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Case No. 1

Benedicto Hornilla and Atty. Federico Ricafort

Vs. Atty. Ernesto S. Salunat
AC No. 5804, July 01, 2003


Complainants filed against respondent for illegal and unethical practice and conflict of interest.
Complainants alleged that Salunat is the member of the ASSA Law and Associates, which was
the retained counsel of the Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA) as approved
by Ernesto Salunat (brother of respondent), who was also a member of PPSTA Board.
Complainants as members of the Board filed an intra-corporate case against its members of
the Board of Directors for the terms 1992-1995 and 1995-1997 before the SEC for unlawful
spending and the undervalued sale of real property of the PPSTA.
Respondent entered his appearance as counsel for the PPSTA Board.
Complainants contend that respondent was guilty of conflict of interest because he was
engaged by the PPSTA, of which complainants were members and was being paid out of its
corporate funds where complainants have contributed.
Respondent refused to withdraw from said cases.
Complainants aver that respondent violated Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility when he appeared at the meeting of the PPSTA Board and assured its members
that he will win the case.
Respondent stressed that he entered his appearance as counsel for the PPSTA Board Members
for and in behalf of the ASSA Law and Associates.
As a partner in the said law firm, he only filed a manifestation of extreme urgency in OMB case
but SEC Case was handled by another partner of the firm, Att. Agustin Agustin.
Respondent claimed that it was Atty. Ricafort who instigated, orchestrated and indiscriminately
filed the said cases against the members of the PPSTA and its Board.
He asserted that his relation to his brother is immaterial and that he entered into the retainer
contract not in his individual capacity but in representation of the Law firm.
He denied of assuring the victory of the case but only merely assured that the truth will come
out and that the case before the Ombudsman will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because
respondents therein are not public officials but private employees.
He also alleged that the SEC case was being handled by the law firm of Atty. Eduardo de Mesa,
and not ASSA.
He averred that it was Atty. Ricafort who was guilty of gross misconduct, malpractice and
unethical conduct for filing trumped-up charges against him and Atty. De Mesa.
Commissioner Navarro recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law
for 6 months and was approved by the Board of Governors.
Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration.


Whether or not the acts of the respondent in defending the members of the board of the corporation in
a case filed against them by the members of the same corporation constitutes conflict of interest.


Yes. Atty. Salunat is guilty of representing conflicting interests. The records show that the SEC
Case was filed by the PPSTA against its own Board of Directors. Respondent admits that the ASSA Law
Firm of which he is the Managing Partner, was the retained counsel of PPSTA. Yet, he appeared as
counsel of record for the respondent Board of Directors in the said case.
Also, by filing his pleading of Manifestation of Extreme Urgency wherein he prayed for the
dismissal of the case against his clients, the individual Board Members constituted conflict of interests
considering that the complaint in the Ombudsman, albeit in the name of the individual members of
the PPSTA, was brought in behalf of and to protect the interest of the corporation.


Rule 15.03. A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interest except by written consent of all concerned
given after a full disclosure of the facts.


1.) Whether or not, in behalf of one client, it is the lawyers duty to fight for an issue or claim but it
is his duty to oppose it for the other client.
2.) The acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to perform an act which will
injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and whether he will
be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquired
through their connection.
3.) Whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his
duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double
dealing in the performance thereof.


1.) Exercises all powers provided for under the Corporation Code;
2.) Conducts all business of the corporation;
3.) Controls and holds the property of the corporation.

Members of the Corporation characterized as trustees or directors clothed with fiduciary character;
distinct and separate from the corporate entity itself.


Where corporate directors have committed a breach of trust either by their frauds, ultra vires
acts, or negligence, and the corporation is unable or unwilling to institute suit to remedy the wrong, a
stockholder may sue on behalf of himself and other stockholders and for the benefit of the corporation,
to bring about the redress of the wrong done directly to the corporation and indirectly to the

Corporation Real party

Stockholders Nominal party

Case No. 2

AC No. 10548, December 10, 2014

Caroline Castaneda Jimenez


Atty. Edgar B. Francisco


On September 6, 2007, Caroline Castaneda Jimenez filed against Atty. Francisco for multiple
violations of the CPR.
On June 26, 2009 the mandatory conference was held and terminated. Only the counsel of
Atty. Francisco appeared. The notice of the conference addressed to complainant was returned
with the notation unknown at the given address and no new address was provided by the
Both were required to submit position papers, Atty. Francisco adopted his Answer.

The Antecedents:

Mario Crespo otherwise known as Mark Jimenez (Jimenez) filed a complaint for estafa against
complainant (Caroline), her sister Rosemarie Flaminiano, Marcel Crespo, Geraldine Antonio,
Brenda Heffron, Magdalena Cunanan, and Isabel Gonzalez.
Mark Jimenez alleged that he is the true owner and beneficial owner of the shares of stock in
Clarion Realty Development Corporation which was incorporated specifically for the purpose of
purchasing a residential house in Forbes Park, Makati City.
Simultaneous with the drafting of Clarions Articles of Incorporation, the stockholders except
Myla Villanueva executed a deed of assignment of their respective shares in favor of
complainant, who was then common-law partner.
In order to achieve its purpose of purchasing the Forbes property, Clarion simulated a loan
from the complainant in the amount of P80, 750,000.00.
Clarion was able to purchase the property in the amount o P117,000,000.00 from Gerardo
To effect the sale, Myla handed a check in the said amount which was funded entirely by
The sale, however, was undervalued.
In the deed of sale, it was made to appear that the Forbes property was purchased for
P78,000,000.00 only. The money used as the purchase price was not also recorded in the
books of Clarion.
On July 19, 2001, Thomas Chua and Teresita Alsua (stockholders) assigned their shares to
Jimenez by virtue of a deed of trust.
Mylas share of 249,997 were transferred to complainant based on a deed of assignment.
The remaining one (1) share was transferred to Ma. Carolina C. Crespo.
These transactions were recorded in Clarions General Information Sheet with SEC.
On November 5, 2002, Jimenez transferred all his shares to complainant by another deed of
assignment, making her the holder of Clarion shares amounting to P1,249,997.00.
According to Jimenez, while he was in prison in the US in 2004, he learned from Atty.
Francisco that his son, Marcel Crespo approached the complainant and threatened her,
claiming that the US Internal Revenue Services was about to go after their properties.
Marcel succeeded in persuading complainant to transfer her nominal shares in Clarion to
Geraldine Antonio, through another deed of assignment which was recorded in GIS of Clarion.
Jimenez was informed by Atty. Francisco that through fraudulent means, complainant and her
co-respondents in the estafa case, put the Fobes property for sale sometime in August 2004.
The property was eventually sold to Philmetro Southwest Enterprise Inc. for the amount of
P118,000,000.00 without Jimenezs knowledge.
This sale was again undervalued at P78,000,000.00 per the deed of sale.
Atty. Francisco relayed to Jimenez that he was the one who received the payment for the sale
and that he handed all the proceeds thereof to Rosemarie Flaminiano in the presence of
Jimenezs complaint for estafa was based on complainants alleged participation in the
fraudulent means in selling the Forbes property which was acquired by Clarion with Jimenezs
Complainant was duty bound to remit all the proceeds to Jimenez but complainant and her co-
respondents misappropriated and converted the funds for their personal use and benefit.
In support with Jimeezs complaint of estafa, Atty. Francisco executed an affidavit reiterating
its factual averments stating that complainant called him asking for the assistance in the sale
of the property and when asked if she had permission from Jimenez, complainant answered in
the affirmative; that Board of Directors of Clarion issued a resolution authorizing him to
negotiate the sale; that he opened an account with Security Bank and when the payment was
deposited, he withdrew the amount and handed the same to Rosemarie in the presence of the
complainant; that all transfers of shares were cause without any consideration but taxes were
paid; that when Mark Jimenez returned to the Philippines, he was able to confirm that the sale
was without his knowledge and approval; that the proceeds were farmed out to different
corporations established by complainant and her sister; and that the frequent changes in
stockholdings were premeditated in order to steal the money of Jimenez.
Complainant was shocked upon reading the allegations in the complaint for estafa filed against
her and felt betrayed by Atty. Francisco whom she trusted as personal lawyer and Clarions
corporate counsel.
Hence, she filed a disciplinary case against Atty. Francisco for representing conflicting interests
alleging that Atty. Francisco actively participated in the transactions involving the sale of the
Forbes property.
Atty. Francisco, however averred that Jimenez initially engaged his services in 1998 for the
corporation of Clarion for the purpose of purchasing a residential house and that the original
stockholders of Clarion held their respective shares to Jimenez.
He further stated that all instructions of Jimenezs son and the complainant was in accordance
with Jimenezs wishes and that as result almost 100% of Clarions ownership was transferred
in the name of Geraldine Antonio.
He argued that he neither violated the rule on privilege communication nor the proscription
representing conflicting interests on the ground that the complainant was not his client.

Findings of the Investigating Commissioner

The Investigating Commissioner found Atty. Francisco guilty of violations of CPR and
recommended that he be suspended for one (1) year from the practice of law.
The IC concluded that nothing in the records show that attorney-client relationship existed
between Atty. Francisco and Jimenez; that the circumstances would show that Atty. Francisco
was an original incorporator and shareholder of Clarion; that he was also the legal counsel and
corporate secretary of Clarion, the articles of incorporation which did not include Jimenez as
an original incorporator and that Jimenezs participation in the corporation stopped when he
assigned the entirety of his shares in favor of complainant.
The IC pointed out that Atty. Francisco admitted to have simulated the loan and undervalued
the consideration of the effected sale which displayed his unlawful, dishonest, immoral and
deceitful conduct in violation of Canon 1 of the CPR.
Further, when he executed the affidavit containing the allegations against the interests of
Clarion and complainant, he violated the rule on privilege communication and engaged in an
act that constituted representation of conflicting interest in violation of Canons 15 and 21 of
the CPR.
IBP-Board of Governors approved the findings and recommendations.
Atty. Francisco appealed to the IBP-BOG that the penalty of suspension of one (1) year is too
severe considering that in his more than three (3) decades of practice, he had never been
involved in any act that would warrant the imposition of disciplinary action upon him.
The IBP-GOP denied the respondents motion for reconsideration. No petition for review was
filed with Court.


Whether or not Atty. Francisco violated the rule on privilege communication and the proscription on
representation of conflicting interests.

Violations of Canons 1 and 10 of the CPR and the Lawyers Oath

Atty. Francisco clearly violated the canons 1 and 10 of the CPR and his sworn duty.

In violation of Canon 1


Rule 1.0 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

He is guilty of engaging in dishonest and deceitful conduct when he admitted to having allowed
his corporate client, Clarion, to actively misrepresent to the SEC, the significant matters regarding its
corporate purpose and subsequently, its corporate shareholdings. In the documents submitted to the
SEC, such as the deeds of assignment and the GIS, Atty. Francisco, in his professional capacity,
feigned the validity of these transfers of shares, making it appear that these were done for
consideration when, in fact, the said transactions were fictitious, albeit upon the alleged orders of

In his long practice as corporate counsel, it is indeed safe to assume that Atty. Francisco is
knowledgeable in the law on contracts, corporation law and the rules enforced by the SEC. As
corporate secretary of Clarion, it was his duty and obligation to register valid transfers of stocks.
Nonetheless, he chose to advance the interests of his clientele with patent disregard of his duties as a
lawyer. Worse, Atty. Francisco admitted to have simulated the loan entered into by Clarion and to have
undervalued the consideration of the effected sale of the Forbes property. He permitted this fraudulent
ruse to cheat the government of taxes. Unquestionably, therefore, Atty. Francisco participated in a
series of grave legal infractions and was content to have granted the requests of the persons involved.

Despite assertions that these were in accordance to Jimenezs wishes, or pursuant to

complainants misrepresentations, the Court cannot turn a blind eye on Atty. Franciscos act of
drafting, or at the very least, permitting untruthful statements to be embodied in public documents.

Time and again, the Court has reminded lawyers that their support for the cause of their
clients should never be attained at the expense of truth and justice. While a lawyer owes absolute
fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to his genuine interest, and warm zeal in the
maintenance and defense of his rights, as well as the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, he
must do so only within the bounds of the law.

In violation of Canon 10

In the same vein, Atty. Franciscos admissions show that he lacks candor regarding his

Canon 10 of the CPR provides that:

A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court."

Corollary thereto, Rule 10.0 of the CPR provides that:

"A lawyer shall do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court, nor shall he mislead
or allow the Court to be misled by an artifice."

Lawyers are officers of the court, called upon to assist in the administration of justice. They act
as vanguards of our legal system, protecting and upholding truth and the rule oflaw. They are expected
to act with honesty in all their dealings, especially with the court.

From the foregoing, Atty. Francisco clearly violated his duties as a lawyer embodied in the CPR,
namely, to avoid dishonest and deceitful conduct, (Rule 1.01, Canon 1) and to act with candor, fairness
and good faith (Rule 10.01, Canon 10). Also, Atty. Franciso desecrated his solemn oath not to do any
falsehood nor consent to the doing of the same.

Rule on Conflicting Interests and Disclosure of Privileged Communication

Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the CPR provides that:

A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after
a full disclosure of the facts."

The purpose of the rule is precisely to protect the fiduciary nature of the ties between an
attorney and his client. Conversely, a lawyer may not be precluded from accepting and representing
other clients on the ground of conflict of interests, if the lawyer-client relationship does not exist in
favor of a party in the first place.

In this case, the complainant failed to establish that she was a client of Atty. Francisco.

First, there was no detailed explanation as to how she supposedly engaged the services of Atty.
Francisco as her personal counsel and as to what and how she communicated with the latter anent
the dealings she had entered into. With the complaint lacking in this regard, the unrebutted answer
made by Atty. Francisco, accompanied with a detailed narrative of his engagement as counsel of
Jimenez and Clarion, would have to prevail.

Second, there is a stark disparity in the amount of narrative details presented by the parties.
Atty. Franciscos claim that he was the counsel of Clarion and Jimenez, and not of the complainant,
was clearly established in a sworn statement executed by Jimenez himself. Complainants evidence
pales in comparison with her claims of being the client of Atty. Francisco couched in general terms
that lacked particularity of circumstances.

Third, noteworthy is the fact that complainant opted not to file a reply to Atty. Franciscos
answer. This could have given her opportunity to present evidence showing their professional
relationship. She also failed to appear during the mandatory conference with the IBP-CBD without
even updating her residential address on record. Her participation in the investigation of the case
apparently ended at its filing.

Consequently, the rule on lawyer-client privilege does not apply.

Considering these factors in the case at bench, the Court holds that the evidence on record
fails to demonstrate the claims of complainant. As discussed, the complainant failed to establish the
professional relationship between her and Atty. Francisco. The records are further bereft of any
indication that the "advice" regarding the sale of the Forbes property was given to Atty. Francisco in
confidence. Neither was there a demonstration of what she had communicated to Atty. Francisco nor a
recital of circumstances under which the confidential communication was relayed. All that complaint
alleged in her complainant was that "she sought legal advice from respondent in various occasions."
Considering that complainant failed to attend the hearings at the IBP, there was no testimony as to the
specific confidential information allegedly divulged by Atty. Francisco without her consent. It is,
therefore, difficult, if not impossible, to determine if there was any violation of the rule on privileged

While the Court finds no violation of the rule on conflict of interests and disclosure of privileged
communication, the acts of Atty. Francisco, in actively and passively allowing Clarion to make
untruthful representations to the SEC and in other public documents, still constitute malpractice and
gross misconduct in his office as attorney, for which a suspension from the practice of law for six (6)
months is warranted.

In suspension or disbarment proceedings, lawyers enjoy the presumption of innocence, and the
burden of proof rests upon the complainant to clearly prove the allegations in the complaint by
preponderant evidence.

Preponderance of evidence - the evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior to or has
greater weight than that of the other. It means evidence which is more convincing to the court as
worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto.

Section 1, Rule 133 Determinants of Preponderance of Evidence

(a) all the facts and circumstances of the case;

(b) the witnesses manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the
facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or
improbability of their testimony;

(c) the witnesses interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may
ultimately appear in the trial; and

(d) the number of witnesses, although it does not mean that preponderance is necessarily with the
greater number.


(1) There exists an attorney-client relationship, or a prospective attorney-client relationship, and it is

by reason of this relationship that the client made the communication.

(2) The client made the communication in confidence.

(3) The legal advice must be sought from the attorney in his professional capacity.

Section 27, Rule 138 Grounds for Suspension or Disbarment

1) deceit; (2) malpractice or other gross misconduct in office; (3) grossly immoral conduct; (4)
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; (5) violation of the lawyer's oath; (6) willful
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (7) willful appearance as an attorney for a
party without authority.

Case No. 5

A.C. No. 10910 [Formerly CBD Case No. 12-3594)


FACTS: Atty. Camacho was the counsel of MDAHI in an insurance claim against Paramount Life &
General Insurance Corp in the amount of P14,863,777.00. Atty. Camacho met with Atty. Enrique
Dimaano, corporate secretary of MDAHI, and proposed to increase their claim to P64,412,534.l8 by
taking into account the interests imposed. He clarified that the increase in the claim would require
additional docket fees in the amount of Pl,288,260.00, as shown in his hand-written
computation. MDAHI agreed and granted the said amount evidenced by a Payment Request/Order
Form. Atty. Dimaano gave the money for docket fees to Atty. Camacho who promised to issue a receipt
for the said amount, but never did.

Atty. Sison, President of MDAHI, later discovered that the RTC had already rendered a decision
granting MDAHIs insurance claim plus interests in the amount of approximately P65,000,000.00.
Atty. Camacho sent a letter to MDAHI recommending a settlement with Paramount Insurance in the
amount of Pl5,000,000.00 allegedly to prevent a protracted appeal with the appellate court. MDAHI
refused the offer of compromise. Surprisingly, even without the written conformity of MDAHI, Atty.
Camacho filed the Satisfaction of Judgment, before the RTC stating that the parties had entered into a
compromise agreement. Atty. Sison asked Atty. Camacho whether he paid the amount of Pl,288,260.00
as additional dockets fees, and the latter replied that he simply gave it to the clerk of court as the
payment period had lapsed. Disappointed, Atty. Sison sent a letter stating that he was alarmed that
the former would accept a disadvantageous compromise; that it was against company policy to bribe
any government official with respect to the Pl,288,260.00 given to the clerk of court; and that MDAHI
would only pay P200,000.00 to Atty. Camacho as attorney's fees.

Atty. Camacho denied all the allegations against him. He stressed that he had the authority to enter
into the compromise agreement. Moreover, the alleged docket fees given to him by MDAHI formed part
of his attorney's fees. He further stated in his position paper that the judgment debt was paid and
accepted by MDAHI without any objection, as duly evidenced by an acknowledgment receipt. Thus,
there was no irregularity in the compromise agreement.

IBP-CBD submitted its Report and Recommendation finding Atty. Camacho to have violated the
provisions of Rule 1.01 and Rule 16.01 of the CPR and recommending the imposition of the penalty of
one (1) year suspension from the practice of law against him. The Board of Governors of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines adopted the said report and recommendation. Aggrieved, Atty. Camacho filed a
motion for reconsideration.

ISSUE 1: WON Atty. Camacho violated Rule 1.01 of CPR upon entering into a compromise agreement
without written authority of the client.

RULING 1: Yes. It was clear as daylight that MDAHI never consented to the said offer. As can be
gleaned from Atty. Camacho's letter, MDAHI did not sign the conforme regarding the compromise
agreement. Glaringly, despite the lack of a written special authority, Atty. Camacho agreed to a lower
judgment award on behalf of his client and filed a satisfaction of judgment before the R TC. The said
pleading also failed to bear the conformity of his client. 24 Although MDAHI subsequently received the
payment of P15M from Paramount Insurance, it does not erase Atty. Camacho's transgression in
reaching the compromise agreement without the prior consent of his client. For entering into a
compromise agreement without the written authority of his client, Atty. Camacho violated Rule 1.01 of
the CPR, which states that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct." Members of the Bar must always conduct themselves in a way that promotes public
confidence in the integrity of the legal profession.25

ISSUE 2: WON Atty. Camacho violated Rule 16.01 of CPR for failing to account for the money of the

RULING: Yes. Delving into the substance of the allegation, the Court rules that Atty. Camacho indeed
violated Rule 16.01 of the CPR. When Atty. Camacho personally requested MDAHI for additional docket
fees, the latter obediently granted the amount of Pl ,288,260.00 to the former. Certainly, it was
understood that such amount was necessary for the payment of supposed additional docket fees in
Civil Case No. 05-655. Yet, when Atty. Sison confronted Atty. Camacho regarding the said amount, the
latter replied that he simply gave it to the clerk of court as the payment period had lapsed. Whether
the said amount was pocketed by him or improperly given to the clerk of court as a form of bribery, it
was unmistakably clear that Atty. Camacho did not apply the amount given to him by his client for its
intended legal purpose. Moreover, Atty. Camacho failed to issue a receipt to MDAHI from the moment
he received the said amount. In Tarog v. Ricafort, the Court held that ethical and practical
considerations made it both natural and imperative for a lawyer to issue receipts, even if not
demanded, and to keep copies of the receipts for his own records. Pursuant to Rule 16.01 of the CPR,
a lawyer must be aware that he is accountable for the money entrusted to him by the clients, and that
his only means of ensuring accountability is by issuing and keeping receipts. Worse the RTC already
rendered its decision in Civil Case No. 05-655, adjudging MDAHI entitled to an insurance claim in the
amount of approximately P.65,000,000.00 so there was no more need for additional docket fees but
Atty. Camacho did not reject the said amount or return it to his client upon receipt. Instead, he
unilaterally withheld the said amount by capriciously invoking the payment of his attorney's fees.

DISPOSITIVE: Atty. Camacho violated Rules 1.01 and 6.01 of the CPR. He is DISBARRED from the
practice of law and his name stricken off the Roll of Attorneys, effective immediately, and ORDERED to
return to Marsman-Drysdale Agribusiness Holdings Inc. the money intended to pay for additional
docket fees which he received from the latter in the amount of P 1,288,260.00 within ninety (90) days
from the finality of this decision.

Case No. 6

A.C. No. 6567 April 16, 2008


FACTS: Complainant Saberon charged Atty. Larong of grave misconduct for allegedly using abusive
and offensive language in pleadings filed before the BSP.In an Answer filed by Atty. Larong with
affirmative defenses to the petition stating inter alia, he stated that this is another in the series of
blackmail suits filed by plaintiff and his wife to coerce the bank and Mr. Bonpin for financial gain.
Finding the aformentioned statements to be "totally malicious,viscous and bereft of any factual or legal
basis," complainant filed the present complaint.

The court referred the case to IBP for investigation. IBP Investigating Commissioner held that the word
"blackmail" connotes something sinister and criminal. Unless the person accused thereof is criminally
charged with extortion, he added, it would be imprudent, if not offensive, to characterize that persons
act as blackmail. In view thereof, he recommended that respondent be found culpable of gross
misconduct and suspended from the practice of law for 30days. IBP Board of Governor disapproved the
recommendation and instead dismissed the case for lack of merit.

ISSUE: WON Atty. Larong violated the mandatory requirements of sec12(a) of rule 139-b of the revised
rules of court that the same be reduced to writing, clearly and distinctly stating the facts and the
reasons on which it is based.

RULING: Yes, this court finds respondent guilty of simple misconduct for using intemperate language
in his pleadings. The code of professional responsibility mandates:

Canon 8- A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy,fairness and candor toward his professional
colleagues,and shall avoid harassing tactics against oppossing counsel.

Canon 8.01- A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings,use language which is abusive,offensive or
otherwise improper.

Canon 11- A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the court and to judicial officer and
should insist on similar conduct.

Rule11.03- A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous,offensive,or menacing language or behavior before
the courts.

DISPOSITIVE: Atty. Fernando T. Larong is found guilty of SIMPLE MISCONDUCT for using
intemperate language. He is FINED P2,000 with a stern WARNING that a repetition of this or similar
act will be dealt with more severely.

Case No. 7
A.C. No. 10576 January 14, 2015

Complaint Filed: Filing a false General Information Sheet (GIS) with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) thus violating Canon 12 and Rule 1.013 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

Pertinent Facts (In Order):

In 2004, Guarin was hired by Mr. Celso G. de los Angeles as Chief Operating Officer and thereafter as
President of OneCard Company, Inc., a member of the Legacy Group of Companies.

He resigned from his post effective August 11, 2008 and transferred to St. Luke's Medical Center as
the Vice President for Finance.

On November 27, 2008, Atty. Limpin, the Corporate Secretary of Legacy Card, Inc. (LCI), another
corporation under the Legacy Group, filed with the SEC a GIS for LCI for "updating purposes" wherein
said GIS identified Guarin as Chairman of the Board of Directors (BOD) and President.

On December 18, 2008, LCI applied for voluntary dissolution with the SEC.

On July 22, 2009, Guarin filed this complaint with the IBP claiming that Atty. Limpin violated Canon
1 and Rule 1.01 of the CPR by knowingly listing him as a stockholder, Chairman of the Board and
President of LCI.

Contention of Complainant:
Guarin alleged that she knew that he had already resigned and had never held any share nor was he
elected as chairperson of the BOD or been President of LCI. He also never received any notice of
meeting or agenda where his appointment as Chairman would be taken up. He has never accepted any
appointment as Chairman and President of LCI.

Respondents Contention:
Atty. Limpin admits that she filed the GIS with the SEC listing Guarin as a stockholder, the Chairman
of the BOD and President of LCI. She argued that the GIS was provisional to comply with SEC
requirements. It would have been corrected in the future but unfortunately LCI filed for voluntary
dissolution shortly thereafter.

She averred that the GIS was made and submitted in good faith and that her certification served to
attest to the information from the last BOD meeting held on March 3, 2008.

She asserted that Guarin knew that he was a stockholder. Atty. Limpin said that on October 13, 2008,
she sent Guarin a text message and asked him to meet with her so he may sign a Deed of Assignment
concerning shareholdings. Guarin responded in the affirmative and said that he would meet with her
on Friday, October 17, 2008 but failed to do so. On the strength of Guarins positive reply, Atty.
Limpin filed the GIS on November 27, 2008.

To belie the claim that LCI never held any board meeting, Atty. Limpin presented Secretarys
Certificates dated May 16, 20066 , May 22, 20067 , and June 13, 20078 bearing Guarins signature.

Lastly, Atty. Limpin contends that Guarin failed to present sufficient evidence to warrant
disbarment.1wphi1 She stated that merely presenting the GIS does not constitute as proof of any
unethical conduct, harassment and malpractice.
Moreover, Atty. Limpin stated that there were pending criminal complaints against the directors and
officers of LCI, where she and Guarin are co-respondents: Senator Roxas, et al. v. Celso de los Angeles,
et al.9 and SEC v. Legacy Card, Inc.10 In those proceedings, Guarin raised as a defense that the
November 27, 2008 GIS was spurious and/or perjured. She averred that this Court held that "when the
criminal prosecution based on the same act charged is still pending in court, any administrative
disciplinary proceedings for the same act must await the outcome of the criminal case to avoid
contradictory findings."11 During the mandatory preliminary conference, however, both parties stipulated
that the complaint filed by Senator Roxas was dismissed as to Guarin.12


In its Report, the IBP CBD found that Atty. Limpin violated Canon 1, Rules 1.01 and 1.02 14 of the CPR
and thus recommended that she be suspended from the practice of law for three months.

It noted that based on the submissions of the parties, Guarin was never a stockholder of LCI
consequently making him ineligible tobe a member of the BOD.

Neither was there proof that Guarin acted as the President of LCI but was a mere signatory of
LCIs bank accounts. This made the verified statement of Atty. Limpin untrue.

Moreover, it was noted that only Mr. Celso de los Angeles had the authority to appoint or
designate directors or officers of Legacy. Atty. Limpin was aware that this procedure was not
legally permissible. Despite knowing this to be irregular, she allowed herself to be dictated
upon and falsely certified that Guarin was a stockholder, chairman and president of the

The Secretarys Certificates with Guarins signature Atty. Limpin presented were of no moment
since inthese Guarin merely acceded to become a signatory of bank accounts and these do not
show that Guarin was a stockholder.


Grounds for administrative action against a lawyer may be found in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules
of Court. Among these are (1) the use of any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such
office and (2) any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice.

REPEAT THE FINDINGS OF THE IBP. Then add: While she posits that she had made the same in
good faith, her certification also contained a stipulation that she made a due verification of the
statements contained therein. That Atty. Limpin believed that Guarin would sign a Deed of Assignment
is inconsequential: he never signed the instrument.

We thus find that in filing a GIS that contained false information, Atty. Limpin committed an infraction
which did not conform to her oath as a lawyer in accord with Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the CPR.

We also agree with the IBP that in allowing herself to be swayed by the business practice of having Mr.
de los Angeles appoint the members of the BOD and officers of the corporation despite the rules
enunciated in the Corporation Code with respect to the election of such officers, Atty. Limpin has
transgressed Rule 1.02 of the CPR.
However, considering the seriousness of Atty. Limpin's action m submitting a false document we see it
fit to increase the recommended penalty to six months suspension from the practice of law.


Case No. 8

A.C. No. 10438 September 23, 2014



Complainant is a corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine laws engaged in
overseas maritime employment.2

It hired respondent, a medical doctor and a lawyer by profession, as its Legal and Claims Manager
who was tasked, inter alia, to serve as its legal counsel and to oversee the administration and
management of legal cases and medical related claims instituted by seafarers against
complainants various principals.

Among the cases respondent handled in his capacity as Legal and Claims Manager were the claims
of seafarers Bernardo R. Mangi (Mangi), Rodelio J. Sampani (Sampani), Joseph C. Delgado
(Delgado), and Edmundo M. Chua (Chua).

In the administrative complaint of CF it was alleged that per request of Atty. Nicolas, complainant
issued checks in the amounts of P524,000.00, P652,013.20, P145,650.00, P97,100.00,
and P296,808.40 as settlement of the respective claims of the above employees but except for the
third check issued to Delgado (P145,650) and a portion of the check for Sampani (P225,239 out of
P652,013.20), respondent never gave the checks to the seafarers and instead, had them deposited
at International Exchange Bank, Banawe, Quezon City Branch, under Account No. 003-10-06902-
1. The check for Sampani was not issued by CF.

The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline directly received the instant complaint and on even date,
issued an Order7 requiring respondent to file an answer, but the latter failed to do so. Neither did
Torres appear in the mandatory conference scheduled on March 20, 2009 nor did he file his
position paper.8

Atty. Torres was recommended for a penalty of suspension from the practice of law for one year for
violating the CPR.

Torres belatedly filed his Verified Answer (With Motion to Re-Open Investigation) explaining that he
was not able to timely file an answer because CF supplied a wrong address to the IBP and filed
non-bailable criminal cases against him which caused his detention in a regular prison cell and,
thus, his inability to comply with the IBPs directives.

Torres maintained that the seafarers claims had long been settled and that the release documents
signed by the named seafarers were already in actual custody and possession of the
complainant.16 He further contended that he only signed the dorsal portions of the checks as a
form of guaranty of their genuineness 17 and that he could not have encashed them as they were all
payable to a particular payee.18Lastly, respondent claimed that when he resigned in August 2008,
complainant forced him to sign promissory notes to reimburse certain amounts which had not
been accounted for by the latter in exchange for his clearance documents. 19 But before he was able
to settle the promissory notes, he was already arrested in connection with the criminal cases filed
by complainant against him.

In a Resolution21 dated December 29, 2012, the IBP Board of Governors increased the
recommended period of suspension from the practice of law to two (2) years, and ordering
respondent to return the full amount of money he received from complainant which is legally due
to the seafarers, with legal interest, within thirty (30) days from receipt of notice.

Aggrieved, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration 22 on April 22, 2013 which was, however,
denied in a Resolution23 dated March 8, 2014.

Whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for violating the CPR.


After a judicious perusal of the records, the Court concurs with the findings of the IBP in its report
and recommendation, except as to: (a) the recommended penalty to be imposed upon respondent; and
(b) the monetary award in favor of the complainant.

1. The Court modified the penalty recommended by the IBP from suspension from the practice of
law for 2 years to ultimate disbarment from the practice of law because of jurisprudence
similar to the case as follows:

Arellano University, Inc. v. Mijares III - the Court disbarred the lawyer for misappropriating his
clients money intended for securing a certificate of title on the latters behalf.

Freeman v. Reyes disbarment of the lawyer who misappropriated the insurance proceeds of
her clients deceased husband.

2. IBP's recommendation regarding the return of the settlement money respondent received from
complainant. because it was not specifically prayed for in the latter's administrative complaint
and that the civil liability of respondent therefor may already be the subject of existing cases
involving the same parties.


It is fundamental that the relationship between a lawyer and his client is highly fiduciary and
ascribes to a lawyer a great degree of fidelity and good faith.

The highly fiduciary nature of this relationship imposes upon the lawyer the duty to account
for the money or property collected or received for or from his client.

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.

The respondents acts of misappropriation constitute dishonesty, abuse of trust and confidence
reposed in him by the complainant, and betrayal of his clients interests which he is duty-
bound to protect.

Such malfeasance is not only unacceptable, disgraceful, and dishonorable to the legal
profession; it also reveals a basic moral flaw that makes him unfit to practice law.

Membership in the legal profession is a privilege, and whenever it is made to appear that an
attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of his clients and the public, it
becomes not only the right but also the duty of the Court to withdraw the same, as in this


Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct."


Rule 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the

Rule 16.03 A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. x x


WHEREFORE, respondent Nicolas C. Torres is found guilty of violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1 and Rules
16.01 and 16.03, Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby
DISBARRED from the practice of law and his name ordered STRICKEN OFF from the roll of attorneys.

Case No. 9

Cordon vs Balicanta
A.C. No. 2797. October 4, 2002

Facts: Complainant Rosaura Cordon, the widow of Felixberto Jaldon, inherited properties which
amounted to 21 parcels of land. The lawyer who helped her settle the estate of her late husband was
respondent Atty. Jesus Balicanta.

Respondent enticed complainant and her daughter to organize a corporation that would develop the
said real properties into a high-scale commercial complex with a beautiful penthouse for complainant,
which led to the establishment of Rosaura Enterprises. Balicanta was simultaneously the
President/General Manager/Treasurer. He made them sign a document which turned out to be a
voting trust agreement plus an SPA to sell and mortgage some of the parcels of land which he
transferred the titles of to a certain Tion Suy Ong. Respondent never accounted for the proceeds of
said transfers. Using a spurious board resolution, he obtained a loan from Land bank in the amount
of 2.22M php secured by 9 of the parcels of land. The respondent ostensibly intended to use the
money to construct the Baliwasan Commercial Center (BCC, for brevity). Complainant later on found
out that the structure was made of poor materials such as sawali, coco lumber and bamboo which
could not have cost the corporation anything close to the amount of the loan secured. He failed to pay
a single installment on the loan and therefore LBP foreclosed. He did not attempt to redeem, and sold
the rights to redeem said property.

Complainants daughter discovered that their ancestral home had been demolished and that her
mother was detained in a small nipa hut. With the help of an attorney Lim she found her mother. They
terminated respondents services and threatened him with legal action.

Issue: Whether or not the respondent should be disbarred?

Held: Yes. Respondent committed grave and serious misconduct that casts dishonor on the legal
profession. His misdemeanors reveal a deceitful scheme to use the corporation as a means to convert
for his own personal benefit properties left to him in trust by complainant and her daughter.

The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates upon each lawyer, as his duty to society, the
obligation to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes. Specifically, he
is forbidden to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. If the practice of law is to
remain an honorable profession and attain 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 them.
Thus, the requirement of good moral character is of much greater 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, not only upon admission to the Bar but also throughout their legal career, in order to
maintain ones good standing in that exclusive and honored fraternity. Good moral 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 wrong. This must be so because
vast interests are committed to his care; he is the recipient of unbounded trust and confidence; he
deals with his clients property, reputation, his life, his all.

Good moral standing is manifested in the duty of the lawyer to hold in trust all moneys and
properties of his client that may come into his possession. He is bound to account for all money or
property collected or received for or from the client. The relation between an attorney and his client is
highly fiduciary in nature. Thus, lawyers are bound to promptly account for money or property
received by them on behalf of their clients and failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct.

Case No. 10

FREEMAN V. REYES, AC 6246, November 15, 2011


An administrative complaint, filed by complainant Marites E. Freeman, seeking the disbarment of

respondent Atty. Zenaida P. Reyes, for gross dishonesty in obtaining money from her, without
rendering proper legal services, and appropriating the proceeds of the insurance policies of her
deceased husband.

complainant alleged that her husband Robert Keith Freeman, a British national, died in London. She
and her son, Frank Lawrence applied for visas, to enable them to attend the wake and funeral, but
their visa applications were denied.

Complainant engaged the services of respondent who, in turn, assured her that she would help her
secure the visas and obtain the death benefits and other insurance claims due her.

After several phone calls inquiring about the status of the visa applications, respondent told her,
Mahirap gapangin ang pagkuha ng visa, kasi blacklisted at banned ka sa Embassy. (It is difficult to
railroad the process of securing visa, because you are blacklisted and banned by the Embassy).

Respondent told her that to lift the travel ban on her, she should shell out P18,000.00 as panlagay or
grease money to bribe some staff of the British Embassy. After a week, respondent informed her that
the ban was lifted, but the visas would be issued on a later date, as she had convinced the British
Embassy to issue resident visas instead of tourist visas. Respondent told her that to expedite the
release of the resident visas, she should again give P20,000.00 and a bottle of wine, worth P5,000.00,
as grease money to bribe the British Embassy personnel.

Later, respondent asked for P30,000.00, to be used for booking the former's flight to London, and
P39,000.00, to cover the expenses for the plane tickets.

Complainant said that despite repeated follow-ups with respondent, nothing came out. Instead, she
received a picture of her husband's burial.

Complainant received a letter from H.M. Coroner's Court, London, informing her about the
arrangements for the funeral and that her late husband was covered by three insurance policies,
Respondent offered to help and assured her that representations with the insurance companies had
earlier been made, so that the latter would be receiving the insurance proceeds soon.

According to the complainant, respondent required her to affix her signature in a Special Power of
Attorney (SPA)9 [first SPA], which would authorize the respondent to follow-up the insurance claims.
However, she found out that the SPA [first SPA] she signed was not notarized, but another SPA was
notarized [second SPA], and that her signature therein was forged.
Complainant discovered that in an undated letter,[12] addressed to one Lynn O. Wilson of Scottish
Equitable PLC (Policy No. 2779512), respondent made representations that her husband left no will
and that she had no verified information as to the total value of her husband's estate and the
existence of any property in London that would be subjected to Grant of Representation.

Said letter requested that complainant be advised on the value for probate in the amount of 5231.35
and the procedure for its entitlement. Respondent added therein that As to the matter of the
installments due, as guaranteed by Mr. Freeman's policy, Mrs. Freeman requests that the remittance
be sent directly to Far East Bank, Diliman Branch, under the account name: Reyes/Mendiola, which
serves as her temporary account until further notice.

Complainant declared that in November 1999, she made a demand upon the respondent to return her
passport and the total amount of P200,000.00 which she gave for the processing of the visa
applications. Not heeding her demand, respondent asked her to attend a meeting with the Consul of
the British Embassy, purportedly to discuss about the visa applications, but she purposely did not
show up as she got disgusted with the turn of events.

In her Counter-Affidavit/Answer, respondent countered that in 1998, complainant, sought legal advice
regarding the inheritance of her deceased husband, a British national.

She averred that before she accepted the case, she explained to complainant that she would be
charging the following amounts: acceptance fee of P50,000.00, P20,000.00 for initial expenses, and
additional amount of P50,000.00 on a contingent basis. She said complainant agreed to these rates
and, in fact, readily paid her the said amounts. she stated that complainant offered, which she
accepted, to shoulder her plane ticket and the hotel accommodation, so that she can personally attend
to the matter.

As to the visa arrangements, respondent said that when she met with complainant, she asked her why
she had not left for London, and the latter replied that her contacts with the embassy had duped her.

With regard to the alleged falsified documents, respondent denied knowledge about the existence of the
same, and declared that the SPA,[20] dated April 6, 1999, which was notarized on April 30, 1999
[second SPA], was her basis for communications with the insurance companies in London.

In the Report and Recommendation, Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline found respondent to have
betrayed the trust of complainant as her client, for being dishonest in her dealings and appropriating
for herself the insurance proceeds intended for complainant.

The Investigating Commissioner pointed out that despite receipt of the approximate amount of
P200,000.00, respondent failed to secure the visas for complainant and her son, and that through
deceitful means, she was able to appropriate for herself the proceeds of the insurance policies of
complainant's husband.

Accordingly, the Investigating Commissioner recommended that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for the maximum period allowed under the law, and that she be ordered to turn over to
complainant the amounts she received from the London insurance companies.

On September 27, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors, in Resolution No. XVI-2003-166,[32] adopted
and approved the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, with modification that
respondent be disbarred.


The Court agrees with the observation of the Investigating Commissioner that complainant had
sufficiently substantiated the charge of gross dishonesty against respondent, for having appropriated
the insurance proceeds of the complainant's deceased husband, and the recommendation of the IBP
Board of Governors that respondent should be disbarred.

A perusal of the [first] SPA, which was not notarized, showed that complainant merely authorized
respondent to represent her and her son, in order to protect their rights and interests, in the
extrajudicial and/or judicial proceeding and the possibility of any amicable settlement, relating to the
estate of her deceased husband, both in the Philippines and United Kingdom.

The [second] SPA, allegedly bearing the forged signature of complainant, in addition to the foregoing
representations, authorized respondent to appear and represent the complainant, in connection with
her insurance claims, and to receive monies and/or encash treasury warrants, checks arising from
said claims, deposit the same, and dispose of such funds as may be necessary for the successful
pursuit of the claims. The [third] SPA, allegedly bearing the forged signature of complainant, but
additionally bearing the signatures of two witnesses, was a faithful reproduction of the second SPA,
with exactly the same stipulations.

The three SPAs, attached to the pleadings of the parties and made integral parts of the records of the
case, were not certified true copies and no proof was adduced to verify their genuineness and

Complainant repudiates the representation of respondent in her behalf with regard to the insurance
claims; however, the admission of respondent herself, as lawyer, that she received payment from
complainant, her client, constitutes sufficient evidence to establish a lawyer-client relationship.

Be that as it may, assuming that respondent acted within the scope of her authority to represent the
complainant in pursuing the insurance claims, she should never deviate from the benchmarks set by
Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates that a lawyer shall hold in trust
all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession. Specifically, Rule 16.01
states that a lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client,
and Rule 16.03 thereof requires that a lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of a client when due
or upon demand.

In the present case, the cash/check voucher and the temporary receipts issued by respondent, with
the letterhead of her law firm, Z.P. Reyes Law Office, indubitably showed that she received the total
amount of P167,000.00[40] from the complainant, in connection with the handling of the latter's case.
Respondent admitted having received money from the complainant, but claimed that the total amount
of P120,000.00[41] she received was in accordance with their agreement. Nowhere was it shown that
respondent rendered an accounting or, at least, apprised the complainant of the actual expenses

Worse, respondent even inculcated in the mind of the complainant that she had to adhere to the
nefarious culture of giving grease money or lagay, in the total amount of P43,000.00, to the British
Embassy personnel, as if it was an ordinary occurrence in the normal course of conducting official
business transactions, as a means to expedite the visa applications. This runs afoul the dictum in
Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which states that a lawyer shall not
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Law advocacy, it has been stressed, is not capital that yields profits. The returns it births are simple
rewards for a job done or service rendered. It is a calling that, unlike mercantile pursuits which enjoy
a greater deal of freedom from government interference, is impressed with public interest, for which it
is subject to State regulation.

Respondent's repeated reprehensible acts of employing chicanery and unbecoming conduct to conceal
her web of lies, to the extent of milking complainant's finances dry, and deceitfully arrogating upon
herself the insurance proceeds that should rightfully belong to complainant, in the guise of rendering
legitimate legal services, clearly transgressed the norms of honesty and integrity required in the
practice of law. This being so, respondent should be purged from the privilege of exercising the noble
legal profession.

Case No. 13

A.C. 11708 July 19, 2016


Complainants Verlita Mercullo and Raymond Vedano were authorized by their mother, Carmelita
Verdano, to inquire from the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) about the status
of her unpaid obligations secured by a mortgage covering their residential property in Novaliches,
Caloocan City. They learned that their mothers arrear had amounted to P350,000. Respondent Atty.
Ramon advised them about their right to redeem the property within one year from foreclosure.
Complainants handed respondent P350,000 who in turn issued two acknowledgment receipts for the
redemption price and for litigation expenses. She even showed them her NHMFC identification card.

When complainants went to the NHMFC to follow up on the redemption, they discovered that Atty.
Ramon is no longer connected to them. Nevertheless, respondent informed them that the redemption
is on process and that the certificate of redemption will be issued in two or three weeks time.
Complainants went to see the Clerk of Court of the RTC in Caloocan City to inquire on the status of
the redemption. There they discovered that respondent had not deposited the redemption price and
had not filed the intent of redeeming the property.
They then demanded the return of the money to which respondent promised to deposit it in Verlitas
account, but failed to do so. Complainants brought their disbarment complaint in the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP). The IBP required respondent to file her and answer and to attend the
mandatory conference set. Respondent failed to do so.
In IBP Commissioners Report and Recommendation, he found respondent to have violated Rule 1.01
of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended her suspension for two years and to
return the P350, 000. This was adopted by IBP Board of Governors.

Whether or not respondent should be disbarred


The court declared respondent guilty of dishonesty and deceit.

The Lawyer's Oath is a source of the obligations and duties of every lawyer. Any violation of the oath
may be punished with either disbarment, or suspension from the practice of law, or other
commensurate disciplinary action. Every lawyer must at no time be wanting in probity and moral
fibers which are not only conditions precedent to his admission to the Bar, but are also essential for
his continued membership in the Law Profession. Any conduct unbecoming of a lawyer constitutes a
violation of his oath.

The respondent certainly transgressed the Lawyer's Oath by receiving money from the complainants
after having made them believe that she could assist them in ensuring the redemption in their
mother's behalf. She was convincing about her ability to work on the redemption because she had
worked in the NHFMC. She did not inform them soon enough, however, that she had meanwhile
ceased to be connected with the agency. It was her duty to have so informed them. She further misled
them about her ability to realize the redemption by falsely informing them about having started the
redemption process. She concealed from them the real story that she had not even initiated the
redemption proceedings that she had assured them she would do. Everything she did was dishonest
and deceitful in order to have them part with the substantial sum of P350,000.00. She took advantage
of the complainants who had reposed their full trust and confidence in her ability to perform the task
by virtue of her being a lawyer. Surely, the totality of her actuations inevitably eroded public trust in
the Legal Profession.

As a lawyer, the respondent was proscribed from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct in her dealings with others, especially clients whom she should serve with competence and
diligence. Her duty required her to maintain fealty to them, binding her not to neglect the legal matter
entrusted to her. Thus, her neglect in connection therewith rendered her liable. Moreover, the
unfulfilled promise of returning the money and her refusal to communicate with the complainants on
the matter of her engagement aggravated the neglect and dishonesty attending her dealings with the
The respondent's conduct patently breached Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which provides:

CANON 1 - A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for
law and for legal processes.
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct.

Evil intent was not essential in order to bring the unlawful act or omission of the respondent within
the coverage of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Code exacted from her not only
a firm respect for the law and legal processes but also the utmost degree of fidelity and good faith in
dealing with clients and the moneys entrusted by them pursuant to their fiduciary relationship.

Yet another dereliction of the respondent was her wanton disregard of the several notices sent to her
by the IBP in this case. Such disregard could only be wrong because it reflected her undisguised
contempt of the proceedings of the IBP, a body that the Court has invested with the authority to
investigate the disbarment complaint against her. She thus exhibited her irresponsibility as well as her
utter disrespect for the Court and the rest of the Judiciary. It cannot be understated that a lawyer in
her shoes should comply with the orders of the Court and of the Court's duly constituted authorities,
like the IBP, the office that the Court has particularly tasked to carry out the specific function of
investigating attorney misconduct.

The Court FINDS and HOLDS ATTY. MARIE FRANCES E. RAMON guilty of violating Canon 1, Rule
1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Lawyer's Oath; SUSPENDS HER FROM THE
WARNING that any similar infraction in the future will be dealt with more severely; ORDERS her to
return to the complainants the sum of P350,000.00 within 30 days from notice, plus legal interest of
6% per annum reckoned from the finality of this decision until full payment.

Case No. 14

A.C. No. 7387 November 07, 2016



In 2000 petitioners (the Zalamea brothers) sought respondent Atty. Rodolfo P. de Guzman, Jr.'s advice
on the properties of their ailing mother, Merlinda L. Zalamea, who had a property situated at Scout
Limbaga, Quezon City under her name.

Thereafter the Zalameas put up EMZEE FOODS INC., (EMZEE) a corporation engaged in lechon
business, with Atty. De Guzman providing the capital and operational funds.

Sometime in 2002, Manuel Enrique informed De Guzman about the property located at Speaker Perez
St. (Speaker Perez property). Said property had been mortgaged to Banco de Oro (BDO), the bank
foreclosed it for failure to pay the loan and redeem the property, resulting in the consolidation of the
ownership over the property in BDO's name. Manuel Enrique approached De Guzman and convinced
him to help in the reacquisition of the Speaker Perez property from BDO.

De Guzman negotiated with BDO and was able to secure a deal over the property for P20 Million. The
bank required 10% downpayment of the total price or P2 Million, to be paid in thirty-six (36) monthly
installments, without interest.

Due to lack of funds on Manuel Enrique's part, De Guzman's wife, Angel, agreed to shoulder the P2
Million downpayment in order not to lose the good opportunity, but under the condition that the
Speaker Perez property would later be transferred in the name of a new corporation they had agreed to
form, the EMZALDEK Venture Corporation, a combination of the names EMZEE Foods, Zalamea, and
Dek de Guzman. By this time, EMZEE had also relocated to Speaker Perez.

Subsequently, Angel was forced to pay the monthly installments and the additional 20% required for
EMZEE to be able to transfer its office to the Speaker Perez property, since Manuel Enrique still could
not produce sufficient funds and EMZEE continued to incur losses. All in all, Angel paid

Relationship, between the Zalamea brothers and the Spouses De Guzman turned sour. The Spouses
De Guzman wanted reimbursement of the amounts which they had advanced for the corporation,
while the Zalamea brothers claimed sole ownership over the Speaker Perez property. Hence, the
brothers filed a disbarment case against De Guzman for allegedly buying a client's property which was
subject of litigation.


Whether or not Atty. De Guzman should be disbarred for acquiring the subject property by virtue of
lawyer-client relationship, in violation of the Lawyer's Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility



The very first Canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that "a lawyer shall uphold the
Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal process." Canon 17
states that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and
confidence reposed in him, while Canon 16 provides that "a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and
properties of his client that may come into his possession." Further, Section 3, Rule 138 of the Revised
Rules of Court requires every lawyer to take an oath to obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the
duly constituted authorities. And for any violation of this oath, a lawyer may be suspended or
disbarred by the Court. All of these underscore the role of the lawyer as the vanguard of our legal
system. The transgression of any provision of law by a lawyer is a repulsive and reprehensible act
which the Court will never

Accusation against De Guzman stemmed from his wife's purchase of the Speaker Perez property from
BDO when Manuel Enrique did not have the means to buy it. The Zalameas claim that De Guzman, as
their counsel, could not acquire the property, either personally or through his wife, without violating
his ethical duties, and breached the same when his wife purchased the subject property.

However, the prohibition which the Zalameas invoke does not apply where the property purchased was
not involved in litigation. De Guzman clearly never acquired any of his client's properties or interests
involved in litigation in which he may take part by virtue of his profession. There exists not even an
iota of proof indicating that said property has ever been involved in any litigation in which De Guzman
took part by virtue of his profession. True, they had previously sought legal advice from De Guzman
but only on how to handle their mother's estate, which likewise did not involve the contested property.
Neither was it shown that De Guzman's law firm had taken part in any litigation involving the Speaker
Perez property.

The prohibition which rests on considerations of public policy and interests is intended to curtail any
undue influence of the lawyer upon his client on account of his fiduciary and confidential relationship
with him. De Guzman could not have possibly exerted such undue influence, as a lawyer, upon the
Zalameas, as his clients. In fact, it was Manuel Enrique who approached the Spouses De Guzman and
asked them if they would be willing to become business partners in a lechon business. It was also
Manuel Enrique who turned to De Guzman for help in order to reacquire the already foreclosed
Speaker Perez property. They had agreed that De Guzman would simply pay the required
downpayment to BDO and EMZEE would pay the remaining balance in installment. And when EMZEE
continued suffering losses, Angel took care of the monthly amortizations so as not to lose the property.
Clearly, the relationship between the Spouses De Guzman and the Zalamea brothers is actually one of
business partners rather than that of a lawyer and client. Atty. De Guzman's acquisition of the
Speaker Perez property was a valid consequence of a business deal, not by reason of a lawyer-client
relationship, for which he could not be penalized by the Court. De Guzman and his wife are very well
allowed by law to enter into such a transaction and their conduct in this regard was not borne out to
have been attended by any undue influence, deceit, or misrepresentation.

Case No. 15

G.R. No. 194962; January 27, 2016


FACTS: Petitioner CEZA issued permits to respondent Meridien Vista Gaming

Corporation (MVGC) applied with CEZA for registration as licensed/authorized operator of gaming,
sports betting and tourism-related activities such as jai alai, cock fighting, virtual gaming, bingo,
horse racing, dog racing, sports betting, internet gaming, and land based casinos. Said permits were
based on the Office of the Government Corporate Counsels (OGCC) opinion that CEZA could operate
and/or license jai alai under its legislative franchise including the authority to manage, establish and
operate jai alai betting stations inside and outside the Freeport Zone. MVGC was ready to test its
virtual games software and conduct a real market environment testing. OGCC clarified its opinion that
CEZA could not grant a franchise to operate jai alai in the absence of an express legislative franchise.
CEZA issued a letter ordering MVGC to stop all its gaming operations including the testing of softwares
and telecommunication infrastructure relative thereto. Its interest being affected, MVGC filed a
petition for mandamus and damages with application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order
and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction before the RTC. Atty. Edgardo Baniaga (Atty.
Baniaga) was assigned by the OGCC to handle the case due to the referral of the case by CEZA. .
CEZA argued that MVGC had no legal right to compel it, by way of mandamus, to allow the operation
of its virtual gaming. The parties had filed their Joint Manifestation with Motion to Render Judgment
based on the Pleadings. The RTC rendered a decision on October 30, 2009 in favor of MVGC. On the
same date, a copy of the decision was obtained by Atty. Baniaga, who was coincidentally then in the
premises of the court building. OGCC received information that Atty. Baniaga received a copy of the
decision but they have not received a copy thereof and requested the RTC that an official copy of the
decision be given to its representative, Monico Manuel (Manuel). The request was granted and a copy of
the said decision was given to Manuel on December 3, 2009. CEZA filed its Notice of Appeal stating
that it officially received a copy of the decision only on December 3, 2009. RTC denied the notice of
appeal. CEZA filed a Petition for Relief from Judgment under Rule 38 before said RTC but was denied.
CEZA filed with the CA a petition for certiorari and prohibition. CA denied the petition. A motion for
reconsideration was filed by CEZA but it was likewise denied in the CA Resolution, thus, this petition.

ISSUE: WON CEZAs petition for relief under rule 138 should be granted due to atty. Baniagas

YES. CEZAs petition for relief under rule 138 should be granted due to atty. Baniagas
Negligence. The Court ruled that in cases of gross and palpable negligence of counsel and of extrinsic
fraud, the Court must step in and accord relief to a client who suffered thereby. For negligence to be
excusable, it must be one which ordinary diligence and prudence could not have guarded against, and
for the extrinsic fraud to justify a petition for relief from judgment, it must be that fraud which the
prevailing party caused to prevent the losing party from being heard on his action or defense. Such
fraud concerns not the judgment itself but the manner in which it was obtained. If the incompetence,
ignorance or inexperience of counsel is so great and the error committed as a result thereof is
so serious that the client, who otherwise has a good cause, is prejudiced and denied his day in court.
Extrinsic fraud in a petition for annulment refers to "any fraudulent act of the prevailing party in
litigation committed outside of the trial of the case, where the defeated party is prevented from fully
exhibiting his side by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent, such as by keeping him
away from court, by giving him a false promise of a compromise, or where an attorney fraudulently or
without authority connives at his defeat."

The negligence of the petitioners counsel was evidently so gross as to call for the exercise of this
Courts equity jurisdiction. Clearly, the negligence of Atty. Baniaga
was unconscionable and inexcusable. It was highly suspicious, if not outright deliberate. Obviously, he
fell short of the high standard of assiduousness that a counsel must perform to safeguard the rights of
his clients.43 At the inception, CEZA was already deprived of its right to present evidence during the
trial of the case when Atty. Baniaga filed a joint manifestation submitting the case for decision based
on the pleadings without informing CEZA. In violation of his sworn duty to protect his clients interest,
Atty. Baniaga agreed to submit the case for decision without fully substantiating their defense. Worse,
after he received a copy of the decision, he did not even bother to inform his client and the OGCC of
the adverse judgment. He did not even take steps to protect the interests of his client by filing an
appeal. Instead, he allowed the judgment to lapse into finality. Such reckless and gross negligence
deprived CEZA not only of the chance to seek reconsideration thereof but also the opportunity to
elevate its case to the CA.


Case No. 1

A.C. No. 6622 July 10, 2012


FACTS: Complainant was was employed by respondent as a financial consultant to assist the
latter on technical and financial matters in the latters numerous petitions for corporate rehabilitation
filed with different courts. Complainant claimed that they had a verbal agreement whereby he would
be entitled to P 50,000 for every Stay Order issued by the court in the cases they would handle, in
addition to ten percent (10%) of the fees paid by their clients. He alleged that, from February to
December 2002, respondent was able to rake in millions of pesos from the corporate rehabilitation
cases they were working on together. Complainant also claimed that he was entitled to the amount
of P 900,000 for the 18 Stay Orders issued by the courts as a result of his work with respondent, and
a total of P 4,539,000 from the fees paid by their clients. Complainant appended to his Complaint
several annexes supporting the computation of the fees he believes are due him.

Complainant also alleges that respondent used two businesses (Jesi and Jane Management, Inc. and
Christmel Business Link, Inc.) as fronts to advertise his legal services and solicit cases in violation of
Section 27 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

On the third charge of gross immorality, complainant accused respondent of committing two counts of
bigamy for having married two other women while his first marriage was subsisting. He submitted a
Certification dated 13 July 2005 issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar General-National Statistics
Office (NSO) certifying that Bede S. Tabalingcos, herein respondent, contracted marriage thrice: first,
on 15 July 1980 with Pilar M. Lozano, which took place in Dasmarinas, Cavite; the second time on 28
September 1987 with Ma. Rowena Garcia Pion in the City of Manila; and the third on 07 September
1989 with Mary Jane Elgincolin Paraiso in Ermita, Manila.

Respondent denied that that complainant was not an employee of his law firm Tabalingcos and
Associates Law Office but of Jesi and Jane Management, Inc., where the former is a major
stockholder. Respondent alleged that complainant was unprofessional and incompetent in performing
his job as a financial consultant, resulting in the latters dismissal of many rehabilitation plans they
presented in their court cases and alleged that there was no verbal agreement between them regarding
the payment of fees and the sharing of professional fees paid by his clients. He proffered documents
showing that the salary of complainant had been paid. As to the charge of unlawful solicitation,
respondent denied committing any. On the charge of gross immorality, respondent assailed the
Affidavit submitted by William Genesis, a dismissed messenger of Jesi and Jane Management, Inc., as
having no probative value, since it had been retracted by the affiant himself. Respondent did not
specifically address the allegations regarding his alleged bigamous marriages with two other women.

IBPs Report and Recommendation:

The first charge, for dishonesty for the non-payment of certain shares in the fees, was dismissed for
lack of merit. On the second charge, the Commission found respondent to have violated the rule on
the solicitation of client for having advertised his legal services and unlawfully solicited cases. It
recommended that he be reprimanded for the violation. It failed, though, to point out exactly the
specific provision he violated. As for the third charge, the Commission found respondent to be guilty of
gross immorality for violating Rules 1.01 and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and
Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.

IBP Board of Governors denied the Motions for Reconsideration and affirmed their Resolution dated 15
April 2008 recommending respondents disbarment. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: WON Atty. BEDE S. TABALINGCOS should be disbarred?

RULING: Yes. Atty. BEDE S. TABALINGCOS should be disbarred. The Court ruled that As to the
first charge, complainants allegations in this case had not been proven, the IBP correctly dismissed
the charge against respondent on this matter. As to the second charge, the court ruled that review of
the records reveals that respondent indeed used the business entities mentioned in the report to
solicit clients and to advertise his legal services, purporting to be specialized in corporate
rehabilitation cases. Based on the facts of the case, he violated Rule 2.03 of the Code, which prohibits
lawyers from soliciting cases for the purpose of profit. The court affirmed the recommendation to
reprimand the latter for violating Rules 2.03 and 15.08 of the Code. As to the third charge of bigamy,
the court ruled that a disbarment case is sui generis. Its focus is on the qualification and fitness of a
lawyer to continue membership in the bar and not the procedural technicalities in filing the case. In
disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant. We find him guilty of gross
immorality under the Code. He has not disputed the authenticity or impugned the genuineness of the
NSO-certified copies of the Marriage Contracts presented by complainant to prove the formers
marriages to two other women aside from his wife. For purposes of this disbarment proceeding, these
Marriage Contracts bearing the name of respondent are competent and convincing evidence proving
that he committed bigamy, which renders him unfit to continue as a member of the bar. Thus, we
adopt the recommendation of the IBP to disbar respondent and order that his name be stricken from
the Roll of Attorneys.

Case No. 4


Atty. Angeles wrote a letter to RTC judge of Bataan, Judge Escalada regarding the 18 documents that
were allegedly notarized by Atty. Bagay while he was abroad. The letter contained the affidavits of the
persons who caused the documents to be notarized which showed a common statement that they did
not see respondent sign the documents himself and it was either the secretary who signed them or the
documents came out of the office already signed. A copy of the certification by the Bureau of
Immigration was also attached with the letter which showed that Atty. Bagay was indeed out of the

The matter was endorsed to the IBP Bataan and eventually reached the commission on bar
discipline(CBD) which required Atty. Angeles to formalize the complaint. On Atty. Angeles reply, he
said that the letter was not intented to be a formal complaint but rather a mere report. CBD endorsed
the matter to the office of the bar confidant. When required to comment on the letter, Atty. Bagay
claimed that he was not aware that those were documents notarized using his name while he was out
of the country. That upon his own inquiry he found out that the notarizations were done by his
secretary and without his knowledge and authority. The said secretary notarized the documents
without realizing the import of the notarization act. Respondent apologized to the Court for his lapses
and averred that he had terminated the employment of his secretary from his office.

The IBP Board of Governors in its Resolution disqualified the respondent to be commissioned as
notary for a period of two (2) years. Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the said resolution
of the IBP. He contended that by admitting and owning up to what had happened, but without any
wrongful intention, he should be merited with leniency. Moreover, he claimed that he only committed
simple negligence which did not warrant such harsh penalty.


Whether the notarization of documents by the secretary of respondent while he was out of the country
constituted negligence


This clearly constitutes negligence considering that respondent is responsible for the acts of his
secretary which he employed. Section 9 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice provides that a "Notary
Public" refers to any person commissioned to perform official acts and a notary publics secretary is
obviously not commissioned to perform such acts. Respondent cannot take refuge in his claim that it
was his secretarys act which he did not authorize. He left his office open to the public while leaving
his secretary in charge. He kept his notarial seal and register within the reach of his secretary, fully
aware that his secretary could use these items to notarize documents and copy his signature.
Respondent must fully bear the consequence of his negligence. A person who is commissioned as a
notary public takes full responsibility for all the entries in his notarial register. He cannot relieve
himself of this responsibility by passing the buck to his secretary

The Court did not consider his plea of leniency stating that his experience should have placed him on
guard and could have prevented possible violations of his notarial duty. By his sheer negligence, 18
documents were notarized by an unauthorized person and the public was deceived.

Thus, the penalty of revocation of notarial commission and disqualification from reappointment as
Notary Public for two (2) years and an additional penalty of suspension from the practice of law for
three (3) months was imposed for violation of Canon 7 of the CPR, which directs every lawyer to
uphold at all times the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. By prejudicing the persons whose
documents were notarized by an unauthorized person, their faith in the integrity and dignity of the
legal profession was eroded.

Case No. 5
Dela Cruz-Sillano v. Pangan


Respondent is accused of forging the signature of an affiant in a Special Power of Attorney (SPA). The
affiant in this SPA is the mother of complainant. The SPA appears to have authorized Ronaldo F.
Apostol, nephew of the affiant to process, claim, receive and encash checks representing the affiants
benefits arising from an insurance policy wherein the complainant is the beneficiary. Respondent was
also accused of notarizing a document in the absence of the affiant premised on complainant's claim
that when the SPA was notarized, the affiant was bedridden in the United States, who was sick with
malignant cancer of the lungs. Hence, affiant could not have executed, prepared and signed the SPA
and sworn to the same before Atty. Pangan.

The IBP Board of Governors suspended respondent from the practice of law for one year.


The Court is aware of the practice of not a few lawyers commissioned as notary public to authenticate
documents without requiring the physical presence of affiants. However, the adverse consequences of
this practice far outweigh whatever convenience is afforded to the absent affiants. Doing away with the
essential requirement of physical presence of the affiant does not take into account the likelihood that
the documents may be spurious or that the affiants may not be who they purport to be. A notary
public should not notarize a document unless the persons who signed the same are the very same
persons who executed and personally appeared before him to attest to the contents and truth of what
are stated therein. The purpose of this requirement is to enable the notary public to verify the
genuineness of the signature of the acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the
party's free act and deed.

Respondent's failure to perform his duty as a notary public resulted not only in damaging
complainant's rights but also in undermining the integrity of a notary public and in degrading the
function of notarization. Hence, respondent should be liable for such negligence, not only as a notary
public but also as a lawyer.

Respondent was suspended from the practice of law and was prohibited from being commissioned as a
notary public for a period of 1 year.

Case no. 6

A.C. No. 4191 June 10, 2013

ANITA C. PENA, Complainant,


This is an administrative case filed against respondent Atty. Christina C. Paterno for acts violative of
the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Notarial Law.

Complainant Anita C. Pea, filed an Affidavit-Complaint 1 against respondent Atty. Christina C. Paterno
alleging that she was the owner of a parcel of land, located in Marikina with an eight-door apartment
constructed thereon. Atty. Christina C. Paterno, as respondent was her lawyer in a legal separation
case, which she filed against her husband and the property was her share in their property settlement.

Sometime in 1986, respondent suggested that she (complainant) apply for a loan from a bank to
construct townhouses on her property that her property be offered as collateral. Respondent assured
complainant that she would work out the speedy processing and release of the loan. Since she had a
balance on her loan with the GSIS, respondent lent her the sum of P27,000.00, to pay the said loan.
Complainant entrusted the property and given authority to respondent who would prepare documents
for the loan and follow-up the same.

Later complainant discovered that her apartment was already demolished, and in its place, four
residential houses were constructed on her property, which she later learned was already owned by
one Ernesto D. Lampa, who bought her property from Estrella D. Kraus.

Complainant stated that she did not sold her property, and that she neither signed any deed of sale in
its favor nor appeared before respondent to acknowledge the sale. She alleged that respondent
manipulated the sale of her property to Krisbuilt Traders Company, Ltd. using her trusted employee,
Estrella D. Kraus, and that her signature was forged.

Respondent alleged that Estrella D. Kraus never worked in any capacity in her law office, and that
Estrella and her husband, were her clients. Respondent denied that she suggested that complainant
should apply for a loan from a bank to construct townhouses. She said that it was the complainant,
on the contrary, who requested her to look for somebody who could help her raise the money she
needed to complete the amortization of her property, which was mortgaged with the GSIS. Respondent
stated that she was the one who introduced complainant to the Spouses. Complainant offered the
property, to the Spouses Kraus. Later, the Spouses Kraus requested respondent to prepare the deed of
sale in favor of their company, Krisbuilt Traders. Thereafter, complainant and the Spouses Kraus went
to respondent's office where complainant signed the Deed of Sale. Respondent alleged that
complainant took hold of the Deed of Sale, as the understanding was that the complainant would, in
the meantime, work for the release of the mortgage, and, thereafter, she would deliver her certificate of
title, together with the Deed of Sale, to the Spouses Kraus. That complainant would inform respondent
when the transaction was completed so that the Deed of Sale could be recorded in the Notarial Book.
Thereafter, respondent claimed that she had no knowledge of what transpired between complainant
and the Spouses Kraus. She stated that she was never entrusted with complainant's certificate of title
to her property.It was only complainant who negotiated the sale of her property in favor of Krisbuilt
Traders Company, Ltd. According to respondent, complainant's inaction for eight years to verify what
happened to her property only meant that she had actually sold the same, and that she concocted her
story when she saw the prospect of her property had she held on to it. Respondent prayed for the
dismissal of the case.

During the hearing, complainant filed her Formal Offer of Evidence. Respondent filed a Demurrer to
Evidence. The Investigating Commissioner denied the outright dismissal of the complaint.

The Register of Deeds was subpoenaed to testify and bring the Deed of Absolute Sale but failed to
appear. Instead, respondent's counsel presented a certification 10 from Records Officer Ma. Corazon
Gaspar of the Register of Deeds of Marikina City, which certification stated that a copy of the Deed of
Sale executed by Anita C. Pea in favor of Krisbuilt Traders Company, Ltd., covering a parcel of land in
Marikina, could not be located and that the same may be considered lost.

Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the criminal case of estafa filed against her
before the RTC which was anchored on the same facts as the administrative case, had been dismissed.
The RTC held that the case for estafa could not prosper against the accused Atty. Christina C. Paterno,
for insufficiency of evidence to secure conviction beyond reasonable doubt, considering the absence of
the Deed of Sale and/or any competent proof that would show that Anita Pea's signature therein was
forged and the transfer of the land was made through fraudulent documents.


Whether or not there was clear and preponderant evidence showing that respondent violated the
Canons of Professional Responsibility by (a) deceiving complainant Anita C. Pea; (b) conspiring with
Estrella Kraus and Engr. Ernesto Lampa to enable the latter to register the subject property in his
name; and (c) knowingly notarizing a falsified contract of sale.

The Investigating Commissioner of the IBP,found that respondent betrayed the trust reposed upon her
by complainant by executing a bogus deed of sale while she was entrusted with complainant's
certificate of title, and that respondent also notarized the spurious deed of sale. Commissioner Sordan
stated that there was no evidence showing that respondent actively conspired with any party or
actively participated in the forgery of the signature of complainant. Nevertheless, Commissioner
Sordan stated that complainant's evidence supports the conclusion that her signature on the said
Deed of Sale was forged.

Although no copy of the said Deed of Sale could be produced notwithstanding diligent search,
Commissioner Sordan stated that the interlocking testimonies of the complainant and her witness,
proved that the original copy of the owner's duplicate certificate of title was delivered to respondent.
Commissioner Sordan did not give credence to respondent's denial that complainant handed to her the
owner's duplicate of TCT No. N-61244 at the GSIS, as Maura Orosco, respondent's former client who
worked as Records Processor at the GSIS, testified that she saw complainant give the said title to
respondent.Despite repeated demands by complainant, respondent refused to return it. Yet,
respondent assured complainant that she was still the owner. Later, complainant discovered that a
new building was erected on her property, eight years after she gave the title to respondent.
Respondent argued that it was unfathomable that after eight years, complainant never took any step to
verify the status of her loan application nor visited her property, if it is untrue that she sold the said

Sordan stated that respondent enabled Estrella B. Kraus to sell complainant's land to Krisbuilt
Traders Company, Ltd.17 This was evidenced by Entry No. 150322 in TCT No. 61244 with respect to
the sale of the property described therein to Krisbuilt Traders Company, Ltd. Respondent alleged that
complainant signed the Deed of Sale in her presence inside her office. However, respondent would
neither directly confirm nor deny if, indeed, she notarized the instrument in her direct
examination, but on cross-examination, she stated that she was not denying that she was the one who
notarized the Deed of Sale. Estrella Kraus' affidavit supported respondent's defense.

Respondent presented her former employee Basilio T. Depaudhon to prove the alleged signing by
complainant of the purported Deed of Absolute Sale, and the notarization by respondent of the said
Deed. However, Commissioner Sordan doubted the credibility of Depaudhon, as he affirmed that his
participation in the alleged Deed of Absolute Sale was mere recording, but he later affirmed that he
saw the parties sign the Deed of Absolute Sale.

Commissioner Sordan stated that the unbroken chain of circumstances, like respondent's testimony
that she saw complainant sign the Deed of Sale before her is proof of respondent's deception.
Respondent's notarization of the disputed deed of sale showed her active role to perpetuate a fraud to
prejudice a party. Commissioner Sordan declared that respondent failed to exercise the required
diligence and fealty to her office by attesting that the alleged party, Anita Pea, appeared before her
and signed the deed when in truth and in fact the said person did not participate in the execution
thereof. Moreover, respondent should be faulted for having failed to make the necessary entries
pertaining to the deed of sale in her notarial register.


The criminal case of estafa from which respondent was acquitted, as her guilt was not proven beyond
reasonable doubt, is different from the,administrative case. Rule 133, Rules of Court states that in
administrative cases, only substantial evidence is required, not proof beyond reasonable doubt as in
criminal cases, or preponderance of evidence as in civil cases. Substantial evidence is that amount
of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.
Freeman v. Reyes, held that the dismissal of a criminal case does not preclude the continuance
of a separate and independent action for administrative liability, as the weight of evidence
necessary to establish the culpability is merely substantial evidence. An administrative case
can proceed independently, even if there was a full-blown trial wherein, based on both
prosecution and defense evidence, the trial court eventually rendered a judgment of acquittal,
on the ground either that the prosecution failed to prove the respondent's guilt beyond
reasonable doubt, or that no crime was committed.

Investigating Commissioner Sordan gave credence to complainant's testimony that she gave
respondent her owner's copy of the certificate of title to her property as respondent would apply for a
bank loan in complainant's behalf, using the subject property as collateral. It was corroborated by
Maura Orosco, who stated that she saw complainant give her title to respondent. Respondent admitted
that she executed the Deed of Sale. The said Deed of Sale was notarized by respondent as evidenced by
Entry No. 150322 in complainant's title, TCT No. N-61244. As the Deed of Sale could not be presented
in evidence, through no fault of the complainant, the consequence thereof is failure of complainant to
prove her allegation that her signature therein was forged and that respondent defrauded complainant
by facilitating the sale of the property to Krisbuilt Traders Company, Ltd. without complainant's
approval. However, complainant proved that respondent did not submit to the Clerk of Court of the
RTC of Manila, National Capital Region her Notarial Report for the month of November 1986, when the
Deed of Sale was executed.

A ground for revocation of a notary public's commission is failure of the notary to send the copy of the
entries to the proper clerk of the Court of First Instance (RTC) within the first ten days of the month
next following or the failure of the notary to forward his notarial register, when filled, to the proper
clerk of court.

The Clerk of Court of the RTC issued a certification, stating that respondent has not yet forwarded to
the Clerk of Court's Office her Notarial Report for the month of November 1986, when the Deed of Sale
was executed and notarized by her. A copy of the Notarial Report/Record and the said Deed of Sale
could not also be found in the National Archives. The failure of respondent to fulfill her duty as notary
public to submit her notarial register for the month of November 1986 and a copy of the said Deed of
Sale that was notarized by her on the same month is cause for revocation of her commission. Lawyers
commissioned as notaries public are mandated to discharge with fidelity the duties of their offices,
such duties being dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest.

Sec. 27. Attorneys removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. A member of the bar
may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of
his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is
required to take before admission to practice, or for a wilfull disobedience of any lawful order of
a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case
without authority to do so. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either
personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.

Investigating Commissioner Sordan opined that it appears that efforts were exerted to get rid of the
copies of the said Deed of Sale to prevent complainant from getting hold of the document for the
purpose of handwriting verification from an expert to prove that her alleged signature on the Deed of
Sale was forged. The failure of respondent to submit to the proper RTC Clerk of Court her Notarial
Register/Report for the month of November 1986 and a copy of the Deed of Sale, which was notarized
by her within that month, has far-reaching implications and grave consequences, as it in effect
suppressed evidence on the veracity of the said Deed of Sale and showed the deceitful conduct of
respondent to withhold the truth about its authenticity. During her testimony, it was observed by the
Investigating Commissioner and reflected in the transcript of records that respondent would neither
directly confirm nor deny that she notarized the said Deed of Sale.
For deceitful conduct, respondent is disbarred from the practice of law. She failed to live up to the
standards embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly the following Canons:

CANON 1 - A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for
law and for legal processes.

Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Rule 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening
confidence in the legal system.
CANON 7 - A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and
support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law,
nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the
legal profession.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Christina C. Paterno is DISBARRED from the practice of law,
pursuant to Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, as well as for violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility; and the notarial commission of Atty. Christina C. Paterno, if still existing,
is perpetually REVOKED.

Case No. 7

A.C. No. 10859

[Formerly CBD Case No. 09-2514]



In her verified complaint,3 dated April 6, 2009, which was indorsed by the Court to the IBP,
complainant Maria Fatima Japitana (Fatima) accused respondent Atty. Sylvester C. Parado (Atty.
Parado) of performing notarial acts without authority to do so, knowingly notarizing forged documents,
and notarizing documents without requiring sufficient identification from the signatories.

The Complaint

Atty. Parado notarized the Real Estate Mortgage 4 between RC Lending Investors, as mortgagee, and
Maria Theresa G. Japitana and Ma. Nette Japitana , as mortgagors. It was supposedly witnessed by
Maria Sallie Japitana and Maria Lourdes Japitana-Sibi and her husband Dante Sibi, Fatima's sisters
and brother-in-law, respectively. The mortgage covered a parcel of land on which the family home of
the Japitanas was constituted. On the same date, Atty. Parado notarized the Affidavit 5 allegedly
executed by Theresa, Nette, Lourdes, Dante, and Sallie to show their conformity to the Real Estate
Mortgage over the land where their family home was situated.

RC Lending, through Cristeta G. Cuenco, filed its Petition for ExtraJudicial Foreclosure of Real Estate
Mortgage.6 Consequently, the Transfer Certificate of Title was issued under the name of RC Lending.
On February 3, 2009, it filed an ex-parte motion7 for the issuance of a break-open order, for RC
Lending to effectively take the possession of the subject property as it was gated and nobody would
answer in spite of the sheriffs repeated knocking.
Fatima, however, assailed that the signatures in the Real Estate Mortgage as well as in the Affidavit,
both notarized, were forgeries. She asserted that Atty. Parado did not require the persons who
appeared before him to present any valid identification. Fatima alleged that Atty. Parado manually
forged the signatures of Sallie, Lourdes and Dante, as witnesses to the Real Estate Mortgage. She
added that her sister, Theresa, was a schizophrenic since 1975. More importantly, Fatima averred that
Atty. Parado had no notarial authority, as certified 8 by the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of
Cebu (RTC).

The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CED) issued the order, directing Atty. Parado to submit his
answer to the verified complaint within 15 days from receipt of the said order. IBP CBD issued the
Notice of Mandatory Conference, requiring both parties to attend. The IBP CBD issued another
order,11 resetting the mandatory conference because Atty. Parado failed to appear before the

Atty. Parado again failed to appear. The IBP CBD then issued the order 12 terminating the mandatory
conference and directing both parties to submit their respective position papers within ten (10) days
from receipt of the order. Atty. Parado, failed to submit his position paper. Investigating Commissioner
Oliver A. Cachapero noted that Atty. Parado had previously testified in court that the mortgagors and
the witnesses personally appeared before him and that it was he who required them to affix their
thumb marks and their signatures - which the parties and the witnesses in the Real Estate Mortgage
did. Commissioner Cachapero opined that there was no evidence to support that Atty. Parado lied as
the court had not set aside his testimonies. Consequently, he concluded that it was not proven that
Atty. Parado forged the assailed documents and notarized the same.

Commissioner Cachapero, however, found that Atty. Parado was dishonest when he testified that he
was issued a notarial commission effective until 2008. His claim was belied by the certification issued
by the Clerk of Court of the RTC. stating that Atty. Parado had not been issued a notarial commission
for 2006.

The Court's Ruling

Without a commission, a lawyer is unauthorized to perform any of the notarial acts. A lawyer who acts
as a notary public without the necessary notarial commission is remiss in his professional duties and

Under the rule, only persons who are commissioned as notary public may perform notarial acts
within the territorial jurisdiction of the court which granted the commission. It is invested with
substantive public interest that only those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public.
It must be emphasized that the act of notarization by a notary public converts a private document into
a public document making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of
authenticity.1wphi1 A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face,
and for this reason, notaries public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements in
the performance of their duties.

Atty. Parado knowingly performed notarial acts in 2006 in spite of the absence of a notarial
commission for the said period. Further, he was dishonest when he testified in court that he had a
notarial commission effective until 2008, when, in truth, he had none.

Moreover, even if Atty. Parado had a valid notarial commission, he still failed to faithfully observe the
Rules on Notarial Practice when he notarized the Real Estate Mortgage and the Affidavit of Conformity
with the persons who executed the said documents merely presenting their Residence Certificate or
Community Tax Certificate (CTC) before him.

Section 2(b), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice requires the presentation of a competent
evidence of identity, if the person appearing before the notary public is not personally known by him.
Section 12, Rule II of the same Rules defines competent evidence of identity as: (a) at least one current
identification document issued by an official agency bearing the photograph and signature of the
individual; or (b) the oath or affirmation of one credible witness not privy to the instrument, document
or transaction, who is personally known to the notary public and who personally knows the individual,
or of two credible witnesses neither of whom is privy to the instrument, document or transaction who
each personally knows the individual and shows to the notary public a documentary identification.

Atty. Parado did not claim to personally know the persons who executed the said documents. Hence,
the presentation of their CTCs was insufficient because those cannot be considered as competent
evidence of identity, as defined in the Rules. Reliance on the CTCs alone is a punishable indiscretion
by the notary public.

Doubtless, Atty. Parado should be held accountable for failing to perform his duties and
responsibilities expected of him.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Sylvester C. Parado is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2)
years and PERMANENTLY DISQUALIFIED from being commissioned as Notary Public.

Case No. 8


- Complainant owns property covered by TCT and registered at Registry of Deeds of Trece
Martires, Cavite. Such property was mortgaged to Spouses Cruz.

- In 2003, complainant went to ROD to get a true copy of the Certificate of Title for there is a
prospective buyer. Complainant was surprised to find out the TCT was cancelled and later
found out it was issued to Spouses Cruz.

- After investigation, it was found that property was transferred to Spouses Cruz with a Deed of
Absolute Sale for P100, 000. The Deed of Absolute Sale was allegedly signed by complainant
and notarized by the respondent. Complainant denies having signed the Deed of Absolute Sale.
He claims he was in Tanxa, Cavite the whole day searching for a buyer with M. Angeles. In
support to his allegation, complainant submitted an affidavit of Ms. Angeles wherein Ms.
Angeles declared that they were together from 7 in the morning to 10 in the evening,. There is
no way possible that complainant could have executed such deed.

- In a Questions Document report, the NBI confirmed that the signature of complainant in the
Deed of Absolute Sale and the signature of complainant in other documents were not made by
the same person.

- A few months after executing the Deed of Absolute Sale, Atty. Laysa (counsel of Spouses Cruz)
sent a letter to complainant demanding him to vacate the said property. It was found out that
Atty. Laysa and the respondent are partners in their law firm.

- For this, complainant filed a complaint for disbarment with the IBP for violation of Section 1
Rule II of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. Respondent did not file an answer. In a
mandatory conference, only the complainant was present. Only the complainant filed a position


- The respondent is administratively liable for notarizing a fictitious or spurious document. The
respondent was informed of the decision but still did not file a position paper which therefore
deemed waive her position in the case. It was recommended that she be suspended for 2 years
as a notary public.
- IBP Board adopted the findings of the investigating commissioner but modified the penalty to 3

- SC affirmed the ruing but modified it.
- SC also said that it should be the notarial law which should be applicable in the case at bar
and not the Rules on Notarial practice. Although they are very alike.

Notarial Law (Sect 1 of Pub Act No. 2103) 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice (Sect 1 Rule
Acknowledgement be made before a notary A) appears in person before notary public
public B) is attested to be personally known to the
Notary Public shall certify that the person Notary public or identified by the notary
taking acknowledging the document is known public through competent evidence of identity
to him and that he is the same person who
executed it and acknowledged that the same is
his free act and deed

- The party acknowledging the document must appear before the Notary Public. NP must not
notarize a document unless the person personally appeared before him to attest the contents of

- In this case, it is physically impossible for complainant to appear before respondent and sign
the Deed of Absolute Sale for he was not around when the said deed was signed. Another thing
is that the NBI findings showed that the Deed of Absolute Sale was not signed by the
complainant. Both findings prove that respondent violated Notarial law when she notarized the

- Respondent was lenient and negligent in accepting an out-dated CTC of complainant as

competent evidence of identity. The Deed of Absolute Sale was notarized on January 2003 while
the CTC presented was issued on May 2000. The respondent should have checked authenticity
of evidence presented to her. CTC after all is not included in the list of competent evidence of
identity that notaries public should use in confirming the identity of persons appearing before

- By notarizing a spurious document, respondent made a mockery of the legal solemnity of the
oath in an acknowledgement. This resulted to damage to those directly affected by the
notarized document. The complainant was unlawfully deprived of his property.

- The act of the respondent constitutes gross negligence in the performance of her duty as a
notary public. It is a breach of Canon 1.01 engaged in unlawful, dishonest immoral or
deceitful conduct

- Revocation of notarial commission
- Prohibited from being commissioned as Notary public for 2 years
- Suspended from the practice of law for 1 year
- Warned, repetition shall be dealt more severely.

Case No. 9


- This is a case of indirect contempt filed against respondents for publishing articles on
petitioners suspension which was a subject of a pending administrative case


- On December 2012, IBP Board issued a resolution recommending the suspension of petitioner.
After receiving a copy, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration

- On April 23, 2013, petitioner got some texts from friends saying that they read an article in
Filipino Star ngayon saying that he was already suspended from practicing law for a period of
one year. The said article was written by Lolit Solis.

- Here is what th article basically said (trinanslate ko na)

For breach of CPr, Katrina Halilis lawyer is suspended for 1 year.
They seeked the side of the lawyer but to no avail
The suspension is said to be because petitioner said some things against Belo Medical
Clinic. Said lawyer did not verify the information which had nothing to do with Belo
medical Clinic.
After 4 years have passed, everyone thought the case was dead but it was brought back
to life again due to Atty. Palads comments
It also said that if the suspension of the lawyer is true, he suffered the same fate of
Hayden Kho who got his licenced revoked.

- Petitioner said that the topic was also brought up by Ricky Lo in his columm.

- Petitioner claims respondents clearly violated the confidentiality rule in proceedings as

provided by Rule 139-B of the Rules of Procedure when they disclosed information of a pending
administrative case to public are likewise subject to indirect contempt.

- In defence of respondents Lo and Solis, they have been an entertainment journalist for 40 years
who writes about anything in the entertainment industry including those associated in it.

- For respondent Asis (Editor of Phil Star ngayon), she has no discretion over the topics that the
columnists writes.

- For respondent Pedroche (Editor In Chief), journalists in the showbiz segment have autonomy
to decide which articles to use.

- Respondent Lo and Solis also state that the administrative Case of petitioner is of public
interest (Katrina Halili Case). They also emphasized Freedom of the Press

- In a case of libel vs. Lolit Solis, it was dismissed by the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City for
lack of probable cause. The element of malice is lacking and that the article was written saying
merely alleged suspension.

- Whether respondents violated the confidentiality rule in proceedings against lawyers
warranting a finding of guilt for indirect contempt of court.


- Court defines Contempt of Court as a wilful disregard or disobedience of public authority

- 2 kinds of Contempt. Direct contempt guilty of misbehaviour inn the presence of a court as to
obstruct or interrupt proceedings. It included disrespect toward the courts, etc. Indirect
contempt 9also called constructive contempt) act by which committed out of the presence of
the court which included any improper conduct tending to impede, obstruct or degrade the
administration of justice

- Petitoner filed criminal contempt conduct that is directed against the dignity and authority of
the court or a judge acting judicially


Proceedings against attorneys shall be private and confidential 1) to enable the court to
make an investigation free from influence 2) To protect the personal and professional
reputation of attorneys from baseless charges of persons or clients by prohibiting the
publication of such charges pending resolution 3) to deter the press from publishing the
changes or proceedings based thereon.

- The court held that malicious and unauthorized publication of administrative complaints
against lawyers in newspapers by editors/reporters may be actionable. Such premature
publication constitutes a contempt of court. Sect 18 Rule 139-B of ROC is not a restriction of
Freedom of the Press. However, if there is an absence of legitimate public interest in
disbarment complains, media must preserve confidentiality of proceedings during its pendency.

- Petitioner claims he is only an ordinary practicing lawyer who handled Katrina halili case
which is a private case not imbued with public interest.

- SC does not agree with petitioner.

It is up to the court to determine in a case to case basiswhether the matter at issue is of
importance, as it relates to or affects the public.

- In the case at bar, the highly publicized controversy involving petitioners client who is a public
figure arose the publics attention. The case tackles the issue on photo or video voyeurism
which is considered subject of public interest. The petitioner represents a matter of public
interest. Senator Jamby Madrigal stressed in Senate Inquiry in 2009, the proceeding is
conducted for all women not only Ms. Halili (Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism RA 9995)

- A person even if not a public official/public figure could be validly the subject of a public
comment as long as he is involved in a public issue. SC explains that a publics primary
interest is in the event and not on the participants prior anonymity or notoriety.

- Since petitioner became a public figure for being involved in a public issue, he has become a
matter of public interest. The media has a right to report it. The media merely reported the
alleged penalty of suspension of the petitioner. There is no evidence that the respondents
published the article to influence this court on its action on the case of petitioner to destroy his
reputation. There is no violation of the confidentiality rule.

- Finally, petitioner alleges that the respondents made comments, opinions as to the findings of
the IBP board, He also says that these were hearsay since they were not supposed to have a
copy of the resolution.

- To be considered as malicious, the statement must be shown to have been written with the
knowledge that they are false or in disregard if they are false or not. Petitioner cannot present
proof that respondents have a copy of the resolution and failed to prove that the publication of
articles is malicious.

- Case is dismissed.