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[A.C. No. 5691. March 13, 2009.]


Facts: Complainant alleged that he had engaged the services of respondent as defense counsel in Criminal Case No. 96-150393 that
resulted in a judgment of conviction against him. After the motion for reconsideration and/or new trial was denied by the trial court,
instead of filing an appeal, respondent filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure imputing grave
abuse of discretion on the trial court's part in denying the motion. This petition was subsequently denied by the Court of Appeals. Due
to respondent's alleged error in the choice of remedy, the period to appeal lapsed and complainant was made to suffer imprisonment
resulting from his conviction. In depriving complainant of his right to an appeal, respondent allegedly violated Rule 18.03 of the Code.
Moreover, complainant averred that respondent had violated Rule 16.01 of the Code for failing to return the bailbond to him in the
amount P195,000.00. For his part, respondent clarified that his legal services were engaged only after the denial of the motion for
reconsideration and/or new trial and the supplement thereto. His legal services were limited to filing the petition for certiorari.
Complainant, at the time, had already been convicted by the trial court. Respondent also explained that he had discussed with
complainant the merits of filing a petition for certiorari and that complainant gave his conformity to the filing of the same.

Issue/s: Whether or not Atty. Cesar Tajanlangit should be disbarred for violations of Rule 18.03 and Rule 16.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility

Ruling: Considering that Respondent was only hired after the denial of the Motion for Reconsideration and/or New Trial,
Complainant is silent whether an appeal was still available to him at that time. Complainant failed to state the material dates when his
first lawyer, Atty. Lacsamana received the Decision dated 6 February 1998, when she filed the Motion for Reconsideration and/or
New Trial, and when his second lawyer, Atty. Espiritu, received the Order dated 23 April 1999. At any rate, Respondent exhaustively
explained his legal basis for elevating the Order dated 23 April 1999 to the Court of Appeals by filing a Petition for
Certiorari.Considering that the Order dated 23 April 1999, which denied the Motion for Reconsideration and/or New Trial,
Respondent's argument that the said order is not the proper subject of appeal is tenable. This is supported by Section 1(a), Rule 43 and
Section 9, Rule 37 of the Rules of Court. For another, a perusal of grounds Respondent raised in the Petition is acceptable grounds that
warrant a new trial. At least two of the grounds Respondent raised were: the negligence of former counsel in failing to present
evidence and new discovered evidence. It is well-settled that these grounds usually warrant the re-opening of evidence. Thus, it cannot
be said that Respondent acted negligently in advocating Complainant's cause. CI

In the absence of evidence controverting Respondent's claim that a verbal agreement exists or an amount different from what was
agreed upon, it is believable that indeed, Complainant knew of the fee arrangement entered into with the Respondent, through Ms.
Javier, who acted in his behalf. While Respondent is entitled to be paid for the legal services he rendered and expenses he incurred, it
is still Respondent's obligation to render an accounting of the money received. Records show that respondent did not serve as
complainant's lawyer at the inception of or during the trial of Criminal Case No. 96-150393 which resulted to the conviction of the
latter. In fact, respondent was only engaged as counsel after the withdrawal of appearance of complainant's lawyers and denial of the
Motion for Reconsideration and/or New Trial and the supplement thereto. At that time, complainant had already been incarcerated.
Significantly, complainant made no mention of the availability of the remedy of appeal at the time of respondent's employment. More
importantly, the Court finds adequate respondent's justification for filing the petition for certiorari instead of an appeal. Indeed, there is
no showing that respondent was negligent in handling the legal matter entrusted to him by complainant. WHEREFORE, in view of the
foregoing, respondent Atty. Cesar R. Tajanlangit is ordered to render, within thirty (30) days from notice of this Resolution, an
accounting of all monies he received from complainant and to itemize the nature of the legal services he had rendered, inclusive of the
expenses he had incurred, in compliance with Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent is further


[A.C. No. 5280. March 30, 2004]


Facts: Sometime in April 1999, he engaged the services of respondent lawyer to prepare and file a petition for the issuance of a new
certificate of title. After confiding with respondent the circumstances surrounding the lost title and discussing the fees and costs,
respondent prepared, finalized and submitted to him a petition to be filed before the Regional Trial Court of Tayug, Pangasinan. When
the petition was about to be filed, respondent went to his (complainants) office at Virra Mall, Greenhills and demanded a certain
amount from him other than what they had previously agreed upon. Respondent left his office after reasoning with him. Expecting that
said petition would be filed, he was shocked to find out later that instead of filing the petition for the issuance of a new certificate of
title, respondent filed a letter-complaint dated July 26, 1999 against him with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Tayug,
Pangasinan for Falsification of Public Documents. The letter-complaint contained facts and circumstances pertaining to the transfer
certificate of title that was the subject matter of the petition.

Atty. Fermin Gonzales filed a complaint against William Uy for Estafa thru Falsification of Public Documents. That instead of
registering said Deed of Sale and Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-33122, in the Register of Deeds for the purpose of
transferring the same in his name, William S. Uy executed a Deed of Voluntary Land Transfer of the aforesaid land in favor of his
children, namely, Michael Angelo T. Uy and Cristina Earl T. Uy, wherein William S. Uy made it appear that his said children are of
legal age, and residents of Brgy. Gonzales, Umingan, Pangasinan, when in fact and in truth, they are minors and residents of Metro
Manila, to qualify them as farmers/beneficiaries, thus placing the said property within the coverage of the Land Reform Program;

That the above-named accused, conspiring together and helping one another procured the falsified documents which they used as
supporting papers so that they can secure from the Office of the Register of Deeds of Tayug, Pangasinan, TCT No. T-5165 (Certificate
of Land Ownership Award No. 004 32930) in favor of his above-named children. Some of these Falsified documents are purported
Affidavit of Seller/Transferor and Affidavit of Non-Tenancy, both dated August 20, 1996, without the signature of affiant, Fermin C.
Gonzales, and that on that said date, Fermin C. Gonzales was already dead ;

That on December 17, 1998, William S. Uy with deceit and evident intent to defraud undersigned, still accepted the amount of
P340,000.00, from Atty. Fermin L.
Gonzales, P300,000.00, in PNB Check No. 0000606, and P40,000.00, in cash, as full payment of
the redemption of TCT No. 33122knowing fully well that at that time the said TCT cannot be redeemed anymore because the same
was already transferred in the name of his children;

That William S. Uy has appropriated the amount covered by the aforesaid check, as evidenced by the said check which was encashed
by him; That inspite of repeated demands, both oral and in writing, William S. Uy refused and continue to refuse to deliver to him a
TCT in the name of the undersigned or to return and repay the said P340,000.00, to the damage and prejudice of the undersigned.

With the execution of the letter-complaint, respondent violated his oath as a lawyer and grossly disregarded his duty to preserve the
secrets of his client.Respondent unceremoniously turned against him just because he refused to grant respondents request for
additional compensation.Respondents act tarnished his reputation and social standing.

On April 14, 1999, Atty. Gonzales went to complainants office informing him that the petition is ready for filing and needs funds for
expenses. Complainant who was with a client asked him to wait at the anteroom where he waited for almost two hours until he found
out that complainant had already left without leaving any instructions nor funds for the filing of the petition. Complainants conduct
infuriated him which prompted him to give a handwritten letter telling complainant that he is withdrawing the petition he prepared and
that complainant should get another lawyer to file the petition.

Issue/s: Whether or not Atty. Fermin Gonzales violated the rule of privilege communication between him and William Uy.

Ruling: The facts and evidence presented show that when respondent agreed to handle the filing of the Verified Petition for the loss of
TCT No. T-5165, complainant had confided to respondent the fact of the loss and the circumstances attendant thereto. When
respondent filed the Letter-Complaint to the Office of the Special Prosecutor in Tayug, Pangasinan, he violated Canon 21 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility which expressly provides that A lawyer shall preserve the confidences and secrets of his client even
after the attorney-client relation is terminated. Likewise Rule 21.02, Canon 21 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility provides
that A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his client, use information acquired in the course of employment, nor shall he use the
same to his own advantage or that of a third person, unless the client with the full knowledge of the circumstances consents thereto.
Atty. Fermin L. Gonzales to have violated the Code of Professional Responsibility and it is hereby recommended that he be
SUSPENDED for a period of SIX (6) MONTHS.


[A.C. No. 5128. March 31, 2005]


Facts: Complainant alleges that between 1964 and 1994, respondent is his familys legal counsel having represented him and members
of his family in all legal proceedings in which they are involved. Complainant also claims that his familys relationship with
respondent extends beyond mere lawyer-client relations as they gave respondent moral, spiritual, physical and financial support in his
different endeavors.Based on the allegations in the complaint, the rift between complainant and respondent began when complainants
counterclaim in Civil Case No. 1648 filed with the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City was dismissed. Complainant claims that
respondent, who was his lawyer in the said case, deliberately failed to inform him of the dismissal of his counterclaim despite receipt
of the order of dismissal by the trial court, as a result of which, complainant was deprived of his right to appeal said order.
Complainant asserts that he only came to know of the existence of the trial courts order when the adverse party in the said case
extrajudicially foreclosed the mortgage executed over the parcel of land which is the subject matter of the suit. In order to recover his
ownership over the said parcel of land, complainant was constrained to hire a new lawyer as Atty. Pontevedra refused to institute an
action for the recovery of the subject property. Complainant also claims that in order to further protect his rights and interests over the
said parcel of land, he was forced to initiate a criminal case for qualified theft against the relatives of the alleged new owner of the said
land. Respondent is the counsel of the accused in said case. Complainant claims that as part of his defense in said criminal case,
respondent utilized pieces of confidential information he obtained from complainant while the latter is still his client

Issue/s: Whether or not respondent Atty. Pontevedra is guilty of: 1. representing interests which conflict with those of his former
client; 2. for taking advantage of the information and knowledge that he obtained from complainant; 3. for not notifying complainant
of the dismissal of his counterclaim in Civil Case No. 1648.

Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides: “A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except
by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.”

Corollary to this, Canon 21 of the same Code enjoins a lawyer to preserve the confidences and secrets of his clients even after the
attorney-client relation is terminated. Rule 21.02, Canon 21 specifically requires that:

A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his client, use information acquired in the course of employment, nor shall he use the same
to his own advantage or that of a third person, unless the client with full knowledge of the circumstances consents thereto.

In addition, Canon 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics states:

It is the duty of a lawyer at the time of retainer to disclose to the client all the circumstances of his relations to the parties and any
interest in or connection with the controversy, which might influence the client in the selection of counsel.

It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by express consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the
facts. Within the meaning of this canon, a lawyer represents conflicting interests when, in behalf of one client, it is his duty to contend
for that which duty to another client requires him to oppose.

Jurisprudence instructs that there is a representation of conflicting interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the
attorney to do anything which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will
be called upon in his new relation, to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their connection. Another test to
determine if there is a representation of conflicting interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from
the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the
performance thereof. A lawyer is forbidden from representing a subsequent client against a former client when the subject matter of
the present controversy is related, directly or indirectly, to the subject matter of the previous litigation in which he appeared for the
former client. In the present case, we find no conflict of interests when respondent represented herein complainants nephew and other
members of his family in the ejectment case, docketed as Civil Case No. 528, and in the criminal complaint, denominated as I.S. Case
No. 99-188, filed by herein complainant against them. The only established participation respondent had with respect to the parcel of
land purchased by complainant, is that he was the one who notarized the deed of sale of the said land. On that basis alone, it does not
necessarily follow that respondent obtained any information from herein complainant that can be used to the detriment of the latter in
the ejectment case he filed. Moreover, nothing on record would show that respondent fully apprised complainant and his new clients
and secured or at least tried to secure their consent when he took the defense of the accused in Criminal Case No. 3159. Respondent
contends that he handled the defense of the accused in the subject criminal case for humanitarian reasons and with the honest belief
that there exists no conflict of interests. However, the rule is settled that the prohibition against representation of conflicting interests
applies although the attorneys intentions and motives were honest and he acted in good faith. Moreover, the fact that the conflict of
interests is remote or merely probable does not make the prohibition inoperative.Respondent also asserts that when he accepted
employment in Criminal Case No. 3159, the attorney-client relations between him and complainant in Civil Case No. 1648 had
already been terminated. This defense does not hold water because the termination of the relation of attorney and client provides no
justification for a lawyer to represent an interest adverse to or in conflict with that of the former client WHEREFORE, respondent
Atty. Elias A. Pontevedra is found GUILTY of representing conflicting interests and is hereby FINED in the amount of Ten Thousand
(P10,000.00) Pesos. He is WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.


[A.C. No. 5108. May 26, 2005.]

PUNO, J p:

Facts: Complainant is a Senior Education Program Specialist of the Standards Development Division, Office of Programs and
Standards while respondent is a Deputy Executive Director IV of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).Complainant's
husband filed Civil Case No. 40537 entitled "Ruben G. Mercado v. Rosa C. Francisco," for annulment of their marriage with the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City. This annulment case had been dismissed by the trial court, and the dismissal became final
and executory on July 15, 1992.In August 1992, Atty. Anastacio P. de Leon, counsel of complainant, died. On February 7, 1994,
respondent entered his appearance before the trial court as collaborating counsel for complainant.On March 16, 1994, respondent filed
his Notice of Substitution of Counsel, informing the RTC of Pasig City that he has been appointed as counsel for the complainant, in
substitution of Atty. de Leon. It also appears that on April 13, 1999, respondent filed a criminal action against complainant before the
Ofice of the City Prosecutor, Pasig City, entitled "Atty. Julito Vitriolo, et al. v. Rose Dela Cruz F. Mercado ," and docketed as I.S. No.
PSG 99-9823, for violation of Articles 171 and 172 (falsification of public document) of the Revised Penal Code. Respondent alleged
that complainant made false entries in the Certificates of Live Birth of her children, Angelica and Katelyn Anne. More specifically,
complainant allegedly indicated in said Certificates of Live Birth that she is married to a certain Ferdinand Fernandez, and that their
marriage was solemnized on April 11, 1979, when in truth, she is legally married to Ruben G. Mercado and their marriage took place
on April 11, 1978. Mercado cited other charges against respondent that are pending before or decided upon by other tribunals — (1)
libel suit before the Office of the City Prosecutor, Pasig City; (2) administrative case for dishonesty, grave misconduct, conduct
prejudicial to the best interest of the service, pursuit of private business, vocation or profession without the permission required by
Civil Service rules and regulations, and violations of the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act," before the then Presidential
Commission Against Graft and Corruption; (3) complaint for dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best
interest of the service before the Office of the Ombudsman, where he was found guilty of misconduct and meted out the penalty of one
month suspension without pay; and, (4) the Information for violation of Section 7(b) (2) of Republic Act No. 6713, as amended,
otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees before the Sandiganbayan.

Complainant Mercado alleged that said criminal complaint for falsification of public document (I.S. No. PSG 99-9823) disclosed
confidential facts and information relating to the civil case for annulment, then handled by respondent Vitriolo as her counsel. This
prompted complainant Mercado to bring this action against respondent. She claims that, in filing the criminal case for falsification,
respondent is guilty of breaching their privileged and confidential lawyer-client relationship, and should be disbarred. ITECSH

Respondent filed his Comment/Motion to Dismiss on November 3, 1999 where he alleged that the complaint for disbarment was all
hearsay, misleading and irrelevant because all the allegations leveled against him are subject of separate fact-finding bodies.
Respondent claimed that the pending cases against him are not grounds for disbarment, and that he is presumed to be innocent until
proven otherwise. He also states that the decision of the Ombudsman finding him guilty of misconduct and imposing upon him the
penalty of suspension for one month without pay is on appeal with the Court of Appeals. He adds that he was found guilty, only of
simple misconduct, which he committed in good faith. In addition, respondent maintains that his filing of the criminal complaint for
falsification of public documents against complainant does not violate the rule on privileged communication between attorney and
client because the bases of the falsification case are two certificates of live birth which are public documents and in no way connected
with the confidence taken during the engagement of respondent as counsel

Issue/s: Whether or not the atty- client relationship of the petitioner and respondent was breached because of the respondent’s actions
against petitioner

Ruling: In engaging the services of an attorney, the client reposes on him special powers of trust and confidence. Their relationship is
strictly personal and highly confidential and fiduciary. The relation is of such delicate, exacting and confidential nature that is required
by necessity and public interest. Only by such confidentiality and protection will a person be encouraged to repose his confidence in
an attorney. The hypothesis is that abstinence from seeking legal advice in a good cause is an evil, which is fatal to the administration
of justice. Thus, the preservation and protection of that relation will encourage a client to entrust his legal problems to an attorney,
which is of paramount importance to the administration of justice. One rule adopted to serve this purpose is the attorney-client
privilege: an attorney is to keep inviolate his client's secrets or confidence and not to abuse them. Thus, the duty of a lawyer to
preserve his client's secrets and confidence outlasts the termination of the attorney-client relationship, and continues even after the
client's death. It is the glory of the legal profession that its fidelity to its client can be depended on, and that a man may safely go to a
lawyer and converse with him upon his rights or supposed rights in any litigation with absolute assurance that the lawyer's tongue is
tied from ever disclosing it.

Applying all these rules to the case at bar, we hold that the evidence on record fails to substantiate complainant's allegations. We note
that complainant did not even specify the alleged communication in confidence disclosed by respondent. Indeed, complainant failed to
attend the hearings at the IBP. Without any testimony from the complainant as to the specific confidential information allegedly
divulged by respondent without her consent, it is difficult, if not impossible to determine if there was any violation of the rule on
privileged communication. Such confidential information is a crucial link in establishing a breach of the rule on privileged
communication between attorney and client. Case is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

[A.C. No. 5303, June 15, 2006]


Facts: That respondent is a practicing lawyer and a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
Chapter. That sometime on September 19, 1997, Lumot A. Jalandoni, Chairman/President of PRC was sued before RTC, Branch 52 in
Civil Case No. 97-9865, RE: Cabiles et al. vs. Lumot Jalandoni, et al. The latter engaged the legal services of herein respondent who
formally entered his appearance on October 2, 1997 as counsel for the defendants Lumot A. Jalandoni/Totti Anlap Gargoles.
Respondent as a consequence of said Attorney-Client relationship represented Lumot A. Jalandoni et al in the entire proceedings of
said case. Utmost trust and confidence was reposed on said counsel, hence delicate and confidential matters involving all the personal
circumstances of his client were entrusted to the respondent.

That it was respondent who exclusively handled the entire proceedings of afore-cited Civil Case No. 97-9865 [and] presented Lumot
A. Jalandoni as his witness prior to formally resting his case. However, on April 27, 1999respondent, without due notice prior to a
scheduled hearing, surprisingly filed a Motion to withdraw as counsel, one day before its scheduled hearing on April 28, 1999. A
careful perusal of said Motion to Withdraw as Counsel will conclusively show that no copy thereof was furnished to Lumot A.
Jalandoni, neither does it bear her conformity. No doubt, such notorious act of respondent resulted to (sic) irreparable damage and
injury to Lumot A. Jalandoni, et al since the decision of the court RTC, Branch 52 proved adverse to Lumot A. Jalandoni, et al.

That the grounds alleged by respondent for his withdrawal as counsel of Lumot A. Jalandoni, et al. was that he is [a] retained counsel
of Dennis G. Jalbuena and the Fernando F. Gonzaga, Inc. It was Dennis G. Jalbuena who recommended him to be the counsel of
Lumot A. Jalandoni, et al. It is worthy to note that from the outset, respondent already knew that Dennis G. Jalbuena is the son-in-law
of Lumot A. Jalandoni being married to her eldest daughter, Carmen J. Jalbuena. The other directors/officers of PRC were comprised
of the eldest sibling of the remaining children of Lumot A. Jalandoni made in accordance with her wishes, with the exception of
Carmen J. Jalbuena, the only daughter registered as one of the incorporators of PRC, obviously, being the author of the registration
itself. Respondent further stated that he cannot refuse to represent Dennis G. Jalbuena in the case filed against the latter before the City
Prosecutors Office by PRC/Lumot A. Jalandoni due to an alleged retainership agreement with said Dennis G. Jalbuena. [He] likewise
represented Carmen J. Jalbuena and one Vicente Delfin when PRC filed the criminal complaint against them. On April 06, 1999,
twenty-one (21) days prior to respondents filing of his Motion to Withdraw as Counsel of Lumot A. Jalandoni, et al., respondent
entered his appearance with Bacolod City Prosecutor OIC-Vicente C. Acupan, through a letter expressly stating that effective said date
he was appearing as counsel for both Dennis G. Jalbuena and Carmen J. Jalbuena and Vicente Delfin in the Estafa case filed by the
corporation (PRC) against them. Simply stated, as early as April 6, 1999 respondent already appeared for and in behalf of the Sps.
Carmen and Dennis Jalbuena/Vicente Delfin while concurrently representing Lumot A. Jalandoni, et al. in Civil Case No. 97-9865.
However, despite being fully aware that the interest of his client Lumot A. Jalandoni [holding an equivalent of Eighty-two (82%)
percent of PRCs shares of stocks] and the interest of PRC are one and the same, notwithstanding the fact that Lumot A. Jalandoni was
still his client in Civil Case No. 97-9862, respondent opted to represent opposing clients at the same time. The corporations complaint
for estafa (P3,183,5525.00) was filed against the Sps. Dennis and Carmen J. Jalbuena together with UCPB bank manager Vicente
Delfin. Succeeding events will show that respondent instead of desisting from further violation of his [lawyers] oath regarding fidelity
to his client, with extreme arrogance, blatantly ignored our laws on Legal Ethics, by palpably and despicably defending the Sps.
Dennis and Carmen J. Jalbuena in all the cases filed against them by PRC

Issue/s: Whether or not the respondent Atty should be held liable for violation of Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional

Ruling: There is representation of conflicting interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to do
anything which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will be called
upon in his new relation, to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their connection.

Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full
discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the
performance thereof, and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquire
in the previous employment. The first part of the rule refers to cases in which the opposing parties are present clients either in the
same action or in a totally unrelated case; the second part pertains to those in which the adverse party against whom the attorney
appears is his former client in a matter which is related, directly or indirectly, to the present controversy.

The rule prohibits a lawyer from representing new clients whose interests oppose those of a former client in any manner, whether or
not they are parties in the same action or in totally unrelated cases. The cases here directly or indirectly involved the parties
connection to PRC, even if neither PRC nor Lumot A. Jalandoni was specifically named as party-litigant in some of the cases

[A client] may discharge his attorney at any time with or without cause and thereafter employ another lawyer who may then enter his
appearance. Thus, it has been held that a client is free to change his counsel in a pending case and thereafter retain another lawyer to
represent him. That manner of changing a lawyer does not need the consent of the lawyer to be dismissed. Nor does it require approval
of the court.

The appearance of Atty. Alminaza in fact was not even to substitute for respondent but to act as additional counsel. Mrs. Jalandonis
conformity to having an additional lawyer did not necessarily mean conformity to respondents desire to withdraw as counsel.
Respondents speculations on the professional relationship of Atty. Alminaza and Mrs. Jalandoni find no support in the records of this
case. Respondent should not have presumed that his motion to withdraw as counsel would be granted by the court. Yet, he stopped
appearing as Mrs. Jalandonis counsel beginning April 28, 1999, the first hearing date.

Be that as it may, the records do not support the claim that respondent improperly collected P5,000 from petitioner. Undoubtedly,
respondent provided professional services to Lumot A. Jalandoni. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the documents belonging to
Mrs. Jalandoni were deliberately withheld.

Finally, we express our utter dismay with Lims apparent use of his wifes community tax certificate number in his complaint for
disbarment against respondent. This is not, however, the forum to discuss this lapse.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing,
respondent Atty. Nicanor V. Villarosa is hereby found GUILTY of violating Canon 15 and Canon 22 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year, effective upon receipt of this decision, with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.


[A. C. No. 5811. January 20, 2003]


Facts: Sometime in February 1999, Maritess Garcia, divorced from husband Oscar Fauni, approached respondent for legal advice
concerning child support and her condominium unit in San Juan, Metro Manila, which her erstwhile husband refused to vacate.
Respondent agreed to handle her case at a fee of P70,000. Finding respondent's fees reasonable, complainant entrusted to respondent
all pertinent papers for his study. An advance fee of P10,000 was then asked by respondent from complainant.

In the interim, complainant made several follow-ups with respondent inquiring particularly as to whether the ejectment case had
already been filed. Through a telephone conversation with respondent on 7 April 1999, complainant found out that the ejectment case
had not been filed yet by respondent. Agitated by the information, complainant immediately went to respondent's residence. An
altercation between respondent and complainant took place. After serious exchange of words, respondent returned to complainant all
of her documents. No amount of money was, however, returned by respondent to complainant despite the latters demand for its return.

In his Answer dated 24 September 1999, respondent denied having committed any malicious, dishonest or anomalous acts against
complainant. Respondent asserted that he did not file the ejectment case because he had not yet received the registry return card
evidencing the receipt by Oscar Fauni of the demand letter he sent on 8 March 1999. Respondent averred that he never withdrew his
services as counsel of complainant; rather it was the complainant who explicitly discharged him when she demanded for the return of
the amounts she had paid him.

Issue/s: Whether or not respondent Atty. Is guilty of violating Rule 18.04 and Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

Ruling: Rule 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within reasonable time to the
clients request for information.

The relationship of lawyer-client being one of confidence, there is ever present the need for the client to be adequately and fully
informed of the developments of the case and should not be left in the dark as to the mode and manner in which his interests are being
defended. It is only thus that the trust and faith in the counsel may remain unimpaired.

Respondent also failed to comply with the norms embodied in Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:

Canon 16. A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession.

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

In the instant case, respondent received the amount of P10,000 specifically for filing fees in the ejectment case. Thus, he was under the
obligation to render an accounting of the same. The highly fiduciary and confidential relation of attorney and client requires that the
lawyer should promptly account for all the funds received from, or held by him for, the client.

Moreover, a lawyer who obtains possession of the funds and properties of his client in the course of his professional employment shall
deliver the same to his client (a) when they become due or (b) upon demand. In the instant case, respondent failed to account and
return the P10,000 for the filing fees despite complainants repeated demands.

We find untenable respondents claim that since complainant was already in arrears with his fees, it was proper for him to apply the
filing fees to his attorneys fees. It has been held that an attorneys lien is not an excuse for a lawyers non-rendition of accounting. And
while a lawyer is allowed to apply so much of the clients funds as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, the
lawyer is however under the obligation to promptly thereafter notify his client.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Iluminado M. Manuel is found GUILTY of gross misconduct and is SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of six (6) months, effective immediately, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will be
dealt with more severely. Further, respondent is ordered to render, within thirty (30) days from notice of this Resolution, an
accounting of all monies received by him from complainant.

[AC No. 99-634. June 10, 2002]


Facts: Before us is a Complaint for the disbarment or suspension or any other disciplinary action against Atty. Alberto C. Magulta.
Filed by Dominador P. Burbe with the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on June 14, 1999,
the Complaint is accompanied by a Sworn Statement alleging the following:

“That in connection with my business, I was introduced to Atty. Alberto C. Magulta, sometime in September, 1998, in his office at the
Respicio, Magulta and Adan Law Offices at 21-B Otero Building, Juan de la Cruz St., Davao City, who agreed to legally represent me
in a money claim and possible civil case against certain parties for breach of contract; That consequent to such agreement, Atty.
Alberto C. Magulta prepared for me the demand letter and some other legal papers, for which services I have accordingly paid;
inasmuch, however, that I failed to secure a settlement of the dispute, Atty. Magulta suggested that I file the necessary complaint,
which he subsequently drafted. Sensing I was being given the run-around by Atty. Magulta, I decided to go to the Office of the Clerk
of Court with my draft of Atty. Magultas complaint to personally verify the progress of my case, and there told that there was no
record at all of a case filed by Atty. Alberto C. Magulta on my behalf, copy of the Certification dated May 27, 1999, attached as
Annex C; That feeling disgusted by the way I was lied to and treated, I confronted Atty. Alberto C. Magulta at his office the following
day, May 28, 1999, where he continued to lie to with the excuse that the delay was being caused by the court personnel, and only
when shown the certification did he admit that he has not at all filed the complaint because he had spent the money for the filing fee
for his own purpose; and to appease my feelings, he offered to reimburse me by issuing two (2) checks, postdated June 1 and June 5,
1999, in the amounts of P12,000.00 and P8,000.00, respectively, copies of which are attached as Annexes D and E;

Issue/s: Whether or not respondent Atty. Is guilty of misappropriation of his client’s funds even though he intended to reimburse the
Ruling: lawyer-client relationship was established from the very first moment complainant asked respondent for legal advice
regarding the formers business. To constitute professional employment, it is not essential that the client employed the attorney
professionally on any previous occasion. It is not necessary that any retainer be paid, promised, or charged; neither is it material that
the attorney consulted did not afterward handle the case for which his service had been sought.

If a person, in respect to business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults a lawyer with a view to obtaining professional advice or
assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces with the consultation, then the professional employment is established.

Likewise, a lawyer-client relationship exists notwithstanding the close personal relationship between the lawyer and the complainant
or the nonpayment of the formers fees. Hence, despite the fact that complainant was kumpadre of a law partner of respondent, and that
respondent dispensed legal advice to complainant as a personal favor to the kumpadre, the lawyer was duty-bound to file the
complaint he had agreed to prepare -- and had actually prepared -- at the soonest possible time, in order to protect the clients interest.
Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that lawyers should not neglect legal matters entrusted to them.

In failing to apply to the filing fee the amount given by complainant -- as evidenced by the receipt issued by the law office of
respondent -- the latter also violated the rule that lawyers must be scrupulously careful in handling money entrusted to them in their
professional capacity. Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that lawyers shall hold in trust all moneys of their
clients and properties that may come into their possession. Lawyers who convert the funds entrusted to them are in gross violation of
professional ethics and are guilty of betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession.It may be true that they have a lien upon the
clients funds, documents and other papers that have lawfully come into their possession; that they may retain them until their lawful
fees and disbursements have been paid; and that they may apply such funds to the satisfaction of such fees and disbursements. Atty.
Alberto C. Magulta is found guilty of violating Rules 16.01 and 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is hereby
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year, effective upon his receipt of this Decision.


[A.C. No. 620 March 21, 1974]


Facts: On May 19, 1964, Jose Alcala (now deceased) and his wife, Avelina Imperial, filed this present petition for disbarment against
respondent Honesto de Vera, a practicing attorney of Locsin, Albay, who was retained by them as their counsel in civil case 2478 of
the Court of First Instance of Albay, entitled: "Ray Semenchuk vs. Jose Alcala". Complainants charge Atty. Honesto de Vera with
gross negligence and malpractice: 1) for having maliciously and deliberately omitted to notify them of the decision in civil case 2478
resulting in the deprivation of their right to appeal from the adverse judgment rendered against them; and 2) for respondent's
indifference, disloyalty and lack of interest in petitioners' cause resulting to their damage and prejudice. Civil case 2478 was an action
for annulment of a sale of two parcels of land (lots Nos. 1880 and 1883 covered by TCT Nos. T-12392 and 12393 respectively) filed
by the vendee, Ray Semenchuk, against the vendors, spouses Alcala, on the ground that lot 1880 "could not be located or did not
exist", and for the recovery of damages and attorney's fees.

On April 19, 1963, respondent Atty. de Vera received a copy of the decision but he failed to inform his clients of the judgment against
them. On July 17, 1963, a sheriff came to complainants' house to serve a writ of execution issued in said case. Totally caught by
surprise, Jose Alcala immediately wrote to the trial court and inquired for the status of case 2478. The deputy Clerk of Court, in his
reply dated July 22, 1963, informed Alcala that the case was decided on April 17, 1963, that a copy of the decision was received by
respondent attorney on April 19, 1963, and that since no appeal was taken, a writ of execution was issued by the trial court on motion
of the plaintiff Semenchuk.

Issue/s: Whether or not respondent Atty. is guilty of misconduct for his failure to inform his client of the outcome of the petitioned


1. "Indifference, loyalty, and lack of interest" of respondent in the handling of complainants' defense in civil case 2478. The basis of
this particular charge is the alleged failure of Atty. de Vera to present at the trial of case 2478 certain documents which according to
the complainants could have proven that lot 1880 actually existed, to wit: a sketch of lot 1880 prepared by the vendee, Semenchuk,
himself (Exh. L-Adm. Case); technical description of lot 1880 taken from complainants' certificate of title (Exh. M-Adm. Case);sketch
plan of lot 1880 in relation to the adjoining lots prepared by surveyor Miguel N. Romero (Exh. N-Adm Case); a receipt for P10.00
issued by surveyor Romero for the preparation of the sketch, Exh. N (Exh. O-Adm. Case) — all of which documents were turned over
by Jose Alcala to respondent before the trial of case 2478.

We agree with the Solicitor General that there is no merit to this particular charge. The records of case 2478 show that upon agreement
of the parties and their attorneys, the trial court appointed a commissioner to relocate lot 1880 and after conducting such relocation,
the commissioner reported to the Court that the lot existed, but that the same was in the possession of other persons. Inasmuch as the
existence of lot 1880 had already been verified by the commissioner, it was therefore unnecessary for respondent attorney to introduce
in evidence Exhibits "L", "M", "N", and "O", the purpose of which was merely to prove the existence of said lot. If the complaint for
rescission prospered it was because of complainant Alcala's failure to comply with his obligation of transferring the material or
physical possession of lot 1880 to the vendee and for no other reason

2. Gross negligence and malpractice committed by respondent for failure to inform his clients of the decision in case 2478: —

The matter in dispute with respect to this specific charge is whether or not respondent notified his clients, the complainants herein,
about the decision in case 2478. Respondent claims that he did inform his clients of the decision; complainants insist the contrary. We
agree with the Solicitor General that there is sufficient evidence on hand to prove that As stated in the Solicitor General's report, the
reaction of complainant Jose Alcala when the writ of execution in said civil case was served upon him and his wife by a sheriff was
such that it betrayed a total unawareness of the adverse decision. The evidence shows that when he was told about the sheriff's visit,
Jose Alcala immediately inquired from the trial Court the reason for the writ of execution and it was only then that he was informed
that a decision had been rendered, that his lawyer received a copy thereof since April 19, 1963, and because no appeal was taken the
judgment became final and executory. Alcala then sought the help of his brother, Atty. Ernesto Alcala. respondent actually did not
inform petitioners of the decision in Civil Case No. 2478, still both courts also held that petitioners did not sustain any damages as a
result of said decision, for which reason the trial court dismissed petitioners' action for damages against respondent, which dismissal
was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

The second issue that has to be passed upon by the Court is neither the plaintiffs are entitled to damages. On this issue, the Court finds
that the plaintiffs cannot recover damages from defendant Atty. Honesto de Vera. No evidence has been presented that they sustained
damages of the decision. "An attorney is not bound to exercise extraordinary diligence, but only a reasonable degree of care and skill,
having reference to the character of the business he undertakes to do. Fallible like any other human being, he is answerable to every
error or mistake, and will be protected as long as he acts honestly and in good faith to the best of his skill and knowledge.

Respondent Atty. De Vera based on the same grounds now invoked in this disbarment case relevant and highly persuasive in this
case, especially as petitioners themselves have, as already observed, accepted and admitted the correctness of said findings. And we
may add that we ourselves agree with respondent that petitioners had not been prejudiced or damaged in any way by the decision in
Civil Case No. 2478, but that said decision appears in fact to be more favorable to them

We concur with the above-quoted observations and add that the correctness of the decision in case 2478 is no ground for exonerating
respondent of the charge but at most will serve only to mitigate his liability. While there is no finding of malice, deceit, or deliberate
intent to cause damage to his clients, there is, nonetheless, proof of negligence, inattention, and carelessness on the part of respondent
in his failure to give timely notice of the decision in question. Fortunately for respondent, his negligence did not result in any material
or pecuniary damage to the herein complainants

WHEREFORE, on the basis of the evidence, the report and recommendation of the Solicitor General, and the fact that this appears to
be the first misconduct of respondent in the exercise of his legal profession, We hereby hold said respondent GUILTY only of simple
negligence in the performance of his duties as a lawyer of complainants, and We hereby SEVERELY CENSURE him.