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SPS Concepcion vs.

Dela Rosa
Rule 16.04 – A lawyer shall not borrow money
Facts: from his client unless the client’s interests are
This is an administrative case that stemmed fully protected by the nature of the case or by
from a Verified Complaint filed by complainants independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend
Spouses Henry A. Concepcion (Henry) and Blesilda money to a client except, when in the interest of
S. Concepcion (Blesilda; collectively complainants) justice, he has to advance necessary expenses
against respondent Atty. Elmer A. dela Rosa in a legal matter he is handling for the client.”
(respondent), charging him with gross misconduct
for violating, among others, Rule 16.04 of the Code The Court has repeatedly emphasized that
of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Complainants the relationship between a lawyer and his client is
alleged that from 1997 until August 2008, one imbued with trust and confidence. And as true
respondent served as their retained lawyer and as any natural tendency goes, this “trust and
counsel. In this capacity, respondent handled many confidence” is prone to abuse. The rule against
of their cases and was consulted on various legal borrowing of money by a lawyer from his client is
matters, among others, the prospect of opening a intended to prevent the lawyer from taking
pawnshop business towards the end of 2005. Said advantage of his influence over his client.
business, however, failed to materialize. Aware of The rule presumes that the client is
the fact that complainants had money intact from disadvantaged by the lawyer’s ability to use all the
their failed business venture, respondent, on March legal maneuverings to renege on his obligation. A
23, 2006, called Henry to borrow money. The checks lawyer’s act of asking a client for a loan, as what
were personally encashed by respondent. respondent did, is very unethical. It comes within
Demanded the return of payment but failed to do so. those acts considered as abuse of client’s
Respondent denied borrowing P2,500,000.00 from confidence. The canon presumes that the client is
complainants, insisting that Nault was the real disadvantaged by the lawyer’s ability to use all the
debtor.18 He also claimed that complainants had legal maneuverings to renege on her obligation.
been attempting to collect from Nault and that he As above-discussed, respondent borrowed
was engaged for that specific purpose. money from complainants who were his clients and
In fine, the Investigating Commissioner of the whose interests, by the lack of any security on the
IBP concluded that respondent’s actions degraded loan, were not fully protected. Owing to their trust
the integrity of the legal profession and clearly and confidence in respondent, complainants relied
violated Rule 16.04 and Canons 7 and 16 of the solely on the former’s word that he will return the
CPR. Respondent’s failure to appear during the money plus interest within five (5) days.
mandatory conferences further showed his However, respondent abused the same and
disrespect to the IBP-CBD. Accordingly, the reneged on his obligation, giving his previous clients
Investigating Commissioner recommended that the runaround up to this day. Accordingly, there is no
respondent be disbarred and that he be ordered to quibble that respondent violated Rule 16.04 of the
return the P2,500,000.00 to complainants, with CPR.
stipulated interest. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Elmer A.
dela Rosa is found guilty of violating Canon 7 and
Issue: Whether respondent should be held Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the Code of Professional
administratively liable for violating the CPR. Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of
Held: three (3) years effective upon finality of this Decision,
The Court concurs with the IBP’s findings with a stern warning that a commission of the same
except as to its recommended penalty and its or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
directive to return the amount of P2,500,000.00, with
legal interest, to complainants. the complainants and
incurring the same obligation.
Under Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the CPR, a
lawyer is prohibited from borrowing money from his
client unless the client’s interests are fully protected:

CANON 16 – A lawyer shall hold in trust all


moneys and properties of his clients that may
come into his possession.
A.C. No. 10753 while the Finezas received their copy of the Order on
(Formerly CBD Case No. 10-2703) April 7, 2009.13

ATTY. PABLO B. FRANCISCO, Complainant, On April 7, 2009, Atty. Francisco filed an Ex-Parte
vs. Motion to Remand Records of the case to the Municipal
ATTY. ROMEO M. FLORES, Respondent. Trial Court for Execution of Judgment. He alleges that a
copy of the Ex-Parte Motion was served on Atty. Flores
RESOLUTION through registered mail.14

LEONEN, J.: On May 20, 2009, Analiza P. Santos, Officer-in-Charge


of Branch 67, Regional Trial Court of Binangonan, Rizal,
Failure of counsel to act upon a client's case resulting in issued a Certification15 stating that:
the prescription of available remedies is negligence in
violation of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional This is to certify that the Order of this Court dated January
Responsibility. The general rule is that notice to counsel 23, 2009 relative to the above-entitled case [referring to
is notice to client. This rule remains until counsel notifies Pablo B. Francisco v. Rainier Fineza and Teddy Fineza]
the court that he or she is withdrawing his or her has never been amended, appealed or modified; hence,
appearance, or client informs the court of change of this Order is now considered final and executory.16
counsel. Untruthful statements made in pleadings filed
before courts, to make it appear that the pleadings are filed Atty. Francisco filed a Motion for Issuance of Writ of
on time, are contrary to a lawyer's duty of committing no Execution17 on June 3, 2009. Atty. Francisco alleges that
falsehood. a copy of the Motion was personally served on Atty.
Flores on the same day.18
Atty. Pablo B. Francisco (Atty. Francisco) filed an
administrative Complaint1 for violation of Canons 10 and Atty. Francisco also alleges that hearings on the Motion
18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility against for Issuance of Writ of Execution were scheduled on June
Atty. Romeo M. Flores (Atty. Flores) before the 17 and 24, 2009, which were attended by Atty. Flores and
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, alleging dishonesty and the Finezas. Atty. Francisco's Motion was granted on June
negligence on the part of Atty. Flores. 30, 2009, and a writ of execution was issued.19

Atty. Francisco alleged that he filed a Complaint for On July 8, 2009, the Finezas filed a Petition20 for Relief
forcible entry against Rainier Fineza and his mother, from Judgment with application for temporary restraining
Teodora Fineza, (Finezas) before the Municipal Trial order and injunction. They also attached a Joint Affidavit
Court of Binangonan, Rizal.2 The Finezas were of Merit21 to the Petition. The Petition was signed by the
represented by Atty. Flores.3 Finezas and not by Atty. Flores.22 Atty. Francisco claims
that the Petition, while not signed by counsel, "was
The Municipal Trial Court ruled in favor of the Finezas.4 ostensibly prepared by respondent Atty. Romeo M.
Atty. Francisco filed an appeal before the Regional Trial Flores[.]"23 The Petition for Relief from Judgment was
Court of Binangonan, Rizal.5 However, the appeal was docketed as SCA 09-015.24
denied.6
The allegations in the Petition for Relief from Judgment
Atty. Francisco filed a Motion for Reconsideration,7 stated:
which was granted by the Regional Trial Court in an
Order8 dated January 23, 2009. The Finezas were then 3. Defendants did not receive a copy or have no
ordered to vacate the property and to pay rentals.9 knowledge of the Order dated 26 March 2009 denying
their motion for reconsideration, hence, was not able to
Atty. Flores filed a Motion for Reconsideration10 of the hire the services of other lawyer to seek relief from the
trial court's Order granting Atty. Francisco's Motion for adverse consequences of the said Order;
Reconsideration. Atty. Francisco filed an Opposition to
the Motion for Reconsideration.11 In an Order12 dated 4. It was only on June 29, 2009 that defendants through
March 26, 2009, Judge Dennis Patrick Z. Perez denied the their lawyer came to know of the Order dated March 26,
Motion for Reconsideration filed by Atty. Flores. 2009[,] denying their "Motion for Reconsideration" of the
decision/Order dated January 15, 2009 reversing the
The registry return receipt shows that Atty. Flores Order of Dismissal by the Municipal Trial Court, Branch
received a copy of the Regional Trial Court's Order 2, Binangonan, Rizal;
denying the Motion for Reconsideration on April 3, 2009,
5. This petition is being filed within sixty days after the
petitioners obtained knowledge on June 29, 2009 of the Atty. Francisco prays that Atty. Flores "be found guilty of
Order/decision dated March 26, 2009 denying the motion violation of Canons 10 and 18 of the Code of Professional
for reconsideration and not more than six (6) months after Responsibility and be meted the corresponding penalty. "
judgment was entered on May 20, 2009[.]25 (Emphasis 36
supplied)
On the other hand, Atty. Flores alleges that he was on
Atty. Francisco filed a Motion to Dismiss on July 13, vacation from February 9, 2009 until May 2009.37 The
2009, alleging that the Petition for Relief from Judgment copy of the trial court's Order sent to the Finezas was
was filed out of time.26 He also alleged that: received by Glen Fineza on April 7, 2009, but allegedly,
Glen Fineza did not inform Teodora Fineza and Rainier
2. The petition was filed in SCA No. 09-015, not in SCA Fineza that he received the trial court's Order.38 Atty.
No. 08-018 of the same Regional Trial Court, in violation Flores claims that he only learned about the Order
of Section 1, Rule 38 of the Rules of Court; denying the Motion for Reconsideration when he received
a copy of Atty. Francisco's Motion for Issuance of a Writ
.... ofExecution.39

4. It can not be that petitioners came to know through their Regarding the Finezas' Petition for Relief from Judgment,
lawyer of the Order, dated March 26, 2009 only on June Atty. Flores alleges that he only assisted in the filing of
29, 2009. That allegation is a travesty of facts because on the Petition.40 He could not act as counsel because he had
June 3, 2009, respondent [referring to Atty. Francisco] "no personal knowledge as to when the [Finezas] learned
filed his motion for issuance of writ of execution of the ... of the denial of the Motion for Reconsideration. "41
RTC decision with the Municipal Trial Court of
Binangonan and furnished a copy of said motion to Atty. Flores also argues that he did not violate Canon 18
petitioners' counsel [referring to Atty. Flores] on the same because in another case, docketed as Civil Case 384-B for
day of June 3, 2009. Said motion was heard on June 17, Quieting of Title with Prayer for Restraining
2009, with Atty. Romeo M. Flores in attendance and Order/Injunction,42 which also involved Atty. Francisco
manifesting before the court that petitioners have vacated and the Finezas, he was able to prevent the demolition of
the parcel of land in question[.]27 the Finezas' family home.43

Atty. Flores entered his appearance in SCA Case No. 09- In the Report and Recommendation44 of the Commission
015 on August 20, 2009. Atty. Francisco claims that Atty. on Bar Discipline dated April 15, 2011, the Commission
Flores knew about the untruthful allegations and frivolous found that the allegations in the Petition for Relief from
character of the Petition for Relief from Judgment, yet he Judgment were "false and frivolous"45 because when the
sought to pursue the Petition through the filing of a Petition for Relief from Judgment was filed, more than 60
Motion to Admit Supplemental Pleading.28 days elapsed from the time that Atty. Flores and the
Finezas had received copies of the trial court's Order.46
The Petition for Relief from Judgment was dismissed by Atty. Flores received a copy of the trial court's Order
the Regional Trial Court in an Order29 dated August 28, dated March 26, 2009, on April 3, 2009, while the Finezas
2009. received their copy on April 7, 2009.47 Glen Fineza, who
acknowledged receipt of the trial court's Order, is the son
On February 8, 2010, the Finezas were evicted.30 Their of Teodora Fineza and the brother of Rainier Fineza.48
"personal properties were levied upon, then sold on When the Petition for Relief from Judgment was filed on
execution to settle their judgment debt[. ]"31 July 8, 2009, it was beyond the 60-day period.49

Atty. Francisco alleges that Atty. Flores thereafter The Commission on Bar Discipline recommended that
"induced Rainier Fineza and Teodora Fineza to file a Atty. Flores be found guilty of violating Rules 10.01 and
complaint against [Atty. Francisco] [before] the Supreme 10.03 of Canon 10, and that the penalty of suspension
Court[.]" 32 The case was docketed as Administrative from the practice of law for three (3) months "with stem
Case No. 8563.33 warning that a repetition of the same offense shall be dealt
with more severely"50 be imposed.51 No pronouncement
Atty. Francisco contends that Atty. Flores was negligent was made on the issue of whether Atty. Flores violated
when he "did not make himself available"34 during that Canon 18.
period when his clients could still question the trial court's
denial of the Motion for Reconsideration by filing a The Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the
Petition for Review before the Court of Appeals.35 Philippines adopted and approved the Report and
Recommendation of the Commission on Bar Discipline in The issue in this case is whether respondent Atty. Romeo
a Resolution52 dated June 20, 2013. However, the Board M. Flores violated Canons 10 and 18 of the Code of
of Governors Resolution is also silent on the issue of Professional Responsibility.
whether Atty. Flores violated Canon 18 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. This court accepts the findings of fact of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines. Based on the records of this
Atty. Flores filed an Ex-Parte Motion to Admit Motion administrative Complaint, respondent is guilty of
for Reconsideration53 and a Motion for violating Canon 10, Rules 10.01 and 10.03, and Canon 18,
Reconsideration,54 arguing that he was on vacation from Rule 18.03.
February 11, 2009 up to "June_, 2009[.]"55 During that
period, his staff received the trial court's Order dated Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional
March 26, 200956 on April 3, 2009.57 Hence, Atty. Responsibility provides:
Francisco's allegation that he received the trial court's
Order on April 31, 2009 is not true.58 In addition, Glen Canon 10 - A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith
Fineza did not give a copy of the trial court's Order to to the court.
Rainier Fineza or Teodora Fineza.59 Further, the charge
of perjury against him, Atty. Flores, was dismissed by the Rule 10.01 -A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor
prosecutor.60 Atty. Flores also argues that he properly consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead
observed the rules of procedure in the forcible entry case, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.
thus, he should not be found guilty of violating Canon
10.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.61 Respondent was not entirely truthful. He alleged in his
Position Paper that:
Atty. Flores reiterated that this administrative Complaint
originated from a civil case filed before the Regional Trial 4. Herein respondent himself only came to know of the
Court of Binangonan, Rizal, involving Atty. Francisco denial of their Motion for Reconsideration in June, 2009
and the Finezas.62 While the Finezas lost their property when he received a copy of the motion of complainant for
in that case, he, as counsel of the Finezas, was able to issuance of a writ of execution against the FINEZA[S].
prevent Atty. Francisco "from implementing the This fact was immediately relayed to the FINEZA[S].
demolition of the Fineza's family home."63
....
The Board of Governors, through Dominic C.M. Solis,
Director for Bar Discipline, required Atty. Francisco to 6. FINEZAS in filing the petition for relief from judgment
submit a Comment on Atty. Flores' Motion for believe in good faith that they have complied with the
Reconsideration.64 requirement of the rule. They learned only of the
judgment on June 29, 2009.
Atty. Francisco reiterated in his Comment65 that the
Finezas knew about the trial court's dismissal of their Herein RESPONDENT only assisted the FINEZA[S] in
Motion for Reconsideration because they received a copy filing the petition for relief from judgment. He could not
of the trial court's Order on April 7, 2009.66 Also, Atty. personally act as counsel considering that he has no
Flores received a copy of the same Order on April 3, 2009 personal knowledge as to when the FINEZA[S] learned
and not April 31, 2009.67 Further, when Atty. Francisco or had knowledge of the denial of the Motion for
sought to execute the trial court's Decision, Atty. Flores Reconsideration.
and the Finezas attended "the hearing on the motion for
execution of the final judgment"68 on June 1 7 and 24, Although the denial of the Motion for Reconsideration
2007.69 was received in his office on April 3, 2009, respondent
was in the United States of America (U.S.A.) for a 3-
Atty. Francisco prayed in his Comment that Atty. Flores month vacation from February 9, 2009 to May, 2009. He
"be suspended from the practice of law for at least six (6) had given instructions to his staff to furnish copies of all
months."70 court processes to his clients and to refer all legal matters
to either Atty. Leonardo C. Aseoche or Atty. Baltazar O.
In a Resolution71 dated August 9, 2014, the Board of Abasolo as collaborating counsels, both practicing
Governors denied Atty. Flores' Motion for lawyers in Binangonan, Rizal.73 (Emphasis supplied)
Reconsideration but increased the penalty recommended
from three (3) months to six (6) months suspension from Respondent did not state the exact date when he received
the practice of law.72 a copy of the Motion for Issuance of a Writ of Execution.
The record shows that he received it on June 3, 2009.74
Respondent then alleges that he immediately informed the Fundamental is the rule that in his dealings with his client
Finezas about the matter, but later on contradicted himself and with the courts, every lawyer is expected to be honest,
when he stated "that he has no personal knowledge as to imbued with integrity, and trustworthy. These
when the Fineza[s] learned or had knowledge of the denial expectations, though high and demanding, are the
of the Motion for Reconsideration."75 professional and ethical burdens of every member of the
Philippine Bar, for they have been given full expression
Respondent's statement that he had no knowledge when in the Lawyer's Oath that every lawyer of this country has
the Finezas learned about the denial of their Motion for taken upon admission as a bona fide member of the Law
Reconsideration is also contradicted by the Finezas' Profession, thus:
allegations in their Petition for Relief from Judgment that:
I,_________________, do solemnly swear that I will
4. It was only on June 29, 2009 that defendants through maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; I
their lawyer came to know of the Order dated March 26, will support its Constitution and obey the laws as well as
2009[,] denying their "Motion for Reconsideration" of the the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein;
decision/Order dated January 15, 2009 reversing the I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
Order of Dismissal by the Municipal Trial Court, Branch court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any
2, Binangonan, Rizal[.]76 (Emphasis supplied) groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent
to the same. I will delay no man for money or malice, and
Further, respondent does not deny complainant's will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of
allegation that he and the Finezas were present when the my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as
Motion for Issuance of a Writ of Execution was heard by well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon
the trial court on June 17 and 24, 2009.77 myself this voluntary obligation without any mental
reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.
From the foregoing, it is clear that respondent and the
Finezas knew about the trial court's Order denying their The Lawyer's Oath enjoins every lawyer not only to obey
Motion for Reconsideration before June 29, 2009. the laws of the land but also to refrain from doing any
falsehood in or out of court or from consenting to the
While the Complaint is limited to the allegations in the doing of any in court, and to conduct himself according to
Petition for Relief from Judgment, this court notes that the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good
respondent was also not truthful in his Motion for fidelity to the courts as well as to his clients. Every lawyer
Reconsideration filed before the Integrated Bar of the is a servant of the law, and has to observe and maintain
Philippines. In his Motion for Reconsideration, he alleged the rule of law as well as be an exemplar worthy of
that: emulation by others. It is by no means a coincidence,
therefore, that the core values of honesty, integrity, and
The allegation of complainant that respondent received on trustworthiness are emphatically reiterated by the Code of
April 3 1, 2009 the Order of March 26, 2009 denying his Professional Responsibility. In this light, Rule 10.01,
motion for reconsideration is not correct. It was the law Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
office through his staff that received on 26 March 2009 provides that "[a] lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor
the Order of Denial, per Reg. Receipt No. 190. Herein consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead,
respondent was on vacation in U.S.A. from February 11, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice. "82
2009 up to June _y 2009.78 (Emphasis supplied) (Emphasis and underscoring in the original, citations
omitted)
Respondent's allegations are conflicting. He initially
claimed that he was on vacation from February 9, 2009 to This court also finds that respondent violated Rule 10.03
May 2009.79 He subsequently claimed that his vacation of Canon 10, which provides:
was from February 11, 2009 to June 2009.80
Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure
The glaring inconsistencies in respondent's statements are and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.
sufficient to show that he is guilty of violating Canon 10,
Rule 10.01. Respondent admitted that he assisted the Finezas "in filing
the petition for relief from judgment."83 Subsequently,
The importance of Canon 10, Rule 10.01 was extensively respondent moved to withdraw the Petition for Relief
discussed in Spouses Umaguing v. De Vera,81 which from Judgment after recognizing that it was filed
involved the submission of a falsified affidavit in an erroneously.84 As stated in the trial court's Order:
electoral protest. This court discussed that:
Nevertheless, the court interposed clarificatory questions Order/Injunction, he successfully prevented the
to the petitioners and as a result of the discussion this demolition of the Finezas' family home.88
morning, petitioners' counsel moved for the withdrawal of
his Petition for Relief from Judgment after realizing that Respondent may not have been negligent in handling
he erroneously filed the petition before another court and Civil Case No. 384-B, but he was negligent in handling
in another case in violation of Section 1 of Rule 3 8 of the SCA No. 08-018. When he allegedly informed the
Revised Rules of Court. Finezas of the trial court's Order, he should have
immediately discussed the matter with his clients. The
WHEREFORE, on motion of the petitioners through records of this case show that he did not consult his clients
counsel, the Court resolved to consider the instant petition on what legal remedies they would like to avail
for Relief from Judgment docketed as SCA Case No. 09- themselves of after the denial of the Motion for
015 entitled Ranier [sic] B. Finez.a and Teodora B. Fineza Reconsideration.
versus Pablo B. Francisco filed on July 8, 2009 and raffled
to this court on July 13, 2009 as WITHDRAWN, and this Respondent attended the hearing on the Motion for
case is hereby DISMISSED.85 (Emphasis supplied) Issuance of a Writ of Execution, and that it was allegedly
the Finezas, on their own, who filed the Petition for Relief
Respondent's attempts to rectify are further evidence that from Judgment. Respondent claims that he merely
what he did-file a Petition for Relief docketed as a assisted the Finezas in filing the Petition for Relief, but
different case before a different trial court-was wrong in was not representing them.89 He argues that he could not
the first place.86 represent the Finezas because "he has no personal
knowledge as to when the Fineza[ s] learned or had
Furthermore, this court finds respondent guilty of knowledge of the denial of the Motion for
violating Canon 18, Rule 18.03 of the Code of Reconsideration."90
Professional Responsibility.
Respondent also seems to have forgotten the general rule
Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility that notice to counsel is also notice to client.1âwphi1
provides: Thus, when his office received a copy of the trial court's
Order on April 3, 2009, his clients are also deemed as
Canon 18 - A lawyer shall serve his client with having been notified on the same date.
competence and diligence.
Manaya v. Alabang Country Club, Inc.91 involved the
.... dismissal of an appeal before the National Labor
Relations Commission due to its late filing.92 Respondent
Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter Alabang Country Club filed a Petition for Certiorari
entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection before the Court of Appeals and argued that its lawyer
therewith shall render him liable. abandoned it, thus, it was "not effectively represented by
a competent counsel."93 The Court of Appeals granted
Respondent's explanation that he was on vacation is not the Petition for Certiorari.94 Petitioner Fernando G.
sufficient. Being the lawyer who filed the Motion for Manaya then filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari
Reconsideration, he should have been prepared for the before this court, which was granted.95 This court
possibility that his Motion would be acted upon by the explained that:
trial court during the time that he was on vacation. In
addition, he does not deny that his office, through his It is axiomatic that when a client is represented by
staff, received by registered mail a copy of the trial court's counsel, notice to counsel is notice to client. In the
Order on April 3, 2009. absence of a notice of withdrawal or substitution of
counsel, the Court will rightly assume that the counsel of
Respondent argues that he instructed his staff to inform record continues to represent his client and receipt of
his clients of court processes and to refer legal matters to notice by the former is the reckoning point of the
Atty. Leonardo C. Aseoche or Atty. Baltazar O. reglementary period. As heretofore adverted, the original
Abasolo.87 However, respondent did not present counsel did not file any notice of withdrawal. Neither was
evidence to support his argument. there any intimation by respondent at that time that it was
terminating the services of its counsel.96 (Emphasis
Respondent further argues that he was not negligent and supplied, citation omitted)
explained that in the case docketed as Civil Case 384-B
for Quieting of Title with Prayer for Restraining In Ramirez v. Buhayang-Margallo,97 this court found
Atty. Mercedes Buhayang-Margallo guilty of violating
Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility throughout the country for their information and
because she failed to file the appellant's brief within the guidance.
reglementary period that resulted in the loss of available
remedies for her client.98 SO ORDERED.

Assuming that the Finezas learned about the denial of the Canon 17 and 18
Motion for Reconsideration only on June 29, 2009, this
would further support the allegations in the Complaint NADAYAG V GRAGEDA
that respondent violated Canon 18. Respondent alleges 26
that he learned about the denial of the Motion for FEB
Reconsideration when he received a copy of the Motion AC No. 3232 | September 27, 1994 | J. Melo
for Issuance of Writ of Execution. While he did not state
the exact date when he received a copy of the Motion, the
record shows that he received it on June 3, 2009. If it were
true that the Finezas learned about the denial of the Generally speaking, a lawyer can do honor to the legal
Motion for Reconsideration on June 29, 2009, then it profession by faithfully performing his duties to society,
shows that respondent did not immediately inform his to the bar, to the courts, and to his clients. To this end,
clients about the status of the forcible entry case. It took nothing should be done by any member of the legal
him more than 20 days to inform his clients on the matter. fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the
Respondent's failure to immediately update his clients and confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty, and
act upon the denial of the Motion for Reconsideration, integrity of the profession.
which resulted in the expiration of the period for filing a
Petition for Relief from Judgment, clearly points to
negligence on his part.
Facts:
This court takes judicial notice that respondent was
previously suspended from the practice of law for two Complainant Rosita Nadayag charged respondent Atty.
years in Serzo v. Atty. Flores99 because he notarized a Jose Grageda, a practicing attorney and notary public in
Deed of Absolute Sale when the vendor was already Iligan City, with conduct unbecoming of a lawyer in
deceased.100 His notarial commission was also revoked, connection with a “Pacto de Retro” transaction wherein
and this court disqualified him from being reappointed as complainant was the vendee.
notary public for two years.101
In her letter-complaint, Nadayag alleged that Grageda
It is deplorable that respondent, despite having been prepared and notarized the sale using a stolen Original
sanctioned by this court, once again violated his oath as a Certificate of Land Title, as a result of which she was
lawyer. swindled P108,000 because the land was already sold
ahead of her using the owner’s duplicate copy of the title.
WHEREFORE, the findings of fact of the Board of
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines dated Suspicious of the OCT’s appearance, she had brought the
June 20, 2013 and August 9, 2014 are ACCEPTED and matter to Grageda’s attention, to which he simply
APPROVED. Respondent Atty. Romeo M. Flores is answered that the title was all right told her not to worry
found guilty of violating Canon 10, Rules 10.01 and as he is an attorney and knew very well the Vendor-a-
10.03, and Canon 18, Rule 18.03 of the Code of Retro whose business transactions especially notarial
Professional Responsibility. matter has been and in fact always handled by him.
However, the OCT was confiscated by the Iligan ROD,
Respondent Atty. Romeo M. Flores is suspended from the Atty. Baguio when the complainant applied for
practice of law for two (2) years. He is warned that a registration of the pacto de retro. Nadayag filed a
repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with complaint against the vendor-a-retro and accomplices,
more severely. including Grageda coursed through the local Brgy.
Captain and city fiscal, but the information did not include
Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished the Office of Grageda, hence this report. In his counter-affidavit,
the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondent Atty. Grageda claimed that he notarization was based on the
Romeo M. Flores' personal record as attorney, to the documents presented.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and to the Office of the
Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts
Issue: subject transaction as would aid the parties in making an
informed decision. Such responsibility was plainly
W/N respondent should be disciplined incumbent upon him, and failing therein, he must now
face the commensurate consequences of his professional
indiscretion. After all, notarization is not an empty
routine. Notarization of a private document converts such
Held: document into a public one and renders it admissible in
court without further proof of its authenticity.
Yes. The Commission on Bar Discipline found reason to
discipline based on respondent’s admission of notarizing Respondent is suspended from the practice of law for a
the deed of sale a retro based on title presented to him. It period of three (3) months, with the warning that a
turns out that the title presented to him is the OCT which repetition of the same or any other misconduct will be
only the Register of Deeds has custody of and he should dealt with more severely.
have sensed foul-play or irregularity. As a lawyer and
officer of the court, he should have been alerted and
should have reported the irregularity of an OCT, which
should be in the exclusive safekeeping of the Register of
Deeds, in the possession of unauthorized persons. Even if
it were the photostat copy of said Original Certificate of
Title that was presented to him, the same did not bear any
certification by the Register of Deeds which could have
alerted him of the irregularity. The testimony that the
Original was shown to him has not been controverted. The
Vendee was in fact in possession of the Original because
it was testified that when the Register of Deeds found that
respondent was in possession, the original certificate was
confiscated by the Register of Deeds.

The Commission takes special note of a notary public


acting more than a notary public and goes beyond mere
certification of the presence of the signatories, their
having signed, and having contracted. By transcending
these bounds, such notary public has entered the realm of
giving “legal advice” — thus “acting also as counsel aside
from notary public” to the parties to the contract.

A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity


of the legal profession. The trust and confidence
necessarily reposed by clients require in the attorney a
high standard and appreciation of his duty to his clients,
his profession, the courts and the public. The bar should
maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of
honesty and fair dealing. Generally speaking, a lawyer
can do honor to the legal profession by faithfully
performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts,
and to his clients. To this end, nothing should be done by
any member of the legal fraternity which might tend to
lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the
fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the profession.

In the case at bar, respondent should have been


conscientious in seeing to it that justice permeated every
aspect of a transaction for which his services had been
engaged, in conformity with the avowed duties of a
worthy member of the Bar. He should have fully
explained the legal intricacies and consequences of the