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March 23, 1929

In re LUIS B. TAGORDA,
Duran & Lim for respondent.
Attorney-General Jaranilla and Provincial Fiscal Jose for the Government.
MALCOLM, J.:
The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of the provincial board of Isabela,
admits that previous to the last general elections he made use of a card written in Spanish and Ilocano,
which, in translation, reads as follows:
LUIS B. TAGORDA
Attorney
Notary Public
CANDIDATE FOR THIRD MEMBER
Province of Isabela

(NOTE. — As notary public, he can execute for you a deed of sale for the purchase
of land as required by the cadastral office; can renew lost documents of your
animals; can make your application and final requisites for your homestead; and can
execute any kind of affidavit. As a lawyer, he can help you collect your loans
although long overdue, as well as any complaint for or against you. Come or write
to him in his town, Echague, Isabela. He offers free consultation, and is willing to
help and serve the poor.)

The respondent further admits that he is the author of a letter addressed to a lieutenant of barrio in his
home municipality written in Ilocano, which letter, in translation, reads as follows:
ECHAGUE, ISABELA, September 18, 1928

MY DEAR LIEUTENANT: I would like to inform you of the approaching date for
our induction into office as member of the Provincial Board, that is on the 16th of
next month. Before my induction into office I should be very glad to hear your
suggestions or recommendations for the good of the province in general and for
your barrio in particular. You can come to my house at any time here in Echague, to
submit to me any kind of suggestion or recommendation as you may desire.

I also inform you that despite my membership in the Board I will have my residence
here in Echague. I will attend the session of the Board of Ilagan, but will come back
home on the following day here in Echague to live and serve with you as a lawyer
and notary public. Despite my election as member of the Provincial Board, I will
exercise my legal profession as a lawyer and notary public. In case you cannot see
me at home on any week day, I assure you that you can always find me there on
every Sunday. I also inform you that I will receive any work regarding preparations
of documents of contract of sales and affidavits to be sworn to before me as notary
public even on Sundays.

I would like you all to be informed of this matter for the reason that some people are
in the belief that my residence as member of the Board will be in Ilagan and that I
would then be disqualified to exercise my profession as lawyer and as notary public.
Such is not the case and I would make it clear that I am free to exercise my
profession as formerly and that I will have my residence here in Echague.

I would request you kind favor to transmit this information to your barrio people in
any of your meetings or social gatherings so that they may be informed of my desire
to live and to serve with you in my capacity as lawyer and notary public. If the
people in your locality have not as yet contracted the services of other lawyers in
connection with the registration of their land titles, I would be willing to handle the
work in court and would charge only three pesos for every registration.

Yours respectfully,

(Sgd.) LUIS TAGORDA


Attorney
Notary Public.

The facts being conceded, it is next in order to write down the applicable legal provisions. Section 21
of the Code of Civil Procedure as originally conceived related to disbarments of members of the bar. In
1919 at the instigation of the Philippine Bar Association, said codal section was amended by Act No.
2828 by adding at the end thereof the following: "The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose
of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice."
The statute as amended conforms in principle to the Canons of Professionals Ethics adopted by the
American Bar Association in 1908 and by the Philippine Bar Association in 1917. Canons 27 and 28 of
the Code of Ethics provide:
27. ADVERTISING, DIRECT OR INDIRECT. — The most worthy and effective advertisement
possible, even for a young lawyer, and especially with his brother lawyers, is the establishment
of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be
forced, but must be the outcome of character and conduct. The publication or circulation of
ordinary simple business cards, being a matter of personal taste or local custom, and sometimes
of convenience, is not per se improper. But solicitation of business by circulars or
advertisements, or by personal communications or interview not warranted by personal
relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure business by indirection
through touters of any kind, whether allied real estate firms or trust companies advertising to
secure the drawing of deeds or wills or offering retainers in exchange for executorships or
trusteeships to be influenced by the lawyer. Indirect advertisement for business by furnishing or
inspiring newspaper comments concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the
interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation, defy
the traditions and lower the tone of our high calling, and are intolerable.
28. STIRRING UP LITIGATION, DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AGENTS. — It is
unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer advice to bring a lawsuit, except in rare cases where
ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his duty to do so. Stirring up strife and litigation is not
only unprofessional, but it is indictable at common law. It is disreputable to hunt up defects in
titles or other causes of action and inform thereof in order to the employed to bring suit, or to
breed litigation by seeking out those with claims for personal injuries or those having any other
grounds of action in order to secure them as clients, or to employ agents or runners for like
purposes, or to pay or reward directly or indirectly, those who bring or influence the bringing of
such cases to his office, or to remunerate policemen, court or prison officials, physicians,
hospital attaches or others who may succeed, under the guise of giving disinterested friendly
advice, in influencing the criminal, the sick and the injured, the ignorant or others, to seek his
professional services. A duty to the public and to the profession devolves upon every member of
the bar having knowledge of such practices upon the part of any practitioner immediately to
inform thereof to the end that the offender may be disbarred.
Common barratry consisting of frequently stirring up suits and quarrels between individuals was a
crime at the common law, and one of the penalties for this offense when committed by an attorney was
disbarment. Statutes intended to reach the same evil have been provided in a number of jurisdictions
usually at the instance of the bar itself, and have been upheld as constitutional. The reason behind
statutes of this type is not difficult to discover. The law is a profession and not a business. The lawyer
may not seek or obtain employment by himself or through others for to do so would be unprofessional.
(State vs. Rossman [1909], 53 Wash., 1; 17 Ann. Cas., 625; People vs. Mac Cabe [1893], 19 L. R. A.,
231; 2 R. C. L., 1097.)
It becomes our duty to condemn in no uncertain terms the ugly practice of solicitation of cases by
lawyers. It is destructive of the honor of a great profession. It lowers the standards of that profession. It
works against the confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar. It results in
needless litigation and in incenting to strife otherwise peacefully inclined citizens.
The solicitation of employment by an attorney is a ground for disbarment or suspension. That should be
distinctly understood.
Giving application of the law and the Canons of Ethics to the admitted facts, the respondent stands
convicted of having solicited cases in defiance of the law and those canons. Accordingly, the only
remaining duty of the court is to fix upon the action which should here be taken. The provincial fiscal
of Isabela, with whom joined the representative of the Attorney-General in the oral presentation of the
case, suggests that the respondent be only reprimanded. We think that our action should go further than
this if only to reflect our attitude toward cases of this character of which unfortunately the respondent's
is only one. The commission of offenses of this nature would amply justify permanent elimination from
the bar. But as mitigating, circumstances working in favor of the respondent there are, first, his
intimation that he was unaware of the impropriety of his acts, second, his youth and inexperience at the
bar, and, third, his promise not to commit a similar mistake in the future. A modest period of
suspension would seem to fit the case of the erring attorney. But it should be distinctly understood that
this result is reached in view of the considerations which have influenced the court to the relatively
lenient in this particular instance and should, therefore, not be taken as indicating that future
convictions of practice of this kind will not be dealt with by disbarment.
In view of all the circumstances of this case, the judgment of the court is that the respondent Luis B.
Tagorda be and is hereby suspended from the practice as an attorney-at-law for the period of one month
from April 1, 1929,
Street, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.
Johnson, J., reserves his vote.

Separate Opinions
OSTRAND, J., dissenting:
I dissent. Under the circumstances of the case a reprimand would have been sufficient punishment.
Adm. Case No. 2131 May 10, 1985
ADRIANO E. DACANAY, complainant
vs.
BAKER & MCKENZIE and JUAN G. COLLAS JR., LUIS MA. GUERRERO, VICENTE A.
TORRES, RAFAEL E. EVANGELISTA, JR., ROMEO L. SALONGA, JOSE R. SANDEJAS,
LUCAS M. NUNAG, J. CLARO TESORO, NATIVIDAD B. KWAN and JOSE A.
CURAMMENG, JR., respondents.
Adriano E. Dacanay for and his own behalf.
Madrid, Cacho, Angeles, Dominguez & Pecson Law Office for respondents.

AQUINO, J.:
Lawyer Adriano E. Dacanay, admitted to the bar in 1954, in his 1980 verified complaint,
sought to enjoin Juan G. Collas, Jr. and nine other lawyers from practising law under the
name of Baker & McKenzie, a law firm organized in Illinois.
In a letter dated November 16, 1979 respondent Vicente A. Torres, using the letterhead of
Baker & McKenzie, which contains the names of the ten lawyers, asked Rosie Clurman for
the release of 87 shares of Cathay Products International, Inc. to H.E. Gabriel, a client.
Attorney Dacanay, in his reply dated December 7, 1979, denied any liability of Clurman to
Gabriel. He requested that he be informed whether the lawyer of Gabriel is Baker & McKenzie
"and if not, what is your purpose in using the letterhead of another law office." Not having
received any reply, he filed the instant complaint.
We hold that Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm, cannot practice law in the
Philippines (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Rules of Court). As admitted by the respondents in their
memorandum, Baker & McKenzie is a professional partnership organized in 1949 in Chicago,
Illinois with members and associates in 30 cities around the world. Respondents, aside from
being members of the Philippine bar, practising under the firm name of Guerrero & Torres, are
members or associates of Baker & Mckenzie.
As pointed out by the Solicitor General, respondents' use of the firm name Baker & McKenzie
constitutes a representation that being associated with the firm they could "render legal
services of the highest quality to multinational business enterprises and others engaged in
foreign trade and investment" (p. 3, respondents' memo). This is unethical because Baker &
McKenzie is not authorized to practise law here. (See Ruben E. Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1983
Ed., p. 115.)
WHEREFORE, the respondents are enjoined from practising law under the firm name Baker
& McKenzie.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee, Acting CJ., Makasiar, Abad Santos, Melencio-Herrera, Escolin, Relova,
Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente, Cuevas and Alampay, JJ., concur.
Plana, J., took no part.
Fernando, C.J., and Concepcion, Jr., J., are on leave.
G.R. No. 97664 October 10, 1991
OUANO ARRASTRE SERVICE, INC., petitioner,
vs.
THE HON. PEARY G. ALEONOR, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch XXI
and INTERNATIONAL PHARMACEUTICALS, INC., and THE COURT OF APPEALS, **
respondents.

FELICIANO, J.:
Private respondent International Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("IPI") filed a complaint before the
Regional Trial Court of Cebu City against Mercantile Insurance Company, Inc. ("Mercantile")
and petitioner Ouano Arrastre Service, Inc. ("OASI") for replacement of certain equipment
imported by IPI which were insured by Mercantile but were lost on arrival in Cebu City,
allegedly because of mishandling by petitioner OASI.
Petitioner OASI's answer was filed by the law firm of Ledesma, Saludo and Associates
("LSA") and signed by Atty. Manuel Trinidad of the Cebu office or branch of LSA. However,
sometime thereafter, Atty. Trinidad resigned from LSA and Atty. Fidel Manalo, a partner from
the Makati office of LSA, filed a motion to postpone the hearing stating that the case had just
been endorsed to him by petitioner OASI.
On 12 January 1990, after trial which Atty. Manalo handled for OASI, the trial court rendered a
decision holding Mercantile and petitioner OASI jointly and severally liable for the cost of
replacement of the damaged equipment plus damages, totalling P435,000.00.
Only Mercantile appealed from the decision.
On 19 June 1990, IPI filed a motion for execution of the decision against petitioner OASI
which public respondent judge granted on 25 June 1990.
On 26 June 1990 petitioner's counsel, through Atty. Catipay of the Cebu Branch of the LSA,
filed a notice of appeal 1 claiming that the decision was "mistakenly sent" by the trial court to
the law firm's Head Office in Makati. 2
On 27 June 1990, petitioner, through the same counsel, filed a motion for reconsideration of
the order granting the writ of execution alleging that: (1) the failure seasonably to file an
appeal was due to excusable neglect and slight "oversight" 3 claiming that there was
miscommunication between LSA-Cebu and LSA main office as to who would file the notice of
appeal; and (2) Mercantile's timely notice of appeal should benefit petitioner OASI, a solidary
co-debtor.
On 2 July 1990, public respondent judge denied OASI's motion for reconsideration declaring
that the appeal cannot be given due course for lack of merit and ordered that the writ of
execution be enforced.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals dismissed petitioner's appeal upon the grounds that: (1)
there had been a valid service of the decision; (2) the decision had become final and
executory as to petitioner OASI; and (3) Mercantile's appeal does not inure to the benefit of
petitioner as they do not share common defenses.
Petitioner is now before this Court alleging that:
1. the honorable Court of Appeals has decided a question of substance not theretofore
determined by the Supreme Court when the former affirmed the trial court's ruling that
the undisputed timely appeal made by co-defendant Mercantile Insurance, Co., Inc.,
the co-solidary judgment debtor of petitioner herein, does not inure to the latter's
benefit, notwithstanding such ruling's resultant legal and procedural "complexities" or
"absurdities;"
2. the honorable Court of Appeals' questioned decision is contrary to law and the
applicable decisions of the Supreme Court because its ruling that the undisputed timely
appeal taken by Mercantile Insurance does not inure to the benefit of petitioner, on the
ground that they do not share common defenses, is contrary to the provision of Article
1222 of the Civil Code of the Philippines;
3. the honorable Court of Appeals ' questioned decision is contrary to law and the
applicable decisions of the Supreme Court since petitioner's Notice of Appeal was filed
on time, considering that the period to take an appeal had not commenced to run, there
having been a defective service to the petitioner of the copy of the trial court's
Decision; and
4. granting without admitting that petitioner's appeal was filed out of time, the Court of
Appeals' questioned decision is still contrary to law and the applicable decisions of the
Supreme Court because it strictly applied a procedural technicality over matters
relating to substantial justice and equity, disregarding thereby Section 2, Rule 1 of the
Rules of Court and the extensive jurisprudence on the matter.
The issues in the present petition may be summarized as follows:
1. Whether or not there was valid service of the decision of the trial court upon
petitioner's counsel; and
2. Whether or not the seasonable appeal filed by petitioner's co-defendant Mercantile
should stay the execution as against petitioner.
Deliberating on the instant petition for review, the Court believes that petitioner has failed to
show reversible error on the part of the Court of Appeals ("CA") in rendering its Decision
dated 10 January 1991.
The Court is not persuaded by the contention that the period to file a notice of appeal had not
commenced to run as there had been no valid service of the trial court's decision upon
petitioner's counsel. The Court of Appeals found as a fact that a copy of the decision was
served upon Atty. Catipay but that he refused to receive it:
Finally, on this point, there is an uncontroverted sworn statement of the lower court's
legal aide, Mr. Jesus A. Lim, attesting to the fact that on February 7, 1990 he served on
Atty. Ronald Catipay a copy of the decision in the case, but that the latter 'refused to
receive copy of the decision and instead instructed me to send the copy of the decision
to the Makati Office of the law firm' and that Mr. Lim accompanied the lawyer to a place
where a xerox machine was located, copied the decision and gave to the lawyer a
xerox copy of said decision. This statement seems to find corroboration in the later
allegation of Atty. Catipay that their Cebu office never 'officially' received copy of the
decision.
There was no justification for Atty. Catipay of LSA-Cebu to refuse the service, especially if, as
petitioner now alleges, the notice should have been sent to LSA-Cebu on the theory that Atty.
Catipay was the lead counsel.
Petitioner's counsel was and is the firm of Ledesma, Saludo and Associates (and not any
particular member or associate of that firm) which firm happens to have a main office in
Makati and a branch office in Cebu City. The Court notes that both the main and branch
offices operate under one and the same name, Saludo Ledesma and Associates. Having
represented itself to the public as comprising a single firm, LSA should not be allowed at this
point to pretend that its main office and its branch office in effect constitute separate law firms
with separate and distinct personalities and responsibilities.
Petitioner does not deny that Atty. Manalo, a partner in LSA based in its Makati main office,
received the copy of the decision. Such a receipt binds the LSA law partnership. 4
The cases cited by petitioner will afford it no comfort. The case of Magpayo v. Court of
Appeals, 5 involved an invalid substitution of counsel, in the present case, there never was
any substitution of counsel as petitioner's counsel remained the law firm known as Ledesma,
Saludo and Associates and that firm only, but that firm as a whole. Neither would Phil.
Suburban Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 6 apply as said case involved a
notice addressed to the lawyer but sent to a wrong address; in the present case, the Cebu
and Makati addresses of Ledesma, Saludo and Associates were both correct addresses.
The Court also finds no merit in the claim that the affidavit of Mr. Jesus Lim, which, as already
noted, stated that Atty. Catipay refused to accept a copy served upon him and instead
instructed that a copy be sent to the Makati office, had been given undue weight by the Court
of Appeals. Petitioner claims that the Court of Appeals should have relied more on the written
admission that a copy was served on LSA-Makati on 21 February 1991. Petitioner cites
Domingo v De Leon, 7 where it was held that, as proof of service, an affidavit comes second
only to written admission by the party. But that statement was made in Domingo because
there was an inconsistency there between the admission of the party and the affidavit. There
is no such inconsistency in the present case. Rather, the affidavit in the present case tends to
explain why the copy of the trial court's decision had to be sent to the Makati office.
The trial court's decision was validly served upon petitioner's counsel, whether we look to the
unjustified refusal by Atty. Catipay of LSA-Cebu to accept a copy of the trial court's decision
on 7 February 1990 and the actual notice received by Atty. Catipay on that date through his
acquisition of a photocopy of that decision, or whether we look to the receipt of the trial court's
decision by LSA Makati on 21 February 1990. In view of the unitary nature of the law firm
retained by petitioner as its counsel, we believe that the reglementary period for filing a notice
of appeal actually began to run on 8 February 1990. However, even if the Court were to
accept (which it does not) the supposition that the reglementary period began to run only on
22 February 1990, the day after the copy of the trial court's decision was received by LSA-
Makati, it is quite clear that the notice of appeal filed by petitioner's counsel on 26 June 1990
was wholly late. By the time the notice of appeal was filed, the trial court's decision had
become final and executory as to petitioner and could be executed against it.
Petitioner complains that an immediate execution, pending Mercantile's appeal, would result
in "complexities" if the Court of Appeals were to absolve Mercantile of its liabilities, that
petitioner would have no recourse against its solidary co-debtor and would in effect be held
the only one liable under the trial court's judgment.
If that were to happen, petitioner has only itself to blame. It allowed the period for appeal to
lapse without appealing. Article 1216 of the Civil Code provides that "[T]he creditor may
proceed against any one of the solidary debtor or some or all of them simultaneously." Thus
IPI, as solidary creditor, has the right to enforce the trial court's decision against petitioner
OASI.
Petitioner also argues that under Article 1222 of the Civil Code a solidary co-debtor can raise
the defenses personal to his co-debtor and that, therefore, petitioner OASI should be exempt
from paying the portion of the judgment corresponding to Mercantile. This is not the first time
this argument has been presented to this Court. In Citytrust Banking Corporation v. IVth
Division, Court of Appeals, 8 the Court rejected a similar claim made to delay execution of a
trial court's decision. There the Court held that:
With regard to the issue of whether or not private respondent is entitled to immediate
execution of the decision of the trial court, the answer should be in the affirmative.
Section 1, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that 'execution shall issue only upon a
judgment or order that finally disposes of the action. Such execution shall issue as a matter of
right upon the expiration of the period of appeal therefrom if no appeal has been duly
perfected.' Having failed to appeal during the reglementary period, the decision of the
Regional Trial Court against petitioner had become final and executory against petitioner
thereby making it the ministerial duty of the trial court to grant the motion for execution filed
by the prevailing party.
The argument of petitioner to the effect that execution should not be allowed during the
pendency of appeal of its co-defendant inasmuch as the same would result in an absurd
situation in case the findings of the trial court are reversed by the Court of Appeals, has no leg
to stand on. The law is clear and admits of no other interpretation. A final judgment must be
executed against the defeated party.
Furthermore, the Regional Trial Court held the two defendants jointly and severally liable to
plaintiff. Therefore, whether or not Marine Midland is absolved from liability on appeal is of no
moment. The fact remains that the judgment against Citytrust had already become final and
executory. Thus, there is no valid ground for the trial court to deny the motion for execution
filed by private respondent at this point in time. (Emphasis supplied) 9
Moreover petitioner argues that defenses personal to co-debtors are available to the other co-
debtor because "The rights and liabilities of the parties are so 'interwoven and dependent on
each other, as to be inseparable.'" 10 The case cited by petitioner would not change the
situation, since it cannot be said that petitioner OASI's defenses are similar to, let alone
"dependent on" and "inseparable from," the defenses of Mercantile. In Citytrust Banking
Corporation v IVth Division, Court of Appeals (supra) the Court held that for the rights and
liabilities to be "interwoven" their defenses must be "similar":
It must be noted that the two defendants, Marine Midland and Citytrust, filed cross
claims against each other in their answer. Citytrust alleged that the proximate cause of
the injury should be attributed to co-defendant Marine Midland when the latter failed to
promptly inform Citytrust that the demand draft Citytrust issued was really paid by
Marine Midland on December 22 1980. For its part, Marine Midland alleged that
Citytrust did not properly advise it of the actual circumstances relating to the dates of
payment of the draft and of the receipt by the latter of the stop-payment instructions.
The rights and liabilities of both parties concerned are not so interwoven in such
manner that their defenses are similar and that a reversal of the judgment in one
should operate as a reversal to the other. (Emphasis supplied) 11
Petitioner's and Mercantile's defenses actually conflict with each other. Petitioner claims that
the goods were received by it from the carrier vessel in bad condition; Mercantile, on the other
hand, maintains that the goods did not sustain any damage or loss during the voyage.
Moreover, Mercantile claims that, in any case, the insurance contract with IPI had already
lapsed, a defense which petitioner, as the arrastre company responsible for the damage,
cannot invoke to avoid liability. Finally, by failing to appeal, petitioner effectively waived any
right it might have had to assert, as against the judgment creditor, any defense pertaining to
Mercantile. In other words, petitioner by its own act or inaction, is no longer in a position to
benefit from the provisions of Article 1222 of the Civil Code.
In fine, the trial court's judgment can now be enforced against petitioner OASI. We do not
pass upon – because
ACCORDINGLY, the Petition for Review is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. Costs against
petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan (C.J., Chairman), Gutiarrez, Jr., Bidin and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-41862 February 7, 1992


B. R. SEBASTIAN ENTERPRISES, INC., petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, EULOGIO B. REYES, NICANOR G. SALAYSAY, in his
capacity as Provincial Sheriff of Rizal, and ANTONIO MARINAS, in his capacity as
Deputy Sheriff, respondents.
Benito P. Fabie for petitioner.
Ildefonso de Guzman-Mendiola for private respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


This is a petition for prohibition and mandamus, with prayer for preliminary injunction, to
review the Resolution dated 10 November 1975 of respondent Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R.
No. 53546-R denying petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal, earlier dismissed for failure to
file the Appellant's Brief.
The material operative facts of this case, as gathered from the pleadings of the parties, are
not disputed.
Eulogio B. Reyes, now deceased, filed an action for damages with the then Court of First
Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Rizal, Pasay City Branch, against the Director of Public
Works, the Republic of the Philippines and petitioner herein, B. R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc.
The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 757-R. 1
On 7 May 1973, the trial court rendered a decision finding petitioner liable for damages but
absolving the other defendants. 2
Petitioner, thru its counsel, the law firm of Baizas, Alberto and Associates, timely appealed the
adverse decision to the respondent Court of Appeals, which docketed the case as C.A.-G.R.
No. 53546-R. 3
During the pendency of the appeal, the plaintiff-appellee therein, Eulogio B. Reyes, died.
Upon prior leave of the respondent Court, he was substituted by his heirs — Enrique N.
Reyes, Felicisima R. Natividad, Donna Marie N. Reyes and Renne Marie N. Ryes — who are
now the private respondents in this present petition.
On 19 February 1974, petitioner, thru its then counsel of record, received notice to file
Appellant's Brief within 45 days from receipt thereof. It had, therefore, until 5 April 1974 within
which to comply.
Counsel for petitioner failed to file the Brief; thus, on 9 July 1974, respondent Court issued a
Resolution requiring said counsel to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for
failure to file the Appellant's Brief within the reglementary period. 4 A copy of this Resolution
was received by counsel for petitioner on 17 July 1974. 5
As the latter failed to comply with the above Resolution, respondent Court, on 9 September
1974, issued another Resolution this time dismissing petitioner's appeal:
It appearing that counsel for defendant-appellant failed to show cause why the
appeal should not be dismissed (for failure to file the appellant's brief within the
reglementary period which expired on April 5, 1974) within the period of 10 days
fixed in the resolution of July 9, 1974, copy of which was received by said
counsel on July 17, 1974; . . . 6
On 28 September 1974, petitioner, this time thru the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE, filed a motion for
reconsideration 7 of the resolution dismissing its appeal alleging that as a result of the death
of Atty. Crispin Baizas, senior partner in the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES,
the affairs of the said firm are still being settled between Atty. Jose Baizas (son of Crispin
Baizas) and Atty. Ruby Alberto, the latter having established her own law office; furthermore,
Atty. Rodolfo Espiritu, the lawyer who handled this case in the trial court and who is believed
to have also attended to the preparation of the Appellant's Brief but failed to submit it through
oversight and inadvertence, had also left the firm.
In its Resolution of 9 October 1974, respondent Court denied the motion for reconsideration,
stating that:
Upon consideration of the motion of counsel for defendant-appellant, praying, on
the grounds therein stated, that the resolution of September 9, 1974, dismissing
the appeal, be set aside, and that appellant be granted a reasonable period of
time within which to file its brief: considering that six (6) months had elapsed
since the expiration of the original period and more than two and one-half (2-½)
months since counsel received copy of the resolution requiring him to show
cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file brief; Motion
Denied. 8
No action having been taken by petitioner from the above Resolution within the period to file a
petition for review, the same became final and executory, and the records of the case were
remanded to the court of origin for execution.
The trial court issued a writ of execution on 21 October 1975. 9 Pursuant thereto, respondent
Provincial Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff attached petitioner's Hough Pay Loader with Hercules
Diesel Engine and issued on 5 November 1975 a Notice of Sheriff's Sale, scheduling for
Friday, 14 November 1975 at 10:00 o'clock in the morning, the auction sale thereof. 10
On 6 November 1975, petitioner filed with respondent Court a Motion to Reinstate Appeal with
Prayer for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction 11 dated 5 November 1975, and
containing the following allegations:
1. That late as it may be, this Honorable Court has the inherent power to modify
and set aside its processes, in the interest of justice, especially so in this case
when the case was dismissed on account of the untimely death of Atty. Crispin
D. Baizas, counsel of BRSEI (B.R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc.).
2. That to dismiss the case for failure to file the appellant's brief owing to the
untimely death of the late Atty. Crispin D. Baizas would be tantamount to
denying BRSEI its (sic) day in court, and is, therefore, a clear and unmistakable
denial of due process on the part of BRSEI.
3. That to reinstate BRSEI's appeal would not impair the rights of the parties,
since all that BRSEI is asking for, is a day in court to be heard on appeal in order
to have the unfair, unjust and unlawful decision, set aside and reversed.
The respondent Court denied the said motion in its Resolution of 10 November 1975: 12
. . . it appearing that appellant was represented by the law firm of Baizas, Alberto
& Associates, and while Atty. Baizas died on January 16, 1974, his law firm was
not dissolved since it received the notice to file brief on February 19, 1974, and
the copy of the Resolution of July 9, 1974, requiring appellant to show cause
why the appeal should not be dismissed was received by the law firm on July
17, 1974 and no cause was shown; . . .
Hence, on 13 November 1975, petitioner filed the original petition 13 in this case against the
Court of Appeals, Eulogio B. Reyes, Nicanor G. Salaysay, as Provincial Sheriff of Rizal, and
Antonio Marinas, as Deputy Sheriff. The petition likewise prayed for the issuance of a
Temporary Restraining Order.
In the Resolution of 13 November 1975, this Court required respondents to comment on the
petition within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, and issued a Temporary Restraining Order.
14
On 12 January 1976, respondents filed a Partial Comment on the Petition with a Motion to
Suspend the Proceedings 15 on the ground that respondent Eulogio B. Reyes is already dead
and his lawful heirs had already been ordered substituted for him during the pendency of the
appeal before the respondent Court of Appeals.
In the Resolution of 21 January 1976, this Court ordered petitioner to amend its petition within
then (10) days from receipt of notice, and suspended the filing of respondents' Comment until
after the amendment is presented and admitted. 16
In compliance therewith, petitioner filed on 9 February 1976 a Motion for Leave to Admit
Amended Petition to which it attached the said Amended Petition. 17 The amendment
consists in the substitution of Eulogio B. Reyes with his heirs.
This Court admitted the Amended Petition 18 and required the respondents to file their
Comment within ten (10) days from notice thereof, which they complied with on 5 April 1976.
19 Petitioner filed its Reply to the Comment on 29 April 1976. 20
In the Resolution of 12 May 1976, this Court denied the petition for lack of merit: 21
L-41862 (B.R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, et. al.). —
Considering the allegations, issues and arguments adduced in the amended
petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals,
respondents' comment thereon, as well as petitioner's reply to said comment,
the Court Resolved to DENY the petition for lack of merit.
However, on 31 May 1976, petitioner filed a motion for its reconsideration 22 claiming that
since it was deprived of the right to appeal without fault on its part, the petition should be
given due course.
Respondents submitted on 22 July 1976 their Comment 23 to said Motion for
Reconsideration.
On 10 September 1976, this Court resolved to reconsider 24 its Resolution of 12 May 1976
and required both parties to submit simultaneously their respective Memoranda within thirty
(30) days from notice thereof.
Petitioner submitted its Memorandum on 5 November 1976 25 while respondents submitted
theirs on 22 November 1976. 26 On 29 November 1976, this Court deemed the present case
submitted for decision. 27
The sole issue to be addressed is whether or not the respondent Court of Appeals gravely
abused its discretion in denying petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal, previously
dismissed for failure to file the Appellant's Brief.
Petitioner, in its Memorandum, extensively expounds on respondent Court's authority to
reinstate dismissed appeals and cites as basis thereof the decision of this Court in Heirs of
Clemente Celestino vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 28 Indeed, in said case, this Court affirmed
the resolution of the Court of Appeals — reinstating an appeal after being dismissed for failure
by the appellants therein to file their brief, and after entry of judgment and remand of the
records to the lower court — and cancelled the entry of judgment, requiring the lower court to
return the records to the Court of Appeals and admit appellant's brief. Said case, however,
had a peculiar or singular factual situation" which prompted the Court of Appeals to grant the
relief and which this Court found sufficient to justify such action. As this Court, through
Associate Justice Ramon Aquino, said:
We are of the opinion that under the peculiar or singular factual situation in this
case and to forestall a miscarriage of justice the resolution of the Court of
Appeals reinstating the appeal should be upheld.
That Court dismissed the appeal of the Pagtakhans in the mistaken belief that
they had abandoned it because they allegedly failed to give to their counsel the
money needed for paying the cost of printing their brief.
But presumably the Appellate Court realized later that fraud might have been
practised on appellants Pagtakhans since their oppositions were not included in
the record on appeal. In (sic) sensed that there was some irregularity in the
actuations of their lawyer and that Court (sic) itself had been misled into
dismissing the appeal.
Counsel for the Pagtakhans could have furnished them with copies of his
motions for extension of time to file brief so that they would have known that the
Court of Appeals had been apprised of their alleged failure to defray the cost of
printing their brief and they could have articulated their reaction directly to the
Court. Counsel could have moved in the Appellate Court that he be allowed to
withdraw from the case or that the Pagtakhans be required to manifest whether
they were still desirous of prosecuting their appeal or wanted a mimeographed
brief to be filed for them (See People vs. Cawili, L-30543, August 31, 1970, 34
SCRA 728). Since counsel did none of those things, his representation that the
appellants had evinced lack of interest in pursuing their appeal is difficult to
believe.
If the appellate court has not yet lost its jurisdiction, it may exercise its discretion
in reinstating an appeal, having in mind the circumstances obtaining in each
case and the demands of substantial justice (Alquiza vs. Alquiza, L-23342,
February 10, 1968, 22 SCRA 494, 66 O.G. 276; C. Vda. de Ordoveza vs.
Raymundo, 62 Phil. 275; Chavez vs. Ganzon, 108 Phil. 6).
But even if it has already lost jurisdiction over the appeal by reason of the
remand of the record to the lower court, it, nevertheless, has the inherent right to
recall the remittitur or the remand of the record to the lower court if it had
rendered a decision or issued a resolution which was induced by fraud practised
upon it. Such a right is not affected by the statutory provision that after the
record has been remanded, the appellate court has no further jurisdiction over
the appeal (5 Am Jur. 2nd 433 citing Lovett vs. State, 29 Fla. 384, 11 So. 176;
84 ALR 595; State vs. Ramirez, 34 Idaho 623, 203 Pac. 279).
In the instant case, no fraud is involved; what obtain is simple negligence on the part of
petitioner's counsel, which is neither excusable nor unavoidable. Petitioner thus failed to
demonstrate sufficient cause to warrant a favorable action on its plea.
As held in Chavez, et al. vs. Ganzon, et al., 29 and reiterated in Negros Stevedoring Co., Inc.
vs. Court of Appeals, 30 We said:
Granting that the power or discretion to reinstate an appeal that had been
dismissed is included in or implied from the power or discretion to dismiss an
appeal, still such power or discretion must be exercised upon a showing of good
and sufficient cause, in like manner as the power or discretion vested in the
appellate court to allow extensions of time for the filing of briefs. There must be
such a showing which would call for, prompt and justify its exercise (sic).
Otherwise, it cannot and must not be upheld.
To justify its failure to file the Appellant's Brief, petitioner relies mainly on the death of Atty.
Crispin Baizas and the supposed confusion it brought to the firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO &
ASSOCIATES. It says: 31
Petitioner, thru its president Bernardo R. Sebastian, engaged the services of
Atty. Crispin D. Baizas to handle its defense in Civil Case No. 757-R; however, it
appears that Atty. Baizas entered petitioner's case as a case to be handled by
his law firm operating under the name and style "Crispin D. Baizas &
Associates." Hence, the Answer to the complaint, Answer to Cross-Claim, and
Answer to Fourth-party Complaint filed for petitioner in said case, evince that the
law firm "Crispin D. Baizas & Associates" represents petitioner in the action.
After rendition of the assailed Decision of the trial court, petitioner's counsel
appears to have changed its firm name to "Baizas, Alberto & Associates." The
appeal was thus pursued for petitioner by the law firm "Baizas, Alberto &
Associates."
On January 16, 1974, Atty. Crispin D. Baizas died as a result of a brief heart
attack. In consequence (sic) of his death, the law firm "Baizas, Alberto &
Associates" was in a terribly confused state of affairs. In effect, said law firm was
dissolved. Atty. Ruby Alberto formed her own law office and other associates left
the dissolved law firms (sic) joining other offices or putting up their own. Atty.
Jose Baizas, son of deceased Crispin D. Baizas, took over the management of
why may have been left of his father's office, it appearing that some, if not many,
cases of the defunct office were taken over by the associates who left the firm
upon its dissolution.
But, none of the former partners and associates/assistants of the dissolved law
firm filed the required appellant's brief for herein petitioner in its appealed case
before the respondent Court of Appeals. No notice was served upon petitioner
by any of the surviving associates of the defunct law firm that its appellant's brief
was due for filing or that the law office had been dissolved and that the law office
had been dissolved and that none of the lawyers herein formerly connected
desired to handle the appealed case of petitioner. . . .
The circumstances that the law firm "Baizas, Alberto & Associates" was
dissolved and that none of the associates took over petitioner's case, and no
notice of such state of affairs was given to petitioner who could have engaged
the services of another lawyer to prosecute its appeal before respondent Court,
constitutes (sic) an UNAVOIDABLE CASUALTY that entitles petitioner to the
relief prayed for. On the other hand, the non-dissolution of said law firm "Baizas,
Alberto & Associates" will not defeat petitioner's claim for relief since, in such
event, the said firm had ABANDONED petitioner's cause, which act constitutes
fraud and/or reckless inattention the result of which is deprivation of petitioner's
day in court. In the abovementioned Yuseco case, this Honorable Court had
emphatically and forcefully declared that it will always be disposed to grant relief
to parties aggrieved by perfidy, fraud, reckless inattention and downright
incompetence of lawyers, which has the consequence of depriving their day (sic)
in court.
We find no merit in petitioner's contentions. Petitioner's counsel was the law firm of BAIZAS,
ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES and not merely Atty. Crispin Baizas. Hence, the death of the latter
did not extinguish the lawyer-client relationship between said firm and petitioner.
In Gutierrez & Sons, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 32 the appeal filed by the law firm of BAIZAS,
ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES on behalf of respondent therein was dismissed for failure to
comply with the requisites enumerated in the Rules of Court; the excuse presented by said
counsel was also the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas. This Court held therein that:
The death of Attorney Baizas was not a valid excuse on the part of his
associates for not attending to Alvendia's appeal, supposing arguendo that his
office was solely entrusted with the task of representing Alvendia in the Court of
Appeals. Attorney Espiritu (not Attorney Baizas) was the one actually
collaborating with Viola in handling Alvendia's case. He did not file a formal
appearance in the Court of Appeals.
Undoubtedly, there was inexcusable negligence on the part of petitioner's counsel in failing to
file the Appellant's Brief. As revealed by the records, petitioner's counsel, the BAIZAS
ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES law firm, received the notice to file Brief on 19 February 1974. It
failed to do so within the 45 days granted to it. Said law firm also received a copy of the
respondent Court's Resolution of 9 July 1974 requiring it to show cause why the appeal
should not be dismissed for failure to file the Brief within the reglementary period. Petitioner
chose not to comply with it, thus compelling the respondent Court to issue on 9 September
1974 a Resolution dismissing the appeal, a copy of which the former also received. Then, on
28 September 1974, the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE moved for reconsideration of the said
Resolution which respondent Court denied in its Resolution of 9 October 1974. Nothing more
was heard from petitioner until after a year when, on 6 November 1975, it filed the instant
petition in reaction to the issuance of a writ of execution by the trial court following receipt of
the records for the respondent Court.
The "confusion" in the office of the law firm following the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas is not a
valid justification for its failure to file the Brief. With Baizas' death, the responsibility of Atty.
Alberto and his Associates to the petitioner as counsel remained until withdrawal by the
former of their appearance in the manner provided by the Rules of Court. This is so because
it was the law firm which handled the case for petitioner before both the trial and appellate
courts. That Atty. Espiritu, an associate who was designated to handle the case, later left the
office after the death of Atty. Baizas is of no moment since others in the firm could have
replaced him.. Upon receipt of the notice to file Brief, the law firm should have re-assigned the
case to another associate or, it could have withdrawn as counsel in the manner provided by
the Rules of Court so that the petitioner could contract the services of a new lawyer.
In the Negros Stevedoring case, supra., this Court held:
The negligence committed in the case at bar cannot be considered excusable,
nor (sic) is it unavoidable. Time and again the Court has admonished law firms
to adopt a system of distributing pleadings and notices, whereby lawyers
working therein receive promptly notices and pleadings intended for them, so
that they will always be informed of the status of their cases. Their Court has
also often repeated that the negligence of clerks which adversely affect the
cases handled by lawyers, is binding upon the latter.
Compounding such negligence is the failure of the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE, which filed on 28
September 1974 the motion for reconsider the Resolution of 9 September 1974, to take any
further appropriate action after the respondent Court denied said motion on 9 October 1974.
The appearance of said counsel is presumed to be duly authorized by petitioner. The latter
has neither assailed nor questioned such appearance.
The rule is settled that negligence of counsel binds the client. 33
Moreover, petitioner itself was guilty of negligence when it failed to make inquiries from
counsel regarding its case. As pointed out by respondents, the president of petitioner
corporation claims to be the intimate friend of Atty. Crispin Baizas; hence, the death of the
latter must have been known to the former. 34 This fact should have made petitioner more
vigilant with respect to the case at bar. Petitioner failed to act with prudence and diligence,
thus, its plea that they were not accorded the right to procedural due process cannot elicit
either approval or sympathy. 35
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that there was failure to show a good and sufficient cause
which would justify the reinstatement of petitioner's appeal. Respondent Court of Appeals did
not them commit any grave abuse of discretion when it denied petitioner's motion to reinstate
its appeal.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DISMISSED and the temporary restraining order issued
in this case is lifted.
Costs against petitioner.
IT SO ORDERED.
Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin and Romero, JJ., concur.

EN BANC
EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., Adm. Case No. 2474
Complainant,

Present:

DAVIDE, JR., C.J.,

PUNO,

PANGANIBAN,

QUISUMBING,

YNARES-SANTIAGO,

- versus - SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,

CARPIO,

*AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,

CORONA,

*CARPIO MORALES,

CALLEJO, SR.,

AZCUNA,

TINGA, and

**CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

ATTY. LEO J. PALMA,


Promulgated:
Respondent.

September 15, 2004


X --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to


certain rigid standards of mental and moral fitness. For the admission of a
candidate to the bar, the Rules of Court not only prescribe a test of academic
preparation but require satisfactory testimonials of good moral character. These
standards are neither dispensed with nor lowered after admission: the lawyer
must continue to adhere to them or else incur the risk of suspension or removal.
[1]

Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. filed with this Court the instant complaint for
disbarment against Atty. Leo J. Palma, alleging as grounds deceit, malpractice,
gross misconduct in office, violation of his oath as a lawyer and grossly immoral
conduct.

The facts are undisputed:

Complainant and respondent met sometime in the 70s. Complainant was a client
of Angara Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRA) and respondent was the
lawyer assigned to handle his cases. Owing to his growing business concerns,
complainant decided to hire respondent as his personal counsel.

Consequently, respondents relationship with complainants family became


intimate. He traveled and dined with them abroad.[2] He frequented their house
and even tutored complainants 22-year old daughter Maria Luisa Cojuangco
(Lisa), then a student of Assumption

Convent.

On June 22, 1982, without the knowledge of complainants family, respondent


married Lisa in Hongkong. It was only the next
day that respondent informed complainant and assured him that everything is
legal. Complainant was shocked, knowing fully well that respondent is a married
man and has three children. Upon investigation, complainant found that
respondent courted Lisa during their tutoring sessions. Immediately, complainant
sent his two sons to Hongkong to convince Lisa to go home to Manila and discuss
the matter with the family. Lisa was persuaded.

Complainant also came to know that: (a) on the date of the supposed marriage,
respondent requested from his (complainants) office an airplane ticket to and
from Australia, with stop-over in Hong Kong; (b) respondent misrepresented
himself as bachelor before the Hong Kong authorities to facilitate his marriage
with Lisa; and (c) respondent was married to Elizabeth Hermosisima and has
three children, namely: Eugene Philippe, Elias Anton and Eduardo Lorenzo.
On August 24, 1982, complainant filed with the Court of First Instance, Branch
XXVII, Pasay City a petition[3] for declaration of

nullity of the marriage between respondent and Lisa, docketed as Civil Case No.
Pq-0401-P. In the Decision[4] dated November 2, 1982, the CFI declared the
marriage null and void ab initio.

Thereafter, complainant filed with this Court the instant complaint[5] for
disbarment, imputing to respondent the following acts:

a. In grave abuse and betrayal of the trust and confidence reposed in him by complainant and
his family and taking undue advantage of his tutoring sessions with Maria Luisa, respondent
secretly courted her. The great disparity in intelligence, education, age, experience and
maturity between Maria Luisa and respondent gave the latter an overwhelming moral
ascendancy over Maria Luisa as to overcome her scruples and apprehensions about
respondents courtship and advances, considering that he is a married man with three (3)
children;

b. Respondent courted Maria Luisa with persistence and determination and even pursued her
in her travels abroad under false pretenses that he was traveling on official business for
complainant. To break down the final resistance of Maria Luisa and assuage her pangs of
guilt, he made representations that there was no legal impediment whatsoever to his
marrying;

c. With his moral ascendancy over Maria Luisa and his misrepresentation that there was no
legal impediment or prohibition to his contracting a second marriage, respondent succeeded
in inducing and beguiling her into marrying him. Without complying with the requirements of
Philippine law that he should first obtain a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to
Elizabeth H. Palma and that the advice of Maria Luisas parents should first be obtained she
being only twenty-two (22) years of age, respondent succeeded in contracting marriage with
her in Hongkong on June 22, 1982 by falsely representing himself before the Hongkong
authorities that he is a bachelor. x x x.

Respondent filed a motion to dismiss[6] on the ground of lack of cause of action.


He contended that the complaint fails to allege acts constituting deceit,
malpractice, gross misconduct or violation of his lawyers oath. There is no
allegation that he acted with wanton recklessness, lack of skill or ignorance of the
law in serving complainants interest. Anent the charge of grossly immoral
conduct, he stressed that he married complainants daughter with utmost sincerity
and good faith and that it is contrary to the natural course of things for an
immoral man to marry the woman he sincerely loves.

In the Resolution[7] dated March 2, 1983, we referred the case to the Office of the
Solicitor General (OSG) for investigation, report and recommendation. Former
Assistant Solicitor General Oswaldo D. Agcaoili conducted the investigation.

Meanwhile, on December 28, 1983, the First Division of this Court issued in G.R.
No. 64538[8] a Resolution[9] (a) setting aside the CFI Decision dated November
2, 1982 in Civil Case No. Pq0401-P
declaring the marriage between respondent and Lisa null and void ab initio; and
(b) remanding the case to the CFI for proper proceeding and determination. To
this date, the records fail to disclose the outcome of this case.

On March 19, 1984, respondent filed with the OSG an Urgent Motion to Suspend
Proceedings[10] on the ground that the final outcome of Civil Case No. Pq0401-P
poses a prejudicial question to the disbarment proceeding. It was denied.

Respondent sought refuge in this Court through an Urgent Motion for Issuance of a
Restraining Order.[11] In the Resolution dated December 19, 1984, we enjoined
the OSG from continuing the investigation of the disbarment proceedings.[12]

Thereafter, the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Commission on Bar Discipline. On October 19, 1998, Commissioner Julio C.
Elamparo issued the following order:

Considering the length of time that this case has remained pending and as a practical
measure to ease the backlog of this Commission, the parties shall within ten (10) days
from notice, manifest whether or not they are still interested in prosecuting this case or
supervening events have transpired which render this case moot and academic or
otherwise, this case shall be deemed closed and terminated.[13]
In his Manifestation,[14] complainant manifested and confirmed his continuing
interest in prosecuting his complaint for disbarment against respondent.
On the other hand, respondent sought several postponements of hearing on the
ground that he needed more time to locate vital documents in support of his
defense. The scheduled hearing of December 4, 2001 was reset for the last time
on January 24, 2002, with a warning that should he fail to appear or present
deposition, the case will be deemed submitted for resolution.[15] Respondent
again failed to appear on January 24, 2002; hence, the case was considered
submitted for resolution.[16]

On March 20, 2003, Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan submitted a


Report and Recommendation finding respondent guilty of grossly immoral conduct
and violation of his oath as a lawyer. She recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years. Thus:

The main issue to be resolved in this case is whether or not respondent committed the
following acts which warrant his disbarment:

a) Grave abuse and betrayal of the trust and confidence


reposed in him by complainant;

b) His misrepresentation that there was no legal impediment or


prohibition to his contracting a second marriage;

c) The acts of respondent constitute deceit, malpractice, gross


misconduct in office, grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as
a lawyer.

Respondent admits that he married Maria Luisa in Hongkong representing himself as a


bachelor, however, he claimed that the marriage certificate stated a condition no different from
term spinster with respect to Luisa.

There is no question that respondent as a lawyer well versed in the law knew fully well that in
marrying Maria Luisa he was entering into a bigamous marriage defined and penalized under
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The respondent betrayed the trust reposed in him by
complainant. He was treated as part of the family and was allowed to tutor Maria Luisa.

For the foregoing reasons, it is submitted that respondent committed grossly immoral conduct
and violation of his oath as a lawyer, and it is recommended that respondent be suspended
from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years.

SO ORDERED.
The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the above Report and
Recommendation, but it reduced respondents penalty to only one (1) year
suspension.

Except for the penalty, we affirm the IBPs Report and Recommendation.

At the outset, it must be stressed that the law profession does not prescribe a
dichotomy of standards among its members. There is no distinction as to whether
the transgression is committed in the lawyers professional capacity or in his
private life. This is because a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an
attorney at one time and a mere citizen at another.[17] Thus, not only his
professional activities but even his private life, insofar as the latter may reflect
unfavorably upon the good name and prestige of the profession and the courts,
may at any time be the subject of inquiry on the part of the proper authorities.
[18]

Respondent claims that he had served complainant to the best of his ability. In
fact, the complaint does not allege that he acted with wanton recklessness, lack
of skill and ignorance of the law.
While, complainant himself admitted that respondent was a good lawyer,[19]
however, professional competency alone does not make a lawyer a worthy
member of the Bar. Good moral character is always an indispensable requirement.

The ringing truth in this case is that respondent married Lisa while he has a
subsisting marriage with Elizabeth Hermosisima. The Certification[20] from the
Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City shows that he married Elizabeth on December
19, 1971 at Cardials Private Chapel, Cebu City. On the other hand, the Certificate
of Marriage[21] from the Deputy Registrar of Marriages, Hong Kong, proves
respondents subsequent marriage with Lisa on July 9, 1982. That Elizabeth was
alive at the time of respondents second marriage was confirmed on the witness
stand by Atty. Victor P. Lazatin, Elizabeths classmate and family friend.[22]

Undoubtedly, respondents act constitutes grossly immoral conduct, a ground for


disbarment under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court. 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.[23]

This is not the first occasion that we censure immorality. Thus, we have somehow
come up with a common definition of what constitutes immoral conduct, i.e., 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.[24] Measured against this definition, respondents 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.
Our rulings in the following cases are relevant:

1) In Macarrubo vs. Macarrubo,[25] respondent entered into multiple marriages


and then resorted to legal remedies to sever them. There, we ruled that [S]uch
pattern of misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions of marriage and
family, institutions that this society looks to for the rearing of our children, for the
development of values essential to the survival and well-being of our
communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole. As such, there
can be no other fate that awaits respondent than to be disbarred.

(2) In Tucay vs. Tucay,[26] respondent contracted marriage with another married
woman and left complainant with whom he has been married for thirty years. We
ruled that such acts constitute a grossly immoral conduct and only indicative of
an extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his profession, warranting
respondents disbarment.

(3) In Villasanta vs. Peralta,[27] respondent married complainant while his first
wife was still alive, their marriage still valid and subsisting. We held that the act of
respondent of contracting the second marriage is contrary to honesty, justice,
decency and morality. Thus, lacking the good moral character required by the
Rules of Court, respondent was disqualified from being admitted to the bar.

(4) In Cabrera vs. Agustin,[28] respondent lured an innocent woman into a


simulated marriage and thereafter satisfied his lust. We held that respondent
failed to maintain that degree of morality and integrity, which at all times is
expected of members of the bar. He is, therefore, disbarred from the practice of
law.

(5) In Toledo vs. Toledo,[29] respondent abandoned his wife, who supported him
and spent for his law education, and thereafter cohabited with another woman.
We ruled that he failed to maintain the highest degree of morality expected and
required of a member of the bar. For this, respondent was disbarred.

(6) In Obusan vs. Obusan, Jr.,[30] respondent abandoned his lawful wife and child
and resumed cohabitation with his former paramour. Here, we ruled that
abandoning ones wife and resuming carnal relations with a former paramour, a
married woman, constitute grossly immoral conduct warranting disbarment.

The circumstances here speak of a clear case of betrayal of trust and abuse of
confidence. It was respondents closeness to the complainants family as well as
the latters complete trust in him that made possible his intimate relationship with
Lisa. When his concern was supposed to be complainants legal affairs only, he
sneaked at the latters back and courted his daughter. Like the proverbial thief in
the night, he attacked when nobody was looking. Moreover, he availed of
complainants resources by securing a plane ticket from complainants office in
order to marry the latters daughter in Hongkong. He did this without complainants
knowledge. Afterwards, he even had the temerity to assure complainant that
everything is legal. Clearly, respondent had crossed the limits of propriety and
decency.

Respondent justified his conduct by professing he really loved Lisa and since he
married her, he cannot be charged with immorality. His reasoning shows a
distorted mind and a brazen regard on the sanctity of marriage. In such
relationship, the man and the woman are obliged to live together, observe mutual
respect and fidelity.[31] How could respondent perform these obligations to Lisa
when he was previously married to Elizabeth? If he really loved her, then the
noblest thing he could have done was to walk away.

Respondents culpability is aggravated by the fact that Lisa was just a 22-year old
college student of Assumption Convent and was under psychological treatment
for emotional immaturity.[32] Naturally, she was an easy prey.

Anent respondents argument that since the validity of his marriage to Lisa has not
yet been determined by the court with finality, the same poses a prejudicial
question to the present disbarment proceeding. Suffice it to say that a subsequent
judgment of annulment of marriage has no bearing to the instant disbarment
proceeding. As we held in In re Almacen,[33] a disbarment case is sui generis for
it is neither purely civil nor purely criminal but is rather an investigation by the
court into the conduct of its officers. Thus, if the acquittal of a lawyer in a criminal
action is not determinative of an administrative case against him,[34] or if an
affidavit of withdrawal of a disbarment case does not affect its course,[35] then
the judgment of annulment of respondents marriage does not also exonerate him
from a wrongdoing actually committed. So long as the quantum of proof --- clear
preponderance of evidence --- in disciplinary proceedings against members of the
bar is met, then liability attaches.[36]

The interdict upon lawyers, as inscribed in Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, is that they shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct. This is founded on the lawyers primordial duty to society
as spelled out in Canon 1 which states:

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

It is not by coincidence that the drafters of our Code of Professional Responsibility


ranked the above responsibility first in the enumeration. They knew then that
more than anybody else, it is the lawyers -- the disciples of law -- who are most
obliged to venerate the law. As stated in Ex Parte Wall:[37]

Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is
their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to
trample them underfoot and to ignore the very bonds of society, argues recreancy to his
position and office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous
elements of the body politic.

Corollarily, the above responsibility is enshrined in the Attorneys Oath which every
lawyer in the country has to take before he is allowed to practice.

In sum, respondent committed grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath
as a lawyer. The penalty of one (1) year suspension recommended by the IBP is
not commensurate to the gravity of his offense. The bulk of jurisprudence
supports the imposition of the extreme penalty of disbarment.

WHEREFORE, respondent Leo J. Palma is found GUILTY of grossly immoral


conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer, and is hereby DISBARRED from the
practice of law.

Let respondents name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys immediately. Furnish
the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts throughout
the country with copies of this Decision.

SO ORDERED

A.M. No. RTJ-93-1033 October 10, 1995


MARIBETH CORDOVA and CHRISTOPHER CORDOVA, complainants,
vs.
HON. EMMA C. LABAYEN, Presiding Judge, Branch 54, RTC, 6th Judicial Region,
Bacolod City; HON. BETHEL KATALBAS-MOSCARDON, former Presiding Judge of
Branch 54, RTC, 6th Judicial Region, Bacolod City; GIA L. ARINDAY, Branch Clerk of
Court, and MARIO P. LAMERA, Court Sheriff, Branch 54, RTC, Bacolod City; ARMANDO
N. ESO, Court Sheriff, and EDGAR DEPAMAYLO, Subpoena Server, Branch 50, RTC,
Bacolod City, respondents.

REGALADO, J.:
For consideration by the Court is the matter of the order we issued on November 23, 1994, 1
requiring Atty. Salvador T. Sabio, counsel for herein complainants, to show cause and explain
why he should not be administratively dealt with for violation of Canon I, Rules 1.02 and 1.03
of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Acting on the Memorandum of the Office of the Court Administrator and the Compliance 2 filed
by Atty. Sabio, the Court issued a Resolution on May 30, 1995,3 further referring the matter to
the Bar Confidant for evaluation, report and recommendation. On July 7, 1995, the latter
submitted a Report and Recommendation4 finding Atty. Sabio guilty of violating Rules 1.02
and 1.03 of Canon I, which the Court hereby approves with modifications.
The present incident is an offshoot of an administrative complaint5 filed by complainants
Maribeth and Christopher Cordova, through their aforesaid counsel, Atty. Sabio, against
herein respondents for disbarment, dismissal from office and disqualification to hold public
office with forfeiture of employment benefits for their involvement in Civil Case No. 7092 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 54, Bacolod City. The administrative complaint, however, was
dismissed by this Court on the basis of a Memorandum Report6 dated October 17, 1994
submitted by Deputy Court Administrator Bernardo P. Abesamis, who likewise recommended
that Atty. Sabio be required to explain why he should not be administratively dealt with for
violation of Canon I, Rules 1.02 and 1103 on the ground that:
Their charge that Atty. Salvador T. Sabio "clearly instigated" the filing of this
complaint is also not totally baseless.
In her comment, Judge Moscardon stated that ". . . the original counsel on
record unquestionably accepted the Decision of the appellate RTC court (sic).
On the other hand, the petitioners now, as well as their present counsel who are
not fully conversant (with) the circumstances surrounding the matter, now
attempt to mislead the High Court . . . ." Also worth mentioning were the
allegations that (1) the respondent sheriffs were criminally charged for robbery,
grave threats and malicious mischief; (2) that the plaintiffs re-occupied the
premises after being ejected therefrom; (3) Atty. Sabio had been charged for
crimes involving dishonesty.
The foregoing points to the possible violations of the Code of Professional
Ethics, particularly Canon I, Rule 1.02 (A lawyer shall not counsel or abet
activities aimed at defiance of the law . . .) and Rule 1.03 (A lawyer shall not, for
any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any
man's cause).
The main bulk of Atty. Sabio's contentions were premised on the issue of whether the writs of
execution were issued and implemented by herein respondents in gross violation of Sections
8 and 10, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, with manifest partiality and breach of judicial trust,
and with grave abuse of discretion in excess of jurisdiction. In his Compliance, Atty. Sabio
asserts that the writ of execution was issued pending appeal despite the filing of a
supersedeas bond and the payment of advance rentals. A review of the complaint, comment
and answer filed in this case will readily show that the writs in question were issued strictly in
accordance with Sections 8 and 10, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court which provide:
Sec. 8. Immediate Execution of judgment. How to stay same. — If judgment is
rendered against the defendant, execution shall issue immediately, unless an
appeal has been perfected and the defendant to stay execution files a sufficient
bond, approved by the municipal or city court and executed to the plaintiff to
enter the action in the Court of First Instance and to pay the rents, damages,
and costs accruing down to the time of the judgment appealed from, and unless,
during the pendency of the appeal, he deposits with the appellate court the
amount of rent due from time to time under the contract, if any, as found by the
judgment of the municipal or city court to exist. In the absence of a contract, he
shall deposit with the court the reasonable value of the use and occupation of
the premises for the preceding month or period at the rate determined by the
judgment, on or before the tenth day of each succeeding month or period. The
supersedeas bond shall be transmitted by the municipal or city court, with the
other papers, to the clerk of the Court of First Instance to which the action is
appealed.
xxx xxx xxx
Sec. 10. Stay of execution on appeal to Court of Appeals or Supreme Court. —
Where defendant appeals from a judgment of the Court of First Instance,
execution of said judgment, with respect to the restoration of possession, shall
not be stayed unless the appellant deposits the same amounts and within the
periods referred to in Section 8 of this rule to be disposed of in the same manner
as therein provided.
The records of this administrative matter show that in an action for ejectment filed against the
predecessor in interest of herein complainants,7 judgment was rendered on April 14, 1992 by
the Municipal Trial Court, Branch 6, Bacolod City, in Civil Case No. 18761, ordering
defendants to vacate the premises and to pay plaintiffs therein the sum of P5,000.00 as
attorney's fees plus P1,200.00 appearance fee, P18,000.00 for rentals from May, 1991 to
April, 1992, and costs of suit. On August 20, 1992, the Regional Trial Court affirmed said
judgment after finding that there was no cogent reason to reverse the lower court's decision.
A Motion for Writ of Execution Pending Appeal was filed by plaintiffs on September 4, 1995, to
which an Opposition and Motion for Reconsideration was filed by defendants on September
10, 1992. The Regional Trial Court granted the motion on September 28, 1992 and the writ of
execution was issued on September 30, 1992. However, in the afternoon of September 29,
1992, plaintiffs filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the order of September 28, 1992 granting
the motion for execution, on the ground that they could not file the supersedeas bond
because the court allegedly failed to apprise them of the amount thereof and, at the same
time, attaching to said motion a bond in the amount of P18,000.00. The motion for
reconsideration was denied by the Regional Trial Court on October 1, 1992, as a
consequence of which the writ of execution previously issued was implemented on October 8,
1992 and plaintiffs were ordered restored to the possession of the subject premises.
Therein defendant Luz Cordova went to the Court of Appeals on a petition for certiorari with
injunction but was rebuffed therein. In a decision promulgated on March 31, 1993 in CA-G.R.
SP No. 29102, said appellate court affirmed in toto the decision of the Regional Trial Court. As
a result, the lower court granted on April 21, 1993 the Motion for Alias Writ of Execution filed
by plaintiffs and ordered the release of the amounts of P12,000.00 and P18,000.00 deposited
by therein defendants. An alias writ of execution was subsequently issued on April 26, 1993.
The administrative complaint now filed before us by herein complainants, as heirs and
successors in interest of the late Luz Cordova, revolves around the validity of the writ of
execution issued by Judge Moscardon and the alias writ of execution issued by Judge
Labayen.
1. The writ of execution issued on September 30, 1992 by Judge Moscardon is being
controverted on the ground that a supersedeas bond had been validly filed in this case and
periodic rentals had been paid, hence said supposed compliance with the Rules of Court
should have legally stayed execution pending appeal.
Sections 8 and 10 of Rule 70 clearly provide that to stay the immediate execution of judgment
in ejectment proceedings, it is necessary that the defendant-appellant must (a) perfect his
appeal, (b) file a supersedeas bond, and (c) periodically deposit the rentals falling due during
the pendency of the appeal.
The purpose of the supersedeas bond is to answer for the rents, damages and costs accruing
down to the judgment of the inferior court appealed from, the amount of which is to be
determined from the judgment of said court. The postulation of complainants and their
counsel that the execution sought was effectively stayed by the filing of a supersedeas bond
was sufficiently refuted and justifiably rejected when we consider the circumstances then
obtaining.
First. The amount of the supersedeas bond to be posted is easily discernible from the
dispositive portion of the judgment of the municipal trial court. Hence, it was erroneous, if not
altogether a deliberate falsity, for Atty. Sabio to claim that they could not file a supersedeas
bond because that court failed to determine the same.
Second. The bond should have been filed forthwith after the municipal trial court had
rendered judgment against complainants, which judgment was immediately executory, without
prejudice to the right of appeal. As the records readily reveal, the purported bond was
belatedly filed on September 29, 1992, more than five months later, and only after the
aforementioned Regional Trial Court had already issued an order granting the motion for
execution pending appeal. We cannot, therefore, elude the impression thus created that the
filing thereof came only as a dilatory afterthought on the part of defendants and their counsel.
In a vain attempt to remedy the situation, Atty. Sabio filed a motion for reconsideration of the
order granting execution, but the same necessarily had to fail for being frivolous.
Third. It will be observed that no supersedeas bond was filed after the rendition of the
decision either in the court of origin or in the appellate court. The requirement for the filing of a
supersedeas bond is mandatory.8 Defendants in the ejectment case appealed to the latter
court without filing a supersedeas bond. Such failure is a ground for outright execution of the
judgment of the municipal trial court, the duty of the appellate court to order the execution of
the appealed decision being thereby ministerial and imperative.9
Fourth. The Court of Appeals stated that the amount of P18,000.00 deposited by defendants
therein represented rental payments for the period from May, 1991 to April, 1992, and that a
writ of execution had by then already been issued by the Regional Trial Court. Evidently,
therefore, the amount thus deposited could not qualify as or subserve the purpose of a
supersedeas bond. Thus:
Finally, anent the prayer for injunction, petitioner contends that she had
deposited with the public respondent court the amount of P18,000.00
representing the money judgment, to stay execution pending appeal. The court
noted that the said amount represented the rental payments only for the months
from May 1991 to April 1992. It is for this reason that this Court, in its Resolution
dated October 9, 1992 (p. 60, Rollo), ordered petitioner to present proof of
subsequent payments made pursuant to Sections 8 and 10 of Rule 70. It
appears, however, that a Writ of Execution was already issued and even
implemented (par. 5. Urgent Motion for Issuance of Temporary Restraining
Order, pp. 98-99, Rollo; Delivery of Possession, p. 118, Rollo) that a preliminary
injunction is thereby rendered nugatory. . . .10
While it is true, therefore, that defendants deposited an amount which approximates the
monetary judgment for unpaid rentals, since the same was filed late, it could not qualify as a
supersedeas bond. What is considered material for purposes of staying execution pending
appeal under Rule 70 is not only the fact of payment but, more importantly, the timeliness of
the filing of the supersedeas bond. Hence, the amount of P18,000.00 was correctly applied as
mere rental payments from May, 1991 to April, 1992. On this ground alone, Judge Moscardon
was perfectly justified in issuing the writ of execution and respondent sheriffs in implementing
the same. Of these legal considerations, Atty. Sabio could not have been unaware.
The records, furthermore, do not sustain Atty. Sabio's representations with respect to the
application of the P12,000.00 which complainants supposedly deposited with the court a quo.
Atty. Sabio insists that said amount was intended to answer for monthly rentals falling due
after the rendition of the decision of the Municipal Trial Court. This, however, runs contrary to
the facts obtaining in this case. The decisions of the Municipal Trial Court and the Court of
Appeals are silent on this point except for a statement found in the higher court's decision that
"this Court, in its Resolution dated October 9, 1992, ordered petitioner to present proof of
subsequent payments made." Also, in the order of Judge Moscardon dated October 1, 1992,
she stated that "the record does not show that the defendants had likewise paid the periodical
rentals." Also, in the complaint filed in this administrative matter, it is alleged that the
defendant consigned the rentals from May, 1991 until April, 1992 in the amount of
P12,000.00.
In view of these conflicting statements of complainants, plus the fact that there is not enough
evidence on hand, we are prevented from making a specific determination thereon.
Nevertheless, whether or not periodic rental payments were made during the pendency of the
appeal no longer carries any weight in view of our earlier finding that execution could not be
legally stayed by reason of the admittedly belated filing of the purported supersedeas bond.
Complainants further contend that the Regional Trial Court had no jurisdiction to issue the writ
of execution allegedly because it should have forwarded the records of the case to the court
of origin for proper implementation. The argument is specious. The Municipal Trial Court may
issue execution immediately after judgment if no action was taken therefrom by defendants.
But, after the perfection of the appeal, it is obvious that the jurisdiction over the controversy
had passed to the Regional Trial Court, hence the properly filed in and granted by the latter
court.11
2. Anent the issue on the legality of the alias writ of execution issued by Judge Labayen, Atty.
Sabio avers that the same is void for the reason that he was not furnished a copy of the order,
dated April 21, 1993, which granted the motion for alias writ of execution. He further insists
that the same was issued despite the fact that the decision of the Court of Appeals had not
yet become final and executory since it was still pending review before the Supreme Court.
Under Section 10 of Rule 70, an appeal to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court shall
likewise not be stayed unless the appellants deposit the amount of rent due from time to time.
In the case at bar, no proof has been presented to show that the monthly rentals which fell
due after the rendition of the trial court's decision had been duly paid. Assuming arguendo, as
claimed by Atty. Sabio, that the P12,000.00 deposited with the Regional Trial Court should
answer for said rentals, the same was not sufficient to cover rentals due during the entire
pendency of the case before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. At most, such
amount could apply only to rental payments from May, 1992 to December, 1992. Of these
facts, again, Atty. Sabio could not have been completely oblivious.
The Court of Appeals rendered its decision on March 31, 1993 and there is absolutely nothing
in the records to show that herein complainants made further payments aside from the
P12,000.00 and P18,000.00 deposited with the Municipal Trial Court and the Regional Trial
Court, respectively. In addition, Atty. Sabio does not refute, and in fact it is admitted in
paragraph 6 of the complaint filed in this administrative matter, that complainants reentered
and remained in possession of the premises, and it appears that they continued to do so
despite the prior implementation of the original writ of execution. Verily, this time for failure of
complainants to make periodic deposits during the pendency of the appeal and their
continued occupancy of the premises, the issuance of the alias writ of execution was a
ministerial and mandatory duty of respondent judges.
Atty. Sabio likewise claims that execution could not issue because he was not served a copy
of the order dated April 21, 199312 which granted the motion for alias writ of execution. He
rationalizes that:
. . . The fact is that, a copy of the Order dated April 21, 1993 was not furnished
the defendant's counsel.
Truth to tell, this is exactly the ground why undersigned counsel filed his Urgent
Motion to Lift Alias Writ of Execution, . . . .
It is therefore clear that the Alias Writ of Execution dated April 26, 1993 issued
by the defendant Clerk of Court, Gia L. Aranday, was improperly issued,
considering that the Order of the court granting the Motion for Issuance of Writ
of Execution dated April 21, 1993 was
not furnished the undersigned counsel, and, it is only through the
resourcefulness of the undersigned of following-up this case that he came to
know of the said Order dated April 21, 1993.
Undersigned counsel found himself in an embarrassing situation, when he was
confronted by his clients that the Alias Writ of Execution dated April 26, 1993
was issued without his knowledge of the prior Court Order dated April 21, 1993.
It is in this respect, that undersigned honestly believed that he has a well
grounded complaint against respondents Clerk of Court and process server for
their negligent act. (Emphasis in the original text.)13
That bad faith attended the filing of this administrative charge was unwittingly disclosed by the
aforequoted allegations of Atty. Sabio in his compliance. No ratiocination was proffered by him
nor did he invoke any authority of law or jurisprudence, since decidedly there is none, to
support his theory that execution should not issue where the adverse party is not served a
copy of the order even where the grant thereof had become a matter of right. The inescapable
conclusion, therefore, is that the filing of the present complaint was, at the very least, ill-
conceived and malicious, and was resorted to as a last-ditch effort and a face-saving
recourse of counsel.
It is worth noting that the administrative complaint was filed against herein respondents only
after the Court of Appeals had rendered a decision in favor of plaintiffs. This in itself is already
a clear indication that the acts of respondents are valid and legal. Yet, Atty. Sabio persisted in
instituting these baseless charges against respondents to their proven prejudice.14 As
correctly observed by the Bar Confidant, under the given circumstances, it is apparent that
complainants decided to institute the present case only on the advice and/or upon the urging
of Atty. Sabio. It also bears stressing that respondent Judge Labayen even waited for the
Court of Appeals' decision before acting on the motion for an alias writ of execution of
plaintiffs, if only to obviate any imputation of bias or partiality.
We are fully convinced that, despite the misleading assertions of Atty. Sabio, the issuance of
the writ of execution was done in the valid and judicious exercise of the functions and duties
of respondent judges. We have carefully examined and analyzed the procedure adopted by
respondents in the issuance and enforcement of the questioned writs. It would be the height
of injustice were we to impose any sanction on them for complying faithfully with the
procedural mandate of the rules governing the matter.
The Court would like to call attention again to the reprehensible propensity of disgruntled
litigants, most especially their counsel, of filing totally baseless and unfounded charges
against judges and court personnel in a vain attempt to escape the dire consequences of their
own negligence or in an effort to transgress the lawful orders of the court. Judges and court
personnel should be protected from unjust accusations of dissatisfied litigants, abetted by
counsel who seek thereby to camouflage their shortcomings. Besides, it goes without saying
that mere suspicion that a judge is partial to one of the parties to the case is not enough.
There should be evidence to prove the charge,15 which is obviously absent in the case at bar.
As an officer of the court, a lawyer has the sworn duty to assist in, not to impede or pervert,
the administration of justice. The present administrative charge seeks to cast doubt on the
integrity of respondent judges, the judicial personnel and the court which they represent, in
flagrant abdication of the bounden responsibility of a lawyer to observe and maintain the
respect due to courts of justice. Atty. Sabio thus deserves to be punished for instigating the
filing of an administrative complaint by his clients, in the guise of upholding their rights but
actually to frustrate the enforcement of lawful court orders and consequently obstruct the
desirable norms and course of justice.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Salvador T. Sabio is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
period of SIX (6) MONTHS, effective upon his receipt of a copy of this decision. He is warned
that a more severe sanction shall be imposed should he commit another administrative
offense. Let copies hereof be attached to his record and served on the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on all courts of the land.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 80718 January 29, 1988
FELIZA P. DE ROY and VIRGILIO RAMOS, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and LUIS BERNAL, SR., GLENIA BERNAL, LUIS BERNAL, JR.,
HEIRS OF MARISSA BERNAL, namely, GLICERIA DELA CRUZ BERNAL and LUIS
BERNAL, SR., respondents.
RESOLUTION

CORTES, J.:
This special civil action for certiorari seeks to declare null and void two (2) resolutions of the
Special First Division of the Court of Appeals in the case of Luis Bernal, Sr., et al. v. Felisa
Perdosa De Roy, et al., CA-G.R. CV No. 07286. The first resolution promulgated on 30
September 1987 denied petitioners' motion for extension of time to file a motion for
reconsideration and directed entry of judgment since the decision in said case had become
final; and the second Resolution dated 27 October 1987 denied petitioners' motion for
reconsideration for having been filed out of time.
At the outset, this Court could have denied the petition outright for not being verified as
required by Rule 65 section 1 of the Rules of Court. However, even if the instant petition did
not suffer from this defect, this Court, on procedural and substantive grounds, would still
resolve to deny it.
The facts of the case are undisputed. The firewall of a burned-out building owned by
petitioners collapsed and destroyed the tailoring shop occupied by the family of private
respondents, resulting in injuries to private respondents and the death of Marissa Bernal, a
daughter. Private respondents had been warned by petitioners to vacate their shop in view of
its proximity to the weakened wall but the former failed to do so. On the basis of the foregoing
facts, the Regional Trial Court. First Judicial Region, Branch XXXVIII, presided by the Hon.
Antonio M. Belen, rendered judgment finding petitioners guilty of gross negligence and
awarding damages to private respondents. On appeal, the decision of the trial court was
affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals in a decision promulgated on August 17, 1987, a copy
of which was received by petitioners on August 25, 1987. On September 9, 1987, the last day
of the fifteen-day period to file an appeal, petitioners filed a motion for extension of time to file
a motion for reconsideration, which was eventually denied by the appellate court in the
Resolution of September 30, 1987. Petitioners filed their motion for reconsideration on
September 24, 1987 but this was denied in the Resolution of October 27, 1987.
This Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not commit a grave abuse of discretion when it
denied petitioners' motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration, directed
entry of judgment and denied their motion for reconsideration. It correctly applied the rule laid
down in Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japzon, [G.R. No. 70895, August 5, 1985,138 SCRA
461, that the fifteen-day period for appealing or for filing a motion for reconsideration cannot
be extended. In its Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration, promulgated on July
30, 1986 (142 SCRA 208), this Court en banc restated and clarified the rule, to wit:
Beginning one month after the promulgation of this Resolution, the rule shall be strictly
enforced that no motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration may be filed
with the Metropolitan or Municipal Trial Courts, the Regional Trial Courts, and the
Intermediate Appellate Court. Such a motion may be filed only in cases pending with the
Supreme Court as the court of last resort, which may in its sound discretion either grant or
deny the extension requested. (at p. 212)
Lacsamana v. Second Special Cases Division of the intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No.
73146-53, August 26, 1986, 143 SCRA 643], reiterated the rule and went further to restate
and clarify the modes and periods of appeal.
Bacaya v. Intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 74824, Sept. 15, 1986,144 SCRA
161],stressed the prospective application of said rule, and explained the operation of the
grace period, to wit:
In other words, there is a one-month grace period from the promulgation on May
30, 1986 of the Court's Resolution in the clarificatory Habaluyas case, or up to
June 30, 1986, within which the rule barring extensions of time to file motions for
new trial or reconsideration is, as yet, not strictly enforceable.
Since petitioners herein filed their motion for extension on February 27, 1986, it
is still within the grace period, which expired on June 30, 1986, and may still be
allowed.
This grace period was also applied in Mission v. Intermediate Appellate Court [G.R. No.
73669, October 28, 1986, 145 SCRA 306].]
In the instant case, however, petitioners' motion for extension of time was filed on September
9, 1987, more than a year after the expiration of the grace period on June 30, 1986. Hence, it
is no longer within the coverage of the grace period. Considering the length of time from the
expiration of the grace period to the promulgation of the decision of the Court of Appeals on
August 25, 1987, petitioners cannot seek refuge in the ignorance of their counsel regarding
said rule for their failure to file a motion for reconsideration within the reglementary period.
Petitioners contend that the rule enunciated in the Habaluyas case should not be made to
apply to the case at bar owing to the non-publication of the Habaluyas decision in the Official
Gazette as of the time the subject decision of the Court of Appeals was promulgated.
Contrary to petitioners' view, there is no law requiring the publication of Supreme Court
decisions in the Official Gazette before they can be binding and as a condition to their
becoming effective. It is the bounden duty of counsel as lawyer in active law practice to keep
abreast of decisions of the Supreme Court particularly where issues have been clarified,
consistently reiterated, and published in the advance reports of Supreme Court decisions (G.
R. s) and in such publications as the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA) and law
journals.
This Court likewise finds that the Court of Appeals committed no grave abuse of discretion in
affirming the trial court's decision holding petitioner liable under Article 2190 of the Civil Code,
which provides that "the proprietor of a building or structure is responsible for the damage
resulting from its total or partial collapse, if it should be due to the lack of necessary repairs.
Nor was there error in rejecting petitioners argument that private respondents had the "last
clear chance" to avoid the accident if only they heeded the. warning to vacate the tailoring
shop and , therefore, petitioners prior negligence should be disregarded, since the doctrine of
"last clear chance," which has been applied to vehicular accidents, is inapplicable to this
case.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court Resolved to DENY the instant petition for
lack of merit.
Fernan (Chairman), Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Bidin, JJ., concur.

A.M. No. R-705-RTJ August 23, 1989


LIGAYA GONZALES-AUSTRIA, LEONILA FUERTES and EDGARDO SERVANDO,
complainants,
vs.
JUDGE EMMANUEL M. ABAYA, RTC, Br. 51, Puerto Princess City and ANNA BELLE
CARDENAS, respondents.
A.M. No. R-698-P August 23, 1989
JUDGE EMMANUEL M. ABAYA, complainant,
vs.
LIGAYA GONZALES-AUSTRIA, Branch Clerk of Court, RTC, Br. 52, Puerto Princess City,
respondent.
A.M. No. 2909 August 23, 1989
JUDGE EMMANUEL M. ABAYA, complainant,
vs.
LIGAYA GONZALES-AUSTRIA, Branch Clerk of Court, RTC, Br. 52, Puerto Princess City,
respondent.

FERNAN, C.J.:
In a complaint under oath dated July 21, 1986, docketed as Adm. Matter No. R-705-RTJ, Atty.
Ligaya Gonzales-Austria, then Branch Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 52, Puerto Princess City 1 Mrs. Leonila Fuertes and Mr. Edgardo Servando charged
Judge Emmanuel M. Abaya, then Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 51, Puerto Princess City 2
with:
1. Estafa through falsification of public or official documents, by verifying official
hours rendered by one employee in the person of Miss Anabelle Cardenas who
never reported for duty from August 1983 to May 1984 by encashing and
receiving salaries of said Miss Cardenas through forgery of payee's signature in
the treasury warrants, thus deceiving the government and defrauding the
Government treasury of a big amount of money;
2. Gross dishonesty and corruption by soliciting, demanding, receiving bribed
(sic) money in exchange for favorable resolutions and decisions from different
litigants in Branch 52, where said Judge was temporarily assigned from
November 1984 to April 1986 and of which one of the undersigned complainant
(sic), LIGAYA GONZALES-AUSTRIA is the Branch Clerk of Court;
3. Illegal exaction of portion of the salaries of his subordinate Edgardo Servando
as part and condition of his continued employment in Branch 51, where Judge
Abaya is the presiding judge.,
Judge Abaya denied all these charges in his comment dated August 29, 1986, filed in
compliance with the Court Resolution of August 12, 1986. He asserted that these charges
were concocted in retaliation against the administrative complaint docketed as Adm. Matter
No. 698-P he earlier filed on July 18,1986 against one of his accusers, Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-
Austria for dishonesty and grave misconduct in having forged his signature in a probation
order in Criminal Case No. 4995 of the RTC, Branch 52, Puerto Princess, entitled "People of
the Philippines vs. Leonardo Cruz," for attempted murder. Adm. Matter No. 698-P was
followed by a petition dated August 5,1986 docketed as Adm. Case No. 2909 for the
disbarment of Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-Austria based on the same alleged offense.
After Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-Austria had filed her comment on the charges against her, the
Court resolved to consolidate these related cases.
On October 28, 1986, the Court granted the motion of the complainants in Adm. Matter No. R-
705-RTJ to amend their complaint by including Annabelle Cardenas as defendant in the
charge of Estafa thru Falsification of Public Documents. It was averred therein that the initial
exclusion was due to oversight and that it was never intended to exclude her as a co-
principal.
By resolution of December 11, 1986, the cases were referred to Court of Appeals Justice
Oscar M. Herrera for investigation, report and recommendation. Based on the evidence
presented by the parties, Justice Herrera finds the respondents guilty of the charges against
them and thereby recommends:
1. The FORFEITURE of retirement benefits of Judge Abaya except earned leave
credits;
2. The REMOVAL of Annabelle Cardenas from office as Court Stenographer;
3. A one-year SUSPENSION from office as Attorney of Atty. Ligaya G. Austria in
AC-2909.4
We now consider these well-thought out recommendations.
I. ADMINISTRATIVE MATTER NO. R-705-RTJ:
a. Estafa thru Falsification of Public or Official Documents by Judge Abaya and Annabelle
Cardenas.— The gravamen of this charge is that Annabelle Cardenas who was appointed as
Stenographic Reporter of Branch 51, RTC, Palawan in August 1983 upon the
recommendation of Judge Abaya as Presiding Judge therein, was a ghost employee from
August 1983 to May 1984 as she never reported for work during said period, being then
employed at Princess Tours Rafols Hotel as a tourist guide. Notwithstanding, with her
knowledge and consent, Judge Abaya verified as true and correct her daily time records as
stenographic reporter purportedly showing that she rendered service and incurred no
absences or tardiness from August 9 to September 30, 1983 and rendered service for the
period from October 1, 1983 to May 31, 1984 and was granted leave of absence from March
14 to 30, 1984 and from April 23 to 27, 1984. Thus, she was paid her salaries corresponding
to the periods allegedly worked. Some of the Treasury Warrants covering her salaries were,
according to complainants, encashed by Judge Abaya by forging Annabelle Cardenas'
signature.
Both Judge Abaya and Annabelle Cardenas vehemently denied the charges, countering that
the latter worked as stenographic reporter from August 1983 to May 31, 1984.
We find the charges against Judge Abaya and Annabelle Cardenas to be supported by
substantial evidence. Especially damaging to the pretensions of the respondents that
Annabelle Cardenas rendered service as stenographic reporter during the period under
consideration are the school records of the Holy Trinity College, showing that Annabelle
Cardenas was attending school in the first semester of school year 1983-1984 from 2:00 P.M.
to 8:15 P.M.5 While she claimed to have been permitted by her teacher to attend her typing
and stenography classes after office hours, the school records reveal that she has other
subjects such as Business Organization and Management (3 units), Ten Commandments (3
units), Sining ng Pakikipagtalastas (3 units) and Accounting for Single Proprietorship (3 units),
her attendance in which can be safely concluded from the passing grades she received in
said subjects. Equally damaging to respondents' assertion are the Daily Time Records of
Princess Tours 6 showing that Annabelle Cardenas acted as tourist guide on 43 working days
when she was supposedly rendering service as stenographic reporter. Her explanation that
her name was placed on the daily time record as team leader, although she did not actually
conduct the tours reflected therein is too shallow to merit belief.
It is indeed quite intriguing that during the ten-month period under consideration, the court
calendar for Branch 51 never once carried Annabelle Cardenas' name to signify her
attendance at a court session. Moreover, she could not produce any single order, transcript or
official stenographic notes that had been taken by her in any case, civil or criminal. All she
presented were so-called practice notes.
Judge Abaya stated in his comment that it was Annabelle Cardenas who was collecting her
salary "without intervention from your respondent.7 It was however proved that Judge Abaya
collected Annabelle Cardenas' salaries on several occasions, as in fact, said Annabelle
Cardenas even executed a special power of attorney in his favor authorizing him not only to
collect the treasury warrants but to endorse and negotiate them as well. 8 Be that as it may,
we find the evidence insufficient on the one hand to overthrow the explanation of respondents
that Judge Abaya collected Annabelle Cardenas' salaries in Manila so that he could bring the
same to Candon, Ilocos Sur for delivery to her mother, who is a good friend of the Judge; and
on the other hand to support complainants' theory that Judge Abaya appropriated the money
for himself.
b. Charges of Gross Dishonesty and Corruption by Soliciting, Demanding and Receiving
Bribe Money against Judge Abaya. — The act complained of was allegedly committed by
Judge Abaya while temporarily assigned to Branch 52, RTC Palawan vice Judge Jose G.
Genilo Jr., who was temporarily assigned to Batangas City. It must be recalled that
complainant Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-Austria was then Branch Clerk of Court of Branch 52.
It was alleged that Judge Abaya denied the application for bail of the accused in Criminal
Case No. 5304 entitled "People vs. Henry Arias and Fernando Oniot for murder, in
consideration of the sum of P 2,000.00 given by Mrs. Leonila Fuertes, complainant and
mother of the victim in the aforesaid case.
Mrs. Leonila Fuertes, a school teacher, testified that she went to Branch 52 at about 5:00 P.M.
on August 13, 1985 in response to a telephone call from court stenographer Nelly Vicente that
Judge Abaya wanted to see her personally. Nelly Vicente referred her to Carmencita P.
Baloco, the officer-in-charge who then called Judge Abaya from the other branch. Judge
Abaya directed her to the adjoining courtroom where he told her, "Ang kaso ninyo ay medyo
tagilid, 50-50 dahil walang eyewitness." (Your case is shaky with only a 50-50 chance of
winning because there is no eyewitness.) She retorted that there was an eyewitness but the
Judge insisted that there was none because the supposed eyewitness had his back turned
when her son was stabbed. Nonetheless, the Judge assured her that he would be able to do
something about it ("Ngunit lahat ay magagawan ko ng paraan dahil ako ang nakakaalam sa
mga decision dito").lâwphî1.ñèt When Mrs. Fuertes asked the Judge what he wanted, he told
her that he has a problem. "Kailangan ko ng pera Limang Libo at Ide-deny ko ang bail na mga
acusado" (I need Five Thousand Pesos and I will deny bail to the accused). Mrs. Fuertes
expressed puzzlement on why she had to give money when she was the aggrieved party, but
the Judge cut her off by saying he needed the money badly before he leaves for Manila. Mrs.
Fuertes answered that she would have to consult her brothers-in-law about the matter. The
Judge told her to see him at his house at 7:00 o'clock in the evening.
Mrs. Fuertes consulted her brothers-in-law as well as the then prosecuting fiscal, now Judge
Angel R. Miclat about the matter. Although they were all against the Idea of her acceding to
the Judge's demand, she delivered the amount of Pl,200.00 to Judge Abaya on August
15,1985 in his chambers, telling him that was all she could afford. Judge Abaya looked
dissatisfied but said "Never mind" and that he would just contact her at the next trial for the
final judgment. 9
Roselyn Teologo, stenographic reporter of Branch 52 corroborated that portion of Mrs.
Fuertes' testimony relating to the phone call of Nelly Vicente to Mrs. Fuertes, the latter's
arrival on August 13, 1985 at Branch 52 and Mrs. Fuertes having been closeted with Judge
Abaya inside the courtroom for about 20 minutes. She further testified that Carmen Baloco
who eavesdropped on the Judge and Mrs. Fuertes' conversation remarked, "Grabe ito,
nanghihingi ng pera." (This is terrible, he is asking money.) She added that when Judge
Abaya emerged from the courtroom, he instructed her not to tell anybody that Mrs. Fuertes
had been there.10
Additional corroborative evidence was given by Judge Angel R. Miclat, then acting City Fiscal
for Puerto Princess City handling Criminal Case No. 5304. He testified that Mrs. Fuertes
came to him in August of 1986 to inform him that Judge Abaya was asking P5,000.00 from
her so that the bail application of the accused would be denied. While he advised her to file a
complaint against Judge Abaya, he was informed later on that Mrs. Fuertes gave Judge
Abaya not the amount being asked, but only about P1,200.00.11
Likewise submitted in evidence by the complainants were the entries in Mrs. Fuertes' diary,
thus:
August 13, 1985 called by Judge Abaya to see him after office hours. He asked
me for my case was 50-50.12
August 15, I went to town to see Baby Francisco, gave P2,000 and I brought the
money to Judge. 13
July 2, 1986 Judge Abaya with companion Rufo Gonzales and Celia Fernandez.
Purpose they convinced me to sign my name in the affidavit stating that I will
deny the previous affidavit I made stated that Judge asked from me certain
amount and his request was granted. But I did not sign and asked me to see him
in town at the residence of Menchie his niece personally nakiusap kay Baby
upang mai-deny ang affidavit ko through Atty. Austria ay nakiusap pa rin. He is
talking care Nanette na idinay ko. 13-A
Judge Abaya denied the solicitation as well as the receipt of money from Mrs. Fuertes. He
alleged that the bail application of the accused in Criminal Case No. 5304 was denied, not
because of any outside interference, but because the evidence of guilt was strong. He
surmised that Mrs. Fuertes and Nelly Vicente had been pressured by Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-
Austria into testifying against him out of sheer vindictiveness and that Mrs. Fuertes might
have been blaming him for the delay in the resolution of the criminal case against her son's
alleged killers.
We quote with approval Justice Herrera's perceptive reasons for giving full faith and credence
to Mrs. Fuertes' testimony:
We find no improper motive as to why Mrs. Fuertes, a school teacher, would
impute such a serious offense against a judge unless it be the truth. Mrs.
Fuertes is not a disgruntled litigant. Judge Abaya having denied the petition for
bail of the suspected killer of Mrs, Fuertes' son, she should, under normal
circumstances be grateful to the Judge. Yet she charged him with a serious
offense, and travelled all the way from Palawan to Manila to testify against the
Judge. Under the circumstances, We cannot accept Judge Abaya's contention
that Mrs. Fuertes perjured herself just to accommodate the vengeanceful ire of
Atty. Austria against Judge Abaya. That would be contrary to the ordinary
prompting of men.
Upon the other hand, the testimony of Mrs. Fuertes is too rich in details brought
out on cross-examination which cannot simply be swept aside as mere
fabrications. They find support in collateral but highly significant circumstances
pointed to by Mrs. Teologo, such as (1) the visible presence of Mrs. Fuertes in
the courtroom in conference with Judge Abaya at 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon of
August 15, (should be 13) 1985; and (2) the highly credible testimony of Judge
Miclat on the report made to him by Mrs. Fuertes, as then acting City Fiscal, on
the solicitation of Judge Abaya. It certainly cannot be said that Mrs. Fuertes
merely concocted her story at the time regarding the solicitation of Judge Abaya
in connection with the pending case of the suspected killers of her son. There
was absolutely no motive for her to do So.14
c. Charge of illegal Exaction against Judge Abaya. — It is alleged that Judge Abaya exacted
portions of the salaries of two (2) employees in Branch 51 of the Palawan RTC as a condition
for their continued employment. Edgardo Servando, one of the complainants herein, and who
was appointed stenographer on September 3, 1984 upon the recommendation of Judge
Abaya, declared that such recommendation was made in consideration of his agreement to
give Judge Abaya Pl,000.00 from his initial salary and thereafter a monthly amount of
P400.00, which undertaking he complied with. However, in December when the Judge before
leaving for Manila for the Christmas vacation asked him for Pl,000.00 from as fringe benefits,
medical allowance and year-end bonus, he was unable to comply as he did not then have
cash, the payment of said benefits having been in checks. A week later, he received a notice
of termination effective at the close of business hours on December 31, 1984 from the
Supreme Court upon the recommendation of Judge Abaya.15
Nilo Jamora, a former stenographer of Branch 51 testified that since his employment in said
Branch, Judge Abaya had been exacting from him P350.00 every payday, which exaction
ceased only in March 1986 when Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-Austria filed her charges against
Judge Abaya. He further stated that when he refused to retract his charges against Judge
Abaya before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan despite the Judge's offer of money, the latter
demoted him to process server.16
Judge Abaya likewise denied this charge, labelling the same as sheer vindictiveness due to
Servando's termination and Jamora's demotion, fanned by Atty. Austria's proddings. He insists
that the personnel action taken on Servando and Jamora was due to their inefficiency.
While the investigating officer, Justice Herrera observed that both Servando and Jamora
"testified in a natural and straightforward, albeit in an angry manner without attempting to
conceal their contempt for Judge Abaya,17 he concluded that "the evidence in this regard
would be unable to withstand judicial scrutiny for want of ample corroboration. It would simply
be the word of one against a judge. 18
We are in accord with this observation, for indeed, the charge if true is so demeaning to an
RTC judge that it requires more than a bare allegation to sustain it. In this regard, we give
respondent Judge the benefit of the doubt.
In summation, we find Judge Emmanuel M. Abaya guilty of grave and serious misconduct
affecting Ms integrity and moral character which would have warranted his dismissal from the
service had his resignation not been accepted.
The office of a judge exists for one solemn end — to promote justice by administering it fairly
and impartially. In regarding justice as a commodity to be sold at a price, Judge Abaya
betrayed the very essence of magistracy. In complicity with Annabelle Cardenas, he likewise
abused the trust and confidence of the people, shortchanging them of services undoubtedly
vital to the speedy administration of justice.
The judge is the visible representation of the law and of justice. From him, the people draw
their will and awareness to obey the law. 19 For him then to transgress the highest ideals of
justice and public service for personal gain is indeed a demoralizing example constituting a
valid cause for disenchantment and loss of confidence in the judiciary as well as in the civil
service system.
By these acts, Judge Abaya has demonstrated his unfitness and unworthiness of the honor
and requisites attached to his office. As he had previously resigned, we hereby order the
forfeiture of his retirement benefits, except earned leave credits, as recommended by the
investigating officer Justice Herrera.
We further mete out to Annabelle Cardenas in consequence of her grave misconduct as
above-described the penalty of removal from office as Court Stenographer with prejudice to
her re-appointment to the Judiciary.
II. A.M. No. R-698-P and Adm. Case No. 2909
The complaints for dishonesty and grave misconduct in A.M. No. R-698-P and for disbarment
in Adm. Case No. 2909 against Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-Austria, then Clerk of Court of Branch
52, RTC Palawan, stem from her act of having allegedly forged the signature of Judge Abaya
in a probation order dated April 22, 1986 in Criminal Case No. 4999 of said court entitled
"People of the Philippines vs. Leonardo Cruz" for attempted homicide.
Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-Austria admits to having signed the probation order and of having
promulgated it, but explains that these were done with the knowledge and consent of Judge
Abaya, who had asked her to prepare orders and decisions in Branch 52 to ease his load of
presiding over two (2) branches. She adverts to Judge Abaya's order of November 4, 1985
which granted accused Leonardo Cruz' motion for reconsideration of the order denying
probation. This order, which carried certain conditions, set the promulgation of the probation
order on January 16, 1986 at 8:00 o'clock in the morning. In the meantime, Judge Abaya
requested Atty. Austria to prepare the probation order with the day and month in blank for the
signature of the Judge.
On January 16,1986, Judge Abaya was absent so the promulgation was reset to April 16,
1986. On the latter date, the provincial warden failed to bring the accused to court, hence the
promulgation of the probation order was again reset to June 3, 1986, with Judge Abaya
allegedly giving instructions before he left for Manila to promulgate said order even in his
absence should the probationer Leonardo Cruz arrive in court.
On April 21, 1986, Leonardo Cruz came and begged that the probation order be promulgated
the following day, April 22, 1986 as he had to leave for Coron in the same pumpboat that
brought him to Puerto Princess and he had no money to sustain him up to the time the Judge
arrives from Manila. As requested, the promulgation was set on April 22, 1986, only for Atty.
Austria to discover that Judge Abaya had neglected to sign the probation order. In view of the
predicament of Leonardo Cruz and the authority granted to her by Judge Abaya, Atty. Austria
signed Judge Abaya's name to the probation order and promulgated it.
Atty. Austria justifies her action under the theory of agency (Art. 1881 of the Civil Code) 20 in
that having been granted full authority to promulgate the probation order, she necessarily had
the authority to sign the Judge's name if the need arose. She further maintains that as Judge
Abaya never complained about the alleged forgery, he is deemed to have ratified it and is now
estopped from questioning her authority. Lastly, she compares the probation order to a writ of
execution which is usually done by the Clerk of Court.21
Respondent's arguments are quite novel but unpersuasive. As thoroughly explained by
Justice Herrera:
.....her explanation that she is the one preparing decisions and orders in Branch
52 with the knowledge and consent of Judge Abaya during the time that the
latter was acting as Presiding Judge of said branch and that she was directed to
promulgate the probation order in favor of Leonardo Cruz only to discover that
the judge overlooked to sign the order, even if true, is not a valid justification for
her to simulate the signature of Judge Abaya in the probation order. This is
patently illegal. As a lawyer and branch clerk of court, she ought to know that
under no circumstances is her act of signing the name of the judge permissible.
She could have probably released the order with the statement that it is upon
orders of the judge or by authority of the judge but she could not under any
circumstance make it appear as she did in this case that the Judge signed the
order when in fact he did not. The duties of the clerk of court in the absence of
any express direction of the Judge is well defined under Section 5, Rule 136 of
the Rules of Court which reads:
Sec. 5. Duties of the Clerk in the absence or by direction of the judge. — In the
absence of the judge, the clerk may perform all the duties of the judge in
receiving applications, petitions, inventories, reports, and the issuance of all
orders and notices that follow as a matter of course under these rules, and may
also, when directed so to do by the judge, receive the accounts of executors,
administrators, guardians, trustees, and receivers, and all evidence relating to
them, or to the settlement of the estates of deceased persons, or to
guardianship, trusteeships, or receiverships, and forthwith transmit such reports,
accounts, and evidence to the judge, together with his findings in relation to the
same, if the judge shall direct him to make findings and include the same in his
report.
Signing orders in the name of, and simulating the signature of the judge is not
one of them.
Atty. Austria's theory of agency that she lawfully acted as agent of the Judge is
wholly devoid of merit. The judicial power vested in a judge and its exercise is
strictly personal to the Judge because of, and by reason of his highest
qualification, and can never be the subject of agency. That would not only be
contrary to law, but also subversive of public order and public policy. Nor could
her void act in signing the name of the judge be validly ratified by the latter.
Judge Abaya himself is bereft of any power to authorize the clerk of court to sign
his name in his official capacity in a matter pending adjudication before him. The
issuance of the order in question is strictly judicial and is exclusively vested in
the judge which is beyond his authority to delegate. 22
Generally speaking, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be disciplined as a
member of the bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official. 23
However, if that misconduct as a government official is of such a character as to affect his
qualification as a lawyer or to show moral delinquency, then he may be disciplined as a
member of the bar on such ground. 24
We find Atty. Austria's misconduct as Branch Clerk of Court to affect her qualification as a
member of tile Bar, for precisely as a lawyer, she ought to have known the illegality of the act
complained of.
WHEREFORE, finding the respondents Judge Emmanuel M. Abaya, Annabelle Cardenas and
Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-Austria guilty as charged, except that of illegal exaction against Judge
Abaya, the Court hereby orders:
1. In Adm. Matter No. R-705-RTJ, the FORFEITURE of the retirement benefits of Judge
Emmanuel M. Abaya, except his earned leave credits; and the DISMISSAL from office of
Annabelle Cardenas as Stenographic Reporter with prejudice to her reappointment to the
Judiciary; and,
2. In Adm. Matter No. R-698-P and Adm. Case No. 2909, the resignation of Atty. Ligaya
Gonzales-Austria as Branch Clerk of Court IS ACCEPTED as of December 31, 1987 and any
and all benefits accruing during her government service are declared forfeited, except her
earned leave credits. Her SUSPENSION as a member of the Bar for a period of one year
from the finality of this decision is further decreed.
Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Ombudsman for the filing of appropriate criminal
charges against respondents if warranted.
Copies of this resolution shall be attached to the respondents' respective personal records.
Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin,
Sarmiento, Cortes, Griñ;o-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

[A.C. No. 5438. ]


DAN JOEL V. LIM* and RICHARD C. TAN, complainants, vs. ATTY. EDILBERTO BARCELONA,
respondent.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
On , Dan Joel V. Lim and Richard C. Tan,[1] both businessmen, filed a complaint for alleged robbery
or extortion and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Atty. Edilberto
Barcelona, a lawyer formerly employed with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The
complaint was simultaneously filed with this Court and the Integrated Bar of the .[2]
Complainant Lim alleged that on the first week of August 2000, respondent phoned him and introduced
himself as a lawyer and chief of the , NLRC. Respondent informed him that his employees filed a labor
complaint against him in his office and it was necessary for him to see and talk with respondent. From
then on respondent would often call him. Respondent visited him in his office and told him to settle the
case or else his business, Top Gun Billiards, would be shut down. Lim recalled that on , at around ,
respondent again visited his establishment and told him to settle the case for P20,000.00.
In support of his allegations, Lim submitted a written complaint of Arnel E. Ditan and Pilipino Ubante;
an endorsement letter dated August 2, 2000 of Atty. Jonathan F. Baligod of the Presidential Action
Center; handwritten calling cards of the respondent; and an affidavit of desistance executed by Ditan
and Ubante.
In their joint affidavit, Ditan and Ubante confirmed the filing of their complaint against their employer,
Lim, and that after some dialogue, the aforenamed employees executed an affidavit dated withdrawing
their complaint. According to Ditan and Ubante, they met the respondent in Top Gun Billiards where
the latter often played billiards. One day, respondent gave them a letter and asked them to sign it. Since
they were busy at that time, they signed it without reading and understanding its contents. Their
employer, Lim, asked what it was about and they told him that they were just made to sign a document
without their understanding it. They added, they did not have any complaint against their employer.
Despite such withdrawal, respondent still called Lim threatening the latter that he would pursue the
case, have his establishment closed and he would be jailed if he did not come up with P20,000.00 as
settlement. In the evening of , respondent reiterated his demand for P20,000.00, again with the threat of
closure of the billiard center and putting Lim in jail.
Complainant Lim said that after his meeting with respondent, he agreed to give the amount but did not
fix any date when payment would be made, whereupon, respondent gave notice that he would drop in
at around 7:00 in the evening, on August 16, 2000, to pick up the money.
Aurora Cruz y Libunao, owner of the carinderia adjacent to Top Gun Billiards, stated in her sworn
statement as well as court testimony that she met respondent when he ate in her carinderia. She recalled
that the respondent told her that he would shut down the billiard business if the owner would not talk to
him. She also recounted that on , at around , she saw on the second floor of the pool house, the
respondent and Lim talking. After a while, the respondent came down and passed by her carinderia.
The respondent then informed her that he and Lim talked about the P20,000.00 which respondent
would give to his alleged boss in Malacaang. During the hearing, she also recalled seeing Lim hand
money to respondent who in turn put the cash in his attach case and immediately thereafter, she saw
three men arrest respondent.[3]
Notably, almost nine months before the filing of his complaint, or on , complainant Lim personally
submitted a letter to the NBI requesting the NBI to investigate respondent Atty. Edilberto Barcelona.[4]
According to the NBI report, after due investigation, it decided to conduct an entrapment operation. On
, Special Investigator Marvin de Jemil, sent nine five hundred peso bills and five one hundred peso bills
for fluorescent powder dusting to the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division. Further, the NBI reported that
thru the NBI Identification and Records Division, it found no record of such person named Edilberto
Barcelona.
The NBI report also stated that on , Lim informed the NBI operatives that at around respondent would
drop by his pool house to collect the money. At around , the operatives went to the pool house and
strategically positioned themselves and posed as pool players. At about , respondent arrived, sat on a
plastic chair and talked to complainant Lim. At around , Lim handed the marked money to the
respondent who, in turn, received it. While respondent was counting the money and about to place it
inside his bag, he was immediately arrested. The respondent initially resisted and tried to create scandal
but was later pacified.
The NBI averred that the respondent was informed of his constitutional rights and was brought to the
NBI office where he was booked and fingerprinted. In his fingerprint chart, the respondent indicated
that he was a government lawyer and assigned at the office of the Chief, , NLRC, Banawe, . He showed
his identification card. Later he was brought to the Forensic Chemistry Division for ultraviolet
examination. The certification issued by Forensic Chemist Loren G. Janobas stated that there were
yellow fluorescent specks and smudges on the back and palm of the left and right hand of the
respondent. On , the NBI turned over respondent to the City Prosecutor of Manila who eventually
indicted him for robbery/extortion.[5]
Complainant Richard Tan, owner of Tai Hing Glass Supply, a co-signee in the herein complaint,
executed a sworn statement dated . In it he alleged that he went to the Criminal Intelligence Division,
Intelligence Service of the NBI to complain about respondent . He said that sometime during the last
week of July, respondent called him, introduced himself and informed him that one of his employees
filed an illegal dismissal case against him. He remembered that before respondents call, he had
suspended an employee, Bryan Tellen, for leaving his workplace without permission. Tellen received
several warning letters from him regarding his misdemeanors. Tan remembered that Tellen once hinted
that he knew someone in the Department of Labor, who turned out to be herein respondent, Atty.
Barcelona. Before Tan sent his accountant, Ditas Guitierrez, to respondents office to represent him, he
told her to bring a copy of Tellens suspension letter and to inform respondent that Tellen had not been
dismissed. When Guitierrez returned, she told him that respondent wanted him to pay his employee.
She added that respondent did not give her any copy of a formal complaint on the alleged illegal
dismissal. After two days, according to Tan, respondent went to his office, showed him an identification
card and gave him a handwritten calling card. Respondent told him to pay his employee P20,000.00 to
P30,000.00, otherwise respondent would go on with the filing of the illegal dismissal case. When he
said he did not have that kind of money, respondent lowered the amount to P15,000.00. Complainant
Tan added that when he gave respondent the money, the latter promised to take care of the illegal
dismissal complaint. On , according to Tan, respondent came to see him again. Respondent appeared
drunk and told Tan to go to the respondents office because a problem regarding the case arose. Tan
stated that before respondent left, respondent invited his employees to a game of billiards. Tan said he
did not consent to the employees playing because they had work. On , respondent went to him a third
time and asked for an additional P10,000.00 allegedly for his employee, Tellen, since the P15,000.00
Tan gave earlier was for respondent only. After a few more visits by respondent, Tan finally told the
respondent to show him the formal complaint and he would just get himself a lawyer.[6]
The Joint Affidavit of Arrest, signed on by Agent Don R. Hernandez, SI Felix O. Senora and SI Marvin
de Jemil, cited complainant Tans allegations.[7]
Respondent Atty. Barcelona filed his Comment[8] on , praying for the dismissal of the complaint
against him. Respondent, in his defense, alleges that he normally played billiards at the Top Gun
Billiard Center where he would drop by from his office before going to his residence; that when certain
employees of the billiard center learned that he was a lawyer and Chief of the Public Assistance Center
of the NLRC, they confided in him their grievance against their employer, Lim, for alleged violation of
labor laws, there respondent gave them assistance; that with the proper complaint and required
documentation accomplished, respondents office scheduled the case for a dialogue-conference between
the complaining workers and their employer; that on instigation and coercion of complainant Lim,
respondent became a victim of theft, billiard hustling, swindling and syndicated gambling on August 9,
2000; that on or about August 9, 2000, respondent filed a complaint for theft of cellphone and pack of
cigarettes, billiard hustling, syndicated gambling, and swindling against Lim and his three workers,
eventually docketed as I.S. No. 38251 to 53.[9]
Respondents Comment narrated his version on how the money allegedly was given to him. According
to the respondent, on August 16, 2000, at about 3 p.m., he received a phone call from complainant Lim
informing him that Ian Gonvan,[10] one of the accused in I.S. No. 38251, admitted taking his cellphone
and was willing and ready to return it at around 7 p.m., at the Top Gun Billiard Center. It was the
birthday of his daughter that was why he took the day off from office. At about , he arrived at the
billiard hall and there found Lim with one of his complaining workers, fixing the lamp of one of the
billiard tables. He did not see Gonvan within the premises so he sat and watched the billiard games
going on while he waited. After about 15 minutes Lim sat beside him and told him that Gonvan could
no longer return the cellphone and instead Gonvan entrusted Lim with the equivalent value in cash.
According to respondent, Lim persistently whispered to him to accept and count the wad of paper
money Lim pulled out. According to respondent, he consistently refused to touch the money and he
insisted, Gusto ko munang makaharap ang sinasabi mong si Gumban,[11] continuously refusing to
accept, much less count, the offered wad of money. Respondent added that when Lim realized that he
could not be prevailed upon to accept it, he placed and inserted the wad of money in the open side
pocket of respondents shoulder bag that respondent normally carried, again pleading to respondent that
he should count the money. Respondent added that Lims behavior was rude and intimidating so much
so that respondent protested such rudeness. But respondent said while he was trying to retrieve the wad
of money to throw it back to Lim, about five or seven burly men accosted respondent and handcuffed
him over his vehement protestations.[12]
On Tans complaint, respondent declared that he never demanded nor received money from Tan, and
Tans accusations are but a product of the formers fertile imagination as leverage because he actively
assisted a complaining worker of Tan.[13] Respondent added that a formal labor complaint has been
filed against Tan.[14]
Eventually, we referred the complaint against Atty. Barcelona to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. Its report with recommendation is now before us.
We shall now proceed to the merits of the complaint.
Respondents version seeks to discredit the NBI report to the effect that respondent accepted the marked
money which Lim handed to him. His version, however, fails to explain why he was found positive for
yellow fluorescent specks and smudges in his dorsal and palmar aspects of the left and right hands by
the Forensic Department of the NBI.
Respondent claims that he continuously refused to accept, much less count, the offered wad of money.
Because of such refusal, according to respondent, Lim inserted the wad of money in respondents
shoulder bags open pocket while complainant Lim was still pleading to count the wad of money.
Respondent alleges that the alleged bribery or extortion is a mere concoction of complainant and as
leverage for the cases against Lim and Tan.
Based on the NBI report, this case appears to be an entrapment operation. Notably, Atty. Don
Hernandez and his team of arresting officers confirm the entrapment operation against respondent on
the basis of complainant Lims call for NBI assistance.
While respondent alleges that complainant Lim merely concocted a charge of extortion against him in
retaliation to a complaint for theft which he had filed, it may be noted that the complaint for theft was
not directed against Lim but only against his workers who were accused by respondent. Hence, there
appears to be no strong reason for Lim to resort to a counter-charge for extortion against respondent.
The Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP concluded that it is highly improbable that the NBI
could be misled by complainant Lim into conducting an entrapment operation against respondent, if
there was no merit to his complaint against respondent. From a reading of the NBI Report as well as the
documents attached to said report, it is evident that the NBI considered the merits of Lims complaint of
extortion against respondent. Finding it worth pursuing, the NBI conducted an entrapment operation
against respondent. On the basis of the entrapment operation conducted by the NBI, respondent was
caught in the act, so to speak, of attempted extortion. Respondent was brought to the City Prosecutor of
Manila for inquest and the appropriate complaint for Robbery/Extortion was filed against respondent.
[15]
Based on its own evaluation and the NBI Report, the Investigating Commissioner of the Commission
on Bar Discipline recommended the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for a period of
two years.[16]
In the final resolution dated September 27, 2003, the Board of Governors of the IBP imposed the
penalty of disbarment for the reason that respondent in fact attempted to extort money as Chief of the
Public Assistance Center of the NLRC to threaten/coerce Lim and that no less than the NBI caught him
in the act of receiving and counting the money extorted from Lim.[17]
The grounds for disbarment or suspension of an attorney are: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice or other gross
misconduct in office; (3) grossly immoral conduct; (4) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude;
(5) violation of the lawyers oath; (6) willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and
(7) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without authority.[18]
The NBI found that respondents hands had yellow fluorescent specks and smudges with which the
money used for the entrapment of the respondent had been powdered. We find no reason to doubt the
NBI report. Also, we see no basis to overturn the presumption that the NBI had done its duty regularly.
Respondent would make us believe that the specks and smudges of yellow fluorescent were in his
hands because Lim offered him what was allegedly the payment for the stolen cellphone by a certain
Gonvan. Regrettably, there is no corroboration from Gonvan nor anyone else on this matter. Thus,
respondents story appears to us entirely self-serving.
We had held previously that if a lawyers misconduct in the discharge of his official duties as
government official is of such a character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or to show moral
delinquency, he may be disciplined as a member of the Bar on such ground.[19] More significantly,
lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official tasks have more restrictions than
lawyers in private practice. Want of moral integrity is to be more severely condemned in a lawyer who
holds a responsible public office. [20] Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides
that a lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence
in the legal system. Extortion by a government lawyer, an outright violation of the law, calls for the
corresponding grave sanctions. With the aforesaid rule a high standard of integrity is demanded of a
government lawyer as compared to a private practitioner because the delinquency of a government
lawyer erodes the peoples trust and confidence in the government.
Needless to say, lawyers owe it to the court and to society not to stir up litigations. Employees of the
billiards hall, Ditan and Ubante, swore that respondent public officer encouraged complainant Lims
workers to file a case against the latter. Rule 1.03 of the same Code states that a lawyer shall not, for
any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any mans cause.
Noteworthy, as an Attorney IV and Chief of the of the NLRC, respondent failed to observe prudence by
hanging out and playing in the billiard hall. By so doing, he exposed himself unnecessarily to certain
elements and situations which could compromise his official position and his status as a lawyer.
Time and again, we have declared that the practice of law is a noble profession. It is a special privilege
bestowed only upon those who are competent intellectually, academically and morally. A lawyer must
at all times conduct himself, especially in his dealings with his clients and the public at large, with
honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach. He must faithfully perform his duties to society, to
the bar, to the courts and to his clients. A violation of the high standards of the legal profession subjects
the lawyer to administrative sanctions which includes suspension and disbarment.[21] More
importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment
of the privilege of law practice; otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such
privilege.[22]
Indeed, the primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to punish and
discipline the erring individual lawyers, but also to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting
the courts and the public from the misconduct of lawyers and to remove from the legal profession
persons whose utter disregard of the lawyers oath has proven them unfit to continue discharging the
trust reposed in them as members of the bar.[23] These pronouncements gain practical significance in
this case, considering that respondent is a senior lawyer of the NLRC. It bears stressing also that
government lawyers who are public servants owe fidelity to the public service, a public trust. As such,
government lawyers should be more sensitive to their professional obligations as their disreputable
conduct is more likely to be magnified in the public eye.[24]
As a lawyer, who was also a public officer, respondent miserably failed to cope with the strict demands
and high standards of the legal profession.
In Montano v. IBP,[25] this Court said that only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the
standing and character of the lawyer may disbarment be imposed as a penalty. In the instant case, the
Court is convinced that the evidence against respondent is clear and convincing. He is administratively
liable for corrupt activity, deceit, and gross misconduct. As correctly held by the Board of Governors of
the Integrated Bar of the , he should not only be suspended from the practice of law but disbarred.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Edilberto Barcelona is found administratively guilty of corrupt
activity, deceit, and gross misconduct and is hereby ordered DISBARRED. Let his name be stricken
from the Roll of Attorneys effective immediately, and this resolution spread in his record in this Court
and circulated to all courts in the .
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C. J., Vitug, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, , -, , Carpio-Morales,
Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Puno, J., on leave.
Panganiban, J., on official leave.