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III.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Lawyer


A. To society

1. Respect for law and legal processes


Re: Financial Audit of Atty. Raquel G. Kho

Facts:
Atty. Kho is a former clerk of court of the RTC in Eastern Samar.
He was found guilty of gross misconduct for his failure to make a
timely remittance of judiciary funds in his custody. She was fined
P10k. Since his malfeasance prima facie contravened Canon 1,
Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Supreme
Court ordered him to show cause why he should not be disciplined
as a lawyer and as an officer of the court. In his explanation, Atty.
Kho admitted that his failure to make a timely remittance of the
cash deposited with him was inexcusable. He maintained, however,
that he kept the money in the court’s safety vault and never once
used it for his own benefit.

Issue:
Whether Atty. Kho is guilty of violating Canon 1, Rule 1.01.

Held:
Atty. Kho’s apparent good faith and his ready admission of the
infraction, although certainly mitigating, cannot negate the fact
that his failure to remit P65,000 in judiciary funds for over a year
was contrary to the mandatory provisions of OCA Circular 8A-93.
That omission is a breach of his oath to obey the laws as well as
the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities and of his duties
under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
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.
As servants of the law and officers of the court, lawyers are
required to be at the forefront of observing and maintaining the
rule of law. They are expected to make themselves exemplars
worthy of emulation.
The least a lawyer can do in compliance with Canon 1 is to refrain
from engaging in unlawful conduct. By definition, any act or
omission contrary to law is unlawful. It does not necessarily imply
the element of criminality although it is broad enough to include it.
Thus, the presence of evil intent on the part of the lawyer is not
essential in order to bring his act or omission within the terms of
Rule 1.01 which specifically prohibits lawyers from engaging in
unlawful conduct.
Atty. Kho’s conduct was not only far from exemplary, it was
unlawful as well. For this, he must be called to account. Atty. Kho
is ordered to pay FINE of P5,000.00. (Re: Financial Audit Of Atty.
Raquel G. Kho, A.M. No. P-06-2177, April 19, 2007)

Chua vs. Mesina


A.C. No. 4904. August 12, 2004

Facts: Complainants Ana Alvaran Chua and Marcelina Hsia


administratively charged respondent Atty. Simeon M. Mesina, Jr.,
for breach of professional ethics, gross professional misconduct,
and culpable malpractice.
Complainants were lessees of the property of respondent's mother.
Respondent's mother defaulted in paying a loan that she obtained
in a bank, thus respondent convinced complainants to help her
mother if paying the said obligation, to which the complainants
acceded. It was agreed among that that in consideration for the
act of complainants, the property which they are leasing will be
transferred to their name. The complainants complied with the
terms of the agreement. A deed of sale concerning such property
was executed.
However, to evade liability for paying capital gains tax, respondent
instructed complainants to execute another deed of sale which will
be antedated 1979, wherein the capital gains tax was not yet in
effective.
Subsequently, after the execution of the deed of sale, respondents
instructed his clients [complainants] to execute a simulated deed
of sale which will reflect that the property was re-conveyed to his
mother.
The cunning acts of respondent did not end there. Respondent
went to the house of complainants and got the owners certificate
of title of the said property which is still under the name of her
mother. He promised to the complainants that he will process the
transfer of the property to their name. Years passed, but
respondent never returned the said title to the complainants.
Meanwhile, another lessee file a criminal case against the
complainants and respondents for falsification. He claims that was
also given the promise that the property will be offered to him
before it will be sold to another, but respondents sold it to
complainants without offering to him. Because of the foregoing
circumstances, complainants filed an administrative case against
respondent.

Issue:
Whether or not respondent is guilty of gross misconduct.

Held:
Yes, said the Court- "This Court finds that indeed, respondent is
guilty of gross misconduct.
First, by advising complainants to execute another Deed of
Absolute Sale antedated to 1979 to evade payment of capital gains
taxes, he violated his duty to promote respect for law and legal
processes, and not to abet activities aimed at defiance of the law;
That respondent intended to, as he did defraud not a private party
but the government is aggravating.
Second, when respondent convinced complainants to execute
another document, a simulated Deed of Absolute Sale wherein they
made it appear that complainants reconveyed the Melencio
property to his mother, he committed dishonesty.
Third, when on May 2, 1990 respondent inveigled his own clients,
the Chua spouses, into turning over to him the owner’s copy of his
mother’s title upon the misrepresentation that he would, in four
months, have a deed of sale executed by his mother in favor of
complainants, he likewise committed dishonesty.
That the signature of “Felicisima M. Melencio” in the 1985
document and that in the 1979 document are markedly different is
in fact is a badge of falsification of either the 1979 or the 1985
document or even both.
A propos is this Court’s following pronouncement in Nakpil v.
Valdez:
As a rule, a lawyer is not barred from dealing with his client but
the business transaction must be characterized with utmost
honesty and good faith. The measure of good faith which an
attorney is required to exercise in his dealings with his client is a
much higher standard that is required in business dealings where
the parties trade at “arm’s length.” Business transactions between
an attorney and his client are disfavored and discouraged by the
policy of the law. Hence, courts carefully watch these transactions
to assure that no advantage is taken by a lawyer over his client.
This rule is founded on public policy for, by virtue of his office, an
attorney is in an easy position to take advantage of the credulity
and ignorance of his client. Thus, no presumption of innocence or
improbability of wrongdoing is considered in an attorney’s favor.
Respondent having welched on his promise to cause the
reconveyance of the Melencio property to complainants,
consideration of whether he should be ordered to honor such
promise should be taken up in the civil case filed for the purpose,
the issue there being one of ownership while that in the case at bar
is moral fitness.
Respondent ATTY. SIMEON M. MESINA, JR. is, for gross
misconduct, hereby DISBARRED.

Stemmerik vs Mas

FACTS:
Stemmerik is a citizen and resident of Denmark. In one of his trips
in the Philippines, he met Atty. Mas. Since he was marveled at the
beauty of the country, he wanted to buy a real property and
consulted Atty. Mas. The latter told Stemmerik that he could legally
acquire a real property in the Phils. And even suggested an 86K
hectare land in Subic, Zambales. Atty. Mas, as the atty.-in-fact of
Stemmerik bought the property from a certain Bonifacio de Mesa.
The contract to sell provided that De Mesa sold the property to
Ailyn Gonzales for 3.8M. Then, in another notarized deed made by
Atty. Mas, it was stated that Gonzales received the funds from
Stemmerik. In preparing all these documents, Atty. Mas received
400K fee from Stemmerik. The latter also gave Atty. Mas, the3.8M
purchase price to which the latter issued a receipt. Suddenly, Atty.
Mas become scarce and no longer answer the calls of Stemmerik.
When Stemmerik visited the Phils, he engaged the service of the
Fernandez Law Office and found out the subject property is
inalienable, being located in the former U.S. military reservation.
Also, he was apprised that aliens cannot own real properties in the
Phils. Meanwhile, Atty. Mas had already abandoned his office and
his whereabouts is unknown. Stemmerik filed an action for
disbarment against Atty. Mas before the Commission on Bar
Discipline but Atty. Mas never appeared.

Issue:
WON Atty. Mas should be disbarred?

HELD: YES.
Lawyers, as members of a noble profession, have the duty to
promote respect for the law and uphold the integrity of the bar. As
men and women entrusted with the law, they must ensure that the
law functions to protect liberty and not as an instrument of
oppression or deception. Respondent has been weighed by the
exacting standards of the legal profession and has been found
wanting.
Respondent committed a serious breach of his oath as a lawyer.
He is also guilty of culpable violation of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, the code of ethics of the legal profession.
By making it appear that de Mesa undertook to sell the property to
complainant and that de Mesa thereafter sold the property to
Gonzales who made the purchase for and in behalf of complainant,
he falsified public documents and knowingly violated the Anti-
Dummy Law.
All lawyers take an oath to support the Constitution, to obey the
laws and to do no falsehood. That oath is neither mere formal
ceremony nor hollow words. It is a sacred trust that should be
upheld and kept inviolable at all times.
Lawyers are servants of the law and the law is their master. They
should not simply obey the laws, they should also inspire respect
for and obedience thereto by serving as exemplars worthy of
emulation. Indeed, that is the first precept of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
Cordon vs Balicanta
A.C. No. 2797. October 4, 2002

Facts:
Complainant Rosauro 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 & foreclosed. *e did not attempt to redeem, and sold
the rights to redeem said property. Complainant3s daughter
discovered that their ancestral home had been demolished and that
her mother was detained in a small nipa hut. 4ith the help of an
attorney im she found her mother. They terminated
respondent3s services and threatened him with legal action.
Issue:
Whether respondent should be disbarred
Held:
5es. 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 ran/s should not only master its tenets
and principles but should also, in their lives, accord continuing
fidelity to them. Thus, the re7uirement 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 one3s
good standing in that exclusive and honored fraternity. Good moral
character is more than 8ust 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 9vast interests are committed to his care:
he is the recipient of unbounded trust and confidence: he deals
with his client3s 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.

2. Efficient and convenient legal services (no cases)


3. True, honest, fair, dignified, and objective information on legal
services
LINSANGAN v. TOLENTINO
(A.C. No. 6672, September 4, 2009)

FACTS:

A complaint for disbarment is filed by Pedro Linsangan against Atty.


Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of
professional services. The complainant alleged that respondent
convinced his clients to transfer legal representation by promising
them financial assistance. The allegations of the complainant were
supported by the sworn affidavit of James Gregorio who attested
to the respondent’s acts of trying to lure him to sever his lawyer-
client relationship with complainant Linsangan. An attached calling
card of the respondent further supported the complaint which
advertised the respondent’s law firm with the term ― ”w/ financial
assistance”.

ISSUE:

Whether or not respondent’s acts are violative of Canon 3 of the


Code of Professional Responsibility.

HELD:
Yes, Canon 3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that
― “A lawyer making known his legal services shall use only true,
honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statements of
facts.”

The practice of law is a professions and not a business. Lawyers


should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their
wares. The act of the respondent in including the phrase ―”with
financial assistance” in his calling card is a conduct of advertising
the legal profession with commercialism and with the purpose of
enticing clients to change counsels through the promise of loans to
finance their legal action. A lawyer need not to advertise the legal
profession in such a manner similar to commercial businesses, a
lawyer’s best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for
professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character
and conduct and not through promises of money.

4. Lawyers in government service

WILFREDO M. CATU (complainant)


vs.
ATTY. VICENTE G. RELLOSA (Respondent)

FACTS:
Complainant Wilfredo M. Catu is a co-owner of a lot and the
building erected thereon located at 959 San Andres Street, Malate,
Manila. His mother and brother, Regina Catu and Antonio Catu,
contested the possession of Elizabeth C. Diaz-Catu and Antonio
Pastor of one of the units in the building. The latter ignored
demands for them to vacate the premises. Thus, a complaint was
initiated against them in the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay
723, Zone 79 of the 5th District of Manila where the parties reside.
Respondent, as punong barangay of Barangay 723, summoned the
parties to conciliation meetings. When the parties failed to arrive
at an amicable settlement, respondent issued a certification for the
filing of the appropriate action in court. Regina and Antonio filed a
complaint for ejectment against Elizabeth and Pastor in the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 11. Respondent entered
his appearance as counsel for the defendants in that case. Because
of this, complainant filed the instant administrative complaint,
claiming that respondent committed an act of impropriety as a
lawyer and as a public officer when he stood as counsel for the
defendants despite the fact that he presided over the conciliation
proceedings between the litigants as punong barangay.
CANON:

CANON 1.A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of
the land, promote respect for law and legal processes.
CANON 7. A lawyer at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of
the legal profession and support the activities of the integrated bar.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the foregoing findings regarding the transgression


of respondent as well as the recommendation on the imposable
penalty of the respondent were proper.

HELD:

Respondent Atty. Vicente G. Rellosa is found guilty of professional


misconduct for violating his oath as a lawyer and Canons 1 and 7
and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is
suspended from the practice of law for a period of six months
effective from his receipt of this resolution. He is sternly warned
that any repetition of similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.

PCGG V SANDIGANBAYAN

FACTS:

In 1976 the General Bank and Trust Company (GENBANK)


encountered financial difficulties. GENBANK had extended
considerable financial support to Filcapital Development
Corporation causing it to incur daily overdrawings on its current
account with Central Bank. Despite the mega loans GENBANK failed
to recover from its financial woes. The Central Bank issued a
resolution declaring GENBANK insolvent and unable to resume
business with safety to its depositors, creditors and the general
public, and ordering its liquidation. A public bidding of GENBANK’s
assets was held where Lucio Tan group submitted the winning bid.
Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza filed a petition with the CFI
praying for the assistance and supervision of the court in
GENBANK’s liquidation as mandated by RA 265. After EDSA
Revolution I Pres Aquino established the PCGG to recover the
alleged ill-gotten wealth of former Pres Marcos, his family and
cronies. Pursuant to this mandate, the PCGG filed with the
Sandiganbayan a complaint for reversion, reconveyance,
restitution against respondents Lucio Tan, at.al. PCGG issued
several writs of sequestration on properties allegedly acquired by
them by taking advantage of their close relationship and influence
with former Pres. Marcos. The abovementioned respondents Tan,
et. al are represented as their counsel, former Solicitor General
Mendoza. PCGG filed motions to disqualify respondent Mendoza as
counsel for respondents Tan et. al. with Sandiganbayan. It was
alleged that Mendoza as then Sol Gen and counsel to Central Bank
actively intervened in the liquidation of GENBANK which was
subsequently acquired by respondents Tan et. al., which
subsequently became Allied Banking Corporation. The motions to
disqualify invoked Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which prohibits former government lawyers from
accepting “engagement” or employment in connection with any
matter in which he had intervened while in the said service. The
Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denyting PCGG’s motion to
disqualify respondent Mendoza. It failed to prove the existence of
an inconsistency between respondent Mendoza’s former function
as SolGen and his present employment as counsel of the Lucio Tan
group. PCGGs recourse to this court assailing the Resolutions of
the Sandiganbayan.

ISSUE:

Whether Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility


applies to respondent Mendoza. The prohibition states: “A lawyer
shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or
employment in connection with any matter in which he had
intervened while in the said service.”
HELD:

The case at bar does not involve the “adverse interest” aspect of
Rule 6.03. Respondent Mendoza, it is conceded, has no adverse
interest problem when he acted as SOlGen and later as counsel of
respondents et.al. before the Sandiganbayan. However there is still
the issue of whether there exists a “congruent-interest conflict”
sufficient to disqualify respondent Mendoza from representing
respondents et. al. The key is unlocking the meaning of “matter”
and the metes and bounds of “intervention” that he made on the
matter. Beyond doubt that the “matter” or the act of respondent
Mendoza as SolGen involved in the case at bar is “advising the
Central Bank, on how to proceed with the said bank’s liquidation
and even filing the petition for its liquidation in CFI of Manila. The
Court held that the advice given by respondent Mendoza on the
procedure to liquidate GENBANK is not the “matter” contemplated
by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. ABA Formal
Opinion No. 342 is clear in stressing that “drafting, enforcing or
interpreting government or agency procedures, regulations and
laws, or briefing abstract principles of law are acts which do not fall
within the scope of the term “matter” and cannot disqualify.
Respondent Mendoza had nothing to do with the decision of the
Central Bank to liquidate GENBANK. He also did not participate in
the sale of GENBANK to Allied Bank. The legality of the liquidation
of GENBANK is not an issue in the sequestration cases. Indeed, the
jurisdiction of the PCGG does not include the dissolution and
liquidation of banks. Thus, the Code 6.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility cannot apply to respondent Mendoza
because his alleged intervention while SolGen is an intervention on
a matter different from the matter involved in the Civil case of
sequestration. In the metes and bounds of the “intervention”. The
applicable meaning as the term is used in the Code of Professional
Ethics is that it is an act of a person who has the power to influence
the subject proceedings. The evil sought to be remedied by the
Code do not exist where the government lawyer does not act which
can be considered as innocuous such as “ drafting, enforcing, or
interpreting government or agency procedures, regulations or laws
or briefing abstract principles of law.” The court rules that the
intervention of Mendoza is not significant and substantial. He
merely petitions that the court gives assistance in the liquidation
of GENBANK. The role of court is not strictly as a court of justice
but as an agent to assist the Central Bank in determining the claims
of creditors. In such a proceeding the role of the SolGen is not that
of the usual court litigator protecting the interest of government.
Petition assailing the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan is denied.
Relevant Dissenting Opinion of Justice Callejo:
Rule 6.03 is a restatement of Canon 36 of the Canons of
Professional Ethics: “ A lawyer, having once held public office or
having been in the public employ, should not after his retirement
accept employment in connection with any matter which he has
investigated or passed upon while in such office or employ.”
Indeed, the restriction against a public official from using his public
position as a vehicle to promote or advance his private interests
extends beyond his tenure on certain matters in which he
intervened as a public official. Rule 6.03 makes this restriction
specifically applicable to lawyers who once held public office.” A
plain reading shows that the interdiction 1. applies to a lawyer who
once served in the government and 2. relates to his accepting
“engagement or employment” in connection with any matter in
which he had intervened while in the service.

5.) Participation in the improvement and reforms in the legal


system (no cases)

6.) Participation in legal program (no cases)