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A.

RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES

(MYRNA D. ROQUE and ROBERTO P. CRUZADO v. ATTY. FELICIANO B. CLEMENCIO,


Adm. Case No. 3187, August 14, 1992)

1. LEGAL ETHICS; ATTORNEYS; ATTORNEY APPOINTED AS INVESTIGATOR SHOULD


MANIFEST IMPARTIALITY AT ALL TIMES; NOT MET IN CASE AT BAR. — Respondent was
tasked to conduct the formal investigation in Adm. Case No. 86-884 filed by complainant Roque
against Panelo, and thereafter to submit his findings and recommendation. What facts to include
or exclude in his report, his findings and how to support them, as well as his recommendation —
all these necessarily entail the exercise of sound discretion and impartial judgment. Admittedly,
it was respondent himself who drafted the decision in the case, which draft became the basis for
the final adjudication adopted by the COA. Indeed, the manner of presenting the facts and the
consequent recommendation can influence the reviewing authority. In fact, a perusal of both the
draft decision submitted by respondent and the decision finally adopted by the COA would
reveal that, except for the difference in the penalties imposed, the final decision had all the
earmarks of the preliminary draft. Thus, respondent should have refrained from drinking and
dining with Panelo’s counsel. It is a rule of general application that an attorney (much more an
investigator, as in the case of respondent) should avoid, if not altogether eliminate, even the
slightest appearances of impropriety.

2. ID.; ID.; A MAN OF LAW SHOULD NEVER USE HIS LEGAL EXPERTISE AND INFLUENCE
TO FRIGHTEN OR COERCE ANYONE; CASE AT BAR. — When a lowly employee is
summoned to appear before the Chief Security Officer and there questioned by a lawyer who is
his superior, and who happens in this case to be respondent himself, and warned of dismissal
from employment, a possible litigation and its dire consequences, that employee is, in effect,
under threat or intimidation. The excuse of respondent that a threat to prosecute is no
intimidation deserves scant consideration. The instant complaint involves the fitness of a lawyer
to continue his membership with the Philippine Bar, where he is expected to promote respect for
law and legal processes. For sure, We are not here concerned with intimidation as a requisite to
vitiate consent in entering into contracts, as cited by respondent to support his argument. Here,
We take into serious account the fact that respondent is a lawyer, a superior who threatened a
subordinate complainant with dismissal and a court suit. A man of the law should never use his
legal expertise and influence in order to frighten or coerce anyone, specially the ordinary man
who looks up to him for justice.

3. ID.; ID.; CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY; PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO


COMPLY WITH ETHICAL STANDARDS REQUIRED; CASE AT BAR. — Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
immoral or deceitful conduct. A member of the Bar must act with integrity, honesty and
professional decorum. He must comport himself in a manner which will secure and preserve the
respect and confidence of the public. Both his professional and personal conduct must be kept
beyond reproach and above suspicion. He is required not only in fact to be of good moral
character, but must also be seen to be leading a life in accordance with the highest moral
standards of the community. His deportment should be characterized by candor, competence
and fairness. One of his duties is to maintain the high ethical standards of the legal profession.
Accordingly, respondent must be censured for his failure to comply with the ethical standards
required of members of the Bar as officers of the Court.

B. GOVERNMENT LAWYERS
(GASPAR R. DUTOSME v. ATTY. REY D. CAAYON, A.M. No. P-08-2578, July 31, 2009)

FACTS: Complainant Dutosme was able to secure a copy of a decision in LRC Case No. 61-
0053 only after respondent Atty. Caayon(Branch Clerk of Court) asked for and received P2,500
representing what respondent told him to be commissioner’s and stenographer’s fees.

ISSUE: WON Atty. Caayon(clerk of court) should be held administratively liable for demanding a
commissioner’s fee

HELD: YES.
In Nieva v. Alvarez-Edad, this Court found the therein respondent Clerk of Court guilty of
demanding/receiving commissioner’s fee in violation of Section B, Chapter II and Section D(7),
Chapter IV of the Manual for Clerks of Court and affirmed the OCAs finding that the respondent
issued a receipt in the guise of collecting payment for TSN in behalf of a court stenographer
when, in fact, part of the amount indicated in the receipt was due her as commissioner’s fee.

(ATTY. EMBIDO v. ATTY. PE, JR., A.C. No. 6732, October 22, 2013)

FACTS: Upon the request of Mr. Hunt, Judge Penuela instructed the civil docket clerk to
retrieve the records of Special Proceedings Case No. 084 entitled In re: Rey Laserna. Instead,
the court files revealed that Judge Penuela had decided Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In
re: Rolando Austria.
Mr. Hunt sent a machine copy of the purported decision in Special Proceedings No. 084
entitled In re: Rey Laserna. After comparing the two documents, it was discovered that the
decision was falsified and that it was the respondent who had facilitated the issuance of the
falsified decision. This triggered the NBI investigation. Finding that the respondent falsified the
decision, the NBI, represented by Regional Director Atty. Embido, filed this disbarment
complaint.

ISSUE: WON Atty. Pe should be disbarred for falsifying an inexistent decision

HELD: YES.

Gross immorality, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or fraudulent transactions can
justify a lawyer’s disbarment or suspension from the practice of law. Specifically, the deliberate
falsification of the court decision by the respondent was an act that reflected a high degree of
moral turpitude on his part. Worse, the act made a mockery of the administration of justice in
this country, given the purpose of the falsification, which was to mislead a foreign tribunal on the
personal status of a person. He thereby became unworthy of continuing as a member of the
Bar.

C. FITNESS TO PRACTICE LAW

(Spouses FRANKLIN and LOURDES OLBES vs. Atty. VICTOR V. DECIEMBRE, AC-5365
April 27, 2005)

FACTS: Complainant Lourdes applied for a loan. As security for the loan, she issued and
delivered to respondent five PNB blank checks which served as collateral for the approved loan
as well as any other future loans. Subsequently, Lourdes paid respondent the amount
corresponding to the loan plus surcharges, penalties and interests.
Notwithstanding the full payment of the loan, respondent filled up four (of the five) blank checks.
Unable to get anything from the dishonored checks, respondent filed criminal actions against
petitioners for estafa and violation of BP 22. In turn, complainants filed this complaint against
respondent for willful and deliberate acts of dishonesty, falsification and conduct unbecoming a
member of the Bar.

ISSUE: WON the acts of filing up the blank checks with amounts not agreed upon despite full
payment of the loan and filing of criminal actions against complainants constitute dishonesty,
falsification and conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar

HELD: YES.
The Code of Professional Responsibility specifically mandates the following:

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

It is glaringly clear that the Code of Professional Responsibility was seriously transgressed by
his malevolent act of filling up the blank checks by indicating amounts that had not been agreed
upon at all and despite respondents full knowledge that the loan supposed to be secured by the
checks had already been paid. His was a brazen act of falsification of a commercial document,
resorted to for his material gain.

And he did not stop there. Because the checks were dishonored upon presentment, respondent
had the temerity to initiate unfounded criminal suits against petitioners, thereby exhibiting his
vile intent to have them punished and deprived of liberty for frustrating the criminal duplicity he
had wanted to foist on them. As a matter of fact, one of the petitioners (Franklin) was detained
for three months because of the Complaints. Respondent is clearly guilty of serious dishonesty
and professional misconduct. He committed an act indicative of moral depravity not expected
from, and highly unbecoming, a member of the bar.

(IRENE SANTOS-TAN vs. ATTY. ROMEO R. ROBISO, ADM. CASE. No. 6383, March 31,
2009)

FACTS: Complainant engaged the professional services of respondent as her counsel and paid
him P100,000.00 as acceptance fee. After finding out that her case had not progressed and that
the only pleading that respondent had filed was his notice of appearance, complainant went to
his office and demanded the return of the professional fees earlier paid. To return a portion of
the professional fee, respondent issued a bouncing check.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent should be disciplined for issuing a bouncing check

HELD: YES.
In issuing a worthless check, respondent showed that he was unmindful of the deleterious
effects of his act to the public interest and public order. Respondent violated the Attorneys Oath
that he will, among others, obey the laws. The Code of Professional Responsibility specifically
provides:

CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF


THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR THE LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.

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

CANON 7 A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND


DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE
INTEGRATED BAR.

Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his
fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

The issuance of bouncing check cannot be countenanced nor condoned under any
circumstances. The act of a lawyer in issuing a check which is drawn against insufficient funds
constitutes deceitful conduct or conduct unbecoming an officer of the court. The Court has held
that the issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been drawn against a closed
account indicates a lawyer’s unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on him. It shows a
lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to render him unworthy of public
confidence.

As such, we have held that deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless
checks constitute gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension
from the practice of law. The IBP Board of Governors recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for one year. However, the Court notes that, in practice,
acceptance fees of lawyers are generally non-refundable and the fact that, in the present case,
respondent is willing to make good the amount of the bouncing check. Thus, we deem that one
month suspension from the practice of law and the restitution of P85,000.00 to complainant
would be sufficient in this case.

(COSMOS FOUNDRY SHOP WORKERS UNION and FILEMON G. ALVAREZ vs. LO BU


and CA, G.R. No. L-40136, March 25, 1975)

Counsel Yolando F. Busmente in his Answer to this petition, filed on February 20, 1975, had the
temerity to deny such allegations. He simply ignored the fact that as counsel for respondent Lo
Bu, petitioner in L-36636, he did specifically maintain: "On January 26, 1973, in order to
vindicate his rights over the levied properties, in an expeditious or less expensive manner,
herein appellant voluntarily submitted himself, as a forced intervenor, to the jurisdiction of
respondent CIR, by filing an urgent 'Motion to Recall Writ of Execution,' precisely questioning
the jurisdiction of said Court to pass upon the validity and legality of the sale of the 'New
Century Foundry Shop' to him, without the latter being made a party to the case, as well as the
jurisdiction of said Court to enforce the Decision rendered against the respondents in Case No.
3021-ULP, by means of an alias writ of execution against his properties found at the 'New
Century Foundry Shop;' ... ; Petitioner appellant's urgent motion aforesaid was set for hearing
on February 5, 1973, and inasmuch as the auction sale of his properties was set for January 31,
1973, the CIR issued an order on January 30, 1973, one day before the schedule sale, ordering
the Sheriff of Manila not to proceed with the auction sale; ... ; On February 3, 1973, herein
petitioner-appellant [Lo Bu] filed another urgent motion dated February 2, 1973, praying for the
return of his properties on the ground that the judgment creditor (respondent-appellee) failed to
put up an indemnity bond, pursuant to the provision of Section 17, Rule 39 of the Rules of
Court; ... On February 10, 1973 respondent-appellee Cosmos Foundry Workers Union
interposed its opposition to herein petitioner-appellant's urgent motions dated January 26, 1973
and February 2, 1973, ... ; On February 27, 1973, herein petitioner-appellant received an order
from respondent CIR, dated February 25, 1973, denying his urgent motions and ordering the
Sheriff of Manila to proceed with the auction sale of his properties "in accordance with law;" ...
" 18 Such conduct on the part of counsel is far from commendable. He could, of course, be
casuistic and take refuge in the fact that the paragraph of the petition, which he denied, was, in
addition to being rather poorly and awkwardly worded, also prolix, with unnecessary
matter being included therein without due regard to logic or coherence or even rules of
grammar. He could add that his denial was to be correlated with his special defenses, where he
concentrated on points not previously admitted. That is the most that can be said of his
performance, and it is not enough. For even if such be the case, Attorney Busmente had not
exculpated himself. He was of course expected to defend his client's cause with zeal, but
not at the disregard of the truth and in defiance of the clear purpose of labor statutes. He
ought to remember that his obligation as an officer of the court, no less than the dignity
of the profession, requires that he should not act like an errand-boy at the beck and call
of his client, ready and eager to do his every bidding. If he fails to keep that admonition
in mind, then he puts into serious question his good standing in the bar.

(DAHLIA S. GACIAS v. ATTY. ALEXANDER BULAUITAN, A.C. No. 7280, November 16,
2006)

FACTS: Respondent Atty. Bulauitan and Complainant Gacias entered into a contract of sale
over the property of respondent worth P322,000.00 to be paid on installments basis.
Complainant had already paid P300,000.00 when she learned of the mortgage of the property to
the bank. Subsequently, the bank foreclosed the property. Aggrieved, complainant filed this
affidavit-complaint.

ISSUE: WON Atty. Bulauitan should be held administratively liable

RULING: YES.

The CPR enjoins a lawyer from engaging in unlawful, dishonest or deceitful conduct. The
complementing Rule 7.03 of the Code, on the other hand, provides that a lawyer shall not
engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law. Another complementing
provision is found in the Rules of Court providing that a member of the bar may be suspended
or even removed from office as an attorney for any deceit, malpractice, or misconduct in
office. And when the Code or the Rules speaks of conduct or misconduct, the reference is not
confined to one’s behavior exhibited in connection with the performance of the lawyers
professional duties, but also covers any misconduct which, albeit unrelated to the actual
practice of his profession, would show him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the
privileges which his license and the law invest him with. To borrow from Orbe v. Adaza, [T]he
grounds expressed in Section 27, Rule 138, of the Rules of Court are not limitative and are
broad enough to cover any misconduct, including dishonesty, of a lawyer in his professional or
private capacity.
Like Atty. Adaza in Orbe, respondent Atty. Bulauitan also refused without justifiable reason to
comply with his just obligation under a contract he entered into with the complainant. Instead of
going through the motion of delivering the portion of his property to its buyer after his receipt of
almost the entire purchase price therefor, the respondent mortgaged the whole property without
so much as informing the complainant about it. The Court finds the respondent’s act of giving
the property in question in mortgage bordering on the fraudulent and surely dishonest.

The private nature of the transaction or the fact that the same was concluded without the
respondent taking advantage of his legal profession is really of little moment. For, a lawyer may
be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long
as it shows him wanting in honesty, probity or good demeanor.

D. NO ASSISTANCE TO THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW

(LUZVIMINDA C. LIJAUCO vs. ATTY. ROGELIO P. TERRADO, A.C. No. 6317, August 31,
2006)

FACTS: Complainant alleged that she engaged the services of respondent for P70,000.00 to
assist in recovering her deposit with Planters Development Bank in the amount of P180,000.00
and the release of her foreclosed house and lot.

Denying the accusation, respondent averred that the P70,000.00 he received from complainant
was only for the recovery of the deposit with the bank.

The Investigating Commissioner opined that the Php70,000.00 legal fees for the recovery of a
Php180,000.00 savings deposit is too high. In his defense, Atty. Terrado admitted that he
divided the Php70,000.00 to other individuals as commission/referral fees.

ISSUE: WON Atty. Terrado violated the CPR for dividing the P70,000 to other individuals as
commission

HELD: YES

Respondent’s admission that he divided the legal fees with two other people as a referral fee
does not release him from liability. A lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal
services with persons not licensed to practice law, except in certain cases.

(IN RE: PETITION TO SIGN IN THE ROLL OF ATTORNEYS MICHAEL A. MEDADO, B.M.
No. 2540, September 24, 2013)

FACTS: On 1980, he took the Attorney’s Oath at PICC. He was then scheduled to sign in the
Roll of Attorneys, but he failed to do so on his scheduled date, because he had misplaced the
Notice to Sign the Roll of Attorneys.

Several years later, Medado found the Notice to Sign the Roll of Attorneys. By the time Medado
found the notice, he was already working. He stated that he was mainly doing corporate and
taxation work, and that he was not actively involved in litigation practice. Thus, he operated
"under the mistaken belief that since he had already taken the oath, the signing of the Roll of
Attorneys was not as urgent, nor as crucial to his status as a lawyer"; and "the matter of signing
in the Roll of Attorneys lost its urgency and compulsion, and was subsequently forgotten."

On 2012, Medado filed the instant Petition, praying that he be allowed to sign in the Roll of
Attorneys.

ISSUE:

1. WON Atty. Medado should be allowed to sign the Roll of Attorneys

2. WON Atty. Medado violated the CPR

RULING:

1. YES.

At the outset, we note that not allowing Medado to sign in the Roll of Attorneys would be akin to
imposing upon him the ultimate penalty of disbarment, a penalty that we have reserved for the
most serious ethical transgressions of members of the Bar.

In this case, the records do not show that this action is warranted.

For one, petitioner demonstrated good faith and good moral character when he finally filed the
instant Petition to Sign in the Roll of Attorneys. We note that it was not a third party who called
this Court’s attention to petitioner’s omission; rather, it was Medado himself who acknowledged
his own lapse, albeit after the passage of more than 30 years.

For another, petitioner has not been subject to any action for disqualification from the practice of
law, which is more than what we can say of other individuals who were successfully admitted as
members of the Philippine Bar. For this Court, this fact demonstrates that petitioner strove to
adhere to the strict requirements of the ethics of the profession, and that he has prima facie
shown that he possesses the character required to be a member of the Philippine Bar.

Finally, Medado appears to have been a competent and able legal practitioner, having held
various positions at the Laurel Law Office, Petron, Petrophil Corporation, the Philippine National
Oil Company, and the Energy Development Corporation.

All these demonstrate Medado’s worth to become a full-fledged member of the Philippine
Bar. While the practice of law is not a right but a privilege, this Court will not unwarrantedly
withhold this privilege from individuals who have shown mental fitness and moral fiber to
withstand the rigors of the profession.

2. YES.

Under the Rules of Court, the unauthorized practice of law by one’s assuming to be an attorney
or officer of the court, and acting as such without authority, may constitute indirect contempt of
court, which is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. Such a finding, however, is in the
nature of criminal contempt and must be reached after the filing of charges and the conduct of
hearings. In this case, while it appears quite clearly that petitioner committed indirect contempt
of court by knowingly engaging in unauthorized practice of law, we refrain from making any
finding of liability for indirect contempt, as no formal charge pertaining thereto has been filed
against him.

Knowingly engaging in unauthorized practice of law likewise transgresses Canon 9 of 'the Code
of Professional Responsibility, which provides:

CANON 9 -A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, assist in the unauthorized practice of
law.
While a reading of Canon 9 appears to merely prohibit lawyers from assisting in the
unauthorized practice of law, the unauthorized practice of law by the lawyer himself is
subsumed under this provision, because at the heart of Canon 9 is the lawyer's duty to
prevent the unauthorized practice of law. This duty likewise applies to law students and
Bar candidates. As aspiring members of the Bar, they are bound to comport themselves in
accordance with the ethical standards of the legal profession.

E. CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(ATTY. POLICARIO I. CATALAN, JR. vs. ATTY. JOSELITO M. SILVOSA, A.C. No. 7360,
July 24, 2012)

FACTS: A complaint was filed against Atty. Silvosa for representing clients with conflicting
interests alleging that Atty. Silvosa appeared as private counsel for the accused in the same
case for which he previously appeared as a public prosecutor. In his defense, Atty. Silvosa
claims that his appearance was only for the purpose of the reinstatement of bail pending finality
of judgment of the criminal case.

ISSUE: WON respondent is guilty of representing clients with conflicting interests

HELD: YES.

When he entered his appearance on the Motion to Post Bail Bond Pending Appeal, Atty. Silvosa
conveniently forgot Rule 15.03 which provides that "A lawyer shall not represent conflicting
interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of facts."

The question is to whether the attorney has adhered to proper professional standard. It
behooves attorneys, like Caesar’s wife, not only to keep inviolate the client’s confidence, but
also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing.

Indeed, the prohibition against representation of conflicting interests applies although the
attorney’s intentions were honest and he acted in good faith.

(ELESIO C. PORMENTO, SR. vs. ATTY. ALIAS A. PONTEVEDRA, A.C. No. 5128, March
31, 2005)
FACTS: Complainant Pormento sought the services of respondent Atty. Pontevedra in Civil
Case No. 1648 involving a parcel of land. Still, involving the same parcel of land, complainant
filed a criminal case for qualified theft against the relatives of the alleged new owner of the said
land. Respondent is the counsel of the accused in said case.
Complainant claims that as part of his defense in said criminal case, respondent utilized pieces
of confidential information he obtained from complainant while the latter is still his client.
Respondent argues that there exists no conflict between his present and former client’s
interests as the cases he handled for these clients are separate and distinct from each other.
ISSUE: WON respondent is guilty of representing clients with conflicting interests
HELD: YES. We find conflict of interests in respondent’s representation of herein complainant
in Civil Case No. 1648 and his subsequent employment as counsel of the accused in Criminal
Case No. 3159.
It cannot be denied that when respondent was the counsel of complainant in Civil Case No.
1648, he became privy to the documents and information that complainant possessed with
respect to the said parcel of land. Hence, whatever may be said as to whether or not
respondent utilized against complainant any information given to him in a professional
capacity, the mere fact of their previous relationship should have precluded him from
appearing as counsel for the opposing side.
Respondent should have declined employment in Criminal Case No. 3159 so as to avoid
suspicion that he used in the criminal action any information he may have acquired in Civil Case
No. 1648.
Moreover, the fact that the conflict of interests is remote or merely probable does not
make the prohibition inoperative.

(FELICITAS S. QUIAMBAO v. ATTY. NESTOR A. BAMBA, Adm. Case No. 6708, August 25,
2005)

FACTS: Respondent Atty. Bamba acted as complainant Quiambao’s counsel of record in an


ejectment case.

About six months after complainant resigned as AIB president, the respondent, without
withdrawing as counsel of record in the pending ejectment case, filed on behalf of AIB a
complaint for replevin against complainant to recover from her the car of AIB assigned to her as
a service vehicle.

Complainant filed a disbarment case charging respondent with violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility for representing conflicting interests when the latter filed a case
against her while he was at that time representing her in another case.

The respondent countered that the ejectment case and the replevin case are unrelated cases
involving different issues and parties and, therefore, the privileged information which might have
been gathered from one case would have no use in the other.

ISSUE: WON the respondent was guilty of representing conflicting interests.

HELD: YES.

The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies to a situation where the
opposing parties are present clients in the same action or in an unrelated action. It is of no
moment that the lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which the lawyer
has to oppose for the other client, or that there would be no occasion to use the confidential
information acquired from one to the disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly
unrelated. It is enough that the opposing parties in one case, one of whom would lose the
suit, are present clients and the nature or conditions of the lawyers respective retainers
with each of them would affect the performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to both
clients.

In this case, it is undisputed that at the time the respondent filed the replevin case on behalf of
AIB he was still the counsel of record of the complainant in the pending ejectment case. We do
not sustain respondent’s theory that since the ejectment case and the replevin case are
unrelated cases fraught with different issues, parties, and subject matters, the prohibition is
inapplicable. His representation of opposing clients in both cases, though unrelated,
obviously constitutes conflict of interest or, at the least, invites suspicion of double-
dealing.

(ROLANDO B. PACANA, JR v. ATTY. MARICEL PASCUAL-LOPEZ, A.C. No. 8243, July


24, 2009)

FACTS: Complainant was the Operations Director of an affiliate company of Multitel


International Holdings Corporation (Multitel). Complainant sought the advice of respondent due
to the number of demand letters from Multitel investors. Respondent gave legal advice to
complainant and even helped him prepare standard quitclaims for creditors. After a few weeks,
complainant received a demand letter from respondent asking for the return and immediate
settlement of the funds invested by respondent’s clients in Multitel.

Through respondent’s persistent promises to settle all his legal problems, complainant was
convinced to turn over properties and money to the respondent.

When complainant asked respondent for a full accounting of all the money, documents and
properties, the respondent explained that all the properties and cash had been returned to her
clients who had money claims against Multitel. In exchange, she was able to secure quitclaim
documents clearing complainant from any liability. Unsatisfied, complainant filed an affidavit-
complaint against respondent for committing acts constituting conflict of interest.

ISSUE: WON respondent is guilty of representing conflicting interests

HELD: YES. Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional responsibility provides:

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

This prohibition is founded on principles of public policy, good taste and, more importantly, upon
necessity. In the course of a lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns all the facts
connected with the client’s case, including its weak and strong points. Such knowledge
must be considered sacred and guarded with care. No opportunity must be given to him
to take advantage of his client.

Indubitably, respondent took advantage of complainant’s hapless situation, initially, by giving


him legal advice and, later on, by soliciting money and properties from him. Thereafter,
respondent impressed upon complainant that she had acted with utmost sincerity in helping him
divest all the properties entrusted to him in order to absolve him from any liability. But
simultaneously, she was also doing the same thing to impress upon her clients, the party
claimants against Multitel that she was doing everything to reclaim the money they invested with
Multitel. She cannot be permitted to do both because that would amount to double-dealing and
violate our ethical rules on conflict of interest.

(NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, INC., and BEN A. NICOLAS vs. Atty. MACARIO D.


ARQUILLO, A.C. No. 6632, August 2, 2005)
FACTS: A complaint was filed against Atty. Macario D. Arquillo for representing conflicting
interests in a case before the NLRC.

In the consolidated case, respondent therein Jose Castro, represented by Atty. Arquillo, filed a
motion to dismiss before the NLRC. Sixteen (16) days later, in the very same consolidated case,
Atty. Arquillo filed a Complainants Consolidated Position Paper, this time representing some of
the complainants(8 out of the 18 complainants therein).

Atty. Arquillo claims that there was no conflict of interest in his representation of both the
respondent and the complainants in the same consolidated cases, because all of them were on
the same side. Atty. Arquillo theorizes that her judgment absolved Castro of personal liability for
the illegal dismissal of the complainants.

ISSUE: WON Atty. Arquillo is guilty of violating the conflict-of-interests rule under the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

HELD: YES.

Atty. Arquillo’s acts cannot be justified by the fact that, in the end, Castro was proven to be not
personally liable for the claims of the dismissed employees. Having agreed to represent one
of the opposing parties first, the lawyer should have known that there was an obvious
conflict of interests, regardless of his alleged belief that they were all on the same side. It
cannot be denied that the dismissed employees were the complainants in the same cases in
which Castro was one of the respondents.

As counsel for complainants, respondent had the duty to oppose the Motion to Dismiss filed by
Jose G. Castro. But under the circumstance, it would be impossible since respondent is also the
counsel of Jose G. Castro. And it appears that it was respondent who prepared the Motion to
Dismiss, which he should be opposing as counsel of Jose G. Castro, Respondent had the duty
to prove the Complaint wrong. But Respondent cannot do this because he is the counsel for the
complainants. Here lies the inconsistency. The inconsistency of interests is very clear.

(AURORA CAMARA VDA. DE ZUBIRI vs. WENCESLAO ZUBIRI alias BEN, ET AL, G.R. No.
L-16745, December 17, 1966)

FACTS: Plaintiff-appellee, Aurora Camara Vda. de Zubiri, filed a complaint for the recovery of
her alleged share in 2 commercial lots against the herein defendant-appellant, Wenceslao Ben
Zubiri, and the Standard Vacuum Oil Co., the occupant of portions of the said properties.
Three (3) of the four (4) pleadings filed in the aforementioned case were prepared by plaintiff’s
counsel which were all signed by defendant-appellant without aid of counsel, namely: 1) the
herein appellant's answer; 2) a Stipulation of Facts; 3) a motion to render judgment on the
pleadings.

The trial court rendered judgment in accordance with the said documents in favor of the plaintiff.
Defendant-appellant filed with the trial court a petition to set aside judgment on the ground that
the three pleadings were all prepared by the plaintiff's counsel, said petition was denied. The
subsequent motion for reconsideration thereof having been denied too, the defendant-appellant
interposed the present appeal.

ISSUE: WON the plaintiff’s counsel is guilty of representing conflicting interests

HELD: YES.

The active participation of a lawyer in one party's affairs relating to a pending case in
which the said lawyer is the counsel for the opposing party is brazenly unethical to say
the least. The Canons of Legal Ethics very explicitly declare that "it is unprofessional to
represent conflicting interests" (No. 6), and command that —

A lawyer should not in any way communicate upon the subject of controversy with a
party represented by counsel; much less should he undertake to negotiate or
compromise the matter with him, but should deal only with his counsel. It is incumbent
upon the lawyer most particularly to avoid everything that may tend to mislead a party
not represented by counsel and he should not undertake to advise him as to the law.
(No. 9)

As we have already said in the case of Cantorne v. Ducusin, 57 Phil. 23, the simultaneous
representation by a lawyer of both parties to a suit constitutes malpractice which should
be severely condemned and the lawyer corrected by disciplinary action.

F. CONFIDENTIALITY

(MA. LUISA HADJULA v. ATTY. ROCELES F. MADIANDA, A.C. No. 6711, July 3, 2007)

FACTS:

A complaint for disbarment filed by complainant Hadjula against respondent Atty. Madianda for
the act of disclosing personal secrets and confidential information she revealed in the course of
seeking respondent’s legal advice.

Complainant claimed that she approached respondent for legal advice and in the course of their
conversation she disclosed personal secrets and produced copies of a marriage contract, a birth
certificate and a baptismal certificate, only to be informed later by the respondent that
respondent would refer the matter to a lawyer friend. It was malicious, so complainant states, of
respondent to have refused handling her case only after she had already heard her secrets.

Complainant filed criminal and disciplinary actions against the latter. In retaliation, respondent
filed a counter complaint with the Ombudsman and a disciplinary case before the Professional
Regulation Commission based on the disclosures complainant earlier made to respondent.
ISSUE: WON Atty. Madianda breached his duty of confidence

HELD: YES.

Respondent indeed breached his duty of preserving the confidence of a client. As found by the
IBP Investigating Commissioner, the documents shown and the information revealed in
confidence to the respondent in the course of the legal consultation in question, were used as
bases in the criminal and administrative complaints lodged against the complainant.

The purpose of the rule of confidentiality is actually to protect the client from possible breach of
confidence as a result of a consultation with a lawyer.

(REBECCA J. PALM v. ATTY. FELIPE ILEDAN, JR, A.C. No. 8242, October 2, 2009)

FACTS:
Complainant personally met with respondent to review corporate matters, including potential
amendments to the corporate by-laws. Respondent suggested that Comtech amend its
corporate by-laws to allow participation during board meetings, through teleconference, of
members of the Board of Directors who were outside the Philippines.

In a stockholders meeting, respondent attended as proxy for Harrison. Steven C. Palm (Steven)
and Deanna L. Palm, members of the Board of Directors, were present through
teleconference. Respondent asserted that Steven and Deanna Palm could not participate in the
meeting because the corporate by-laws had not yet been amended to allow teleconferencing.

Subsequently, complainant filed a Complaint for disbarment against respondent for revealing
information obtained in the course of an attorney-client relationship.

ISSUE: WON respondent violated Canon 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

HELD: NO.

Canon 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

Canon 21. A lawyer shall preserve the confidence and secrets of his client even
after the attorney-client relationship is terminated.

It is settled that the mere relation of attorney and client does not raise a presumption of
confidentiality. The client must intend the communication to be confidential. Since the
proposed amendments must be approved by at least a majority of the stockholders, and copies
of the amended by-laws must be filed with the SEC, the information could not have been
intended to be confidential. Thus, the disclosure made by respondent during the stockholders
meeting could not be considered a violation of his client’s secrets and confidence within
the contemplation of Canon 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

G. REPRESENTATION WITH ZEAL WITHIN LEGAL BOUNDS

(MARIA VICTORIA G. BELO-HENARES v. ATTY. ROBERTO C. GUEVARRA, A.C. No.


11394, December 01, 2016)
FACTS:
Respondent is the lawyer of a certain Ms. Josefina "Josie" Norcio, who filed criminal cases
against complainant for an allegedly botched surgical procedure on her buttocks purportedly
causing infection and making her ill in 2009.

In 2009, respondent wrote a series of posts on his Facebook account insulting and verbally
abusing complainant.

Asserting that the said posts, written in vulgar and obscene language, were designed to inspire
public hatred, destroy her reputation, and to close BMGI and all its clinics, as well as to extort
the amount of P200 Million from her as evident from his demand letter dated August 26, 2009,
complainant lodged this complaint for disbarment against respondent.

ISSUE: WON respondent should be administratively liable

HELD: YES.

In view of the foregoing, respondent's inappropriate and obscene language, and his act of
publicly insulting and undermining the reputation of complainant through the subject Facebook
posts are, therefore, in complete and utter violation of the following provisions in the Code of
Professional Responsibility:

Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to
practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous
manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

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

Rule 19.01 - A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful
objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to
present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or
proceeding.

By posting the subject remarks on Facebook directed at complainant and BMGI, respondent
disregarded the fact that, as a lawyer, he is bound to observe proper decorum at all times, be it
in his public or private life. He overlooked the fact that he must behave in a manner befitting of
an officer of the court, that is, respectful, firm, and decent. Instead, he acted inappropriately and
rudely; he used words unbecoming of an officer of the law, and conducted himself in an
aggressive way by hurling insults and maligning complainant's and BMGI's reputation.

(CORAZON PERIQUET vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and THE PHIL.
NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION (Formerly Construction Development Corp.
of the Phils, G.R. No. 91298, June 22, 1990)

FACTS: Petitioner’s complaint for illegal dismissal was sustained by the labor arbiter, who
ordered her reinstatement within ten days. On appeal, this order was affirmed in toto by NLRC.
She entered into a compromise agreement with CDCP where she waived her right to
reinstatement and received from the CDCP the sum of P14,000.00 representing her back
wages from the date of her dismissal to the date of the agreement.

On June 27, 1988, she wrote the new management of the CDCP and asked that the rights
granted her by the decision dated August 29, 1980, be recognized because the waiver she had
signed was invalid. On November 10, 1988, the petitioner accepted the sum of P9,544.00,
representing the balance of her back pay for three years at P654. 00 per month and signed
another Quitclaim

On March 11, 1989, the petitioner, claiming that the 2 waivers are invalid, filed a motion for the
issuance of a writ of execution of the decision.

ISSUE: WON the 2 waivers signed by the petitioner are valid

HELD: YES.

Not all waivers and quitclaims are invalid as against public policy. If the agreement was
voluntarily entered into and represents a reasonable settlement, it is binding on the parties and
may not later be disowned simply because of a change of mind. It is only where there is clear
proof that the waiver was wangled from an unsuspecting or gullible person, or the terms of
settlement are unconscionable on its face, that the law will step in to annul the questionable
transaction. But where it is shown that the person making the waiver did so voluntarily, with full
understanding of what he was doing, and the consideration for the quitclaim is credible and
reasonable, the transaction must be recognized as a valid and binding undertaking, as in this
case.

NOTE: As officers of the court, counsel are under obligation to advise their clients against
making untenable and inconsistent claims like the ones raised in this petition that have only
needlessly taken up the valuable time of this Court, the Solicitor General, the Government
Corporate Counsel, and the respondents. Lawyers are not merely hired employees who
must unquestioningly do the bidding of the client, however unreasonable this may be
when tested by their own expert appreciation of the pertinent facts and the applicable law
and jurisprudence. Counsel must counsel.

H. NEGLIGENCE

(ATLAS CONSOLIDATED MINING AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION v. CIR, G.R. Nos.


141104 & 148763, June 8, 2007)

FACTS: When petitioner corporation’s claims for the refund/credit of the input VAT in the
taxable quarters of the years 1990 and 1992 was denied by the CTA and the CA, petitioner
corporation filed its motion for the re-opening of its cases and/or holding of new trial before the
CTA, contending that the failure of its counsel to adduce the necessary evidence should be
construed as excusable negligence or mistake, as counsel was of the belief that such evidence
was rendered unnecessary by the presentation of unrebutted evidence.

ISSUE: WON the failure of the counsel to adduce the necessary evidence can be construed as
excusable negligence or mistake
HELD: NO.

The non-presentation of the required documents, due to the fault of the counsel of petitioner
corporation, does not constitute excusable negligence or mistake which would warrant the re-
opening of the cases and/or holding of new trial.

Negligence, to be excusable, must be one which ordinary diligence and prudence could not
have guarded against. The counsel of petitioner corporation does not allege ignorance of the
foregoing administrative regulation and tax court circular, only that he no longer deemed it
necessary to present the documents required therein because of the presentation of
alleged unrebutted evidence of the zero-rated sales of petitioner corporation. It was a judgment
call made by the counsel as to which evidence to present in support of his clients cause, later
proved to be unwise, but not necessarily negligent.

Mistake, as it is referred to in Rule 37, must be a mistake of fact, not of law, which relates to the
case. In the present case, the supposed mistake made by the counsel of petitioner corporation
is one of law, for it was grounded on his interpretation and evaluation that Revenue Regulations
No. 3-88 and CTA Circular No. 1-95, as amended, did not apply to his client’s cases and that
there was no need to comply with the documentary requirements set forth therein.

(ESTELA ANASTACIO-BRIONES vs. ATTY. ALFREDO A. ZAPANTA, Adm. Case No. 6266,
November 16, 2006)

FACTS: This is a disbarment complaint filed against respondent Atty. Alfredo A. Zapanta for
abandonment and neglect of duties. Complainant averred that on October 25, 2002, she
showed respondent a copy of Discharge and Appearance of Counsels she intended to file that
day. Complainant added that respondent requested her not to file it and he would submit a
withdrawal of appearance instead.

On January 6, 2003, both respondent and complainant failed to appear in the


hearing. On March 5, 2003, respondent filed a withdrawal of appearance. According to
respondent, he was discharged as complainant’s counsel after the October 25, 2002 hearing.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Zapanta should be disciplined for abandonment and neglect of
duties

HELD: YES.

The court finds that the respondent was remiss in performing his duties as counsel of
complainant. Until a lawyer’s withdrawal shall have been approved, he remains counsel of
record and is expected by his client as well as by the court to do what the interests of his client
require. He must still appear on the date of hearing for the attorney-client relation does not
terminate formally until there is a withdrawal of his appearance on record.

In this case, respondent admitted that he did not attend the January 6, 2003 hearing despite
being notified by the court. His claim that he was already discharged as counsel as early as
October 25, 2002 is negated by the record that he withdrew his appearance only on March 5,
2003. Until his dismissal or withdrawal was made of record, any judicial notice sent to him was
binding upon his client even though as between them the professional relationship may have
been terminated. Thus, unless properly relieved, respondent is responsible for the conduct of
the cases and his failure to attend the hearing and comply with the trial courts directive to file a
formal offer of evidence constitute inexcusable negligence.

(VICTORIA LEGARDA vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, NEW CATHAY


HOUSE, INC., THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON CITY, BRANCH
94, G.R. No. 94457, October 16, 1997)

FACTS: The parties(petitioner Victoria Legarda and respondent Cathay) entered into a lease
agreement over a property owned by petitioner. Petitioner refused to sign the contract although
respondent lessee, Cathay, made a deposit and a down payment of rentals, prompting the latter
to file before the RTC a complaint against the former for specific performance.

Legarda’s counsel, Dean Antonio Coronel failed to file an answer and his client was declared in
default. A judgment by default was reached by the trial court in favor of Cathay. Due to the
inaction of Atty. Coronel, the judgment became final and executory. The trial court issued a writ
of execution and a public auction was held where Cathay’s manager, Roberto V. Cabrera, Jr.,
as highest bidder, was awarded the property. Despite the lapse of over a year since the
judgment by default became final and executory, Atty. Coronel made no move on behalf of his
client.
On October 23, 1986, he filed a petition for annulment of before the Court of Appeals. On
November 29, 1989, the appellate court rendered a decision affirming the March 25, 1985,
decision of the trial court, dismissing the petition for annulment of judgment, and holding
Legarda bound by the negligence of her counsel. Atty. Coronel again neglected to protect his
client’s interest by failing to file a motion for reconsideration or to appeal therefrom until said
decision became final.
Learning of the adverse decision, she then hired a new counsel. The new lawyer filed a petition
for certiorari praying for the annulment of the decision of the trial and appellate courts because
her previous lawyer was grossly negligent and inefficient, whose omissions cannot possibly bind
her because this amounted to a violation of her right to due process of law.
On March 18, 1991, this Court through Justice Gancayco ruled in favor of Legarda. It declared
that Atty. Coronel committed, not just ordinary or simple negligence, but reckless, inexcusable
and gross negligence, which deprived his client of her property without due process of law. His
acts, or the lack of it, should not be allowed to bind Legarda who has been consigned to penury
because her lawyer appeared to have abandoned her case not once but repeatedly. Aggrieved,
Cathay filed the instant motion for reconsideration.
ISSUE: WON Legarda was deprived of due process of law by the acts of Atty. Coronel
HELD: NO. It is, however, basic that as long as a party was given the opportunity to
defend her interests in due course, she cannot be said to have been denied due process
of law, for this opportunity to be heard is the very essence of due process. The
chronology of events shows that the case took its regular course in the trial and appellate courts
but Legarda’s counsel failed to act as any ordinary counsel should have acted, his negligence
every step of the way amounting to abandonment, in the words of the Gancayco decision. Yet, it
cannot be denied that the proceedings which led to the filing of this case were not attended by
any irregularity. The judgment by default was valid, so was the ensuing sale at public auction.

(SPOUSES PEDRO M. REGALADO vs ABRAHAM M. REGALADO et. al., G.R. No. 134154,
February 28, 2006)
FACTS: Respondents filed against petitioners a complaint for Partition of Real Estate,
Accounting, Damages and Appointment of a Receiver. The trial court rendered judgment for the
respondents.

Due to the failure of the petitioners to pay the appellate court docket and other lawful fees and
to file a record on appeal, the decision attained finality.

Petitioners, this time thru one Atty. Pedro Icamina who was without any proof of entry of
appearance in the case either as new or collaborating counsel for the petitioners, filed a Petition
for Relief, attaching an affidavit of Atty. Tirol, petitioners counsel on record about whom there is
no indication of any withdrawal of appearance. In that affidavit, Atty. Tirol alleged that while his
office received a copy of the January 14, 1998 Order (denying due course to petitioners appeal),
his law clerk did not personally inform him about it, adding that he (Atty. Tirol) had several court
hearings, not to mention the fact that he was a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan which
required his attendance, all of which caused him to overlook the filing of the Record on
Appeal. In the same pleading, Atty. Icamina attached petitioners Record on Appeal and a check
for P400.00 as appellate court docket fee.

The trial court denied petitioners petition for relief on the ground that the instances therein cited
by counsel are not those excusable negligence which warrant the granting of relief under Rule
38 of the Rules of Court.

ISSUE: WON the inadvertence of the law clerk or volume or pressure of work constitutes as
excusable negligence

RULING: NO.

We find no excusable negligence to merit the grant of the petition for relief.

Unfortunately for petitioners, negligence, to be excusable, must be one which ordinary


diligence and prudence could not have guarded against. Petitioners’ failure to file a Record
on Appeal and pay the appellate docket fees cannot be considered as excusable negligence
due to counsels pressure of work and inadvertence of his office clerk.

NOTE: We take this occasion to require Atty. Pedro Icamina to explain within ten (10) days from
receipt hereof why he should not be proceeded administratively for filing the very petition in this
case and the Petition for Relief from Order in the lower court without first entering his
appearance as petitioners counsel.

I. ATTORNEY’S FEES

(VINSON B. PINEDA vs. ATTY. CLODUALDO C. DE JESUS, ATTY. CARLOS AMBROSIO


and ATTY. EMMANUEL MARIANO, G.R. No. 155224, August 23, 2006)

Respondents’ claim for additional legal fees was not justified. The payments to them in cash,
checks, free products and services from petitioner’s business — all of which were not denied by
respondents — more than sufficed for the work they did. The "full payment for
settlement" should have discharged petitioner’s obligation to them.
Demanding P50 million on top of the generous sums and perks already given to them was an
act of unconscionable greed which is shocking to this Court.

As lawyers, respondents should be reminded that they are members of an honorable


profession, the primary vision of which is justice. It is respondents’ despicable behavior which
gives lawyering a bad name in the minds of some people. The practice of law is a decent
profession and not a money-making trade. Compensation should be but a mere incident.

J. DILATORY TACTICS

(ISMAELA DIMAGIBA vs. ATTY. JOSE MONTALVO, JR., Adm. Case No. 1424, October 15,
1991)

FACTS: Complainant Ismaela filed a case for Probate of Will with the CFI, which was granted.
After the decision of the above-mentioned case was promulgated, the oppositors(clients of Atty.
Montalvo filed several cases against the complainant through Atty. Montalvo.

In view of the numerous cases filed against the complainant by the same parties, through their
counsel, Atty. Montalvo, complainant filed this complaint.

ISSUE: WON Atty. Montalvo should be held liable for malpractice

HELD: YES.

Clearly, the respondent Montalvo, Jr. repetitively filed several complaints in various forms
involving the same parties and the same subject matter, persistently raising issues long laid to
rest by final judgment.

A lawyer should never take advantage of the seemingly endless channels left dangling by our
legal system in order wangle the attention of the court. Atty. Montalvo may have thought that lie
could get away with his indiscriminate filing of suits that were clearly intended to harass Ismaela
Dimagiba When court dockets get clogged and the administration of justice is delayed, our
judicial system may not be entirely blame less, yet the greater fault lies in the lawyers who had
taken their privilege so lightly, and in such mindless fashion.

The Code of Professional Responsibility states that:

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

Rule 1.03 — A lawyer shall not for any corrupt motive or interest encourage any suit or
proceeding or delay any man's cause.

On the basis of the foregoing, we find him guilty of malpractice as charged. He has violated his
oath not to delay any man for money or malice, besmirched the name of an honorable
profession, and has proven himself unworthy of the trust repose in him by law as an officer of
the Court. We have not countenanced other less significant infractions among the ranks of our
lawyers. He deserves the severest punishment of DISBARMENT.
(ENCARNACION BANOGON, ZOSIMA MUNOZ, and DAVIDINA MUNOZ vs.
MELCHOR ZERNA, CONSEJO ZERNA DE CORNELIO, FRANCISCO ZERNA, and the HON.
CIPRIANO VAMENTA, JR., Judge of the Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental
(Branch III), G.R. No. L-35469, October 9, 1987)

FACTS: The cadastral court rendered a decision on 1926. 31 years later, a petition for review of
the judgment was filed.

The petitioners contend that the said judgment had not yet become final and executory because
the land in dispute had not yet been registered in favor of the private respondents. The said
judgment would become so only after one year from the issuance of the decree of registration.

Private respondents argue that the decision of February 9, 1926, became final and executory
after 30 days, same not having been appealed by the petitioners during that period.

ISSUE: WON a petition for review on a decision rendered 31 years ago would prosper.

HELD: NO.

Statutes must be given a reasonable construction and there can be no possible reason for
requiring the complaining party to wait until the final decree is entered before urging his claim of
fraud. We therefore hold that a petition for review under section 38, supra, may be filed at any
time the rendition of the court's decision and before the expiration of one year from the entry of
the final decree of registration.

Under this doctrine they should not have delayed in asserting their claim of fraud. Their delay
was not only for thirty one days but for thirty one years. Laches bars their petition now. Their
position is clearly contrary to law and logic and to even ordinary common sense.

NOTE: One reason why there is a degree of public distrust for lawyers is the way some of them
misinterpret the law to the point of distortion in a cunning effort to achieve their purposes. By
doing so, they frustrate the ends of justice and at the same time lessen popular faith in the legal
profession as the sworn upholders of the law. While this is not to say that every wrong
interpretation of the law is to be condemned, as indeed most of them are only honest errors, this
Court must express its disapproval of the adroit and intentional misreading designed precisely to
circumvent or violate it.

As officers of the court, lawyers have a responsibility to assist in the proper


administration of justice. They do not discharge this duty by filing pointless petitions
that only add to the workload of the judiciary, especially this Court, which is burdened
enough as it is. A judicious study of the facts and the law should advise them when a case,
such as this, should not be permitted to be filed to merely clutter the already congested judicial
dockets. They do not advance the cause of law or their clients by commencing litigations that for
sheer lack of merit do not deserve the attention of the courts.

K. DISBARMENT

(ROBERTO SORIANO v. Atty. MANUEL DIZON, A.C. No. 6792, January 25, 2006)
FACTS: Complainant Roberto Soriano and respondent Atty. Manuel Dizon figured in a traffic
incident. This resulted to respondent getting his revolver, making sure that the handle was
wrapped in a handkerchief, and shooting complainant when the latter was not in the position to
defend himself. Due to timely medical attention, complainant survived. Respondent was
convicted of frustrated homicide, a crime involving moral turpitude by the RTC. Based on such
conviction, complainant Soriano filed this complaint-affidavit for disbarment of respondent.

ISSUE: WON respondent’s conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude, together with the
circumstances surrounding the conviction, constitutes sufficient ground for his disbarment

HELD: YES.

Moral turpitude has been defined as everything which is done contrary to justice,
modesty, or good morals; an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and
social duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to
justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.

In International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) v. NLRC, the Court declared that homicide
may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. Moral
turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by every known and
intentional violation of statute, but whether any particular conviction involves moral
turpitude may be a question of fact and frequently depends on all the surrounding
circumstances. In the IRRI case, in which the crime of homicide did not involve moral
turpitude, the Court appreciated the presence of incomplete self-defense and total absence of
aggravating circumstances.

The present case is totally different. The circumstances clearly evince the moral turpitude of
respondent and his unworthiness to practice law. Atty. Dizon was definitely the aggressor, as
he pursued and shot complainant when the latter least expected it. We also consider the trial
courts finding of treachery as a further indication of the skewed morals of respondent. He shot
the victim when the latter was not in a position to defend himself. To make matters worse,
respondent wrapped the handle of his gun with a handkerchief so as not to leave fingerprints.

The totality of the facts unmistakably bears the earmarks of moral turpitude. Clearly, his
inordinate reaction to a simple traffic incident reflected poorly on his fitness to be a member of
the legal profession.

In sum, when lawyers are convicted of frustrated homicide, the attending circumstances not
the mere fact of their conviction would demonstrate their fitness to remain in the legal
profession. In the present case, the appalling vindictiveness, treachery, and brazen dishonesty
of respondent clearly show his unworthiness to continue as a member of the bar.

(OMAR P. ALI v. ATTY. MOSIB A. BUBONG, A.C. No. 4018, March 8, 2005)

FACTS: In an administrative case filed by complainant Ali against respondent Atty. Bubong
(Register of Deeds of Marawi City), respondent was found guilty of grave misconduct for
indiscriminate issuance of TCT No. T-2821 and manipulating the criminal complaint filed against
his relative Hadji Serad Bauduli Datu and others for violation of the Anti-Squatting Law. On the
basis of the outcome of the administrative case, complainant sought the disbarment of
respondent.
ISSUE: WON Atty. Bubong, a government employee, may be disbarred based on the decision
of the administrative case finding him guilty of grave misconduct.

HELD: YES.

Although the general rule is that a lawyer who holds a government office may not be
disciplined as a member of the bar for infractions he committed as a government official,
he may, however, be disciplined as a lawyer if his misconduct constitutes a violation of
his oath a member of the legal profession.
In the case at bar, respondent’s grave misconduct deals with his qualification as a lawyer. By
taking advantage of his office as the Register of Deeds of Marawi City and employing his
knowledge of the rules governing land registration for the benefit of his relatives, respondent
had clearly demonstrated his unfitness not only to perform the functions of a civil servant but
also to retain his membership in the bar. Rule 6.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is
explicit on this matter. It reads:
Rule 6.02 A lawyer in the government service shall not use his public position to promote
or advance his private interests, nor allow the latter to interfere with his public duties.
Respondent’s conduct manifestly undermined the peoples’ confidence in the public office he
used to occupy and cast doubt on the integrity of the legal profession. The ill-conceived use of
his knowledge of the intricacies of the law calls for nothing less than the withdrawal of his
privilege to practice law.
(RE: ADMINISTRATIVE CASE NO. 44 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH IV,
TAGBILARAN CITY, AGAINST ATTY. SAMUEL C. OCCENA, A. C. No. 2841, July 3, 2002)

FACTS: Through various maneuvers, Atty. Samuel C. Occeña prolonged the litigation of the
settlement of estate case for 38 years.

Pursuant to Section 28, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, Judge Ruiz, on May 26, 1982,
filed with the same probate court Administrative Case No. 44 charging Atty. Occeña with gross
misconduct, violation of his oath as a lawyer and willful disobedience of lawful court orders.

Due to Atty. Occena’s failure to appear at the hearing, a decision based on evidence
presented ex parte, showing that Atty. Occeña has "abused, misused and overused the judicial
system" was rendered. The decision unfolded a long list of his administrative offenses:

1. Willful disobedience of lawful orders of the court; gross misconduct in office


2. Wittingly or willingly promoted or sued groundless suits and gave aid or consent to the
same; delayed persons for money or malice
3. Disobeying the laws
4. Did falsehood and consented to the doing of same in court.

ISSUE: WON Atty. Occena should be disbarred.

RULING: YES. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court mandates that a
member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended by this Court for any (1) deceit, (2)
malpractice, (3) gross misconduct in office, (4) grossly immoral conduct, (5) conviction
of a crime involving moral turpitude, (6) violation of the lawyer's oath, (7) willful
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, and for (8) willfully appearing as an
attorney for a party without authority to do so. Not only did Atty. Occeña commit deceit,
malpractice, grossly immoral conduct and willful disobedience to a superior court.
Beyond these transgressions, he violated the lawyer's oath whereby he imposed upon himself
the following duties, thus:

I, ________, solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of
the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing
of any in court; I will not wittingly or willing promote or sue any groundless, false or
unlawful suit, or give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or
malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and
discretion, with all good fidelity as well to the court as to my clients; and I impose upon
myself these voluntary obligations without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
So help me God."

As shown by the records, Atty. Occeña gravely violated his oath of office in his handling of
Special Proceedings No. 423. The facts of the case succinctly show that through his
atrocious maneuvers, he successfully delayed the disposition of the case for the last
thirty-eight (38) years, causing untold hurt and prejudice, not only to the heirs, but also to
Judges Ruiz and Beldia who heard the case. For respondent's part and that of his wife, such
prolonged litigation obviously benefited them. As aptly declared by the Court of Appeals, the
delay "can only benefit the executor or administrator" and "the longer the proceedings, the
bigger the attorney's fees." But the more tragic reality is the fact that Atty. Occeña has
caused a mockery of the judicial proceedings and inflicted injury to the administration of
justice through his deceitful, dishonest, unlawful and grossly immoral conduct. Indeed,
he abused beyond measure his privilege to practice law.

This Court has held that a lawyer should not abuse his right of recourse to the courts for the
purpose of arguing a cause that had been repeatedly rebuffed. Neither should he use his
knowledge of law as an instrument to harass a party nor to misuse judicial processes, as the
same constitutes serious transgression of the Code of Professional Responsibility. For while he
owes fidelity to the cause of his client, it should not be at the expense of truth and the
administration of justice.

Clearly, Atty. Occeña's conduct has made him unfit to remain in the legal profession even for a
single moment.

L. GROSSLY IMMORAL CONDUCT

(EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR, vs ATTY. LEO J. PALMA, Adm. Case No. 2474,
September 15, 2004)

FACTS: Complainant hired respondent as his personal counsel. Thereafter, respondent’s


relationship with complainant’s family became intimate. He frequented their house and even
tutored complainant’s 22-year old daughter Maria Luisa Cojuangco (Lisa).

Without the knowledge of complainant’s family, respondent married Lisa in Hongkong.


Complainant came to know of such fact and that: (1) respondent misrepresented himself as
bachelor before the Hong Kong authorities to facilitate his marriage with Lisa;
and (2) respondent was married to Elizabeth Hermosisima and has three children.
Thus, complainant filed this complaint for disbarment against Atty. Leo J. Palma on the ground
of grossly immoral conduct, inter alia.

ISSUE: WON ATTY. PALMA is liable for grossly immoral conduct

HELD: YES. Undoubtedly, respondent’s act constitutes grossly immoral conduct. He exhibited a
deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as a member of the Bar. In particular,
he made a mockery of marriage which is a sacred institution demanding respect and dignity. His
act of contracting a second marriage is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality.

Immoral conduct is that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which
shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the
community. Measured against this definition, respondent’s act is manifestly immoral. First, he
abandoned his lawful wife and three children. Second, he lured an innocent young woman into
marrying him. And third, he misrepresented himself as a bachelor so he could contract marriage
in a foreign land.

M. ADMISSION TO THE BAR

(PATRICK A. CARONAN v. RICHARD A. CARONAN A.K.A. "ATTY. PATRICK A.


CARONAN," , A.C. No. 11316, July 12, 2016)

FACTS: Complainant Patrick A. Caronan and respondent Richard A. Caronan are siblings.
While complainant obtained a degree in Business Administration at the University of Makati,
respondent never completed his pre-law degree.

In 2004, their mother informed complainant that respondent passed the Bar Examinations and
that he used complainant's name and college records to enroll at St. Mary's University's College
of Law and take the Bar Examinations.

Learning that respondent had been using his name to perpetrate crimes and commit unlawful
activities, complainant filed the present Complaint-Affidavit to stop respondent's alleged use of
the former's name and identity, and illegal practice of law.

ISSUE: WON Richard A. Caronan should be barred from admission to the bar.

HELD: YES.

The Court does not discount the possibility that respondent may later on complete his college
education and earn a law degree under his real name. However, his false assumption of his
brother's name, identity, and educational records renders him unfit for admission to the Bar. The
practice of law, after all, is not a natural, absolute or constitutional right to be granted to
everyone who demands it. Rather, it is a privilege limited to citizens of good moral character.

In In the Matter of the Disqualification of Bar Examinee Haron S. Meling in the 2002 Bar
Examinations and for Disciplinary Action as Member of the Philippine Shari'a Bar, Atty. Froilan
R. Melendrez, the Court explained the essence of good moral character:
Good moral character is what a person really is, as distinguished from good reputation
or from the opinion generally entertained of him, the estimate in which he is held by the
public in the place where he is known. xxx
Good moral character includes at least common honesty.

Here, respondent exhibited his dishonesty and utter lack of moral fitness to be a member of the
Bar when he assumed the name, identity, and school records of his own brother and dragged
the latter into controversies which eventually caused him to fear for his safety and to resign from
PSC where he had been working for years. Good moral character is essential in those who
would be lawyers.