation. respondent reflected poorly on his fitness to be a member of the legal profession. Respondent
was not only vindictive without a cause; he was cruel with a misplaced sense of superiority.2

A.C. No. 10457 (CBC Case No. 08-2273)


Following the ruling of this Court in Soriano v. Atty. Dizon3 where the respondent was disbarred
for having been convicted of frustrated homicide, the IBP-CBD recommended that Sesbreo
A day prior to the filing of A.C. No. 7973, or on 29 July 2008, Garcia filed a complaint for be disbarred and his name stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.
disbarment against Sesbreo before the IBP-CBD. He alleged that Sesbreo is practicing law
despite his previous conviction for homicide in Criminal Case No. CBU-31733, and despite the
facts that he is only on parole and that he has not fully served his sentence. Garcia alleged In its Resolution No. XX-2013-19 dated 12 February 2013, the IBP Board of Governors
that Sesbreo violated Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court by continuing to engage in adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of the IBP-CBD.
the practice of law despite his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Upon the
directive of the IBP-CBD, Garcia submitted his verified complaint against Sesbreo alleging On 6 May 2013, Sesbreo filed a motion for reconsideration before the IBP-CBD. Sesbreo
basically the same facts he alleged in A.C. No. 7973. alleged that the IBP-CBD misunderstood and misapplied Soriano v. Atty. Dizon. He alleged
that the attendant circumstances in Sorianoare disparate, distinct, and different from his case.
In his answer to the complaint, Sesbreo alleged that his sentence was commuted and the He further alleged that there was no condition set on the grant of executive clemency to him;
phrase "with the inherent accessory penalties provided by law" was deleted. Sesbreo argued and thus, he was restored to his full civil and political rights. Finally, Sesbreo alleged that
that even if the accessory penalty was not deleted, the disqualification applies only during the after his wife died in an ambush, he already stopped appearing as private prosecutor in the
term of the sentence. Sesbreo further alleged that homicide does not involve moral turpitude. case for bigamy against Garcia and that he already advised his clients to settle their other
Sesbreo claimed that Garcias complaint was motivated by extreme malice, bad faith, and cases. He alleged that Garcia already withdrew the complaints against him.
desire to retaliate against him for representing Garcias daughters in court.
On 11 February 2014, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XX-2014-31
The IBP-CBD consolidated A.C. No. 7973 with CBD Case No. 08-2273. The parties agreed on denying Sesbreos motion for reconsideration. The IBPCBD transmitted the records of the
the sole issue to be resolved: whether moral turpitude is involved in a conviction for homicide. case to the Office of the Bar Confidant on 20 May 2014. CBD Case No. 08-2273 was
The IBP-CBD ruled that the Regional Trial Court of Cebu found Sesbreo guilty of murder and redocketed as A.C. No. 10457. In the Courts Resolution dated 30 September 2014, the Court
sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. On appeal, this Court downgraded consolidated A.C. No. 7973 and A.C. No. 10457.
the crime to homicide and sentenced Sesbreo to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for 9
years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 16 years and 4 months of reclusion The only issue in these cases is whether conviction for the crime of homicide involves moral
temporalas maximum. The IBP-CBD found that Sesbreo was released from confinement on turpitude.
27 July 2001 following his acceptance of the conditions of his parole on 10 July 2001.
We adopt the findings and recommendation of the IBP-CBD and approve Resolution No. XX-
The IBP-CBD ruled that conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude is a ground for 2013-19 dated 12 February 2013 and Resolution No. XX-2014-31 dated 11 February 2014 of
disbarment or suspension. Citing International Rice Research Institute v. National Labor the IBP Board of Governors.
Relations Commission,1 the IBPCBD further ruled that homicide may or may not involve moral
turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. The IBP-CBD reviewed the decision of this Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states that a member of the bar may be disbarred
Court convicting Sesbreo for the crime of homicide, and found that the circumstances leading or suspended as attorney by this Court by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
to the death of the victim involved moral turpitude. The IBP-CBD stated: turpitude. This Court has ruled that disbarment is the appropriate penalty for conviction by final
judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude.4 Moral turpitude is an act of baseness,
Neither victim Luciano Amparadon or his companion Christopher Yapchangco was shown to vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes to his fellow men or to society in
be a foe of respondent and neither had the victim Luciano nor his companion Christopher general, contraryto justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.5
shown to have wronged the respondent. They simply happened to be at the wrong place and
time the early morning of June 3, 1993. The question of whether conviction for homicide involves moral turpitude was discussed by
this Court in International Rice Research Institute v. NLRC6 where it ruled:
The circumstances leading to the death of Luciano solely caused by respondent, bear the
earmarks of moral turpitude. Paraphrasing what the Supreme Court observed in Soriano v.
This is not to say that all convictions of the crime of homicide do not involve moral recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Parole, the original sentence of prisoner RAUL
turpitude.1wphi1 Homicide may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree SESBREO Y HERDA convicted by the Regional Trial Court, Cebu City and Supreme Court
of the crime. Moral turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by every and sentenced to an indeterminate prison term of from 9 years and 1 day to 16 years and 4
known and intentional violation of statute, but whether any particular conviction involves moral months imprisonment and to pay an indemnity of P50,000.00 is/are hereby commuted to an
turpitude may be a question of fact and frequently depends on all the surrounding indeterminate prison term of from 7 years and 6 months to 10 years imprisonment and to pay
circumstances. While x x x generally but not always, crimes mala in seinvolve moral turpitude, an indemnity of P50,000.00.14
while crimes mala prohibitado not, it cannot always be ascertained whether moral turpitude
does or does not exist by classifying a crime as malum in se or as malum prohibitum, since Again, there was no mention that the executive clemency was absolute and unconditional and
there are crimes which are mala in se and yet rarely involve moral turpitude and there are restored Sesbreo to his full civil and political rights.
crimes which involve moral turpitude and are mala prohibita only. It follows therefore, that
moral turpitude is somewhat a vague and indefinite term, the meaning of which must be left to
the process of judicial inclusion or exclusion as the cases are reached.7 There are four acts of executive clemency that the President can extend: the President can
grant reprieves, commutations, pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by
final judgment.15 In this case, the executive clemency merely "commuted to an indeterminate
In People v. Sesbreo,8 the Court found Sesbreo guilty of homicide and ruled: prison term of 7 years and 6 months to 10 years imprisonment" the penalty imposed on
WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 18, in Sesbrefio. Commutation is a mere reduction of penalty.16 Commutation only partially
Criminal Case No. CBU-31733 is hereby MODIFIED. Appellant Raul H. Sesbreois hereby extinguished criminal liability.17 The penalty for Sesbrefio' s crime was never wiped out. He
found GUILTY of HOMICIDE and hereby sentenced to suffer a prison term of 9 years and 1 served the commuted or reduced penalty, for which reason he was released from prison. More
day of prision mayor, as a minimum, to 16 years and 4 months of reclusion temporal, as a importantly, the Final Release and Discharge18 stated that "[i]t is understood that such x x x
maximum, with accessory penalties provided by law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased accessory penalties of the law as have not been expressly remitted herein shall subsist."
Luciano Amparado in the amount of P50,000.00 and to pay the costs. Hence, the Parcasio case has no application here. Even if Sesbrefio has been granted
pardon, there is nothing in the records that shows that it was a full and unconditional pardon.
SO ORDERED.9 In addition, the practice of law is not a right but a privilege.19 It is granted only to those
possessing good moral character.20 A violation of the high moral standards of the legal
We reviewed the Decision of this Court and we agree with the IBPCBD that the circumstances profession justifies the imposition of the appropriate penalty against a lawyer, including the
show the presence of moral turpitude. penalty of disbarment.21

The Decision showed that the victim Luciano Amparado (Amparado) and his companion WHEREFORE, respondent Raul H. Sesbrefio is DISBARRED effective immediately upon his
Christopher Yapchangco (Yapchangco) were walking and just passed by Sesbreos house receipt of this Decision.
when the latter, without any provocation from the former, went out of his house, aimed his rifle,
and started firing at them. According to Yapchangco, theywere about five meters, more or less, Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of
from the gate of Sesbreo when they heard the screeching sound of the gate and when they the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters, and the Office of the Court Administrator for
turned around, they saw Sesbreo aiming his rifle at them. Yapchangco and Amparado ran dissemination to all courts all over the country. Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the
away but Amparado was hit. An eyewitness, Rizaldy Rabanes (Rabanes), recalled that he personal records of respondent.
heard shots and opened the window of his house. He saw Yapchangco and Amparado running
away while Sesbreo was firing his firearm rapidly, hitting Rabanes house in the process. RE: 2003 BAR EXAMINATIONS B.M. No. 1222
Another witness, Edwin Parune, saw Amparado fall down after being shot, then saw Sesbreo
in the middle of the street, carrying a long firearm, and walking back towards the gate of his x ---------------------------------------- x
house. The IBP-CBD correctly stated that Amparado and Yapchangco were just at the wrong
place and time. They did not do anything that justified the indiscriminate firing done by ATTY. DANILO DE GUZMAN,
Sesbreo that eventually led to the death of Amparado. Petitioner, Present:

Puno, C.J.,
We cannot accept Sesbreos argument that the executive clemency restored his full civil and Quisumbing,*
political rights. Sesbreo cited In re Atty. Parcasio10 to bolster his argument. In thatcase, Atty. Ynares-Santiago,
Parcasio was granted "an absolute and unconditional pardon"11 which restored his "full civil Carpio,
Austria-Martinez,
and political rights,"12 a circumstance not present inthese cases. Here, the Order of
Corona,
Commutation13 did not state that the pardon was absolute and unconditional. The accessory Carpio Morales,
penalties were not mentioned when the original sentence was recited in the Order of Tinga,
Commutation and they were also not mentioned in stating the commuted sentence. It only Chico-Nazario,
states: By virtue of the authority conferred upon me by the Constitution and upon the Velasco, Jr.,
Nachura, Student Council of the Institute of Law of the Far Eastern University
Leonardo-De Castro, (FEU). Here, he spearheaded various activities including the conduct of
Brion, seminars for law students as well as the holding of bar operations for bar
Peralta, and examinees.
Bersamin, JJ.
Despite his many extra-curricular activities as a youth and
Promulgated: student leader, petitioner still managed to excel in his studies. Thus, he
was conferred an Academic Excellence Award upon his graduation in
April 24, 2009 Bachelor of Laws.
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
Upon admission to the bar in April 1999, petitioner immediately
RESOLUTION entered government service as a Legal Officer assigned at the
Sangguniang Bayan of Taguig. Simultaneously, he also rendered free
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: legal services to less fortunate residents of Taguig City who were then in
need of legal assistance.

This treats the Petition for Judicial Clemency and Compassion dated November 10, 2008 filed In March 2000, petitioner was hired as one of the Associate
by petitioner Danilo de Guzman. He prays that this Honorable Court in the exercise of equity Lawyers at the Balgos and Perez Law Offices. It was during his stay with
and compassion, grant petitioners plea for judicial clemency, and thereupon, order his this firm when his craft as a lawyer was polished and developed. Despite
reinstatement as a member in good standing of the Philippine Bar.[1] having entered private practice, he continued to render free legal services
to his fellow Taguigeos.
To recall, on February 4, 2004, the Court promulgated a Resolution, in B.M. No. 1222, the
dispositive portion of which reads in part: Then in February 2004, by a sudden twist of fate, petitioners
flourishing career was cut short as he was stripped of his license to
WHEREFORE, the Court, acting on the recommendations of practice law for his alleged involvement in the leakage in the 2003 Bar
the Investigating Committee, hereby resolves to Examinations.

(1) DISBAR Atty. DANILO DE GUZMAN from the practice of law Devastated, petitioner then practically locked himself inside his
effective upon his receipt of this RESOLUTION; house to avoid the rather unavoidable consequences of his disbarment.

xxxx On March 2004, however, petitioner was given a new lease in


life when he was taken as a consultant by the City Government of Taguig.
The subject of the Resolution is the leakage of questions in Mercantile Law during Later, he was designated as a member of the Secretariat of the Peoples
the 2003 Bar Examinations. Petitioner at that time was employed as an assistant lawyer in the Law Enforcement Board (PLEB). For the next five (5) years, petitioner
law firm of Balgos & Perez, one of whose partners, Marcial Balgos, was the examiner for concentrated mainly on rendering public service.
Mercantile Law during the said bar examinations. The Court had adopted the findings of the
Investigating Committee, which identified petitioner as the person who had downloaded the Petitioner humbly acknowledged the damaging impact of his act
test questions from the computer of Balgos and faxed them to other persons. which unfortunately, compromised the integrity of the bar examinations.
As could be borne from the records of the investigation, he cooperated
The Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) has favorably recommended the fully in the investigation conducted and took personal responsibility for his
reinstatement of petitioner in the Philippine Bar. In a Report dated January 6, 2009, the OBC actions. Also, he has offered his sincerest apologies to Atty. Balgos, to the
rendered its assessment of the petition, the relevant portions of which we quote hereunder: Court as well as to all the 2003 bar examinees for the unforeseen and
unintended effects of his actions.
Petitioner narrated that he had labored to become a lawyer to
fulfill his fathers childhood dream to become one. This task was not Petitioner averred that he has since learned from his mistakes
particularly easy for him and his family but he willed to endure the same in and has taken the said humbling experience to make him a better person.
order to pay tribute to his parents.
Meanwhile, as part of his Petition, petitioner submitted the
Petitioner added that even at a very young age, he already following testimonials and endorsements of various individuals and
imposed upon himself the duty of rendering service to his fellowmen. At entities all attesting to his good moral character:
19 years, he started his exposure to public service when he was elected
Chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) of Barangay 1) Resolution No. 101, Series of 2007, Resolution
Tuktukan, Taguig City. During this time, he initiated several projects Expressing Full Support to Danilo G. De Guzman in
benefiting the youth in their barangay. his Application for Judicial Clemency, Endorsing his
Competence and Fitness to be Reinstated as a
Thereafter, petitioner focused on his studies, taking up Bachelor Member of the Philippine Bar and for Other Purposes
of Arts in Political Science and eventually pursuing Bachelor of Laws. In dated 4 June 2007 of the Sangguniang Panlungsod,
his second year in law school, he was elected as the President of the City of Taguig;
Kamay sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (SABISKA) kay G. Danilo
2) Isang Bukas na Liham na Naglalayong Iparating G. De Guzman sa Kanyang Petisyong Magawaran ng
sa Kataas-Taasang Hukuman ang Buong Suporta ng Kapatawaran at ang Boluntaryong Pag-susulong sa
Pamunuan at mga Kasapi ng Southeast Peoples Kanyang Kakayahan Upang Maibalik sa Kanya ang
Village Homeowners Association, Inc. (SEPHVOA) mga Pribilehiyo ng Isang Abogado dated 8 July 2008
kay Danilo G. De Guzman sa Kanyang Petisyong of the Samahang Bisig Kamay sa Kaunlaran, Inc.
Magawaran ng Kapatawaran at ang Boluntaryong (SABISKA);
Pag-susulong sa Kanyang Kakayahan Upang
Maibalik sa Kanya ang mga Pribilehiyo ng Isang 9) Board Resolution No. 02, Series of 2008, A
Abogado dated 1 June 2007 of the Southeast Resolution Recognizing the Contributions of Danilo
Peoples Village Homeowners Association, Inc. G. De Guzman to the Peoples Law Enforcement
(SEPHVOA), Ibayo-Tipas, City of Taguig; Board (PLEB) Taguig City, Attesting to his Utmost
Dedication and Commitment to the Call of Civic and
3) Isang Bukas na Liham na Naglalayong Iparating Social Duty and for Other Purposes dated 11 July
sa Kataas-Taasang Hukuman ang Buong Suporta ng 2008 of the Peoples Law Enforcement Board (PLEB);
Pamunuan at mga Kasapi ng Samahang Residente
ng Mauling Creek, Inc. (SAREMAC) kay G. Danilo G. 10) A Personal Appeal for the Grant of Judicial
De Guzman sa Kanyang Petisyong Magawaran ng Forgiveness and Compassion in Favor of Danilo G.
Kapatawaran at ang Boluntaryong Pag-susulong sa De Guzman dated 14 July 2008 of Atty. Edwin R.
Kanyang Kakayahan Upang Maibalik sa Kanya ang Sandoval, Professor, Collegeof Law, San
mga Pribilehiyo ng Isang Abogado dated 1 June 2007 Sebastian College Recoletos;
of the Samahang Residente ng Mauling Creek, Inc.
(SAREMAC), Lower Bicutan, City of Taguig; 11) An Open Letter Personally Attesting to the Moral
competence and Fitness of Danilo G. De Guzman
4) Isang Bukas na Liham na Naglalayong Iparating dated 5 September 2008 of Mr. Nixon F. Faderog,
sa Kataas-Taasang Hukuman ang Buong Suporta ng Deputy Grand [Kn]ight, Knights of Columbus and
Pamunuan at mga Kasapi ng Samahan ng mga President, General Parent-Teacher
Maralita (PULONG KENDI) Neighborhood Association, Taguig National High School, Lower
Association, Inc. (SAMANA) kay G. Danilo G. De Bicutan, Taguig City;
Guzman sa Kanyang Petisyong Magawaran ng
Kapatawaran at ang Boluntaryong Pag-susulong sa 12) Testimonial Letter dated 5 September 2008 of Atty.
Kanyang Kakayahan Upang Maibalik sa Kanya ang Primitivo C. Cruz, President, Taguig Lawyers League,
mga Pribilehiyo ng Isang Abogado dated 1 June 2007 Inc., Tuktukan, Taguig City;
of the Samahan ng mga Maralita (PULONG KENDI)
Neighborhood Association, Inc. (SAMANA), Sta. Ana, 13) Testimonial Letter dated 21 October 2008 of Judge
City of Taguig; Hilario L. Laqui, Presiding Judge, Regional Trail Court
(RTC), Branch 218, Quezon City; and
5) An Open Letter Attesting Personally to the
Competence and Fitness of Danilo G. De Guzman as 14) Testimonial Letter dated 28 October 2008 of Justice
to Warrant the Grant of Judicial Clemency and his Oscar M. Herrera, former Justice, Court of Appeals
Reinstatement as Member of the Philippine Bar and former Dean, Institute of Law, Far Eastern
dated 8 June 2007 of Miguelito Nazareno V. Llantino, University (FEU).
Laogan, Trespeses and Llantino Law Offices;
Citing the case of In Re: Carlos S. Basa, petitioner pleaded
6) Testimonial to the Moral and Spiritual Competence that he be afforded the same kindness and compassion in order that, like
of Danilo G. De Guzman to be Truly Deserving of Atty. Basa, his promising future may not be perpetually foreclosed. In the
Judicial Clemency and Compassion dated 5 July said case, the Court had the occasion to say:
2007 of Rev. Fr. Paul G. Balagtas, Parish Priest,
Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Anne; Carlos S. Basa is a young man about 29 years of age, admitted
to the bars of California and the Philippine Islands. Recently, he
7) Testimonial Letter dated 18 February 2008 of Atty. was charged in the Court of First Instance of the City of Manila
Loreto C. Ata, President, Far Eastern University Law with the crime of abduction with consent, was found guilty in a
Alumni Association (FEULAA), Far Eastern University decision rendered by the Honorable M.V. De Rosario, Judge of
(FEU); First Instance, and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period
of two years, eleven months and eleven days of prision
8) Isang Bukas na Liham na Naglalayong Iparating correccional. On appeal, this decision was affirmed in a
sa Kataas-Taasang Hukuman ang Buong Suporta ng judgment handed down by the second division of the Supreme
Pamunuan at mga Kasapi ng Samahang Bisig Court.
Petitioner is also of good moral repute, not only before but likewise, after
xxxx his disbarment, as attested to overwhelmingly by his constituents,
colleagues as well as people of known probity in the community and
When come next, as we must, to determine the exact action society.
which should be taken by the court, we do so regretfully and
reluctantly. On the one hand, the violation of the criminal law by Way before the petitioner was even admitted to the bar, he had already
the respondent attorney cannot be lightly passed over. On the manifested his intense desire to render public service as evidenced by his
other hand, we are willing to strain the limits of our compassion active involvement and participation in several social and civic projects
to the uttermost in order that so promising a career may not be and activities. Likewise, even during and after his disbarment, which could
utterly ruined. be perceived by some as a debilitating circumstance, petitioner still
managed to continue extending his assistance to others in whatever
Petitioner promised to commit himself to be more circumspect means possible. This only proves petitioners strength of character and
in his actions and solemnly pledged to exert all efforts to atone for his positive moral fiber.
misdeeds.
However, still, it is of no question that petitioners act in copying the
There may be a reasonable ground to consider the herein examination questions from Atty. Balgos computer without the latters
Petition. knowledge and consent, and which questions later turned out to be the
bar examinations questions in Mercantile Law in the 2003 Bar
In the case of Re: Petition of Al Argosino to Take the Examinations, is not at all commendable. While we do believe that
Lawyers Oath (Bar Matter 712), which may be applied in the instant petitioner sincerely did not intend to cause the damage that his action
case, the Court said: ensued, still, he must be sanctioned for unduly compromising the integrity
of the bar examinations as well as of this Court.
After a very careful evaluation of this case, we
resolve to allow petitioner Al Caparros Argosino to take the We are convinced, however, that petitioner has since reformed and has
lawyer's oath, sign the Roll of Attorneys and practice the legal sincerely reflected on his transgressions. Thus, in view of the
profession with the following admonition: circumstances and likewise for humanitarian considerations, the penalty
of disbarment may now be commuted to suspension. Considering the
In allowing Mr. Argosino to take the lawyers oath, the fact, however, that petitioner had already been disbarred for more than
Court recognizes that Mr. Argosino is not inherently of bad five (5) years, the same may be considered as proper service of said
moral fiber. On the contrary, the various certifications show that commuted penalty and thus, may now be allowed to resume practice of
he is a devout Catholic with a genuine concern for civic duties law.
and public service.
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is respectfully
The Court is persuaded that Mr. Argosino has exerted recommended that the instant Petition for Judicial Clemency and
all efforts, to atone for the death of Raul Camaligan. We are Compassion dated 10 November 2008 of petitioner DANILO G. DE
prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, taking judicial GUZMAN be GRANTED. Petitioners disbarment is now commuted to
notice of the general tendency of youth to be rash, temerarious suspension, which suspension is considered as served in view of the
and uncalculating. petitioners five (5) year disbarment. Hence, petitioner may now be
allowed to resume practice of law.
xxxx
The recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant is well-taken in part. We
Meanwhile, in the case of Rodolfo M. Bernardo vs. Atty. Ismael F. Mejia deem petitioner worthy of clemency to the extent of commuting his penalty to seven (7) years
(Administrative Case No. 2984), the Court [in] deciding whether or not to suspension from the practice of law, inclusive of the five (5) years he has already served his
reinstate Atty. Mejia to the practice of law stated: disbarment.

The Court will take into consideration the applicants Penalties, such as disbarment, are imposed not to punish but to correct offenders.
[2]
character and standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and While the Court is ever mindful of its duty to discipline its erring officers, it also knows how to
character of the charge/s for which he was disbarred, his show compassion when the penalty imposed has already served its purpose.[3]
conduct subsequent to the disbarment and the time that has
elapsed in between the disbarment and the application for In cases where we have deigned to lift or commute the supreme penalty of
reinstatement. disbarment imposed on the lawyer, we have taken into account the remorse of the disbarred
lawyer[4] and the conduct of his public life during his years outside of the bar.[5] For example,
Petitioner was barely thirty (30) years old and had only been in the in Valencia v. Antiniw, we held:
practice of law for five (5) years when he was disbarred from the practice
of law. It is of no doubt that petitioner had a promising future ahead of him However, the record shows that the long period of respondent's
where it not for the decision of the Court stripping off his license. disbarment gave him the chance to purge himself of his misconduct, to
show his remorse and repentance, and to demonstrate his willingness
and capacity to live up once again to the exacting standards of conduct
demanded of every member of the bar and officer of the court. During Present:
respondent's disbarment for more than fifteen (15) years to date for his
professional infraction, he has been persistent in reiterating his apologies
and pleas for reinstatement to the practice of law and unrelenting in his
efforts to show that he has regained his worthiness to practice law, by his PANGANIBAN, CJ, Chairperson,
civic and humanitarian activities and unblemished record as an elected YNARES-SANTIAGO,
public servant, as attested to by numerous civic and professional - versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
organizations, government institutions, public officials and members of the CALLEJO, SR., and
judiciary.[6] CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

Atty. ARNEL C. ALCARAZ, Promulgated:


And in Bernardo v. Atty. Mejia,[7] we noted:

Respondent. September 27, 2006


Although the Court does not lightly take the bases for Mejias disbarment,
it also cannot close its eyes to the fact that Mejia is already of advanced
x -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --- -- -- -- -- -- x
years. While the age of the petitioner and the length of time during which
he has endured the ignominy of disbarment are not the sole measure in
allowing a petition for reinstatement, the Court takes cognizance of the
rehabilitation of Mejia. Since his disbarment in 1992, no other DECISION
transgression has been attributed to him, and he has shown
remorse. Obviously, he has learned his lesson from this experience, and
his punishment has lasted long enough. x x x PANGANIBAN, CJ:

Petitioner has sufficiently demonstrated the remorse expected of him considering the gravity of Disbarment cases are sui generis. Being neither criminal nor civil in nature, these are not
his transgressions. Even more to his favor, petitioner has redirected focus since his intended to inflict penal or civil sanctions. The main question to be determined is whether
disbarment towards public service, particularly with the Peoples Law Enforcement Board. The respondent is still fit to continue to be an officer of the court in the dispensation of justice.
attestations submitted by his peers in the community and other esteemed members of the
legal profession, such as retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Oscar Herrera, Judge
Hilario Laqui, Professor Edwin Sandoval and Atty. Lorenzo Ata, and the ecclesiastical
community such as Rev. Fr. Paul Balagtas testify to his positive impact on society at large
since the unfortunate events of 2003.

Petitioners subsequent track record in public service affords the Court some hope that if he
were to reacquire membership in the Philippine bar, his achievements as a lawyer would The Case and the Facts
redound to the general good and more than mitigate the stain on his record. Compassion to
the petitioner is warranted. Nonetheless, we wish to impart to him the following stern warning:

Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to


uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the
This case arose from a Complaint-Affidavit[1] filed by Ramon C. Gonzalez with the Office of the
world, to repudiate and override the laws, to trample them underfoot and
to ignore the very bands of society, argues recreancy to his position and Bar Confidant of the Supreme Court. The Complaint was subsequently referred to the
office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
[2]
elements of the body politic.[8] Complainant charged Atty. Arnel C. Alcaraz with grave misconduct, abuse of authority, and
acts unbecoming a lawyer. The antecedents were summarized by the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline (IBP-CBD) as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition for Judicial Clemency and Compassion is
hereby GRANTED IN PART. The disbarment of DANILO G. DE GUZMAN from the practice of
law is hereby COMMUTED to SEVEN (7) YEARS SUSPENSION FROM THE PRACTICE OF
LAW, reckoned from February 4, 2004.
x x x [C]omplainant alleges that on 11 August 2000, while he
was driving along the South Superhighway upon entering the Sucat Toll
RAMON C. GONZALEZ, A.C. No. 5321 Gate heading towards Makati, respondent, who was driving a Nissan
Infiniti suddenly cut across his path while overtaking him and almost hit
Complainant, his car had he not been able to evade it.According to complainant, he
chased respondents car and when he was side by side with respondents
car, he angrily confronted respondent and then drove on.Complainant xxxxxxxxx
claims that respondent then chased him and shot him twice but
fortunately missed him by a few inches[,] but broken glass coming from
the shattered window allegedly hit him and slightly wounded his right arm
and stomach. Complainant adds that respondent allegedly tried to escape
but he was able to chase him and block his way at the Nichols Toll Gate In his Comment dated 04 January 2001, respondent claims that
where the PNCC guards responded to his call for assistance. According the present administrative case is unfounded and unwarranted and was
to complainant, respondent attempted to escape and avoid the PNCC allegedly filed in bad faith, with malice and ill motive and allegedly has no
guards by proclaiming boisterously that he is a lawyer and a customs other purpose but to harass, vex, humiliate and dishonor him. In support
official but complainant was able to block his way again and their vehicles thereof, respondent points to the fact that complainant filed substantially
collided in the process. Complainant claims that he requested the PNCC identical complaint affidavits with the same identical alleged cause of
guards to confiscate respondents firearm and accompany them to the action as that of the present administrative case at [various] judicial,
nearest police station.At the time of the arrest, respondent allegedly quasi-judicial and administrative tribunals and accused him of forum-
opened the back door of his car and pretended to have accidentally shopping.
dropped so much money which distracted the policemen from further
searching the car.

Respondent denied the narration of facts stated in complainants


Complaint-Affidavit as self-serving, a misrepresentation of facts and
At the police station, respondent allegedly identified himself and obviously tainted.Respondent claims that he was not the aggressor during
his lady companion, a certain Ferlita Semeniano, and [said] that he was the incident and that he did not provoke complainant. Respondent claims
the Deputy Customs Collector assigned at Batangas City. Complainant that he justly acted in self-defense and defense of a stranger under the
claims that respondent yielded one (1) Super .38 cal. Springfield true actuality of facts and circumstances the[n] prevailing.
Automatic Pistol, SN NMII 3138, one (1) magazine with seven (7) live
ammos and three (3) spent (empty) shells. Complainant adds that
respondent presented only an unsigned Memorandum Receipt (MR) of
the firearm without any Mission Order or Permit to Carry. Complainant Respondent also claims that the acts complained of in the
claims that respondent allegedly kept calling persons to help him and a present case were not connected with the practice of the legal profession
fabricated Mission Order was brought and presented by another person and the fact that he was a lawyer is merely coincidental, immaterial and
more than eight hours after the shooting incident and apprehension. irrelevant.

Complainant alleges that the Nissan Infiniti used by respondent xxxxxxxxx


is allegedly a luxury vehicle which was not covered by any document
whatsoever and it was not verified whether stolen or smuggled.

In connection with the cases filed by the parties against each


other, respondent submitted the xxx Resolutions/Decisions issued in said
Complainant finally alleges that the PNP Crime Laboratory cases to show that the charges filed against him by the complainant were
examined his car and they recovered one slug in between the wall of the dismissed while the criminal cases he filed against the latter [were] filed in
left rear door while the other bullet went through the right front seat and court.
exited at the left rear door of complainants car and that cases of
Frustrated Homicide and Illegal Possession of Firearms were already filed
at the Paraaque City Prosecutors Office.

xxxxxxxxx
Finally, it is the submission of the respondent that since the
alleged acts complained of are not within the sphere of his professional
duties as a lawyer, but rather are acts done in his non-professional or Administrative Liability of Respondent
private capacity, the same, cannot allegedly be the subject of an
administrative complaint for disbarment.[3]

At the outset, we stress that the dismissal of the criminal cases against respondent did not
erase the occurrence of the shooting incident, which he himself does not deny. Moreover, this
incident has been established by clear and convincing evidence. Thus, he must face the
consequences of his actions.
Report and Recommendation

of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines


The first Canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides as follows:

In his Report,[4] IBP Investigating Commissioner Rafael Antonio M. Santos said that the CANON 1. - A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the
dismissal of the criminal and other administrative charges filed by complainant indicated that laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes.[6]
respondents version of the incident was given credence by the investigating officials and
agencies of the various other tribunals in which these charges were filed. Consequently, since
no sufficient evidence warranted the imposition of further disciplinary sanctions on respondent,
the investigating commissioner recommended the dismissal of the administrative case. Furthermore, respondent bound himself to obey the laws in his attorneys oath, [7] which
underscores the role of lawyers as officers of our legal system. A lawyers brash transgression
of any, especially a penal, law is repulsive and reprehensible and cannot be countenanced by
this Court.[8]
In Resolution No. XVI-2005-29 dated March 12, 2005, the board of governors of the IBP
adopted the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Santos.

Admitting that he fired shots in the direction of complainant while they were speeding along
South Luzon Expressway,[9] respondent justifies his actions by claiming self-defense and
defense of a stranger. During the traffic altercation, complainant allegedly exchanged angry
On July 8, 2005, the Resolution, together with the records of the case, was transmitted to this
words with respondent and, from an open car window, even threw a handful of coins at the
Court for final action, pursuant to Section 12(b) of Rule 139-B of the Rules of
latter.[10] Respondent further avers that, from his higher vantage point, he saw complainant
Court. On August 4, 2005, complainant asked this Court to set aside Resolution No. XVI-2005-
draw a pistol.[11] The former contends that when he fired the shots, he had no intention of
29 of the IBP board of governors. Upon orders of this Court,[5] respondent filed on August 22,
hitting complainant but merely wanted to scare him away.
2005, his Comment on complainants plea.

Reviewing the factual circumstances, we are convinced that the defenses proffered are mere
afterthoughts. Based on the physical and documentary evidence, complainants version of the
incident is more credible.

The Courts Ruling

First, the allegation of respondent that complainant hit him with coins is highly improbable. At
that time, both vehicles were speeding along the highway.Since the PNP Crime Laboratory
The Court disagrees with the findings and recommendation of the IBP. Report[12] showed that the bullets fired by respondent had come from the right side, his vehicle
must have been to the right of complainants. If we were to accept this version, the coins hurled
by complainant had to pass through his cars right window and then through the left window of
respondents admittedly taller sports utility vehicle (SUV). Given their relative positions, it is Disbarment Proceedings
highly incredible that the coins could have hit respondent and his companion.

Sui Generis

Second, assuming that respondent and his companion were indeed hit by coins, this alleged
fact was not a sufficient unlawful aggression that would justify shooting at complainant.
Respondent maintains that the dismissal of the cases filed by complainant against him in the
various tribunals and agencies proves that the present case for disbarment is unfounded.

As a lawyer, respondent should know that the following three requisites must concur to justify
self-defense: (1) unlawful aggression; (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to
prevent or repel it; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person claiming self- We do not agree.
defense.[13] On the other hand, in defense of a stranger, the first two requisites must also be
present together with the element that the person defending was not induced by revenge,
resentment or other evil motive.[14]
Well-established is the rule that administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their
own. These cases are distinct from and proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.
[19]
In Re Almacen,[20] the Court discoursed on this point thus:
Of these requisites, unlawful aggression is a conditio sine qua non for upholding both self-
defense and defense of a stranger; the fundamental raison detreof these defenses is the
necessity to prevent or repel an aggression. [15] The alleged throwing of coins by complainant
cannot be considered a sufficient unlawful aggression. Unlawful aggression presupposes x x x [D]isciplinary proceedings [against lawyers] are sui generis. Neither
actual, sudden, unexpected or imminent threat to life and limb. [16] There was no aggression to purely civil nor purely criminal, x x x [they do] not involve x x x a trial of an
prevent or repel. Absent this imminent threat, respondent had no legal reason to shoot in the action or a suit, but [are] rather investigation[s] by the Court into the
direction of complainant. conduct of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, [they are]
in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff
nor a prosecutor therein. [They] may be initiated by the
Court motu proprio. Public interest is [their] primary objective, and the real
Third, for lack of supporting evidence, neither can merit be accorded to respondents claim of question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person
imminent threat after allegedly seeing complainant draw a pistol. The Joint Affidavit[17] of PNCC to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its
Officers Florencio Celada y Seso, Jr. and Mario Puso y Visaya mentioned no firearm found in disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to
the possession of complainant. Except for the bare and belated allegations of respondent, account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of
there was no showing that complainants alleged possession of the pistol had been reported to preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest
the PNCC officers or later to the police headquarters. Thus, without proof of the existence of administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by
the firearm, respondent has not convincingly shown any legal justification for his act of firing at their misconduct have prove[n] themselves no longer worthy to be
complainant.[18] entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an
attorney. x x x.[21]

Fourth, right after the shooting incident, respondent fled the scene. He stopped only when
PNCC officers blocked his vehicle in response to complainants call for assistance. If
respondent was only protecting himself and his companion, then his righteous indignation
should have propelled him to report immediately his version of the incident to the PNCC Respondents administrative liability stands on grounds different from those in the
officers. other cases previously filed against him; thus, the dismissal of these latter cases does not
necessarily result in administrative exculpation. Settled is the rule that, being based on a
different quantum of proof, the dismissal of a criminal case on the ground of insufficiency of The vengeful and violent behavior exhibited by respondent in what should have been a simple
evidence does not necessarily foreclose the finding of guilt in an administrative proceeding. [22] traffic altercation reveals his conceit and delusions of self-importance. By firing his gun openly
in a congested highway and exposing complainant and the general public to danger, he
showed his utter lack of a sense of responsibility, as well as of respect for law and order.

Misconduct Committed

in a Private Capacity Accordingly, administrative sanction is warranted by respondents gross


misconduct. In line with Lao v. Medel,[27] Co v. Bernardino,[28] and Saburnido v. Madroo,
[29]
suspension from the practice of law for one year is appropriate in this case.

Untenable is respondents argument that the acts complained of cannot be the subject of a
complaint for disbarment, because they were done in his private capacity.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Arnel C. Alcaraz is found GUILTY of gross misconduct and is
hereby SUSPENDED for one year from the practice of law, effective upon his receipt of this
Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the same or a similar act will be dealt with more
severely.
Whether in their professional or in their private capacity, lawyers may be disbarred or
suspended for misconduct. This penalty is a consequence of acts showing their unworthiness
as officers of the courts; as well as their lack of moral character, honesty, probity, and good ORLANDO ANGELO A. SANTOS, A.C. No. 5395
demeanor.[23] When the misconduct committed outside of their professional dealings is so Complainant,
gross as to show them to be morally unfit for the office and the privileges conferred upon them Present:
by their license and the law, they may be suspended or disbarred.[24]
QUISUMBING, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO,
CARPIO-MORALES, and
TINGA,
In Cordon v. Balicanta,[25] this Court explained the rationale for this holding as follows:
VELASCO, JJ.

ATTY. MA. VIVIANE CACHO-CALICDAN,


Respondent. Promulgated:
September 19, 2006
x x x. If the practice of law is to remain an honorable profession and attain x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
its basic ideal, those enrolled in its ranks should not only master its tenets
and principles but should also, in their lives, accord continuing fidelity to RESOLUTION
them. Thus, the requirement of good moral character is of much greater
TINGA, J.:
import, as far as the general public is concerned, than the possession of
legal learning. Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, This administrative case stemmed from a Complaint-Affidavit [1] filed by Orlando
not only upon admission to the Bar but also throughout their legal career, Angelo A. Santos (complainant) on 28 December 2000 for disbarment against Atty. Ma.
in order to maintain one's good standing in that exclusive and honored Viviane Cacho-Calicdan (respondent).
fraternity. Good moral character is more than just the absence of bad
character. Such character expresses itself in the will to do the unpleasant Estifanio Biasura (Biasura) filed criminal and administrative cases against complainant, a Land
thing if it is right and the resolve not to do the pleasant thing if it is Management Officer IV of the Regional Office No. 1 of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR). Said cases were assigned to respondent, a Graft Investigation
wrong. This must be so because vast interests are committed to his care;
Officer II of the Office of the Ombudsman, who acted as the hearing officer in the
he is the recipient of unbounded trust and confidence; he deals with his administrative case against complainant. Complainant was eventually found guilty by the
client's property, reputation, his life, his all.[26] Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon on 5 October 2000 of violating Section 7, par.
(d) in relation to Section 3, par. (d) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6713 [2] and meted a penalty of
six (6) months suspension without pay.

In his Complaint-Affidavit, complainant alleges several irregularities against respondent


committed in the course of the hearing of his complaint. Complainant claims that while he was
in the process of conducting his cross-examination on Biasura during the formal investigation
of the administrative complaint, respondent uttered to complainant, You concentrate in proving In addition, complainant avers that on the day of the hearing on his motion for
your innocence. The utterance allegedly manifested respondents partiality to Biasura. reconsideration, respondent did not take action on the motion and instead left the office
early. Complaint further asserts that the 24 September 1998 order was issued despite
Complainant further accuses respondent of falsifying court records. Complainant alleges that knowledge of the existence of the motion for respondent to inhibit from the case.[7]
respondent, in collusion with the court stenographer, altered the transcript of proceedings
taken on 25 June 1998 by deleting what exactly transpired during the hearing. Complainant Mention must be made that on 30 September 1998, complainant filed a motion for
avers that during the hearing, respondent suspended the cross-examination then being respondent to inhibit herself from conducting the administrative proceedings. The motion was
conducted by complainant on Biasura, only to be postponed later but on condition that granted and the case was re-assigned to Graft Investigation Officer Joaquin F. Salazar
complainant would be allowed to continue his unfinished cross-examination. However, the (Salazar).
transcript instead stated that the hearing of 25 June 1998 was merely reset to 5 August,
omitting mention of the stipulation that complainant would be allowed to resume his cross- In her Comment,[8] respondent submits that the statements she allegedly uttered
examination. neither convey bias or partiality to Biasura. She asserts that in the course of complainants
cross-examination, the questions propounded by the latter dealt with the alleged activities of
At the next scheduled hearing on 5 August 1998, complainant failed to appear and Biasura which were not at issue in the case and were moreover not testified to during the
instead filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that a criminal complaint based on violation of direct examination.[9]
R.A. No. 6713 was then pending before the Sandiganbayan. In an Order[3] dated 27 August
1998, respondent denied the motion to dismiss. However, the same order also stated that On the issue of falsification, respondent insists there was no false declaration or
complainant had already waived his right to further cross-examine Biasura. This order is being falsification committed. She explains that the proposal to set aside the hearing adverted to by
cited by complainant to bolster his claim that respondent committed the falsification earlier complainant was made off-record; hence, it was not incorporated in the transcript of
adverted to. stenographic notes.

Complainant moved for reconsideration of the Order of 27 August 1998, contending that he Respondent denies having belatedly acted on complainants motion for
never manifested that he was waiving his right to further cross-examine Biasura and that the reconsideration. She contends that as of the date of the hearing on the motion for
order denied him of his constitutional right to confront his accuser. In his motion for reconsideration, she has yet to receive a copy of the motion from the Records Division and the
reconsideration, complainant expressed his desire to continue with the cross-examination on other parties have yet to file their respective comments.
certain material points, to wit: (1) Biasuras testimony on the circumstances when the alleged
demands were made; (2) Biasuras claim that he was granted/awarded by the DENR Regional At this point, it is noteworthy to mention that prior to the filing of the present
Office No. 1 an approved survey plan of Lot No. 20206, San Fabian Cadastre; (3) Biasuras disbarment complaint, complainant lodged a complaint before the Civil Service Commission
claim that complainant blatantly refused to give copies of a Decision dated 21 April 1993 and a on 19 July 1999 charging respondent, together with her stenographer, Joel Barja Ativo, and
report related thereto; and (4) glaring inconsistencies in Biasuras accounts during the direct Salazar for falsification of records and grave misconduct. The complaint was referred to the
examination and those made in his Complaint-Affidavit and Reply/Comment.[4] Office of the Ombudsman.

In an Order[5] dated 24 September 1998, respondent granted complainants motion. He was In a Fact-Finding Report [10] dated 31 August 1999, the Deputy Ombudsman
however advised to limit his cross-examination to the facts stated by Biasura. In the same for Luzon dismissed the case for lack of merit. Dealing extensively with the issues raised by
order, respondent nonetheless found it necessary to stress the following points: complainant, the Report advanced the following observations:

(a) That herein respondent (complainant) already


subjected complainant (Biasura) to cross-examination with The alleged alterations in the transcripts are likewise unfounded, since
respect to point (1) of his Motion for Reconsideration. they are plain and simple typographical errors which would only highlight
(b) Points (2) and (3) are not covered by complainants the real issues in this case which is the act of soliciting money in
direct examination. exchange for a favorable decision. Evidently, this was done by herein-
(c) Point (4). The inconsistencies, if ever there is (sic), complainant in his naked attempt to evade the real issues against him
between the testimony of complainant during the direct and to delay the administration of justice. Moreover, all the points raised
examination and his complaint affidavit and Reply-Comment in by the complainant are entirely baseless and tainted with malice. The
the criminal complaint as already explained, during the last records and the actions of respondent hearing officer are regular and in
hearing is not within the scope of the administrative accordance with established rules of procedure. It appears from the
hearing. The direct examination of the complainant, as the evaluation of the undersigned that this complaint was designed to harass
transcript showed, only covered the allegations with respect to herein respondents in order to derail the proceedings against him and this
herein respondent Santos, that he made solicitations from the proves to be beneficial to his interest and advantage. As it is, complainant
complainant in the form of money and piece of land in exchange is up [sic] to set a dangerous trend that whoever hearing officer that will
for a favorable decision and when respondents demand was not not take his side will end up a victim of a complaint before any other
fully given, the Decision dated April 21, 1993 in favor of forum. Lastly, the entire proceedings were all set aside by the new
complainant was subsequently reversed.[6] hearing officer and an entirely new proceeding is now on-going.

Complainant takes issue with the foregoing conclusions of respondent. In particular,


he argues that points (2) and (3) were actually covered by the direct examination according to
the transcript of stenographic notes.
In view of the foregoing, there was no falsification that we can bare allegations, the presumption that official duty has been regularly performed
speak of and neither are respondents liable for Grave Misconduct as the prevails. Otherwise stated, it is presumed that a public official properly and regularly
elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard discharges his duties, or performs act required by law; in accordance with the law and the
of established rules are not manifested.[11] authority conferred on him; and that he will not do any act contrary to his official duty or omit to
do anything which such duty may require. [19]Accordingly, we uphold the assailed transcript of
proceedings as the faithful and accurate recording of all matters that transpired during the 25
The Report was approved by then Ombudsman Aniano Desierto on 1 October 1999. June 1998 hearing.

The complaint in the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation. In its Order dated 7 March 2002, three areas of concern were identified to be the
subject of the administrative complaint, namely: (1) Order of 24 September 1998, (2) The alleged omissions in the said transcript were reflected in the 27 August
utterances made by respondent during the hearings, and (3) alleged intervention of 1998 Order, the integrity of which complainant also assails in his Complaint-Affidavit. It
respondent in the preparation of the transcript of stenographic notes of the 25 June appears that the IBP did not dwell on the 27 August 1998 Order, focusing instead on the
1998 hearing.[12] Thereafter, the IBP, in its Investigation Report[13] dated 28 February 2003, validity of the 24 September 1998 Order. This notwithstanding, we can conclude with comfort
recommended the dismissal of the complaint for lack of merit. The IBP ruled, thus: that no irregularity attaches to the 27 August 1998 Order, as well. The statement therein that
complainant had waived his right to further cross-examine Biasura and that the parties were to
A careful scrutiny of the assailed Order dated September 24, submit their respective position papers does not contradict the transcript which, absent any
1998 contains guidelines issued by Respondent Calicdan, consistent with evidence disputing its veracity, stands as the official record of what had transpired during the
her functions as Hearing Officer/Ombudsman Investigator. In issuing the hearing.
same, Respondent Calicdan acted without malice and criminal
intent. Good faith is evident on her part, considering that the subject Even assuming that there is a grain of truth in complainants allegations regarding
Order was mainly for the orderly conduct of the administrative case she the transcript of the hearing and the 27 August 1998 Order, it should be noted that the alleged
was presiding over. irregularities ultimately did not work to complainants prejudice. This was because in the 24
September 1998 Order, respondent affirmed the right of the complainant to continue his cross-
The Fact-Finding Report dated August 31, 1999 of the examination of Biasura, the very right which complainant purports to have been infringed upon
Ombudsman in the administrative complaint filed by Complainant Santos by reason of the transcript and the 27 August 1998 Order.
against Respondent Calicdan, on the very same matters subject of this
disbarment case, is comprehensive, and clearly point to the innocence of We now turn to the remaining issues as identified by the IBP in its March 2002
Respondent Calicdan with respect to the charge for falsification.[14] Order whether the alleged utterances by respondent to complainant warrant administrative
sanction against her, and whether any irregularity attaches to the 24 September 1998 Order.

Upon review of the records, the Court is in full accord with the findings and Complainant has accused respondent of unduly favoring Biasura when the latter
conclusion of the IBP. made the following remark: You concentrate in proving your innocence. There is no evidence
on record that respondent unduly favored Biasura. Respondent, in her Comment, averred that
A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended from practice for any deceit, malpractice, the aforesaid statements, if ever uttered, neither convey bias nor partiality. She explained that
gross misconduct in office, grossly immoral conduct, conviction of a crime involving moral the cross-examination questions propounded by him did not deal with the issue in the said
turpitude, violation of the lawyers oath, willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior case, as they did not address the matter subject of Biasuras testimony on direct
court, or willful and unauthorized appearance for a party to a case, as specified in Section 27, examination. It bears noting that complainant, a layman, was not assisted by a lawyer during
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. A deceitful act, in particular, constitutes a violation of Rule the proceedings before the Deputy Ombudsman. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that
10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides: complainant is not versed with rules of procedure. It could be said that respondent was merely
guiding complainant on how to pose the proper questions, in no way exhibiting bias against his
A lawyer shall not do any falsehood nor consent to the doing of cause. In fact, in the Order[20] of 24 September 1998, respondent reminded complainant to limit
any in court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the court to be misled by any his cross-examination only to the facts testified to by Biasura.
artifice.
Finally, we see no taint of irregularity in the Order of 24 September 1998. It should
Nonetheless, the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution. [15] In be recalled that almost all of complainants questions in the cross-examination before the
disbarment proceedings, the case against the respondent must be established by clear, Ombudsman were objected to by the counsel for the opposing party; thus, respondent
convincing, and satisfactory proof, the burden of which rests upon the complainant. [16] Only a deemed it fair to give leeway to complainant by proposing to suspend the proceedings. The
clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an Order of 24 September 1998 did allow complainant to continue his cross-examination of
officer of the Court and as a member of the bar will warrant disbarment.[17] Biasura, but advised him to limit his cross-examination to the facts testified to by Biasura. The
four points stressed by respondent in the 24 September 1998 Order are merely reflective of
In the instant case, complainant failed to substantiate his charges of falsification, to this concern. We agree with the IBP that the questioned order onlymanifests
establish the basis of respondents disbarment. He claimed that during the hearing on 25 June
1998, respondent merely suspended the cross-examination being conducted by the former on
Biasura. Complainant accused respondent of altering the transcript of proceedings by making
it appear that the hearing was reset to 5 August and complainant was required to submit his
position paper.[18] The complainant, in questioning the veracity of the transcript of the respondents good faith in the performance of her duties as a hearing officer. The assailed
proceedings, failed to present evidence that the said transcript has been altered. Against his guidelines were precisely issued to ensure the orderly conduct of the proceedings.
Under the Compromise Agreement dated January 23, 1987, the petitioners admitted the
We agree with the finding of the Ombudsman, shared by the IBP, that bad faith and validity of the extra-judicial foreclosure and agreed to purchase the property from respondent
malice had attended the filing of the present complaint. In view of his suspicion of bias on the for P2,548,000.00. Parties agreed that the amount of P100,000.00 shall be payable upon
part of respondent, the filing of the motion to inhibit would have sufficed. And yet, despite
execution of the agreement and the balance of P2,448,000.00, which shall earn twenty-six per
respondents inhibiting herself from further conducting the administrative proceedings against
him, complainant still proceeded to file an administrative case before the Civil Service cent (26%) interest per annum, shall be payable in eighteen installments from February 23,
Commission against respondent and, subsequently, the disbarment complaint before this 1987 to July 27, 1988. They further agreed that in case of default: (a) all outstanding
Court. installments and/or interest thereon shall be immediately due; (b) petitioners shall immediately
vacate the property and deliver possession thereof to respondent; (c) respondent shall be
Based on the foregoing, complainant failed to establish by substantial evidence that entitled to register all documents needed to transfer title over the property in their favor; and,
respondent committed the imputed acts to justify administrative sanction. (d) respondent shall be entitled to ask for the execution of the judgment or an ancillary remedy
necessary to place it in possession of the property. On January 30, 1987, RTC Branch 165
WHEREFORE, the complaint is DISMISSED.
adopted and approved the Compromise Agreement.4

G.R. No. 157911 September 19, 2006 Petitioners failed to pay the balance of P2,448,000.00 within the eighteen-installment period
from February 23, 1987 to July 27, 1988. A year and three months later, or on October 20,
1989, respondent filed a Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution to enforce the Decision
SPOUSES MANUEL A. AGUILAR and YOLANDA C. AGUILAR, petitioners,
dated January 30, 1987.5
vs.
THE MANILA BANKING CORPORATION, respondent.
On November 28, 1989, RTC Branch 165 issued an Order granting the motion and issuing a
writ of execution: (a) directing petitioners to immediately vacate the property and surrender
DECISION
possession to the respondent; (b) directing the Register of Deeds of Metro Manila, District II to
register any and all documents needed to transfer title over the property to respondent and to
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: issue a new certificate of title respondent's favor free from any liens, adverse claims and/or
encumbrances; (c) issuing a writ of possession in respondent's favor to place it in possession
The sad and lamentable spectacle that this case presents, that is, the execution of a final and of the property.6
executory decision forestalled by perpetual dilatory tactics employed by a litigant, makes a
blatant mockery of justice. The Court cannot countenance, and in fact, condemns, the However, on January 22, 1990, petitioners filed a Manifestation praying for deferment of the
outrageous abuse of the judicial process by Spouses Manuel A. Aguilar and Yolanda C. enforcement of the writ of execution until July 31, 1990 because petitioners have a pending
Aguilar (petitioners) and their counsel. proposal for the settlement of their judgment debt.7 The manifestation was with the conformity
of respondents.8 On January 24, 1990, RTC Branch 165 issued an Order granting the motion
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil and holding in abeyance the enforcement of the writ of execution until July 31,
Procedure assailing the Decision1 dated October 29, 2002 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- 1990.9 However, no settlement was reached by the parties during the period.
G.R. SP No. 71849 which dismissed petitioners' Petition for Certiorari, and the CA
Resolution2 dated April 29, 2003 which denied petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration. One year and four months later, petitioners still failed to settle their judgment debt.
Consequently, respondent filed on December 2, 1991 a Manifestation reiterating its motion for
The procedural antecedents and factual background of the case are as follows: the issuance of a writ of execution.10 On December 5, 1991, RTC Branch 165 issued an Order
granting the manifestation and directing the issuance of a writ of execution to enforce the
Decision dated January 30, 1987.11
Sometime in 1979, petitioners obtained a P600,000.00 loan from the Manila Banking
Corporation (respondent), secured by a real estate mortgage over their 419-square meter
property located at No. 8 Pia St., Valle Verde, Pasig City, covered by Transfer Certificate of To evade the implementation of the writ, petitioners filed on December 20, 1991 an Ex-
Title (TCT) No. 11082. When petitioners failed to pay their obligation, the mortgaged property Parte Motion to Recall the Court's Order dated December 5, 1991 claiming that their obligation
was extra-judicially foreclosed. Respondent was the winning bidder at public auction sale on was novated by the Letter dated June 7, 1991 from respondent's Statutory Receiver.12 In said
May 20, 1982. Consequently, a Certificate of Sale was issued in its favor on June 23, 1982. letter, respondent's Statutory Receiver approved the purchase of the property on installment
basis over a three-year period at an interest rate of twelve per cent (12%) with P481,265.00
due on September 30, 1991, P481,265.00 due on September 30, 1992, and P724,064.79 due
Subsequently, on May 30, 1983, instead of redeeming the property, petitioners filed a
on September 30, 1993.13
complaint for annulment of the foreclosure sale of the property before the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 165, Pasig City (RTC Branch 165), docketed as Civil Case No. 49793. While the case
was pending, the parties entered into a compromise agreement.3 On December 2, 1992, respondent filed a Manifestation and Motion for Issuance of Alias Writ
of Execution manifesting that the Letter dated June 7, 1991 did not novate the Decision dated
January 30, 1987 but was a mere accommodation of the petitioners' request for a liberal mode Undaunted by their previous setbacks, petitioners filed on March 6, 2001 in RTC Branch 165
of payment of their account and petitioners still failed to comply with such approved mode of an Omnibus Motion to quash the Writ of Execution insisting anew on their novation and
payment.14 prescription theories.28 They also moved for consignation of the amount of their obligation
under the Letter dated June 7, 1991 of respondent's Statutory Receiver.
On December 14, 1992, petitioners filed their Comment and Manifestation praying for a
humanitarian and liberal judicial dispensation since that they have been paying their On March 14, 2001, respondent filed an Ex-Parte Motion for Order to Divest Plaintiffs' Title and
obligations to respondent despite delay due to "financial restraints for family subsistence and to Direct the Register of Deeds to Transfer Title to Defendant29 based on Section 10, Rule 39
their children's educational expenses".15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. On March 19, 2001, respondent filed its Opposition (to
petitioners' Omnibus Motion) and Motion to Cite Plaintiffs in Contempt claiming that the
On February 1, 2000, respondent filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation praying for resolution Omnibus Motion is nothing but petitioners' desperate attempt to thwart or delay the payment of
of the pending incidents.16 On March 3, 2000, petitioners filed their Opposition claiming that their obligations and they should be declared guilty of indirect contempt for their improper
Section 6, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court bars execution, by mere motions, of judgment which conduct calculated to impede, obstruct and degrade the administration of justice.30
is more than five years old. On March 14, 2000, respondent filed its Reply stating that the
peculiar circumstances of the case warrant its exclusion from the scope of said Rule. On May 2, 2001, petitioners filed an Urgent Motion for Inhibition.31 While RTC Branch 165
Presiding Judge Marietta A. Legaspi denied the motion for inhibition in her Order dated June
On March 20, 2000, RTC Branch 165 issued its Order which resolved the pending motions 5, 2001, she voluntarily inhibited herself from further participating in the case to show that she
with the Court. With respect to petitioner's ex-parte motion to recall, the Court said that for has no interest therein.32 Respondent filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration33 to no
failure to comply with Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Rule 15 of the Revised Rules of Court and avail.34 The case was re-raffled and was assigned to Branch 268 presided by Judge Amelia C.
considering the nature of petitioners' motion, it treated petitioner's motion as a mere scrap of Manalastas.
paper.17 As to respondent's motion for issuance of a writ of execution, it granted the same,
holding that Section 6, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court does not apply since the delay in the On September 17, 2001 and January 4, 2002, respondent filed two Motions to Resolve
execution of the judgment was due to petitioners who made several alternative payment Pending Incidents.35Despite the fact that Judge Manalastas has not actively participated in the
proposals, requested several extensions of time to pay their account, filed dilatory motions and case since she has not acted on the pending incidents, petitioners filed on February 5, 2002 a
pleadings and it would be a blatant injustice to allow them to profit from the delays they Motion for Inhibition.36 A day later, on February 6, 2002, Judge Manalastas granted the motion
deliberately caused to escape completely and absolutely the satisfaction of their admitted and for inhibition.37 Thus, the case was again re-raffled and was assigned to Branch 167 presided
confessed obligation by sheer literal adherence to technicality.18 by Judge Jesus G. Bersamira. On February 13, 2002, respondent filed again a Motion to
Resolve Pending Incidents.38
On March 30, 2000, petitioners filed their Motion for Reconsideration19 but RTC Branch 165
denied it in its Order dated May 30, 2000.20 On March 22 and 26, 2002, both parties filed separate Urgent Motions to Resolve the
case.39 Subsequently, petitioners filed a Manifestation and Motion that the Letter dated June 7,
On June 20, 2000, petitioners filed a Notice of Appeal21 but RTC Branch 165 denied it in its 1991 be marked as their exhibit.40 RTC Branch 167 in its Order dated April 30, 2002 admitted
Order dated August 21, 2000 on the ground that an order of execution is not appealable.22 the exhibit over the objections of respondent.41

Thereafter, petitioners filed a six-page Petition for Review on Certiorari with this Court, On May 24, 2002, RTC Branch 167 rendered its Omnibus Order denying the Omnibus Motion
docketed as G.R. No. 144719, reiterating that the Decision dated January 30, 1987 can no to quash the writ of execution and for consignation, as well as the motion to cite petitioners in
longer be executed on mere motion since it is more than five years old. 23 contempt and the ex parte motion for an order to divest petitioners' title to respondent. It held
that there was no novation because there was no incompatibility between the Letter dated
June 7, 1991 and the Decision dated January 30, 1987 with the former only providing for a
In a Resolution dated October 11, 2000, the First Division of this Court denied the petition for more liberal scheme of payment and grant of reduced interest; that petitioners' claim that
violation of the rule on hierarchy of courts and failure to show special and important reasons or respondent's receivership and the Letter dated June 7, 1991 are supervening events which
exceptional and compelling circumstances that justify a disregard of the rule. 24 Petitioners filed rendered the execution unjust and impossible is unavailing since there is nothing on record to
a Motion for Reconsideration but the Court denied it with finality in its Resolution dated indicate that such circumstances resulted in unfairness and injustice to petitioners if execution
December 11, 2000.25 of judgment is carried out; that petitioner's claim that the judgment could no longer be
executed by mere motion after the five-year period had elapsed from its finality is specious
Since the Resolution in G.R. No. 144719 became final and executory on January 16, 2001, since any interruption or delay occasioned by petitioners will extend the time within which the
RTC Branch 165 issued a writ of execution on February 19, 2001 to enforce the Decision judgment may be executed by motion.42
dated January 30, 1987.26 On February 23, 2001, the Sheriff issued a Notice for Compliance of
the said writ.27
No motion for reconsideration was filed by the petitioners. Accordingly, RTC Branch 167 unjust; that since a bank under receivership is relieved of its obligation to pay interest on the
issued a Writ of Execution on July 4, 2002.43 On July 23, 2002, the Sheriff issued the Notice deposits of its depositors, they (petitioners) are also not obliged to pay interest on a loan due it
for Compliance of the said writ.44 and interest shall commence again only after respondent's resumption of banking operations.

Petitioners filed on July 26, 2002 a petition for certiorari with the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP On the third ground, petitioners maintain that the Letter dated June 7, 1991 of respondent's
No. 71849.45 They reiterated that the Decision dated January 30, 1987 cannot be executed by Statutory Receiver novated the Decision dated January 30, 1987 considering the substantial
mere motion filed on February 1, 2000 since more than five years have elapsed. differences in their principal terms and conditions.

On October 29, 2002, the CA denied the petition for certiorari.46 It held that since the delays On the fourth ground, petitioners aver that the acceleration clause provision of the
were occasioned by petitioners' own initiative and for their own advantage, the five-year period Compromise Agreement is iniquitous and void for being violative of morals and public policy.
allowed for the enforcement of the judgment by motion have been interrupted or suspended.
In their Comment, respondent contends that the present petition should be dismissed outright
On November 13, 2002, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration47 but the CA denied it in because it is barred by res judicata or the final judgment of this Court in G.R. No. 144719 and
its Resolution dated April 29, 2003.48 petitioners engaged in forum-shopping by deliberately failing to state that they previously filed
G.R. No. 144719 where the issue of prescription was raised. Even if the petition is given due
Hence, the present petition anchored on the following grounds: course, respondent argues that execution of the Decision dated January 30, 1987 is not
barred by prescription; that respondent's receivership and the Letter dated June 7, 1991 of
respondent's Statutory Receiver are not circumstances that would render the execution of the
1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RECOGNIZING judgment unjust, inequitable or even merit a stay of execution; that the Letter dated June 7,
THAT PRESCRIPTION HAS SET IN IN THIS CASE CONSIDERING THAT MORE 1991 of respondent's Statutory Receiver did not novate the Decision dated January 30, 1987
THAN FIVE (5) YEARS, NAY, MORE THAN TEN (10) YEARS, HAD ELAPSED since there was no intent to novate petitioners' judgment obligation.50
SINCE THE DECISION BASED ON COMPROMISE AGREEMENT BECAME FINAL
AND EXECUTORY.
In Reply, petitioners argue that res judicata is not applicable since the minute Resolution of the
Court in G.R. No. 144719: (a) does not operate as adjudication on the merits, (b) was not
2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RECOGNIZING rendered with jurisdiction over the parties; and (c) involved different subject matters and
THAT EVENTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES IN THIS CASE HAVE TRANSPIRED causes of action.51
AFTER THE DECISION HAD BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY THAT
WARRANTS AND CALLS FOR STAY OR PRECLUSION OF EXECUTION,
CONSIDERING THAT THE LETTER-APPROVAL OF THE STATUTORY RECEIVER In the Resolution dated May 15, 2003, upon motion of petitioner, the Court directed the parties
OF RESPONDENT PARTAKES OF AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE to maintain the status quo until further orders from this Court.52
WHICH HAS BEEN CONSISTENTLY UPHELD BY THIS HONORABLE SUPREME
COURT. The petition is bereft of merit.

3. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RECOGNIZING Prefatorily, the Court notes that the petition for certiorari before the CA should have been
THAT THE LETTER APPROVAL OF THE STATUTORY RECEIVER NOVATED THE dismissed outright since petitioners failed to file a motion for reconsideration from the RTC
COMPROMISE AGREEMENT AND DECISION BASED ON COMPROMISE Omnibus Order dated May 24, 2002. Section 1 of Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure
AGREEMENT. provides:

4. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RECOGNIZING SECTION 1. Petition for certiorari. When any tribunal, board or officer exercising
THAT THE EQUITIES OF THE CASE FAVOR HEREIN PETITIONERS.49 judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of his jurisdiction,
or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction,
Anent the first ground, petitioners reiterate that under Section 6 of Rule 39, Rules of Court, the and there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the
execution of the judgment by mere motion was barred by prescription, given that more than ordinary course of the law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition
five years had lapsed since the Decision dated January 30, 1987 became final and executory in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be
and they cannot be faulted for the delay as they have done nothing that warrants the rendered annulling or modifying the proceedings of such tribunal, board or officer,
conclusion that they employed unscrupulous machinations and dilatory tactics. and granting such incidental reliefs as law and justice may require. (Emphasis
supplied)

As to the second ground, petitioners argue that respondent's receivership is a supervening


event that rendered execution of the Decision dated January 30, 1987 impossible, if not
The plain and adequate remedy referred to in the rule is a motion for reconsideration of the The CA failed to consider this principle of law of the case, which is totally different from the
assailed decision or order. The purpose for this requirement is to grant an opportunity for the concept of res judicata. In Padillo v. Court of Appeals,60 the Court distinguished the two as
court or agency to correct any actual or perceived error attributed to it by the re-examination of follows:
the legal and factual circumstances of the case53 without the intervention of a higher
court.54 Thus, the filing of a motion for reconsideration is a condition sine qua non to the x x x Law of the case does not have the finality of the doctrine of res judicata, and
institution of a special civil action for certiorari. applies only to that one case, whereas res judicata forecloses parties or privies in
one case by what has been done in another case. In the 1975 case of Comilang v.
While jurisprudence has recognized several exceptions to the rule, such as: (a) where the Court of Appeals (Fifth Division.), a further distinction was made in this manner:
order is a patent nullity, as where the court a quo has no jurisdiction; (b) where the questions
raised in the certiorari proceedings have been duly raised and passed upon by the lower court, The doctrine of law of the case is akin to that of former adjudication, but is
or are the same as those raised and passed upon in the lower court; (c) where there is an more limited in its application. It relates entirely to questions of law, and is
urgent necessity for the resolution of the question and any further delay would prejudice the confined in its operation to subsequent proceedings in the same case.
interests of the Government or of the petitioner or the subject matter of the action is The doctrine of res judicata differs therefrom in that it is applicable to the
perishable; (d) where, under the circumstances, a motion for reconsideration would be conclusive determination of issues of fact, although it may include
useless; (e) where petitioner was deprived of due process and there is extreme urgency for questions of law, and although it may apply to collateral proceedings in
relief; (f) where, in a criminal case, relief from an order of arrest is urgent and the granting of the same action or general proceeding, it is generally concerned with the
such relief by the trial court is improbable; (g) where the proceedings in the lower court are a effect of an adjudication in a wholly independent proceeding.61
nullity for lack of due process; (h) where the proceedings was ex parte or in which the
petitioner had no opportunity to object; and (i) where the issue raised is one purely of law or
where public interest is involved,55 none of these exceptions apply here. To elucidate further, res judicata or bar by prior judgment is a doctrine which holds that a
matter that has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction must be deemed to have
been finally and conclusively settled if it arises in any subsequent litigation between the
In the present case, the petitioners not only failed to explain their failure to file a motion for same parties and for the same cause.62 The four requisites for res judicata to apply are: (a) the
reconsideration before the RTC, they also failed to show sufficient justification for dispensing former judgment or order must be final; (b) it must have been rendered by a court having
with the requirement. A motion for reconsideration is not only expected to be but would jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (c) it must be a judgment or an order on
actually have provided an adequate and more speedy remedy than the petition the merits; and (d) there must be, between the first and the second actions, identity of
for certiorari.56 Certiorari cannot be resorted to as a shield from the adverse consequences of parties, of subject matter and of cause of action.63 The fourth requisite is wanting in the
petitioners' own omission to file the required motion for reconsideration.57 present case. There is only one case involved. There is no second independent proceeding or
subsequent litigation between the parties. The present petition concerns subsequent
In any case, even if petitioners' procedural faux pas is ignored, their contentions on the proceedings in the same case, with petitioners raising the same issue long settled by a prior
substantive aspect of the case fail to invite judgment in their favor. appeal.

Petitioners are barred from raising the issue on the prescription of execution of the decision by On the matter of forum shopping, while the Court has held that forum shopping exists only
mere motion under the principle of the "law of the case," which is the practice of courts in where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will
refusing to reopen what has been decided. It means that whatever is once irrevocably amount to res judicata in another,64 it must be recalled that the doctrines of law of the
established as the controlling legal rule or decision between the same parties in the case and res judicata are founded on a public policy against reopening that which has
same case continues to be the law of the case, whether correct on general principles or previously been decided.65 Both doctrines share the policy consideration of putting an end to
not, so long as the facts on which such decision was predicated continue to be the litigation.66 Thus, the principle of forum shopping should apply by analogy to a case involving
facts of the case before the court.58 the principle of law of the case.

The law of the case on the issue of prescription of the execution of the decision by mere Moreover, although forum shopping exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion in one
motion or applicability of Section 6, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court has been settled in the Order forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion, other than by appeal or certiorari, in another, or
dated March 20, 2000 of RTC Branch 165. Upon denial of petitioner's motion for when a party institutes two or more suits in different courts, either simultaneously or
reconsideration, they erroneously sought review with this Court which dismissed their petition successively, in order to ask the courts to rule on the same or related causes and/or to grant
for review on certiorari for violation of the rule on hierarchy of courts and for failure to show the same or substantially the same reliefs on the supposition that one or the other
special and important reasons or exceptional and compelling circumstances that justify a courtwould make a favorable disposition or increase a party's chances of obtaining a
disregard of the rule.59 This Court's Resolution became final and executory on January 16, favorable decision or action,67the peculiar circumstances attendant in this case bate out a
2001. Thus, petitioners are bound thereby. The question of prescription has been settled situation akin to forum shopping - there is only one court involved, RTC Pasig City, but the
with finality and may no longer be resurrected by petitioners. It is not subject to review issue of prescription was ultimately resolved by two different branches thereof Branches 165
or reversal in any court, even this Court. and 167.
Petitioners first raised before RTC Branch 165 the issue of prescription of the execution of the Besides, it would be absurd to adopt petitioners' position that they are not obliged to pay
decision by mere motion. Said RTC Branch 165 ruled against petitioners and the court's order interest on their obligation when respondent was placed under receivership. When a bank is
thereon became final and executory. Petitioners raised the issue again in an Omnibus Motion placed under receivership, it would only not be able to do new business, that is, to grant new
with the same RTC Branch 165. However, they moved for the inhibition of the presiding judge loans or to accept new deposits. However, the receiver of the bank is in fact obliged to collect
hearing the issue not only once, but twice, both motions debts owing to the bank, which debts form part of the assets of the bank.71Thus, petitioners'
obligation to pay interest subsists even when respondent was placed under receivership. The
granted in their favor and the case was successively raffled and assigned to two different respondent's receivership is an extraneous circumstance and has no effect on petitioners'
branches of RTC Pasig, first to Branch 268 and then to Branch 167, which ruled against obligation.
petitioners.
On the claim of novation, petitioners raised it for the first time before RTC Branch 165 in
Through the motions for inhibition of the presiding judges and the assignment of the case to their Ex-Parte Motion to Recall the Court's Order dated December 5, 199172 but they did not
different branches of the same court, petitioners sought to obtain from one branch a ruling pursue the matter after their ex-parte motion was denied. They did not raise said issue in their
more favorable than the ruling of another branch. They deliberately sought a friendly branch of motion for reconsideration or in their first petition for review on certiorari with this Court in G.R.
the same court to grant them the relief that they wanted, despite the finality of the resolution of No. 144719. Thus, they are deemed to have abandoned their claim of novation. They cannot
one branch on the matter. This is a permutation of forum shopping. It trifles with the courts, be allowed to revive the issue as it is offensive to basic rules of fair play, justice and due
abuses their processes, degrades the administration of justice, and congests court dockets.68 process.

Be it remembered that the grave evil sought to be avoided by the rules against forum shopping Moreover, the Court cannot see how novation can take place considering that the surrounding
is the rendition by two competent tribunals of two separate, and contradictory decisions. circumstances negate the same. The established rule is that novation is never presumed; it
Unscrupulous party-litigants, taking advantage of a variety of competent tribunals, may must be clearly and unequivocally shown.73 Novation will not be allowed unless it is clearly
repeatedly try their luck in several different fora until a favorable result is reached. This would shown by express agreement, or by acts of equal import. Thus, to effect an objective novation
make a complete mockery of the judicial system.69 it is imperative that the new obligation expressly declares that the old obligation is thereby
extinguished or that the new obligation be on every point incompatible with the new one.74

As to petitioners' arguments on the inequity of the acceleration clause of the Compromise


Agreement, respondent's receivership as a supervening event, and novation of the In the present case, there is no clear intent of the parties to make the Letter dated June 7,
Compromise Agreement by the Letter dated June 7, 1991, the Court holds that these were 1991 completely supersede and abolish the Compromise Agreement adopted and approved
raised as mere afterthought. If petitioners sincerely believed in the merits of their arguments, by the RTC in its Decision dated January 30, 1987. Petitioners were merely granted a more
they should have raised them at the earliest opportunity and pursued their ultimate resolution. liberal scheme of payment and reduced rate of interest but the conditions relating to the
However, petitioners did not. consequences of default in payment remained, such that when petitioners' failed to comply
with the approved mode of payment in the Letter dated June 7, 1991, respondents were
entitled to call for enforcement of the Decision dated January 30, 1987 and eject petitioners
Petitioners are barred from raising arguments concerning the inequity of the acceleration from the property. The well-settled rule is that, with respect to obligations to pay a sum of
clause of the Compromise Agreement since they only raised it for the first time before the CA money, the obligation is not novated by an instrument that expressly recognizes the old,
in their Petition for Certiorari70 in CA-G.R. SP No. 71849. To consider the argument raised changes only the terms of payment, adds other obligations not incompatible with the old ones,
belatedly in a pleading filed in the appellate court, especially in the executory stage of the or the new contract merely supplements the old one.75 Hence, there is no merit to petitioners'
proceedings, would amount to trampling on the basic principles of fair play, justice and due claim of novation.
process.

Without a doubt, the present case is an instance where the due process routine vigorously
In addition, after adopting and agreeing to the terms and conditions of the Compromise pursued by petitioners is but a clear-cut devise meant to perpetually forestall execution of an
Agreement, petitioners cannot be permitted to subsequently make a complete volte face and otherwise final and executory decision. Aside from clogging court dockets, the strategy is
attack the validity of the said agreement when they miserably failed to comply with its deplorably a common course resorted to by losing litigants in the hope of evading manifest
provisions. Our law and policy do not sanction such a somersault. What's more, petitioners obligations. The Court condemns this outrageous abuse of the judicial process by the
also failed to comply with the reduced purchase amount and interest rate granted in the Letter petitioners and their counsels.
dated June 7, 1991. They can hardly evoke judicial compassion.

It is an important fundamental principle in the judicial system that every litigation must come to
On the arguments relating to the effect of respondent's receivership, petitioners brought this an end. Access to the courts is guaranteed. But there must be a limit thereto. Once a litigant's
matter for the first time in RTC Branch 165 in their Omnibus Motion dated March 5, 2001, rights have been adjudicated in a valid and final judgment of a competent court, he should not
fourteen years after respondent was placed under receivership and was ordered to close be granted an unbridled license to come back for another try. The prevailing party should not
operation in 1987. The belated invocation of such circumstance speaks strongly of the
staleness of their claim.
be harassed by subsequent suits. For, if endless litigations were to be encouraged, then ATTY. GODWIN R. VALDEZ,
unscrupulous litigants will multiply to the detriment of the administration of justice.76 Respondent. March 31, 2009

x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
The Court reminds petitioners' counsel of the duty of lawyers who, as officers of the court,
must see to it that the orderly administration of justice must not be unduly impeded. It is the RESOLUTION
duty of a counsel to advise his client, ordinarily a layman on the intricacies and vagaries of the
law, on the merit or lack of merit of his case. If he finds that his client's cause is defenseless, PER CURIAM:
then it is his bounden duty to advise the latter to acquiesce and submit, rather than traverse
the incontrovertible. A lawyer must resist the whims and caprices of his client, and temper his
At bar is a Motion for Reconsideration,[1] dated, October 21, 2008 filed by
client's propensity to litigate. A lawyer's oath to uphold the cause of justice is superior to his
respondent Godwin R. Valdez (Valdez), praying that the September 30, 2008 decision of this
duty to his client; its primacy is indisputable.77 Court disbarring him from the practice of law be reconsidered by remanding the records of the
case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline. He further
There should be a greater awareness on the part of litigants and counsels that the time of the prays that the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline be directed to receive his Answer, evidence
and Position Paper and thereafter, that he be absolved of the charges against him and that his
judiciary, much more so of this Court, is too valuable to be wasted or frittered away by efforts,
name be reinstated in the Roll of Attorneys.[2]
far from commendable, to evade the operation of a decision final and executory, especially so,
where, as shown in the present case, the clear and manifest absence of any right calling for We have previously decided in Torben B. Overgaard v. Atty. Godwin R. Valdez,
vindication, is quite obvious and indisputable. [3]
that respondent Valdez committed malpractice and gross misconduct in his office as
attorney and is thus unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in him as a member of the
bar.
Verily, by the undue delay in the execution of a final judgment in their favor, respondents have
suffered an injustice. The Court views with disfavor the unjustified delay in the enforcement of The complainant, Torben Overgaard (Overgaard) engaged the services of
the final decision and orders in the present case. Once a judgment becomes final and respondent Valdez as his legal counsel in two cases filed by him and two cases filed against
executory, the prevailing party should not be denied the fruits of his victory by some subterfuge him. Despite the receipt of the full amount of legal fees of P900,000.00 as stipulated in a
devised by the losing party.78 Unjustified delay in the enforcement of a judgment sets at naught Retainer Agreement, the respondent refused to perform any of his obligations under their
the role of courts in disposing justiciable controversies with finality. contract for legal services, ignored the complainants request for a report of the status of the
cases entrusted to his care, and rejected the complainants demands for the return of the
money paid to him.
WHEREFORE, the present petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 71849 are AFFIRMED. The status quo order issued by Complainant Overgaard filed a complaint for disbarment against Valdez before the
this Court on May 15, 2003 is LIFTED. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 167, Pasig City, is IBP. During the investigation, respondent Valdez did not participate despite due notice. He was
directed to issue the corresponding writ of execution and the Sheriff of the court is ordered to declared in default for failure to submit an answer and attend the mandatory conference. He
did not submit a position paper or attend the hearing.
enforce the same to its ultimate conclusion.
On September 30, 2008, this Court held that respondent Valdez committed multiple
TORBEN B. OVERGAARD, A.C. No. 7902 violations of the canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The dispositive portion of
Complainant, this Decision states:

Present: IN VIEW WHEREOF, respondent Atty. Godwin R. Valdez is hereby


DISBARRED and his name is ordered STRICKEN from the Roll of
PUNO, C.J., Attorneys. He is ORDERED to immediately return to Torben B. Overgaard
QUISUMBING, the amount of $16,854.00 or its equivalent in Philippine Currency at the
YNARES-SANTIAGO, time of actual payment, with legal interest of six percent (6%) per annum
CARPIO, from November 27, 2006, the date of extra-judicial demand. A twelve
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, percent (12%) interest per annum, in lieu of six percent (6%), shall be
CORONA, imposed on such amount from the date of promulgation of this decision
- versus - CARPIO MORALES, until the payment thereof. He is further ORDERED to immediately return
TINGA, all papers and documents received from the complainant.[4]
CHICO-NAZARIO, xxxx
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA, Hence, this Motion for Reconsideration filed on October 21, 2008, by
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, respondent Valdez, based on the following grounds:
BRION, and
PERALTA, JJ. I. RESPONDENT HAD ABSOLUTELY NO KNOWLEDGE
THAT COMPLAINANT HAD FILED CHARGES AGAINST HIM
Promulgated: AND THAT THERE WERE DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS
AND AN INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY THE duly received by the respondent. The Registry Return Receipt [23] shows that it was also
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES. received by one RRJ, whose signature appears on the space for the signature of the
addressees agent. The respondent cannot claim lack of knowledge of the complaint for
II. HAD HE BEEN GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD, disbarment against him when the Complaint and the Order for him to submit an Answer were
HE WOULD HAVE PRESENTED STRONG, VALID AND duly received by his agent at his Makati law office. Succeeding notices in connection with the
MERITORIOUS DEFENSES TO THE CHARGES LEVELLED disbarment proceedings were also sent to the respondents Makati law office. He cannot
AGAINST HIM WHICH DEFENSES, CORRECTLY escape liability for his misdeeds by feigning ignorance of the disbarment case, since the
APPRECIATED, WOULD HAVE TOTALLY EXONERATED notices in connection with the proceedings were sent to his office address made known to the
HIM. [5] public and properly received by his agent.

Respondent Valdez was given full opportunity, upon reasonable notice, to answer
We deny the Motion for Reconsideration. the charges against him and to present evidence on his behalf. The IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline was correct in proceeding with the investigation ex parte, because it was due to the
On the first issue, the respondent argues that the IBP has no jurisdiction over him respondents own fault and negligence that he was not able to submit an answer to the
since proof of service of the initiatory pleading to the defendant is a jurisidictional requirement. Complaint and participate in the investigation. Rule 138, Section 30 provides that an attorney
[6]
He states in his Motion for Reconsideration that he had no inkling whatsoever of the should be heard before he is removed or suspended; but if, upon reasonable notice, an
existence of the disbarment case filed by the complainant. [7] He asserts that, in September attorney fails to appear and answer the accusations against him, the matter may be dealt
2006, he abruptly abandoned his office at Suite 402 Pacific Irvine Bldg., 2746 Zenaida St., at with ex parte. Rule 138, Section 30 states:
Makati City following persistent and serious threats to his physical safety and security x x
x. [8] On the advice of his close friends and clients to lie low and make himself scarce, [9] he SECTION 30. Attorney to be heard before removal or suspension. No
stayed for a few days in his residence at Imus, Cavite then relocated to Malaybalay City, attorney shall be removed or suspended from the practice of his
Bukidnon.[10] He has been holding office and residing in Bukidnon since then, and he only profession, until he has had full opportunity upon reasonable notice to
found out about the decision from a colleague in Bukidnon who read the decision from the answer the charges against him, to produce witnesses in his own behalf,
Courts website. and to be heard by himself or counsel. But if upon reasonable notice he
fails to appear and answer the accusation, the court may proceed to
He claims that because he abruptly abandoned [11] his Makati office on September determine the matter ex parte. (Emphasis supplied.)
2006, he was not able to receive the demand letter [12] sent by the complainant.[13] He was also
not able to receive any of the notices, orders and other papers pertaining to the disbarment The respondents feeble excuse that he was no longer holding office at
proceedings because at the time these were sent to his Makati office address, he was already his Makati office address at the time the Order of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline was
holding office in Bukidnon. sent to him is unacceptable. Ordinary prudence would have guarded against his alleged failure
to receive the notices. All notices to the respondent were sent to his Makati office address,
Complainant Overgaard filed an Opposition/Comment to the Motion for which was the address made known to the public and to the complainant. This is even the
Reconsideration[14] on December 9, 2008. He counters that respondent Valdez was duly address printed on the letterhead of the Retainer Agreement between the complainant and the
notified of the charge against him and of all the proceedings at the IBP,[15] since all notices respondent. And although the respondent claims that he had to make himself scarce [24] due to
were sent to Suite 402 Pacific Irvine Bldg., No. 2746 Zenaida St., Makati City, Metro Manila, threats to his life and safety, this does not mean that he avoids the responsibility of taking
Philippines,[16] which is the respondents office address indicated in his letterhead and made account of his mail. The respondent owes it to himself and to his clients to adopt a system
known to the complainant and to the public. He sent the respondent a letter dated November whereby he would be able to receive mail sent to his law office during his absence. Assuming
27, 2006, demanding that the latter return the documents and the P900,000.00 paid to him in that circumstances would justify the respondents abrupt abandonment [25] of his Makati office, it
relation to the case. The demand letter was sent to the same address and was received by absolutely does not give him the license to abandon his clients as well.
one whose signature was RRJ, as noted in the Registry Return Receipt.[17]
This brings us to the second issue: whether or not respondent committed multiple
Complainant Overgaard argues that respondent cannot claim ignorance of the violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility and thus his disbarment should be
disbarment case against him, since this is a natural offshoot of a wrongful act. [18]Complainant sustained.
Overgaard points out that when respondent Valdez left for Bukidnon, he already knew that the The respondent argues that he did not abandon his client. He denies that he refused
complainant was looking for him and demanding the return of the money and documents he to perform any of his obligations under the contract for legal services between himself and the
received from the complainant.[19] The November 27, 2006 demand letter further contained a complainant. He claims that he gave the complainant legal advice, and that he searched for
warning that [i]f [the respondent] will not return the documents and the money within ten (10) and interviewed witnesses in relation to the cases he was handling for the complainant. [26] He
days from receipt hereof, [the complainant] will bring the matter to the proper authorities/forum also denies that he ignored the complainants requests for a report of the cases entrusted to
for the redress of [his] grievances.[20]The complainant denies that he or his business partners his care. He claims that he gave periodic status reports on the result of his work, that he
know of respondents whereabouts, and he argues that it is the respondents duty as his returned the documents in connection with the case, and that he rendered an accounting of
counsel to adopt and strictly maintain a system that efficiently takes into account all notices the money that he actually received.
sent to him.[21]
We find that respondents disbarment should be upheld. From the facts of the case,
We hold that respondent was given reasonable notice of the complaint for and based on his own admissions, it is evident that he has committed multiple violations of the
disbarment against him. Code of Professional Responsibility.

A copy of the Complaint as well as the Order [22] to answer the Complaint was sent by In abruptly abandoning his law office without advising his client and without making sure that
the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline to the respondents Makati office address, and it was the cases he was handling for his client were properly attended to during his absence, and
without making arrangements whereby he would receive important mail, the respondent is from him on July 25 or 26, 2006. The respondent counters that although he initially received
clearly guilty of gross negligence. A lawyer cannot simply disappear and abandon his clients the amount of P900,000.00, he gave P300,000.00 to two intelligence operatives for locating
and then rely on the convenient excuse that there were threats to his safety. Even assuming witnesses in favor of the complainant in Antipolo City and otherparts of Metro Manila. [32] He
that there were serious threats to his person, this did not give him the permission to desert his claims that only P600,000.00 was actually received by him, and from this amount he drew all
client and leave the cases entrusted to his care hanging. He should have at least exercised expenses in connection with the complainants cases. The respondent further avers that he
reasonable and ordinary care and diligence by taking steps to ensure that the cases he was made an accounting of the P600,000.00 received by him and offered to return P250,000.00,
handling were attended to and that his clients interest was safeguarded. If it was not possible but it was the complainants business partner who refused to accept the P250,000.00 and
for him to handle the cases entrusted to his care, he should have informed the complainant of insisted on the payment of the whole amount.[33]
his predicament and asked that he be allowed to withdraw from the case to enable the client to
engage the services of another counsel who could properly represent him. [27] Deplorably, the The complainant declared that he did not receive the documents being demanded
respondent just disappeared, deserted his client and forgot about the cases entrusted to his from the respondent, nor did he receive an accounting of the money he paid to the
care, to the complainants damage and prejudice. respondent. He stated in his Opposition/Comment to the Motion for Reconsideration that the
respondents empty claims -- that he already returned the documents sometime in the middle
The respondent denies that he did not do anything in connection with the cases of July 2006 and that he rendered an accounting of the money paid to him immediately after
included in the Retainer Agreement. He asserts that he reviewed the documents in relation to July 25 or 26, 2006 -- are refuted by the demand letter sent by the complainant on November
the case and gave the complainant important advice. He claims that he travelled to Bato, 27, 2006, four months after the alleged time of return.
Camarines Norte to negotiate for an amicable settlement with the members of the family of the
adverse party in one of the cases filed against the complainant. [28] He also went to San We agree with the complainant.
Carlos City (Negros Oriental), Antipolo City, and other parts of Metro Manila to interview and
search for witnesses for the cases that he was handling for the complainant.[29] If the respondent had indeed returned the documents sometime in the middle of July
2006, he would have presented a receipt to prove such turnover of documents. And if the
The respondents disbarment is not anchored on his failure to do anything in relation respondent had indeed rendered an accounting of the money that was paid to him, he would
the cases entrusted to his care, but on his abandonment of his client. He will not be absolved have attached a received copy of the accounting to his Motion for Reconsideration. But he
from liability on the basis alone of these inconsequential acts which he claims to have failed to do both. There was no proof presented. We cannot rely on his bare allegation,
accomplished because the glaring fact remains that he has failed to perform his essential especially when the complainant demanded the return of the documents months after they
obligations to his client, to the courts and to society. As the complainants lawyer, the were allegedly returned.
respondent is expected to serve his client with competence and diligence. [30] This includes not
merely reviewing the cases entrusted to his care and giving the complainant sound legal Neither are we persuaded by the respondents explanation as to how and where
advice, but also properly representing his client in court, attending scheduled hearings, the P900,000.00 was spent. He claims that out of the P900,000.00, he only
preparing and filing required pleadings, prosecuting the cases entrusted to his care with received P600,000.00 because he paid P300,000.00 to two intelligence operatives. In paying
reasonable dispatch, and urging their termination without waiting for his client or the court to the intelligence operatives, he stated in his Motion for Reconsideration that he
prod him to do so. He should not idly sit by and leave the rights of his client in a state of deposited P100,000.00 to the Land Bank account of one Investigator Operative Collado
uncertainty. (Collado) sometime in the second week of January 2006, and that the rest of the P200,000.00
was personally handed by him to Collado in the last week of January 2006 at McDonalds
The respondents acts and omissions were not just a case of inaction, but they restaurant at the corner of Pasong Tamo and J.P. Rizal Streets at Makati City.[34]
amount to deceitful conduct and are contrary to good morals. After assuring the complainant
that he would protect the latters interest and attend to the cases included in the Retainer Such an account offered by the respondent is insufficient to free him from liability. If
Agreement, he abandoned his client. It was only after the complainants own inquiry that he the respondent indeed paid P300,000.00 to two intelligence operatives with the knowledge of
discovered that the respondent never appeared in court to represent the complainant in the the complainant, he would have presented a receipt issued by Collado, and he would have
cases filed against him, so much so that he had no knowledge that warrants of arrest were also presented a validated deposit slip or certification as proof that he deposited the amount
already issued against him. The respondent also failed to enter his appearance in the civil he claims to have deposited to Collados account. His failure to attach proof of payment of
case for Mandamus, Injunction and Damages that the complainant filed. After receiving the the P300,000.00 to the intelligence operatives does not only make his defense flawed, it also
complete amount of legal fees, giving the complainant initial legal advice, and interviewing highlights his incompetence in handling the money he received from the client.
some witnesses, the respondent just disappeared and the complainant never heard from him
despite his continued efforts to contact the respondent. It is a lawyers duty to properly account for the money he received from the client.
[35]
If indeed the respondent told the client that he would pay P300,000.00 to two intelligence
The complainant put his trust in the respondent with full faith that the latter would operatives, as he claims in his Motion for Reconsideration, he should have held this money in
exert his best effort and ability in the prosecution and defense of his clients cause. But instead trust, and he was under an obligation to make an accounting. It was his duty to secure a
of devotion to his clients cause, the respondent grossly neglected his duties to his client. After receipt for the payment of this amount on behalf of his client. But he failed to present any
all the representations he made to the complainant and after receipt of the full amount of the receipt or certification from Collado that the payment was received. Since the respondent was
legal fees, he absconded from his responsibilities and betrayed his clients trust. There is no not able either to present an accounting of the P900,000.00 paid to him upon the complainants
excuse for this, and his gross negligence and appalling indifference is unforgiveable. demand, or to provide a sufficient and plausible explanation for where such amount was spent,
he must immediately return the same.
On the Courts finding that the respondent refused to return the money he received
from the complainant despite written and verbal demands and was not able to give a single For these reasons, and those previously stated in the September 30, 2008 Decision
report regarding the status of the cases, the respondent claims that he returned the of this Court, we find that respondent Valdez has committed multiple violations of the canons
documents to the complainants representative in the middle of July 2006, [31] and that he also of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He has failed to observe the fundamental duties of
gave an accounting of the money he received sometime immediately after it was demanded honesty and good faith and, thus, we sustain his disbarment.
On the first week of July 2002, Parias went to the trial court to inquire about her case but
We must emphasize that the right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional the court personnel in RTC-Manila, Branch 64 informed her that there was no such case filed
right but is in the nature of a privilege or franchise, [36] and it may be extended or withheld by in their court. Parias asked Paguinto for the case number, date of filing, copy of the petition
this Court in the exercise of its sound discretion. As guardian of the legal profession, this Court
and the court where the annulment case was pending. Paguinto told Parias that the records
has ultimate disciplinary power over members of the Bar in order to ensure that the highest
standards of competence and of honesty and fair dealing are maintained. We find that the were at his office and that he was in Malolos, Bulacan attending to a case. It turned out that
respondent has fallen below such exacting standard and is unworthy of the privilege to there was no annulment case filed in RTC-Manila, Branch 64. Paguinto promised to return the
practice law. money that Parias paid as down payment. However, Paguinto returned the P10,000 only after
Parias filed with the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED. This Courts en Philippines (IBP) the present complaint for disbarment.
banc decision in Administrative Case No. 7902 dated September 30, 2008, entitled Torben B.
Overgaard v. Atty. Godwin R. Valdez, is AFFIRMED.
In the Order dated 14 February 2003,[2] the CBD directed Paguinto to answer the
complaint. Paguinto asked for an extension of 15 days to file his Answer. The CBD granted the
[A.C. No. 6297. July 13, 2004] extension in the Order dated 19 March 2003. [3] However, Paguinto failed to file his Answer
within the extended period and thus the CBD declared him in default in the Order dated 15
July 2003.[4] After the hearing, Parias submitted her Position Paper praying that the CBD
DOLORES D. PARIAS, complainant, vs. ATTY. OSCAR P. PAGUINTO, respondent. declare Paguinto guilty of violation of Rule 16.01 and Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
DECISION
On 10 September 2003, Parias filed an Affidavit of Withdrawal [5] of the complaint. Parias
CARPIO, J.: stated that Paguinto personally explained exhaustively the reasons why he failed to comply
with his obligations and she realized that the complaint arose due to a misapprehension of
The Case facts, misunderstanding and miscommunication. Parias manifested that she was withdrawing
the complaint, as she was no longer interested in pursuing the case.

A lawyer has the duty to give adequate attention and time to every case he accepts. A
lawyer impliedly warrants that he possesses the necessary diligence, learning and skill to On the same date, Paguinto filed a Manifestation and Motion [6] explaining that he failed
handle each case. He should exert his best judgment and exercise reasonable and ordinary to attend the hearing on 30 July 2003 because he was in Tabuk, Kalinga attending a hearing in
care and diligence in the pursuit or defense of his clients cause. a criminal case for frustrated homicide. He apologized to Parias for his actuations claiming
himself solely to be blamed. He further declared that he failed to timely prepare and file the
petition for annulment because he spends his time mostly in Gen. Mariano Alvarez, Cavite
The Facts where he practices law catering to those clients who have less in life.

Sometime in October 2001, complainant Dolores Dryden Parias (Parias) engaged the Commissioners Report & Recommendation
services of respondent Atty. Oscar P. Paguinto (Paguinto) to annul her marriage to Danilo
Soriano. They agreed that for the legal services, Parias would pay Paguinto an acceptance fee
of P25,000, the filing fee of P2,500 and other incidental expenses. The IBP designated Atty. Rebecca Villanueva-Maala (Commissioner) as Commissioner
to conduct a formal investigation of the case. The Commissioner found Paguinto negligent in
performing his duties as a lawyer and as an officer of the court. The Commissioner declared
On 2 December 2001, Parias paid Paguinto P10,000 in cash as partial payment of the that a lawyer has the duty to give adequate attention, care and time to his cases, accepting
acceptance fee. An acknowledgment receipt evidenced this payment.[1] Parias gave Paguinto only as many cases as he can handle. Paguinto failed to comply with this duty. The
a diskette containing a narration of what happened between her and her estranged husband Commissioner recommended the suspension of Paguinto from the practice of law for six
Danilo Soriano. Parias also furnished Paguinto with a copy of her marriage contract with months.
Soriano. Before the end of December 2001, Parias gave Paguinto P2,500 for the filing fee.

The Courts Ruling


Sometime between January and April 2002, Parias inquired from Paguinto on the
progress of her annulment case. Paguinto informed her that the case was filed with the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 64 (RTC-Manila, Branch 64), before Judge Ricaforte We agree with the Commissioner.
and that the hearing was scheduled on 25 April 2002. Before the hearing, Parias requested for
a meeting with Paguinto but the secretary informed her that the hearing was cancelled. The Parias gave Paguinto P10,000 cash as partial payment of the acceptance fee. Parias
secretary further informed Parias that the judge reset the succeeding hearings originally also gave Paguinto P2,500 for the filing fee. Paguinto led Parias to believe that he had filed
scheduled on 29 May 2002 and 26 June 2002 because the judge was sick or out of town. the annulment case. Paguinto informed Parias that the case was filed with the RTC-Manila,
Branch 64, before Judge Ricaforte. However, Parias later found out that Paguinto never filed One last point. Parias executed an Affidavit of Withdrawal[13] of the complaint stating that
the annulment case in court. she was withdrawing the administrative complaint against Paguinto after realizing that said
complaint against the respondent arose due to misapprehension of facts, misunderstanding
Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (the Code) provides that a lawyer and miscommunication. Paguinto, on the other hand, submitted a Manifestation and Motion
shall account for all money or property collected for or from the client. Acceptance of money apologizing to Parias for his actuations and admitting that he was solely to be blamed. A
from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of fidelity to compromise or withdrawal of charges does not terminate an administrative complaint against
the clients cause.[7] Money entrusted to a lawyer for a specific purpose, such as for filing fee, a lawyer,[14] especially in this case where the lawyer admitted his misconduct.
but not used for failure to file the case must immediately be returned to the client on demand.
[8]
Paguinto returned the money only after Parias filed this administrative case for disbarment. Pariass affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case does not exonerate Paguinto in
any way. We reiterate our ruling in Rayos-Ombac v. Rayos[15] that
Paguinto should know that as a lawyer, he owes fidelity to the cause of his client. When
a lawyer accepts a case, his acceptance is an implied representation that he possesses the [A] proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the
requisite academic learning, skill and ability to handle the case. The lawyer has the duty to complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings
exert his best judgment in the prosecution or defense of the case entrusted to him and to involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken
exercise reasonable and ordinary care and diligence in the pursuit or defense of the case. solely for the public welfare. x x x The attorney is called upon to answer to the court for his
conduct as an officer of the court. The complainant or the person who called the attention of
A lawyer should give adequate attention, care and time to his case. Once he agrees to the court to the attorneys alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no
handle a case, he should undertake the task with dedication and care. If he fails in this duty, interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administration of
he is not true to his oath as a lawyer. Hence, a lawyer must accept only as much cases as he justice.
can efficiently handle, otherwise his clients interests will suffer.[9] It is not enough that a lawyer
possesses the qualification to handle the legal matter. He must also give adequate attention to WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Oscar P. Paguinto GUILTY of violation of the
his legal work. Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we penalize Atty. Oscar P. Paguinto with
SUSPENSION for SIX (6) MONTHS from the practice of law effective upon receipt of this
The lawyer owes it to his client to exercise his utmost learning and ability in handling his Decision.
cases. A license to practice law is a guarantee by the courts to the public that the licensee
possesses sufficient skill, knowledge and diligence to manage their cases. [10] The legal Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended
profession demands from a lawyer the vigilance and attention expected of a good father of a to respondents personal record as an attorney; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and all
family. courts in the country for their information and guidance.

In Gamalinda vs. Alcantara,[11] we ruled:


RE: LETTER OF PRESIDING JUSTICE CONRADO M. A.M. No. 08-8-11-CA
VASQUEZ, JR. ON CA-G.R. SP NO. 103692 [Antonio
A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and must be mindful of the trust and Rosete, et al. v. Securities and Exchange Present:
confidence reposed in him. He shall serve his client with competence and diligence, and his Commission, et al.]
duty of entire devotion to his clients cause not only requires, but entitles him to employ every PUNO, C.J.,
honorable means to secure for the client what is justly due him or to present every defense QUISUMBING,
provided by law to enable the latters cause to succeed. An attorneys duty to safeguard the YNARES-SANTIAGO,
clients interests commences from his retainer until his effective release from the case or the CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
final disposition of the whole subject matter of the litigation. During that period, he is expected
CORONA,
to take such reasonable steps and such ordinary care as his clients interests may require. CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA,
And failure to do so violates Canon 18 of the Code.[12] TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
Rule 18.01 of the Code is clear. A lawyer shall not undertake a legal service that he is NACHURA,
not qualified to render. Rule 18.02 of the Code provides that a lawyer shall not handle any REYES,
legal matter without adequate preparation. He has the duty to prepare for trial with diligence LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
BRION, JJ.
and deliberate speed. Rule 18.03 of the Code also provides that a lawyer shall not neglect a
legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence shall render him liable. Promulgated:
September 9, 2008 On April 15, 2008, Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes (Justice Reyes), then Chairperson
of the Ninth Division of the CA, filed an application for leave from May 15, 2008 toJune 5,
2008.[1]

In Office Order No. 149-08-CMV dated May 14, 2008 issued by Presiding Justice
Vasquez, Justice Jose C. Mendoza (Justice Mendoza) was designated by the Raffle
Committee as Acting Chairman of the Ninth Division during the absence of Justice
Reyes. Apart from his duties as regular senior member of the Fifth Division, Justice Mendoza
was authorized to act on all cases submitted to the Ninth Division for final resolution and/or
appropriate action, except ponencia, from May 15, 2008 to June 5, 2008 or until Justice Reyes
reports back for duty. The said office order likewise applied to the other Division(s) where
Justice Reyes had participated or took part as regular member or in an acting capacity.[2]
On May 29, 2008, Antonio V. Rosete, Manuel M. Lopez, Felipe B. Alfonso, Jesus P.
Francisco, Christian S. Monsod, Elpidio L. Ibaez, and Francis Giles B. Puno, as officers,
directors and/or representatives of the Manila Electric Company (hereinafter to be collectively
referred to as Meralco), filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and prohibition
with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order
(TRO) against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commissioner Jesus Enrique
G. Martinez, Commissioner Hubert B. Guevarra, and the Government Service Insurance
System (GSIS). [3] Aside from the application for immediate issuance of a TRO, petitioners
prayed for the issuance of a preliminary injunction that should thereafter be declared
x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x permanent, as well as a declaration of nullity of the cease and desist and show cause orders
issued by the SEC through Commissioner Martinez. The petition was received by the CA
DECISION at 10:49 a.m. on May 29, 2008 and docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 103692.
On the same day, petitioners simultaneously filed at 10:48 a.m. an urgent motion for a special
raffle. Presiding Justice Vasquez granted the motion in a handwritten note on the face of the
PER CURIAM: urgent motion,[4] and CA-G.R. No. 103692 was raffled to Justice Vicente Q. Roxas (Justice
Roxas).[5] At 3:10 p.m., the Office of Presiding Justice Vasquez received a letter from Atty.
The Judiciary, which is acclaimed as the firmest pillar of our democratic institutions, is vested Estrella C. Elamparo (Atty. Elamparo), Chief Legal Counsel of the GSIS, requesting the re-
by the Constitution with the power to settle disputes between parties and to determine their raffling of the case in the presence of the parties in the interest of transparency and fairness.
[6]
rights and obligations under the law. For judicial decisions, which form part of the law of the At 4:10 p.m. on that day, the GSIS filed an ex-parte motion to defer action on any incident in
land, to be credible instruments in the peaceful and democratic resolution of conflicts, our the petition pending the resolution of their motion for the re-raffle of the case. [7]
courts must be perceived to be and, in fact be, impartial, independent, competent and just. To
accomplish this end, it is imperative that members of the Judiciary from its highest magistrates Atty. Elamparo, accompanied by Atty. Orlando P. Polinar, also of the GSIS Law
to its humblest employees adhere to the strictest code of ethics and the highest standards of Office, personally filed the urgent motion to defer action on the petition pending the resolution
propriety and decorum. Indeed, it is unfortunate that one of the countrys second highest of their motion to re-raffle the case. Since the receiving clerk of the Court of Appeals could not
courts, the Court of Appeals, should be presently embroiled in scandal and controversy. It is assure them that the motion would be transmitted to the Court of Appeals Division, Attys.
this Courts bounden duty to determine the culpability or innocence of the members of the Elamparo and Polinar allegedly went to the office of Justice Roxas for the sole purpose of
Judiciary involved in the said controversy and to discipline any one whose conduct has failed personally furnishing him a copy of the motion. [8] They initially talked to a male clerk who
to conform to the canons of judicial ethics, which uphold integrity, independence, impartiality, referred them to one of the lawyers, who, however, told them that it was not possible for them
competence and propriety in the performance of official functions. to personally hand a copy of the motion to Justice Roxas. Thus, Attys. Elamparo and Polinar
left a copy of the motion to the staff but no one wanted to sign and acknowledge receipt of the
The present administrative matter arose from the Letter dated August 1, 2008 of copy.[9]
Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. (Presiding Justice Vasquez),
referring to this Court for appropriate action the much publicized dispute and charges of On May 30, 2008, Justice Reyes filed an application for the extension of his leave until June 6,
impropriety among the justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) involved in CA-G.R. SP No. 2008.[10] In the meantime, Justice Mendoza, who had been designated to replace Justice
103692 entitled Antonio Rosete, et al. v. Securities and Exchange Commission, et al. Reyes during the latters absence, informed Justice Roxas through a letter that he (Justice
Mendoza) was inhibiting from the case on the ground that he used to be a lawyer of the
To assist in its investigation of this sensitive matter, the Court in its Resolution dated August 4, Meralco.[11] Hence, in an Emergency Request for Raffle, Justice Roxas informed the Raffle
2008 constituted a three-person panel (the Panel of Investigators) composed of retired Committee about the inhibition.[12]
Justices of the Court; namely, Mme. Justice Carolina Grio-Aquino as Chairperson, Mme.
Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero and Mr. Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. as Members. The Panel Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. (Justice Sabio) was assigned as Acting Chairman of the
of Investigators was tasked to investigate the (a) alleged improprieties of the actions of the Ninth Division by raffle, in lieu of Justice Mendoza. [13] At 11:30 a.m., the office of Justice Myrna
Justices of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 103692 (Antonio V. Rosete, et al. v. SEC, Dimaranan-Vidal (Justice Dimaranan-Vidal) received a notice of emergency deliberation with
et al.); and (b) alleged rejected offer or solicitation of bribe disclosed respectively by Mr. the new Acting Chairman of the Special Ninth Division, apparently sent by Justice Roxas,
Justice Jose Sabio and Mr. Francis de Borja. stating that her presence and that of Justice Sabio, Jr. were indispensable on account of the
A narration of relevant events and facts, as found by the Investigating Panel, follows: national interest involved in CA-G.R. SP No. 103692.[14]
Meanwhile, Atty. Elamparo received a telephone call from somebody who did not identify As we were leaving the Airport, I again got in touch with Justice Sabio.
herself but (who) said that she had important information regarding the Meralco case. The After, he confirmed that he was in fact in the Division to which the petition
unidentified caller told Atty. Elamparo that a TRO was already being prepared and that certain of MERALCO had been raffled. I impressed upon him the character and
Meralco lawyers had in fact been talking to Justice Roxas. The caller warned Atty. Elamparo essence of the controversy. I asked him to help GSIS if the legal situation
against Justice Roxas who had administrative cases and was very notorious, but when permitted. He said he would decide according to his conscience. I said: of
prodded, the caller would not disclose more details.[15] course.

At about 1:30 p.m. also on May 30, 2008, Justice Sabio received a telephone call in his x x x x x x x x x.
chambers from his older brother, Chairman Camilo Sabio (Chairman Sabio) of the Presidential On the same day, May 30, 2008, GSIS filed an urgent ex-parte motion to inhibit
Commission on Good Government (PCGG). [16] Chairman Sabio informed his brother that he Justice Roxas from CA-G.R. No. SP 103692.[18] The Special Cases Section of the Court of
(Justice Sabio) had been named the third member of the division to which the MERALCO- Appeals received a copy of the motion at 11:58 a.m.[19]
GSIS case had been raffled. Justice Sabio was surprised as he had not yet been officially
informed about the matter. Chairman Sabio likewise informed him that a TRO had been Claiming that the TRO was issued to pre-empt the hearing scheduled in the
prepared. Chairman Sabio then tried to convince Justice Sabio of the rightness of the stand of afternoon of that day before the SEC, the GSIS Law Office, through Atty. Marcial C. Pimentel,
the GSIS and the SEC, and asked his brother to help the GSIS, which represents the interest Jr., set forth its reason for the motion for inhibition as follows:
of the poor people. Justice Sabio told his brother that he would vote according to [his]
conscience and that the most that he could do was to have the issuance of the TRO and the 3. Unfortunately, reports have reached respondent GSIS that the
injunctive relief scheduled for oral arguments, at which the respondents must be able to Honorable ponente has been in contact with certain lawyers of MERALCO
convince him that the TRO indeed had no legal basis. and has in fact already prepared a draft resolution granting the TRO
without affording respondents even a summary hearing. The records of
In his signed testimony,[17] which he read before the Panel of Investigators, Chairman Sabio this case was (sic), per information, immediately transmitted to the
narrated the circumstances of this call to his brother on May 30, 2008. It appears to have been Honorable ponente upon his instructions. The worries of the respondent
prompted by a call from a member of the Board of Trustees of GSIS. To quote from Chairman were exacerbated when it learned that there are supposedly two
Sabios testimony: administrative cases pending against the Honorable ponente, both of
which involve allegations of bias and prejudice.
Last May 30, 2008 I was in Davao City Airport with my wife, Marlene,
waiting for our 1:25 P.M. PAL flight to Manila. xxx xxx xxx. It turned out, however, that at that time, Justice Roxas had not yet been officially
notified by the Raffle Committee that the case was raffled to him. [20] Moreover, contrary to the
As we were boarding, I received a call from Atty. Jesus I. Santos, a allegation of Atty. Elamparo that the raffle was rigged, Justice Roxas had no hand in the raffle
Member of the Board of Trustees of GSIS. We had known each other and proceeding, which was handled by the Division chaired by Justice Mariano del Castillo with the
had become friends since before Martial Law because as Chief Counsel use of a fool-proof Las Vegas tambiolo, like the lotto machine.[21]
of the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) we were opposing counsel in
various cases in Bulacan. Justice Roxas brought to the office of Justice Sabio, for the latters signature, the TRO which
he had prepared, already signed by himself and Justice Dimaranan-Vidal. Convinced of the
Attorney Santos informed me that the dispute between the GSIS and urgency of the TRO, Justice Sabio signed it on condition that the case will be set for oral
MERALCO was now in the Court of Appeals; and, that as a matter of fact, arguments.
my brother, Justice Sabio, was chair of the Division to which the case had
been assigned. Being a Trustee, Attorney Santos requested me to help. I Thus, at 2:08 p.m. on May 30, 2008,[22] the Special Ninth Division composed of Justices Sabio,
readily welcomed the request for help and thanked him. There was no Roxas, and Dimaranan-Vidal, issued the Resolution granting the TRO prayed for by the
mystery about his having known of the results of the raffle because the petitioners and directing the respondents to file their respective comments (not a motion to
lawyers are notified thereof and are present thereat. As a Trustee, dismiss) to the petition within ten days from notice, with the petitioners given five days from
Attorney Santos should be concerned and involved. As such it is his duty receipt of that comment within which to file their reply. The Special Ninth Division also set the
to seek assistance for the GSIS where he could legitimately find it. He hearing on the application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction for 10:00 a.m. on
was right in seeking my assistance. June 23 and 24, 2008. In the same Resolution, parties were directed to file their respective
memorandum of authorities in connection with the application for a writ of preliminary
I was aware of the controversy between the GSIS and MERALCO. In injunction together with their comments/reply. After the parties had filed their memorandum of
essence this was in fact a controversy between the long suffering public authorities relative to the application for a writ of preliminary injunction, the prayer for the said
and the mighty financially and politically controlling owners of MERALCO. writ would be considered submitted for resolution forty five (45) days from promulgation of this
MERALCO is not only a public utility but also a monopoly. Fortunately, Resolution. The SEC received a copy of the Resolution at 4:03 p.m. on that day.[23]
GSIS had taken up the cudgels for the long suffering public, who are at
the mercy of MERALCO. For Justice Roxas, the issuance of the TRO was an implied denial of the motion for
inhibition filed against him. There was no need to put in writing the action on the motion for
x x x x x x x x x. inhibition.[24]

Immediately, I tried to contact Justice Sabio. But due to the noise I could At 3:00 p.m., the Special Cases Section of the Court of Appeals received the Urgent Motion to
not hear him. So I waited until we would arrive in Manila. Lift Temporary Restraining Order and To Hold Its Enforcement in Abeyance filed by the GSIS.
[25]
Justice Roxas did not act on the Urgent Motion because he did not consider it meritorious.
[26]
Justice Sabio and, for the sake of transparency and future reference, Justice Reyes requested
On May 31, 2008, Justice Sabio received a cellular phone call from Mr. Francis De Borja (Mr. permission to write an inquiry on the matter.[38]
De Borja), a person he had lost contact with for almost a year already. [27] Mr. De Borja greeted
him with: Mabuhay ka, Justice. When Justice Sabio, Jr. asked Mr. De Borja why he said that, On the same day, Justice Reyes wrote Presiding Justice Vasquez a letter [39] calling
Mr. De Borja told him that the Makati Business Club was happy with his having signed the the attention of Justice Edgardo P. Cruz (Justice Cruz), Chairperson of the Committee on
TRO, to which Justice Sabio retorted, I voted according to my conscience. Rules, to the dilemma as to who between him and Justice Sabio should receive CA-G.R. SP
No. 103692. Justice Reyes posed these questions before the Presiding Justice:
On June 5, 2008, the GSIS Law Office received a letter dated June 2, 2008 of Will the case remain with Justice Jose Sabio, Jr. as Acting Chairman of
Presiding Justice Vasquez, Jr. informing GSIS Chief Legal Counsel, Atty. Elamparo, that the the Special 9th Division and who participated in the initial Resolution of the
Court of Appeals could not grant her request for the re-raffling of CA-G.R. SP No. 103692 in case?
the presence of the parties in the interest of transparency and fairness, as the case had been
raffled in accordance with the procedure under the IRCA.[28] Will the case revert to the regular 9 th Division with the undersigned as
Chairman?
On June 10, 2008, Justice B. L. Reyes reported back to work.[29]
For Justice Reyes, the dilemma was engendered by this provision of Section 2 of
On June 11, 2008, at 3:50 p.m.,[30] the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), Rule VI of the IRCA:
appearing for the SEC, filed a manifestation and motion praying for the admission of the (2) When, in an original action or petition for review, any of these actions
comment (to the petition) attached thereto, as well as the advance and additional copies of the or proceedings, namely: (1) giving due course; (2) granting writ of
memorandum of authorities. preliminary injunction; (3) granting new trial; and (4) granting execution
pending appeal have been taken, the case shall remain with the Justice to
On June 12, 2008, at 4:53 p.m., the GSIS filed its comment/opposition to the petition whom the case is assigned for study and report and the Justices who
in CA-G.R. SP No. 103692,[31] as well as its memorandum of authorities. participated therein, regardless of their transfer to other Divisions in the
same station.
On June 16, 2008, the Division Clerk of Court, Atty. Teresita Custodio (Atty.
Custodio), delivered to Justice Reyes the cartilla of the Meralco case, and informed him that a The hearing on the application for preliminary injunction having been scheduled for June 23
hearing on the prayer for the issuance of a preliminary injunction had been scheduled at 10:00 and 24, 2008, Justice Reyes considered it necessary that the issues be resolved before that
a.m. on June 23 and 24, 2008. [32] However, on the same day, the Division Clerk of Court came date. Moreover, the referral of the controversy to the Presiding Justice would give him
back to retrieve the cartilla upon instructions of Justice Sabio. Justice Reyes instructed his sufficient time to seriously study the case before the hearing.[40]
staff to return the cartilla and when he asked the Division Clerk of Court why she was
retrieving it, she said that Justice Sabio demanded that it be returned back to him. Personally On June 20, 2008, Presiding Justice Vasquez referred the letter of Justice Reyes to
affronted by the domineering and superior stance of Justice Sabio, Justice Reyes read and re- Justice Cruz, Chairperson of the Committee on Rules, noting some urgency involved as the
read Secs. 1, 2(d) & 5, Rule VI (Process of Adjudication) until he was satisfied that he should hearing of the case is on Monday, June 23, 2008.[41]
sit as Division Chairman in the Meralco case.[33]
On that same day, Justice Cruz wrote Justice Reyes a letter[42] quoting Section 2 (d),
On either June 17 or 18, 2008, Justice Sabio requested the rollo of CA-G.R. SP No. Rule VI of the IRCA and stating that the [i]ssuance of a TRO is not among the instances where
103692 from Justice Roxas so that he could study the case before the hearing. [34]Justice the Justices who participated in the case shall remain therein. Hence, Justice Cruz opined that
Roxas asked him whether Justice Reyes would preside over the hearing. Justice Sabio [n]otwithstanding the issuance of the TRO (not writ of preliminary injunction), the case reverted
explained the reason why he, not Justice Reyes, should preside. Justice Roxas promised to to the regular Chairman (Justice Reyes) of the Ninth Division upon his return. Justice Reyes
instruct the Division Clerk of Court to send the rollo over to Justice Sabio. The next day, the received a copy of the letter of Justice Cruz in the afternoon of that day.[43]
Division Clerk of Court told Justice Sabio that the rollo was with Justice Reyes. When
the rollo was eventually transmitted to Justice Sabio, the Division Clerk of Court asked him During the hearings of this case, Justice Cruz explained his opinion before the
whether the rollo should be with Justice Reyes. Justice Sabio explained why the rollo should Panel. He opined that the motion to lift the TRO is not a motion for reconsideration because
be with him. Rule 52 of the Rules of Court states that a motion for reconsideration may be filed with respect
to a decision or a final resolution. A TRO is not a final resolution but an interlocutory order.
On June 18, 2008, petitioners filed a motion for an extension of five days or Moreover, since the subject of the hearing on June 23, 2008 was on the application for
until June 23, 2008 within which to file their consolidated memoranda of authorities and reply preliminary injunction, Justice Sabio had no right to participate in the hearing because as an
to the comment of the SEC.[35] Acting Chairman, his authority was only to act on the motion to lift the TRO. Under the IRCA,
the position of Justice Sabio invoked the exception to the general rule in the IRCA. However,
On June 19, 2008, MERALCO filed an ex-parte manifestation together with their the settled principle is to construe a rule strictly against the exception. The participation of
reply to the comment of the GSIS. [36] Meanwhile, Justice B. L. Reyes asked Atty. Custodio to Justice Sabio in the hearing on June 23, 2008 was a passport to participation in the decision-
report on what transpired between her and Justice Sabio when she returned the cartilla. Teary- making process, in violation of the IRCA.[44]
eyed, Atty. Custodio begged off from making a report.[37]
Justice Reyes having consulted with him, the Presiding Justice referred the matter
Justice Reyes decided to consult the Presiding Justice to avoid an ugly to Justice Sabio who in turn, opined that a temporary restraining order is part of the injunctive
confrontation with the Justices on the highly politicized case involving giants of the Philippine relief or at least its initial action such that he should be the one to chair the Division. [45] In his
society. He explained to the Presiding Justice his understanding of the relevant IRCA rules and office after that consultation with the Presiding Justice, Justice Reyes found that the Division
the actual practice in similar situations in the past. The Presiding Justice promised to talk with Clerk of Court had given him a copy of the cartilla just in case he would preside over the
hearing. In the evening, the Presiding Justice called up Justice Reyes to inform him that
Justice Sabio insisted that he would preside over the hearing of the case, and that the opinion their transfer to other division(s). Justice Villarama told Justice Reyes that per his
of Justice Cruz, who was junior to Justice Sabio was no better than his own opinion.[46] understanding and interpretation of said provision, x x x the case should remain with the
Special Ninth Division.[56]
It turned out that, upon receipt of a copy of the letter of Justice Cruz, Justice Sabio
told the Presiding Justice by telephone that he disagreed with the opinion of Justice Cruz At 9:50 a.m., the Office of the Division Clerk of Court called Justice Reyes to inform
because he did not sign in an official capacity as Chairman of the Rules Committee, but in his him that the parties and their counsels were already in the hearing room. Justice Reyes
personal capacity and hence, the opinion of Justice Sabio was as good as his, as in fact I informed the caller that he could not preside as Justice Sabio had apparently hardened his
(Justice Sabio, Jr.) am even more senior than he.[47] Justice Sabio told the Presiding Justice position and he wanted to avoid an ugly spectacle. His name plate was displayed in the
that he smelled something fishy about the move to transfer the case to the Ninth Division hearing room but Justice Sabio moved to another hearing room. [57] Allegedly, the removal of
especially because Justice Reyes did not inform him about it despite the fact that they were the nameplate of Justice Reyes was the talk of the Court of Appeals for weeks. [58]
seated together on three occasions.
Villaraza Cruz Marcelo and Angangco entered its appearance as counsel for
Justice Sabio smelled something fishy because a couple or so weeks ago, he Meralco.[59] At the hearing, Justice Sabio presided with Justices Roxas and Dimaranan-Vidal in
attended a Chairpersons meeting regarding the leakage of the ponencia of Justice Bato, with attendance. Justice Roxas, the ponente, did not ask a single question.[60] Not one of the
Justice Reyes as Chairperson and Justice Jose Mendoza as senior member. The meeting was Justices in attendance brought up the motion for inhibition filed by the GSIS against Justice
called because prior to the promulgation of the decision of Justice Bato, the losing party Roxas.[61] In open court, the parties in CA-G.R. SP No. 103692 agreed to submit, within 15
already filed a motion for the inhibition of the ponente. According to Justice Sabio information days, simultaneous memoranda on the injunctive relief prayed for by the petitioners, after
on the decision could not have been leaked by Justice Bato but by a member of the Division. which the application for preliminary injunction would be deemed submitted for resolution. [62]
[48]

On June 25, 2008, or about two days after the separate conversations of Justice
The Presiding Justice did not do anything anymore to prevent an unpalatable Villaram with Justices Sabio and Reyes, the Presiding Justice also consulted Justice Villarama
situation at the scheduled June 23, 2008 hearing, notwithstanding the conflicting opinions of about the letter-queries of Justices Roxas and Reyes on which Division should resolve the
Justices Reyes and Sabio. The personal view of the Presiding Justice was at the time with matter of injunctive relief or issue the decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 103692.[63]
Justice Cruz but Justice Sabio had a different interpretation. Neither did the Presiding Justice
suggest that the Rules Committee be convened because the Committee then had only two The Presiding Justice issued Office Order No. 196-08-CMV reconstituting the
members. He felt that it would be better if Justices Reyes and Sabio could settle it between Committee on Rules and designating Justice Cruz as the Chairperson, with Justices Rebecca
themselves. The Presiding Justice was seeing the Justices practically everyday because he De Guia-Salvador, Reyes, Hakim Abdulwahid, and Noel G. Tijam, as members. [64] The
did not want these things to blow up. However, neither did it enter the mind of the Presiding Committee on Rules was tasked to propose amendments to the IRCA on or beforeAugust 15,
Justice that the hearing on June 23 could be reset. Had he known that there was a motion to 2008 for submission and adoption of the Court en banc. (The office order was later amended
inhibit Justice Roxas, he would have changed his position that it should be the Sabio group.[49] by Office Order No. 196-08-CMV on August 4, 2008 to include as members Justices Mario L.
Guaria III, Lucas P. Bersamin, and Teresita Dy-Liacco Flores.[65]) The Rules Committee used to
Also on June 20, 2008, the GSIS requested permission to conduct a power-point be composed of only three members, namely: Justices Cruz, Abdulwahid, and Roberto
presentation during the hearing.[50] Likewise the SEC, through the OSG prayed that it be Barrios, now deceased, as members, with Justice Cruz as chairperson. [66]
allowed the use of Microsoft Powerpoint Application at the June 23 and 24, 2008 hearings.
[51]
Justice Roxas did not act on the motions. It was also on June 25, 2008 that Presiding Justice Vasquez issued Office Order No.
200-08-CMV stating that, in view of the retirement of Justices Enrique Lanzanas, Lucenito N.
On June 21, 2008, Justice Sabio came to know that it was the Division chaired by Tagle, Agustin S. Dizon, and Rodrigo Cosico, and the appointments of Justices Ruben C.
Justice Reyes that would handle the case on account of the opinion of Justice Cruz. [52] Ayson and Edgardo L. delos Santos, the Divisions would have a new composition
effective July 4, 2008.[67] Under that office order, Justice Sabio became the Chairman of the
In the morning of June 23, 2008, Justice Sabio consulted with Justice Martin Sixth Division, with Justice Dimaranan-Vidal as a member. Justice Reyes became the
Villarama, Jr. (Justice Villarama) who advised him, in no uncertain terms, that his stand was Chairman of the Eighth Division, with Justices Roxas and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr. (Justice
correct and that he should remain in the case. [53] Justice Villarama said that the case should Bruselas) as members.
remain with the Special Ninth Division regardless of the transfer of the ponente to the Eighth
Division because of the pending motion to lift TRO, which the Special Ninth Division should On June 29, 2008, Justice Reyes went on official leave of absence to use a
resolve following the general rule that when a decision or resolution is rendered by a division, business class airplane ticket to Sydney, Australia that he had won in an APT Golf Tournament
a motion for reconsideration thereof should be acted upon by all the Members of that division, in January 2008. He was still on official leave when the reorganization of the Court of Appeals
whether regular or special, which participated in the rendition of the decision or resolution, took place on July 4, 2008.[68]
except in case of death, retirement or resignation of such Member.[54]
On July 1, 2008, Justice Roxas told Justice Sabio that he did not attend the Access
That morning, Justice Roxas also consulted Justice Villarama. The latter told the to Courts (sic) summit on June 30 and July 1, 2008 at the Court of Appeals Auditorium
former that since there was a motion to lift the TRO, Justice Roxas should first rule on the because he was busy with the Meralco case. Justice Sabio was taken aback because at that
motion. He also advised Justice Roxas to inhibit himself from the case, as there might be a time the parties had not yet submitted their memoranda.[69]
problem (mag-inhibit ka baka magka-problema). Justice Roxas told Justice Villarama that he
would follow his suggestion.[55] That same afternoon, Mr. De Borja again called up Justice Sabio, seeking to meet
with him for an important matter. Because Justice Sabio had 6-8 p.m. classes at
Justice Reyes also went to the office of Justice Villarama to tell him of his strong theAteneo Law School, they agreed to meet after his classes but not for long because his wife
conviction that the issuance of a TRO is not among the instances provided in Sec. 2 (d), Rule and his daughter, Atty. Silvia Jo Sabio who is an Attorney VI in the Office of the Chief Justice,
VI when the case shall remain with those Justices who participated in the case regardless of
[70]
would be waiting for him.[71] According to Justice Sabio, the conversation at that meeting the latter would have evening classes at the Ateneo Law School, and his wife and daughter
with Francis de Borja went as follows: would be waiting in their car after his classes, they just agreed to meet at the lobby-lounge of
the School. What Mr. De Borja knew about the MERALCO case allegedly came from news
17. By the time my class was finished at 8 pm, Mr. De Borja was already reports but he was interested in the news because he is a confirmed free-enterpriser.
waiting for me at the Lobby Lounge of the 3 rd Floor of Moreover, De Borja thought that there was [n]othing like hearing things directly from the
the Ateneo Law School. His first words to me were: Alam mo Justice kung horses mouth.[75]
sino ang kasama ko sa kotse? Si Manolo Lopez. Then he said: Noong
tinatawagan kita at sinabi kong Mabuhay ka Justice, si Manolo Lopez ang When Mr. De Borja and Justice Sabio met, Mr. De Borja averred he was indeed
katabi ko noon. Nasa Amerika siya, kaya ako na lang ang pumunta dito carrying a bag, not an expensive looking luggage. After parking his car at the Rockwell
para makiusap sa yo. Alam mo, itong kaso na ito is a matter of life and basement, he took the escalator, intending to walk out of the mall. On his way, he passed by
death for the Lopezes. And alam mo naman what the Marcoses did to the Kenneth Cole shop and, since it was still early, he looked in and saw a T-shirt he liked. He
them, which is being done now by the Arroyos. bought the T-shirt, which he brought before the Panel of Investigators in the grey Kenneth
Cole Reaction bag. The photographs of the bag and the T-shirt costing P1,650.00 are marked
At that point he mentioned the impasse between Justice Exhibits A-De Borja and A-1-De Borja and attached to the rollo of A.M. No. 08-8-11-CA, while
Bienvenido Reyes and myself. He said: Alam naming may the photograph of the receipt issued by the Kenneth Cole Boutique, marked as Exhibit A-2-De
problema kayo ni Justice Reyes tungkol sa chairmanship. Borja, shows that the purchase was made on July 1, 2008 at 19:47. He stressed the bag did
I was surprised how he came to know about it, as this was an not contain P10 million.
internal matter of the Court of Appeals which only happened
fairly recently and many associate justices of the CA were not Before the Panel, Justice Sabio claimed that the bag Mr. De Borja brought during
even aware of this. Just the same, I explained my stand and the hearing was not the bag that Mr. De Borja was carrying when Justice Sabio saw him
why I could not relinquish the chairmanship to Justice Reyes. on July 1, 2008. What Mr. De Borja allegedly brought with him to the lobby-lounge of
He then replied: Alam mo, Justice ang opinion dito ni Nonong the Ateneo Law School was a brown bag with paper handle about 2/3 (of the Kenneth Cole
Cruz ay i-challenge ang stand mo. Kaya lang, mayroon bag) in size. Justice Sabio was told by the Panel that it could be the subject of rebuttal
namang nagsabi na it might become messy. evidence but he did not present such evidence.
Then he bragged to me: Ako din ang responsible sa pag-
recommend at pag-hire ng Villaraza Law Firm. According to Mr. De Borja, Manolo Lopez (Mr. Lopez), the owner of MERALCO
Then he explained that he was there to offer me a win-win whose wife was a member of Marthas Vineyard just like Mr. De Borjas wife, was also an
situation. acquaintance of Mr. De Borja at the Ateneo grade school. Mr. Lopez did not ask him (Mr. De
He said: Justice, mayroon kaming P10 million. Ready. Just Borja) to contact Justice Sabio. At a party where Mr. De Borja met Mr. Lopez, Mr. De Borja
give way to Justice Reyes. informed him that he knew Justice Sabio but Mr. Lopez did not say anything.
Then I said: Bakit ganun. Nakasisiguro sila sa kanya, sa akin
hindi? Mr. De Borja denied having offered P10 million to Justice Sabio. Instead, he claimed
He said: Mas komportable lang sila sa kanya. that Justice Sabio informed him that the government has offered him (Justice Sabio) money
At that point, I was shocked that he had a very low regard for and a promotion to the Supreme Court to favor GSIS. When Mr. De Borja asked what would it
me. He was treating me like there was a price on my person. I take for Justice Sabio to resist the governments offer, Justice Sabio allegedly replied: Fifty
could not describe my feelings. I was stunned. But at the same Million.[76] He alleged that it was Justice Sabio who called up after that July 1, 2008 meeting to
time, hindi ko rin magawang bastusin siya because I had feel his reaction to the P50 million solicitation. Justice Sabio asked him: O, ano, kumusta, ano
known him since 1993 and this was the first time that he had ang nangyayari.
ever treated me like this, or shown that he believed I could be
bought. Mr. De Borja admitted having given P300,000 to Justice Sabio, some 15 years ago,
So I just told him: Francis, I cannot in conscience agree to as a balato because he came to value the friendship of Justice Sabio that developed while the
that. latter was helping the Roa family in a business transaction. Mr. De Borja earned more than
His answer was: Sabi ko nga sa kanila, mahirap ka talaga P25 million although he received only P3 million as down payment out of the sale of 100
papayag. Kasi may anak iyang Opus Dei. Numerary pa. hectares of the Roa property. He gave the balato of 10% of the P3 million to Justice Sabio in
At this point, I just wanted to leave, so I told him I could not cash at the Roa-owned bank in Cagayan de Oro. Since the Roas had a lot of legal problems,
stay long. I told him my wife and lawyer daughter were waiting. Justice Sabio rendered advice and consultation at the time that he was an RTC judge in
Even then, he was already insistent. His parting words before I Cagayan de Oro. After the promotion of Justice Sabio to the Court of Appeals, Mr. De Borja
left were: Just think about it, Justice.[72] invited him for dinner. They would see each other at get-togethers of the Roas with whom Mr.
De Borja is related, even at a gathering in the house of Mr. De Borjas mother.[77]
At that time, Mr. De Borja was carrying a sealed brown paper bag, which he was
handling as if something important was inside. However, Justice Sabio did not know if the bag On July 2, 2008, Justice Sabio that informed Presiding Justice Vasquez that he
contained P10 million.[73] (Justice Sabio) was offered a bribe (which he rejected) to have him ousted from the Meralco
In his car, Justice Sabio told his wife and his daughter, Silvia Jo, about the offer of Mr. De case. The news allegedly shocked the Presiding Justice. Justice Sabio also went to Justice
Borja for Meralco.[74] Villarama who was both shocked and amused. Justice Sabio. did not tell them who the offeror
was. However, a day or two later, Justice Sabio found out that Mr. De Borja had called their
In his affidavit submitted to the Panel of Investigators, Mr. De Borja describes mutual friend, Mrs. Evelyn Clavano, who was also shocked that Mr. De Borja had the gall to
himself as a businessman, a deal maker, and project packager. On July 1, 2008, he invited ask her to convince Justice Sabio to accept the bribe.[78]
Justice Sabio for dinner to touch base and for chismis about the MERALCO-GSIS case. As
Although Justice Sabio told the Presiding Justice that the offer of P10 million to a
Justice was, in the words of Justice Sabio, bastusan na ito, and he knew that bribing a Justice On or about July 8, 2008, Atty. Silvia Sabio, to help her father, sought the advice of
is a criminal act, the Presiding Justice did nothing because he could not advise a fellow Atty. Jose Midas Marquez (Atty. Marquez) regarding the bribery attempt. Atty. Marquez
Justice on what to do the Justice would know what he should do. Neither did he think of advised that Justice Sabio should write the Chief Justice about the incident, detailing not only
consulting Justices Roxas and Dimaranan-Vidal on the chairmanship impasse.[79] the bribery attempt but all that has transpired relative to the chairmanship issue. Atty. Silvia
Sabio immediately called her father and relayed Atty. Marquezs advice. Later that date, Justice
On July 3, 2008, to stop Mr. De Borja from pestering him with phone calls and text Sabio handed his daughter, Silvia, a handwritten letter for her to deliver to the Chief Justice.
[87]
messages, Justice Sabio called up Mr. De Borja who told him: Mabuti naman Justice tumawag The handwritten letter, in essence, requested permission for Justice Sabio to unburden
ka, kasi malapit na ang deadline ng submission ng memorandum. Pinag-isipan mo bang himself before the Chief Justice on the Meralco case.[88]
mabuti ang offer namin? Kasi sayang din kung di mo tatanggapin, Kasi kahit aabot itong kaso
sa Supreme Court, matatalo ka din. Sayang lang yung P10 million. Baka sisihin ka pa ng mga At around 2:30 p.m., Justice Reyes went to see Justice Sabio. The conversation
anak mo. Shocked by what he heard, Justice Sabio said No. Since Mr. De Borja did not seem between them, as recalled by Justice Sabio, was as follows:
to understand why he kept saying No, Justice Sabio explained to him: If I accept that, my As soon as he came in, I said: Why did you stab me behind my back? He
conscience will bother me forever. How can I face my wife and two daughters? One a lawyer said, Why, what did I do? I asked him Why is it that you have to resort to
and the other a Numerary member of Opus Dei? And besides, how can I reconcile my being a that strategy of seeking the opinion of Ed Cruz, in his personal capacity,
member of PHILJAs Ethics and Judicial Conduct Department; being a lecturer of the MCLE; when we could have discussed the matter with the PJ?
and being a pre-bar reviewer of the Ateneo Law School on Legal and Judicial Ethics? Mr. De I reminded him that we were seated three times near each other on
Borja retorted: Wala naman kaming pinapagawa sa iyo na illegal, eh. Then he added: You different occasions only recently and he never mentioned to me about the
know Justice, after two or three weeks, makakalimutan na ito ng mga tao. Meron naman plan to oust me.
diyang mga Atenista na tumatanggap. Justice Sabio said: I dont know about them, but I am He said: Perhaps that was my fault. I should have talked to you.
different. Mr. De Borja then said: Well, if you will not accept, we will be forced to look for other I told him, that all the while I thought we were friends. Why did you have
ways. To this, Justice Sabio said: But they will have to contend with me. In parting, Mr. De to do these things behind my back and not discuss the matter with me
Borja said: Justice, no matter what, saludo talaga ako sa iyo. face to face?
Then he said it just came about due to the urgent motion; that he was
Mr. De Borja admitted that Justice Sabio called him up, but denied the above afraid Meralco would take action against him for nonfeasance for not
conversation with Justice Sabio. doing his job.
It was then that I said: Are you aware that I was offered 10M for me to
On July 4, 2008, the reorganization of the Court of Appeals became effective and give way to you?
brought Justices Reyes, Roxas and Bruselas to the Eighth Division. Justice Reyes went to see I further asked him the following: In the first place, how was the Meralco
the Presiding Justice about the urgent motion for him to assume the chairmanship of the emissary able to know that there was an impasse between you and me
Division, which shows on its face that the Urgent Motion dated July 10, 2008 was received by when that was supposed to be an internal matter?
the Court of Appeals at 2:08 p.m. on July 10, 2008 and by Atty. Teresita C. Custodio on July 9, If you will now insist on assuming the chairmanship after I told you of
2008. Justice Reyes expressed to the Presiding Justice his apprehension that should he fail to the 10Million offer, what will I think of you?
assume the chairmanship, he would face administrative liability for nonfeasance or dereliction Are you a Trojan horse? Can you blame me if I think you are part of
of duty. The Presiding Justice suggested that the respondents in the case be required to this whole scheme or shenanigan?
comment on the Urgent Motion in a resolution to be issued by the former 9 th Division of Justice Does not the timing alone stink of corruption? After they failed to
J.L. Sabio, Jr. since to allow the new Division of Justice B.L. Reyes to issue the resolution x x convince me of their offer, now they will use you to oust me? Is it
x would render moot and academic the same motion. Justice Reyes agreed and told the because they are certain of your loyalty and they are uncertain with
Presiding Justice that he would be sending over the records to him so that the Presiding mine?
Justice could place a note thereon as to what had been agreed upon. However, the records of And why did they file this stupid urgent motion to assume? In my nine
the case did not reach the Presiding Justice.[80] years in this court, I have never seen such an animal as this. This is
a cowardly act, and whoever advised this stupid motion is also
For Justice Roxas, the July 4, 2008 reorganization was mandatory and the Meralco stupid. Why do you have to dignify such a foolish motion? They
case followed him as its ponente to the Eighth Division. By the reorganization, Justice Sabio should file a motion for me to inhibit or recuse myself.
was moved from the disbanded Special Ninth Division to the Sixth Division, as the Why is it that Meralco actively participated in the hearing on the
reorganization did not spare any Justice. [81] Moreover, the IRCA does not require that the 23rd and never raised any question on the alleged irregularity of my
Justices that issued a TRO be the same Justices that will render the decision. [82] This is having presided over the hearing?
because the TRO does not appear in Section 2 (d), Rule VII of the IRCA. Accordingly, only the Why do you insist on assuming the case? Are you not aware that
issuance of a preliminary injunction could be an exception to the July 4, 2008 reorganization of several days after the issuance of the TRO, respondents filed a
the CA.[83] He believes the IRCA does not require that the Justices who heard the case should motion for inhibition of Justice Vicente Roxas and a motion to lift the
also decide it because the CA is a court of record and Justices may rely on the transcript of TRO. Who then had the right to resolve such motion?
stenographic notes.[84] And so, once the three Justices have signed the decision, Under the circumstances, anong iisipin ko sa yo? Ano ang tingin ko
the ponente has the pressing duty to promulgate the decision.[85] ngayon sa iyo?
His feeble answer was: you. He then said he did not know of those
Since July 4, 2008, Justice Bruselas alleged that he acted on all the ponencias of pending motions. (Incidentally, these motions were never resolved.) He
Justices Reyes and Roxas, just as they had acted on his ponencias.[86] also said, wala talaga akong interest dito kundi ayaw ko lang ma charge
ng non-feasance for failing to do my duty.
On July 7, 2008, the GSIS filed its memorandum.
I answered him: Malayo yung non-feasance. Hindi ito nonfeasance. I 6. However, when the parties were directed to transfer to another Room of
taught the subject for many years and this is not one of them. the Court of Appeals for the oral arguments in the instant case, petitioners
So I told him, I have made my decision on the matter. Bahala ka na. saw that the name plates on the table for the justices included that of
Then I stood up to show him to the door. He was silent after that and Justice Sabio, Jr., together with that (sic) of Justices Roxas and
before he left, he put his arm around me. Dimaranan-Vidal. Thereafter, Justice Sabio presided over the oral
arguments as Chairman of the Special Ninth Division of the Honorable
For his part, Justice Reyes kept on repeating: Wala talaga ako dito, wala akong interest kung Court. Petitioners were, thus, of the impression that the regular Chairman
di yun lang hindi ako ma non-feasance. Justice Sabio thought otherwise. of the Ninth Division, Justice Reyes, was still on temporary leave of
absence.
Meanwhile, Justice Roxas brought to the office of Justice Dimaranan-Vidal the final decision
on the MERALCO case bearing his signature, which he gave to Justice Dimaranan-Vidal for 7. Subsequently, it has come to the attention of the petitioners that Justice
concurrence/dissent. According to Justice Dimaranan-Vidal, Justice Roxas explained to her Reyes has already returned from his temporary leave of absence and has
the rationale for his conclusion. Justice Roxas went out for a while and returned with an resumed his duties as Chairman of the Ninth Division of the Honorable
expensive looking travelling bag from where he pulled out the purported final decision. Before Court.
the close of office hours, Justice Roxas returned to the chambers of Justice Dimaranan-Vidal
to check if he (Justice Roxas) had signed his decision. When she replied that yes, he had 8. Under the Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals, Justice Sabio, Jr.
signed it, Justice Roxas said he would pick it up the next day.[89] should now refrain from acting as the chairman of the Division hearing the
instant case as he is already disqualified from acting as such upon the
Justice Dimaranan-Vidal signed the decision notwithstanding that on July 8, 2008 the Court of return of Justice Reyes.
Appeals had been reorganized because she believed that the Special Ninth Division was still
existing on account of its having issued the TRO. [90] She also concurred with the portion of the 8.1. With due respect, Justice Reyes cannot shirk
decision recommending administrative sanctions against the GSIS lawyers because she from his bounden judicial responsibility of performing his duties
believed the OSG or the OGCC should have appeared for the GSIS.[91] and functions as Chairman of the Ninth Division of the
Honorable Court.
Also late that day, Justice Villarama told Justice Sabio that he had advised Justice Reyes to 8.2. Specifically, under Section 3 (d), Rule IV of the
lay off the case and allow Justice Sabio to continue and to resolve the urgent motion for 2002 Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals, a case can remain
Justice Reyes to assume the chairmanship. Justice Villarama recalled that Justice Reyes with the justices who participated therein only when any of the
repeatedly said: Wala talaga ako dito Jun, Wala akong personal interest dito. following actions have been taken: (a) giving due course;
(b) granting of a writ of preliminary injunction; (c) granting of a
After a careful and judicious study of the more than 56-page decision of Justice new trial; or (d) granting of execution pending appeal:
Roxas, Justice Dimaranan-Vidal signed it. True to his word, Justice Roxas personally picked x x x x x x x x x.
up the decision that day purportedly for the action of the Acting Chairman, Justice Sabio, who
was then on leave of absence until July 11, 200.[92] Notwithstanding the fact that the parties 9. None of the foregoing instances apply with respect to Justice
had not submitted their respective memoranda, Justice Dimaranan-Vidal signed the Sabio, Jr.s continuing hold on the case. Although Justice Sabio, Jr. was
convincing ponencia, including three copies of the signature page, because Justice Roxas one of the Justices who issued the temporary restraining order in favour
was insistent of the urgency of the signing of the decision due to the impending lapse of the of the petitioners in the instant case, this circumstance is not among the
TRO on July 29, 2008.[93] Justice Sabio thought otherwise.[94] grounds as above-quoted, when a justice of the Court of Appeals may
remain in the Division.
However, Justice Roxas denied that the decision he gave to Justice Dimaranan-
Vidal was the final decision. He denied that he gave it to her for her signature. He said it was 10. As above-quoted, the rule is categorical that it is not the
only for her to read because she asked to read it. He said it was a mere draft as everything grant of a temporary restraining order but rather the grant of a writ of
was unofficial there was no rollo or logbook with it, it was not placed in an envelope, and it did preliminary injunction that sanctions a justices remaining with the Division.
not have the special seal of Justice Roxas. It allegedly was thrown in the garbage can. Thus, the continued participation of Justice Sabio, Jr., in the instant case,
considering the clear Rules of the Honorable Court, is not only irregular
On July 9, 2008, the OSG filed the memorandum for the SEC. but may lead one to conclude that he is exhibiting undue interest in the
instant case.
On July 10, 2008, Meralco filed an urgent motion praying that Justice Reyes
assume the chairmanship of the Division,[95] alleging the reasons for the urgent motion as On this day, Justice Reyes reported back to work after his trip to Australia.[96]
follows:
5. At the scheduled oral arguments on 23 June 2008 in the instant case, On July 11, 2008, Justice Sabio was on leave when Justice Roxas called him up for
the parties were first directed to one of the Hearing Rooms of the Court of a meeting to discuss the case. Justice Sabio told him that he needed ample time to read the
Appeals. At the said room, the name plate of Justice Reyes was already memoranda of the parties. Justice Roxas promised to send to Justice Sabio the memoranda
placed on the table for the justices. Thus, petitioners were of the immediately.[97]
impression that the leave of absence of Justice Reyes was over and that
he would be presiding over the oral arguments as Chairman of the Ninth At 4:00 p.m., Justice Reyes received from the Eighth Division Clerk of Court a copy
Division of the Honorable Court. of Meralcos Urgent Motion for him to assume the chairmanship of the Ninth Division.
On Monday, July 14, 2008 at the flag ceremony, Justice Sabio requested Justice On July 21, 2008, Justice Roxas personally filed with the Presiding Justice [109] an
Roxas to meet with him as he had by then read the memoranda of the parties. Justice Roxas Interpleader Petition[110] praying that Presiding Justice Vasquez decide which division
initially agreed to the meeting but he later informed Justice Sabio that he had another matter Chairman (Justice Sabios Former Special 9 th Division or Justice B. L. Reyes 8 th Division)
to attend to; neither was he available in the afternoon. Justice Roxas had become scarce. should sign the Preliminary Injunction or Decision. [111] Justice Roxas averred that [t]he impasse
Justice Sabio learned that Justice Dimaranan-Vidal was also looking for Justice Roxas.[98] between two Chairmen from two Divisions has to be resolved much earlier than July 30, 2008
because July 30, 2008 is the expiration date of the TRO issued by the Special 9 th Division
Justice Sabio prepared a resolution on the motion for the reconsideration of the (signed by Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr., Justice Vicente Q. Roxas [ponente] and Justice Myrna
TRO and informed Justices Roxas and Dimaranan-Vidal that he wanted to discuss it with Dimaranan-Vidal). He opined that the two Chairpersons differed in the interpretation of
them. The resolution he prepared never saw light.[99] Sections 1 and 2 (d) in relation to Section 5 of Rule VI on Process of Adjudication of
the Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals (IRCA).[112] His stand was that the IRCA should
At 10 a.m., Justice Roxas, with his messenger, brought the rollo of CA G.R. SP No. be strictly applied because [w]hen the provisions are clear, there is no room for interpretation.
103692 to Justice Reyes, and told the latter that he and Justice Bruselas would be coming
over to deliberate on the case. Ten minutes later, the Eighth Division deliberated on the case. Justice Roxas endorsed his Interpleader Petition to Justice Reyes for his signature
[100]
After a cursory examination of the rollo, Justice Reyes found that the decision had been or dissent to the finalized MERALCO Decision, which had been in Justice Reyes possession
signed by Justices Roxas and Bruselas but Justice Reyes asked for more time to study the since July 14, 2008.[113] He also gave the rollo of the case to Justice Reyes.[114]
case.[101] Presiding Justice Vasquez allegedly told Justice Roxas that as Presiding Justice, he
had no authority to rule on the Interpleader Petition, which is not an administrative concern
A transcript of the Final Deliberation on July 14, 2008 is attached to page 1926 of over which the Presiding Justice must intervene. Nevertheless, to avoid further discussion, the
Volume III of the rollo of CA-G.R. SP No. 103692 and marked as Exh. 2- Roxas on page 279 Presiding Justice told Justice Roxas that he would study the matter.[115]
of the rollo of A.M. No. 08-8-11-CA. According to Justice Roxas, it was he who prepared the
transcript from memory to lend credence to the certification of Justice Reyes at the end of the On July 22, 2008, Justice Reyes wrote the Presiding Justice a letter on what was
decision pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution. [102] Justice Reyes denied discussed between us last 17 July 2008 at around 3:30 p.m.[116] Apparently the Presiding
having seen it or having authorized its transcription. Justice Bruselas did not sign any Justice had suggested to endorse the case and have the Special Ninth Division direct the
transcript of the deliberation as he was not aware that a transcript was being taken. There was respondents to file their simultaneous comments on the petitioners Urgent Motion (For
no stenographer present, as only the three of them, Justices Reyes, Roxas, and Bruselas Honorable BIENVENIDO L. REYES to Assume Chairmanship of the Division in the Instant
were present at the deliberation. Neither was there a recording machine. Justice Roxas Case) dated 10 July 2008.
admittedly prepared the transcript from memory.[103]
Justice Reyes expressed doubts that the suggestion was most prudent, as the
The statement attributed to Justice Reyes in the transcript that there were previous dispute revolves around the correct interpretation of the IRCA. He believed that since the
deliberations were really meetings, which they had twice, in the office of Justice Reyes, question was purely internal, the CA should not seek enlightenment from the litigants for it
according to Justice Roxas.[104] would only be construed against its competence. He shared Justice Cruzs and Roxas
interpretation of the IRCA. Hence, he urged the Presiding Justice to decide the matter;
On July 15, 2008, when she felt that the timing was right, Atty. Silvia Sabio testified otherwise, he would interpret the rules according to his best lights and act accordingly.
that she handed her fathers letter to the Chief Justice through his private secretary, Ms.
Jasmin Mateo.[105] A few days later, however, Presiding Justice Vasquez told Justice Sabio that On July 23, 2008, Presiding Justice Vasquez asked for the rollo of CA G. R. No. SP
the Chief Justice would no longer meet with him, as the Presiding Justice had apprised the No. 103692 so he could properly submit the requested opinion. It was then that he came
Chief Justice about the matter.[106] across the unresolved motion praying for the inhibition of Justice Roxas and the pending
urgent motion to lift the TRO or to hold its enforcement in abeyance. The Presiding Justice
According to Justice Reyes, at 2:00 p.m. that day, the Office of the Presiding Justice considered the latter as a motion for reconsideration of the Resolution issuing the TRO.[117]
informed him that Justice Sabio was waiting for him in his office. As soon as Justice Reyes
was seated, Justice Sabio berated him and accused him of orchestrating matters. Justice Meanwhile, at noon of that day, as Justice Reyes had not yet received any reaction
Sabio told him that an emissary of MERALCO had offered him P10 million to drop off the case, from the Presiding Justice, he signed the decision as well as the Certification. It was
hence, he asked that if he was offered that much, how much could have been offered to the promulgated on the same day.
principals?[107]
The decision was promulgated without waiting for the Presiding Justices opinion on
On July 17, 2008, Justice Reyes went back to the office of the Presiding Justice and whether it was the Eighth or Special Ninth Division that should decide the case. Justice Roxas
informed him of the episode in the office of Justice Sabio. He also went to ask Justice alleged that he did not expect the Presiding Justice to answer or resolve the matter anyway.
Villarama for his opinion as to who was the rightful claimant to the chairmanship of the Division
that should decide the Meralco case. Justice Villarama allegedly replied that they were both On July 24, 2008, Presiding Justice Vasquez issued his reply to Justice Reyes letter
correct. and Justice Roxas Interpleader-Petition. The Presiding Justice claimed having doubts on
whether he possessed the authority to decide the subject conflict simply because under the
On July 18, 2008, at the pre-launching meeting for the CA-CMIS, Justice Villarama IRCA, the Presiding Justice has control and supervision only over administrative affairs of the
had a brief chat with Justice Bruselas. The former told the latter that both Justices Sabio and Court. The controversy was certainly not an administrative matter but Section 11 of Rule VIII of
Reyes are correct in the sense that one (1) [of] them can properly assume the IRCA provides that the Presiding Justice has the authority to act on any matter not covered
chairmanship either under the exception provided in Sec. 2 (d), Rule VI of the 2002 by the Rules although such action should be reported to the Court en banc.
IRCAdepending on the final disposition of the prayer for injunctive relief, or pursuant to the
general rule enshrined in Sec. 7 (b), Rule VI.[108] The Presiding Justice expressed in his letter the view that the (Special Ninth)
Division that issued the temporary restraining order should continue resolving the injunctive
prayer in the petition because it was the Division that issued the Resolution granting the TRO of the bribery incident and that he was disgusted over the turn of events because he should
and setting the hearing on the application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, have remained chair of the Special 9 th Division that issued the TRO on the case. Justice
aside from the fact that the parties did not contest the authority of Justice Sabio as Division Bruselas informed Justice Sabio that it was the first time that he heard of the matter and that
Chairman at the time, although Justice Reyes had reported back to work. Moreover, the he had participated in the deliberation on the case and concurred with the ponencia of Justice
motion for inhibition and the urgent motion to lift the TRO have a bearing on the application of Roxas without such information ever being taken up. Justice Sabio told Justice Bruselas that
Section 2 of Rule VI of the IRCA, especially because Section 7 (b) of Rule VI [118] points to the he would not leave the matter as it is because he would bring it up in the open, to media,
retention of the case by the Special Ninth Division. Furthermore, the new Division headed by etc. Justice Sabio asked Justice Bruselas that if P10M was offered to him, how much would
Justice Reyes may not be allowed to resolve the pending incidents because two of its have been offered to the others.
members, Justices Reyes and Bruselas did not participate in the hearing on June 23,
2008. He did not believe that Justice Reyes would be charged with dereliction of duty should Troubled by the information, Justice Bruselas went to the Presiding Justice where
he not assume the chairmanship. The Presiding Justice ended his letter with the hope that the Justice Dimaranan-Vidal, who had received the same call from Justice Sabio, joined
matter would be laid to rest and that whoever would be dissatisfied with its outcome may them. After that meeting with the Presiding Justice, Justice Bruselas called up Justice Reyes
elevate the matter to the Supreme Court. who confirmed that he had heard about the bribe offer but that he did not reveal the same to
Justice Bruselas as it escaped his mind. The effort of Justice Bruselas to get in touch with
At 2:00 p.m. that day, Justice Sabio informed the Presiding Justice that a decision Justice Roxas proved futile.
had been promulgated in the Meralco case the previous day. The Presiding Justice was
surprised because Justices Roxas and Reyes had asked him to resolve the impasse on the Allegedly prompted by the manner by which the decision x x x was arrived at, and how the
Division chairmanship. Upon inquiry, the Presiding Justice found that the decision had indeed decision was promulgated, and that unless an immediate and thorough investigation thereon
been promulgated at 4:10 p.m. on July 23, 2008.[119] be undertaken by the Court of Appeals, both the individual and institutional integrity of the
justices and of the Court of Appeals would undoubtedly be tarnished, Justice Sabio wrote on
It was also on July 24, 2008 that Justice Dimaranan-Vidal received a call from July 26, 2008 a letter[123] to the Presiding Justice, which precipitated the present investigation.
Justice Sabio, informing her that Meralco had offered him a bribe of P10 million in exchange
for his voluntary stepping out from the Meralco case in order to give way to Justice B. L. On July 28, 2008, the Philippine Daily Inquirer carried an account of the letter of
Reyes, and that the decision in the Meralco case had been promulgated by the Eighth Justice Dimaranan-Vidal to the Presiding Justice, without her knowing how her confidential
Division.[120] Shocked that Justice Roxas did not inform her as a matter of judicial courtesy of letter to the Presiding Justice leaked out.[124]
the scrapping of the decision which she signed on July 8, 2008, Justice Dimaranan-Vidal wrote
a letter to the Presiding Justice dated July 24, 2008, [121] bringing to his attention the apparent Before Justice Bruselas delivered his letter to the Presiding Justice, he received a
and obvious irregularities in the handing of CA-G.R. SP No. 103692, and complaining about copy of the letter of Justice Sabio and, through a telephone call, reiterated his full agreement
Justice Roxas lack of judicial courtesy in discarding for reasons she would not know, his with his desired investigation.
purported final Decision that he had asked her to sign and which she signed after a judicious
study of the records and rollo thereof. Justice Roxas gave the lame excuse that he had to The Presiding Justice called the Court of Appeals to an emergency en banc session
incorporate therein some ten pages which he forgot to include in his Decision. at 10:00 a.m. on July 31, 2008 at the Session Hall to elicit the reaction of the Court and on the
possible effect on the decision rendered. The session was also called in order that the
Justice Dimaranan-Vidal expressed surprise and consternation when she learned on predicament experienced in CA-G.R. SP No. 103692 could be deliberated upon by the
even date that a Decision in the case had been promulgated on July 23, 2008 by the Eighth Committee on Rules with a view to amending the IRCA on the reorganization of the Court of
Division chaired by Justice Reyes, with Justices Roxas and Bruselas as members. She said: Appeals. The Executive Justices of Cebu and Cagayan de Oro, Justices Antonio L. Villamor
My deepest regret is that the undersigned who already signed and Romulo V. Borja, respectively, were instructed to attend the en banc session to report to
the supposed final draft of the Decision in the instant case which bears the other Justices in their stations what transpired at the session, and to collect the personal
the signature of the ponente, was not even informed by the latter as a reaction, comment or view of the Justices on the matter.[125]
judicial courtesy at least, of the hurried easing out of the undersigned from
the case. This inevitably posed even to an unprejudiced mind the In its closed door en banc session on July 31, 2008, after a torrid discussion of all
following questions: under what basis was the case suddenly transferred the issues, the Court of Appeals decided, as follows:
to the 8th Division and why is it that neither the undersigned nor the Acting (1) Refer the propriety of the actions of the Justices
Chairman Justice SABIO, of the Special 9th Division not consulted concerned to the Supreme Court, through the Office of the Court
thereof? and, foremost, what happened to the Decision which the Administrator;
undersigned signed after devoting her precious time and effort in carefully
and laboriously examining the voluminous records and rolloof the case? (2) Leave the matter regarding the validity of the decision
rendered in the above-entitled case to the parties for them to take
Sad to say the circumstance obtaining herein constitute a flagrant whatever legal steps they may deem appropriate in the usual course of
violation of the provision of Canon 5 particularly Sections 2 and 3 thereof procedure; and
of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary (A.M. No.
03-05-01-SC). (3) Refer the conflict in the interpretation of our Internal Rules to
the Committee on Rules of the Court of Appeals in order to prevent the
[122]
On July 25, 2008, Justice Bruselas wrote the Presiding Justice a letter, which recurrence of a similar situation.[126]
was prompted by a disturbing telephone call he received from Justice Sabio in the morning
of July 24, 2008. Justice Sabio informed Justice Bruselas that, after the injunction hearing After the en banc session, Justice Dimaranan-Vidal expressed in a letter for the
on June 23, 2008, Meralco offered him P10 Million to either favor them or yield the chair to Presiding Justice[127] her strong reaction to the paper of Justice Roxas falsely imputing to her
Justice Reyes. Justice Sabio told Justice Bruselas that he had informed the Presiding Justice grandstanding before the media or resorting to media-recourse instead of just filing an
administrative complaint before the Supreme Court, and taking exception to the equally The Panel of Investigators held hearings from August 8 to 23, 2008.
outrageous, revolting and baseless accusation that she is allegedly clinging to the case. She Affidavits were submitted to the Panel to serve as the parties direct testimonies
asserted that she never leaked a copy of her letter to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, as her letter upon which they were cross-examined by the Panel and the other parties.
was only intended to bring to the attention of the Presiding Justice the impropriety done by
Justice Roxas in the MERALCO case that resulted in her having been eased out of the case On September 4, 2008, the Panel of Investigators submitted its Report of
notwithstanding that she carefully and judiciously examined the ponencia with more than 50 even date to the Court en banc.
pages, after devoting her precious time to such study, and affixing her concurrence thereto.
Justice Dimaranan-Vidal reiterated her prayer for an investigation of the matter. According to the Report, the investigation has revealed irregularities and
improprieties committed by the Court of Appeals Justices in connection with the MERALCO
Meanwhile, on that day, Mr. De Borja, executed an affidavit admitting that he was case, CA-G.R. SP No. 103692, which are detrimental to the proper administration of justice
the businessman referred to by Justice Sabio, Jr. in his letter to Presiding Justice Vasquez. Mr. and damaging to the institutional integrity, independence and public respect for the Judiciary.
[130]
De Borja publicly claimed having learned from the news that Justice Sabio was one of the
justices in the case arising from the order of the SEC to nullify the proxies issued in favor of
the MERALCO management. He also alleged that Justice Sabio told him about the Findings regarding the conduct of
blandishments coming from the government side, that he was being offered a promotion to the Associate Justice Vicente Q. Roxas
Supreme Court and money to favor the GSIS position. Mr. De Borja asked Justice Sabio, Jr.,
What would it take for you to resist the governments offer? and that the response of Justice Justice Roxas inexcusably failed to act on
Sabio, Jr. was Fifty Million. a number of motions of the parties prior to
the promulgation of the Decision.
Justice Sabio asked permission from the Presiding Justice to hold a press
conference the next day on account of the publicized affidavit of Mr. De Borja. The Presiding As found by the Panel of Investigators, several motions were not resolved or acted
Justice told Justice Sabio that this is a matter of self-defense on his part, hence, the Presiding upon by Justice Roxas. These were enumerated in the Report as follows:
Justice cannot stop him from doing so.
(a) The Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Defer Action on any Incident
Justice Sabio issued a signed statement as an initial response to the affidavit of Mr. of the Petition Pending Resolution of Re-Raffle filed by GSIS on
De Borja, vehemently denying that Mr. De Borja asked him what it would take for him to inhibit May 29, 2008 soon after this case was filed on that date
from the case, and that he never asked for money from him.[128] (Rollo, pp. 185-186).

On August 1, 2008, Justice Sabio called the press conference to read a signed b) GSIS Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Inhibit Justice Roxas, which was filed
statement entitled My Reaction to Mr. Francis De Borjas Affidavit dated July 31, 2008 on the on May 30, 2008. As the motion raised a prejudicial
Meralco-SEC Case. question, Justice Roxas should have resolved it before
issuing the TRO sought by Meralco, but he never
Expressing anger at the filthy lie of Mr. De Borja, Justice Sabio decided to narrate did (Rollo, pp. 220-223).
almost word for word his conversations with Mr. De Borja.
(c) GSIS Motion to Lift TRO which was filed on May 30, 2008 (Rollo, pp.
In an affidavit dated August 1, 2008, which Evelyn Clavano [129] executed 187-210)
in Davao City, she stated that -
(d) GSIS Motion filed on June 18, 2008, praying that it be allowed to use
Francis de Borja requested me if I have the cell phone number of Justice Power point at the hearing on June 23, 2008 . On June 20,
Jose L. Sabio Jr. He related that because he was very close to the 2008, the SEC filed a similar motion. Both motions were not
Lopezes of Meralco, he wanted to call him regarding his possible acted upon by Justice Roxas (Rollo, pp. 593-621,)
inhibition in a certain Meralco case, wherein he was designated as a
substitute member of the division vice a justice who was temporarily on (e) Meralcos Motion for Extension of Time to file their Consolidated
leave by reason of sickness. He further said that the Lopezes desire that Memorandum of Authorities and Reply to Repondent SECs
the same Justice, with whom the Lopezes are more comfortable, to sit in Comment filed on June 25, 2008 (Rollo, pp. 981- 987).
the division. (f) Meralcos Urgent Motion for Honorable Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes to
Assume Chairmanship of the Division in the Instant Case,
So, I gave Francis de Borja the cell phone number of Justice Jose. L. which was filed on July 10, 2008 (Rollo, pp. 1262-1274).
[131]
Sabio, Jr. through business card. (emphasis supplied)

x x x x x x x x x. We agree with the Panel of Investigators that by ignoring or refusing to act on the motion for
his inhibition, Justice Roxas violated Rule V, Section 3, third paragraph of the IRCA, which
On August 4, 2008, the Supreme Court constituted the Panel of Investigators to provides that he should resolve such motion in writing with copies furnished the other
investigate (1) alleged improprieties of the actions of the Justices of the Court of Appeals in members of the Division, the Presiding Justice, the Raffle Committee, and the Division Clerk of
CA-G.R. SP No. 103692 (Antonio V. Rosete, et al. v. SEC, et al.) and (2) the alleged rejected Court. The pertinent portion of the said provision states:
offer or solicitation of bribe disclosed respectively by Mr. Justice Jose Sabio and Mr. Francis
de Borja. Sec. 3. Motion to Inhibit a Division or a Justice. x x x
xxx
A motion for voluntary inhibition of a Justice shall be acted upon by him the Eighth Division on July 14, 2008. The Final Report which he submitted
alone in writing, copy furnished the other members of the Division, the was admittedly the decision itself which he and Justice Bruselas, Jr. had
Presiding Justice, the Raffle Committee and the Division Clerk of Court. already signed. The Final Report was merely the title of the page that
served as the cover of the decision. Hence, Justice B.L. Reyes supposed
This Court cannot agree with Justice Roxas proposition that the issuance of the TRO closing statement in the transcript that -- We have covered every angle of
constitutes an implied denial of the motion to inhibit since under IRCA the obligation of the the Final Report of Justice Roxas extensively is also false. Justice B.L.
Justice to act on such a motion is mandatory. Reyes testified at the investigation that he had not seen the transcript until
the copy in the rollo was shown to him by Justice Callejo, Sr. during his
Furthermore, the Court finds well-taken the Panels finding that Justice Roxas failure cross-examination of Justice B. L. Reyes on August 26, 2008.
to act on the other motions of the parties violated Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the 1989 Code of
Judicial Conduct (which applies in a suppletory manner to the New Code of Judicial xxx xxx xxx
Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary) providing that:
Rule 3.05. A judge shall dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases (e) Justice Roxas testimony that when he brought the Meralco
within the required periods. decision to Justice Dimaranan-Vidal on July 8, 2008, it was only a draft for
her to read, because she asked if she may read it, not for her to sign it,
is completely false. This testimony was labelled by Justice Dimaranan-
Even Section 5, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that Vidal as a lie, and she called Justice Roxas a liar, because she did not
[j]udges shall perform all judicial duties, including the delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently, ask to borrow the decision for her reading pleasure, but Justice Roxas
fairly and with reasonable promptness. Thus, it has become well-settled in jurisprudence that personally brought it to her office for her to sign as a member of the
even just undue delay in the resolving pending motions or incidents within the reglamentary Special Ninth Division. After poring over it the whole night, she signed it,
period fixed by law is not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency. [132] With more reason, as well as three (3) additional signature pages which were to be attached
this Court finds suspicious and reprehensible the failure of Justice Roxas to act at all on to three (3) other copies of the decision.[133]
pending motions and incidents in CA-G.R. SP No. 103692.
xxx xxx xxx
This is in fact not the first time that Justice Roxas has been cited administratively for
failure to resolve pending incidents in cases assigned to him. In Orocio v. Roxas, A.M. Nos. Indeed, the fabrications and falsehoods that Justice Roxas blithely proferred to the Panel in
07-115-CA-J and CA-08-46-J, this Court imposed a P15,000 fine on Justice Roxas for explanation/justification of his questioned handling of the Meralco case demonstrated that he
unwarranted delay in resolving two motions for reconsideration in another case and sternly lacks the qualification of integrity and honesty expected of a magistrate and a member of the
warned him that future commission any act of impropriety will be dealt with more severely. appellate court.

Justice Roxas is guilty of gross dishonesty. Under Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, dishonesty is considered a serious offense that may
warrant the penalty of dismissal from the service. Under the Rule IV, Section 52 of the Uniform
Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, dishonesty is likewise considered a grave
Apart from Justice Roxas inexcusable inaction on pending incidents in the Meralco offense and warrants the penalty of dismissal even for the first offense. In the past, the Court
case, the Panel of Investigators found that he had been dishonest and untruthful in relation to has had the occasion to rule that:
the said case. The Court adopts the following findings of the Panel: dishonesty and falsification are considered grave offenses warranting the
penalty of dismissal from service upon the commission of the first
2. Justice Roxas was dishonest and untruthful. offense. On numerous occasions, the Court did not hesitate to impose
such extreme punishment on employees found guilty of these offenses.
(a) Justice Roxas admitted that the Transcript of Final Decision, Dishonesty, being in the nature of a grave offense, carries the
which is supposed to be a transcript of the deliberation on July 14, 2008 extreme penalty of dismissal from the service with forfeiture of retirement
of the Eighth Division on the final decision in the Meralco case was not a benefits except accrued leave credits, and perpetual disqualification for
true transcript of the minutes of the meeting, but purely a transcript from re-employment in the government service. Dishonesty has no place in
memory because no notes were taken, no stenographer was present, and the judiciary.[134]
no tape recorder was used. It was in fact a drama which he composed
from my recollection to comply with Sec. 9, Rule VI of the IRCA which Justice Roxas showed a lack of courtesy
requires that minutes of the meeting, i.e., deliberation, shall be kept. The and respect for his colleagues in the Court
so-called transcript is a fabrication designed to deceive that there had of Appeals.
been compliance when actually there was none -- with the prerequisite of
the IRCA that consultation and/or deliberation among the members of the
Division must precede the drafting of a decision. The Panel of Investigators reported on this matter in this wise:
(b) The statement in the transcript that it was a recap from our xxx xxx xxx
previous deliberations was another falsehood because there had been (f) Justice Roxas was thoughtlessly disrespectful to a
no previous deliberations. colleague and a lady at that, when he unceremoniously discarded,
shredded, and burned the decision that Justice Dimaranan-Vidal had
(c) The reference in the transcript to a Final Report of Justice signed, because he allegedly forgot that Justice Dimaranan-Vidal and
Roxas was also false for Justice Roxas admittedly did not submit a report Justice Sabio, Jr. had already been reorganized out of the Special Ninth
as ponente, as required by Sec. 9, Rule VI of the IRCA, for deliberation by Division as of July 4, 2008, hence, out of the Meralco case. Out of
courtesy, he should have explained to Justice Dimaranan-Vidal the reason
why he was not promulgating the decision which she had signed. xxx xxx xxx

The truth, it seems, is that Justice Roxas, who had consulted (d) Although the parties were given 15 days after the hearing
Justice Villarama, Jr. on which Division should decide the Meralco case, on June 23, 2008, or up to July 8, 2008, to simultaneously submit their
may have been convinced that it should be the Special Ninth Division. memoranda and memoranda of authorities, and actually submitted:
That is why he brought his decision to Justice Dimaranan-Vidal for her On July 7, 2008 GSISs 39 page- memorandum
signature. However, somehow, somewhere, during the night, while Justice On July 9, 2008 SECs 62 page-memorandum
Dimaranan-Vidal was patiently poring over his decision, Justice Roxas On July 10, 2008 MERALCOs 555 page- memorandum (by
was persuaded to bring his decision to the Eighth Division (to which he messenger) with memorandum of authorities
and Justice B.L. Reyes belong after the July 4, 2008 reorganization of the
Court), it may have dawned on him that if the case remained in the Justice Roxas prepared the decision before the parties had filed
Special Ninth Division, Justice Sabio, Jr. might dissent, requiring the their memoranda in the case and submitted it to Justice Dimaranan-Vidal
Presiding Justice to constitute a special division of five. If he (Justice for her signature on July 8, 2008. His rush to judgment was indicative
Roxas) should fail to obtain a majority of the Division on his side, he of undue interest and unseemly haste, according to J.Romero.
would lose his ponencia; someone else would become
the ponente (perhaps Justice Sabio, Jr.). That may be the reason why he He cheated the parties counsel of the time, effort, and energy
junked Justices Sabio, Jr. and Dimaranan-Vidal (even if the latter that they invested in the preparation of their ponderous memoranda
concurred with his decision) because he was unsure of Justice Sabio, Jr. which, as it turned out, neither he nor the other members of the Eighth
He chose to cast his lot with his companions in the Eighth Division -- Division bothered to read before signing his decision. He made a mockery
Justices B. L. Reyes and Bruselas, Jr. -- with whom he and Meralco were of his own order for the parties to submit memoranda, and rendered their
comfortable. compliance a futile exercise.
xxx xxx xxx
(g) J. Roxas was disrespectful to Presiding Justice Vasquez, (underscoring supplied)
Jr. whose ruling on his Interpleader Petition he sought on July 21,
2008, but he promulgated the Meralco decision two (2) days later, on July We agree with Mme. Justice Romeros observation that the rush to judgment (even before the
23, 2008, without waiting for Presiding Justice Vasquez, Jr.s ruling which filing of the parties memoranda) was indicative of Justice Roxas undue interest and
came out on July 24, 2008, only three (3) days after the Interpleader unseemly haste, especially when taken together with other circumstances. This inexplicable
Petition was filed by him, and two (2) days after Justice B.L. Reyes also haste in resolving the case on the merits is likewise apparent in Justice Roxas failure to
reiterated in writing his request for Presiding Justice Vasquez, Jr. to resolve the several pending incidents and instead jumping ahead to deciding the case on the
resolve the same chairmanship issue raised in the Interpleader. Presiding merits; his rushing of Justice Dimaranan-Vidal into signing his draft Decision on July 8, 2008
Justice Vasquez, Jr. was embarrassed and humiliated by Justices B.L. when the parties memoranda have not yet all been filed with the CA; his precipitate transfer of
Reyes and Roxas lack of courtesy and respect for his position as head the case to the Eighth Division for promulgation of decision, without notice to Justice
of the Court. Dimaranan-Vidal of the Special Ninth Division who had already signed his draft Decision and
despite the unresolved Chairmanship dispute between Justice Reyes and Justice Sabio which
xxx xxx xxx he (Justice Roxas) even submitted to the Presiding Justice for appropriate action, just a few
days before the promulgation.
There is an old adage which says to gain respect one must learn to give it. If judges
and justices are expected to treat litigants, counsels and subordinates with respect and We reiterate here that as the visible representation of the law and justice, judges are expected
fairness, with more reason, that judges and justices should give their fellow magistrates the to conduct themselves in a manner that would enhance respect and confidence of the people
courtesy and professional regard due to them as their colleagues in the Judiciary. Thus, in in the judicial system. The New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary mandates
Canon 5, Section 3 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, judges are expected to carry out that judges must not only maintain their independence, integrity and impartiality; but they must
judicial duties with appropriate consideration for all persons, such as the parties, also avoid any appearance of impropriety or partiality, which may erode the peoples faith in the
witnesses, lawyers, court staff and judicial colleagues, without differentiation on any judiciary. This standard applies not only to the decision itself, but also to the process by which
irrelevant ground, immaterial to the proper performance of such duties. the decision is made.[135] This Court will not hesitate to sanction with the highest penalty
magistrates who exhibit manifest undue interest in their assigned cases.[136]
In sum, this Court finds that Justice Roxas multiple violations of the canons of the Code of
This Court cannot view lightly the discourteous manner that Justice Roxas, in his Judicial Conduct constitute grave misconduct, compounded by dishonesty, undue interest and
apparent haste to promulgate his decision in the Meralco case, treated his colleagues in the conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, which warrant his DISMISSAL from the
Court of Appeals. It behooves the Court to remind all magistrates that their high office service.
demands compliance with the most exacting standards of propriety and decorum.
Findings regarding the conduct of
Justice Roxas questionable handling of the Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr.
Meralco case demonstrates his undue
interest therein. In the Report, the Panel found that Justice Sabio likewise committed improprieties in relation
to the Meralco case.
In the Report, the Panel of Investigators observed that Justice Roxas in fact began drafting his
decision even prior to the submission of the parties memoranda. As discussed in the Report:
The circumstances of the telephone call of
Chairman Sabio to his brother Justice Based on the facts on record, the Court is wary of declaring that Justice Sabio had been
Sabio showed that Justice Sabio failed to influenced by his brother by speculating that he would have favored GSIS had he been a part
uphold the standard of independence and of the division which rendered the decision in the Meralco case. However, we do find that it
propriety expected of him as a magistrate was improper for Justice Sabio to hold on to the chairmanship of the Ninth Division the despite
of the appellate court. the return of Justice Reyes, when Justice Sabios designation as acting chairman was clearly
only for the duration of Justice Reyes leave of absence. We likewise note with disfavor his
In his testimony before the Panel, Chairman Sabio admits that he called up Justice stubborn insistence on his own interpretation of the IRCA and hostile, dismissive attitude
Sabio on May 30, 2008 from Davao City, in response to a resquest for help from a member of towards equally well-reasoned positions of his colleagues on the proper interpretation of their
the Board of Trustees of Meralco. Notwithstanding the fact that Chairman Sabio called to relay rules. Such conduct on the part of Justice Sabio did nothing to aid in the swift and amicable
to Justice Sabio the rightness of the GSIS cause and asked him to help GSIS and that Justice resolution of his dispute with Justice Reyes but rather fanned the flames of resentment
Sabio allegedly told his brother that he would act in accordance with his conscience, the same between them. We deem this sort of behavior unbecoming for a magistrate of his stature.
still constituted a violation of Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers,
which provides that: Justice Sabios conversations with Mr. De
A lawyer shall x x x refrain from any impropriety which tends to Borja were improper and indiscreet.
influence, or gives the appearance of influencing the Court.
On this matter, the Court accepts the following findings in the Report:
As they were both members of the Bar, it is incomprehensible to this Court how the
brothers can justify their improper conversation regarding the Meralco case. As the Panel Knowing the nature of De Borjas profession, Justice Sabio, Jr.
observed in its Report: should have been wary of the former. He should have foreseen that De
Borja had the Meralco case on his mind when he called Justice Sabio, Jr.
Ironically, both of them found nothing wrong with brother True enough, De Borja mentioned the Meralco case and congratulated
Camilos effort to influence his younger brothers action in the Meralco Justice Sabio, Jr. for having signed the TRO in favour of Meralco.
case, because both believe that our Filipino culture allows brother-to-
brother conversation, even if the purpose of one is to influence the other, But that was not the last time Justice Sabio, Jr. would hear from
provided the latter does not agree to do something illegal.[137] De Borja. A month later, after Justice Sabio, Jr. had presided at the
hearing of Meralcos prayer for preliminary injunction on June 23, 2008,
For the Panel, Justice Sabio violated Sections 1, 4, and 5, Canon 1 of the New Code of and the case was ripening for decision or resolution, De Borja again
Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, which provide that called up Justice Sabio, Jr. and asked to meet him over dinner to chit chat
Sec. 1. Judges shall exercise the judicial function independently x x about the Meralco case.
x free from extraneous influence, inducement, pressure, threat or
interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason. Instead of telling off De Borja that he could not, and would not,
talk about the Meralco case, Justice Sabio, Jr. agreed to meet De Borja in
xxx xxx xxx the lobby-lounge of the Ateneo Law School after his evening class in
Legal Ethics in said school.
Sec. 4. Judges shall not allow family, social, or other relationships to
influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige of judicial office Justice Sabio Jr.s action of discussing the Meralco case with De
shall not be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, Borja was highly inappropriate and indiscreet. First, in talks with his
nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are brother; the second time in conversation with De Borja, Justice Sabio, Jr.
in a special position to influence the judge. broke the shield of confidentiality that covers the disposition of cases in
the Court in order to preserve and protect the integrity and independence
Sec. 5. Judges shall not only be free from inappropriate connections of the Court itself. He ignored the injunction in Canon 1, Section 8 of
with, and influence by, the executive and legislative branches of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine
government, but must also appear to be free therefrom to a Judiciary that: Judges shall exhibit and promote high standards of
reasonable observer. judicial conduct (and discretion) in order to reinforce public
confidence in the judiciary which is fundamental to the maintenance
of judicial independence.
In the Investigators mind, although Justice Sabio signed the TRO in favour of
Meralco contrary to his brothers advice, Justice Sabios unusual interest in holding on to the It was during that meeting with De Borja in the lobby-lounge of
Meralco case, seemed to indicate that he may have been actually influenced by his brother to the Ateneo Law School, that De Borja allegedly offered him P10 million, in
help GSIS. In arriving at this conclusion, the Panel noted the following circumstances: (1) behalf of Meralco, to step out of the case and allow Justice Bienvenido
Justice Sabio adamantly refused to yield the chairmanship of the Special Ninth Division Reyes to assume the chairmanship of the Special Ninth Division because
although the regular chairman, Justice Reyes had returned to duty on June 10, 2008; and, (2) Meralco was not comfortable with him (Justice Sabio, Jr.). He rejected the
Justice Sabio officiously prepared and signed a resolution (a chore for the ponente Justice V. bribe offer because he could not in conscience accept it.
Roxas to perform), requiring the GSIS and the SEC to comment on Meralcos Motion for
Justice B. Reyes to Assume the Chairmanship of the 9th Division, which he probably intended Justice Sabio, Jr. was allegedly shocked and insulted that De
to delay the decision on the preliminary injunction beyond the life of the TRO to the prejudice Borja would think that he (Justice Sabio, Jr.) could be bribed or
of Meralco and the advantage of the GSIS. bought. The Panel is, however, honestly perplexed why in spite of his
outraged respectability, Justice Sabio, Jr. called up De Borja two (2) days Meralco case. Thus, when the Presiding Justice issued his ruling on the chairmanship dispute
later (on July 3, 2008), to tell De Borja to stop pestering him with his calls. on July 24, 2008, he was unaware of the promulgation of the Meralco decision on July 23,
The Panel is nonplussed because, normally, a person who has been 2008, under the aegis of Justice Reyes Eighth Division. As found by the Panel, Presiding
insulted would never want to see, much less speak again, to the person Justice Vasquez, Jr. was completely taken aback when he learned about it on July 24, 2008,
who had disrespected him. He could have just shut off his cell phone to the same day that he issued his opinion on the chairmanship issue which by then had
De Borjas calls. De Borja denied that he reiterated his offer of P10 million become functus oficio. He felt belittled and humiliated by the discourtesy of the two justices to
to Justice Sabio, Jr. He denied saying that even if the case should go up him.
to the Supreme Court, GSIS would still lose, hence, saying lang yung P10
million; baka sisihin ka pa ng mga anak mo. He testified that his reply to It bears repeating here that under Canon 5, Section 3 of the New Code of Judicial
Justice Sabio, Jr.s call was deadma or indifference. Justice Sabio, Jr. Conduct, judges are mandated to show the appropriate consideration and respect for their
blamed that call of his to a lapse in judgment on his part. colleagues in the Judiciary.

Be that as it may, the Investigating Panel finds more credible Thus, we adopt the finding of the Panel on this point and find Justice Reyes guilty of
Justice Sabio, Jr.s story about De Borjas P10 million-bribe-offer on behalf simple misconduct, which is mitigated by the fact that he repeatedly asked Presiding Justice
of Meralco, than De Borjas denial that he made such an offer. Why does Vasquez to act on his request to rule on the conflicting interpretation of the IRCA. However,
the Panel believe him, and not De Borja? Justice Reyes should be reprimanded for taking part in the decision of the subject case
without awaiting the ruling of the Presiding Justice.
First, because Justice Sabio, Jr. verbally reported the rejected
bribe offer to CA Presiding Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. the next day a Findings regarding the conduct of
fact admitted by Presiding Justice Vasquez, Jr. Justice Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal
The Court finds well-taken and adopts the findings of the Panel of Investigators, to
Second, even though Justice Sabio, Jr. did not mention the wit:
bribe-offerors name in both his verbal and written reports to Presiding
Justice Vasquez, Jr., De Borja identified himself to the media as the Justice Dimaranan-Vidal deviated from the IRCA when she
person alluded to. allowed herself to be rushed by Justice Roxas to sign the Meralco
decision on July 8, 2008, without reading the parties memoranda and
Third, De Borjas allegation, that Justice Sabio, Jr. wanted P50 without the deliberation among members of the Division required by the
million, not P10 million, is not believable, for, if Justice Sabio, Jr. quoted IRCA. She knew that the TRO would not expire until July 30, 2008 some
P50 million as his price, he would not have reported the P10 million bribe three (3) weeks away from July 8, 2008 yet she allowed herself to believe
offer to Presiding Justice Vasquez, Jr. He would have waited for Meralcos Justice Roxas misrepresentation that signing the decision was urgent. Her
reply to his counter-offer.[138] compliance with certain dissembling practices of other justices of the
xxx xxx xxx Court, in violation of the IRCA, showed weakness and lack of
independence on her part.[139]
Indeed, the Court agrees with the Panel that the allegation of solicitation on the part of Justice
Sabio is not credible. Nevertheless, the continued communications between Justice Sabio and The following sections of Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct are instructive in
Mr. De Borja even after the latters rejected bribery attempt is highly inappropriate and shows this regard:
poor judgment on the part of Justice Sabio who should have acted in preservation of the
dignity of his judicial office and the institution to which he belongs. SEC. 1. Judges shall exercise the judicial function independently on the
basis of their assessment of the facts and in accordance with a
Premises considered, this Court is of the view that Justice Sabios indiscreet and imprudent conscientious understanding of the law, free of any extraneous influence,
conversations regarding the Meralco case with his brother and Mr. De Borja and his actuations inducement, pressure, threat or interference, direct or indirect, from any
in the chairmanship dispute with Justice Reyes constitute simple misconduct and conduct quarter or for any reason.
unbecoming of a justice of the Court of Appeals which warrant the penalty of two (2) months
suspension without pay. SEC. 2. In performing judicial duties, judges shall be independent from
judicial colleagues in respect of decisions which the judge is obliged to
Findings regarding the conduct of make independently.
Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes.
Allowing a fellow justice to induce her to deviate from established procedure
As previously discussed, Justice Reyes appealed to Presiding Justice Vazquez in a constitutes conduct unbecoming a justice for which Justice Dimaranan-Vidal should be
letter dated July 22, 2008, reiterating his (Justice Reyes) request that the Presiding Justice ADMONISHED to be more circumspect in the performance of her judicial duties.
render an opinion which Division of the Court of Appeals the Eighth Division with him as
chairman, or the Special Ninth Division chaired by Justice Sabio should resolve the Meralco Findings regarding the conduct of
case. This was in conjunction with an Interpleader filed by Justice Roxas on the same issue Presiding Justice Conrado M. Vasquez
with the Presiding Justice. Yet, despite the fact that the Presiding Justice informed Justices
Reyes and Roxas that he would study the matter, Justices Reyes and Justice Roxas, together It is the view of the Panel of Investigators that Presiding Justice Vasquez failed to provide the
with Justice Bruselas, promulgated the decision in the Meralco case on July 23, 2008. Justice leadership expected of him as head of the Court of Appeals. The following quote from the
Reyes and Justice Roxas did not withdraw their request for a ruling nor did either of them Report summarizes the perceived lapses on the part of the Presiding Justice:
advise the Presiding Justice beforehand of their intention to proceed with the resolution of the
Clearly, Presiding Justice Vasquez, Jr. had been indecisive in
dealing with the turmoil arising from the Meralco case. With respect to Mr. De Borja, the present investigation has given this Court reason to believe
He vacillated and temporized on resolving the impasse between Justice that Mr. De Borja may be criminally liable for his attempt to bribe a magistrate of the Court of
Sabio, Jr. and Justice B. L. Reyes over the chairmanship of the Division Appeals. This matter should be referred to the Department of Justice for appropriate action.
that should hear and decide the Meralco case. He failed to take action on
the reported bribe-offer by Meralco to J. Sabio, Jr. He hesitated to assert Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, this per curiam decision was reached
his leadership of the Court even when the parties repeatedly urged him to after deliberation of the Court en banc. At the outset, the offer of three (3) members of the
lay down the rule for them to follow. Was he hampered by the fact that he Court to recuse themselves was denied by the Court. Except for two members of the Court
has relatives two daughters employed in the GSIS, and a sister who is a who were allowed to inhibit themselves from the case, the Justices voted as follows: Twelve
consultant thereof? He pleaded lack of authority. Was he not aware then, Justices voted for the dismissal from service of Associate Justice Vicente Q. Roxas and one
or did he discover too late, that under Section 11, Rule VIII of the IRCA, (1) voted for his suspension from the service for six (6) months. Ten (10) Justices voted for two
he is in fact authorized to act on any matter involving the Court and its (2) month suspension from service without pay of Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, one (1)
members? That Rule provides: voted for six-month suspension, one (1) for reprimand only as he should be credited for being
a whistle blower and one (1) for his dismissal from the service. Eight (8) Justices voted to
Sec. 11. x xx the Presiding Justice or any one acting in his reprimand Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes and five (5) for his suspension from the
place is authorized to act on any matter not covered by service for one (1) month. As to the rest, the voting was unanimous.
these Rules. Such action shall, however, be reported to the
Court en banc. WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVES as follows:

He should have convened the Court en banc as soon as the (1) Associate Justice Vicente Q. Roxas is found guilty of multiple violations of the
alleged bribery attempt on Justice Sabio, Jr. was reported to him, for it canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct, grave misconduct, dishonesty, undue interest and
was an attempt to corrupt a member of the Court, calling for the protection conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and is DISMISSED from the service, with
and preservation of the integrity of the judicial processes of the FORFEITURE of all benefits, except accrued leave credits if any, with prejudice to his re-
Court, hence, an administrative matter cognizable by the Court en banc. employment in any branch or service of the government including government-owned and
Section 5 (c), Rule I of the IRCA, provides: controlled corporations;

Sec. 5. Matters cognizable by the Court en banc.- The (2) Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. is found guilty of simple misconduct and
Court en banc conduct unbecoming of a justice of the Court of Appeals and is SUSPENDED for two (2)
shall, inter alia: months without pay, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will
(a) xxx warrant a more severe penalty;
(b) Adopt uniform administrative measures,
procedures, and policies for the protection and (3) Presiding Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. is SEVERELY REPRIMANDED for
preservation of the integrity of the judicial processes, x x x. his failure to act promptly and decisively in order to avert the incidents that damaged the
image of the Court of Appeals, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts
Presiding Justice Vasquez admitted his lapses in judgment.[140] will warrant a more severe penalty;

In the light of the foregoing observations of the Panel, this Court is of the view that much of the
trouble now being faced by the Court of Appeals could have been averted by timely, judicious
and decisive action on the part of the Presiding Justice. Certainly, this unpleasant and trying (4) Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes is found guilty of simple misconduct with
episode in failure to act in the early part of his tenure as Presiding Justice has indelibly mitigating circumstance and is REPRIMANDED, with a stern warning that a repetition of the
impressed upon him what is required of him as leader of the second highest court in the land. same or similar acts will warrant a more severe penalty;
Nevertheless, Presiding Justice Vasquez is hereby severely reprimanded for his failure to act
promptly and decisively on the controversy as required of him by the IRCA. (5) Associate Justice Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal is found guilty of conduct unbecoming
a Justice of the Court of Appeals and is ADMONISHED to be more circumspect in the
Findings regarding other personalities discharge of her judicial duties.
involved in the Meralco case
(6) PCGG Chairman Camilo L. Sabios act to influence the judgment of a member of
the Judiciary in a pending case is hereby referred to the Bar Confidant for appropriate action;
Although the Presiding Justice in his letter dated August 1, 2008 only referred to this Court the
propriety of the actions of the Justices concerned in the Meralco case, we cannot simply turn a (7) Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr.s charge against Mr. Francis R. De Borja for attempted
blind eye to the facts brought to light during the investigation that relate to potential liabilities of bribery of a member of the Judiciary is hereby referred to the Department of Justice for
other personalities in the Meralco case. appropriate action.

With respect to Chairman Sabio, this Court has the power to discipline members of the Bar
and his attempt to influence a member of the Judiciary, his brother at that, should be referred
to the Bar Confidant for appropriate action.