ChanRobles™ Virtual Law Library | chanrobles.com™  
Main Index Law Library Philippine Laws, Statutes & Codes Latest Legal Updates Philippine Legal Resources Significant Philippine Legal Resources Worldwide Legal Resources Philippine Supreme Court Decisions United States Jurisprudence
Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan's The Labor Code of the Philippines, Annotated Labor Standards & Social Legislation Volume I of a 3-Volume Series 2019 Edition (3rd Revised Edition)
 

 
Chan Robles Virtual Law Library
 









 

 
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
December-2009 Jurisprudence                 

  • A.C. No. 7054 - Conrado N. Que v. Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr.

  • A.M. No. P-09-2600 - Emma B. Ramos v. Apollo R. Ragot

  • A.M. No. P-09-2636 Formerly OCA IPI No. 07-2681-P - Atty. Eduardo Francisco v. Liza O. Galvez

  • A.M. No. P-09-2676 - Judge Juanita T. Guerrero v. Teresita V. Ong

  • A.M. No. RTJ-05-1953 - Mayor Hadji Amer R. Sampiano, et al. v. Judge Cader P. Indar, Acting Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Br. 12, Malabang, Lanao del Sur

  • A.M. No. RTJ-07-2055 - Heir of the late Rev. Fr. Jose O. Aspiras v. Judge Clifton U. Ganay, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial court, Branch 31, Agoo, La Union

  • A.M. No. RTJ-09-2170 Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 09-3094-RTJ - Heirs of Simeon Piedad, namely, Eliseo Piedad, et al. v. Executive Judge Cesar O. Estrena and Judge Gaudiso D. Villarin

  • G.R. No. 146548 : December 18, 2009 - HEIRS OF DOMINGO HERNANDEZ, SR., namely: SERGIA V. HERNANDEZ (Surviving Spouse), DOMINGO V. HERNANDEZ, JR., and MARIA LEONORA WILMA HERNANDEZ, Petitioners, v. PLARIDEL MINGOA, SR., DOLORES CAMISURA, MELANIE MINGOA AND

  • G.R. No. 147951 - Arsenio F. Olegario, et al. v. Pedro C. Mari, represented by Lilia C. Mari-Camba

  • G.R. No. 155125 - YSS Employees Union-Philippine Transport and General Organization v. YSS Laboratories, Inc.

  • G.R. No. 156208 - NPC Drivers and Mechanics Association, et al. v. The National Power Corporation, et al.

  • G.R. No. 149548, G.R. No. 167505, G.R. No. 167540, G.R. No. 167543, G.R. No. 167845, G.R. No. 169163 and G.R. No. 179650 - ROXAS and COMPANY, INC. v. DAMBA-NFSW AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM/DAMAYAN NG MGA MANGGAGAWANG BUKID SA ASYENDA ROXAS-NATIO

  • G.R. No. 157038 - Government Serive Insurance System v. Jean E. Raoet

  • G.R. No. 157867 - Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company v. Hon. Salvador Abad Santos

  • G.R. No. 159788 - Sotero Roy Leonero, et al. v. Spouses Marcelino B. Barba, et al.

  • G.R. No. 159792 - Barangay Sangalang, represented by its Chairman Dante C. Marcellana v. Barangay Maguihan, represented by its Chairman Arnulfo Villarez

  • G.R. No. 160146 - Leslie Okol v. Slimmers World International, et al.

  • G.R. No. 160367 - Evelyn S. Cabungcal, et al. v. Sonia R. Lorenzo, et al.

  • G.R. No. 161424 - Republic of the Philippines v. Ignacio Leonor and Catalino Razon

  • G.R. No. 161929 - Lynn Paz T. Dela Cruz, et al. v. Sandiganbayan, et al.

  • G.R. No. 163117 - Equitable PCI Bank, Inc. v. Maria Letecia Fernandez, et al.

  • G.R. No. 162243, G.R. NO. 164516 and G.R. NO. 171875 - Hon. Heherson T. Alvarez v. PICOP Resources, Inc.

  • G.R. No. 163553 - Yun Kwan Byung v. Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation

  • G.R. No. 164195 - Apo Fruits Corporation and Hijo Plantation, Inc. v. The Hon. Court of Appeals, and Land Bank of the Philippines

  • G.R. No. 165109 - Manuel Mamba, et al. v. Edgar R. Lara, et al.

  • G.R. No. 165299 - Pacific Steam Laundry, Inc. v. Laguna Lake Development Authority

  • G.R. No. 165387 - Mayon Estate Corporation and Earthland Developer Corporation v. Lualhati Beltran

  • G.R. No. 166570 - Efren M. Herrera, et al. v. National Power Corporation, et al.

  • G.R. No. 166941 - Spouses Dennis Barias and Divina Barias v. Heirs of Bartolome Boneo, namely, Juanita Leopoldo, et al.

  • G.R. No. 168668 - Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), et al. v. Pearl City Manufacturing Corporation, et al.

  • G.R. No. 168897 - Gina M. Tiangco and Salvacion Jenny Manego v. Uniwide Sales Warehouse Club, Inc. and Jimmy Gow

  • G.R. No. 168756 and G.R. NO. 171476 - Shrimp Specialist, Inc., v. Fuji-Triumph Agri-Industrial Corporation

  • G.R. No. 170447 - Bievenido Di o and Renato Comparativo v. Pablo Olivarez

  • G.R. No. 170476 - People of the Philippines v. Ricardo Grande

  • G.R. No. 170661 - Ramon B. Formantes v. Duncan Pharmaceutical, Philis., Inc.

  • G.R. No. 171023 - Arsenio S. Quiambao v. Manila Electric Company

  • G.R. No. 171669 - Heirs of Rodrigo Yacapin, namely, Sol Belnas, et al. v. Felimon Belida (Deceased), represented by Merlyn B. Palos, et al.

  • G.R. No. 171916 - Constantino A. Pascual v. Lourdes S. Pascual

  • G.R. No. 172092 - People of the Philippines v. Joey Tion y Cabadu

  • G.R. No. 172372 - The People of the Philippines v. Romar Teodoro y Vallejo

  • G.R. No. 172822 - MOF COMPANY, INC., v. SHIN YANG BROKERAGE CORPORATION

  • G.R. No. 173158 - Alejandro B. Ty and International Realty Corporation v. Queen's Row Subdivision, Inc., et al.

  • G.R. No. 173319 - Federico Miguel Olbes v. Hon. Danilo A. Buemio, etc. et al.

  • G.R. No. 173329 - Susan G. Po and Lilia G. Mutia v. Omerio Dampal

  • G.R. No. 173441 - Heirs of Sofia Quirong, etc. v. Development Bank of the Philippines

  • G.R. No. 173533 - Vicente N. Luna, Jr. v. Nario Cabales, Oscar Pabalan, et al.

  • G.R. No. 174480 - People of the Philippines v. Reynaldo Albalate, Jr.

  • G.R. No. 175115 - Lily O. Orbase v. Office of the Ombudsman and Adoracion Mendoza-Bolos

  • G.R. No. 175393 and G.R. NO. 177731 - Government Service Insurance System v. RTC of Pasig, et al.

  • G.R. No. 175466 - Bank of the Philippine Islands as successor-in-interest of Far East Bank and Trust Company v. SMP, Inc.

  • G.R. No. 175803 - Governor Ornaldo A. Fua, Jr., et al. v. The Commission on Audit, et al.

  • G.R. No. 175994 - Jesus Campos and Rosemarie Campos-Bautista v. Nenita Buevinida Pastrana, et al.

  • G.R. No. 176291 - Jorge B. Navarra v. Office of the Ombudsman, Samuel Namnama, et al.

  • G.R. No. 176951, G.R. No. 177499 and G.R. No. 178056 - League of cities of the Philippines, et al. v. COMELEC

  • G.R. No. 177384 - Josephine Wee v. Republic of the Philippines

  • G.R. No. 177404 and G.R. NO. 178097 - Land Bank of the Philippines v. Kumassie Plantation Company Incorporated

  • G.R. No. 177486 - Purisimo S. Buyco v. Nelson Baraquia

  • G.R. No. 177664 - CRC Agricultural Trading and Rolando B. Catindig v. National Labor Relations Commission and Roberto Obias

  • G.R. No. 177777 - People of the Philippines v. Fernando Gutierrez y Gatso

  • G.R. No. 178000 and 178003 - Liberato M. Carabeo v. Court of Appeals, et al.

  • G.R. No. 178606 - The Episcopal Diocese of the Northern Philippines v. The District Engineer, MPED-DPWH

  • G.R. No. 179328 - Rizalina P. Positos v. Jacob M. Chua

  • G.R. No. 179356 - Kepco Philippines Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

  • G.R. No. 179505 - First Philippine Holding Corporation v. Trans Middle East (Phils.) Equities Inc.

  • G.R. No. 179554 - Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. Trackworks Rail Transit Advertising, Vending and Promotions, Inc.

  • G.R. No. 178158 and G.R. NO. 180428 - Strategic Alliance Development Corporation v. Radstock Securities Limited and Philippine National Construction corporation

  • G.R. No. 179830 - Lintang Bedol v. Commssion on Elections

  • G.R. No. 179946 - The People of the Philippines v. Quirino Cabral y Valencia

  • G.R. No. 179952 - Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, etc. v. BA Finance Corporation and Malayan Insurance Co, Inc.

  • G.R. No. 180218 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v. DEVELOPMENT RESOURCES CORPORATION, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 180439 - Resort Hotels Corporation, Rodolfo M. Cuenca Insvestment Corporation v. Development Bank of the Philippines and SM Investment Corp.

  • G.R. No. 181174 - Ma. Cristina Torres Braza, et al. v. The City Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, minor Patrick Alvin Titular Braza, represented by Leon Titular, et al.

  • G.R. No. 181455 and G.R. No. 182008 - Santiago Cua, Jr., et al. v. Miguel Ocampo Tan, et al.

  • G.R. No. 181556 - In Re: Petition for Assistance in the Liquidation of Intercity Savinds and Loan Bank, Inc., Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Stockholders of Intercity Savings and Loan Bank, Inc.

  • G.R. No. 181571 - Juno Batistis v. People of the Philippines

  • G.R. No. 182013 - Quasha Ancheta Pe a & Nolasco Law Office and Legeng International Reports, Limited v. The Special Sixth Division of the Court of Appeals, et al.

  • G.R. No. 182161 - Rev. Father Robert P. Reyes v. Court of Appeals, et al.

  • G.R. No. 182216 - Plantation Bay Resort & Spa and Efren Belarmino v. Romel S. Dubrico, et al.

  • G.R. No. 182310 - People of the Philippines v. Jan Michael Tan and Archie Tan

  • G.R. No. 182336 - Elvira O. Ong v. Jose Casim Genio

  • G.R. No. 182430 - Leopoldo Abante v. KJGS Fleet Management Manila and/or Gur Domingo A. Macapayag, Kristian Gerhard Jebsens Skipsrenderi A/S

  • G.R. No. 182623 - Dionisio M. Musnit v. Sea Star Shipping Corporation and Sea Star Shipping Corporation, Ltd.

  • G.R. No. 182498 - Gen. Avelino I. Razon, Jr., chief, Philippine National Police (PNP), et al. v. Mary Jean B. Tagitis

  • G.R. No. 182626 - Hilario S. Ramirez v. Hon. Court of Appeals, et al.

  • G.R. No. 182645 - In the matter of the Heirship (Intestate Estates) of the late Hermogenes Rodriguez, et al., Rene B. Pascual v. Jaime M. Robles

  • G.R. No. 182735 - Sps. Rogelio Marcelo & Milagros v. Philippine Commercial International Bank (PCIB)

  • G.R. No. 183233 - Virgilio G. Anabe v. Asian Construction (ASIAKONSTRUKT), et al.

  • G.R. No. 183297 - National Power Corporation v. Hon. Amer Ibrahim, etc., et al.

  • G.R. No. 183317 - Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, Inc. v. The Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, et al.

  • G.R. No. 18335 - Juanito Tabigue, et al. v. International Copra Export Corporation (INTERCO)

  • G.R. No. 183908 - Joelson O. Iloreta v. Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc. and Norbulk Shipping U.K. Ltd.

  • G.R. No. 184836 - Simon B. Aldovino, Jr., Danilo B. Faller and Ferdinand N. Talabong v. Commission on Elections and Wilfredo F. Asilo

  • G.R. No. 184977 - Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. v. Ricky E. Dela Cruz, et al.

  • G.R. No. 185011 - People of the Philippines v. SP03 Sangki Ara y Mirasol, et al.

  • G.R. No. 185381 - People of the Philippines v. Danilo Cruz y Culala

  • G.R. No. 185477 - Herminio M. Gutierrez, et al. v. Flora Mendoza-Plaza, et al.

  • G.R. No. 185749 - Civil Service Commission v. Herminigildo L. Andal

  • G.R. No. 186234 - People of the Philippines v. Felix Palgan

  • G.R. No. 186242 - Government Service Insurance System v. City Treasurer and City Assessor of the City of Manila

  • G.R. No. 186460 - People of the Philippines v. Gualberto Cinco y Soyosa

  • G.R. No. 186965 - Temic Automotive Philippines, Inc. v. Temic Automotive Philippines, Inc., Employees Union

  • G.R. No. 187478 - Representative Danila Ramon S. Fernandez v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Jesus L. Vicente

  • G.R. No. 187494 - People of the Philippines v. Elmer Barberos

  • G.R. No. 187838 - Adriatico Consortium, Inc. Primary Realty Corp., and Benito Cu-Uy-Gam v. Land Bank of the Philippines

  • G.R. No. 188240 - Michael L. San Miguel v. Commission on Elections and Christopher V. Aguilar

  • G.R. No. 189868 - KABATAAN PARTY-LIST, ET AL. v. COMELEC

  • G.R. No. 189698 - ELEAZAR P. QUINTO and GERINO A. TOLENTINO, JR., v. COMELEC

  •  





     
     

    A.C. No. 7054 - Conrado N. Que v. Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr.

      A.C. No. 7054 - Conrado N. Que v. Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr.

    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    EN BANC

    [A.C. NO. 7054 : December 4, 2009]

    CONRADO QUE, Complainant, v. ATTY. ANASTACIO REVILLA, JR. Respondent.

    D E C I S I O N

    PER CURIAM:

    In a complaint for disbarment,1 Conrado Que (complainant) accused Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr. (respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Committee on Bar Discipline (IBP Committee on Bar Discipline or CBD) of committing the following violations of the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138 of the Rules of Court:

    (1) The respondent's abuse of court remedies and processes by filing a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA), two petitions for annulment of title before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), a petition for annulment of judgment before the RTC and lastly, a petition for declaratory relief before the RTC (collectively, subject cases) to assail and overturn the final judgments of the Metropolitan Trial Court2 (MeTC) and RTC3 in the unlawful detainer case rendered against the respondent's clients. The respondent in this regard, repeatedly raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction by the MeTC and RTC knowing fully-well that these courts have jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer case. The respondent also repeatedly attacked the complainant's and his siblings' titles over the property subject of the unlawful detainer case;

    (2) The respondent's commission of forum-shopping by filing the subject cases in order to impede, obstruct, and frustrate the efficient administration of justice for his own personal gain and to defeat the right of the complainant and his siblings to execute the MeTC and RTC judgments in the unlawful detainer case;

    (3) The respondent's lack of candor and respect towards his adversary and the courts by resorting to falsehood and deception to misguide, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice. The respondent asserted falsehood in the motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of the petition for annulment of judgment by fabricating an imaginary order issued by the presiding judge in open court which allegedly denied the motion to dismiss filed by the respondents in the said case. The complainant alleged that the respondent did this to cover up his lack of preparation; the respondent also deceived his clients (who were all squatters) in supporting the above falsehood.4

    (4) The respondent's willful and revolting falsehood that unjustly maligned and defamed the good name and reputation of the late Atty. Alfredo Catolico (Atty. Catolico), the previous counsel of the respondent's clients.

    (5) The respondent's deliberate, fraudulent and unauthorized appearances in court in the petition for annulment of judgment for 15 litigants, three of whom are already deceased;

    (6) The respondent's willful and fraudulent appearance in the second petition for annulment of title as counsel for the Republic of the Philippines without being authorized to do so.

    Additionally, the complaint accused the respondent of representing fifty-two (52) litigants in Civil Case No. Q-03-48762 when no such authority was ever given to him.

    The CBD required the respondent to answer the complaint.

    In his Answer,5 the respondent declared that he is a member of the Kalayaan Development Cooperative (KDC) that handles pro bono cases for the underprivileged, the less fortunate, the homeless and those in the marginalized sector in Metro Manila. He agreed to take over the cases formerly handled by other KDC members. One of these cases was the unlawful detainer case handled by the late Atty. Catolico where the complainant and his siblings were the plaintiffs and the respondent's present clients were the defendants.

    With respect to paragraph 1 of the disbarment complaint, the respondent professed his sincerity, honesty and good faith in filing the petitions complained of; he filed these petitions to protect the interests of his clients in their property. The respondent asserted that these petitions were all based on valid grounds - the lack of jurisdiction of the MeTC and the RTC over the underlying unlawful detainer case, the extrinsic fraud committed by the late Atty. Catolico, and the extrinsic fraud committed by the complainant and his family against his clients; he discovered that the allegedly detained property did not really belong to the complainant and his family but is a forest land. The respondent also asserted that his resort to a petition for annulment of judgment and a petition for declaratory relief to contest the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC were all parts of his legal strategy to protect the interests of his clients.

    On the allegations of falsehood in the motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal of the petition for annulment of judgment (covered by paragraph 3 of the disbarment complaint), the respondent maintained that his allegations were based on his observations and the notes he had taken during the proceedings on what the presiding judge dictated in open court.

    The respondent denied that he had made any unauthorized appearance in court (with respect to paragraphs 5 and 6 of the disbarment complaint). He claimed that the 52 litigants in Civil Case No. Q-03-48762 were impleaded by inadvertence; he immediately rectified his error by dropping them from the case. On the petition for annulment of judgment, the respondent claimed that a majority (31 out of 49) of the litigants who signed the certification constituted sufficient compliance with the rules on forum-shopping. The respondent likewise denied having represented the Republic of the Philippines in the second petition for annulment of title. The respondent pointed out that there was no allegation whatsoever that he was the sole representative of both the complainants (his clients) and the Republic of the Philippines. The respondent pointed out that the petition embodied a request to the Office of the Solicitor General to represent his clients in the case.6

    The respondent submitted that he did not commit any illegal, unlawful, unjust, wrongful or immoral acts towards the complainant and his siblings. He stressed that he acted in good faith in his dealings with them and his conduct was consistent with his sworn duty as a lawyer to uphold justice and the law and to defend the interests of his clients. The respondent additionally claimed that the disbarment case was filed because the complainant's counsel, Atty. Cesar P. Uy (Atty. Uy), had an axe to grind against him.

    Lastly, the respondent posited in his pleadings7 before the IBP that the present complaint violated the rule on forum shopping considering that the subject cases were also the ones on which a complaint was filed against him in CBD Case No. 03-1099 filed by Atty. Uy before the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline. The respondent also posited that the present complaint was filed to harass, ridicule and defame his good name and reputation and, indirectly, to harass his clients who are marginalized members of the KDC.

    The Findings of the Investigating Commissioner

    Except for the last charge of unauthorized appearance on behalf of 52 litigants in Civil Case No. Q-03-48762, Investigating Commissioner Renato G. Cunanan8 (Investigating Commissioner Cunanan) found all the charges against the respondent meritorious. In his Report and Recommendation, he stated:

    While an attorney admittedly has the solemn duty to defend and protect the cause and rights of his client with all the fervor and energy within his command, yet, it is equally true that it is the primary duty of the lawyer to defend the dignity, authority and majesty of the law and the courts which enforce it. A lawyer is not at liberty to maintain and defend the cause of his clients thru means, inconsistent with truth and honor. He may not and must not encourage multiplicity of suits or brazenly engage in forum-shopping.9

    On the first charge on abuse of court processes, Investigating Commissioner Cunanan noted the unnecessary use by the respondent of legal remedies to forestall the execution of the final decisions of the MTC and the RTC in the unlawful detainer case against his clients.10

    On the second charge, the Investigating Commissioner ruled that the act of the respondent in filing two petitions for annulment of title, a petition for annulment of judgment and later on a petition for declaratory relief were all done to prevent the execution of the final judgment in the unlawful detainer case and constituted prohibited forum-shopping.11

    On the third and fourth charges, Investigating Commissioner Cunanan found ample evidence showing that the respondent was dishonest in dealing with the court as shown in his petition for annulment of judgment; he resorted to falsities and attributed acts to Atty. Catolico and to the presiding judge, all of which were untrue.12

    On the fifth and sixth charges, the Investigating Commissioner disregarded the respondent's explanation that he had no intention to represent without authority 15 of the litigants (three of whom were already deceased) in the petition for annulment of judgment (Civil Case No. Q-01-45556). To the Investigating Commissioner, the respondent merely glossed over the representation issue by claiming that the authority given by a majority of the litigants complied with the certification of non-forum shopping requirement. The Investigating Commissioner likewise brushed aside the respondent's argument regarding his misrepresentation in the second complaint for annulment of title since he knew very well that only the Solicitor General can institute an action for reversion on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. Despite this knowledge, the respondent solely signed the amended complaint for and on behalf of his clients and of the Republic.

    The Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline, through its Resolution No. XVII-2005-164 on CBD Case No. 03-1100, adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of Investigating Commissioner Cunanan and recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years.13 On reconsideration, the Board of Governors reduced the respondent's suspension from the practice of law to one (1) year.14

    The Issue

    The case poses to us the core issues of whether the respondent can be held liable for the imputed unethical infractions and professional misconduct, and the penalty these transgressions should carry.

    The Court's Ruling

    Except for the penalty, we agree with the Report and Recommendation of Investigating Commissioner Cunanan and the Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline.

    We take judicial notice that this disbarment complaint is not the only one so far filed involving the respondent; another complaint invoking similar grounds has previously been filed. In Plus Builders, Inc. and Edgardo C. Garcia v. Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr.,15 we suspended the respondent from the practice of law for his willful and intentional falsehood before the court; for misuse of court procedures and processes to delay the execution of a judgment; and for collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal practice of law. We initially imposed a suspension of two (2) years, but in an act of leniency subsequently reduced the suspension to six (6) months.16

    Abuse of court procedures and processes

    The following undisputed facts fully support the conclusion that the respondent is guilty of serious misconduct for abusing court procedures and processes to shield his clients from the execution of the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC in the unlawful detainer case against these clients:

    First, the respondent filed a petition for certiorari (docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 53892) with prayer for the issuance of preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to question the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC for lack of jurisdiction. In dismissing the respondent's petition, the CA held:

    Even for the sake of argument considering that the petition case be the proper remedy, still it must be rejected for failure of petitioners to satisfactorily demonstrate lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City over the ejectment case.17

    Second, notwithstanding the CA's dismissal of the petition for certiorari, the respondent again questioned the MeTC's and the RTC's lack of jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer case in a petition for annulment of judgment (docketed as Civil Case No. Q-01-45556) before the RTC with an ancillary prayer for the grant of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The RTC dismissed this petition on the basis of the motion to dismiss filed.18

    Third, the respondent successively filed two petitions (docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-38780 and Civil Case No. Q-02-46885) for annulment of the complainant's title to the property involved in the unlawful detainer case. The records show that these petitions were both dismissed "for lack of legal personality on the part of the plaintiffs" to file the petition.19

    Fourth, after the dismissals of the petition for annulment of judgment and the petitions for annulment of title, the respondent this time filed a petition for declaratory relief with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the complainant and his siblings from exercising their rights over the same property subject of the unlawful detainer case. The respondent based the petition on the alleged nullity of the complainant's title because the property is a part of forest land.

    Fifth, the persistent applications by the respondent for injunctive relief in the four petitions he had filed in several courts - the petition for certiorari, the petition for annulment of judgment, the second petition for annulment of complainant's title and the petition for declaratory relief - reveal the respondent's persistence in preventing and avoiding the execution of the final decisions of the MeTC and RTC against his clients in the unlawful detainer case.

    Under the circumstances, the respondent's repeated attempts go beyond the legitimate means allowed by professional ethical rules in defending the interests of his client. These are already uncalled for measures to avoid the enforcement of final judgments of the MeTC and RTC. In these attempts, the respondent violated Rule 10.03, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which makes it obligatory for a lawyer to "observe the rules of procedure and. . . not [to] misuse them to defeat the ends of justice." By his actions, the respondent used procedural rules to thwart and obstruct the speedy and efficient administration of justice, resulting in prejudice to the winning parties in that case.20

    Filing of multiple actions and forum shopping

    The respondent likewise violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,21 as well as the rule against forum shopping, both of which are directed against the filing of multiple actions to attain the same objective. Both violations constitute abuse of court processes; they tend to degrade the administration of justice; wreak havoc on orderly judicial procedure;22 and add to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the courts.23

    While the filing of a petition for certiorari to question the lower courts' jurisdiction may be a procedurally legitimate (but substantively erroneous) move, the respondent's subsequent petitions involving the same property and the same parties not only demonstrate his attempts to secure favorable ruling using different fora, but his obvious objective as well of preventing the execution of the MeTC and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case against his clients. This intent is most obvious with respect to the petitions for annulment of judgment and declaratory relief, both geared towards preventing the execution of the unlawful detainer decision, long after this decision had become final.

    Willful, intentional and deliberate
    falsehood before the courts

    The records also reveal that the respondent committed willful, intentional and deliberate falsehood in the pleadings he filed with the lower courts.

    First, in the petition for annulment of judgment filed before the RTC, Branch 101, Quezon City, the respondent cited extrinsic fraud as one of the grounds for the annulment sought. The extrinsic fraud was alleged in the last paragraph of the petition, as follows:

    In here, counsel for the petitioners (defendants therein), deliberately neglected to file the proper remedy then available after receipt of the denial of their Motion for Reconsideration - thus corruptly sold out the interest of the petitioners (defendants therein) by keeping them away to the Court and in complete ignorance of the suit by a false pretense of compromise and fraudulent acts of alleging representing them when in truth and in fact, have connived with the attorney of the prevailing party at his defeat to the prejudice of the petitioner (defendants therein) '24

    Yet, in paragraph 35 of the same petition, the respondent alleged that no second motion for reconsideration or for new trial, or no other petition with the CA had been filed, as he believed "that the decisions rendered both by the MeTC and the RTC are null and void."25 These conflicting claims, no doubt, involve a fabrication made for the purpose of supporting the petition for annulment. Worse, it involved a direct and unsubstantiated attack on the reputation of a law office colleague, another violation we shall separately discuss below.

    Second, the respondent employed another obvious subterfuge when he filed his second petition for annulment of title, which was an unsuccessful attempt to circumvent the rule that only the Solicitor General may commence reversion proceedings of public lands26 on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. This second petition, filed by a private party and not by the Republic, showed that: (a) the respondent and his clients requested that they be represented by the Solicitor General in the proceedings; (b) the Republic of the Philippines was simply impleaded in the amended petition without its consent as a plaintiff; and (c) the respondent signed the amended petition where he alone stood as counsel for the "plaintiffs." In this underhanded manner, the respondent sought to compel the Republic to litigate and waste its resources on an unauthorized and unwanted suit.

    Third, the respondent also committed falsehood in his motion for reconsideration of the order dismissing his petition for annulment of judgment where he misrepresented to the court and his clients what actually transpired in the hearing of June 28, 2002 in this wise:

    Likewise, the proceedings on said date of hearing (June 28, 2002) show, that after both counsel have argued on the aforesaid pending incident, the Honorable Presiding Judge, in open court, and in the presence and within the hearing distance of all the plaintiffs and their counsel as well as the counsel of the defendants resolved: TO DENY THE MOTION TO DISMISS FILED AND DIRECTED DEFENDANTS COUNSEL TO FILE AN ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT WITHIN THE REMAINING PERIOD.27 [Underscoring and emphasis theirs]

    The records, however, disclose that the scheduled hearing for June 28, 2002 was actually for the respondent's application for temporary restraining order and was not a hearing on the adverse party's motion to dismiss.28 The records also show that RTC-Branch 101 held in abeyance the respondent's application for injunctive relief pending the resolution of the motion to dismiss filed by the adverse party.29 As stated in the order of the Presiding Judge of RTC-Branch 101:

    Browsing over the records of this case specifically the transcripts of stenographic notes as transcribed by the Stenographer, the same will indicate that the allegations in the Motion for Reconsideration are not true.

    'how can this Court make a ruling on the matter even without stating the factual and legal bases as required/mandated by the Rules. Moreover, there are no indications or iota of irregularity in the preparation by Stenographer of the transcripts, and by the Court interpreter of the Minutes of the open Court session.[Underscoring theirs]

    The records further disclose that despite knowledge of the falsity of his allegations, the respondent took advantage of his position and the trust reposed in him by his clients (who are all squatters) to convince them to support, through their affidavits, his false claims on what allegedly transpired in the June 28, 2002 hearing.30

    For these acts, we find the respondent liable under Rule 10.01 of Canon 10 the Code of Professional Responsibility for violating the lawyer's duty to observe candor and fairness in his dealings with the court. This provision states:

    CANON 10 - A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT

    Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court, nor shall he mislead or allow the Court to be mislead by an artifice.

    Likewise, the respondent violated his duty as an attorney and his oath as a lawyer "never to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law."31 The respondent failed to remember that his duty as an officer of the court makes him an indispensable participant in the administration of justice,32 and that he is expected to act candidly, fairly and truthfully in his work.33 His duty as a lawyer obligates him not to conceal the truth from the court, or to mislead the court in any manner, no matter how demanding his duties to his clients may be.34 In case of conflict, his duties to his client yield to his duty to deal candidly with the court.35

    In defending his clients' interest, the respondent also failed to observe Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which reads:

    CANON 19 - A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF LAW

    Rule 19.01 - A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his clients x x x

    This Canon obligates a lawyer, in defending his client, to employ only such means as are consistent with truth and honor.36 He should not prosecute patently frivolous and meritless appeals or institute clearly groundless actions.37 The recital of what the respondent did to prevent the execution of the judgment against his clients shows that he actually committed what the above rule expressly prohibits.

    Maligning the name of his fellow lawyers

    To support the charge of extrinsic fraud in his petition for annulment of judgment, the respondent attacked (as quoted above) the name and reputation of the late Atty. Catolico and accused him of deliberate neglect, corrupt motives and connivance with the counsel for the adverse party.

    We find it significant that the respondent failed to demonstrate how he came upon his accusation against Atty. Catolico. The respondent, by his own admission, only participated in the cases previously assigned to Atty. Catolico after the latter died. At the same time, the respondent's petition for annulment of judgment also represented that no second motion for reconsideration or appeal was filed to contest the MeTC and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case for the reason that the respondent believed the said decisions were null and void ab initio.

    Under these circumstances, we believe that the respondent has been less than fair in his professional relationship with Atty. Catolico and is thus liable for violating Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which obligates a lawyer to "conduct himself with courtesy, fairness, and candor toward his professional colleagues." He was unfair because he imputed wrongdoing to Atty. Catolico without showing any factual basis therefor; he effectively maligned Atty. Catolico, who is now dead and unable to defend himself.

    Unauthorized appearances

    We support Investigating Commissioner Cunanan's finding that the respondent twice represented parties without proper authorization: first, in the petition for annulment of judgment; and second, in the second petition for annulment of title.38

    In the first instance, the records show that the respondent filed the petition for annulment of judgment on behalf of 49 individuals, 31 of whom gave their consent while the other 15 individuals did not. We cannot agree with the respondent's off-hand explanation that he truly believed that a majority of the litigants who signed the certification of non-forum shopping in the petition already gave him the necessary authority to sign for the others. We find it highly improbable that this kind of lapse could have been committed by a seasoned lawyer like the respondent, who has been engaged in the practice of law for more than 30 years and who received rigid and strict training as he so proudly declares, from the University of the Philippines College of Law and in the two law firms with which he was previously associated.39 As Investigating Commissioner Cunanan found, the respondent's explanation of compliance with the rule on the certification of non-forum shopping glossed over the real charge of appearing in court without the proper authorization of the parties he allegedly represented.

    In the second instance, which occurred in the second complaint for annulment of title, the respondent knew that only the Solicitor General can legally represent the Republic of the Philippines in actions for reversion of land. Nevertheless, he filed an amended petition where he impleaded the Republic of the Philippines as plaintiff without its authority and consent, as a surreptitious way of forcing the Republic to litigate. Notably, he signed the amended complaint on behalf of all the plaintiffs - his clients and the Republic.

    In both instances, the respondent violated Sections 21 and 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court when he undertook the unauthorized appearances. The settled rule is that a lawyer may not represent a litigant without authority from the latter or from the latter's representative or, in the absence thereof, without leave of court.40 The willful unauthorized appearance by a lawyer for a party in a given case constitutes contumacious conduct and also warrants disciplinary measures against the erring lawyer for professional misconduct.41

    The Respondent's Defenses

    We find no merit in the respondent's defenses.

    "Good faith connotes an honest intention to abstain from taking unconscientious advantage of another. Accordingly, in University of the East v. Jader we said that "[g]ood faith connotes an honest intention to abstain from taking undue advantage of another, even though the forms and technicalities of law, together with the absence of all information or belief of facts, would render the transaction unconscientious."42 Bad faith, on the other hand, is a state of mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or with some motive of self-interest, ill will or for an ulterior purpose.43 As both concepts are states of mind, they may be deduced from the attendant circumstances and, more particularly, from the acts and statements of the person whose state of mind is the subject of inquiry.

    In this case, we find that the respondent acted in bad faith in defending the interests of his clients. We draw this conclusion from the misrepresentations and the dubious recourses he made, all obviously geared towards forestalling the execution of the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC. That he took advantage of his legal knowledge and experience and misread the Rules immeasurably strengthen the presence of bad faith.

    We find neither sincerity nor honest belief on the part of the respondent in pleading the soundness and merit of the cases that he filed in court to prevent the execution of the MeTC and RTC decisions, considering his own conduct of presenting conflicting theories in his petitions. The succession of cases he filed shows a desperation that negates the sincere and honest belief he claims; these are simply scattershot means to achieve his objective of avoiding the execution of the unlawful detainer judgment against his clients.

    On the respondent's allegations regarding his discretion to determine legal strategy, it is not amiss to note that this was the same defense he raised in the first disbarment case.44 As we explained in Plus Builders, the exercise of a lawyer's discretion in acting for his client can never be at the expense of truth and justice. In the words of this cited case:

    While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to his genuine interest, and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights, as well as the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within the bounds of the law. He must give a candid and honest opinion on the merits and probable results of his client's case with the end in view of promoting respect for the law and legal processes, and counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to him to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law. He must always remind himself of the oath he took upon admission to the Bar that he 'will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit nor give aid nor consent to the same'; and that he 'will conduct [himself] as a lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [his] clients.' Needless to state, the lawyer's fidelity to his client must not be pursued at the expense of truth and the administration of justice, and it must be done within the bounds of reason and common sense. A lawyer's responsibility to protect and advance the interests of his client does not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives and malicious intentions against the other party.45

    We cannot give credence to the respondent's claim that the disbarment case was filed because the counsel of the complainant, Atty. Uy, had an axe to grind against him. We reject this argument, considering that it was not Atty. Uy who filed the present disbarment case against him; Atty. Uy is only the counsel in this case. In fact, Atty. Uy has filed his own separate disbarment case against the respondent.

    The sui generis nature of a disbarment case renders the underlying motives of the complainants unimportant and with very little relevance. The purpose of a disbarment proceeding is mainly to determine the fitness of a lawyer to continue acting as an officer of the court and a participant in the dispensation of justice - an issue where the complainant's personal motives have little relevance. For this reason, disbarment proceedings may be initiated by the Court motu proprio upon information of an alleged wrongdoing. As we also explained in the case In re: Almacen:

    . . .disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this proceeding is not - and does not involve - a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution.

    x x x

    It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of-the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor.46 ???r?bl?

    A.C. No. 7054 - Conrado N. Que v. Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr.


    Back to Home | Back to Main

     

    QUICK SEARCH

    cralaw

       

    cralaw



     
      Copyright © ChanRobles Publishing Company Disclaimer | E-mail Restrictions
    ChanRobles™ Virtual Law Library | chanrobles.com™
     
    RED