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SECOND DIVISION

A.C. No. 7749, July 08, 2013


JOSEFINA CARANZA VDA. DE SALDIVAR, Complainant, v. ATTY. RAMON SG CABANES, JR.,Respondent.

R E S O L U T I O N
PERLAS-BERNABE, J .:

For the Courts resolution is an administrative complaint
1
filed by Josefina Caranza vda. de Saldivar (complainant) against Atty. Ramon SG Cabanes, Jr.
(respondent), charging him for gross negligence in violation of Canon 17, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility (Code).
The Facts

Complainant was the defendant in an unlawful detainer case, docketed as Civil Case No. 1972,
2
filed by the heirs of one Benjamin Don (heirs) before the
Municipal Trial Court of Pili, Camarines Sur (MTC), wherein she was represented by respondent. While respondent duly filed an answer to the unlawful
detainer complaint, he, however, failed to submit a pre-trial brief as well as to attend the scheduled preliminary conference. Consequently, the opposing
counsel moved that the case be submitted for decision which motion was granted in an Order
3
dated November 27, 2003. When complainant confronted
respondent about the foregoing, the latter just apologized and told her not to worry, assuring her that she will not lose the case since she had the title to
the subject property.

On December 30, 2003, the MTC issued a Decision
4
(MTC Decision) against complainant, ordering her to vacate and turn-over the possession of the
subject property to the heirs as well as to pay them damages. On appeal, the Regional Trial Court of Pili, Camarines Sur, Branch 32 (RTC), reversed the
MTC Decision and dismissed the unlawful detainer complaint.
5
Later however, the Court of Appeals (CA) reversed the RTCs ruling and reinstated the
MTC Decision.
6
Respondent received a copy of the CAs ruling on January 27, 2006. Yet, he failed to inform complainant about the said ruling,
notwithstanding the fact that the latter frequented his work place. Neither did respondent pursue any further action.
7
As such, complainant decided to
engage the services of another counsel for the purpose of seeking other available remedies. Due to respondents failure to timely turn-over to her the
papers and documents in the case, such other remedies were, however, barred. Thus, based on these incidents, complainant filed the instant
administrative complaint, alleging that respondents acts amounted to gross negligence which resulted in her loss.
8


In a Resolution
9
dated March 10, 2008, the Court directed respondent to comment on the administrative complaint within ten (10) days from notice.

Accordingly, respondent filed a Manifestation with Compliance
10
dated May 19, 2008, admitting to have agreed to represent complainant who claimed to
be the tenant and rightful occupant of the subject property owned by the late Pelagia Lascano (Pelagia). He alleged that upon careful examination of the
heirs' unlawful detainer complaint, he noticed a discrepancy between the descriptions of the subject property as indicated in the said pleading as
opposed to that which complainant supplied to him. On the belief that the parties may be contesting two (2) sets of properties which are distinct and
separate from one another, respondent, at the preliminary conference conducted on October 28, 2003, moved for the suspension of further proceedings
and proposed that a commissioner be appointed to conduct a re-survey in order to determine the true identity of the property in dispute. The MTC
allowed the counsels for both parties to decide on the manner of the proposed re-survey, leading to the assignment of a Department of Agrarian Reform
Survey Engineer (DAR Engineer) for this purpose. In relation, the heirs counsel agreed to turn-over to respondent in his office
11
certain documents
which indicated the subject propertys description. Thus, pending the conduct and results of the re-survey, the preliminary conference was tentatively
reset to November 27, 2003.
12


As it turned out, the heirs counsel was unable to furnish respondent copies of the above-stated documents, notwithstanding their agreement. This led
the latter to believe that the preliminary conference scheduled on November 27, 2003 would not push through. Respondent averred that the aforesaid
setting also happened to coincide with an important provincial conference which he was required to attend. As such, he inadvertently missed the
hearing.
13
Nonetheless, he proffered that he duly appealed the adverse MTC Decision to the RTC,
14
resulting to the dismissal of the unlawful detainer
complaint, albeit later reversed by the CA.

Thereafter, pending the heirs' appeal to the CA, respondent came upon the information that the disputed property was subject of a petition for exemption
from the coverage of Presidential Decree No. (PD) 27
15
filed by Pelagia against complainants mother, Placida Caranza (Placida). Based on several
documents furnished to him by certain DAR personnel, respondent was satisfied that Placida indeed held the subject property for a long time and
actually tilled the same in the name of Pelagia, thereby placing it under PD 27 coverage. Due to such information, respondent was convinced that
Placida and consequently, complainant (who took over the tilling) was indeed entitled to the subject property. Hence, he advised complainant that it
would be best to pursue remedies at the administrative level, instead of contesting the appeal filed by the heirs before the CA. It was respondents
calculated legal strategy that in the event the CA reverses the decision of the RTC, an opposition to the issuance of a writ of execution or a motion to
quash such writ may be filed based on the afore-stated reasons, especially if an approved plan and later, an emancipation patent covering the subject
property is issued.
16


Meanwhile, the survey conducted by the DAR Engineer revealed that complainant's tillage extended to about 5,000 square meters of the subject
property which was determined to belong to the heirs, the rest being covered by the title of Pelagia. Dissatisfied, complainant manifested her intention to
secure the services of a private surveyor of her own choice, and promised to furnish respondent a copy of the survey results, which she, however, failed
to do. Later, complainant accused respondent of manipulating the DAR Survey Results which caused their lawyer-client relationship to turn sour and
eventually be severed. She has since retrieved the entire case folders and retained the services of another lawyer.
17


In a Resolution
18
dated July 7, 2008, the Court resolved to refer the instant administrative case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for its
evaluation, report and recommendation.

The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline set the case for mandatory conference on April 15, 2009
19
and required the parties to submit their respective
position papers.
20

The IBPs Report and Recommendation

On June 18, 2009, the Investigating IBP Commissioner, Rebecca Villanueva-Maala (Investigating Commissioner), issued a Report and
Recommendation (Commissioners Report),
21
finding respondent to have been negligent in failing to attend the preliminary conference in Civil Case No.
1972 set on November 27, 2003 which resulted in the immediate submission of the said case for decision and eventual loss of complainants cause.

The Investigating Commissioner observed that respondent could have exercised ordinary diligence by inquiring from the court as to whether the said
preliminary conference would push through, considering that the November 27, 2003 setting was only tentative and the heirs counsel was not able to
confer with him. Further, the fact that respondent had to attend an important provincial conference which coincided with the said setting hardly serves as
an excuse since he should have sent a substitute counsel on his behalf. Also, respondent never mentioned any legal remedy that he undertook when
the heirs elevated the decision of the RTC to the CA. In fact, he did not file any comment or opposition to the heirs appeal. Finally, respondents
enumerations of his legal options to allegedly protect the complainants interests were found to be thought only after the fact.
22


Thus, based on the foregoing, the Investigating Commissioner ruled that respondent failed to exercise ordinary diligence in handling his client's cause,
warranting his suspension from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.
23


The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Commissioners Report in Resolution No. XIX-2011-266
24
dated May 14, 2011, finding the same
to be fully supported by the evidence on record and in accord with applicable laws and rules.

Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration
25
which was, however, denied, in Resolution No. XX-2012-517
26
dated December 14, 2012.
The Court's Ruling

The Court resolves to adopt the IBP's findings and recommendation.

The relationship between an attorney and his client is one imbued with utmost trust and confidence. In this light, clients are led to expect that lawyers
would be ever-mindful of their cause and accordingly exercise the required degree of diligence in handling their affairs. Verily, a lawyer is expected to
maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency, and to devote his full attention, skill, and competence to the case, regardless of its importance
and whether he accepts it for a fee or for free.
27
Canon 17, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of Canon 18 of the Code embody these quintessential directives
and thus, respectively state:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
CANON 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.

CANON 18 A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.

x x x x

Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Rule 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the client's request for
information.

Case law further illumines that a lawyers duty of competence and diligence includes not merely reviewing the cases entrusted to the counsel's care or
giving sound legal advice, but also consists of properly representing the client before any court or tribunal, attending scheduled hearings or conferences,
preparing and filing the required pleadings, prosecuting the handled cases with reasonable dispatch, and urging their termination without waiting for the
client or the court to prod him or her to do so.
28


Conversely, a lawyer's negligence in fulfilling his duties subjects him to disciplinary action.
29
While such negligence or carelessness is incapable of exact
formulation, the Court has consistently held that the lawyers mere failure to perform the obligations due his client is per se a violation.
30


Applying these principles to the present case, the Court finds that respondent failed to exercise the required diligence in handling complainants cause.

Records show that he failed to justify his absence during the scheduled preliminary conference hearing in Civil Case No. 1972 which led the same to be
immediately submitted for decision. As correctly observed by the Investigating Commissioner, respondent could have exercised ordinary diligence by
inquiring from the court as to whether the said hearing would push through, especially so since it was only tentatively set and considering further that he
was yet to confer with the opposing counsel. The fact that respondent had an important commitment during that day hardly exculpates him from his
omission since the prudent course of action would have been for him to send a substitute counsel to appear on his behalf. In fact, he should have been
more circumspect to ensure that the aforesaid hearing would not have been left unattended in view of its adverse consequences, i.e., that the
defendants failure to appear at the preliminary conference already entitles the plaintiff to a judgment.
31
Indeed, second-guessing the conduct of the
proceedings, much less without any contingent measure, exhibits respondents inexcusable lack of care and diligence in managing his clients cause.

Equally compelling is the fact that respondent purposely failed to assail the heirs appeal before the CA. Records disclose that he even failed to rebut
complainant's allegation that he neglected to inform her about the CA ruling which he had duly received, thereby precluding her from availing of any
further remedies. As regards respondents suggested legal strategy to pursue the case at the administrative level, suffice it to state that the same does
not excuse him from failing to file a comment or an opposition to an appeal, or even, inform his client of any adverse resolution, as in this case.
Irrefragably, these are basic courses of action which every diligent lawyer is expected to make.

All told, it cannot be gainsaid that respondent was guilty of gross negligence, in violation of the above-cited provisions of the Code.

As regards the appropriate penalty, several cases show that lawyers who have been held liable for gross negligence for infractions similar to those of the
respondent were suspended for a period of six (6) months. In Aranda v. Elayda,
32
a lawyer who failed to appear at the scheduled hearing despite due
notice which resulted in the submission of the case for decision was found guilty of gross negligence and hence, suspended for six (6) months. In Heirs
of Tiburcio F. Ballesteros, Sr. v. Apiag,
33
a lawyer who did not file a pre-trial brief and was absent during the pre-trial conference was likewise suspended
for six (6) months. In Abiero v. Juanino,
34
a lawyer who neglected a legal matter entrusted to him by his client in breach of Canons 17 and 18 of the
Code was also suspended for six (6) months. Thus, consistent with existing jurisprudence, the Court finds it proper to impose the same penalty against
respondent and accordingly suspends him for a period of six (6) months.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Ramon SG Cabanes, Jr. is found guilty of gross negligence in violation of Canon 17, and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of
Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months, effective upon
his receipt of this Resolution, and is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Court Administrator
for circulation to all the courts.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio, (Chairperson), Del Castillo, Perez, and Mendoza,
*
JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 9872 January 28, 2014
NATIVIDAD P. NAVARRO and HILDA S. PRESBITERO, Complainants,
vs.
ATTY. IVAN M. SOLIDUM, JR., Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PER CURIAM:
This case originated from a complaint for disbarment, dated 26 May 2008, filed by Natividad P. Navarro (Navarro) and Hilda S. Presbitero (Presbitero)
against Atty. Ivan M. Solidum, Jr. (respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD).
From the Report, dated 1July 2009, of the IBP-CBD, we gathered the following facts of the case:
On 4 April 2006, respondent signed a retainer agreement with Presbitero to follow up the release of the payment for the latters 2.7-hectare property
located in Bacolod which was the subject of a Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The agreement also included
the payment of the debts of Presbiteros late husband to the Philippine National Bank (PNB), the sale of the retained areas of the property, and the
collection of the rentals due for the retained areas from their occupants. It appeared that the DAR was supposed to pay P700,000 for the property but it
was mortgaged by Presbitero and her late husband to PNB for P1,200,000. Presbitero alleged that PNBs claim had already prescribed, and she
engaged the services of respondent to represent her in the matter. Respondent proposed the filing of a case for quieting of title against PNB.
Respondent and Presbitero agreed to an attorneys fee of 10% of the proceeds from the VOS or the sale of the property, with the expenses to be
advanced by Presbitero but deductible from respondents fees. Respondent received P50,000 from Presbitero, supposedly for the expenses of the case,
but nothing came out of it.
In May 2006, Presbiteros daughter, Ma. Theresa P. Yulo (Yulo), also engaged respondents services to handle the registration of her 18.85-hectare lot
located in Nasud-ong, Caradio-an, Himamaylan, Negros. Yulo convinced her sister, Navarro, to finance the expenses for the registration of the property.
Respondent undertook to register the property in consideration of 30% of the value of the property once it is registered. Respondent obtainedP200,000
from Navarro for the registration expenses. Navarro later learned that the registration decree over the property was already issued in the name of one
Teodoro Yulo. Navarro alleged that she would not have spent for the registration of the property if respondent only apprised her of the real situation of
the property.
On 25 May 2006, respondent obtained a loan of P1,000,000 from Navarro to finance his sugar trading business. Respondent and Navarro executed a
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and agreed that the loan (a) shall be for a period of one year; (b) shall earn interest at the rate of 10% per month;
and (c) shall be secured by a real estate mortgage over a property located in Barangay Alijis, Bacolod City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.
304688. They also agreed that respondent shall issue postdated checks to cover the principal amount of the loan as well as the interest thereon.
Respondent delivered the checks to Navarro, drawn against an account in Metrobank, Bacolod City Branch, and signed them in the presence of
Navarro.
In June 2006, respondent obtained an additional loan of P1,000,000 from Navarro, covered by a second MOA with the same terms and conditions as the
first MOA. Respondent sent Navarro, through a messenger, postdated checks drawn against an account in Bank of Commerce, Bacolod City Branch.
Respondent likewise discussed with Navarro about securing a "Tolling Agreement" with Victorias Milling Company, Inc. but no agreement was signed.
At the same time, respondent obtained a loan of P1,000,000 from Presbitero covered by a third MOA, except that the real estate mortgage was over a
263-square-meter property located in Barangay Taculing, Bacolod City. Respondent sent Presbitero postdated checks drawn against an account in
Metrobank, Bacolod City Branch.
Presbitero was dissatisfied with the value of the 263-square-meter property mortgaged under the third MOA, and respondent promised to execute a real
estate mortgage over a 1,000-square-meter parcel of land adjacent to the 4,000-square-meter property he mortgaged to Navarro.
However, respondent did not execute a deed for the additional security.
Respondent paid the loan interest for the first few months. He was able to pay complainants a total of P900,000. Thereafter, he failed to pay either the
principal amount or the interest thereon. In September 2006, the checks issued by respondent to complainants could no longer be negotiated because
the accounts against which they were drawn were already closed. When complainants called respondents attention, he promised to pay the agreed
interest for September and October 2006 but asked for a reduction of the interest to 7% for the succeeding months.
In November 2006, respondent withdrew as counsel for Yulo. On the other hand, Presbitero terminated the services of respondent as counsel.
Complainants then filed petitions for the judicial foreclosure of the mortgages executed by respondent in their favor. Respondent countered that the 10%
monthly interest on the loan was usurious and illegal. Complainants also filed cases for estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 against
respondent.
Complainants alleged that respondent induced them to grant him loans by offering very high interest rates. He also prepared and signed the checks
which turned out to be drawn against his sons accounts. Complainants further alleged that respondent deceived them regarding the identity and value of
the property he mortgaged because he showed them a different property from that which he owned. Presbitero further alleged that respondent
mortgaged his 263-square-meter property to her for P1,000,000 but he later sold it for only P150,000.
Respondent, for his defense, alleged that he was engaged in sugar and realty business and that it was Yulo who convinced Presbitero and Navarro to
extend him loans. Yulo also assured him that Presbitero would help him with the refining of raw sugar through Victorias Milling Company, Inc.
Respondent alleged that Navarro fixed the interest rate and he agreed because he needed the money. He alleged that their business transactions were
secured by real estate mortgages and covered by postdated checks. Respondent denied that the property he mortgaged to Presbitero was less than the
value of the loan. He also denied that he sold the property because the sale was actually rescinded. Respondent claimed that the property he mortgaged
to Navarro was valuable and it was actually worth more than P8,000,000.
Respondent alleged that he was able to pay complainants when business was good but he was unable to continue paying when the price of sugar went
down and when the business with Victorias Milling Company, Inc. did not push through because Presbitero did not help him. Respondent also denied
that he was hiding from complainants.
Respondent further alleged that it was Yulo who owed him P530,000 as interest due for September to December 2005. He denied making any false
representations. He claimed that complainants were aware that he could no longer open a current account and they were the ones who proposed that
his wife and son issue the checks. Respondent further alleged that he already started with the titling of Yulos lot but his services were terminated before
it could be completed.
A supplemental complaint was filed charging respondent with accepting cases while under suspension. In response, respondent alleged that he
accepted Presbiteros case in February 2006 and learned of his suspension only in May 2006.
After conducting a hearing and considering the position papers submitted by the parties, the IBP-CBD found that respondent violated the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
The IBP-CBD found that respondent borrowed P2,000,000 from Navarro and P1,000,000 from Presbitero which he failed to pay in accordance with the
MOAs he executed. The IBP-CBD found that based on the documents presented by the parties, respondent did not act in good faith in obtaining the
loans. The IBP-CBD found that respondent either promised or agreed to pay the very high interest rates of the loans although he knew them to be
exorbitant in accordance with jurisprudence. Respondent likewise failed to deny that he misled Navarro and her husband regarding the identity of the
property mortgaged to them. Respondent also mortgaged a property to Presbitero for P1,000,000 but documents showed that its value was
only P300,000. Documents also showed that he sold that property for only P150,000. Respondent conspired with Yulo to secure loans by promising her
a 10% commission and later claimed that they agreed that Yulo would "ride" on the loan by borrowing P300,000 from the amount he obtained from
Navarro and Presbitero. Respondent could not explain how he lost all the money he borrowed in three months except for his claim that the price of sugar
went down.
The IBP-CBD found that respondent misled Navarro and Presbitero regarding the issuance of the postdated checks, and there was nothing in the
records that would show that he informed them that it would be his wife or son who would issue the checks. The IBP-CBD also found that respondent
had not been transparent in liquidating the money he received in connection with Presbiteros VOS with DAR. He was also negligent in his accounting
regarding the registration of Yulos property which was financed by Navarro.
The IBP-CBD found that respondent was guilty of violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for committing the following acts:
(1) signing drawn checks against the account of his son as if they were from his own account;
(2) misrepresenting to Navarro the identity of the lot he mortgaged to her;
(3) misrepresenting to Presbitero the true value of the 263-square-meter lot he mortgaged to her;
(4) conspiring with Yulo to obtain the loans from complainants;
(5) agreeing or promising to pay 10% interest on his loans although he knew that it was exorbitant; and
(6) failing to pay his loans because the checks he issued were dishonored as the accounts were already closed.
The IBP-CBD also found that respondent violated Canon 16 and Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility when he failed to properly
account for the various funds he received from complainants.
In addition, the IBP-CBD found that respondent violated Rule 16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which prohibits borrowing money from a
client unless the clients interest is fully protected or the client is given independent advice.
On the matter of practicing law while under suspension, the IBP-CBD found that the records were not clear whether the notice of suspension respondent
received on 29 May 2006 was the report and recommendation of the IBP-CBD or the final decision of this Court. The IBP-CBD likewise found that there
was insufficient evidence to prove that respondent mishandled his cases.
The IBP-CBD recommended that respondent be meted the penalty of disbarment.
In Resolution No. XIX-2011-267 dated 14 May 2011, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the recommendation of the IBP-CBD with
modification by reducing the recommended penalty from disbarment to suspension from the practice of law for two years. The IBP Board of Governors
likewise ordered respondent to return the amount of his unpaid obligation to complainants.
Complainants filed a motion for reconsideration, praying that the penalty of disbarment be instead imposed upon respondent.
The only issue in this case is whether respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The records show that respondent violated at least four provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Rule 1.01. - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
With respect to his client, Presbitero, it was established that respondent agreed to pay a high interest rate on the loan he obtained from her. He drafted
the MOA. Yet, when he could no longer pay his loan, he sought to nullify the same MOA he drafted on the ground that the interest rate was
unconscionable. It was also established that respondent mortgaged a 263-square-meter property to Presbitero for P1,000,000 but he later sold the
property for only P150,000, showing that he deceived his client as to the real value of the mortgaged property. Respondents allegation that the sale was
eventually rescinded did not distract from the fact that he did not apprise Presbitero as to the real value of the property.
Respondent failed to refute that the checks he issued to his client Presbitero and to Navarro belonged to his son, Ivan Garcia Solidum III whose name is
similar to his name. He only claimed that complainants knew that he could no longer open a current bank account, and that they even suggested that his
wife or son issue the checks for him. However, we are inclined to agree with the IBP-CBDs finding that he made complainants believe that the account
belonged to him. In fact, respondent signed in the presence of Navarro the first batch of checks he issued to Navarro. Respondent sent the second
batch of checks to Navarro and the third batch of checks to Presbitero through a messenger, and complainants believed that the checks belonged to
accounts in respondents name.
It is clear that respondent violated Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. We have ruled that conduct, as used in the Rule, is not confined
to the performance of a lawyers professional duties.
1
A lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed either in his professional or private
capacity.
2
The test is whether his conduct shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or whether it renders him
unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.
3

In this case, the loan agreements with Navarro were done in respondents private capacity. Although Navarro financed the registration of Yulos lot,
respondent and Navarro had no lawyer-client relationship. However, respondent was Presbiteros counsel at the time she granted him a loan. It was
established that respondent misled Presbitero on the value of the property he mortgaged as a collateral for his loan from her. To appease Presbitero,
respondent even made a Deed of Undertaking that he would give her another 1,000-square-meter lot as additional collateral but he failed to do so.
Clearly, respondent is guilty of engaging in dishonest and deceitful conduct, both in his professional capacity with respect to his client, Presbitero, and in
his private capacity with respect to complainant Navarro. Both Presbitero and Navarro allowed respondent to draft the terms of the loan agreements.
Respondent drafted the MOAs knowing that the interest rates were exorbitant. Later, using his knowledge of the law, he assailed the validity of the same
MOAs he prepared. He issued checks that were drawn from his sons account whose name was similar to his without informing complainants. Further,
there is nothing in the records that will show that respondent paid or undertook to pay the loans he obtained from complainants.
Canon 16 and Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provide:
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.
The fiduciary nature of the relationship between the counsel and his client imposes on the lawyer the duty to account for the money or property collected
or received for or from his client.
4
We agree with the IBP-CBD that respondent failed to fulfill this duty. In this case, the IBP-CBD pointed out that
respondent received various amounts from complainants but he could not account for all of them.
Navarro, who financed the registration of Yulos 18.85-hectare lot, claimed that respondent received P265,000 from her. Respondent countered
that P105,000 was paid for real estate taxes but he could not present any receipt to prove his claim. Respondent also claimed that he paid P70,000 to
the surveyor but the receipt was only forP15,000. Respondent claimed that he paid P50,000 for filing fee, publication fee, and other expenses but again,
he could not substantiate his claims with any receipt. As pointed out by the IBP-CBD, respondent had been less than diligent in accounting for the funds
he received from Navarro for the registration of Yulos property.
Unfortunately, the records are not clear whether respondent rendered an accounting to Yulo who had since passed away.
As regards Presbitero, it was established during the clarificatory hearing that respondent received P50,000 from Presbitero. As the IBP-CBD pointed out,
the records do not show how respondent spent the funds because he was not transparent in liquidating the money he received from Presbitero.
Clearly, respondent had been negligent in properly accounting for the money he received from his client, Presbitero.1wphi1 Indeed, his failure to return
the excess money in his possession gives rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use to the prejudice of, and in violation of
the trust reposed in him by, the client.
5

Rule 16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Rule 16.04. - A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent
advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he
is handling for the client.
Here, respondent does not deny that he borrowed P1,000,000 from his client Presbitero. At the time he secured the loan, respondent was already the
retained counsel of Presbitero.
While respondents loan from Presbitero was secured by a MOA, postdated checks and real estate mortgage, it turned out that respondent
misrepresented the value of the property he mortgaged and that the checks he issued were not drawn from his account but from that of his son.
Respondent eventually questioned the terms of the MOA that he himself prepared on the ground that the interest rate imposed on his loan was
unconscionable. Finally, the checks issued by respondent to Presbitero were dishonored because the accounts were already closed. The interest of his
client, Presbitero, as lender in this case, was not fully protected. Respondent violated Rule 16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which
presumes that the client is disadvantaged by the lawyers ability to use all the legal maneuverings to renege on his obligation.
6
In his dealings with his
client Presbitero, respondent took advantage of his knowledge of the law as well as the trust and confidence reposed in him by his client.
We modify the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors imposing on respondent the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for two years.
Given the facts of the case, we see no reason to deviate from the recommendation of the IBP-CBD imposing on respondent the penalty of disbarment.
Respondent failed to live up to the high standard of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing required of him as a member of the legal
profession.
7
Instead, respondent employed his knowledge and skill of the law and took advantage of his client to secure undue gains for himself
8
that
warrants his removal from the practice of law. Likewise, we cannot sustain the IBP Board of Governors recommendation ordering respondent to return
his unpaid obligation to complainants, except for advances for the expenses he received from his client, Presbitero, that were not accounted at all. In
disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the only issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to be allowed to continue as a member of the
Bar.
9
Our only concern is the determination of respondents administrative liability.
10

Our findings have no material bearing on other judicial action which the parties may choose to file against each other.
11
Nevertheless, when a lawyer
receives money from a client for a particular purpose involving the client-attorney relationship, he is bound to render an accounting to the client showing
that the money was spent for that particular purpose.
12
If the lawyer does not use the money for the intended purpose, he must immediately return the
money to his client.
13
Respondent was given an opportunity to render an accounting, and he failed. He must return the full amount of the advances given
him by Presbitero, amounting to P50,000.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Atty. Ivan M. Solidum, Jr. GUILTY of violating Rule 1.01, Canon 16, Rule 16.01, and Rule 16.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, the Court DISBARS him from the practice of law effective immediately upon his receipt of this Decision.
Atty. Solidum is ORDERED to return the advances he received from Hilda S. Presbitero, amounting to P50,000, and to submit to the Office of the Bar
Confidant his compliance with this order within thirty days from finality of this Decision.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters, and the
Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts all over the country. Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the personal records of
respondent.
SO ORDERED.